Baroness Caroline Cox and Dr John Marks
Monarch Books; 175 pages; £8.99
While we rightly commemorate the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the colonial slave trade, the authors of this book want us to consider something more recent – namely, that 27 million people are still held in slavery throughout the world.
The book sets out to raise the profile of an evil which (the authors argue convincingly) has been given too little priority by governments and international agencies with the diplomatic clout to do something about it.
Baroness Cox, a former nurse and sociology lecturer, is a renowned activist on behalf of humanitarian causes. In 2002 she was quoted in one Sunday newspaper as having personally redeemed 2,281 slaves.
To awaken the world to the nature and extent of present-day slavery, the authors have compiled – from personal well-documented interviews undertaken by Baroness Cox with hundreds of former slaves – a detailed account of events in Sudan (1983-1995), Uganda (1997-2006) and Myanmar (1996-2004). The years in brackets are the years covered by the interview material – slavery continues in all three countries.
The interviews disclose an appalling degree of suffering, humiliation and degradation through forced labour, sexual abuse and exploitation, human abduction and trafficking, and brutalising child soldiery.
The book also includes: informative statistics; a synopsis of the history of slavery; a summary of the limited and mostly ineffective international attempts to counter it; and an assessment of the reasons why it still persists. It suggests action which today’s ‘Wilberforces’ can usefully take.
No one will enjoy reading this book and most will be sickened by it. Nonetheless it is an important window on today’s world. All who can handle the subject matter, and make a helpful response, must read it.