Wednesday 13 February 2013
Enslaved: True Stories of Modern Day Slavery edited by Jesse Sage and Liora Kasten
Enslaved was certainly eye-opening. Whilst I was aware that modern day slavery existed, I had no idea of the extent and scope of it. To pick just a few narratives, in this book we meet: Micheline, a Haitian woman trafficked to the USA; Abuk, captured in a raid in Sudan; Jill, kept as a sex slave in suburban America; Beatrice, who thought she had got a job as a maid only to be enslaved and Harry, a victim of Chinese labour camps. There's also a narrative of a slave owner in Mauritiana, that still operates what we would think of as a traditional slavery system. Taken together, the chapters definitely raise awareness and they opened my mind to the suffering of millions of people around the world.
The more I read, the more the connection between slavery and poverty became clear. People who are living in extreme poverty are the ones that will apply for au-pair or maid positions abroad, without knowing enough about the situation to know if they are safe. They are the women driven to work as prostitutes, vulnerable to sex trafficking. The final chapter in the collection is about what we can do as readers and abolitionists, but it didn't really address this connection. Whilst I agree that there's much Western citizens can do about slavery (raising awareness being the least of them), until poverty as a whole is tackled it will continue. Corrupt governments and failing states have much to do with modern day poverty.
I think Enslaved is an important book, one to pass one and discuss with the people you see regularly. Modern slavery is an invisible thing, suffered by people that generally aren't educated or literate enough to raise awareness or push for change. It's not an easy read but it will make you think.
First Published: 2006