Tag Archives: slavery

The return of Global Slave Trade

“Although slave ownership is almost universally illegal,“estimates suggest 27 million people today are held in conditions indistinguishable from slavery.” (Batstone 2007).

by Linda Hansen

I
 was
 taught 
from
 childhood
 that
 humanity
 was 
progressing,
 and
readily
 accepted
 the
 consoling 
myth 
that
“Slavery
 had
 been
abolished.”

I
was
 unwilling
 to 
consider
 how 
improbable 
this
 was, 
even
when 
hearing 
about 
the
 economic 
subjugation
 of 
entire
 countries.

When 
stories
 of 
slavery
 came
 my 
way,
 I’d
 turn 
away,
 deferring
 to
important‐ sounding 
groups: 
The
 World
 Health
 and
 Human
Rights
Organisations,
 the
 International 
Labour
Organisation
 and
 so 
on.
Wasn’t 
it
 their 
task 
to 
fix 
this?

 Surely 
they 
weren’t 
allowing 
such
in human 
behaviour
 to
 continue?

 But 
even
 the 
most 
basic 
research 
has
swiftly 
revealed
 how 
wide spread 
modern 
slavery
 is.

This 
is 
literal,
 bodily
slavery: 
labourers
 chained,
 women 
and 
children
in
 cages,
 workers 
denied 
all wages,
 captives 
subjugated 
through 
a
combination
of
 beatings,
 threats
 and 
drug 
dependency, 
humans
owned
 by
 and
 for 
others
 seeking 
satisfaction
…
real
 situations 
that
cannot 
be 
glibly 
dismissed
 with 
the
 self‐indulgent 
cry

–
“Oh,
 aren’t 
we
all
 slaves!”
–
of 
fashionable 
personal
 development
 studies.

Consider 
Meena.
 She 
is 
nine
 years 
old, 
a 
happy,
 healthy,
 lively 
child,
until
 the
 day
 she
 is
 kidnapped 
and
 becomes 
one
 o f
the 
estimated
600,000
 young
 girls
 who
 are 
annually 
trafficked 
across 
the 
world’s
borders 
or 
into 
other 
regions 
to
 be 
sold
 as 
female 
flesh.

She
has
become 
a 
sex
slave,
 victim
 perhaps
 to 
the
 myth 
that 
sex 
with 
a 
virgin
will 
cure 
AIDS. 
Her 
chances
 of 
dying 
of 
AIDS
 herself,
  before
 she
succumbs
 to
 death
 from
 rape
 and 
enforced,
 drugged
 and
 often
 caged
 confinement 
in
 a 
brothel,
 are 
very
 high.
(Kristof
and
WuDunn
2010)

Sex
 slavery 
almost 
always 
carries 
the 
death
 sentence 
of
 AIDS. 
While
 prositution
 is 
often
 called 
the 
world’s
 oldest
 profession,
 rape 
and 
sex
slavery
 can 
be 
seen 
as 
the 
most 
primitive
 forms 
of 
subjugation.
 As
 I
considered 
rape,
 I 
came
 to 
see 
that 
to
 force
 one’s
 seed 
into 
the
 child‐bearers of 
a 
rival 
is,
 for 
an
 animal, 
the
 utimate
 conquest.

 As 
an 
animal
act,
 it 
is
 even 
understandable.
 When 
humans
 are
 deprived 
of
technology,
 when
 our 
humanity 
is
 taken
 from
 us,
rape
 is 
used
 as 
a
 way 
to 
control
 and 
subjugate.
 The 
militia 
in
 the 
Eastern
 Congo,
lacking 
ammunition
  for
their 
guns,
 routinely 
mass
 rape 
to
 terrorize
the
 population.

 Barbarity 
on 
this
 scale 
led
 the
 United 
Nations
 in
2008 
to 
classify
 rape 
as 
a
 weapon 
of
 war.

Like
 rape,
 sex 
slavery 
has 
little 
to
 do
 with 
male 
libido.
 In
 cultures
 of
sexism 
and
 misogyny,
 where 
women
 are 
routinely
 the 
victims 
of
honor 
killings, 
bride
 burning, 
genital
 cutting,
 acid 
attacks,
 mass 
rape
and
 domestic 
violence,
 these
 acts 
are 
much
 more
 abou t
dominance
and 
subjugation.
 Authors
 Kristof
 and
 WuDunn 
saw 
for
 themselves
women 
transmitting 
such
 misogynistic
 cultural
 values:
 routinely
managing 
brothels,
 ensuring
 daughters’ genitals 
are 
cut,
 participating 
in
 bride 
beatings
 and 
burnings, 
and
 carrying 
out
 female
 infanticide 
directly 
or 
indirectl y
by
failing
 to 
vaccinate
 or
 feed
daughters.
 This
 is 
the 
price 
paid 
for 
unquestioningly
 upholding
cultural values.

Professor
 Amartya
 Sen, 
Nobel
Prize
winning
 economist, 
claimed
 in
1990 
that
 more 
than
 100
 million
 of 
the 
world’s 
women 
were 
missing
and
 unaccounted
 for,
in
 that 
year.

 Taking 
into
 account
 global 
birth
and 
death
 rates,
 these
 women
 had
 been
 disposed
 of,
 without
anybody 
caring 
enough 
to 
find 
out
 their 
fate. 

While 
gender
discrimination 
exists 
world‐wide,
 in
 some
 cultures 
it
 is
 lethal.

 People
already 
viewed
  as
 discounted 
humans 
are
 more
 readily
 enslaved.

Modern
 technology
 has 
enabled 
trafficking,
 genocide
 and
 war 
on
 a
previously
 unimagined 
scale.

There 
is 
also 
immense
 financial
 gain
  to
be 
made 
here.
 Beyond 
the 
warzones,
  forced
 prostitutes
 or 
sex
slaves
are 
found 
in
 disproportionately
 high 
numbers 
in 
outwardly
 religious
societies.

 So 
their
 women 
can 
keep 
their
 virtue 
until
 marriage,
 young
men 
from 
these 
societies
 seek
 sexual 
release 
with 
slaves. 

In
 some
 of
these
 countries,
not 
only 
slavery
 but
 brothels
 are
 technically 
illegal,
yet
 research
 identifies 
literally 
millions
 of
 prostitutes, 
many
 still
children,
 openly 
enslaved
 in
 brothels
 that
 are 
well‐ known
 to
authorities,
including
 the 
police .
Again 
this
 shows 
blind 
cultural
 conformity
 instills
 in
 us
 a
 righteousness
 that 
leads
 us 
to 
callously
dismiss
 others’ 
humanity.

In 
the 
late 
eighteenth 
century,
 abolitionists
 were 
portrayed 
by 
pro‐slavers 
as
 idealistic 
moralizers 
who 
didn’t
 understand 
economic
realities.


 In 
the 
same
 way,
 sex
 slavery
 today 
is
 often 
dismissed
 as 
a
“women’s 
issue”
 or 
the
 traditional, 
cultural
 problems
 of
“others”.

Britain banned 
the 
slave 
trade 
in
1807
and 
freed 
all
 slaves
 in 
its
colonies 
in
 1833.
 Acts
 soon 
followed 
by 
other  
countries.

 For
  sixty
years, 
the
 British
 bore
 the 
cost.
The
 drop 
in
 revenue
 from 
sugar
production
 led 
to
 the 
loss
 of
 an
 estimated
 entire 
year’s 
gross
domestic 
product.
Taxes
 were 
increased 
and
 thousands
of
 naval 
men
killed,
while
 suppressing 
the 
trade 
in 
the 
Atlantic.

Slavery 
was 
not
 legally 
abolished 
in 
Aotearoa 
however, 
until
 1862,
and 
until
 that
 time
 was 
openly 
practised 
in
 the
 Chatham
 Islands 
with
the 
support 
of 
the
 Crown 
court
 and 
Anglican
 clergy. 
(Michael 
King,
2000). 

Dubbed 
as 
New
 Zealand’s 
most 
shameful
 secret,
 this 
tale 
is
graphically 
told
 in
 the 
film,
 The
 Feathers 
of 
Peace.
(2000).

As 
a
 country, 
New
Zealand 
thrives
 while 
parents 
in
 many 
nations,
reduced 
by
 poverty,
 knowingly
 or
 unknowingly
 sell 
their 
children
into
 sexual 
slavery.

 It
 benefits 
economically 
from 
global 
slave 
labour
through 
its 
importing 
of 
cheap
 mass‐produced
 consumer 
goods.

New 
Zealand 
has 
also 
been
 accused 
(2009) 
of 
being 
a 
destination
 for
the
 trafficking 
of 
women 
for
 sex
 slavery
 from
 Malaysia, 
Hong
Kong
and
 China. 

In
 April
 2010, 
New
Zealand 
officials 
acknowledged
 there
could 
well 
be
 undetected
 sex
slaves 
in
 this
 country. 
In
2010
 Simon
Power,
 N.Z.

 Minister 
of
 Justice,
reported 
that
 New
Zealand 
had
 yet
 to
identify 
a
 case
 of
 human
 trafficking
 however 

Authorities
 here
maintain
 that 
there
 is
 no 
automatic
 link
 between 
prostitution 
and
human 
trafficking 
as 
claimed 
by 
the 
U.S. 

From
  2003, 
when
prostitution
 was 
legalised 
in New
Zealand 
until
 2008,
 there 
were
 less 
than
 100 
prosecutions
 for 
crimes 
involving
 commercial 
sexual
exploitation
 of 
minors. 
Almost
 all
 prosecutions 
involved 
failure
  to
confirm
 that 
the 
worker
 was
 18,
 as
 claimed. 
(The 
legal 
age 
for
marriage
 with 
parental
 consent
 is
 16.)

The high number of abused children and suicidal youth in this country already speaks of a tendency to discount humans. (Amartya Sen.) Taken to extremes, this psychic tendency can and does allow for the “reasoning away” of slavery. This society has no cause for complacency. Along with the discounting of young human lives, our glacial indifference to the principles of slavery is evident in our acceptance of the enslaved animals on which New Zealand rides to economic prosperity. (RNZ 2011). One must wonder if the leaders who promote and encourage such primitive behaviour could ever inspire true change, at any level.

While we maintain our “right” to subjugate any other being through the excuse of cultural necessity, we will relinquish our self-responsibility to so-called higher authorities. The cost to our higher humanizing potential is beyond measure, numbing us into the appalling acquiescence to the human atrocities outlined in this brief article.

 NOT for sale: The return of the Global Slave Trade and how wecan fight it. USA: Harper CollinsBarclay, Barry. (2000). The Feathers of Peace. New Zealand Film Commission documentary

King Michael. (2000). Moriori: A People Rediscovered. (Revised Edition). N.Z: Viking Press

Kristof, Nicolas & WuDunn, Sheryl. (2010). Half the sky: How to change the world. U.K: Virago Press.

Pilger, John. (1998). Inside Burma: Land of Fear (film). Directed by David Munro Power, Simon. (2010) U.N. Human Rights Committee. 16 March 2010. http://

www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2010/hrct721.doc.htm

Radio New Zealand: Our Changing World (21 April 2011). AgResearch scientists aim to reduce methane emissions by modifying the rumen of cattle and sheep.

Savage, Jared. (2009). N.Z. Herald: Sex Slaves: 4 April 2009

U.S. State Department. (2009). Trafficking in Persons. http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/ tiprpt/2009/