Saturday, October 19, 2013

India leads the world in: slavery

Some shocking statistics were released recently about slavery around the world.  Yes, slavery - especially 'sexual slavery' (where women and children are forced to be prostitutes - a prostitute offers sex for money) - is thriving (strongly surviving) in the world.  What is especially shocking to me is that about half the cases of slavery in the world are in India.  India is supposed to be a developed nation and a democracy. According to this report about 15 million of the world's 30 million slaves are located in India.

Here is an amazing documentary about the children of prostitutes in India and how they are expected to become prostitutes themselves.  This documentary won an Oscar and is worth watching.  I think the international community has to put pressure on the Indian government to change this type of problem.  The world simply cannot tolerate the lack of adequate concern and action for this type of situation.  The documentary is called:  Born into Brothels (a brothel is a place where women work as prostitutes).

Part of the problem might be the cultural and religious tradition of 'castes' and the belief in 'karma' in India.

A caste was a social class that a person was born into and which the person could never leave.  So for generations there was no social or economic mobility (movement up or down) in India. 

Furthermore, Hinduism involves the belief in 'karma.'  Karma is a religious concept meant to explain why bad things happen to good people.  Many Hindus believe that when a person dies, he/she becomes 'reincarnated.' To be reincarnated means to come back again in a different type of body (human or otherwise).  So if a person were born into a 'low' caste and had a hard life, it would be said, "Well, you deserve your suffering because in your previous life you must have done terrible things!'  So according to karma, we are all punished in this life for what we did in a past life.

So if a child is forced to work as a prostitute or a person is enslaved in India, the attitude might be, if the person believes in karma: "Well, that slave or prostitute must have done something terrible in a previous life, so he/she is suffering now."  In any case, that's my theory as to why slavery is so pervasive (all over the place) in India.  What's your theory? 

Here's the shocking article:

Vocabulary from the article:

bonded labor - when a person is forced to serve a person as a slave because he/she owes the other person money.  In this type of slavery, the 'bonded' person never seems to be able to pay off his/her debt and remains a slave forever.

commercial sex exploitation - let's say that a woman or child in a third-world country is very poor.  This type of person might be recruited by or encouraged to join a 'brothel" - a place where men can come to have sex.  This is a form of 'exploitation' - poor and vulnerable people are being used to make money for others by becoming prostitutes.

trafficked - basically this means 'kidnapped' and forced to work as a prostitute

manual labor - hand labor, machine work or sewing etc.

an index - a chart or series of statistics

a quarry - a place where materials have to be dug out of the earth

a kiln - a type of oven that produces food or goods

to quantify - to give a number to, to count

hereditary slavery - you 'inherit' your position as a slave, a person who is born into slavery

staggering - shocking

domestic workers - maids, house-cleaners

to be lured into something - to be attracted into something by a false promise.  Let's say that someone says there is a good job for you teaching in a village, but when you go there you are kidnapped and forced to work as a prostitute.

coercion - force

indentured servitude - this means a person works for free for a number of years, usually to pay off a debt

prevalence - how common something is.  The flu is prevalent in the winter.  Slavery is more prevalent in India than any other country.

allocating resources - putting money aside to deal with a problem

to devise policy - to create policy

Do you agree that a caste system in the past and the belief in karma might be reasons for the situation of slavery in India?

Why do you think slavery is allowed in India?  Who is at fault?  Is it the people who don't care?  Is it the government's fault?

When South Africa treated black Africans terribly during the apartheid era, the world began to boycott South African goods.  Do you think it is time for the world to tell India that enough is enough and that millions of people simply cannot be treated this way?  India is generating great wealth (for some).  Do you think it is time for the world to take action toward a country that does not seem to care about its own people?