Islamic slavery is still alive and well in the Sudan. By Joseph Winter for BBC News, with thanks to all who sent this in:
Akech Arol Deng has not seen his wife and son since they were seized by Arab militias from their home in south Sudan 19 years ago.
His son, Deng, was just three years old at the time but Mr Arol is sure they are still alive, being used as slaves in the north.
“I miss them so much. I really hope that one day they come back,” Mr Arol told the BBC News website mournfully in his home of Malualbai, just a few hours’ on horseback from the Bahr el-Arab river which divides Muslim northern Sudan from the Christian and Animist south.
But rows about money mean no-one is doing anything to free them.
In the same year that Mr Arol’s family was kidnapped, Arek Anyiel Deng, aged about 10, was seized from her home, not far from Malualbai.
Arab militias rode in to her village on horseback, firing their guns. When the adults fled, the children and cattle were rounded up and made to walk north for five days before they were divided between members of the raiding party.
Ms Anyiel returned home under a government scheme last year.
“My abductor told me that I was his slave and I had to do all the work he told me to – fetching water and firewood, looking after animals and farming,” she said.
“When I was 12, he said he wanted to sleep with me. I could not refuse because I was a slave, I had to do everything he wanted, or he could have killed me.”
Such raids were a common feature of Sudan’s 21-year north-south war, which ended in 2005.
The northern government is widely believed to have armed the Arab militias in order to terrorise the southern population and distract rebel forces from attacking government targets.
According to a study by the Kenya-based Rift Valley Institute, some 11,000 young boys and girls were seized and taken across the internal border – many to the states of South Darfur and West Kordofan.
The boys generally looked after cattle, while the girls mostly did domestic chores before being “married”, often as young as 12.
Most were forcibly converted to Islam, given Muslim names and told not to speak their mother tongue.