Friday, October 28, 2011
Is Slavery Making a Comeback in America?
A woman was recently sentenced to 140 years in prison after using two Nigerian immigrants as personal unpaid servants in her luxury home in Atlanta, Georgia. (See also the slavery conviction reported on ImmigrationProf earlier this week.). A few days later, two Ukrainian brothers were convicted of smuggling desperate villagers into the United States to work long hours, cleaning retail stores and office buildings at little or no pay. The prosecuting U.S. attorney in Philadelphia, Daniel Velez, said it was “modern-day slavery. It’s hiding in plain sight.” However, according to a woman who lived through the racial prejudice, segregation and slavery in post World War II Europe, the slavery crisis in the modern world is far greater than that.
“Anyone who thinks slavery died when America abolished it in the 1800s has a shock coming to them,” said Lucia Mann, whose mother was a sex slave and a WWII concentration camp survivor. Mann, a former journalist and author of Rented Silence a novel about slavery and racial prejudice based on her life experiences and those of other persecuted souls she witnessed says, “According to the United Nations, there are more than 27 million slaves worldwide, which are more than twice the number of those who were enslaved over the 400 years that transatlantic slavers trafficked humans to work in the Americas. Many are forced into prostitution while others are used as unpaid laborers used to manufacture goods many of us buy in the U.S. In fact, it’s almost impossible to buy clothes or goods anymore without inadvertently supporting the slave trade.” Mann said that the crisis extends far greater than in the African and Asian nations typically associated with slavery or indentured servitude.
“After the hurricane in Haiti, the economy was so devastated, with as many as 3,000 people sold into slavery right there in their own country,” she added. “It affects all racial groups and slaves come from every single continent on the planet. The irony is that there are more slaves now that slavery is illegal than there were when it was a legal part of international commerce. Moreover, because of its illegal nature, it’s practically impossible to track and contain. It’s not a matter of how to stop it. It’s a matter of how we even begin to address it.” One of the reasons Mann wrote her book was to establish an awareness of the problem, so that people could have a frame of reference for action. “The wrongs of the past as well as the present must continue to be exposed so that they can be righted in the present and future,” Mann added. “This means educating society about evil and injustice and motivating them to take steps to ease others’ pain and anguish. The key is to get people aware of it, and then let them know what they can do to end the practice. In America, the first thing we need to do is address our own consumer habits. To help, the United Nations has created an online and mobile phone application to help people track if what they buy is supporting slavers.” Mann said the awareness and concern of the American people are the first steps to ending slavery around the world. “If there is no money to be made from enslaving people, it will end,” she said. “Many innocent people become the victims of viciousness or the prey of prejudice. While fear and anger are filling the cells and souls of innocents, the rest of us can bolster their spirits and lighten their load by having the guts to fight their fight and the heart to bring hope to humanity. Courage and commitment are powerful weapons and we should not hesitate to use them against the dishonorable people of the world.”