written by Evelina Tancheva
“Seven hundred dollars!”
Five hundred. Six Hundred. Six-fifty…
The tired voice of the cynical auctioneer echoes against poorly built walls. One by one, emaciated figures once resembling a human being are dragged out onto the stage. They are the albadayie — the merchandise. And as you look down at your bidding paddle, you realize that it is your right to procure…
Welcome to the jungle. Welcome to the Amphitheatre of lost morality. For a moment, there is nothing but organized chaos as the room seems to come alive.
Strong boys for farm work are the selling point. The gavel hits the table-top at seven hundred. In minutes, the transaction is complete. Congratulations, you have just bought your fifth slave.
That was a scene from two years ago when the CNN reporter Nima Elbagir demonstrated that you can put a price tag on a human life in the video (1) disseminated across the world. In a small town near Tripoli, she requests the chance to talk to the albadayie only to be met with a resounding ‘no.’ Despite the abolishment of slavery in all forms in Libya in 1853, the deplorable actions continue unopposed; most saliently since the fall of President Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights globally signed in 1948 oﬃcially ends global slavery, stating “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” However, seventy years later, not all humanity has accepted it and in some countries, the conditions remain stagnant compared to the ones during the transatlantic slave trade period.
Alarmingly, in recent times, the drive for social justice and the preservation of basic human rights is absent. In the case of Sudan, the government attempts to subjugate the dialogue by arguing that slavery is the unfortunate and unforeseeable collateral of inter-tribal warfare, thus deferring their moral imperative. In that same vein, the 1991 Sudan Criminal Code does not even classify slave trading as a criminal oﬀence. Consequently, an unknown number of albadayie is currently living in captivity
It becomes an indisputable fact that slave trading still exists in most of the African regions and the global slavery index estimates that 40.3 million modern slaves remain in servitude by 2018 (2) and just to put it into perspective, since numbers and statistics can’t do justice to the issue at hand, 39.3 (3) million people is the population of the country of Iraq…
Since 1981, Mauritania banned slavery in a de jure context without any real de facto application, today the estimated number of people living in modern slavery in the country is 90.000 (4). Likewise, in the Sinai Peninsula, there are more than 50 human traﬃcking gangs running unchecked. Subsequently, it is little surprise why this region is considered an Al-Qaeda and Bedouin haven.
What is the price of liberty? Would you know how to answer if you were asked what is the price of your liberty?
For you and I, who are not strong, fit males — we would fetch a lot less than seven hundred dollars.
Seven hundred and thirty days later, the number of people living in modern day slavery is still rocket high and in Libya’s case it’s estimated around 48.000 (5).
In the twenty first century, naiveté is no longer a justifiable defense; and the onus is on both contenders and spectators to come to arms.
Slavery is not an issue from black and white text books, it is not a past condition, it is a present-day catastrophe.
Will you pick the easy silence?