Of Ships and Men

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About Cameron Conaway

Cameron Conaway, Executive Editor at The Good Men Project, is a former MMA fighter and an award-winning poet. He is the author of Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet, Bonemeal: Poems and Until You Make the Shore. Conaway is on the Editorial Board at Slavery Today. Follow him on Google+ and on Twitter: @CameronConaway.

Comments

  1. Tom Matlack says:

    Wonderful, sad piece Cameron. Thank you.

  2. Joanna Schroeder says:

    These photos are amazing.

    It scares me that I had no idea what Shipbreaking was before I saw this piece. Thanks so much for spreading the word.

    The photo of the man’s feet has been haunting me all day.

  3. Peter Houlihan says:

    I live on an island, pretty much everything I’ve ever used has come in on a boat :(

  4. Mark Neil says:

    A well written piece. Very informative. Very sad. I think what saddens me most though is the response the cynic within me keeps imagining… “that’s ok, it’s not like they’re trafficked for sex. that’s the real problem”.

    • Dear Mark,

      Thanks for your compliments on the piece. I really do appreciate each word.

      I see your point about sex trafficking. Let me share some brief insights my research uncovered. Yesterday I returned from the Not For Sale Asia Pacific Forum on Human Trafficking in Manila and if there’s one thing I learned it was this: Sex trafficking is part of the human rights abuse continuum. While sex trafficking is as despicable as it comes, it is not a separate entity and is heavily reliant on slavery and economics. Regarding slavery: The pimp is often a slave to greed, the John a slave to lust and fantasies of what women are to be and then of course are the physically enslaved. Regarding economics: When dad and/or son leaves to break ships they do so because they desperately need the money for their family. When their family doesn’t receive the money (whether through death, disease or corruption) or doesn’t receive enough money (often) they immediately enter the “high-risk” zone for being trafficked. I realized in Bangladesh that it wasn’t an irony that the shacks set up around the shipbreaking yards were also the areas from which women and very young girls had been trafficked. It wasn’t an irony that the thousands of people I met who were displaced from natural disasters also shared with me some of the most brutal sex trafficking stories I’d ever heard. I suppose this is all to say that no part of the spider’s web is more important than other other. They all begin with a single thread.

      Thanks for sharing the cynic in you, Mark. I’ve certainly got the same and I’ve come to like the line George Carlin often used: “Scratch any cynic and you will find a disappointed idealist.”

      Best,

      ~Cameron

      • Mark Neil says:

        “I suppose this is all to say that no part of the spider’s web is more important than other other. They all begin with a single thread.”

        I very much agree. It’s just I’ve seen too often those with influence pretend that sex trafficking is the only kind where people suffer, the only kind of trafficking that needs addressing, I couldn’t help but hear that responses of those people to this article.

  5. Well said, Mark! I actually “felt” that response in my bones a day before this article was released. My next piece directly addresses the issue you mentioned. While sex trafficking of young girls is often what pulls our heart strings (and rightly so), I’ve found the trafficking of men to be equal and even greater in many villages and shelters. I’d love to get that article your way once I get some time to write it.

    Thanks again for your insights, Mark!

    ~Cameron

  6. Ah, free market globalization at it’s finest. *sarcasm*

  7. Wow. The stories and pictures are shocking, but it shocks me that I’m not in fact shocked by a place like this existing. Thank you for calling attention to this issues and sharing about it in a very vivid, personable way.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] with no news and no income.”  Cameron Conaway’s breathtaking story on shipbreaking, Of Ships and Men, leaves me with images I can’t shake. It haunts me. I feel grief for every man and boy [...]

  2. [...] Leave a Comment Tweet Photo by Pierre Torset of a boy working in a ship-wrecking yard. From Of Ships and Men by Cameron [...]

  3. [...] was even given rare access to the dangerous shipbreaking yards of Chittagong for an essay titled “Of Ships and Men” which was published in July by The Good Men [...]

  4. [...] was even given rare access to the dangerous shipbreaking yards of Chittagong for an essay titled “Of Ships and Men” which was published in July by The Good Men [...]

  5. [...] was even given rare access to the dangerous shipbreaking yards of Chittagong for an essay titled “Of Ships and Men” which was published in July by The Good Men [...]

  6. [...] amount in the Philippines. I don’t have a problem with children working, but as I said about my experience in the shipbreaking yards of Bangladesh: all child labor is not created equal. There is a difference between a child helping [...]

  7. [...] amount in the Philippines. I don’t have a problem with children working, but as I said about my experience in the shipbreaking yards of Bangladesh: all child labor is not created equal. There is a difference between a child helping [...]

  8. [...] are moved emotionally when they hear of child labor – be it cocoa slaves in the Ivory Coast or shipbreaking slaves in Chittagong – but many feel it doesn’t directly effect them or that they are too far removed [...]

  9. [...] last reported on this industry back in July with my piece Of Ships and Men. In the past few weeks my contacts on the ground in Chittagong have informed me that nothing has [...]

  10. [...] – Of Ships and Men [...]

  11. […] más duras no han sido escribiendo ni peleando, sino en el entrenamiento de ambas. Caminar por el desguazado de Bangladesh me destrozó más de lo que pudo hacer cualquier peleador. Empujarme a mí mismo y sentir el […]

  12. […] in what the industry calls “hazardous environments.” This includes everything from shipbreaking in Bangladesh to gold mining in Tanzania, from cotton picking in Uzbekistan to grain harvesting in the United […]

  13. […] in what the industry calls “hazardous environments.” This includes everything from shipbreaking in Bangladesh to gold mining in Tanzania, from cotton picking in Uzbekistan to grain harvesting in the United […]

  14. […] Conaway was a featured speaker at the Child Labor Coalition in Washington, DC. He spoke of the brutal shipbreaking industry in Chittagong, and of how many participants in the room, himself included, were likely wearing […]

  15. […] Conaway was a featured speaker at the Child Labor Coalition in Washington, DC. He spoke of the brutal shipbreaking industry in Chittagong, and of how many participants in the room, himself included, were likely wearing […]

  16. […] (7) Fight to make sure our own wealth isn’t built on the backs of slavery. […]

  17. […] soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo and as slaves in the cotton fields of Uzbekistan, the shipbreaking yards of Bangladesh, the farmlands of Florida and the fishing villages of Ghana. And there they are, as detailed in […]

  18. […] soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo and as slaves in the cotton fields of Uzbekistan, the shipbreaking yards of Bangladesh, the farmlands of Florida and the fishing villages of Ghana. And there they are, as detailed in […]

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