While some misguided folks in the United States lobby for race-based government reparations for involuntary servitude that ended 136 years ago, by comparison there is hardly a whisper of concern voiced over the African institution of slavery that continues even today.
The American Anti-Slavery Group reports there are more people enslaved worldwide today than ever before in history.
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"Most people believe slavery no longer exists, but it is still very much alive. From Khartoum to Calcutta, from Brazil to Bangladesh, men, women, and children live and work as slaves or in slave-like conditions," says Charles Jacobs, president of the group. "According to the London-based Anti-Slavery International, the world's oldest human-rights organization, there are at least 27 million people in bondage. Indeed, there may be more slaves in the world than ever before."
The "new slavery" takes many forms -- forced labor, servile marriage, debt bondage, child labor and forced prostitution.
- In India, the Bonded Labor Liberation Front believes that between 200,000 and 300,000 children are involved in the handmade woolen carpet industry, one of the largest export earners for the country. If one includes the 500,000 in Pakistan and 200,000 more in Nepal, the number of Asian child slaves in the carpet industry may reach one million.
- In Haiti, many work willingly in the Dominican sugar plantations, and the State Sugar Council, known as the CEA, fills the gap with a system that violates nearly every internationally recognized labor code against forced labor. Although political turmoil in Haiti has put an end to cross-border recruiting, the enslavement of blacks continues. The Dominican army fans out across the country, hauls Haitians off public buses, arrests them in their homes or at their jobs, and delivers them to the cane fields. According to human-rights workers on the scene, "Any Haitian in the street can be arrested and sent to batey [shantytown].''
- In Southeast Asia, hundreds of thousands of children, mostly girls but also boys, have been taken from their homes and delivered to bordellos, where they fuel a sex industry that thrives in great part by servicing Western and Japanese men. Although child prostitutes are used by Asian locals, some countries in Southeast Asia have become centers of international sex tourism and targets of organized pedophile rings. Centered in Thailand but spread throughout Asia, this international flesh trade consumes girls as young as 8 years of age.
- In Mauritania and Sudan, pure chattel slavery still exits. In Sudan and Mauritania, two countries that straddle the Arab-African divide, a person can become the property of another for life, bought and sold, traded and inherited, branded and bred. In Sudan, Africa's biggest country, chattel slavery is making a comeback, the result of a 13-year-old war waged by the Muslim north against the black Christian and animist south. Arab militias, armed by the government, have been raiding African villages, shooting the men and enslaving the women and children. The latter are kept as personal property or marched north and sold.
- Then, of course, there's China, which uses prison labor -- often constituted by political prisoners -- to make the very goods that fill our shopping centers and malls in the U.S.
Americans might also be surprised to learn that, in a very real way, their tax dollars are being used to support the slave trade.
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What do I mean? Well, for one thing, the United Nations, supported in large part by the U.S. government, channels aid in Sudan only where the slave-supporting Sudanese government approves.
So, it's doubly ironic that whiners in the U.S. -- people who have in no way been victimized by slavery -- call for redistributing of taxpayer wealth because of the victimization of their ancestors while new generations of slavery go unnoticed, unchallenged, even indirectly supported by U.S. tax dollars.
We hear more moaning and gnashing of teeth in the U.S. about so-called "sweatshops" -- businesses in which workers freely choose to work -- than we hear about the ultimate form of victimization. We hear more groaning about minimum-wage laws than we hear about slavery. We hear more griping about Confederate flags being flown in parts of the U.S. than we hear about people being kidnapped, raped, beaten and tortured into submission around the world right now.
There are people fighting the international slave trade today. And it's time for a new righteous abolitionist spirit to grip the United States so we can put an end to this scourge once and for all.
Editor's note: Joseph Farah urges readers to visit the website of the The American Anti-Slavery Group for further resources and suggested action on fighting the slave trade.