Sunday, March 25, 2007


Anniversary of When Britain Outlawed the Atlantic Trade in Slaves

NPR story

Alright, I hear the grumbles at the back fo the room, asking what on earth has this story to do with the Balkans? Actually a good bit!

1. The Republic of Ragusa, outlawed slavery in 1417, and the law had some big teeth. The Republic of Ragusa was well aware of the profitibility of the trade in slaves, but they knew it was wrong to sell 'men and women made in the image of God as if they were cattle in the streets.' That quote is somewhere in 'Black Lamb and Grey Falcon' by Dame Rebecca West. I am too tired to go get the book out, and look up an actual page number, since the book is packed right now.
If I understand correctly, a couple cities in England outlawed the trade in slaves a little earlier,but their laws did not mandate huge fines and hanging for people who did not buy back and free all the slaves they'd sold.
2. Human trafficking is still a serious problem in the Balkans really as a result in the rest of Europe.
3. As the NPR story points out, slavery in Africa is far from a dead isssue. As someone once married to someone from India, I know that 'bonded labor' the modern form of 'indentured servitude' and true slavery exist in India and Pakistan despite strong laws against these practices.
I was shocked to meet someone who didn't even think it was morally so wrong. An older Indian woman who said 'Well if the family is hungry, and they sell a child, at least the buyer will feed the child and the family too can eat... is that so bad?'
I was still shocked, because as an American, I am well aware that slavery nearly destroyed my country, and that slavery's evil echos have harmed the relationships between Black and White in the United States in a profound, possibly irretrievable manner.
Both the Republic of Ragusa, and England are to be commended for having outlawed the evil trade a long time ago, and I think both places gained because of this stand. Both nations took the stand against slavery when many Christians even justified the trade Biblically.
Both the Bible and the Koran have laws given in them as to the treatment of slaves, regulating a practive that would have been better abolished.
I do sometimes turn over in my mind what the old Indian lady said about hunger and slavery. I still am shocked a person in modern times could say such a thing. I am shocked at a world where things are still bad enough that her argument could hold so much as a drop of water.

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