Slavery Today in Arabia and Africa / by kevin murray

On February 1, 1865, nearly 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln signed into law the 13 Amendment to the United States Constitution which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude.  While this may not in practicality brought full justice, full human rights, and full citizenship to those and their offspring that were formerly oppressed, it did set the solid foundation which began to build the case law that would be fundamental in allowing those peoples to break free from the heavy chains that had formerly separated them from full liberty and rights within this country.   Even today, with a man of color as our President, long standing prejudices have not been completely eradicated from this country, but the Promised Land which is our birthright within America, is nearly within grasp of all of our collective hands.


Yet how many of us are aware that Niger abolished slavery in 1960, that Saudi Arabia and Yemen abolished slavery in 1962, that the United Arab Emirates abolished slavery in 1963, that Oman abolished slavery in 1970, and finally that Mauritania abolished slavery in 1981.  As shocking as this information may be, one must remember that simply abolishing slavery as a law does not mean that slavery as an institution has been eliminated within a country.  Practices of long-standing within countries are not easily eliminated by the stroke of a pen and any law that is not consistently administered through police enforcement in conjunction with its proper legal authorities is a law without real effectiveness or worth, and consequently despite slavery being outlawed in these countries, slavery as an institution still exists, even if labeled as a different name.


Slavery still exists in countries such as Mauritania, Oman, and Niger, to name just a few countries, it may not be called slavery by those who practice it, but for all intents and purposes there are many people within these countries that are slaves.  If you are compelled to work for a person in whom you are not directly compensated, you are abused or constantly threatened, in which you are also not permitted freedom of movement or communication, and you have little or no access to education, than you are effectively a slave.  Slavery, today, is much easier to practice in rural areas in which because of the remoteness, the lack of outsiders that are permitted access to an insular community or are unaware of a particular family's dynamics, the paucity of documentation and identification, and the general disinterest in law enforcement in those areas, leaves those that have the local power within that area to enslave those that have no authority, knowledge, or knowhow to extricate themselves from slavery.


Slavery is also practiced within cities by limiting the freedom of movement and access to the outside world of those that are enslaved to within the family confines at all times.  People that are especially vulnerable to slavery are ones that do not speak the same language, and/or illiterate, and/or different tribe, and/or specifically don't have the same religion as those that enslave them.  When it comes to slavery within Arabia and Africa, it isn't so much that nobody knows, it is much more about how the practice has been driven underground, somewhat repackaged, effectively ignored by the authorities, and protected and/or embraced by those that believe that they are your superior by birthright or status.