Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Haiku 052709

I espy
more leaves from last fall –
late spring


Recently, we read the following:

Global Post: “The slaves next door” by Mildrade Cherfils

“Yasmina was 12 years old when an aunt and uncle brought her to France from Mali to be a live-in nanny to their children. Once she was settled in a suburb near Paris, her new life consisted of 16 hours of household chores and regular beatings with electric cables. The first time she ran away, the couple found her, brought her home, stripped her nude, tied her hands behind her back and beat her bloody...

“Lakhdar said she is asked often, by police, for instance, why a person doesn’t leave the home when presented with the chance, while the family is on vacation or while out running an errand like picking up a child from school.

“ The barriers can be mental,’ she said. Victims are often told they’ll be arrested for being in the country illegally if caught by police. Most often, the abused know their abusers and likely come from the same social circle, village or even family. In cases involving high-ranking officials, the enslavement might occur with impunity because of diplomatic immunity. Often wives, who are more apt to deal with household matters, are complicit in the abuse against other women, Lakhdar said.

“In France, Lakhdar said about 10 to 20 percent of the cases she sees also involve sexual abuse and rape. Physical abuse can include smashing teeth, torturing with pepper, hitting with high heels on the arms and burning with cigarettes. Mental abuse can range from depriving a person of food, or only allowing her to eat only scraps; forcing her to sleep on the ground, while the rest of the household sleeps in beds, or allowing her to bathe only once or twice per week.

“ ‘I never imagined there were such cases in France,’ said Gillaume Herbaut, a French photojournalist whose work documenting the victims as a newspaper assignment turned into an ongoing project with Lakhdar and the committee….

“ ‘They’re lost when they’re enslaved, and they’re lost when they are free,’ he said. ‘They have to relearn freedom.’ ”


And we thought:

….It’s nearly a decade into the 21st century and there are still “slaves” in our midst? We wonder whether this report datelined in France might be an isolated case. However, recent headlines from other parts of the world do echo similar or worse examples of how brutish we continue to be against one another. Consider the enforced starvation of displaced people in Darfur and other places with regional conflicts. The reports of torture and other human rights violations in repressive regimes. The suicide bombings that victimize innocent civilians.

No doubt some part of our being remains as primitive as it had been eons ago – except now our atavism is inflicted with more sophisticated gadgets and weapons. We have a less evolved side -- a dark side -- that periodically frustrates our noble side that’s been otherwise responsible for progressive and collective endeavors meant to advance our species, such as genome research and space exploration. Hatred, greed, utter disregard for human life -- we need to continue addressing this dark side....

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