Slavery in South Africa

Does slavery still exist today?

We still read in newspapers about people on the west coast of Africa and in Sudan being sold into slavery. We also read about people, including children, who work in conditions similar to slavery.

 

Today, the term slavery is used to indicate a wide range of human rights abuses and exploitative labour practices. The United Nations defines contemporary slavery as consisting of:

 

“a variety of human rights violations. In addition to traditional slavery and the slave trade, these abuses include the sale of children, child prostitution, child pornography, the exploitation of child labour, the sexual mutilation of female children, the use of children in armed conflicts, debt bondage, the traffic in persons and in the sale of human organs, the exploitation of prostitution, and certain practices under apartheid and colonial regimes”.

 

The term “slavery” therefore has a much broader use than chattel slavery. As recent as May 2002, the Anti-Slavery Society reported that “ Millions of children are in slavery. Girls as young as six work as maids in the Philippines, children break rocks in Ghana’s quarries, young boys are abducted from their homes in South Asia and forced to be camel jockeys in the United Arab Emirates and girls are forced into prostitution in many areas around the world”.

 

One can read more about contemporary slavery by visiting the websites of :

"About 300 000 child soldiers are serving in conflicts worldwide."

- Iziko Slave Lodge, a site committed to transform from a site of human wrongs to a site of human rights. Ernest Cole describes the effects of white supremacy in South Africa at the exhibition of his work at the Iziko South African National Gallery in 2011: “Three hundred years of white supremacy in South Africa have placed us in bondage, stripped us of our dignity, robbed us of our self-esteem, and surrounded us with hate.” - Ernest Cole, Chronicler in the House of Bondage