The practice of slavery in Sudan represents one of the most complex yet blatant human rights violations in the world today. This is something CASS representatives Jane Roy and Glen Pearson have personally discovered on their many trips into the south of Sudan, assisting in the freeing of 10,000 slaves over a two-year period — efforts that were chronicled in a cover story of Maclean’s magazine. The magazine then did a follow-up article on the realities of slavery as they affected Canadian MP Joe Fontana when he accompanied CASS on a trip to the south.
Chattel slavery, as practiced in Sudan, is the most demeaning and abusive form of bondage there is. Women and children taken into slavery become the complete property of anyone who purchases them. This isn’t domestic servitude or merely an enforced form of prostitution. It is a terrible practice where one person literally “owns” another. Because of this, the presence of chattel slavery in Sudan has attracted more interest in slavery than any other country of the world. CASS has been been instrumental in drawing the attention of international media to this problem.
Things are changing. As a result of recent peace initiatives, the northern government has called for an end to taking slaves by militia groups that work with the Sudanese army in Bahr El Ghazal province. Most importantly, no slaves have been taken in the northern Bahr el Ghazal region for well over two years. This is a significant accomplishment, not only for peace brokers but also for citizens around the world who spoke out against this practice.
The scars of slavery linger in the lives of those who, though liberated, must now recapture their previous lives. Women and children must relocate their families — not an easy task for those who have been held for years. As CASS seeks to build schools, start recreational programming and begin women’s literacy classes, special attention will be given to those who have endured the shame of slavery. The premise is not to single out those who have been liberated, thereby drawing attention to their past indignities, but to include them in overall community programming where holistic rehabilitation can draw them back into becoming vital members of their villages.
Liberated or escaped slaves are present in significant numbers in both Aweil East and Twic Counties. Because the physical and emotional scars for such children are serious, CASS will work with local officials and teachers to monitor the development and learning of these children and provide special support as required. In Aweil East, women’s empowerment activities have begun to assist these individuals. With the establishing of Abuk’s Herd, former slaves now have an opportunity to care for themselves and provide for their future and that of their children.