|Varsha and Mahender Sabhnani|
|Homaidan AL Turki and wife|
Most foreigners have people they have brought to the US or the West to help them and then help themselves. To the West, the fact they are not paid is slavery. To the foreigners, it is already a big help to bring them to the West: their partial paradise. That is a serious clash of culture versus local law. You might be keeping a slave without knowing. As I was growing up, most Nigerians brought people: young boys and girls who served them for seven years. If they performed well, they gave them enough money to open their own stores. The biddies ended up marrying their bosses. Cameroonians took people and after they lived with them for some time, they sent them to school or helped them to learn a trade. During the time that they are living with the individual, they are not being paid. In the West, that is slavery, but in Africa it is manna from heaven. Children dream of opportunities like that. That is where culture conflicts with local laws. Please enjoy!
On Feb 28, 2005, Theresa Mubang: a naturalized citizen from Cameroon was sentenced in absentia to 17 ½ years for human trafficking and enslaving an 11 year Cameroonian: Evelyn Chumbow. Mubang fled to Cameron but was returned to the US through the intervention of US Embassy and the Bamenda police to serve out her sentence.
In the Mubang case, the general culture is that of people who have made it and desire to help the ones they consider hopeless. Parents usually tell you to take their child to live with you so that the crumbs from your table may extend to them. When they come, they are expected to serve as the cook and house girl for free. People only look at the end results of the child. In the US, that is called slavery because you are not paying them. If the child and parents knew they did not want their child to do slavery, then they would have rejected the offer. There are other young kids that would want to seize the opportunity and come out of the deathtrap. There is a Bayangi proverb that says that: “when you cross oversai water piking water, he go ton tiger”. After the child has reached a place like America and their eyes get opened, they start to ask for remuneration.
No doubt, usually the treatment some of these kids receive is not fair, but they knew exactly what they were getting into. As we all know, there are many families helping kids like that.
There is no way you will explain to an American for them to understand that the parents knew, and that Mubang is a helper rather than a slave mistress. That is why she is in jail: culture versus local law conflicting.
Just slightly more than a year later, another African from Nigeria: Adaobi Stella Udeozor was sentenced to seven years and asked to restitute $110,249 to her victim for her labor for domestic slavery. Though the judge was briefed that it was cultural, Judge Messitte still played deaf. If the said young woman was in Nigeria, she would have been dead or lost totally. Please, help someone from another family.
Indeed there seems to be some excesses like the man raping the girl, and the harsh treatment she received from the woman. But if you will permit, I will tell you a scene I witness when I was back home so that you draw your own inference.
A young girl was brought to town as a biddy. She began sleeping with the man and wanted the man to divorce the wife. When the wife suspected a relationship between her husband and the biddy, she became very cruel to the girl and asked the husband to send her away. But since Africa is more a patriarchal society, the man rejected the offer and insisted the maid must live with them. Again: a big mistake! When the maid could not succeed to break the home, she accused the man of raping her.
If she was in the US, it would have played the same scenario like that of the Udeozor. Remember she is not tied or chained all day long. Remember Africans have tribal and community meetings here that she could tell someone. If she fought that way, you must understand there is an ingredient of payback. After all, making herself a slave will sell to the individualistic American society. Here is the conflict between culture and the local law. Here is a people who know how to exploit the law.
I was called one day by one lawyer to translate a document for a guy who said he is being persecuted in Cameroon for being gay. So I asked him in French that I did not know you are gay. He said: "bro you know these white people like these stories. If I don’t tell them this, they will not give me papers." There are stories that easily sell and they can easily be prosecuted because you look at them, they are credible. After all, someone has been living with you for four years and working in your house, but you never paid them.
Five months later the conviction was going to come from Saudi Arabia. On June 30, 2006 Homaidan AL Turki was sentenced to 27 years in prison while his wife took a plea agreement and accepted to be deported then received a combined sentence of 2 months in jail, five years probation and ordered to restitute $111,275,000 for false imprisonment, unlawful sexual contacts and criminal extortions.
A few things need to be mentioned. The victims came willingly. A slave is anyone who is carried somewhere, forced to work without pay and without his or her volition. These victims came themselves. At times they lined up for the offers. The job descriptions are read to them and the guardians, and they or their guardians still accept them.
The most recent case that took my breath away was the Indian couple. Varsha and Mahender Sabhnani were convicted on Monday, Dec 17, 2007 of 12 counts of enslaving two women. Listen to that: two women. The wife was ordered immediately to jail while the husband was sent home on house arrest as they await their sentencing. A federal judge in Central Islip ordered Varsha Sabhnani to jail Thursday, days after a jury found her guilty of enslaving and torturing two domestic workers: Enung and Samira at their Muttontown home. They each face 20 years in jail during sentencing.
The Indians do not live much in isolation, so these girls would have had someone to tell. The real issue here is payback. It is likely that the women wanted to receive much more than they merited and when the wife refused, they wanted to pay her back not knowing it will also affect the man they intend to win later.
Cameroon, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and India all are oriental societies. In most of these cultures, family is always extended. Raising a child is a community affair and not an individual business. If a relative or a close neighbor fails, the one who has made it, is the pariah and not the tramp or derelict. So those who have made it try to help the children of the poor neighbors and relatives. That is why most of them will bring many people abroad. That is different from human trafficking because these people are brought for free. I do not forget there are always exceptions: I mean the bad apples and all these people convicted do not fall within that category. There is no element of forced labor because they were brought to serve in the house and then after some years, they will go and live on their own after acquiring some skills. The problem always arises when there is a little more sex added to it.
No one from any of these communities could easily be called a slave or live as a slave if they wanted to run away. They have all the means because the number of visitors you get in contact exposes you to the outside world. Why do they wait until many years later when they are already sexually mature to fight one of the spouses?
These are not typical slavery cases like the Oslo Apartment Case because they do not fulfill the characteristics of a slave: no choice, no freedom and no money. The people that should be charged and convicted should be those who kidnapped and enslave others and not people who take others away from their moribund settings into ones of affluence. To apply the Universal Declaration of Human Rights into every situation is a miscarriage of justice because at the time that the document was drawn, most oriental societies were not taken into consideration. The international law cannot be applied everywhere anyhow that is why the constitutions of nations override that.
However, while the Bible does not object to slavery directly, it does so implicitly in doctrine. It reveals the sinfulness against slavery, professes love for neighbor, enacts laws against oppressions, passes out laws against man stealing man (what we call today human trafficking today), and demonstrated that Hebrew people themselves never had Hebrews for slaves.
Looking at the Bible again, you will exonerate these convicts because the evil in slavery was not applied on them. Do not forget that these accusations are always brought up by women. People do bring men here too who help as domestics, but no one hears these accusations. If the man does not like the environment, he leaves and starts his life. He is grateful for the opportunity of reaching the US: the supposed land that flows with milk and honey.
Hearing these stories could set fear in the hearts of many, but you all know that, that is how many people were raised up and given those golden opportunities they took on a golden platter. Most of these people who have made these accusations have never prospered in life. They bit the fingers that starved them. If you are tired living in the house, look for your way and leave. To the best of my knowledge; no one has been kept against their wish. I mean; most foreigners know that!
Until then, I wish you all a christful Christmas and prosperous New Year.
Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk