March 27, 2009
Free The Slaves!
I was definitely a sex slave to my father. If I did not perform one of my "job duties" to his satisfaction, punishment (torture) was swift, cruel and inhumane.
Even before I retrieved the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse, I always remembered the verbal abuse, physical abuse, spiritual abuse, emotional abuse, etc. I have always felt like my birth guaranteed my parents free slave labor.
With my mother, it was free domestic labor. My sister and I would stand on chairs, as we had the sole responsibility of the family dish washing starting at age seven. We were not yet old enough to reach the kitchen sink. I got so good at scouring toilets, scrubbing bathtubs and mopping floors, that by age 11 I decided to farm out my cleaning skills to the neighbors and I actually got paid for it.
After my parents divorced, the duties I was expected to perform for my mother increased. Her two favorites were forcing me to give her foot massages and rubbing her head when she had a headache (which was daily).
You may call these childhood memories "incest," "parentification," "not age-appropriate" or simply, "chores."
What these memories feel like to me--then and now--adds up to pure slavery. I had no freedom. I had no choice. I had no means of escape.
It seems to me that, when we think of slavery on a large scale, we think of The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. We think of Africans being shipped across the ocean, sold, forced to do menial labor, beaten, whipped and treated as less than human--treated as animals, or even below animals. Many of us in the US think of Abraham Lincoln, The Civil War, and The Emancipation Proclamation of 1862.
We think it's over.
Indeed, slavery is illegal world-wide. But, it's far from over. In fact, as the United Nations recognized its International Day of Remembrance of The Victims of Slavery on Wednesday, March 25, it reminded us that some 100 milli0n Africans were forced into slavery in the 200 years of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
Today, FTS--Free The Slaves--estimates that 27 million people are enslaved at the present time.
Folks, that's Right Now!
Have you heard this statistic about modern-day slavery? Think you heard wrong? Well, have you heard any of these terms: child labor, exploitation, trafficking, sexual slavery, child soldiers? These are all forms of modern-day slavery. If you go to the Unicef website, at www.unicef.org, you will find a whopping 22 pages of related articles on modern-day slavery, sprinkled with the terms I've mentioned above.
Since many of us haven't thought of slavery since our US history classes in school, let's do a refresher on the definition of slavery. FTS defines slaves as being "forced to work without pay under threat of violence and unable to walk away." Think this is something that only happens on some remote island, far, far away? FTS provides a glogal map of modern slavery occurrence. There, the US is highlighted prominently, along with China, Russia, India and South American and African countries. Each country/region gets categorized as "slave labour used both internally and exported" or "receiver of slave labour and products."
Here are some statistics you may not know, from the FTS "Top 10 Facts About Modern Slavery:"
- At least 14,500 slaves are trafifcked into the United States each year
- Slaves work in fields, mines, brothels, restaurants...even homes
- Slave owners use many words to avoid the term slavery, such as "debt bondage," and "bonded labor"
- Around the world, the average cost to turn a human into a slave is only $90
FTS believes that we could totally end slavery within 25 years. But we must educate ourselves about the problem. We must raise awareness. Below, I've listed a couple more sites that you can visit to educate yourself about modern-day slavery and raise your own awareness. If you want to help us raise awareness in the blogosphere, go to Bloggers Unite.
- While FTS is a movement/charity in the US, Anti-Slavery is international
- Justice Sunday is this Sunday, March 29. Get details at UUSC, The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
I'll make a post about the campaign later.
Hope you have a good therapist to work all these memories.
Ana: I seem to be getting more guts all the time. It DOES get easier talking about it. I'll come by and check out your post, too. And, yes, I DO have a very good therapist and we work well together.
JIP: Yeah, he was just like the slave owners who use terms like "bonded labor." Safe hugs to you, my dear. (((((((JIP)))))))
I read Bok's memoir a couple of years ago; really moving stuff...
Casdok: Nice to "see" you again. Thanks for being willing to have your eyes opened. Not everyone can say that.
Karma: You're welcome and thank YOU for reading.
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