Saint Patrick, anti-slavery activist
On St. Patrick's Day, it is interesting to note that St. Patrick was a survivor of slavery and a pioneering anti-slavery activist. Abducted in Britain in the 5th century, Patrick was taken to Ireland as a slave. He eventually escaped to Gaul, became a priest, and returned to Ireland to minister to those who once enslaved him. Patrick became one of the first people to speak out unequivocally against human bondage.
Meanwhile, a news release from Bangladesh indicates that child slavery is becoming rampant in that country.
Sarwar Hossain, 11, always wanted to see the Sundarbans and he readily agreed when an "unknown neighbour" offered to take him to the world's largest mangrove forest, reports BSS.
The boy was so delighted that he didn't bother to talk to his parents before embarking on the trip to the Sundarbans sometime in August 2004. It was too late when he realised that he was taken to a different destination.
Together with the stranger, Sarwar travelled to Dublar Char of Sarankhola Upazila in Bagerhat from his home district of Bhola. There he met the fate of many other children who were tactfully abducted from different places and forced to work for 'mahajans' in the charland.
Sarwar's father, Mosharraf Hossain of Pakhia village in Borhanuddin Thana of Bhola, was unaware of his whereabouts until the Coast Guard and forest officials rescued him along with 75 other minor boys in a joint raid on the char island on November
Sarwar said he was forced to help catch, cut, select and dry fishes and do other fish processing works. He had to work most of the time and was only given two hours of rest in a day. He was beaten up when he refused to work.
There was no suitable sleeping place. He had to sleep either on boat, trawler or in open space. Nobody can adjust himself to the unhygienic environment of Dublar Char where there was no pure drinking water.