Modern Slavery

September 24, 2008 at 9:27 am (Work)

Yesterday a commenter on this blog called me spoiled in response to my complaints about my working conditions.  This, as you can imagine, made me huffy and indignant.  How dare someone call me spoiled on my own blog?!  The commenter is clearly wrong.  I am NOT spoiled.  However, I will definitely admit that I am fortunate.

Last night I went to a lecture at Columbia where I heard James Kofi Annan talk about his childhood as a slave in the fishing industry in Ghana. Almost unbelievably more devastating was the speech given by Ricky Richard about his life as a child soldier in Uganda and the work he’s doing to rehabilitate children who have been forced to kill their families and serve as sex slaves. According to Jolene Smith, the founder of Free the Slaves, 27 million people worldwide live in slavery, at least 10,000 of whom are in the US at any given time. The vast majority of slaves are women and children.

Today, I am going to refrain from complaining about my daily struggles, and instead spend the time learning more about slavery, human trafficking, and what I can do to combat them. I invite you to do the same.


  1. Eve L. Incarnata said,

    Thanks for posting about modern slavery. I keep getting into trouble with people who advertise on social networking sites as wanting to be in “master-and-slave” relationships, as I think it’s insulting to talk about something consensual in such terms. It’s insulting to people who actually are living as slaves, and to the millions who died in slavery.

  2. Ten Feet said,

    It is precisely the taboo of those terms that contributes to the getting off for people who are into that kind of thing. All in all, the sexual wiring of people who participate in consensual and responsible BDSM has no effect on actual slavery in the world–and in fact has no relationship to the lives of actual slaves. Personally, I’m not into judging people for their consensual, responsible kinks, especially since people who do not follow normative sexual practices or do not have normative sexual identities deal with their own brands of non-consensual persecution and suffering from society at large. I just don’t have sex with people whose kinks turn me off, and voilà, my life remains unsullied by their activities. It’s important to remember that there is nothing mutually exclusive about having a non-normative sexual life and doing what you can to improve the suffering of people who live in slavery. And nothing about people who have non-normative sexual lives prevents them from caring about those in the world who suffer for real.

  3. Ten Feet said,

    I used to get inquiries about whether I wanted to be dominated all the time. Mostly, they pissed me off because A) the dating site I was using was a mainstream site, and B) nowhere in my profile did I specify wanting to participate in any kind of dom-sub relationship. What ticked me off was that these people did not have the balls to own up to their kinks and look for partners on sites where people are actively looking to be matched with like-minded people–instead of wasting the time of those who aren’t looking to participate in their specific brand of fun.

  4. ashyknees said,

    Thanks for bringing the issue of contemporary slavery to our attention, Qui. I hear about these problems every so often, but I don’t spend much time considering the implications and I’ve never thought about what I can do to help.

    Sometimes thinking about my place in the world relative to others can be overwhelming, but it must be done. After watching Darwin’s Nightmare, a documentary about the fishing industry near Lake Victoria, I thought I’d never complain about my job again. I think that sentiment lasted less than a week.

    It’s corny, but every so often when I feel down, I remember that I’ve got a comfortable place to sleep, I know where my next meal is coming from, and the likelihood that someone might physically attack me is low. Appreciating that I’ve got more than the basics doesn’t make me fall to my knees in gratitude, but it does keep things in perspective.

  5. GunMonkey said,

    I worked on a human-trafficking case back in DC. We had a pimp in custody who was spilling his guts on the people to whom he was distributing the girls. He pretty much gave up the whole operation. Once they muled the girls over the border, they separated out the ones 14 years and younger and sent them to sites for the customers with special tastes.

    I tangled with my gf at the time, who thought pimps were funny buffoons with big floppy hands and platform shoes, and it was totally cool I got to meet one. She didn’t like it when I told her I had to tamp down the urge to empty my gun into the guy’s heart.

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