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While almost all the slaves shipped across the Atlantic were for agricultural work, most of the slaves destined for the Muslim Middle East were for sexual exploitation as concubines, in harems, and for military service.
While many children were born to slaves in the Americas, and millions of their descendants are citizens in Brazil and the USA to this day, very few descendants of the slaves that ended up in the Middle East survive.
While most slaves who went to the Americas could marry and have families, most of the male slaves destined for the Middle East were castrated, and most of the children born to the women were killed at birth.
It is estimated that possibly as many as 11 million Africans were transported across the Atlantic (95% of which went to South and Central America, mainly to Portuguese, Spanish and French possessions. Only 5% of the slaves went to the United States).
However, at least 28 million Africans were enslaved in the Muslim Middle East. As at least 80% of those captured by Muslim slave traders were calculated to have died before reaching the slave markets, it is believed that the death toll from the 14 centuries of Muslim slave raids into Africa could have been over 112 million. When added to the number of those sold in the slave markets, the total number of African victims of the Trans Saharan and East African slave trade could be significantly higher than 140 million people.
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Historian Robert Davis in his book “Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters – White Slavery In the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy”, estimates that North African Muslim pirates abducted and enslaved more than 1 million Europeans between 1530 and 1780. These white Christians were seized in a series of raids which depopulated coastal towns from Sicily to Cornwall. Thousands of white Christians in coastal areas were seized every year to work as galley slaves, labourers and concubines for Muslim slave masters in what is today Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Libya. Villages and towns on the coast of Italy, Spain, Portugal and France were the hardest hit, but the Muslim slave raiders also seized people as far afield as Britain, Ireland and Iceland. They even captured 130 American seamen from ships they boarded in the Atlantic between 1785 and 1793.
According to one report, 7000 English people were abducted between 1622 to 1644, many of them ship crews and passengers. But the Corsairs also landed on unguarded beaches, often at night, to snatch the unwary. Almost all the inhabitants of the village of Baltimore, in Ireland, were captured in 1631, and there were other raids in Devon and Cornwall. Many of these white, Christian slaves were put to work in quarries, building sites and galleys and endured malnutrition, disease and mistreatment at the hands of their Muslim slave masters. Many of them were used for public works such as building harbours.
Female captives were sexually abused in palace harems and others were held as hostages and bargained for ransom. “The most unlucky ended up stuck and forgotten out in the desert, in some sleepy town such as Suez, or in Turkish Sultanate galleys, where some slaves rowed for decades without ever setting foot on shore.” Professor Davis estimates that up to 1,25 million Europeans were enslaved by Muslim slave raiders between 1500 to 1800. 
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One of the most impressive parts of Prof. Davis’s book is his computation of the numbers of Europeans enslaved by these Muslim raiders. Combing through the historical sources, he concludes that there were about 35,000 enslaved Christians on the Barbary Coast at any one time. He then sets about estimating attrition rates. Slave numbers declined through four causes: death, escape, redemption (i.e. by ransom), and conversion to Islam. Davis gets annual rates from these causes of 17 percent, 1 percent, 2-3 percent, and 4 percent, respectively. This implies a total number of slaves, from the early 1500s to the late 1700s, of one to one and a quarter million. This is an astonishing number, implying that well into the 17th century, the Mediterranean slave trade was out-producing the Atlantic one. Numbers fell off thereafter, while the transatlantic trade increased; but in its time, the enslavement of European Christians by Muslim North Africans was the main kind of enslavement going on in the world.
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In fact, even a tentative slave count in Barbary inevitably begs a host of new questions. To begin with, the estimates arrived at here make it clear that for most of the first two centuries of the modern era, nearly as many Europeans were taken forcibly to Barbary and worked or sold as slaves as were West Africans hauled off to labor on plantations in the Americas. In the sixteenth century especially, during which time the Atlantic slave runners still averaged only around 3,200 Africans annually, the corsairs of Algiers – and later Tunis and Tripoli – were regularly snatching that many or more white captives on a single raiding voyage to Sicily, the Balearics, or Valencia.
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Experts say the number of women trafficked into neighboring countries is on the rise as wealthy Arabs take advantage of difficult economic situations, marry young girls with the intent to use them in the sex trade.
Makram Ouda, executive director of the Jordanian Women Union said that they have found 70 Egyptian women who were trafficked into Jordan and kept there as part of the sex trade network after their husbands “bought” them from their parents.
And while the marriage contracts are legitimate, these new brides find themselves working either as beggars or as sex workers.
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The group says the majority of victims are from West, Central and East Java, West Kalimantan and North Sumatra. In many cases, the children are promised work as domestic workers but end up in prostitution dens.
More than 3,900 children here have fallen victim to human trafficking in the first half of the year, according to the International Organization for Migration. The country tops the UN body’s list of child trafficking cases.
A black African of Mauritania’s Haratine caste, she was born into slavery about 40 years ago – she is illiterate and has only a hazy idea of time – and grew up as the property of an Arabic-speaking Berber family, in an oasis town deep in the desert.
While her master’s children went to school, she was cooking, cleaning and washing from dawn to dusk. She slept on the floor, and suffered beatings.
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Slave-holding has been abolished three times, first by the country’s former French overlords and then twice by different rulers of the independent state, most recently in 2007. But the law has never been enforced and no slave owner has ever been prosecuted.
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Centuries of indoctrination have persuaded the Sahara’s captives that slavery is religiously ordained – slaves are taught that if they run away they will be barred from heaven. As a local saying puts it: “Paradise is under your master’s foot.” In some remote places a runaway will still be hunted down by nomad masters.
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A Berber driver, who would only give his first name, Mohammed, defended slavery. “It is our religion and custom,” he said.
“Why does the international community try to stop it? The slaves are better off with their masters. This is their fate. When they leave, they starve.”
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The crisis began after the workers’ advocates successfully petitioned three district courts to declare as illegal the debts that the landlords were using to compel the workers into indentured servitude. Those debts average around 1,000 Pakistani rupees — roughly $12. The hostages, a third of whom are children, some as young as 4 months old, are landless peasants, known as haari in Urdu. According to Ghulam Hyder, a spokesman for Pakistan’s Green Rural Development Organization, the landlords have killed one hostage already and are threatening to kill the others unless they drop the cases and return to work.
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A 2004 study by the International Labour Office (ILO) estimated that there are up to a million haari families in Sindh alone, the majority living in conditions of debt bondage, which the U.N. defines as modern-day slavery. Last fall, Pakistan’s Daily Times newspaper quoted the labor minister of neighboring Punjab province as saying that landlords hold millions of forced laborers in “private prisons” across the country.
While the nation’s 1992 Bonded Labour System Act mandates five-year sentences for violators, Pakistani officials have yet to record a single conviction. “The police are turning a blind eye on the issue,” says Hyder
– I am not surprised by the information about the existence of such traffic to Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region, particularly in light of [the fact] that marriage with children is widespread and accepted, “said Sannah Johnson, regional director of the Middle East for the Swedish Save the Children.
A well-organized network of traffickers supplying the Arab market with child brides from the North African country of Mauritania, says U.S. diplomats. Retrieved as sex slaves in their thousands from Yemen, in addition to that there is an extensive sex industry in Yemen offering sex with minors to rich men from the Gulf states, the Wikileaks documents and Aftenposten Bergens Tidende has access to.
Since 1995, AASG’s partner, Christian Solidarity International (CSI), has been working to free Sudan’s slaves. The organization provides funds to the indigenous network of Africans and Arabs who cooperate on returning the captives.CSI’s efforts resulted in the liberation of over 80,000 slaves.
In 2005, under guidance of the US Government, the North and the South signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the war and provided for Southern self-determination. The CPA ended the slave raids, but left the fate of those already in bondage unresolved. According to the recent Congressional testimony of CSI’s CEO Dr. John Eibner, approximately 35,000 are still serving their masters in parts of Southern Darfur and Kordofan.
In the week prior to the independence, CSI liberated 404 slaves.
But his decision has triggered a campaign by local human right activists.
A 2009 report by the human rights ministry found that males and females were still enslaved in the provinces of Hudaydah and Hajja, in northwest Yemen — the Arab world’s most impoverished country.
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“We are still in the process of trying to count the numbers of slaves,” the coordinator of rights group Hood, Mohammed Naji Allaw, told AFP, explaining that slaves were “owned by title deeds, or inherited within families.”
The news website almasdaronline earlier spoke of “500 slaves” across Yemen.
In addition to “slaves whose owner can use them however he wants,” the ministry report also refers to other groups subjected to slave-like conditions, although they are not bound by documents.
One group includes “former slaves who have been officially set free, but remain at the service of their former masters, who continue to feed them but never pay them wages,” the report said.
Allaw said such people are still referred to as “the slaves of such and such a family, or the slaves of such and such a tribe.”
Enslaved groups are descendants of an empire which ruled Yemen in the 11th and 12th centuries, with their origins in ancient Ethiopia, across the Red Sea from Yemen. They were enslaved after their empire was defeated.
- The Scourge of Slavery – Christian Action, 2004 Vol 4
- John Derbyshire – Fear of the Horizon (Book Review) – National Review Online, September 13, 2006
- Robert C. Davis, “Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy, 1500-1800”, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, pp. 23-24
- Waslat Hasrat-Nazimi – Human trafficking, prostitution thrive in Afghanistan – Deutsche Welle, October 24, 2012
- Manar Ammar – Human trafficking, sex trade to Egypt on the rise, Jordan reported as hub – Bikya Masr, October 3, 2012
- Made Arya Kencana – Measures to Protect Children From Sex Exploitation ‘Still Weak’ – Jakarta Globe, November 4, 2011
- Nick Meo – Half a million African slaves are at the heart of Mauritania’s presidential election – Telegraph, July 12, 2009
- E. Benjamin Skinner – Pakistan’s Forgotten Plight: Modern-Day Slavery – TIME, October 27, 2009
- 2,000 minorities girls converted to Islam forcibly: report – Daily Times, September 5, 2012
- Little girls end up as sex slaves for Saudis – Aftenposten, May 9, 2011
- South Sudan becomes a free nation, but tens of thousands of its people remain enslaved in the North – iAbolish.org, July 20, 2011
- Jamal al-Jaberi – ‘Slaves’ in impoverished Yemen still dream of freedom – AFP, July 20, 2010