Thursday, August 18, 2005

Lest we forget: The slaves

Photo from National Geographic
While you read this post anywhere between 10 and 20 million men, women and children are being held as slaves worldwide. Part of a USD 9.5 billion trafficking industry; some, in fact, place the total figure of bonded workers much higher.

Be they the Dinkas of Sudan with severed Achilles tendons, the child carpet slaves of India, the sex slaves of Eastern Europe or the cane cutters of Haiti and the Dominican Republic; they all share one single trait. They are not merely underpaid wage earners; but rather they are those held forcibly by terror, mutilation, the shackle or the gun.


The prostitutes:
'Ivana' a Ukrainian woman tells how her dream to work abroad as a waitress went terribly wrong. She was kidnapped, smuggled through Macedonia to Greece then "sold to an Albanian man, who took her to the UK via Italy"
"Then three huge men came into the room and threatened me. They demanded to see my body. They made me lift up my top and show them my breasts...

There was nothing I could do to fight them...

The first time he raped me, I fought him off for half an hour - but he was a massive man, and I am quite small,"

The camel boys:
Shown is a Kuwaiti camel jockey, possibly of Pakistani origin. (Photo: Scott Nelson/Getty Images) Some 40,000 children work as jockeys in the Middle East. Starved to keep their weight down, beaten and often sexually abused; these children, as young as 4, are either abducted from their countries of origin or are sold into the trade by their own parents.

The domestic servants:
Nur Hasana Firmansyah, a young Indonesian woman tells of her experience in Malaysia.
"I slept on the floor without a mat and used my bag as a pillow. There were 300 people there, all women. We were staying in a big room with no windows. There were three toilets but two were out of order. The water was not enough and the toilets were dirty. I took a bath twice a week; there were so many people that there were long lines. We were not allowed to go outside, there was a gate with a lock. Many people wanted to run away but didn’t know how."
The child soldiers:
By UN estimates there are 300,000 children between the ages of 10 and 17 who have been forcibly recruited by governments and rebel groups for combat. In Uganda, there are reports of children as young as 7 being taken "from their communities in systematic raids". Some serve as porters, others are coerced to kill their families and for the girls, their fate is often to serve as "sex slaves to army commanders". (Photo: Kate Scannell)

5 Ninjas, 1 Kitten and a Fifth of Vodka!