Thursday, 17 January 2013
World Slavery - the end?
It's pretty easy to look back at the Romans with that big dollop of disdain...I mean, turning people into some sort of commodity, how plain evil is that, right? We're so much better. Are we? really? The Atlantic slave trader John Newton wrote his battle hymn against slavery - 'Amazing Grace' - in 1748, having survived a horrific storm at sea...but he kept on slave trading for another six years after that lucky break. Britain officially abolished slavery in its territories on August 1st, 1834, however the 'Slavery Abolition Act' wasn't fully implemented until 1840 when the last 'British' slaves had served their time. And of course, the final decision on slavery in North America wasn't made until April 1865 - with the cost of 600,000 lives. So face it, we all have ancestors within eight generations of us that were touched in some way by the modern slave trade. But don't think for a moment worldwide slavery ended with the American Civil War. There were still 300,000 slaves in Saudi Arabia in 1962 when the tradition was banned there. Mauritania didn't end slavery until 1981 - freeing some 600,000. As of today it's estimated that 2.7-million people are currently trafficked slaves, with another 25.7-million in forced labour or bonded and debt labour. And just because we might be living comfortable western lives, don't think for a moment there is nothing in your house that could have been made by at least one of those 21st-century slaves. In fact, some might even be living your city. So are we that much better than the Romans? Or are we just better at pretending?
Check out my latest book - Vagabond - life after one million Gauls are sold into slavery