When I was in elementary school learning about history not just in this country but all human history I was consistently struck dumbfounded by the idea of one person keeping other people in bondage. Something inside my head could not understand how it could be justified in any way that people could be viewed as property with every aspect of their lives being controlled by another person or group.
Many might be surprised how openly the discussion of all aspects of slavery were brought out down here in the South. While the most gruesome and explicit details about slavery didn't come until high school none the less as a young child my classmates and I understood that families were torn apart and bought and sold like farm equipment. Physical and sexual abuse could come at any moment with it later being laughed about by otherwise "pillars of the community." Even as something basic as learning to read could be a death sentence for both the person wanting to learn and the teacher. While slavery was a nightmare on all levels when you boiled it down what most got me was the simple idea that a slave had absolutely no control over what was done to them and had no recourse to correct it. That total inability to have even the most basic control over ones own fate still makes my skin crawl.
In my youth I could at least take some comfort with the belief that the institution of slavery was something had been confined to the past. Years later I would come to believe that while it had been abolished here in America that in other, less developed and enlighten parts of the world some form of it still survived. Much to my sadness my next revelation would have me find out that in far away and forgotten corners of America isolated pockets of what amounted to slavery was being practiced. Still I hoped and believed that these were exceptions to the rule and that shining the light of day on these hideous affairs would stamp them out. Now even that is gone with word that while the institution might be relegated to the past like some contagious virus the scourge of slavery has not only appeared again but is growing.
At least in my younger days I could consul myself that such things were lost in the past never to be brought back. As the years went on I was sadden to learn that while institution of slavery had been abolished in this country it still survived in other, less developed and enlightened, parts of the world. Now, I do not even have that comfort. I had long since learned that slavery existed here in America but at least, I thought, it was hidden in small pockets that never could stand the light of day. I wish that was the case.
Thirty Thai men who were "tricked into a life of forced labor" after being promised lucrative jobs in the United States are just one symptom of the problem of modern-day slavery, CNN reported Monday.
In one recent incident a 16-year-old Mexican girl was found to have been trafficked across the US border. Doctors noticed the heavily pregnant girl showed clear signs of physical abuse when she was brought into a hospital in Dayton to give birth. The police were called but the couple who had brought her had already fled. When the girl's story emerged, it became clear she had been kept against her will in the nearby city of Springfield and used for labour and sex. "I thought slavery ended a few centuries ago. But here it is alive and well," said Springfield's sheriff, Gene Kelly.