Monday, August 27, 2007

Free The Slaves - A Reminder That Slavery Still Exists

Slavery.

We discussed it in history class when learning about the US Civil War. We relived it with Alex Haley's groundbreaking mini-series "Roots". We're glad it's over. But is it really?

Modern Day Slavery is not so different from the slavery of the past. Men, women, and children are lured or sold away and forced to work in fields, factories, and homes all around the world. In today's world, Asia and India seem to have the worst records for slave labor but they are not alone in this exploitive trade. They come out on top of this horrible list due to long histories of indentured servitude and birth into slave castes.

What is it like to be slave in the 21st century? Not much has changed in the last 150 years. They are still forced to do back breaking labor with no pay. If there is pay given it's immediately taken back to pay off a debt, usually to the person holding them captive. There is little to eat, horrible living conditions and beatings if the work is not done fast enough. Children and parents are separated. They are isolated from family and homes, not allowed to leave or have contact with anyone outside the slave encampments.

Women and girls as young as six years old are sold or tricked in the sex industry. Sometimes they are sent to other countries by recruiters promising them legitimate work as a domestic. But when they arrive what they find is a life of servitude or sexual exploitation.
Free The Slaves is on a mission to end this horrible tradition in human society. The team believes that all people have the right to be free from any form of slavery and the right to reach their full potential. They are committed to supporting sustainable solutions which prevent adverse repercussions for former and freed slaves.

As an example, Free The Slaves does not endorse boycotts of industries or producers of goods made with slave labor. A boycott may take a particular product out of the store but it has little to no affect on the individual held in slavery. If the need for their labor dries up in one place their owners will simply move them to another location and take up different work.

Instead of boycotts, Free The Slaves focuses their efforts on changing attitudes about slavery and enabling people to meet basic needs such as legitimate work, education and health services. If these things are available, the poorest of the poor will be less vulnerable to the tactics of slaver traders.

Free the Slaves and their partner organizations are responsible for rescues that have saved the lives of many. Drissa, a teenager in Mali, was forced to work with 17 other children in the cocoa fields. He was beaten when he was too tired to work and then forced to work while flies bit at his open wounds. Drissa’s nightmare ended with a rescue by a Malian official.

Free The Slaves lists many ways to get involved, including education materials free for download. There is a great links page with other organizations involved in the cause to bring an end to slavery worldwide. They also accept donations and are lobbying the US government to establish a Commission for the Abolition of Modern Day Slavery.

Awareness is the key. Slavery still exists and there are viable ways to bring it to an end. Spend some time on Free The Slaves website if you are moved to act.

10 comments:

Rudi said...

You are right, it does still exist. Unbelievable isn't it. And sad. Glad that there are people trying to make an end to it. It won't be easy though and will take a long time. But I'm a believer :-)

Lisa McGlaun said...

Rudi,

It is an age old problem. I think it's attitude that must change as much as anything. I have hope that one day we will no longer exploit each other for personal gain.

Thanks for the comment.

Peace,
Lisa

Happily Anonymous said...

Awareness is the key. Which you have just accomplished with me. I've never given any thought to current day slavery. Great post!

Lisa McGlaun said...

Mike,

I'm glad I could do that for you. Once I started reading articles about human trafficing it was hard to stop because I couldn't believe what I was reading. But it's all true and very sad.

I was happy to find Free The Slaves so that I could let people know that there are groups that care and are dong their best to make a difference.

I love chocolate and after reading Drissa's story I don't know if it will ever taste the same.

Peace,
Lisa

Peter said...

I don't think we will ever see the end of slavery as long as the countries involved continue to exploit their own people. It makes me so sad to see what is happening to the victims & it makes me so angry to see that the culprets are still getting away with it.

Lisa McGlaun said...

Peter,

I agree that humanity and the way we think about each other on the most basic level must change for slavery to end. I still hold out hope that it is possible. It makes me angry too and I hurt for everyone going through the horror of slavery.

Anger can be a good motivator too..maybe we should all get angry about it, then enough people will be moved to act.

I appreciate your comment.

Peace,
Lisa

thewishfulwriter said...

ugh. slavery in any form really gets under my skin. I think i'm most traumatized by children in the sex industry, though.

i get physically ill when i think about it.

I have an exorbitant amount of respect for people who do more than just feel badly that slavery still exists.

thanks for another great post!

Anonymous said...

As long as there are men with excess testosterone and little or no scruples there will be someone with an equally depraved conscience to provide sex slaves. The penality must be severe enough to discourage even the thought of providing or using a such a "slave".

Lisa McGlaun said...

Heather,

I know. It makes me sick, too. When I think about childern involved in this mess, I really want to buy about 100 acres somewhere and bring them all to live with me.

But the world doesn't work that way.

Talk to you soon. I always appreciate your comments.

Peace,
Lisa

Lisa McGlaun said...

Dear Annon,

That may be true but I hate to blame the world's ills on testosterone.

I feel the way we think about basic human nature is flawed. We are inherently good not inherently evil, so both sexes should be able to control their impluses to harm.

Thanks for your input. There are no easy answers and it's an emotional subject..:)

Peace,
Lisa