round and round...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Don't know what to say

There are few times when I have insufficient words to express myself. I am a wordy and effusive person by nature. Sometimes a subject stops me cold and I find that language escapes me.

Right now I am listening to NPR as I work. Truth be told, I've stopped working momentarily because I need some time to compose myself. There is an interview going on right now on our local NYC NPR affiliate with Benjamin Skinner, a journalist who has spent years researching and going undercover to explore the perils of modern slavery. His book, A Crime So Monstrous details the shocking fact that there are more slaves in the world today than at any other time in history. Surprised? I was.

I could hop a flight right now to Port au Prince, Haiti and in a mere 5 hours from the time I left my apartment I could be negotiating the price of a child in the open air, broad daylight. Mr. Skinner did this. He told the slave trader he was a journalist and he wanted to talk to him about his work. To his shock, the man was open with him about the buying and selling of children. To see how far the trader would go Mr. Skinner asked him how long it would take to get a child. 3 days. What skills should the child have? Cooking, cleaning, she would sleep on the floor, she would not be sent to school. The trader asked if the child would be used also as "a partner". Mr. Skinner tried to keep his composure as he answered, "Yes, if that's possible". The trader said the price would be $100. Eventually it was negotiated down to $50.

$50 for the life of a child. I have no words.

In Bucharest, Mr. Skinner was undercover at a slave trader's place of business and told the man he wanted a young woman. The trader quickly brought out 2 girls. One showed visible signs of Downs Syndrome and makeup had been hastily applied to her face in an effort to make her saleable. She was crying and the makeup was running down her face. Mr. Skinner was told he could have her for the trade of a used car.

This happens every day. Just because we don't see it doesn't mean it isn't going on. We can't sit by and do nothing. Action is needed.

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8 What people are saying:

Blogger Anisa rambles...

i feel sick.

WTF is wrong with our world today? it disgusts me. crimes against children are the worst.

i just want to go kick the s**t out of someone in haiti or bucharest right now.

3/28/2008 03:14:00 PM

Anonymous Safa rambles...

Oh know there really is something blissful about ignorance. For me, it is sooooo hard to not internalize everything I see in the media that horrible - particulary as it relates to children. Therefore, I tend to avoid stuff. However, thank you for your post because I think I need to get involved more in stopping or at least making an effort to put a dent in the sufferings of the innocents.

I remember stopping at a busy intersection in DC and a latina from El Salvador came to my window to sell roses and bottled water. I swear to you, it appeared as though her eyes were "dead" and she was just going through the motions. I immediately thought of this epidemic of modern day slave trading.

3/28/2008 03:18:00 PM

Blogger James Burnett rambles...

slavery's a bitch. kudos to you for listening to the whole report. there a lot of people who take this kind of news like the scene before the climax in a horror movie: they turn their heads 'cause it's too hard to take.

it is important to know that slavery isn't just something from our textbooks and Africa, from a few hundred years ago. it's still alive and well.

3/28/2008 08:26:00 PM

Anonymous cajunvegan rambles...

This post is one of the many reasons I voted you an excellent blog. Please stop by to pick up your award.

3/28/2008 10:07:00 PM

Blogger Lynilu rambles...

The reality of our world is hard to swallow, and it becomes more obvious to us every day with instant news from anywhere in the world. Sometimes I long for a time past when we never heard the atrocities.

No, I don't really mean I don't want to know, but it is saddening to my core.

3/28/2008 11:22:00 PM

Blogger Melissa rambles...

Anisa - I know. I totally know. But you know what? Anger is the right reaction. Anger that moves people to action is what we need a lot more of.

Safa - I've seen that woman. Her sisters, her daughters, I've seen them. They're here in NYC, too. If we broaden the definition of slavery just slightly it will start to include a lot more of the illegal immigrant population.

James - It was hard to get through the whole interview. Skinner broke down at one point while talking about his time in Bucharest and it was so gripping I felt in some strange way that it would have been wrong to turn off the radio. You're right about it not just being an African thing or a past thing. It's a now thing, an everywhere thing.

Cajunvegan - Humbled. Quite.

Lynilu - Yes. To the core is right. The kind of sadness that stays with you for days. That's what this issue needs. It's awful that it has to feel this way, but I keep reminding myself of what it must feel like to be one of the enslaved.

3/30/2008 11:45:00 AM

Blogger Patti rambles...

Oh dear God in heaven, this is unbelievable. But I believe, oh I believe. Sad.

3/31/2008 09:17:00 AM

Blogger Sandra rambles...

Is it just me, I clicked on the "Take Action" link and it didn't show me what to do. I need to something!!

4/02/2008 03:58:00 PM


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