Women and modern and ancient slavery, how to foster the path to freedom? Let us begin by recognizing what today’s slavery is, very often hidden, invisible, subtle. And from there, let us join together to overcome them, favouring the path of freedom. Modern slavery does not only affect women, but in all its forms, it is still the majority.
Slavery in the classical sense was abolished by the Geneva Convention in 1926. The first document to talk about the rights of slaves was the Code of Hammurabi in the 8th century BC.
The term slave came into use in the 10th century instead of the Latin servus, and derives from Slavic: Otto I deported to the West as slaves the Slavs defeated in the Balkans …”. Its precise meaning is “An individual of unfree condition, legally regarded as private property and therefore devoid of all human rights and completely subject to the will and arbitrariness of the rightful owner.”
Women Victims of Trafficking
Women are trafficked for sexual purposes, trafficking related to prostitution, forced marriages, organ trafficking and labor exploitation. Unfortunately, the numbers of women involved do not tend to decrease. It is our duty to feel involved with women victims of trafficking, with concrete actions. The first is information, we try to know more, we do not remain silent. And then we can support associations that are on the front line, such as those that belong to the Talitha Kum network. Talitha Kum is a network of Catholic sisters operating in 90 countries. We met some of them during the World Picnic, during the stop in Rome, with Talitha Kum International.
Women in refugee camps
War produces only devastation and misery. Among all the evil, there is also the drama of refugees. Most of them are women who find refuge, perhaps with their children, in some official or spontaneous camp. Women who flee are not always protected and often end up in trafficking networks. The girls in refugee camps are also easy victims of organ traffickers, as we reported in the documentary Wells of Hope.
And there are women who have been living for years locked up in the camps, with no way out, like the Kunama women, who have been locked in the fences for 19 years, with no prospects. In Alganesh, the documentary available on Netflix, we learn about their conditions and what can be done for their liberation.
Subjugated Women and Girls
Slavery is also understood as “subjugation, lack of freedom and independence” (Treccani) All too often women and especially girls end up subjugated by people who keep them in a state of psychological and economic slavery. In all societies there are many cases of women who are unable to take charge of their lives and develop self-realization because they are kept in a state of plagiarism and psychological slavery. This is often combined with economic slavery, the lack of independence, which is one of the elements that sometimes anticipate gender violence.
And here the enemy is silence. We must always talk about it, with people we trust. We need to deal with these issues, and not corner them. And girls and women victims must be able to open up and then find support and support, before they get to the overt violence. Psychological slavery is a very serious form of violence!
Women slaves of non-sustainable tourism
In the world of non-sustainable tourism we encounter different forms of slavery of women and girls. The exploitation of prostitution is undoubtedly the first, but also exploitation of labor, sometimes in conditions of slavery. There are extreme situations where women and girls are held in slavery to be exhibited to tourists. We met them in the Golden Triangle on the border between Thailand, Burma and Laos, where “giraffe women” are presented to tourists with heavy brass collars that disarticulate the vertebrae. They are not joyful women who live the tradition, but modern slaves. We gave them a voice and recounted the liberation of some girls thanks to the work of the Sisters of Providence, with the help of a Buddhist monk, in Tears&Dreams.
Gagged Women. Women and modern slavery, the path to freedom
The list is really long. I would like to end with a thought for all the women in different parts of the world who are not allowed to speak, they are gagged. Often they are journalists, or filmmakers, or writers, who must remain silent on pain of arrest or torture. Women’s voices could give another perspective, show different ways out, but too often they are forced into silence. In the month dedicated to women, let’s think about them too and do some small concrete actions to help them. And let’s meet the 5 women who inspire the world.