An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Slavery by any other name

Whilst it is possible that the tragic British toddler Madeleine McCann may be laying dead and defiled somewhere in Portugal this horrid case brings to light once more the spectre of an often unreported and disgusting trade that thrives in the 21st century. I sincerely hope that she is safe and unharmed but to be honest I am not sure which of the other possible outcomes turns my stomach most.

The trade of which I speak is sometimes called child trafficking, sometimes abduct-to-order adoption, but it is nothing more complex nor less foul than slavery. Child slavery exists across the globe: camel jockeys are sourced by abduction, young children are sold into lifetime bonded child labour (often by their desperately poor parents, the "reasons" and the "rewards" are legion (check Wikipedia if you doubt me). The sad Madeleine McCann case raises, not for the first time in continental europe, the trade in illicit international adoption.

Imagine a wealthy married couple in Sweden, or America, or the UK: they have been unable to have children naturally; they have poured thousands or tens of thousands of euros, dollars or pounds into the gaping maw of the IVF charlatans and snake oil salesmen. They desperately want a child. They want a child that is theirs. Failing that they want a child that looks like them - that could be their natural child or could be taken for their natural child. They want a child not much more than a baby - to shape and mould. They want an undamaged child. They have money to spare but no child.

Step forward the international adoption agency. Pricey, but results are guaranteed. Don't ask too many questions . Fork across the cash and take a baby home in a year or so.  No defects. No colour mismatches. No qualms.

When big money is in play there are no serious limits on what people can be persuaded to do.

Madonna and Ritchie, Jolie and Pitt and their celebrity ilk have "legitimised" the idea of buying babies. Why not our wealthy married couple? Many western countries have legalised this side of the trade. The US has smiled on the buying and selling of babies for years. Why not our wealthy married couple? Why not indeed?

BECAUSE IT IS SLAVERY - and we are currently celebrating the anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade - that is why not.

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