25th March, 1807 – Slavery abolished in Great Britain for being “contrary to the principles of justice, humanity and sound policy”. However, 200 years on, slavery still exists.
Charles Fox, William Wilberforce and Lord Grenville were the pioneers of the bill which abolished slavery, passed in the House of Commons by 144 votes in favour and 15 against, making it illegal to traffic or transport slaves.
This was the first step towards ending one of the cruelest practices to have slurred the image of Mankind and his history and spurred other nations to follow suit during the 19th century.
Although documentation is nebulous on the exact number of victims, it appears that around 10 million people were forced from their homes in Africa, sold to the slave traders, held in the most deplorable conditions on ships, and then sold to the plantations in the Americas. Given that around half of the slaves died during the crossing, it could be estimated fairly that the total number between the mid 16th to the beginning of the 19th century was around 20 million men, women and children.
“Deplorable” is a word which does little to describe the torturous, nightmarish conditions these people were held in. Forced to lie head-to-foot, tied to their places, without any structures for hygiene or sanitation, they arrived at the destination up to six months later lying in a sea of excrement. Or dead.
However, slavery continues to exist today, 25th March 2007. It is estimated that there are up to 10,000,000 children working as sex slaves around the world It exists also in the European Union, which also celebrates its 50th anniversary today, where around 400,000 people fall victim every year to human trafficking networks.
There are around half a million child soldiers around the world. Indeed, human rights organizations claim that around 27,000,000 people are living as slaves, working either without any payment, or for symbolic amounts, while being subjected to violence and torture for non-compliance.
Today, 25th March, 2007, how can we say that slavery has been abolished, when in Mauritania, a Negro slave can be bought for 11 Euros, in Sudan, for 64Euros and when in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh the slave trade continues to render 25 million Euro a year?