They are swayed by the promise of jobs in another city or even another country. Perhaps they are promised work in hotels, constructions jobs, or as nannies who “love to travel.” They go off with the person who recruits them. When they try to leave, they are told they can’t go; they have a travel debt they must pay. They are warned that if they try to leave, their families back home will be harmed. They are forced against their will to work as prostitutes or perform backbreaking acts of physical labor. They are modern slaves.
Today’s Lunch With TED clip features Kevin Bales explaining how modern slavery works, and how this forty billion-dollar underground industry may be demolished.
This isn’t a vague or remote concern—it is local, visceral, and real. Of course, slavery is most prevalent where it is cheapest (various regions of India, Southeast Asia, and Africa), but it has a 300,000 person strong presence in the United States, a country which has believed itself to be slave-free for nearly 150 years.
Bales not only advocates that slaves be freed, but he emphasizes that they must be freed well. They must be given dignity and opportunities to work for themselves and develop their own local economies. Freedom must be “sustainable”; we cannot merely free people and then dump them in a vulnerable state—they would be likely to be taken advantage of again.
The question is, are we willing to live in a world of slavery? If not, what lengths should we be willing to go to end this barbaric and dehumanizing practice? ‘