Countless well-educated citizens in Western Developed Nations (the rich countries) believe that slavery is a historical subject. It is not. Slavery exists today, and it may even exist, as Kevin Bales has put it, right in your own backyard – meaning of course, your own country…possibly, your own neighborhood. Do you think this isn’t possible? Probably you’re not alone. But unfortunately, it is possible, because it’s true. Slavery exists today, and not just in isolated pockets or, for that matter, on a small-scale. It is, in the hands of organized crime and coupled with the institution of Human Trafficking, a thriving industry, consuming at last count the lives of approximately 27 million* slaves who, this very day, toil away in grueling conditions, without pay, and without any practical means of escape from their captors. A significant proportion of these people are children.
Anything I could possibly think to say on this subject has already been well said by others with far more insight. The only thing I would add is this: What if it turned out we, as consumers, inadvertently contributed to the enslavement of children and poor families? What if it were possible to take small, practical measures to shift the entire international community away from the conditions that lead to slavery – and reduce global poverty along the way? What if right now, as you read this, a young child is wishing beyond all hope that someone, somewhere cared enough about him or her to do something…something to rescue them from the nightmare of abuse and agony?
A brief Fact Sheet on the topic of contemporary slavery (PDF)
A community pamphlet on Slavery in America (PDF)
Ending Slavery – An eye-opening glimpse into modern-day slavery that also provides practical, attainable solutions for ending slavery…permanently.
Free the Slaves – An organization dedicated to freeing slaves around the world. Even the smallest donation can help.
Disposable People – Kevin Bales’ first book on the topic that gained the attention of the international community.
GoodWeave – An organization (and consumer textile label) dedicated to ensuring that the rugs and carpets we buy are ‘Slavery Free.’
Resources on Human Trafficking:
Freedom Network USA – An organization dedicated to combating Human Trafficking and ending slavery.
The National Human Trafficking (NHTRC) Hotline – 888.373.7888
U.S. State Department, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. See 20 Ways You Can Help.
*International Labor Standards: Quality of Information and Measures in Progress of Combating Forced Labor, (2005) Kevin Bales. Refer to section IV: Macro-Level Analysis, page 342.