Years ago, historian Ron Soodalter came across an account of
slavery in modern-day America. Digging further, he learned the
disturbing truth: slavery is thriving all over the world, including the United States. Soodalter, who has written extensively about slavery, recently joined Kevin Bales, leading expert on modern slavery and president of the organization Free the Slaves, to write The Slave Next Door and help put an end to human trafficking. As Bales explains above, companies, governments, and individuals all play important roles in the business of slavery, and must work together to eliminate it.
Citing a U.S. State Department study, Bales and Soodalter estimate that
between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the US and enslaved every year. Some are tricked, promised a job or education abroad; others are stolen from the streets and forced to work in squalid and dangerous conditions for the rest of their lives. There are slaves working in almost every industry: in agriculture, construction, factories, restaurants, and brothels, and in people’s homes. A few manage to escape, but most do not. In a two-part post on the Human Trafficking Project blog, Soodalter places slavery as “the second or third most lucrative criminal enterprise of our time, after drugs, and maybe guns.” (read more here and here).
With an estimated 27 million victims worldwide, slavery is a silent scourge—few perpetrators are ever caught, and few victims have the opportunity to tell their stories.
In the above video, also posted on the Human Trafficking Project blog, Bales explains how businesses and consumers fit into the pattern of slavery: “If you’re buying and selling [a product that uses slavery]… you’re involved.” He describes how companies can form effective antislavery networks: “It’s all about teamwork. The consumer works with the company. The company works with the government. The government works with the antislavery organizations…We all get together and we can solve this problem.” In The Slave Next Door, Bales and Soodalter give a powerful voice to modern-day slavery, and show how to achieve a slavery-free future.