I just finished reading the novel “Slave,” written by a woman from Sudan named Mende Nazer.
“Slave” is Nazer’s life story. She was born in the Nuba Mountains in South Sudan, where she grew up sheltered from the outside world. One night, when Nazer was around the age of 12, a group of Arabs raided her village — murdering most, raping the women and abducting the children. Nazer was one of the little girls captured, and that night her childhood ended. She was sold to an Arab family as if she was just another object to purchase. She was too young to know any better or to protect herself. The only advice she received from the other slaves she met was to shut up, listen and to do as she was told.
Nazer worked as a slave enduring sexual, physical and mental abuse, as well as poor living conditions, scraps for food, no human affection or outside contacts. She stayed with her owners in Sudan for seven years until the year 2000 when she was sent to live with her owner’s family in London. Nazer remained in captivity until the age of 19 when she finally escaped. In fact, she decided to escape only after she was told by a neighbour that the situation was illegal, and nobody in London was to not receive compensation for their work.
Nazer made it out and is living a safe and healthy life in London. Her dreams of going to school and becoming a doctor may have been stolen from her, but now she is determined to teach others and to shed light on this sad reality.
It’s honestly so sad that this is happening, in the 21st century nonetheless. How is it that we live in a world where children carry iPhones, people are celebrity-obsessed, it’s the norm to want more more more, AND there is still slavery right under our noses. Wasn’t ‘slavery’ a thing of the past? Apparently not. What we know as slavery or modern-day slavery is very much alive and well.
Why nobody really knows about modern-day slavery is because it IS so hidden. Usually the victims are cut off from the outside world, usually there is a language barrier and usually the victims don’t know their rights. In Nazer’s case, like so many others, she started to develop what we know as Stockholm Syndrome, which is defined as: “Feelings of trust or affection felt in many cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim toward a captor.” Since these victims are so isolated, it’s no wonder they start to form some sort of relationship or bond with their captor. Media coverage on slavery is out there, but unless you do your research, you’ll never really know. I will just say that the statistics are shocking and sad. Nazer is just one of the millions who have suffered similar fates, and I applaud her for sharing her story and teaching me.
The fact that modern-day slavery is considered to be a growing crime frightens me. In a world where we know so much, it kills me to think that people can still be so cruel. Furthermore, in a world where we have SO much information readily available to us, it kills me to think that people know so little. Read the newspaper or a book. Watch the news. Take advantage of these outlets. Unfortunately, it is so easy to turn a blind eye to issues plaguing this world, because they can all seem far too overwhelming. Some say it’s better to not know because we “can’t fix it anyways.” In my opinion, we gain nothing from ignorance. Knowledge is power, and the more people are aware of the terror that occurs in parts of this world, the chances of change become much greater.
Most importantly, if there is one thing I can say after reading this book, it is to be grateful. Appreciate the things you have. Appreciate life. Appreciate and cherish freedom, because not everyone can.