Category Archives: Stop Child Slavery

The Words That Haunt Me

I’m so happy to have Shelley Seale contributing here.

Her last post, “Children as Chattel: Child Labor & Trafficking in India“, is worth a serious read and reflection. I commented on it, stating that one of the paragraphs haunted me. It was this paragraph:

“Child laborers and prostitutes exist in such large numbers for a very simple, yet horrific, reason: they are cheap commodities. Children cost less than cattle; a cow or buffalo costs an average 20,000 rupees, but a child can be bought and traded like an animal for 500 to 2,000 rupees. They can be paid the least, exploited the most, and due to their largely invisible status have virtually no power against their oppressors.”

It is horrific at a level I’m unable to get me mind around. Since Shelley is there, seeing it, feeling it, I asked her, “How does the average American begin to help? How can they effectively create change?”

She responded in an email to me. With her permission, I would like to share it with you here.

From Shelley:

I understand your concern and the feeling of being overwhelmed by the horror of it. Honestly, I feel the same way. Yet, there are many things that the average American, halfway around the world, can do to help bring about change to this “industry.” The very first step is awareness, which people are actively taking when they choose to read articles like this and blogs like yours, instead of turning away. In the words of Albert Schweitzer: “Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.”

For more proactive steps, there are simple things which can keep that conscious awareness at a level at which it can help these children:

1. Be aware of where the goods you buy are coming from. Is it really worth getting something a few dollars cheaper if it is made by slave labor or children? There is a resource called “The Better World Shopping Guide” which is an ethical consumer’s guide to avoiding buying products such as ones that are made in these types of factories and sweatshops that employ child labor. You can go on their site and see the BEST and WORST companies on the planet based on a comprehensive analysis of their overall records of social and environmental responsibility for the past 20 years.

2. You can take action by signing petitions and/or financially supporting organizations that are working worldwide to end child labor. Some of them are: globalmarch.org | endchildlabor.org | earthaction.org

3. You can support individuals and NGOs such as CCD which I visited and profiled for this story. These are the real grassroots people who are working in the trenches every day to uphold the rights of children to that most simple of things: a childhood. Centre for Communication and Development

4. Write to your senators and representatives and urge them to support United Nations’ and global efforts at ended child labor, trafficking and slavery. For a website to look up your representative and contact them online, go to www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml.

Together, we CAN make this a world fit for children!

Shelley, thank you. I know everyone reading this will benefit from your insight.

Slaves Today Have No Value

There’s a major difference between today’s modern slaves and the slaves we read about in our American history books.

disposable peopleAs I was relating to a friend that there are more slaves in the world today than at any other time in human history, it hit me… one thing about modern slavery is fundamentally different. Slavery is sinister at best, but this brand of slavery is even worse than previous brands of slavery. Slaves today have almost no value to their owners. They are cheap and disposable.

As I began to research this, it was clear, this is not a unique thought. In 1999, Paul Stickley said this:

There are “more slaves alive today than all the people stolen from Africa in the time of the transatlantic slave trade,” writes Kevin Bales. He estimates there are more than 27 million people “enslaved by violence and held against their wills for purposes of exploitation” and the number is increasing. A feature of the new slavery is that slaves become disposable once the slaveholder has used them.

In the last century in the American South a slave owner might pay the equivalent of up to $100,000 for a slave. This was an incentive to keep a slave alive. Today a slaveholder can enslave a worker for as little as a $20 debt. It is not profitable to keep them if they are not immediately useful or become ill.

The truth of this is sickening.

Read More about Slavery In The Modern Era .

Fish Bowl-A Poem

~for the young ones in Thailand
thaigirls.jpg

(The glass room that the women sit behind in these brothels is sometimes called the ‘fish bowl’, where the men can sit and look at them and choose the one he wants to buy)

Through the thick clouds, tainted smoke
Pink vinyl on the seats
On the left sat Mama San
With ladies at her feet

Mr. X leaned in to hear her deal,
“4000 baht,” she crooned.
“Which girl you like?” she asked the man,
“You take in short-time room”.

And so the man withdrew his line,
he threw a heaving cast-
to grab a hold of some young thing,
to get him off real fast.

Her hair was thick, as black as night;
her frame a wee bit small.
Her face was turned towards the set;
her back against the wall.

He cast his net and reeled her in,
a toy with which he would play.
It mattered not her circumstance,
It mattered not her day.

He did not think on how she’d knelt
one hundred times already,
if she were tired, or she were sore,
as long as she was pretty.

Down the hall he followed her,
the girl with Mr. X.
He asked her for the soapie,
which meant he want the sex.

He’d paid her for the hour long,
and not a minute more.
Later on he’d a wife to meet,
and she was just a whore.

A good one though he would admit,
Mama San said she was her best-
better than the last one for sure
even if she’d had small breasts.

Nonetheless, this fisherman,
more skilled now at his game.
never gave another thought
to even ask her name.

Out the door and on his way,
his life feigned normalcy;
and from that day he never thought
of the girl who was Sumalee.

©07 KR

culture-ladies-crazyjacks.jpg

Overwhelmed By The Volume

feed reader numbersI’m disturbed by the numbers.

I have been busy focusing on some other project for the past few days and left my Child Slavery reading to tonight. When I opened my google feed reader folder, I was shocked by what I found.

The image to the right is a screen capture of my feeds from various search criteria.

As you can see, there are literally thousands of articles to wade through. This may be as clear an indication of the scope of the child slavery problem as anything I’ll find in any single article. I wish I could say I look at this and am filled with hope. But I am quite confident what I’m going to find… many stories of pain and a few stories of joy.

I need to find a way to create more stories of joy.

Thailand for Children, Disneyland for Pedophiles?

Thailand is currently called “Disneyland for pedophiles” and has up to 600,000 AIDS cases and a huge sex-for-sale industry, driven mostly by European and American tourists who come to rent what they want. It is estimated that the number of prostitutes in Thailand ranges from 800,000 to 2 million. Among which 20% of Thailand Prostitutes are 18 or younger.(“Disneyland for Pedophiles”)
Why is this multi million dollar industry still functioning?”

As you can see, even though it is against the law in Thailand for persons to engage in sexual relations with anyone under the age of 15, it is still happening. Young women in Thailand are still being sold into sexual slavery by their parents, and Europeans and Westerners alike are all aiding the demand for this service. Read more about the violation of these young girls here.

Slavery Is Not American History

We need to stop teaching our children about slavery exclusively in American History classes. Slavery in America is a current event.

I was taught as early as elementary school that slavery ended with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. I knew that the bigotry did not end there. I saw it first hand. But I spent much of my life blissfully unaware that slavery, in any form, existed at all in America much after that event. I was not taught correctly.

Is a whole new generation going to grow up believing this?

Probably. Even today, if you go to the history page of SlaveryInAmerica.org you read this: “From the beginnings of slavery in British North America around 1619, when a Dutch ship brought 20 enslaved Africans to the Virginia colony at Jamestown, nearly 240 years passed until the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution officially ended slavery in 1865.”

And the image below is representative of the kinds of images we are shown; woodcut drawings and beat up black and white photos. They scream at us, “This is history! This is not happening today!”

whipping

Wikipedia’s history of slavery in the U.S. ends at 1865 as well.

This is a tragic misrepresentation. Yes, of course the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution made slavery illegal, but it did not end slavery in America. It simply took it underground. The U.S. State Department Trafficking In Persons Report of June, 2006 says that more than 50,000 people each year are trafficked through the United States. They are trafficked as sex slaves, domestics, and as garment and agricultural slaves. (1)

What would happen if we stopped teaching slavery exclusively as American History and started teaching it in social studies as a current event?

I am 45 years old and am just now waking up to the fact that slavery of all kinds, especially child slavery, is running rampant in our world. To open my eyes fully to the truth that this is happening inside the borders of this country is sobering at best, frightening at worse. Every day I spend time sifting through my google reader looking at the slavery news stories and blog posts that pour in each day. And as I work the topic into my social conversations, I’m not surprised at how few people understand the scope of the problem. It’s what our trusted teacher’s taught us.

As a society, we would be better off teaching our children, as early as is appropriate, that while slavery is illegal, it has not ended. It’s our only hope for ending it, not only here in the United States, but everywhere. They need to be educated about the ways slavery supports industry and commerce, both here and abroad. They need to be made aware that there are things they can do to help. They need to understand the geopolitical issues that make this a complex problem that can’t be solved with anembargo on all unfairly traded goods.

We’re not going to be able to teach this exclusively as a history lesson until corporations use their collective influence over their suppliers to force their vendors to stop using slave or forced labor. If we allow another generation to grow up believing slavery is already history, we make it harder to develop the kind of truly creative solutions that speak to the absence of resources and education that make it possible for people to be enslaved in the first place.

If we want our children to be able to help us solve the problem of slavery in the future, we’ve got to start educating them about it’s presence today.