More calls to unmask modern day slavery

Written by  McDonald Chiwayula

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association has urged Members of Parliament in the country to come up with a legislation that puts to an end a new phenomenon known as Modern Day Slavery.


This is a system where people are trafficked to other countries on pretext of finding them lucrative jobs only to push them in forced labour. Member of Parliament for Nottingham North made the plea when members of Parliament from Nottingham visited Malawi to appreciate what Government, MPs and other key stakeholders are doing on the matter.


The pangs of slavery and the realities of the illegal trade still haunt many societies today. Families were broken, communities destroyed and countries ravaged through the selfish interests of the slave masters. Spanning from 1562 to 1807 Africans were captured and shipped across the Atlantic to work in sugar plantations and as domestic workers for no pay.


Quick facts on slavery

  • About 4 million slaves were taken from Africa to Brazil, about 40% of all got to America.
  • Over a million Europeans were captured by pirates and sold as slaves in North Africa between 1530 and 1780.
  • A former slave ship captain John Henry Newton wrote the song “ Amazing Grace” .
  • In 1833, Britain used 40% of its national budget to buy freedom for all slaves in the empire.
  • James Buchanan,the 15th U.S. President, was morally opposed to slavery, but believed it was protected by the Constitution, so he continuously bought slaves with his own money in order to free them.
  • Modern versions of enslavement are estimated to trap about 45 million people worldwide .



Mungo Park's illustration of Slave trade in 1790


Though Slavery was abolished by 1833 throughout the British Empire, in recent times the vice has emerged with numerous masks. A lot of people are enslaved in foreign countries where they were promised better jobs and perks. In reality they are engaged in forced labour, prostitution, child labour and a lot of victimization. Malawi is no exception. Against this background the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association introduced Modern Slavery Project to fight against the vice. The Commonwealth team arrived in the country to share experiences with fellow Parliamentarians on best practices to deal with the emerging masks of modern slavery. The emphasis is on law enforcement, prevention ,victim support and rehabilitation. The team visited Lilongwe Police Station to appreciate how victims are supported. It also had an interface meeting with girls who were rescued from the jaws of sex trade and are receiving rehabilitation at Chance for Change, a Scottish NGO in Lilongwe. Legislator for Nkhatabay South, Emily Chinthu Phiri, said Government is making considerable progress in rescuing people from such circumstances.


“Women and young people have been taken abroad by unscrupulous people who tell them there’s work but in real sense there isn’t. Government has taken serious actions to bring such people back and investigations are mounted to establish what really happened. We also ensure that proper rehabilitation measures have been effected and currently we are enhancing sensitization so that people should not be lured to travel to other countries unless they are sure of their safety,” said Phiri.


Speaking after visiting and engaging victims of modern day slavery, Member of Parliament for Nottingham North, Alex Norris, said legislators need to take these messages to their constituents to reduce cases of trafficking.


“We should join hands in ending this vice globally. We should be observant and act accordingly. We need to devise how we can empower law enforcers and the courts on dealing with the issue. As parliamentarians let’s go back to our constituents and share these issues so that we can put a halt on escalation of the vice.”



Map indicating distribution of modern day slavery


Meanwhile data collected from the tour will inform future phases of the project so that modern day slavery should be dealt with once and for all.




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