See also Attitudes to Slavery: Texts and Sources
Although slavery officially ended in Brazil in the latter half of the 19th century, it continues unofficially now in the 21st century. A recent report from the Folha de Sao Paulo revealed that today over 10,000 workers live in conditions of slavery. Most of those cases are in the North and Northeast parts of the country. In the state of Para alone, the Ministry of Work has received 75 complaints which involve some 3,000 workers, double the number of persons from last year's report.
Brother Henri des Roziers, the coordinator of the Catholic Church's Land Commission in Para, says that he calls daily to the Ministry of Work office to demand that the government investigate these cases. "What they tell me is that the investigations, which already were few in number, have been suspended because of lack of funding," commented des Roziers. Employees of the Ministry of Work recently reported to officials that their teams of investigators (which were formed as a result of international pressure) have been dismantled. They also reported that when they had teams, investigation was very difficult as the regional governmental officials barred or made very difficult their work.
In Para, slave labor is utilized in the lumber and cattle industry. Recruiters go to various points in the cities and promise a salary of R$400 (US$275) per month. As the workers are already in a state of misery, they accept the offer and go, not even knowing that they are already in debt for the trip to the locale of employment. Once they arrive, they find that they have to buy food at exorbitant prices and soon accumulate more debt. They are threatened with death if they try to flee. Most of the sites are far away from roads and highways, making coming and going very difficult. Besides hard labor, the workers also live in subhuman housing conditions, often lack potable water, and lack nutritious and sufficient food.
But the problem is not limited to Para. Tocantins, Maranhao, Mato Grosso do Sul, and Rio Grande do Sul: all have serious cases of slave labor pending. In the city of Sao Paulo there is even a case of enslavement of undocumented Bolivians who have come to Brazil in search of employment. According to the report, two problems exacerbate slave labor: high unemployment and impunity for those who exploit the workers. Between 1995 and 2002, the government has freed 4,900 "slaves." Over 1,000 have been freed this year alone. However, more often than not, the landowner or employer simply goes in search of more workers and repeats the actions. To date, not one "employer" is serving time in prison for exploitation of workers.
Source: Folha de Sao Paulo October 6, 2002
NEWS FROM BRAZIL supplied by SEJUP (Servico Brasileiro de Justica e Paz). Number 477, October 18, 2002.
From: Martine Miel <email@example.com>
I would like to add to the information provided by listservers in reference both to Anti-Slavery International and contemporary forms of slavery.
Officially founded in 1839, Anti-Slavery is the oldest human rights organisation in the world and today is committed to eliminating contemporary slavery through research, awareness raising and campaigning.
Regarding the request for readings on contemporary slavery, we recommend the following: (see our website to find more details http://www.antislavery.org/publish.htm )
Review of the Implementation of and Follow-up to the Conventions on Slavery, Working Paper prepared by David Weissbrodt and Anti-Slavery International (available as a download from our website (http://www.antislavery.org/unsubm99.htm)
Library (http://www.antislavery.org/library1.htm )
Anti-Slavery has accumulated a large collection of reports, publications, photographs and videos that are housed within a reference library at our offices in London, containing essential information for those pursuing research in the following:
Bonded Labour .
Child Labour .
Other forms of Modern Slavery .
Child Prostitution .
Female Genital Mutilation .
Indigenous Peoples .
Migrant Labour .
Codes of Conduct/Social Clause relating to the above
Special collections: UN documents . ILO papers . Periodicals . Anti-Slavery reports and submissions to UN . Personal papers
The Anti-Slavery library also houses an historical collection (http://www.antislavery.org/library2.htm):
Tracts and pamphlets:
A unique collection of over 600 tracts and pamphlets covering both abolitionist and pro-slavery arguments from Britain and abroad. Along with a period collection of literature it gives a detailed picture of the abolitionist movement from the 1760s to the 1860s.
About 3000 volumes: In addition to the core collection on slavery and its abolition, subjects include : the role of the non conformist-churches in the anti-slavery movement : the thrust of African colonialism in the late 19th century and missionary and other expeditions in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
Anti-Slavery Reporter 1825 to current; Aborigines' Friend 1839-1909 (incomplete); The African Institution 1807-25.
250 19th century ../images of slaves, slave ships, the Belgian Congo atrocities and African indigenous peoples.
200 volumes of the primary source material are held on microfilm. (Copies of microfilm are available for purchase).
Reports from 1892-1971 covering Anti-Slavery research and campaigns.
Any library queries to firstname.lastname@example.org
If people are thinking of developing teaching units on slavery, Anti-Slavery also has an education department that produces resources to raise awareness amongst young people, both in the UK and further afield. If people are interested we have produced two video packs, 'The Changing Face of Slavery', looking at the slave trade, its abolition (mostly UK) and child labour both at the time of the Industrial Revolution in the UK and today around the world. In the UK it is appropriate for students aged 11-14 and we link it to history, Religious Education and English. Accompanying support materials raise pertinent and challenging questions, helping students to tackle the subjects of slavery and human rights. The other pack 'Our News, Our Views', focuses solely on the contemporary and looks at child rights, child labour and the media. It consists of a series of news reports, produced by young people, for young people and the accompanying activities are designed to help them gain a better understanding of the issues around child labour and child rights and develop a critical awareness of the media. This is aimed at students between ages 14-17, although it has also been used at university level in the UK. Both videos have been produced for a PAL system, so people would need a converter to use it on NTSC.
Other infomation resources available from Anti-Slavery are, as mentioned by Martin Klein, our quarterly newsletter 'the Reporter' that covers a wide range of issues involving adults and children, trapped in situations of slavery. This is free to members and back issues are available on request. We are also writing a series of 'fact sheets' on specific forms of slavery which provide general information and might help those developing courses. We are producing six 'action briefings' over the next two years as part of our current campaign against bonded labour. (A person becomes a bonded labourer when their labour is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan). The briefings contain country specific information and case studies as well as points of action. For more information about the campaign or joining our campaigns network, please contact Jen Escher at email@example.com
For any other infomation, please contact Martine Miel (Education Officer) at firstname.lastname@example.org
or see Anti-Slavery's website: http://www.antislavery.org
Thomas Clarkson House
London SW9 9TL
Tel: +44 (0) 171 501 8935
Fax +44 (0) 171 738 4110
H-NET List for African History and Culture [H-AFRICA@H-NET.MSU.EDU]
Date: Thu, 25 Nov 1999
From: Urs Peter Ruf, University of Bielefeld <email@example.com>
Indeed, experiences of slavery are an important element in
processes of identity formation not only in the Americas but
also in many African societies. As in both cases slavery
resulted in numerous practices of social discrimination the
topic opens the floor for discourses focusing less on
distinct practices but on interconnections in the history of
slavery and analogies in those practices leading on the one
hand to slave emancipation and on the other hand to
continued discrimination against former slaves.
Some attempts to tie the evolution of slavery in West Africa
and especially in Mauritania into the evolution of the
Atlantic and the trans-Saharan slave trade are made in my
recent book: RUF, Urs Peter "Ending Slavery: Hierarchy,
Dependency and Gender in Central Mauritania",
Bielefeld/Germany, transcript Verlag 1999 (More info at:
http://www.transcript-verlag.de/ts491.htm apologies for
selling off my stuff!).
In this country the question of continued slavery has become
a major focus of national politics, with former slaves and
people still bound to this estate engaging in discourses of
identity and group formation that follow distinct goals:
either integration into the former masters' society or else
the emergence of a distinct group with an identity in
between the black African ethnic groups and the dominant
former Arab masters.
In this respect Mauritania is by far not a singular case. In
many Sahelian and also north African Societies the memory of
former slaves is still vivid and patterns of discrimination
against them are still prevalent. Some of these cases are
actually under study and I think it would be a great leap
forwards to link these attempts at understanding relations
of domination and hereditary hierarchies to such fields as
diaspora studies and analyses of slavery and emancipation in
THE CITY SUN: MAURITANIA -- A LEGACY OF SLAVE TRADING