By Ogova Ondego
Published September 15, 2011
The seven 30-minute and one 60-minute episodes that air across sub-Saharan Africa and are presented by Rageh Omaar, a Somali-born journalist, expose food chain slaves in America and the largest slave labour case in living memory, where a Californian company is charged with enslaving more than 900 Thai child labourers on farms across America; sex slaves in Europe; bonded labour slaves in Pakistan;child slaves in Haiti; and bridal slaves in India, according to Kevin Kriedemann, the South African publicist of the series.
“Today 27 million men, women and children are held, sold and trafficked as slaves throughout the world,” says Omaar. “That’s more than double the 12.5 million Africans who were taken into slavery during the several centuries of the Atlantic slave trade. This is a trade worth US$32 billion a year, a trade that refuses to die and remains the most prolific evil in the world today.”
Tim Tate, the producer of the series, says, “Slavery: A 21st Century Evil reveals uncomfortable truths about the role of slave labour in modern life, like the way some of the food on the shelves of supermarkets has been harvested by slaves, or the use of slave labour to produce many of the goods consumers throughout the world take for granted.”
Saying this is a challenge to governments throughout the world, Tate says “there has never been an easier time to rid the world of slavery but we live in a world where a top lawyer charges £3,000 per hour and a slave can be bought for £55 or less. Yet the American government, despite its self-appointed role as the world’s anti-slavery police, devotes precious few resources to its own part in the 21st century slave trade.”
The final episode will be an open public debate, which will discuss how the modern slave trade can be targeted and assess the efforts of the USA and the United Nations; the two major agencies involved.
Al Jazeera English, that broadcasts live from Doha, Qatar, is said to be reaching more than 250 million households in more than 130 countries, including sub-Saharan Africa’s Angola,,Botswana, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
Since its launch in 2006, Al Jazeera English has been recognised for its distinguished reporting and programming, being named “Best 24 Hour News Programme” at the annual Monte-Carlo Television Festival and Best News Channel three years running at the UK’s Freesat Awards. The channel has also received awards from The Royal Television Society, Amnesty International and YouTube and has received nominations for international Emmy awards in both the News and Current Affairs categories. In the past two years Al Jazeera English has received the Royal Television Society Awards as the 2009 and 2010 News Channel of the Year.