Slavery is still a reality in some parts of the world.
By Gideon Strauss
Reprinted from The Guide, the magazine of the Christian Labour Association of Canada. July/August 2000 edition.
Kon, a 13-year old Dinka boy was abducted and sold to a Sudanese merchant. At the merchant’s house, he found several Dinka men hobbling, their Achilles tendons cut. Threatened with the same treatment, Kon made his escape. Had he been caught, he would have been castrated and branded.
Though it is hard to believe, chattel slavery still exists. The continued existence of debt bondage, forced labour, and child prostitution is repugnant enough, but in the Sudan and Mauritania, some are forced to live an even more wretched existence.
In both these countries, slaves are used for house or farm labour, sex and breeding. They are sold for cash or bartered for camels, trucks, or guns. Their children are the property of their master. They are not allowed to marry or go to school. Routine punishment for slight faults include beatings, denial of food, and prolonged exposure to the sun with hands and feet tied.
Anti-Slavery International, the world’s oldest human rights organization, estimates that at least 27 million people today are subject to some form of slavery. As we in the trade union movement struggle to improve the lives and working conditions of Canadians, we must not forget people elsewhere in the world are denied every shred of human dignity and work in conditions that defy the imagination for their horror.
For more information, visit these web pages:
The American Anti-Slavery Group: www.antislavery.org
Freedom House: www.freedomhouse.org
Christian Solidarity International: www.christian-solidarity-international.org