How Can We End Slavery in Libya?

When I first scrolled across the story, it was shocking that this could be happening again, and in this century! Though it was shocking enough to give me pause, I kept scrolling, hoping it was nothing but clickbait. Now, a week later, there is no denying the truth: in mid-November 2017, CNN reported secret footage confirming the sale of African migrants in Libya for as little as $400 per person. These migrants traveled to Libya with hopes to be smuggled into Europe, escaping the poor conditions of their homelands. Instead, they are being held captive without food or water, while badly beaten, sodomized or raped, and being forced to work in sub-human conditions without pay. They are being sold as property into indefinite slavery.

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When I first scrolled across the story, it was shocking that this could be happening again, and in this century! Though it was shocking enough to give me pause, I kept scrolling, hoping it was nothing but clickbait. Now, a week later, there is no denying the truth: in mid-November 2017, CNN reported secret footage confirming the sale of African migrants in Libya for as little as $400 per person. These migrants traveled to Libya with hopes to be smuggled into Europe, escaping the poor conditions of their homelands. Instead, they are being held captive without food or water, while badly beaten, sodomized or raped, and being forced to work in sub-human conditions without pay. They are being sold as property into indefinite slavery.

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How is this happening? Well, its simple: free or cheap resources are incredibly valuable and those in power will obtain them by force if necessary. Those who believe this to be an isolated incident have forgotten about the $20 shirt they recently purchased. Any fast-fashion, or discounted clothing, comes from foreign cheap laborers and domestic prison inmates who work far below sub-standards conditions. If corporations and manufacturers, who only care about their profits, could get away with it, those workers would be enslaved too. Let’s also not forgot, here in the U.S., undocumented workers who work for very little and long hours just for the opportunity to live in our country. There’s also the entire restaurant industry that continues to pay their servers as little as $2/hr under the guise that their businesses would crumble if they paid fair wages. When there is no respect for a person’s time, services and labor in one instance, it will snowball and worsen wherever else it can thrive.

Libya is referred to a black hole, a sort of lawless land where it is easy for things like slavery and human trafficking to be commonplace. With the help of the Italian government, Libyan authorities have been intercepting boats carrying migrants and returning them to Libya where they are then at the mercy of criminals and smugglers. Global activist, Chakabars of We Will Rize Together, says:

“I made posts about this last year. We have short memories and nobody wants to study history. Slavery of Africans by Arabs has been going on. It still happens in many countries. It never stopped in Mauritania. Nobody wants to criticise Obama, but his administration dropped a ridiculous amount of bombs and destroyed the government in Libya. If Gaddafi was alive, this would not be happening. You must see the correlation between the destabilising of a county and all of the madness that follows.”

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The United Nations reported in September of this year of “the hidden human calamity” taking place in Libya, documenting accounts of rape, robbery and murder of African migrants. An investigative filmmaker from Tuscany, Italy, Cecile Allergra, believes the Italian government and the EU need to discontinue their campaign against Rescue Migrants, but The Italian Parliament of Affairs believes its not that simple. It wants to strengthen the authorities in Libya to punish all those who profit from human trafficking, smuggling and other crimes. With estimates of nearly a million migrants trapped in Libya and the population of the continent doubling to four billion by the end of the century, there’s a undeniable need for more economic development within Africa itself.

The continent of Africa is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, however there is still extreme poverty that is both well documented and ignored by those benefiting from their respective country’s fast growth. Its common to live in an two million dollar palace with an entire slum less than 10 miles from your property. People from Niger, Ghana, Mali, and Nigeria are pouring into Libya by the thousands in hopes to reach Europe for a better life. Sound familiar? Of course, it does, because our neighbors to the south of the U.S. continue believe this is the land of more opportunity than in their homelands. The Italian government and the EU have been working hard to block more refugees from pouring into Europe as there are already thousands currently living in a newly erected alleyway of shanties in Paris, making Skid Row look like Park Avenue.

The more Libya becomes crowded with migrants, the more people are being sold off against their will into brutal slavery. According to NotAWeaponOfWeaponOfWar.org, this is a deeply rooted problem that is only recently being documented, but certainly not unique nor only beginning this year as there’s an estimated 40 million people enslaved worldwide. Wherever there is extremely impoverished people desperate for economic advancement, there will be those who are looking to profit from their unfortunate circumstance. Yet, for every ill-intentioned person, there are a thousand good Samaritans hoping for ways to change the course of evil. Blavity and Bustle recently compiled a great list of ways we can all do our part to help end slavery on a global scale as well as in Libya:

  1. Contact the United Nations and make sure they focus efforts towards this cause: Phone: +1-212-752-5775; Fax: +1-212-593-4787; E-mail: info@libyanmission-un.org
  2. Donate to Support The International Organization For Migration (IOM) who work to protect migrants’ human rights and successfully closed seven detention centers. Other reputable organizations that work to eradicate slavery on a global scale are Free the Slaves, End Slavery Now, and the Polaris Project.
  3. Help fight the leading cause of Human Trafficking: underdeveloped economies. We can help by aiding and investing in organizations that focus on the growth of the nations that refugees are fleeing.
  4. Contact Social Media companies to ban live videos that broadcast people being sold and ban them being shared to family members to extort money for their release.
  5. Raise awareness through word of mouth, organizing protests outside of embassies or government buildings, or sharing the message on social media. If it weren’t for people sharing links and images, it’s doubtful that it would have caught the attention of large news outlets, or even celebrities like, Cardi B who slammed the UN to her ten million followers for their negligence.
  6. Shop Slave-free just like you would boycott Chik-Fil-A, or avoid blood diamonds or favor animal cruelty-free products. Check out the guide at End Slavery Now for retail companies actively seeking to end slave labor.

Personally, I had to take a look at my inaction toward this story and learn from it. Anyone can keep scrolling, hoping it’ll go away, hoping that there’s no truth to it or hoping that someone else will fix the problem. However, if we want a better world, we have to be better, ourselves. Being woke means not only waking up, but stepping up. The least I can do is be a voice for those who cant speak loudly and also donate to causes that have a wide reach. This Christmas, there is nothing i need or want thats more important than another person’s right to freedom. If you have an extra $1, or even considered buying me a gift, please redirect that energy and money to donating to an organization actively fighting to eradicate the same perils that plagued our ancestors.

Thanks for joining me 😘

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