Thursday, May 22, 2008

Global Slavery Could Be Eradicated With 10% of US Stimulus Checks

Although there are now more people enslaved worldwide than at any time in human history, according to acclaimed human rights activist and leading expert on slavery, Kevin Bales, founder of Free The Slaves, an organization devoted to rescuing and rehabilitating slaves worldwide, as reported here:

Of course, this would require a process that could take years - but even though, Bales' assertion that it's doable is itself amazing. As Bales said in this interview,
"It would be interesting if we held a national referendum and asked people if they'd be willing to take ten percent of their stimulus check and use it to eradicate slavery across the globe,"
Some of the largely little known facts about slavery - there are:

  • 27 million slaves world-wide

  • 50,000 slaves in the US are forced to work as prostitutes, farm workers and domestic servants

  • There are roughly the same number of people trafficked into the United States every year as there are murders committed

  • 17,500 slaves are brought into the United States every year (acc. to State Dept.)

  • The United Nations reports that human trafficking is now the third largest moneymaker for criminals, after drugs and weapons

  • Definition of slavery: Slaves are under the complete, violent control of another person; they are economically exploited, and get only enough food and shelter to keep them alive (see this article

  • Since about 1950, the average price for a human life has collapsed to a historic low of less than $200

  • Research in the US shows that about one-third of those liberated owed their freedom to the actions of ordinary citizens

In his latest book,"Ending Slavery: How We Free Today's Slaves," Bales describes the horrors of modern slavery and comes up with real solutions. He also examines slavery's ties to global industry and business, as well as the activists who risk their lives to bring people out of slavery.

This story from the book is enough to motivate anyone:
In a section of the book titled "A Wake-Up Call in San Diego," Bales recounts the story of a sex-slavery operation in the small town of Oceanside, California, just north of San Diego, where Riena, a 15-year-old Mexican girl was forced to have sex with scores of migrant farmworkers on a daily basis. On the outskirts of the strawberry fields where the migrants worked, "pimps pushed paths through the tall reeds, and hollowed out small 'caves' along the paths. There on the ground, with scraps of clothing, bits of blankets, used condoms, spit, empty bottles and trash, teenagers were on their backs, forced to have sex with the two hundred men a day who prowled these paths."

Riena had been smuggled into the US and held captive by her pimp, who threatened to kill her infant daughter in Mexico if she ran away. After seven months, Riena tried to escape despite the threat. She was caught and brutally beaten. On her second attempt, she managed to reach the local police station.

Finally, Mexican authorities returned her baby to her, and some of the criminals involved were caught and charged with lesser crimes. It brings the issue of slavery closer to home.

According to Bales,
Since 1950, factors as diverse as war, environmental destruction, kleptocratic governments and ethnic cleansing have made populations especiallyvulnerable to enslavement. When the end of the cold war eliminated barriersbetween states, the trade in people accelerated. ...
The good news about modern slavery is that, possibly for the first time in human history, it can be eradicated. With laws against it in every country, and the lack of any large vested economic interest supporting it, slavery can be ended when the public and governments make it a priority. Based on analysis of anti-slavery projects in south Asia and west Africa, the current estimated cost of the enforcement and rehabilitation programmes needed to eradicate slavery around the world is about $15bn over a 25-year period. This is approximately what Saudi Arabia is intending to spend in the UK buying military aircraft.

Which brings me to Saudi Arabia, whose royal family notoriously overspend on personal luxuries and care little for others' lives. Slavery is strongly deplored in Islam, contrary to popular opinion, and even contrary to the ideas held by many Muslims. As an Islamic Nation, Saudi Arabia both practices and condones slavery in action, and does nothing to stop it, making it an obvious showplace of hypocrisy and corruption. Freeing of slaves itself is featured in the Qur'an as a path to redemption, a path many Muslim leaders apparently reject.

If only more people had a conscience, slavery could be almost eradicated.

No comments: