Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Catching Up on your Reading: Part III

The last few weeks were the holidays and all, so it's entirely understandable if you fell behind on your reading. Today on Fosco Lives! Fosco will be pointing you toward things you should have read over the holidays but might have missed.

This one is going to be a downer. Fosco's recent interest in the Third World has led him to pay much more attention to stories about contemporary slavery. According to this article in Foreign Policy magazine (an excellent mag, btw), "there are now more slaves on the planet than at any time in human history." The Foreign Policy article is shocking and begins with an anecdote about how obscenely easy it is to purchase a child slave in Haiti:

Standing in New York City, you are five hours away from being able to negotiate the sale, in broad daylight, of a healthy boy or girl. He or she can be used for anything, though sex and domestic labor are most common. Before you go, let’s be clear on what you are buying. A slave is a human being forced to work through fraud or threat of violence for no pay beyond subsistence. Agreed? Good.


If you’re interested in taking your purchase back to the United States, Benavil tells you that he can “arrange” the proper papers to make it look as though you’ve adopted the child.

He offers you a 13-year-old girl.

“That’s a little bit old,” you say.

“I know of another girl who’s 12. Then ones that are 10, 11,” he responds.

The negotiation is finished, and you tell Benavil not to make any moves without further word from you. Here, 600 miles from the United States, and five hours from Manhattan, you have successfully arranged to buy a human being for 50 bucks.
Sickening. Similarly, a recent Huffington Post story explores child maid trafficking from Africa, based on the testimony of a former child maid rescued from slavery in Irvine, California:
Shyima was 10 when a wealthy Egyptian couple brought her from a poor village in northern Egypt to work in their California home. She awoke before dawn and often worked past midnight to iron their clothes, mop the marble floors and dust the family's crystal. She earned $45 a month working up to 20 hours a day. She had no breaks during the day and no days off.
While this particular story has a happy ending for poor Shyima (she gets to go to Disneyland a lot!), the evildoers don't learn their lesson.

I'm sorry to have to recommend these articles, but we have to know these things if we are going to stop them.

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