I was reading the Rangoon Gazette for 10 January 1890 where I found an article on “Slavery in Rangoon.” It is an article about Indian girls, from Madras in particular, who were being enticed to travel to Burma to “get married,” and then were being tricked into slavery.

The article is too long to reproduce here. I’ve attached images of the entire piece. Unfortunately, some parts are difficult to make out.

This is how it begins:

Whether the story told by the Madrassee girl, in her petition to the Assistant Magistrate the other day, be true or false so far as she herself is concerned, we fear it is true enough that many girls are brought over from the Madras Coast and sold into slavery.

In the crowded districts whence our immigrants come, the people are very poor and densely ignorant. To a girl brought up in some village there, with ideas as crude as those of Topsy [there was a circus elephant at the time called Topsy – is this what the author is referring to?], it is quite possible that the promise of being married to a wealthy trader in Burma would be a sufficient bait to induce her to leave home and friends and come across the sea.

She has probably seen some of her neighbors return after a year or two’s work in Burma with what appears to be abundant wealth; and she will reason that, where money is so abundant that men going over there can amass wealth so easily, her own chances of a good marriage will be infinitely greater than in her own home.

So far her reasoning is sound enough; the mistake she makes is trusting herself to strangers of whom she knows little or nothing.

This, it may be said, no really modest girl would do. Perhaps not; but, before blaming her for this, it is well to try and realize what her life has been and what prospects it holds out to her if she remains at home.