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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Monstrous Crime: Modern Day Slavery

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“This has got to stop.”

If you’ve heard reports about the worldwide problem of modern day slavery, this is what you must have said to yourself. I know I did.

As the mother of a 7-year-old girl, I cannot fathom the idea of her being misused in the way that children and adults, all around the world, are.

When I heard a report on NPR recently about an author’s trek to Haiti to research the dilemma of modern day slavery, I wanted to scream about it.

When Benjamin Skinner, the author of A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery, was conducting research for his book a few years ago, he went to Haiti and discovered that he could buy a 9-year-old girl to use as a sexual and domestic slave for $50.


Skinner went to 12 countries to meet with slaves and traffickers and found that there are more slaves around the world today than at any time in history.
For Skinner, his trip to Haiti was especially eye-opening.

“I pulled up in a car and rolled down the window,” he told NPR. Someone said, ‘Do you want to get a person?”

How detached. How cruel. Can you believe it?

“The thing that struck me more than anything afterwards was how incredibly banal the transaction was,” he told NPR. “It was as if I was negotiating on the street for a used stereo.”

Skinner, who was raised in Wisconsin and northern Nigeria, learned about slavery as a child at Quaker meetings. His great-great grandfather and other family members were abolitionists.

After hearing this story and others about current day child and adult slaves around the world, I started thinking about abolitionism and how more people are needed to help end all forms of slavery.

Let’s join in the cause.

Go here to discover what you can do to help fight modern day slavery and to help victims of this atrocious practice.

Act now!

Statistics:
Ndioro Ndiaye, deputy director general for the International Organization of Migration, reports that an estimated 5.7 million children are laboring in debt bondage, about 1 million young girls are being detained and sexually exploited in prostitution and pornography rings, and 250,00 children are forced to fight as soldiers in about 30 worldwide conflicts.

6 comments:

sondjata said...

Being the Old Garveyite that I am I insist that the best way to prevent this kind of abuse is to deal with the situation. Many of these children are sold off by their parents who are in desperate situations themselves. If the root of the problem is not dealt with then no amount of after the fact help will stop the practice. Indeed what do you tell the parent (or "slave" themselves) when they ask "what else can they do?"

How many of us would have an easy time deciding between eating dirt cakes and sleeping with a stranger for real food?

How hard is it, in a culture where children of a particular age are expected to earn their keep, to decide to "sell off" one's child when one is told that that will alleviate your own situation (however temporary) and "promise" to bring opportunity to said child?

Anyway, We've got to address the root of the problem: alternate economic realities for the parents.

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

Sondjata,
I agree with you that we need to give better economic alternatives for the parents. Indeed, I'm sure this is much of the root of them problem. But my God, we've got to stop people from using these children and adults -- the traffickers themselves.

Plus, we've got to stop people from buying these children and unfortunate people.

Thanks for commenting! I appreciate everything that you've said.
alicia

Anonymous said...

So so sad!
Auntie T

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

Auntie T,
Yes, and we must all do something about it. I'm motivated to do just that.
Love,
Lisa

BenAlias said...

Dear Alicia,

I knew you slightly while you lived in Nashville, through your association with the Nashville Peace and Justice Center. I know another woman who was on the Board of the Nashville Peace and Justice Center and who is very concerned with the human trafficking problem. But not so much the problem that exists in Haiti or the Third World, but the problem that exists right here in Nashville and in other areas in the USA.

One critical reviewer of the Benjamin Skinner book wrote: "I feel it could have done a much better job at challenging those in the West to take a closer look at ... the exploitation and trafficking that is happening in OUR OWN BACKYARDS - the U.S., Canada, and Europe."

This sort of trafficking is either being ignored by government officials here in the US or passively aided and abetted by police and prosecutors who devote plenty of energy to making excuses not to arrest or prosecute traffickers.

You don't have to travel to Haiti to find this problem. It is right here.

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

BenAlias,
Thanks for commenting.
I was sure that the modern day slavery/human trafficking problem was big here in the U.S. also. I thought Skinner's interview on NPR was a great way to introduce those who were not familiar with the problem.
Believe me, I am going to investigate what's happening here in Charlotte. As someone who works with immigrants from all over the world, everyday, I'm very sensitive to the issue.
Thanks for your thoughts!
Alicia