Free Essay About A Crime So Monstrous
E. BENJAMIN SKINNER
a. raised in Wisconsin and northern Nigeria;
b. comes from a family of abolitionists;
c. travelled around the globe and established modern antislavery movement;
d. worked at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City;
e. worked as personal assistant for Ambassador Richard Hoodbrook
f. author of abolitionist articles and several books including award-winning “A Crime So Monstrous”
g. works on the issue of modern human trafficking conducting international forums and seminars.
THE DEFINITION OF SLAVERY
When defining slavery Skinner refers to the quote of J. Stalin during the World War II: “Death of one man is a personal tragedy, death of millions of people is statistics”. E. Benjamin Skinner states that slavery is a personal tragedy and despite banning slave trade in contemporary society, the scale of modern slavery is much bigger that at any other point of the history. Skinner defines a slave as a person who is forced to work through fraud or under a threat of violence, for no pay beyond subsistence.
HIV INFECTION ON HAITI
HIV infection on Haiti has caused a disturbance in society as the rate of infected was much higher than in different countries. The diffusion of HIV infection was resulted by the growing market of unprotected sex for money that gave rise to Haitian sex tourism and pedophilia. Lack of medical education of Haitian population has lead to uncontrolled HIV infection of people involved in this industry. The other reason lied in the cheapness of sexual services - from 1.75 dollars for such intercourse.
“You are now about halfway up Delmas, and slaves are everywhere” (Skinner, 5). The author stresses that it is hard to identify slaves if you are unfamiliar with how Haitian society is arranged. Most of the lower-middle classes Haitians are enslaved from the age of three or four years old. The child-selling business is the most developed among other slave trade on Haiti. Enslaved children at the age of fifteen are as a rule 15 inches shorter and 40 pounds lighter than free children. They have numerous scars from savage treatment and burns caused by cooking on an open fire. Their outfit is rather simple and shabby. Usually enslaved children are uneducated, their movements are constrained and they behave as if they are constantly intimidated by something.
THE 1999 CASE
The 1999 case revealed the influence of human trade on contemporary society believed to be based on the prevalence of equality of human rights and humanism. The Miami police has rescued twelve-year old Haitian girl who was enslaved by American family. The girl was brought from Haiti to serve as a sex toy for the twenty years old son of the married couple. The girl was saved from death as her health indicators were low and she suffered from venereal disease resulted from three-year slavery period. This brutal case was widely spread in mass media and remains one of the strongest examples of hidden slavery in the heart of democratic world.
THE COLONIAL EFFECTS OF THE FRENCH IN HAITI
Haiti is a former French colony called Saint-Domingue that declared its independence in 1804. The slave traditions of French colonists have created the background for modern human trafficking on the territory of Haiti. Almost 90 percent of Saint-Domingue population consisted of African slaves. In 1685 French King Louis XIV “declared black children in Saint-Domingue to be property of their mother’s master thus creating a three hundred years old tradition of children slavery (Skinner, 18). The successful slave rebellion of 1791 had to eradicate slavery on Haitian territories. The 1801 Constitution offered an education system through a network of schools. However, the revolution destroyed the economic system and new authorities decided to revive slave labor to maintain the economy. The educational system appeared to be preferential and as a result poor families were refused in education of their children. Children have become the victims of economic default of Haitian republic and child-trade has taken it deep roots into society.
The New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has once purchased freedom for a drug addicted sex slave. When he paid her a visit a year later he discovered she returned to the brothel and continued using drugs. Basically it reveals how slavish psychology has deepened in the minds of these people. In fact, it leads to a conclusion that several centuries of slavery made salves to forget about freedom. It seems that it is subconsciously hard for them to obtain freedom.
MALARIA AND SKINNER’S RECOVERY
During his journey E. Benjamin Skinner contracted a severe case of malaria. He would have died unless a young Haitian Bill Nathan had found choroquine that kept Skinner alive. Bill was 21 years old at that time and he already managed a shelter for homeless boys in Port-au-Prince. Skinner describes Bill as tough and caring at the same time (41). Bill prayed for Ben’s life and encouraged him to eat and rest. Bill’s father died from malaria so he was keen to help Skinner. Surprisingly, Skinner took his chance to repay the debt to Nathan in 2010 when Bill suffered from massive earthquake in Haiti and Skinner found means to provide him with proper medical treatment.
THE IMPACT OF MODERN DAY SLAVE TRADE IN HAITI
The fundamental factor of slavery existence is poverty. Being the most prosperous colony of the hemisphere in the eighteenth century, Haiti has turned into “the poorest nation in the Americas” (14). The capitalism has fought slavery with paid labor force and the prevalence of human rights. It should be stressed that Haiti has never entered the capitalism phase of development. Last two centuries the prevalence of rural economy and high rate of unemployment have encouraged the low living standards. According to Skinner 70 percent of population have no formal employment.
In such conditions slavery becomes an option for poor homeless and uneducated people. Children that are sent by their parents to work as domestic servants due to lack of resources are called restavec in Haiti. Benavil, the slave broker, describes his work in euphemistic terms, thinking that he grants poor Haitian children a chance to survive (10). In 1987 Haitian Constitution guaranteed free, universal schooling (35) that had to decrease the slavery rate by 35 percent. In reality the effect was less encouraging and the authorities understood that poverty was the prior reason of parents “zombifying” their children (42). Haitians use this term to show that enslaved children lose their will in favor of their masters.
Narcotics have become another disturbing issue that enforced the human trafficking. It appears that slavery and narcotic industry are deeply connected. Narcotics enforce people to remain enslaved based on their drug dependence. Besides narcotics and slaves are often subjects of barter deals. The Kristof’s story mentioned above is a vivid example of how narcotic dependence forces slaves to return in the industry even after they have been granted freedom.
Of course, Haitian slavery is encouraged by external factors. The demand for unpaid labor existing in other countries meets the Haitian supply of slaves. Thousands of children are transferred to the Dominican Republic to work on sugar plantations, become sex slaves or perform domestic servitude (Skinner, 44). It is obvious that the governments and particular business groups receive huge profits for turning blind eye to such trafficking.
Skinner in his book attempted to buy a child from a slave broker Benavil. His experience shows how easy it is to enter the human trafficking system in Haiti despite all the efforts of Haitian government to eliminate the trafficking (27). In course of discussion Skinner finds out that he can obtain a child within three days for only a hundred of US dollars which eventually can be bargained up to fifty. The only though that human life can be traded and eventually purchased for a ridiculously low price tells more than long descriptions of slaves’ miserable lives.
Children slavery (or restavec system) became the essential part of the Haitian political and economic organization. The head of UNICEF-funded Brigade for Protection of Minors (founded to control and sustain the restavec system) appeared to possess restavec children himself (29). Skinner stresses that BPM or any other Haitian anti-slavery organization are incapable of restraining the business of such brokers as Benavil and don’t see a big problem in that.
Perhaps, slavery would not be such a burning problem if the treatment of slaves was based on humanistic terms. Unfortunately, Skinner in his book mentions statistics which states that almost every enslaved child is beaten on a daily basis (39). The Haitian slaves are treated no better than domestic animals: they have neither any rights, nor the ability to own things. It makes Haiti not only the poorest region, but also the most savage in Americas. It seems that only deep social shifts and economic reincarnation can suppress the restavec system that triggers decay of Haiti itself and related human trafficking countries.
HOW TO HELP ALLEVIATE THE SLAVE TRADE IN THE WORLD
The conversation with slave broker Benavil has made Skinner confident that he will never pay money for a life of another person. Probably, the first thing to do in order to alleviate slavery is not to buy a slave in the first place. Skinner also considers the distribution of information as a powerful tool against bondage (294). There are several voluntary organizations fighting slavery and you can always appeal to government institutes that approach the problem of human rights violation. Skinner believes that slavery can be fought more people are aware of its existence.
WHAT CAN SINGLE PERSON DO TO HELP FIGHT SLAVERY
Basically, there is not much a single person can do to fight slavery. Slavery in Haiti cannot be eradicated by one-off financial aid from US or a simple anti-slavery propagation. It is not caused by immorality or sadistic inclinations of the people. Slavery in Haiti is a by-product of historical development of Haitian society in terms of poverty, starvation, high birth rate and demand for cheap labor force. One person or even several initiative groups or governments can’t change the restavec system in Haiti as long as Haitians find it appropriate.
The anti-slavery organization Free The Slaves believes that slavery can be ended when “communities no longer tolerate it, businesses no longer profit from it, development agencies no longer ignore it and governments no longer allow it”. As a part of community a person can promote abolitionist movement creating non-profit organizations or supporting the existing such as Free The Slaves by donating money or volunteering for social works. The society’s awareness of slavery is first step to alleviate it. The more people acknowledge the savages of human salvation the more the chances are that these people will fight it becoming government officials, business owners or employees of companies that face slavery in course of their activities.
The example of Haiti reveals that simple abolition of slave trade is not working. Haiti requires significant investments in economy to fight poverty as the main source of slavery. Prosperous countries can provide financial and material help to support structural changes in Haitian society however they prefer to ignore the situation. Strong publicity and active anti-slavery position can eventually encourage governments of other countries to solve the Haitian crisis.
Therefore, the best way to fight slavery is to volunteer for anti-slavery organizations thus creating the “crowd effect”. You can always bring your friends, family members or colleagues on different events or find people eager to donate for a good cause. The government usually addresses the problem only when a large share of population is concerned about it. The best way to fight slavery is to become a part of that share and do your best to make it grow.
Skinner, E. Benjamin. "The Riches of the Poor." A Crime so Monstrous: Face-to-face with Modern-day Slavery. New York: Free, 2008.
"Our Work - Free the Slaves." Free the Slaves. Web. 11 Mar. 2015. <https://www.freetheslaves.net/page.aspx?pid=341>.