Slavery still exists

(U-WIRE) MEDFORD, Mass. –A handful of Tufts University students recently had a unique opportunity to hear what Francis Bok, a former slave from Sudan, had to say.

He shared with the audience his horrific experience as a slave. Yes, a slave in 2003. Unbelievable isn’t it? We turn on CNN and we hear about wars and famine all over the world, but we don’t hear about slavery. It seems like a ghost of the past, a terrible reminder of the sins of man. We have cleansed ourselves from its memory, filing it away in a dusty corner of our collective consciousness.

Yet slavery is still among us. We cannot ignore the facts.

Bok got up from his seat quietly and calmly. He is a very tall, skinny, black man in his 20s. He speaks English remarkably, given that he started learning it only a short time ago. His coolness is striking; he talks about horrible injustices and tragic losses with no emotion.

One day, Bok’s mother sent him to buy some eggs at their village, and he never came back. He was seven years old.

He was captured by the Sudanese militia and sold into captivity to a farmer. He was forced to work under pitiful conditions, beaten up constantly by his master and his sons, and given food barely fit for animals.

In every continent, millions of people are forced to work without pay under the threat of violence.

Debt bondage is widely operational throughout Asia, and trafficking of sex slaves is still common in Eastern Europe.

Even in the United States, people are forced to work without compensation.

According to the American Anti-Slavery Group’s Web site (, the “CIA estimates that 50,000 people are trafficked as sex slaves, domestics, garment and agricultural slaves.”

Bok was enslaved for nearly 10 years.

He tried to escape twice but his master caught him, beat him up and threatened to kill him if he dared to escape again.

Bok waited two more years, but his longing for freedom was stronger than his fear of death. One morning, Bok escaped and never returned.

He was fortunate to find people who helped him once he was out. In Cairo, the U.N. Refugee Office gave him an opportunity to leave Africa.

We all have a responsibility to rid our world of this brutal practice. Learning about modern day slavery and understanding its worldwide scope is the first step.

Let us not ignore the suffering of our fellow human beings.