Slavery - It's a Present Continuous Tense

This week I read the news story of a Burmese man called Myint Naing who got reunited with his family after 22 long years. He had been tricked by a broker offering a job in Thailand in 1993, when he was only 19 years old and desperate for money. But instead he ended up being sold to become one of the approximately 200,000 slaves working in the Asian fishing industry.

His escape brought back memories of a book named Papillon, which narrated an enduring escape story from Devil’s Island in French Guiana by a convict called Henri Charriere. The escape of Myint from his captivators must have been no less daring. But he was neither a convict nor will he be able to make millions selling the rights of his story. Despite that Myint is luckier than those left behind.

Slavery is not new to this world and African slave trade is one such example, where people were caught, herded as cattle to be bought and sold as slaves to the western households and farms.  The Church of England issued an apology for their role in slavery ahead of commemorations of the 200th anniversary of the Slave Trade Act of 1807, which abolished slave trade in England.

"The profits from the slave trade were part of the bedrock of our country's industrial development," Thomas Butler, the bishop of Southwark, said in a speech before the vote. "Many people and institutions in every part of the country were complicit in the transatlantic slave trade; and I have to say that this includes the Church of England."
Even as this system was being abolished, it ensured that interests of slave owners were not undermined.  As the slaves were liberated in 1833, compensation was paid to owners and not to slaves. In one case, the bishop of Exeter and three business colleagues received handsome payments of nearly £13,000 for 665 slaves they had to free.

While the Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, English and French slave traders were often brutal, they were not always working alone — many Africans were also complicit in this victimization.

Why did I bring up this subject?  Well the answer lies in Myint’s story.   Many of the companies where people like Myint have to work rely on slaves to supply fish to the USA, Europe and Japan. To keep the prices affordable in the developed nations these men work for up to 24 hours a day and have to survive on boiled sea water and bit of rice.

Many flung themselves overboard rather than keep living as slaves.

Slavery was Then and it still exists Now. It will continue to do so till people remain poor and vulnerable while their governments remain selfish caring for the benefits of the leaders.


  1. Thank you for this post, Suman Given the relative figures involved, slavery is probably just as prevalent now as it was then. It's a terrible social evil and it's the duty of every right thinking person to do their bit to bring it down. Every human being has a right to their freedom.

  2. Your write up brings up the issue of slavery that has existed since times immemorial. The construction of all magnificent historical structures marvels have involved the use of people brought in as slaves. Even now many people in our country work in deplorable conditions, not very different from the conditions of slavery.


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