three pairs of lovers with space

THE SLAVE TRADE TODAY BY SEAN O’CALLAGHAN, 1961

Sean O’Callaghan was an Irish investigative journalist, who travelled in north-eastern Africa and the nearby part of Arabia in 1958, with a view to exposing what remained of the slave trade there.

His book about it was published in London 1961. Much of the trade he described was in girls and boys wanted for sex, so the trade in boys has much to say, otherwise not publicly known, about the practise of pederasty in that part of the world in the 1950s. He had more to say about girls, which is included in what follows where the subject is the entwined trade in both for sex.

The Slave Trade Today was not well-reviewed, not because of the subject matter, but because of O’Callaghan’s manner of writing, which he perhaps could not help, as he frequently mentions his quick Irish temper. “The facts and drama … are marred by the intrusion of moralizing and myth. Searching for evidence of slavery in North Africa and the Middle East, Mr.O’Callaghan seems to dull the edge of his own exploration with an unnecessary sense of shock and horror.” (The Negro Digest, vol XI , No. 7 Chicago, May 1962). His most commercially-successful book, on another emotive subject[1], was widely derided by scholars for misunderstanding, conflation and outright fabrication. This is mentioned as a warning to the reader.  That book, however, was a history, and hopefully he was on more solid ground relating what he saw himself. Almost all of what follows comes from the first half of the book relating his own experience and is probably to be taken much more seriously than his outlandish claim about boy prostitution in Bombay in the second half.

O'Callaghan afterwards wrote a book called The White Slave Trade (London, 1965) about slave prostitution around the world.  Essentially a collection of anecdotes, either recounted to him or with no given sources, this shares all the faults of The Slave Trade Today without its redeeming feature of a vivid and credible narrative of his personal investigation. Nevertheless, its little Greek love content is appended at the end for a little additional information about Arab pederasty at the time he was writing.

Foreword

Some people will disbelieve this book. They will say it is the work of a writer with a vivid imagination, but no facts. Others will ask how it was possible to secure the information contained in its pages, how and why did people talk so freely to an Eng1ishman. The truth is that although coming from the British Isles, I am not an Englishman, and do not travel on a British passport. I own a publishing firm in British East Africa, as well as being an author, and visit the countries mentioned in this book in connection with my business as a publisher of travel books. Although, like most other people, I knew that slaves were held in Sandi Arabia and the Yemen, where slavery is still legal, I had no idea of its existence or ramifications in Africa until I met Andrew B. and commenced my investigations. It will be asked why I did not use proper names in this book. The reason is simple. Men like Andrew B. would lose their jobs immediately. While I believe that General Abboud[2] has gone all out in an effort to clean up corrupt officialdom in the Sudan, and strike at the root of the evil protection of the slavers, the Sudanese are a proud people, and as a young nation do not like the world to know that such evil existed in their midst. Consequently Andrew B. and other Europeans who supplied me with information might be asked to resign from the good jobs they hold. Again it might be asked why I do not give the names of the slavers, the Ethiopian, the Egyptian, etc. Again the reason is simple. My living lies in these countries, and life is cheap there. I have given De Jong's true name, because he is dead, and have given Carl van Berg's true name because I would like to see him deal, as I believe Europeans who enter this filthy trade are lower than the lowest native procurer.

The lands where O'Callaghan witnessed a slave trade, 1960

I am often asked what could be done to stop this traffic in human souls. The answer is nothing, while America is pouring billions of dollars each year into Saudi Arabia in oil royalties. Stop that, and the trade would stop. It is a matter of simple economics. A young virgin girl cost: eight hundred pounds, a boy six hundred pounds, a Cadillac three thousand five hundred pounds. Most rich Saudis have three or four Cadillacs, and as a man’s prestige in Saudi Arabia depends on the number of slaves he holds, each rich oil sheikh has at least fifty or sixty human beings in bondage. Deny them the money to buy either cars or human beings and the bottom will fall out of the slave market. It will be argued that slavery has always existed in Saudi Arabia. I agree. In the old days when supervision by nations was impossible and when the slave trade flourished freely, the price of a young girl stood at around fifty pounds. Today no slaver would risk his neck or his liberty for such a paltry sum. Destroy the source of income, and the Ethiopian, the Egyptian, Big Mama, The Fat One, and Carl von Berg will quickly go out of business. Unfortunately in the greedy power-mad world that is ours today, this is not likely to happen.

THE AUTHOR

PART I.  MY OWN EXPERIENCE

Chapter II

The professedly sceptical author having been taken by his Sudanese guide to a house not far outside Khartoum where girls were said to be offered for purchase, and he having infuriated the fat woman-dealer in charge by rejecting her offer of, first, a Sudanese swaying her buttocks provocatively, and then, peremptorily, an Arab girl of fourteen::

The fat woman let out a shrill scream of rage.

"Ask the fat pig what he wants. Me!" she shrieked.

The Sudanese tried to quieten her. "He wants a grown girl; a girl of about twenty.”

“A girl of twenty?” The heavy-lidded eyes of the old vulture glared at me with contempt. “Does he not know that in the East a girl of twenty is already an old woman? I haven’t such a creature in my house. Perhaps, he would like instead a young boy," she jeered. "But if he wants a twenty-year-old I will find him one by next week if he pays me twenty-five pounds deposit now," she added holding out a predatory hand. […]

 

Chapter III

Having just left the fat woman’s establishment, O’Callaghan questioned the Sudanese man who taken him there about her business and, hearing she paid him a 10% commission, he asked:

Khartoum in the 1950s

“Does she sell many [girls]?“

“Not many. There is no great demand for them in Khartoum now, except among the white men working for B.Z. & Company. Some of them buy girls to take with them for comfort when they are sent to lonely places. But often they prefer boys," he added without disgust. “The commission is small, for boys are cheaper.”

"But you said she usually keeps twelve or fourteen girls in her house."

“Most of them will be sent to Saudi Arabia or the Yemen. She buys them locally or from the desert tribes who are too poor to keep them. Then she sells them to the Egyptian,“ the Sudanese explained.

“Who do you mean by the Egyptian?" I asked with interest.

“The Egyptian who is staying in your hotel,” the Sudanese answered lowering his voice to a whisper. “He pretends that he is a cotton buyer. But his real business is buying slaves—young girls and boys—for shipment across the Red Sea.”

"But doesn’t the Government know about this?“ I asked incredulously.

Again, the Sudanese shrugged his shoulders. "Who am I, sir, to say what the Government knows? All I know is that the Egyptian is a good friend of a senior police officer. And since they have become friends, the police officer has bought himself a grand new house in Ga’ama Avenue and a 1958 Oldsmobile convertible. Even a senior police officer does not earn enough to live in such a manner,” he added with a touch of envy.

“Do you mean to say Mr. X knows nothing of this?"

The Sudanese laughed softly. “I do not think he knows anything, but I am sure he suspects. Like everyone else in the Sudan he discourages interest in the matter for fear of losing his job."

Boys in Bar-El-Ghazal in southern Sudan

"Tell me about this Egyptian?" I asked. “Do you mean that he is behind all the slave traffic in the Sudan?"

“That I cannot say. I do not believe that he has anything to do with the caravans bringing slaves from the Belgian Congo or French Equatorial Africa. I only know that he is friendly with the traders and arranges for them to take some of the girls he buys from the fat one down to the coast. It is my opinion that the Egyptian is more concerned with the brothels for they are a safer and more profitable business,“ the Sudanese said shrewdly.

I had noticed the Egyptian in the Grand Hotel. Not that there was anything particularly remarkable about him, but at that time when relations between Egypt and the Sudan were strained, out: could not fail to notice the presence of an Egyptian, particularly a prosperous-looking one, in Khartoum. And the little fat man who smelt so strongly of scent and who always were a well-pressed suit, even on the hottest days, was so obviously prosperous.

I remembered that he always carried a splendid pig-skin brief-case with glinting gold locks, smoked expensive cigarettes, and was often the centre of a little coterie of acquaintances at a table in a corner of the bar. They were a bizarre collection; a sly-looking Frenchman with a patch over one eye; an Englishman called George, fat, sweating and noisy, who claimed to be an oil prospector; several shady-looking Sudanese, and usually a couple of suave, bespectacled Sandi  Arabians. Because he was English, I had made a few discreet inquiries about George. But not even the manager seemed to know anything about him, even to his discredit. More often than not, he was accompanied by a friend, a swarthy Greek or Armenian, who was reputed to own a gold mine in the Red Sea hills, which he apparently ran while drinking absinthe in the Grand Hotel Bar.

 

Chapter VII

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia:

DURING THE NEXT few weeks I saw quite a lot of Hapte. He was a remarkable man. intelligent, widely travelled and utterly ruthless, he had built up his “export business” as he called it, with am astuteness that staggered me. Now, he left it almost entirely to the Egyptian, seldom travelling outside Ethiopia and content to live either in Addis Ababa or in his house at Harar.

Addis Ababa in 1965

Knowing that I could not denounce him. he talked to me quite freely, and I had the feeling that he was glad to do so, for I suspected that he was a lonely man. I knew that he was ostracised by the Ethiopians because of his activities during the Italian occupation, and by the Europeans and the Americans because he owned brothels and was a slave-trader. “Nevertheless, they're glad enough to patronise my brothels," he told me with a bitter laugh.

He admitted that his income was in the region of twenty thousand pounds a year, and I did not doubt that it was true. For he owned seven brothels in Addis; three in the select quarter near the University College, and four along Churchill Road, a notorious brothel district which runs from the main square to the Ethiopian State Theatre. In addition to these, he told me he had an interest in several tedgbas, small brothel-cum-beer shops, where the girls were employed on a part-time basis. These were of the lowest class, and the part-time prostitutes were the throw-outs of the other brothels, women who had grown too old or had contrasted venereal diseases, and for whom he could not find a buyer outside Ethiopia.

Hapte told me that he was born in Harar, of mixed Arab-Ethiopian stock.

"It was in Harar that I invested my savings in three young girls,” he explained. “I brought them to Addis and set up in business in a deserted, tumbledown house near the railway station. That was in the days of the Italian invasion, when Mussolini had sent some whores from Italy to take care of his soldiers. But the demand far exceeded the supply,” he grinned.

Italian forces entering Addis Ababa, 1936

“At first, few Italians came to my place. But soon the word spread through the garrison that Hapte's girls were between twelve and fourteen years old, and the demand for their services was so great that I had to limit each soldier to fifteen minutes of fun! With the profits I made, I returned to Harar and bought another three girls. And so my business grew and grew, and by the time the war started, I had made my first thirty thousand pounds."

When the Allies invaded Ethiopia, Hapte realised that his dream of an Ethiopian brothel empire was ended, at least temporarily.

"The man who supplied the Italians with native girls was an outcast with the new Government," he said with a sigh. “But I managed to slip across the border into French Somaliland, where I had some contacts from the good old days as I used to buy girls there. After that, I made my way to Djibouti, disguised as a Somali. There, I throw in my lot with a Greek and was able to make a comfortable living supplying girls to the Allied troops. Then what do you think I did?" Hapte asked with a chuckle…

“I've no idea!" I told him.

“I joined forces with that old devil Big Mama!" he roared, slapping his huge thigh.  “But times were tough. All but five of my girls had had their throats slit when the Ethiopians decided to kill all those who had collaborated with the Italians. But those five made their way to Asmara to join me.

“It cost me ten thousand pounds to get back into this country. I paid out bribes here and gave presents there, so that when Eritrea was federated with Ethiopia  I was free to slip quietly back to Addis. I started again almost from scratch with just a couple of girls. But times had changed, and although the business slowly recovered, it didn't take me long to realise that the big money lay in buying and selling slaves. You see,” he explained, “labour was short here as everywhere. I managed to get the names of the land-owners who needed workers. Then, I bought slaves cheaply, for the people were poor, and moved them by night to their new homes, selling them at a handsome profit. The Amhara land-owners were only too pleased to deal with me.”

It was but a short step from selling slaves within the country to selling them in the outside market. At first, Hapte himself did the actual selling.

Mursi boys, Ethiopia

"I travelled thousands of miles through the Sudan, Saudi Arabia, the Yemen, Trucial Oman and Oman,” he told me.

“Everywhere I found a ready market. In fact, the demand soon exceeded the supply, and I was forced to call on Big Mama for help. The old witch acted as a procurer for me. And I don’t mind telling you, we both did pretty well. At that time in Eritrea there were hundreds of children - kids whose ages ranged from ten to fourteen - who were born during the Allied occupation. Most of them had American and British fathers and Ethiopian mothers. The Arab sheikhs, particularly in Saudi Arabia, were willing to pay up to eight hundred pounds for a virgin girl child and as much as five hundred pounds for a pretty boy.

“There were also many Italian-Ethiopian half-castes, and some pure Italian orphan girls for whom the sheikhs would pay as much as a thousand pounds for a virgin. These girls were in great demand in the cabarets and night-spots in Cairo, but the risk of smuggling them into Egypt was terrific. But the profits made it worth taking!" Hapte added, licking his lips.

It was in Cairo that he had first met the Egyptian, who at that time was engaged solely in the white-slave racket. He got girls from France and Italy to travel to the Middle East on the pretext of finding them engagements in the cabarets. Once arrived, he sold them to the brothel keepers.

Hapte and the Egyptian soon went into partnership.

“The arrangement suited me perfectly," Hapke said. “I supplied the slaves and the Egyptian sold them. You see, I was getting fed up with travelling all over the Middle East. What’s more, there were some countries where the police were beginning to be suspicious of me. And although I was making a hell of a lot of money, I was giving too much of it away in bribes and presents. In addition, the Ethiopian police had started taking an interest in my affairs, especially in my trips abroad. They didn't mind me dealing  in slaves within the country, provided they got their cut. But the Government could hardly keep up its façade in U.N.O. of being a non-slave owning country if Ethiopian girls and boys were being sold as slaves abroad. But what really decided me to go into partnership with the Egyptian was that the profits from my brothels were falling  off. The madames were pocketing too much for themselves."

Suri boys, Ethiopia

I asked Hapte one day about the slave caravans through the Sudan to the port of Suakin. “Do many of the slaves come from Ethiopia?"

“Some,” he admitted, "although not as many as is generally supposed. It‘s too expensive and wasteful a method to pay dividends nowadays. For instance, I remember sending a caravan across the border near Akobo - three boys and seven girls, bound for Saudi Arabia through the port of Suakin.  They were mainly Gallas, and cost me all of seven hundred pounds. I had paid another thousand pounds to the Arab in charge of the camel train that transported them. On the way, they had to make a wide detour to avoid a detachment of the Sudanese Army who were on manoeuvres in Southern Kordofan. This took time. Worse still, precious food was used up so that the kids had to be strictly rationed. On that trip three of the slaves, two girls and a boy, died. The others arrived looking like skeletons. At the port of Lith I was offered seven hundred pounds for the seven that remained. I had to take them to Mecca where they were fattened up in the home of my agent. Finally, we sold them for two thousand pounds. […] [pp. 54-7]

Chapter IX

On the slave trade O’Callaghan encountered in Djibouti in French Somaliland, and initially discussing the activities of a Greek slave-trader there:

[…] Worse still, since General de Gaulle had assumed power, there were rumours that a new set of officials were being sent to French Somaliland. As the Greek had to act with caution he left most of his business to the Somali, who struck me as an interesting character. He spoke good English, and claimed to have been a sergeant in the British Army, although he seemed somewhat hazy about his regiment.

Somali market in Djibouti, the capital of French Somaliland

His present job was recruiting women to fill the brothels, and to collect girls and boys for shipment to the Yemen and Saudi Arabia. He told me that the years since the war had been the best he had ever known. In every country along the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden the vigilance of the authorities had been relaxed so that it was possible to ship slaves with impunity. In Africa slaves could be bought cheaply, and hunger was a great inducement to parents to sell the unwanted members of their families. The Somali boasted that he had often bought and shipped as many as twenty slaves in a single week.

One evening he took me into the brothel quarter of Djibouti. The women were all slaves in the sense that they had been bought by the Greek, who in turn had sold them to the brothel keepers. I found it impossible to estimate their numbers, but the Somali assured me that there were three hundred in the various houses. The majority of them were Ethiopians and Somalis, but here and there I saw girls who were clearly Arabs and Indians.

There was no class distinction as in Ethiopia. All the girls lived in the same squalid huts grouped around a central building which housed the madame. Again, unlike Ethiopia, each madame employed a number of pimps to tout for customers, and the competition between the various houses was fierce. Almost all the customers were sailors from the merchant ships that docked at Djibouti, or soldiers from the local garrison and sailors from the French fleet on the station. I soon discovered that every taxi driver was a pimp working for his own particular madame.

I asked the Somali if the clients did not sometimes object to the girls offered to them or to the filthy squalor of their surroundings. He seemed surprised. “Why should they?” he asked. “They get what they come for – girl - and after months at sea any looks beautiful to them. Besides, they are usually too drunk to notice what they are getting by the time they reach here. In fact, they are often so drunk that they can't do anything with the girls when they get them on the bed," he laughed. “I remember one ship‘s bo’sun who came here six times and never once managed to have a girl. We give him a bed and take him back to his ship in the morning. He always comes became he knows we won’t rob him. The Greek is very strict about that. Dnmken men must never be robbed. You see, if complaints were made to the police, there would be investigations and hell to pay. Last week the Norwegian steward of a tanker was robbed here. Luckily, he talked about it in the Greek’s bar instead of at the police station. The Greek called him aside, gave him back the money he said he had lost, and then came down here to ask a few questions. Madame and the girl both swore they  hadn't robbed the Norwegian. But the Greek found the money hidden in Madame’s bedroom. He gave her and the girl fifty lashes over their backsides. It will be a long time before either of those bitches steal again,” the Somali added with a grin.

Somali boys

"Aren't you afraid that the women might complain to the police?” I asked.

"Not - likely !" he laughed. "If they did, they’d know what to expect. They would end up with their throats cut."

In Djibouti I saw the only slave baby farm of my tour. The Somali showed me round, and seemed as proud of it as if all the babies were his own. There were thirty-eight of them, ranging in age from three to thirteen. Ten of them were boys.

“This was the Greek’s idea," the Somali told me. "It came to him after the war. The women in the brothels were having half-caste babies of all races. So the Greek reasoned it out and decided that if he kept the best-looking kids, in ten years or so he would have a valuable commodity to sell at high prices overseas. So he set two houses aside in the brothel area, each managed by an ex-whore. Half-caste kids were taken to them after they were born, their mothers being paid two pounds for each kid.

“The kid was kept in one house until it was about three, and for the first six months the mother was allowed to visit it and nurse it. If after three years these brats showed signs of growing up pretty, they were moved to the bigger house for schooling."

“Schooling?” I asked. “What do you mean?”

The Somali laughed. “They were taught the tricks of their trade. To make themselves look pretty and to be obliging. When they were about thirteen, the Greek usually sold them to the Egyptian who passed them on to the slave traders from the Yemen or Saudi Arabia. It was their responsibility to collect the kids and ship them to their own countries.

“A good-looking half-caste girl of twelve fetches as much as three hundred pounds. We get a couple of hundred for the boys and we sell most of them to Arabs who seem to like them better than girls. There's no accounting for taste,” the Somali added philosophically.

‘Prior to the Suez affair, he told me, the Egyptian had always travelled personally to Djibouti to select children.

“What happens to the ugly children?" I asked him.

“Oh, most of them are sold over the  Ethiopian border. But we get such a small price for them that it’s hardly worth the trouble,” he added offhandedly.

La rue du Ras Makonnen, Djibouti

One evening I met the Somali, who was very drunk, in the bar of the Hotel Europa. The moment he saw me he rushed up. "Here’s a good Englishman," he shouted, “better than the whole shower of you f----,“ using a good old British Army word. I thought he, or I, or both of us would be slaughtered by the whites present. However much the French may preach equality in the colonies, they certainly do not practise it, and they stand no nonsense from “les noirs." However, the Somali was an exceptional man. He was an alcoholic and occasionally became blind drunk but although he shouted a lot in this state he was harmless and was tolerated. When drunk, though, he never entered the bar owned by his boss, the Greek. The French tolerated him for another very good reason – he knew all their secrets, who visited the brothels, who liked to have girls sent to their houses, who liked little boys and so forth. The Somali arranged everything for them, and about these matters was as close-lipped as a confessor.

The Somali’s binge on this occasion was apparently caused by the visit of a man he described as a “black f--- Jew” from Saudi Arabia. He was a Senegalese, come to buy boy and girl slaves from the baby arm. It was the Somali’s job to show him round, and apparently on the last occasion be bought slaves in Djibouti “the black bastard” left without giving the Somali “as much as would quench his thirst.” Most of the other dealers gave him a large tip for his trouble, in addition to the money they paid the Greek.

The Somali had to show the Senegalese round the baby farm that evening, and as time went on and we drank together I wondered if he would be on his feet when the time for visit came. He had conceived a liking for me, declaring that was the best "f---- Englishman he had ever met.” When he left to pick up the Senegalese he was tottering.

To my amazement, half an hour later, he appeared outside the hotel in a taxi. He sent the driver in for me, and when I went out he was leaning back mouthing every obscenity he had ever learned in the British Army. The Senegalese, obviously terrified, was sitting huddled in a corner and when the Somali saw me he shouted – “Come in here, Mr. Englishman, and we’ll take this at black pig and dump him into the harbour.” I attempted to reason with him; although he was a slaver and a rogue, he was a likeable one, and I didn’t want him to get into trouble with the Greek. He finally insisted that l should accompany him to the baby arm with the “blue-arsed baboon” who was sitting beside him. Fortunately for the Senegalese, he didn’t understand English, but I think he got the import of the Somali’s words all right.

Djiboutian boys

We got into the car and drove to the brothel quarter which is down near the docks. The Somali had acquired a bottle of whisky from somewhere, and insisted that I and the driver share it. The “blue arsed baboon" didn't drink, at least I presume he didn’t, the Somali never offered him the bottle, except to spill some on him as the car lurched about. We finally pulled up at a large two-storey house. By this time I was swaying slightly and the Somali was well away. He hammered at the door, which was opened by a Somali woman of about fifty, whom I gathered was the mistress of the establishment. She said something in Arabic to the Somali who replied by planting a large kiss on her cheek. She led us inside into a kind of sitting-room, and the Senegalese explained the purpose of our visit. His Arabic was slightly different from the Arabic I knew, certain words were pronounced differently but I was able to gather that he wanted seven girls between the ages of ten and thirteen and five boys of similar ages for an important gentleman in Saudi Arabia. The girls had to be as near white as possible. The Somali woman said she would have all the children of these ages ready as soon as possible. She explained that they were all in bed and asleep at that time. While she was away the Somali and I finished the remainder of the whisky between us and the Senegalese, who was dressed in European clothes, kept glancing at his watch.

After about half an hour the Somali woman returned, and led us up some stairs into a large room with rope beds all along the walls, for all the world like an English school dormitory. In the centre of the room there was a large round leather-coloured pouf, about three feet from the ground. Kneeling on it were twelve little girls, with their heads bent towards the centre, so that they formed a circle. Each wore a short cotton vest, pulled well above her waist, so that her protruding buttocks were bare. This was the inspection dais. The girls were near white or chocolate coloured; two who were about thirteen and ten could easily have been mistaken for Southern French or Italian girls. The Senegalese slowly walked around the circle, pinching a buttock here, pulling the cheeks apart there. I noticed that on several of the buttocks were the red marks of the cane. A cane was hung over every bed, and apparently was each girl’s personal, and often used, possession from the age of six until she was sold from the baby farm. “Why does he inspect their buttocks first?" I asked the Somali in a whisper. He shrugged. “All these agents for the Saudis do,“ he said, “I believe every one of them is a f—-- homosexual.” When the Senegalese had completed the inspection of the girls’ buttocks he came up to the Somali and pointed to nine of them. I noticed that the near white girls were among the nine. The remaining three were taken by Madame to another room, and the nine were ordered to lie face upwards on the dais, first removing their vests. The Senegalese now went around the circle again, this time pulling each girl’s legs apart, and examining  her vagina carefully, carefully noting that the hymen was unbroken. Then to my surprise he pulled a stethoscope out of his breast pocket, and proceeded to examine each girl's back and chest carefully. If not a doctor he certainly had a knowledge of medicine, as the job was done professionally. He made some notes in a notebook he took from his pocket. Finally when he had finished, he pointed to seven of the girls. The Somali, hardly able to see the paper, wrote seven names on the back of an envelope, and the examination of the girls was over. What surprised me most during all this was that the girls never cried or uttered a whimper during all that had passed.

We were led by the Somali woman to another room, where almost the same procedure was gone through. Ten boys were ranged in a circle on a dais, their buttocks towards us. They were all naked, and I saw with horror that five had been castrated. This time the examination of the buttocks was much more thorough, each boy's anus being inspected carefully. Only the five castrated boys were further inspected. I noticed that the scrotum had been entirely removed. The Somali said later that only about ten per cent of the boys are castrated; they are mainly purchased by Saudi Arabian homosexuals, or Yemenites who own harems, as guards. When the Senegalese examined the boys with the stethoscope he rejected one of them immediately. The boy probably suffered from tuberculosis, which is very prevalent in these parts. When the examination was fully over the boys, whose ages ranged between ten and twelve, were led away, al crying bitterly.

The Somali explained next morning when I met him that the next stage of the proceeding would be the completion of the deal between the Senegalese and the Greek. He would be called in to advise the Greek on the probable market value of the slaves selected; it was then up to the Greek to accept or reject the Senegalese’s offer. If the offer was accepted transport would be arranged, usually by fast sailing dhow. I put the question that had kept puzzling me. Why had the girls accepted their fate without a murmur, while the boys howled and cried? “Simple,” said the Somali, “we tell the girls from a very early age, seven or eight, that they are made for love, what you would call the facts of life. At the age of nine we let them practise with each other, and a year later with boys, taking care, of course that the hymen will not be broken. We show them how to give men exquisite pleasure. Sometimes I even bring my French friends whom I can trust here, and allow the little girls to practise on them. They believe that they are destined for a life of ease, that the days are a long procession of love making. Poor bitches, we don’t tell them what the Saudi harems are really like, jealousy, spite, beatings, Lesbianism, with an occasional night in the master's room which only serves to whet their appetites. Let them keep their dreams as long as they can I say.

“With the boys things are different. They have an easy time here, they have no work to do, and probably have homosexual affairs with each other, as well as the girls we allow to practise on them. They know instinctively that life can never be so good again. So they cry, and howl. Such is life. And now I must go to the baboon. You really should have let me throw him into the harbour last night." [pp. 70-76]

Chapter X

Yemeni boy

On what he discovered in Aden in the Yemen, the next place he went to investigate the slave trade:

Perhaps the most revealing account of slavery in the Yemen, particularly with regard to woman in the harem, was told to me by a German woman doctor who had been medical officer for a number of years to the Emir’s harem, where there were two hundred concubines in the harem. […]

This same doctor confirmed the stories I had heard that white or near-white girls were in big demand for the harems of the Yemen.

“A sure way to win the esteem of the Emir Sheikh is to present him with a white or light-skinned girl. And one thing is certain, that so long as the Yemen remains a closed country this traffic in slaves will continue. What’s more, so long as Britain  permits the cancerous sore of Sheikh Othman[3] to fester in the desert, the supply of half-caste baby girls will go on,” she told me, and I wondered if any of the thousands of British  sailors who visited Sheikh Othman at the end of the war ever paused to think that their daughters may now be in a Yemenite harem, or that their sons at this moment are probably satisfying the perverted lusts of some desert sheikh?

Chapter XI

In this chapter on the slave trade in Saudi Arabia, where O’Callaghan says there were 450,000 slaves (p. 87), he describes going in disguise to the Suk-el-Abid slave market in Djeddah and secretly watching the auction of six slaves in turn one morning.  Much the fiercest competition was for a boy, much more even than for a half-caste girl of 14 who was sold last:

As the next slave was led in, a murmur of excitement went up amongst the buyers and they crowded closer round the rostrum.

He was a slender boy of about twelve years old with beautifully classical Arab features. Although much has been written about Arab brotherhood and solidarity, I knew that the Arab has no compunction in enslaving his fellows should they fall into his hands.

by Sacrevoir

The boy was naked and tried to cover his privates with his little hands as he ran up the steps of the rostrum. As he stumbled in shy terror, the guards lifted him bodily up the steps.

Now the dallal had no need no hawk his wares, for the bidding was keen. All he had to do was rub his wrinkled hands delightedly as the bidding soared.

The boy was a tender doe-eyed effeminate little creature with a soft round bottom, and it was all too clear from the expression on the faces of the bidders why they wished to buy him. The majority of Arabs are bi-sexual; in fact, many of them have told me without a trace of shame that they prefer to share their couch with a young boy rather than a girl. Indeed, there is an age-old saying among the desert Bedouin: “A goat for use, a girl for enjoyment, but a boy for ecstasy.”

Sickened with disgust, I watched several of the bidders examine the boy's buttocks minutely. And although I could not hear the bidding, judging by the wide smile on the dallal’s evil face, I knew that the child must have been sold for a very high price.

He was claimed by a tall, bearded Arab with full red lips, who led him from the rostrum with an arm around his waist. The child went without resistance, for he was destined for a life of luxury and indulgence, at lust until he grew too old to satisfy his master’s desires. [pp. 92-3]

PART II: SLAVERY TODAY IN AFRICA AND ASIA

Siddartha and Govinda by Will McBride, 1969

Chapter VIII  Slavery in India

SLAVERY IN INDIA is almost entirely due to economic factors and is closely connected with the oldest profession in the world. In Bombay alone, it is estimated that there are six thousand prostitutes, but nobody knows the exact figures. In Grant Road and Faulkland Road are the famous cages.[... p. 138]

After describing in detail the availability of slave-girls as prostitutes in Grant Road and elsewhere in Bombay:

Girls are not the only slaves in India. Off Grant Road there are also cages for boys who are used by homosexuals and are slaves in every sense of the word. They are bought when fairly young as the girls are and placed by the procurers in these houses when they are about ten. Their time in the houses however, is very much shorter than those of the girls, and at eighteen they are kicked out or exist as best they can. [p. 142]

 

 

APPENDIX:  THE WHITE SLAVE TRADE, 1965

4.  In Beirut and Cairo

Egypt, before the Revolution which swept Farouk from power,[4] was the very centre of the vice and white slave areas of the Middle East. Here in Cairo, Port Said and Alexandria, were to be seen exhibitions which for sheer depravity had no equal in the world. Girls and boys as young as ten years of age took part in these exhibitions, which were staged mainly for the benefit of tourists from all over the world. [p. 41]

17.  The Crime of Oscar Wilde

Among the ancient Greeks male prostitution was a flourishing profession. It was quite common for a Greek to have a male prostitute living in his house in addition to his wife.[5] Public brothels for men were kept in Athens, and a portion of their revenues went to the State. The brothels were staffed by very young boys.[6] Aristophanes wrote: “They say the boys do this very thing, not for their lovers, but for money’s sake. Not the better sort, but the sodomites,[7] for the better sort do not ask for money.” Plato in the Phaedrus and the Symposium exalted male love as the greatest boon in human life and the ground-work of the philosophical temperament. [...]

Writing of England in the early 18th century:

At this period homosexuals had their own brothels, with boy prostitutes as inmates. One of the most notorious was kept by an woman known as “Mother Clap”, in Field Lane, Holborn. She was charged at the Old Bailey with keeping a homosexual house, and was fined, condemned to stand in the pillory, and imprisoned for two years.

During the nineteenth century many well known people were for homosexuality. Perhaps the most famous case was that of Oscar Wilde. It led W. T. Stead to write: “Should everyone found guilty of Oscar Wilde”s crime be in prison, there would be a very surprising emigration from Eton, Harrow, Rugby and Winchester to the jails.” […]

The Arabs have never regarded homosexuality as being wrong. This is probably a legacy from the days when Islam was sweeping through the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Men were away on long campaigns, and often spent years in the desert without seeing a woman. It was natural for them therefore to turn to the young boys to relieve their sexual feelings. Commanders of their armies realized this and encouraged it. A man fought the more desperately beside the boy with whom he was in love, and if the boy was killed fought savagely for revenge. Thus, out of necessity, the Arab belief grew that young boys were the best coınpanions, and wives were inferior beings, fit only for procreation and for administering to the bodily comfort of men. Boy eunuchs served the double purpose of satisfying the lusts of their masters when young, and as they grew older of guarding their harems.

"A cage in Grant Road, Bombay", a photo in The White Slave Trade presumably intended to give corroboration to the author's shocking allegations. No explanation was offered as to why he chose to photograph a woman with no resemblance to a prostitute peering through the bars rather than one of the children he claims were kept behind them

Today there are brothels with boy prostitutes in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran, as well as in the harems of sheiks in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. In my book The Slave Trade I have described the purchase of young boys in Djibouti in French Somaliland. They were destined for the slave markets of Saudi Arabia and the Yemen (which was then ruled by the Imam). Some of these boys were very young, nine or ten years of age and several were castrated. Robin Maugham, in his book Slaves of Timbuctoo described how he bought a boy slave in Timbuctoo and then set him free. A German woman doctor who was personal physician to the Imam of the Yemen some years ago once told me that the Imam kept two hundred and fifty young boy slaves as well as a thousand concubines. The boys were for the use of his guests. I have seen the inmates of a brothel in Beirut out walking with their guardian. They looked 'like ordinary happy little Arab schoolboys and certainly bore no trace of their profession in their faces. They were in marked contrast to the boy prostitutes I saw in the cages in a street off Grant Road in Bombay. These boys were made up to look like little girls, eye lashes darkened, faces rouged and powdered, and their lips reddened with lipstick. They stood at the doors calling on passers-by to enter. The majority are bought from their parents when very young, and are trained before enteríng the cages. Here they remain until they are thirteen or fourteen. After that age they are thrown out to make a living as best they can. Many become pimps and procurers. [pp. 162-4]

 

[1] To Hell or Barbados: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ireland (2000).

[2] Ibrahim Abboud was the military dictator of the Sudan from 1958 to 1964.

[3] A town near Aden and then in the colony of Aden.

[4] King Farouk was overthrown in 1952, well before O’Callaghan arrived on the scene, so this paragraph is only alleged hearsay.

[5] No ancient writer mentions anything of the sort. Some ancient Greeks had slave-boys living with them with whom they had sexual relationships, but that is a quite different matter. This paragraph’s value lies in illustrating how worthless O’Callaghan’s writing becomes when he strays from journalism to history.

[6] No ancient writer indicates the age of the boys in Athenian brothels.

[7] No Greek writer before the Christian era mentioned Sodom or its people, and the ancient Greeks had no word for a homosexual. Aristophanes wrote only comedies.  This alleged saying of his appears to be pure fabrication.