The Middle East and Slavery

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Slavery in the Middle East and the Americas

Slavery can be defined as a system where principles associated with property laws are applied. In slavery, these laws are applied to people, which allows others to sell and buy as well as own other individuals as their own property. Such an arrangement does not involve the consent of the slave who is treated as property that can be sold. Many times the slaves are forcibly taken from their homes and sold as property, where they are utilized for purposes such as the provision of free labor and sexual favors. The Middle East, as well as the Americas, have all had their share of slavery. Each of these continents has been involved in the slave trade in particular times in history. A lot of similarities exist between how the slave trade was conducted in the Middle East as well as in the Americas but there are some differences.

Slavery in the Middle East

Notably, slavery in the Middle East has not been given much heed as slavery in the Americas and Europe, although it is an occurrence that still happens today. The past fourteen centuries have seen over twenty-eight million Africans taken as slaves and enslaved in the Middle East (Judge & Langdon, 2016). However, one aspect that contrasts slave trade in the Middle East with that of the Americas is the length of time that the trade has been ongoing. The European involvement in slave trade including the Americas only lasted for three centuries while the slave trade in the Middle East has lasted well over fourteen centuries. Nonetheless, even to this day, there is still slave trade that is ongoing in parts of the Muslim world. Another aspect that contrasts slavery in the Americas with slavery in the Middle East is in regard to the proportions.

Proportions and Treatment of Slaves

Basically, for every three slaves that the Americas brought in, two were men and one was a woman. Nevertheless, the proportion was reversed for slavery in the Middle East. Here, the proportion was two women for every three slaves brought. Additionally, the brutal treatment of the slaves characterized both camps as the slaves were treated as property that would be disposed at any time (Judge & Langdon, 2016). Harsh treatment was administered, which included, caning, torture, and even killing. The male slaves in the Middle East, for instance, were castrated and subjected to much pain which was meant to make them feel inferior to the Arabs. The Americas also mistreated the slaves that were taken there. They subjected them to hard labor in the cotton field as well as other fields where they were expected to work manually.


Conclusively, slavery in the Middle East as well as the Americas was similar in a way but also contrasted in several ways. The kind of treatment that the slaves underwent was similar for both camps whereas they contrasted in the choice of slaves that they preferred. As seen, the Americas preferred male slaves since they would provide manual labor for the farms and various other industries there. Conversely, those of the Middle East preferred women who they could exploit sexually in the form of concubines. None of them had a right to forcibly own another human being and thus they were all in the wrong.


Judge, E. H., & Langdon, J. W. (2016). Connections: a world history. Pearson.

November 24, 2023

History World


Slavery Middle East

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