Africa

Baroness Caroline Cox

Antislavery Crusader

The slave trade in war-torn Sudan is a frequent target for righteous indignation, but condemnation alone makes little difference. Baroness Caroline Cox, a life peer and deputy speaker of Britain’s House of Lords, believes in action—and her Christian faith. Cox, 63, a presiding officer in the international charity Chris-tian Solidarity Worldwide, frequently travels to war zones, publicizing the fates of victims of human-rights abuses, even buying people out of slavery.

The former nurse’s mission to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,” as described in the Kenyan bimonthly newsmagazine AfricaNow, brings her to areas of conflict and suffering. Since being named a life peer in 1985, she has made 25 trips to Sudan.

Her visits included buying freedom for Dinka and Nuer people from the heavily Christian southern region. Muslim tribes from the north who were induced by the regime to fight a jihad against the rebels enslaved the southerners, who have fought against the Islamic government for many years.

Some in the human-rights community oppose Cox’s approach; the baroness herself calls it only “a first-aid measure.”

“The most important thing of all is to stop the vile practice of slavery,” she says. “It’s an atrocious, barbaric abomination and should not be allowed on the face of this Earth.”

However, her charity’s Christian orientation fuels critics, who perceive an anti-Islamic bias. On a recent visit to Australia, she told the centrist Sydney Morning Herald of her concerns that Muslim-Christian violence in Indonesia was “being manipulated to discredit President Abdurrahman Wahid, who supports religious tolerance and opposes moves to formalize the position of the Islamic majority in Indonesia by adopting an Islamic state.”

When Cox is criticized for focusing on areas where Christians and Muslims are in conflict, she says Christian Solidarity has no options. “We don’t choose [based] on the religious dimension,” she told the independent Scotsman of Edinburgh. “We go where others do not go."

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