Modern Day Arab Child Slave Trade

Modern Day Arab Child Slave Trade

While tens of thousands of adults are also victims of Arab slavers, many people only first took notice of the Arab slave trade in children when reports of enslaved child camel jockeys emerged from Persian Gulf countries. A 2004 HBO documentary on the subject was especially responsible for making Americans aware of this modern-day barbarism. These boys, who were sold by poor parents hoping their offspring would some day experience a better life, were primarily from South Asia. But instead of a life of dignity and meaningful work, they wound up in the Middle East where they were made to race camels for their Arab masters. Beaten and often sexually abused, they were all kept undernourished, so that the camels would have less weight to carry.

“As many as 6,000 child camel jockeys…languished in hidden slavery on ozbah farms, where their masters beat them and starved them to keep their weight down,” wrote E. Benjamin Skinner in his book, A Crime So Monstrous.

When investigating in the 1990s the enslavement of hundreds of thousands of black Africans in Mauritania by Arab-Berber masters, African-American author Samuel Cotton was stunned to discover that African children were still being kidnapped by Arabs traveling with camels carrying big baskets. The child, usually playing alone, would suddenly be snatched from its play and placed in one such basket, after which its new owners hurried away. The children, he was told, are sometimes found later “hundreds of miles away as slaves.”

Also during his investigation, which was summarized in his highly informative book Silent Terror: A Journey Into Contemporary African Slavery, Cotton was told there was “still a huge trafficking in slaves going on between Mauritania and the United Arab Emirates.”

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