ESTN Library Spotlight: Understanding Global Slavery

by Clarice Grooms, ESTN Librarian 

Book:  Understanding Global Slavery

Author:   Kevin Bales

The main characteristics of slavery in international agreements are denying ownership and the loss of free will. Slavery is a state marked by the loss of free will, in which a person is forced through violence to give up his or her ability to sell freely their labor power.

Despite the international laws prohibiting such system, the practice of enslaved labor is thriving.  According to research by author Kevin Bales, a human is purchased in some parts of the world for as little as $90.00 and in the U.S. between $3,000 and $4,000. 

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Slave laborers are not paid salaries and are typically not permitted to leave their living quarters, or prisons.  These captives are subject to severe beatings, and often death, if they try to escape. The slave must be malleable and produce the services, behaviors, and work their traffickers demand and are required do so at a sufficiently low cost and control.  The tools such a trafficker uses to insure obedience are physical attacks and sexual abuse, which often will induce a state of shock and render the victim unable to resist the bondage.

There are many forms of trafficking such as child placement, debt bondage or indentured servitude, removal of organs, mail order brides, prostitution, forced labor, forced marriage, incest, and prison labor. The industry can be summed up simply as marketing people.

Bales, however, provides three steps to stopping slavery. 

1.       Learn

2.       Join with others who want to end slavery

3.       Act

Author Kevin Bales is the president of Free The Slaves organization in Washington D.C. and a professor of Sociology at Roehampton University in London, England. Kevin Bales has provided valuable statistics in reference to global slavery and its causes, and the believed economic benefits of forced labor. Bales also encourages simple steps each reader can take to decrease the demand for trafficking, such as those you see above.