21st Century Slavery

Who here has heard of the slave trade? Alright, I’m assuming at least some of you have raised your hand. Of those who have heard of the slave trade will you please comment if you are in favour of it… Um, still waiting, somebody, anybody?

Nobody wanting to be taken seriously would openly praise the practices of slavery, and yet in all likelihood MOST OF US SUPPORT SLAVERY.

I hope I don’t have to justify getting this specific information from the Al-Jazeera News Network. In a world of “wedge issues” I sometimes worry about the growing rift between the W4   powers and the rest of the world. Even if Al-Jazeera is as biased towards issues of the Arab world as CNN is biased towards Conservative American values, is still necessary to see the other side of the coin. IMHO Al-Jazeera is not as biased as CNN, although, albeit maybe with good reason, they are noticeably anti-American.

That whole clash of civilization debate aside, if you’ve eaten food today chances are you’ve participated in slavery. Ever shop at Walmart? Yes = supported slavery (and I’m talking about REAL slavery, ie. locked up, beaten, starved, paid nothing, not just the economic enslavement of Walmart employees).

All in all there are seven episodes and a panel debate about modern slavery.

Prison slaves : Much of the cheap trinketry that is sold in Western big box stores is made certain Chinese prisons by slaves.

Bonded slaves : A form of slavery that is passed down from one generation to the next.

Sex slaves : There are an estimated 1.4 million sex slaves in the world today.

Food chain slaves : Approximately 40,000 slaves exist in the agricultural and food-chain supply systems of the US.

Bridal slaves : India has an increasing number of women and girls sold into marriage.

Charcoal slaves : Poverty-stricken men from the north of Brazil are often lured to remote camps where they are used as slave labour.

Child slaves : There are at least 8.4 million child slaves in the world today, many of them held as forced labour.
And the panel discussion: The Al Jazeera slavery debate  moderated by Rageh Omaar.

I feel these documentaries are great resource for getting younger generations to behave in a different manner than the generations that precede them. Although it good to have more than a couple “Buy Nothing Days” it necessary to buy things on a regular basis. Just as it is necessary to buy things it is also necessary to think about what you are buying. Of course we need produce and aren’t given much choice in supermarkets for local food, but farmer’s markets do exist. Yes, we do need clothes, but there are second hand stores, clothing swaps and even discounters like Winners where clothes provide less of a profit but don’t necessarily decrease demand.

Are we a society that is so pampered that we are willing to support slavery to continue our standard of living? As always I encourage you to check these facts yourself and form your own opinions.


2 responses to “21st Century Slavery

  1. I appreciate this post, Matt!
    When talking about slavery it is also important to distinguish between human trafficking (an integral part of the slavery system) and human smuggling (getting a refugee from point A to point B via illegal means). Recently, Harper’s ministry of Citizenship and Immigration recently announced it’s Bill C-4, The Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act. Of course, it does anything BUT that and simply increases barriers to migration for those seeking a new life in Canada. Punishing the smuggled to get at the smugglers violates fundamental charter rights and further obscures our “image” as a leader in international immigration policy.

    • Hey Sam,

      Thanks for the heads up on Bill C-4! Just read a synopsis of the bill from the Canadian Council for Refugees. Here’s an alarming snippet,

      “Under Bill C-4, the Minister can “designate” a group as an irregular arrival… A group could be designated even if there was no smuggling involved. Once a group is designated, everyone in the group is punished.”

      Yikes! Given the xenophobia of our current wolf pack… er, government I suspect a lot of people will be granted a “designation”… “designate” what a pukishly timid alternative to saying “returned in disgrace to starvation, imprisonment, torture, rape slavery, and other such things we don’t care happen to you.” Sigh, I still can’t believe the Conservative were able to manipulate a majority out of our broken electoral system.

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