Cover Story

Let my people go

"Let my people go" Continued...

Issue: "'Into captivity they shall go'," Feb. 24, 2007

Medica Mondiale project manager Ancil Adrian-Paul lived in Afghanistan for the last year and recounted one case: A 17-year-old girl survived self-immolation after her father married her to a man in Iran who beat her. Once a girl marries, she leaves her family. The saying goes, "The only way you come back is in a white coffin."

Desperate, the girl said a voice repeated to her, "Burn yourself, burn yourself." When she awoke, she could not remember if the burning had been deliberate or accidental. The girl needs six more operations to repair her ravaged body, but she was speaking publicly about her experience.

Modern-day abolitionists admit they can free only so many slaves at a time from such conditions. Groups like IJM asked WORLD that specific locations of their work not be disclosed, lest the reports jeopardize their workers. And slave victims, including those in this story, use aliases to protect their families and their own lives from retribution at the hands of contemporary slave traders.

Twenty-first-century slavery may stretch in directions Wilberforce never imagined, but its crucial trait has not changed: One person still controls another completely using coercion, force, and restrictions on all movement. Like Wilberforce, abolitionists today have a keen eye for freedom-and they see plenty of work left to do.

For more information:

Whale of a man

Wilberforce lends historical context for the faith-based fight against slavery in the 21st century

By Mindy Belz

Some subjects should be taught even when they don't fit handily into a classroom curriculum. This Immoral Trade: Slavery in the 21st Century (Monarch Books, 2006) is a 175-page textbook, in a sense, featuring the history, the politics, the economics, and the present-day reality of forced servitude around the world. This slim volume is authored by two modern-day antislavery crusaders: Baroness Caroline Cox, member of the British House of Lords and WORLD's 2004 Daniel of the Year; and John Marks, a human-rights advocate, researcher, and-not surprisingly-an education expert who co-directed with Cox the Educational Research Trust. It joins a small but useful band of recent releases (see Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas) timed to coincide with the 200th anniversary of William Wilberforce's victory against slavery in Britain's houses of Parliament.

Properly, then, Immoral Trade begins with Wilberforce: the extravagant party-goer and card-player at Cambridge who had little time for religion until a book on The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul, attended by the influence of a godly aunt along with a friend, the former slave trader John Newton, led to his conversion to Christianity in 1784. An abolitionist meeting in 1787 transformed the young parliamentarian into a crusader. "I saw what seemed a mere shrimp mount the table," observed the famous biographer James Boswell upon hearing the 5-foot Wilberforce speak, "but as I listened, he grew and grew, until the shrimp became a whale."

But slavery is not finished, and the authors move quickly to the focus of their current work, including detailed accounts of abductions and enslavement in Sudan, Uganda, and Burma-places to which Cox regularly journeys and where she focuses the attention and resources of her UK-based charity, HART (Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust). Here students and other readers meet the "slave trains" of Sudan, as northern soldiers scoop up villagers on a munitions run to a southern garrison. They confront the horrors of the Ugandan civil war against the Lord's Resistance Army, a band that regularly inducted child soldiers by forcing them to kill and drink their victims' blood. And they read firsthand accounts of the "fashion and beauty show" ordered by the Burmese army after soldiers abducted over 50 women.

Immoral Trade does not gloss over white slave trade, tracing the length and breadth of the Atlantic slave system. But its abolition, Cox and Marks point out, lends hope to modern-day campaigns: "There have been many slaveries, but there has been only one abolition, which eventually shattered even the rooted and ramified slave systems of the Old World."

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