Friday, March 1, 2013

A Microscopic Victory

On the abolition of slavery website, I came across an article celebrating the freedom of 400 South Sudanese slaves. Apparently, they were given huge sacks of foodstuffs and other supplies to begin their new lives. What I thought was quite interesting was the huge celebratory attitude over this infinitesimally small victory over slavery. I came across another article on the same website which stated there are as many as 500,000 child slaves in the small country of Mauritania alone. Comparatively, the freedom of 400 slaves seems like nothing more than a microscopic chip on the shoulder of the evil that is slavery. I’m not saying that freeing 400 isn’t a cause for joy and celebration. Hell, even the freedom of one slave would be enough to write a news article about. It’s just that at this rate, it seems as if slavery is an issue that won’t be solved during our lifetimes.

To really shed light on the unknown (to first-world countries, at least) of slavery, the article describes the life of one of the freed slaves, Atong Tong. This woman was married with three children before being dragged upcountry by Arab militia. Imagine, one moment you are taking care of your loving children and husband; the next, you’re being sexually assaulted (multiple times a day, by her accounts) and physically fatigued (in the form of walking insurmountable distances daily), with the endgame being slavery. This women was one of the 400 released, which should bring great joy to any leader. To me, this was evidence of one of a quite intriguing aspect of violations of human rights. When the whole is taken into account – for example, 400 people being released – there really isn’t much humanity or even substance to go along with the number. However, upon zooming in to one particular individual’s story, one’s emotions are appealed to, rather than one’s reasoning. This is the reason that although the fact that millions were murdered in the holocaust is impossible to grasp, it is individual stories of persecution (such as Anne Franke’s) actually help understand what it must have been like to be in such a horrible situation.

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