When my sister Precious left home I was lonely and missed her every day. She was five years older than me and I always looked up to her. She finished school and went to Nairobi to train as a nurse. This was what she had wanted to do all her life. I remember her playing […]
Seven years. That’s how long it took before Lucy saw her children again. She’d missed seven years of birthdays, holidays, and other special times that mothers share with their children. Lucy missed them because she’d spent those seven years as a victim of trafficking. Lucy came to Safe Horizon’s Anti-Trafficking Program after law enforcement agents […]
William Wilberforce ( Freedom For Human Slavery) One of the consequences of the establishment in the 17th century of the sugar industry in the British colonies in the Caribbean region was the importation of Africans to work as slaves. The result of this was that black people very soon comprised the great majority of the populations. During the colonial era British propagandists successfully misled their colonial subjects about their own history. What was taught in schools and portrayed in the press was designed to create the belief that white people were superior and black people inferior and to justify the fact that our countries were ruled by the British Government. This indoctrination was fortified by what people could see for themselves. The people who held the top positions in government and society generally were white or light complexioned. With few exceptions, the people at the bottom of the social and economic ladder were black. For the most part brown people, of mixed racial origin, occupied an intermediate social and economic status in the social structure. The fact that millions of Africans had been enslaved and transported to the Americas by British slave traders could not be denied. But by allegations that everything in Africa was backward and barbaric an attempt was made to convince colonial subjects that their enslavement and transportation had been to their advantage. When slavery was mentioned, it was often done in a way to claim credit for Britain‚s leading role in suppressing the slave trade. British abolitionists like William Wilberforce were featured as liberators and the abolition of slavery was attributed entirely to British benevolence. The part played by rebel slaves in achieving the abolition of slavery was rarely if ever mentioned. The subject of my talk tonight, taken from the title of one of my books, is “Slaves Who Abolished Slavery”. However, to put the struggles of the slaves for freedom in context, it is first necessary to examine the programs of the British abolitionist movement and the British Government. Religious Opposition to the Slave Trade The people in Britain who first came to the conclusion that it was morally wrong to enslave human beings were motivated by religious convictions.In 1776 David Hartley, representing the city of Hull, proposed that the House of Commons should condemn the slave trade as “contrary to the laws of God and the rights of man”. The House disagreed. In 1783 the Society of Friends, a Christian religious group popularly known as the Quakers, presented a petition proposing that trafficking in human beings should be prohibited. Prime Minister Lord North dismissed their proposal as impractical, asserting that the trade was a necessity for every European nation. In July of that year six Quakers formed a committee “to consider what steps they should take for the relief and liberation of the Negro slaves in the West Indies, and for the discouragement of the Slave- trade”. On 22 May 1787 Granville Sharp, Thomas Clarkson and others including nine Quakers formed a committee which launched the Abolition Society. Although most of the members of this Society disapproved of slavery, they decided that for tactical reasons they should concentrate on a campaign to persuade Parliament to prohibit trading in slaves and should not demand the abolition of slavery. The only member of the Society who thought that they should proclaim the abolition of slavery as their objective was Granville Sharp. On 12 August 1788 the Society issued a public statement making it clear that the abolition of slavery was not their objective. They repeated this in statements issued on 31 January 1792 and 29 March 1797. Millions of Africans Transported as Slaves The slave trade involved the involuntary transportation of millions of Africans to the American mainlands and the Caribbean islands. Noel Deerr (THE HISTORY OF SUGAR, 2 vols. London 1949/1950) estimated that the total number of Africans imported as slaves into the thirteen British colonies was 1,920,000. P.D. Curtin (THE ATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE, A CENSUS (Madison, USA, 1969) estimated the total number imported into the Spanish American colonies as 1,552, 000. The country into which the largest number of African slaves was imported was the Portuguese colony of Brazil. An estimate made in 1861, which Curtin seems to think may have been exaggerated, gave the total number imported as 5,750,000. During the wars in Africa, encouraged by the slave traders and conducted for the purpose of capturing prisoners for sale, many were killed. For example, in five expeditions in which they obtained 15,000 captives for sale, the Bornu soldiers killed 20,000 others. Many of the captives perished on the journey to the coast where the slave traders were waiting to purchase them (W.W. Claridge, A HISTORY OF THE GOLD COAST AND ASHANTI, 2nd. Edit. Frank Cass, London, 1964). Many of the Africans, who were confined in crowded insanitary conditions in the holds of the slave ships, died during the Atlantic crossing. Between 1680 and 1688, 23 our of every 100 taken aboard the ships of the Royal African Company died in transit. Curtin accepts this percentage rate of loss as valid for the period 1690 to 1700. Similar high losses of life were experienced on the slave ships of other nations. Losses of life on Portuguese ships carrying slaves to Brazil were somewhat lower apparently due to better conditions. Curtin estimates these losses as about 10 per 100 during the period 1701 to 1810 and 9.1 percent during the period 1817 to 1843. Slave Trading Made Illegal In 1807 the British Parliament made the slave trade illegal as from 1 August 1808. Interestingly enough, this decision was supported by many of the sugar plantation owners in the older British colonies. These slave owners were not motivated by humanitarian sentiments but by commercial considerations. In 1798 British forces had occupied the Spanish colony of Trinidad and this island was ceded to Britain in 1802. Although the land was suitable for sugar cane cultivation, very little cultivation of sugar canes had taken place under the Spaniards. This may have been because sugar plantations already existed in Andalusia in southern Spain. After the conquest British settlers began to establish sugar plantations in Trinidad. The sugar they produced could be imported into Britain, enjoying the same imperial customs duty concessions as sugar imported from the older British colonies. The owners of sugar plantations in these older colonies saw the development of sugar production in Trinidad as a competitive threat. In order to prevent such potential competitors from obtaining the labourers they required to develop their new plantations, they therefore supported the abolition of the slave trade. In 1804 the Dutch colonies of Demerara, Berbice and Essequibo (later ceded and merged to form British Guiana) were also seized by Britain. The Dutch had developed sugar cane plantation, but mainly on the banks of the rivers. After the transfer of these colonies to Britain an expansion of the sugar industry, particularly on the coastal land, began to take place. Sugar produced in these colonies would also enter Britain with the same imperial duty concessions. But these plantations would also require importation of many more labourers. The same considerations as in the case of Trinidad therefore applied. But although, for the reasons given, owners of plantations in the older British colonies might support the abolition of the slave trade, they were strongly opposed to the abolition of slavery. The Anti-Slavery Society Advocates Gradual Abolition Not until 1823 did persons in Britain who disapproved of slavery summon up the courage to publicly call for its abolition. They however proposed that this should be done very gradually. The full name of the society formed in that year to advocate this, popularly known as the Anti-Slavery Society, is revealing – “The Society for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery”. In May 1823 Thomas Fowell Buxton, the Society‚s representative, introduced a motion in the House of Commons “That the state of Slavery is repugnant to the principles of the British constitution and of the Christian religion and that it ought to be gradually abolished throughout the British colonies”. In support of his resolution Buxton proposed that the House should agree on a date, though he did not name a date, after which all children born should be born free, and that those slaves who were already alive on that date should continue to be slaves for the remainder of their natural lives. He however suggested that slaves should have a right (that slaves then enjoyed in Spanish territories but not in British colonies) to purchase their freedom at a price to be fixed by a competent authority. He said that such a scheme for gradual abolition had been adopted and was working successfully in New York State, USA, and in Ceylon and Columbia. He said that, if this plan was adopted, slavery: This scheme, if implemented, would have taken at least half a century to run its course, but Buxton withdrew it when the Government, undertook to introduced an even more gradual proposal. Introducing this George Canning said: “The question to be decided is, how civil rights, moral improvements and general happiness are to be communicated to the overwhelming multitude of slaves, with safety to the lives and security to the interests of the white population, our fellow-subjects and fellow citizens”. He then moved the following resolution, which was unanimously approved: That it is expedient to adopt effective and decisive measures for ameliorating the condition of the slave population of his Majesty‚s colonies. That through a determined and persevering, but at the same time judicious and temporate inforcement of such measures, this House looks forward to a progressive improvement in the character of the slave population, such as may prepare them for a participation of these civil rights and privileges which are enjoyed by other classes of his Majesty‚s subjects. That this House is anxious for the accomplishment of this purpose at the earliest period that shall be compatible with the well-being of the slaves themselves, with the safety of the colonies, and a fair and equitable consideration of the interests of private property Slave Rebellkions Accelerate the Abolition of Slavery Many members of the Anti-Slavery Society disapproved of the policy of accommodation pursued by Wilberforce and Buxton and, in May 1830, a resolution was approved at a meeting of the Society which advocated immediate abolition. It is however unlikely that, left to themselves, a majority of the members of Parliament would have arrived at the conclusion that the character of the slaves was sufficiently improved to satisfy the requirements of their 1823 resolution in less than a century. Never the less, legislation abolishing slavery was introduced in the British House of Commons a mere ten years later in 1833. How could this have occurred? The only logical explanation is that it was the intervention of the most interested parties, the slaves themselves, that accelerated the process of abolition. Throughout the centuries of slavery there had always been slaves who had refused to passively accept their servile status. Hardly a year had passed without a slave rebellion or uprising occurring in the colonies in the Caribbean islands and the adjacent mainlands. There were also numerous conspiracies for rebellion which were discovered and frustrated. Most of these rebellions had been suppressed and the rebel leaders had been executed, but there had been cases where escaped slaves, who came to be known as Maroons, had succeeded in establishing communities in mountainous or other remote areas, which they had successfully defended, defeating all attempts to re-enslave them. Maroon communities established during the period of slavery are still in existence in Jamaica and in the former Dutch colony of Suriname although the communities established in the island of Dominica and in the former mainland colony of British Guiana, now Guyana, were dispersed. It was however the formidable slave rebellions that occurred in the 19th century that forced upon the British Parliament the realisation that the abolition of slavery had to be treated as a matter of urgency and that the slaves themselves would not allow the issue to be indefinitely postponed. In 1816 there occurred in Barbados, considered to be an unlikely location for widespread rebellion because of the absence of a mountainous area in which escaped slaves could take refuge, a rebellion involving some 5,000 slaves. The leaders were identified as Bussa, Jackey, Davis, King Bailey and Nanny Grigg. During the suppression of this rebellion “a little short of 1,000” rebels were killed. After the rebellion 214 were executed and 123 were transported from the island to be sold elsewhere as slaves. In 1823 some 13,000 slaves in Demerara, British Guiana, rose in a rebellion which had started as a general strike. Quamina, one of the leaders, was killed and his bullet-riddled body was displayed in chains to intimidate the population. John Smith, an ailing English missionary, was accused of encouraging the rebellion. He was imprisoned and later died in prison. Telemachus, one of the rebel leaders, was executed when he refused to testify against the missionary. Jack Gladstone, believed to have been the principal rebel leader, saved his own life by giving false evidence to implicate the missionary in the rebellion. In all about 250 slaves lost their lives in the rebellion. Conspiracies for rebellion were discovered in Jamaica in 1815, 1823 and 1824 and the principal conspirators were executed. But of all the many rebellions that had occurred in the Anglophone Caribbean area over the centuries, the most productive of results in the struggle against slavery was the Emancipation Rebellion which occurred in western Jamaica. This rebellion, involving some 20,000 slaves, commencing at the end of December 1831 and raged for several months before it was suppressed by the combined military force of British troops and the local militia. The Attitude of Slave Owners and the Government As we have seen, British abolitionists and the British Parliament had in 1823 decided that although the abolition of slavery was ultimately desirable, it should not occur until the slaves, who were considered unfit for immediate freedom, had been improved in character. They had however resolved that there should be some improvement in the way slaves were treated. At that time the older British colonies in the Caribbean enjoyed internal self-government and the British Government began to press them to enact legislation modifying some of the most obvious cruelties and inhumanities of the system. This was strongly resented. In Jamaica there was advocacy of secession from Britain and unification with the United States of America. In February 1831 the Jamaican legislature enacted legislation reducing the number of free days that the slaves were entitled to enjoy immediately after Christmas. As British Secretary of State Goodrich recorded: “Thus the three annual holidays are reduced to two and the slave deprived of the security formerly given him … ” In November 1831 the Jamaican Assembly refused to discuss the British Government‚s proposal that legislation prohibiting the flogging of female slaves, which had been introduced in the Crown Colonies in 1823-24, be enacted. However, while the defiant attitude of the slave owners remained strong, there was growing unrest among the slaves. This had been intensified by the news they were receiving of anti-slavery agitation in Britain. Rumours were in circulation that the King had resolved to set them free but that their freedom was being denied by the local slave owners and their government. To refute these rumours a royal proclamation was issued on 3 June 1831 which read: Whereas it has been represented to us that the slaves in some of our West-India colonies and our possessions in the continent of South America, have been erroneously led to believe that orders have been sent out by us for their emancipation: And whereas such belief has produced acts of insubordination, which have excited our highest displeasure We do hereby declare and make known that the slave population in our said colonies and possessions will forfeit all claim on our protection, if they shall fail to render entire submission to the laws, as well as dutiful obedience to their master The Emancipation Rebellion in Jamaica The Emancipation Rebellion in western Jamaica commenced immediately after the traditional Xmas holiday. Its inspirer and leader was Sam Sharpe, a slave who was a convert to the established Baptist Church. He was literate and was familiar with the literature published by that denomination. He was personally well treated by the family of his owner, from whom he had adopted his name. He was allowed considerable latitude for his religious activities. He was a lay preacher and often conducted services for the independent, so called “non-established”, Baptist congregations. Abolition of the Slave Trade On 29 November 1781, becalmed in mid-Atlantic and fearing the spread of disease from overcrowding, Captain Luke Collingwood of the Slave Ship Zong ordered that 132 sick black slaves be thrown overboard. Collingwood was well aware that should any slaves be landed dead or near death from natural causes then the cost would be borne by the ship’s owners and crew. If however they were to be disposed of at sea then the financial liability became the responsibility of the ships insurers. Having resolved his problem Collingwood sailed the Zong west successfully delivering the remainder of its cargo to the slave auctions of the Caribbean before returning to London where the insurance claim was duly made. Collingwood stated that he had no choice but to dispose of the sick slaves aboard the Zong because of water depreciation but an inventory taken of the ship upon landing found that there many hundreds of barrels of water aboard, more than enough for the journey. Political agitator for abolition The Society of Friends (or Quakers) campaigned against the transatlantic slave trade for many years. In 1783 they presented the first petition to parliament and in 1787, along with Thomas Clarkson and Granville Sharp, helped found the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. The committee needed someone to represent their views in parliament. In spite of some initial reluctance, William Wilberforce, MP for Hull, took up the campaign, and he made his first anti-slavery speech on 12 May 1789. Wilberforce became identified, along with Thomas Clarkson and Granville Sharp, as one of the leaders of the anti-slavery movement. Wilberforce presented his first bill to abolish the transatlantic slave trade in 1791 but it was easily defeated, by 163 votes to 88. Most conservative members of parliament had investments in the slave trade and did not want to see it end In 1805 the House of Commons passed a bill to outlaw the transport of slaves by British subjects. The bill was then blocked by the House of Lords. Finally, the Abolition of the Slave Trade bill was passed in the House of Lords by 41 votes to 20. In the House of Commons it was carried by 114 to 15 and it become law on 25 March 1807. Ongoing slave trading British captains caught continuing the trade were fined £100 for every enslaved African found on board. This did not stop the illegal British slave trade. If slaving ships were in danger of being captured by the British navy, captains often reduced the fines they had to pay by throwing enslaved Africans into the sea. Some people involved in the anti-slavery campaign argued the only way to end the suffering was to make slavery itself illegal. However, Wilberforce disagreed, and argued that enslaved people were not ready to be granted their freedom. He pointed out in a pamphlet in 1807 that: The Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Abolition of Slavery was formed in 1823. Wilberforce joined but as he had retired from the House of Commons, he did not play an important part in persuading parliament to bring an end to slavery. He died on 29 July 1833, one month before parliament passed the Slavery Abolition Act that gave all enslaved people in the British Empire their freedom. Wilberforce and the Roots of Freedom […]
BOGOTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Marcela Loaiza was 21 when she was lured from Colombia, trapped in a sex trafficking ring run and forced by Japan’s Yakuza mafia to sell sex on the streets of Tokyo. Today Loaiza, 35, runs a non-governmental organisation that bears her name to raise awareness about human trafficking among girls, […]
Karla Jacinto estimates she was raped 43,200 times as a teen. She was forced into prostitution at age 12 by a man a decade her senior and forced to have sex with up to 30 men a day, seven days a week, for nearly four years. Now, 23, she’s speaking out to raise awareness about human […]
NEW GLOUCESTER, Maine — Jasmine Marino-Fiandaca was 19 when she got into “the life.” “That’s what they call it,” she said Saturday. “Or ‘the game.’” A teenager from a dysfunctional home, Marino-Fiandaca was an easy target for the man who became her “boyfriend” before luring her into prostitution and keeping her in the life, against […]
In Canada, native girls make up a disproportionate number of trafficking victims. One survivor shares her story, and how she escaped the sex trade. Now she works on the front lines of Canada’s underground trafficking trade, running a foster home for sexually exploited girls in Manitoba—but she once lived the life of those she now […]
On holiday in Greece as a 14-year-old, Megan Stephens fell in love. But her boyfriend turned out to be a pimp who trafficked her for six years. She tells her story to Elizabeth Day â€˜The traffickers are clever. I should have left but I didnâ€™t because of the mental power they had over meâ€™: Megan […]
NEW YORK (PIX11) â€“Â While football fans scour Super Bowl Boulevard looking for fun, law enforcement is searching for dozens of area teenagers who may have been forced into the sex trade. Lexie Smith is a survivor of human trafficking who grew up in the Chicago suburbs â€” part of a lively, Italian-American family.Â She is […]
It didn’t take long for her to learn the lingo: being “chopped” meant a beating — something the trafficker would do if you didn’t bring in enough money. A “wifey” is another girl controlled by the same pimp. “Ho-partners” are controlled by other pimps.
“It’s a life within a life,” Adriana said.
Other trafficked girls we spoke with whom did not want to be named said the pimps are asking girls to do all manner of things nowadays: Carjacking. Holding their traffickers’ guns. Robbing the men who come to buy sex. Holding drugs. You name it. The game has changed. Lee said she believes that is partly due to an unintended consequence of sex-trafficking laws that increased penalties on sex-traffickers. Traffickers can get 20 plus years in jail charged with all manner of things both federally and locally from kidnapping to racketeering.
There are fewer children being trafficked now, Lee said. There have been nearly 40,000 people identified as likely victims of human trafficking in the United States since 2007, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.