March 27, 2009

 

Free The Slaves!

Today is International Free The Slaves Awareness day.

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:"
The majority of slaves today can be found in India and in African countries. Below is a video you can watch about Francis Bok. He is a Sudanese Dinka, now living in the United States, who was enslaved from age seven until 17. He tells his story in his own words about the maltreatment and cruelty he endured for ten years. You can purchase Bok's book, Escape from Slavery, at Amazon here.




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.

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Comments:
Hey, thanks for the information. I will check into it. You are so amazing to raise awareness. I read your first five or so paragraphs and just cried. I was there too...Hugs, thanks for being so brave to share.
 
It require guts to say it all.
I'll make a post about the campaign later.
Thank you.
Hope you have a good therapist to work all these memories.
Love,
Ana
 
Mile 191: Thanks for your courage, too--in sharing on your own blog and in reading mine and supporting me.

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.
 
Excellent article. You are a very brave woman to write about your experiences. I have a lot of respect and admiration for you to do this and I'm sure you are touching the lives of many anonymous women who have endured similar experiences.
 
we also were slaves to our family although our father had more appropriate terms like his little girl or learning to be a wife it all meant the same sex slave: thanks for posting this
 
Itdawnedonme: Thanks for visiting. I hope you're right. Thanks for saying so.

JIP: Yeah, he was just like the slave owners who use terms like "bonded labor." Safe hugs to you, my dear. (((((((JIP)))))))
 
You're so good at making us always look at the big picture!

I read Bok's memoir a couple of years ago; really moving stuff...
 
Thanks, Michele! Yeah, I guess that's what I do always try to do. Thanks for noticing!
 
Wow. I've heard of human trafficking and slavery still existing, but your story was really heartbreaking. The ability to share this is just mind boggling, yet appreciated, because like Mile191 said, it raises awareness from someone who knows and has experienced this firsthand. I'm sorry for your past, and hope that your present + future holds plenty of freedom, comfort, love and peace.
 
What a nice comment, Deb. Thanks so much for leaving it.
 
What a powerful and important post. ((((((Hugs)))))))
 
Thanks for that comment, April. And thanks, always, for those nice hugs. (((((April))))))
 
Wow, what an post! It is totally amazing. You do very good work Marj and kudos to you! Blessings!
 
Thank you for sharing and opening my eyes.
 
Just Be Real: Thanks for commenting and thanks for the kudos!

Casdok: Nice to "see" you again. Thanks for being willing to have your eyes opened. Not everyone can say that.
 
I tagged you on my blog with an award. You can play along. I also wanted to draw awareness to your blog and especially this great post.
 
Thanks for this post. Important information.
 
Enola: Wow, thanks. I'm touched. And here you are just coming off your surgery for the kidney stone. You're amazing! I'll come over and have a look-see.

Karma: You're welcome and thank YOU for reading.
 
Yupe, free slave labor in my house as well. Some parents really suck!
 
RR: Thanks for commenting. Nice to "see" you. Yeah, it's interesting, isn't it? My parents got all this free slave labor out of me...all the while exclaiming that it was ME that was such a burden! Huh??
 
You're very courageous, this is a very powerful post. Thanks for sharing.
 
Paola: Thank you and you're welcome!
 
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