Category Archives: Enslavement

‘The News that Didn’t Make the News’

Top 25 Censored Stories for 2009

#1. Over One Million Iraqi Deaths Caused by US Occupation
# 2 Security and Prosperity Partnership: Militarized NAFTA
# 3 InfraGard: The FBI Deputizes Business
# 4 ILEA: Is the US Restarting Dirty Wars in Latin America?
# 5 Seizing War Protesters’ Assets
# 6 The Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act
# 7 Guest Workers Inc.: Fraud and Human Trafficking
# 8 Executive Orders Can Be Changed Secretly
#9 Iraq and Afghanistan Vets Testify
# 10 APA Complicit in CIA Torture
# 11 El Salvador’s Water Privatization and the Global War on Terror
# 12 Bush Profiteers Collect Billions From No Child Left Behind
# 13 Tracking Billions of Dollars Lost in Iraq
# 14 Mainstreaming Nuclear Waste
# 15 Worldwide Slavery
# 16 Annual Survey on Trade Union Rights
# 17 UN’s Empty Declaration of Indigenous Rights
# 18 Cruelty and Death in Juvenile Detention Centers
# 19 Indigenous Herders and Small Farmers Fight Livestock Extinction
# 20 Marijuana Arrests Set New Record
# 21 NATO Considers “First Strike” Nuclear Option
# 22 CARE Rejects US Food Aid
# 23 FDA Complicit in Pushing Pharmaceutical Drugs
# 24 Japan Questions 9/11 and the Global War on Terror
# 25 Bush’s Real Problem with Eliot Spitzer

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See Also Top 25 Censored Stories for 2008

Slumdog Millionaire: Poverty is Nobody’s Fairy-tale

After seeing the film Slumdog Millionaire a few weeks ago, I felt not jubilant, but disturbed. Having been to India five times and (collectively) spending 1.5 years in various locales, I’ve experienced the fascinating, difficult country firsthand.

Poverty is ever-present. The slums are not always hushed into dark pockets of the cities; they may exist alongside opulence on busy boulevards. Though, some slum areas, as shown in the film, are being leveled with high-rise complexes put in their place, further displacing the marginalized. And this is cause for concern.

A good friend of mine, a native of Calcutta, recently told me this in a correspondence:

In India the situation is getting from bad to worse. There is NO accountability at all. The new change now is that many of the downtroddens are rising up to protest / to demand . The Adivasis are rising. The Maoists movement is spreading like wild fire in India. They have support bases in Nepal and Bangladesh. They are as bad as the criminals in other parties. We have lots of political parties with all kinds of names, but basically the goal is the same – ” to come to power and to remain in power ” at any cost.

In Delhi the slums are being destroyed and people are being displaced in preparation for the 2010 Commonwealth Games:

India razes slums, leaves poor homeless

Maiming children, as they did in the film by blinding a boy, is not simply a movie phenomenon nor is it a rare occurrence. If a begging person is missing part of a limb or if they are blind, more money may be extracting from the unwitting. It plays on our emotions.

During my last trip to India I had a personal encounter with a young boy who was a victim of intentional maiming. I was walking down Main Bazaar in Delhi when he spotted me. Westerners with money enough to travel to India are prime targets.

img_7323boy_hand2

He came running towards me and then trotted alongside me, parroting “fifty rupees!, fifty rupees!”. It was the desolate look in his eyes that first caught my attention. Seeing his missing hand explained the expression.

The end of his arm was covered with a clean, stark white bandage. It stood in sharp contrast to the layers of dirt on his face, feet and clothes.

I stopped walking and asked him “who did this to you?” Both enraged and haunted by this child’s circumstance, I continued to try talking with him but he only knew enough english to beg for money, not converse with a foreigner.

I did not give the child 50 rupees but settled on ten in exchange for his portrait. I felt a twinge of guilt about that, but I knew I would not be allowed one without compensation.

I saw the boy a few days later in nearly the same stretch of Main Bazaar. However, this time his bandage was bloody and dirty. He was jumping up and down with his mutilated arm in the air, trying to get the attention of a (western) couple who were in conversation and paying no attention to him.

A month later, in Dharamsala, I met a man who had also seen this boy when he was in Delhi. He told me he saw him squeezing the end of his arm to make the bandage bloodier, and hopefully, more profitable.

Those who’ve not spent time in India wouldn’t necessarily know what parts of the film Slumdog Millionaire are fact versus fiction, though it’s well known that India is home to a wealth of impoverished people.

The fiction is the fairy-tale ending, and the sense it gives moviegoers, that despite deep poverty and dangerous conditions, the people are still smiling happy, even dancing for joy in the railway station, a place where many street children make their home.

I think this illusion gives us permission to go back to life as usual after the credits roll and the curtain falls. Their situation and suffering is not something we need concern ourselves with. Besides, they’re happy. Aren’t they?

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See: Slumdog Millionaire’s child actors still live in ‘grinding poverty’ in Mumbai

Rubina Ali and Azharuddin Ismail, two of the child actors in “Slumdog Millionaire,” are still living in the slums of Mumbai, despite the film’s $14 million budget and worldwide success. Ali earned 500 British pounds ($710) for one year’s work and Ismail earned 1700 pounds ($2414), “less than many Indian domestic servants“:

Both children were found places in a local school and receive £20 a month for books and food. However, they continue to live in grinding poverty and their families say they have received no details of the trust funds set up in their names. Their parents said that they had hoped the film would be their ticket out of the slums, and that its success had made them realise how little their children had been paid.

Full Story

Toxic Valentines Day

Designating one day of the year as a love day is simply a way for merchants to prosper. Of course, real love does not show it’s chocolately, rosy face on just one day. For many, the expectations that come from Valentines Day cause consternation, melancholy and grief if there is not a someone special lavishing them with chocolate and roses. Aside from the farcical aspect, v-day love is laced with poison and bound in enslavement.

A Valentine classic: Roses dipped in chemicals
Colombia is a major exporter, and major user of toxic pesticides

It’s probably the last thing most people think about when buying roses. But by the time the velvety, vibrant-colored flowers reach a Valentine’s Day buyer, most will have been sprayed, rinsed and dipped in a battery of potentially lethal chemicals.

Most of the toxic assault takes place in the waterlogged savannah surrounding the capital of Colombia, which has the world’s second-largest cut-flower industry after the Netherlands, producing 62 percent of all flowers sold in the United States.

With 110,000 employees — many of them single mothers — and annual exports of $1 billion, the industry provides an important alternative to growing coca, the source crop of the Andean nation’s better known illegal export: cocaine.

But these economic gains come at a cost to workers’ health and Colombia’s environment, according to consumer advocates who complain of an over-reliance on chemical pesticides.

Colombia’s flower exporters association responded by launching Florverde, which has certified 86 of its 200 members for taking steps to improve worker safety and welfare. Florverde says its members have reduced pesticide use by 38 percent since 1998, to an average of 213 pounds of active ingredient per hectare (2.4 acres) per year.Full Story

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Slave Chocolate

Bittersweet chocolate

Of the $1.1 billion in boxed chocolates that Americans are expected to buy on Valentine’s Day, very little will be untainted by the scourge of child labor. Although some who buy those bonbons will do so without knowing the sinister history of their purchases, others, like the chocolate makers, will have known for at least two years, if not longer, that cocoa beans imported from the Ivory Coast — used to make nearly half the chocolate consumed in this country — are harvested in large part by children, some as young as 9, and many of whom are considered slaves, trafficked from desperately poor countries like Mali and Burkina Faso.

The most recent survey of conditions on West African cocoa farms, completed by the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture for the U.S. Agency for International Development, estimated that nearly 300,000 children work in dangerous conditions on cocoa farms in the four countries surveyed — Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon — the vast majority of them in the Ivory Coast. The report, released in July 2002, says that of the 300,000 children, more than half (64 percent) are under 14 years old. Twelve thousand had no connection to the family on whose cocoa farm they toiled, but only 5,100 of them were paid for their work. Almost 6,000 were described as “unpaid workers with no family ties,” provoking advocates to refer to them as “slaves.” The rest work on their families’ farms, kept home from school to do punishing work during the all-important harvest seasons. The latter category are, in the definition of the International Labor Organization, child laborers.Full Story

For Additional Information Visit:
Stop Chocolate Slavery
Chocolate Company Scorecard 2009