Plight of a modern day slave moves delegates

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- The plight of a 17-year-old slave from Niger has touched the hearts of delegates at the World Conference Against Racism in Durban.
Mariama Oumarou, a breathtakingly beautiful Tuareg, was born into slavery because her mother and her grandmother were slaves who worked for lighter-skinned Tuaregs.
Addressing delegates at the Durban Convention Centre on Sunday, Oumarou broke down repeatedly as she described the hardships she endured as a child and the humiliation she went through as a young teenager when she was bought for 300 US dollars and told she would be married off to a man in Nigeria.
Later she realised that she had been bought to serve as a houseworker and a sexual servant for the man who already had four wives.
Although Oumarou managed to escape, her mother and grandmother are still working as slaves in Niger where an estimated 20,000 people are being held against their will.
A number of victims of racism from around the world have recounted the harrowing ordeals they have been through.
The Voices Special Forum, which is part of the WCAR, has given victims from countries such as India, Guatemala and South Africa the opportunity to describe the abuses they have suffered.
A unidentified representative of the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights said that just a few days ago, a young Indian boy was burned alive for daring to organize people to enter the temples of his village.
He dared ask for equal wages for the Dalit people.
He dared ask that children be treated equally.
"There is a heinous system of discrimination called the caste system.
It is in the whole of South Asia, and in some countries of West Africa.
It was heartening to land in South Africa, a land which has had success in fighting that discrimination.
"Measures should be taken to ensure that this type of discrimination - referred to as work and descent - is abolished," he said.
A Philippines citizen wondered aloud if there was a way of communicating the important comments and suggestions being made at the WCAR to heads of state and government so that the entire globe could work towards a brighter tomorrow.
A representative from Mexico appealed to the heads of state attending the WCAR to sign and ratify the International Convention on Migrant Workers.
He said four more countries were needed to ratify the Convention before it enters into force.
In that way, he added, the Convention could become part of the practical outcome of the Conference.

03 september 2001 10:00:00

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