Many people falsely believe that slavery ends whenever a legislature outlaws the practice. But many people will employ slavery if it makes them more money or provides some sexual or psychological gratification. By being on the receiving end of force, intimidation, and overwork, ordinary people can fall into being slaves. Many poor families unintentionally sell their children into slavery under the misapprehension that their youngster is headed for a better life.
Kevin Bales rips the veil away that hides the horrors of sex slaves, children tied to their rug looms, unpaid agricultural workers, and exploited household workers that comprise many of todays millions and millions of slaves. You'll be astonished by the facts behind today's slavery. For example, slaves are dirt cheap because of the growth in the population of poor people. This is bad news for slaves because those who enslave them don't even bother to keep slaves alive and healthy. It's too cheap to get another slave.
The book next looks at the many reasons why slavery continues: People not recognizing slavery when they see it in front of them; slaves not understanding that people around them would help; and a lack of concerted international and governmental action. Instead, brave slave freers quietly look for missing children, track them down, and plot raids to run off with slaves before owners can counter attack. You can support those efforts by donating monthly to Free the Slaves (the organization Professor Bales heads) or Anti-Slavery International. I signed up to do so. I suspect you will, too.
Professor Bales also addresses those with power about how they can change what is being done so that fewer people will be enslaved and those who are enslaved will gain freedom. But those who are freed also need a lot of help. The good news is that people are very good at overcoming adversity, and freed slaves often commit themselves to helping others avoid this terrible circumstance.
One of the most effective methods is to inform agricultural communities of slaves what they can do to free themselves economically and physically from coercion and inherited debts. Governments need to attack the problem at the national level rather than keeping a blind eye as Japan does to sex slaves brought into the country through entertainer visas. Brazil is held as a positive example that could use some more funding. Professor Bales suggests that developed countries may want to subsidize anti-slavery efforts done by responsible governments in poorer nations. International organizations can also play a role in bringing attention and coordinating multinational efforts. Consumers can insist that those they buy products and services from investigate the sources of those offerings to be sure they are certified to be free of slave labor content (a particular problem for cocoa cultivation in Africa).
If you believe that everyone should be free, you need to act on that belief by reading this book and picking something you can do to help free at least one slave. You can do it!