Women and slavery

Do you remember the days of slavery?” Jamaican Roots Reggae artist Burning Spear asks in his 1975 song ‘Slavery Days’. He was referring of course to the dark 400-year period of our global history during which more than 18 million men, women and children were victims of the horrific transatlantic trade in humans that saw their movement from the continent of Africa to the Americas and Europe. That dreadful period was commemorated yesterday as the ‘International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

March 25 is set aside every year by the UN to remember those who suffered and died during the four centuries beginning in the 16th century and to honour them as well. This year, its theme looks at ‘Women and Slavery’ paying tribute to the millions of women who also endured the unspeakable horrors of slavery. At the same time it seeks to celebrate those who successfully and unsuccessfully fought for freedom and advocated an end to slavery as well as the many who risked much in transmitting their culture and traditions to their descendants.

Yesterday UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon unveiled a permanent memorial to honour the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the grounds of the United Nations in New York. Titled ‘The Ark of Return’, the memorial was built by Haitian-American architect Rodney Leon. This was followed by a commemorative meeting of the General Assembly. Today at 11 an NGO briefing is scheduled to be held, followed by a global video conference for students tomorrow.

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