Not For Sale: Introduction-Finding Slavery in My Own Backyard

2 Apr

Human trafficking generates $31 billion anually and enslaves 27 million people around the globe, half of them children under the age of eighteen. This is a book that profiles the new generation of abolitionists who are leading the struggle to end this appalling epidemic. Bono calls the author David Batstone a “heroic charachter”. Check out the website for some more background and quick info.

“Defeating human trafficking is a great moral calling of our time”
-Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Secretary of State

“Twenty-seven million slaves exist in our world today. Girls and boys, women and men of all ages are forced to toil in the rug loom sheds of Nepal, sell their bodies in the brothels of Rome, break rocks in the quarries of Pakistan, and fight wars in the jungles of Africa.”p1

“The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) projects that the slave strade generates $9.5 billion in revenue each year. The Internal Labor Office (ILO) estimates that fiure to be closer to a whopping $32 billion annually.”p4

“As late as 2002, the UN human rights chief (and former presedendt of Ireland) Mary Robinson admitted to “a tendency in Europe to consider trafficking as illegal immigration and penalize the women involved.” Robinson lamented that the destination countries “tend to get off lightly on the matter of [sex] trafficking because it has been a sort of subterranean, invisible, criminal dominated…form of modern slavery.”

“That’s the paradox: slavery is in reality not invisible. Except in rare circumstances, slaves toil in the public eye…we may pass a constuction site and never think twice whether the laborers work of their own volition. Or we might drive along city streets at night, see young girls on a street corner peddling their bodies, and wonder how they could ever “choose” such a life.”p7

It can appear in public in the most unsuspecting places. On page 8 he tells a story of a minister who brought over a sex slave from another country and every one thought he was compassionate for giving a third-world girl a chance for a better life. No one suspected anything.

“Nearly 200,000 people live enslaved at this moment in the United States, and an additional 17,500 new victims are trafficked across our borders each year. Over thirty thousand more slaves are translported through the United States on their way to other international destination.”p3

Slavery is alive and “well” today but opperates on different terms:

Old Slavery = great investment (limited selection and high cost of shipping overseas and death rates) = slave treated like prize bull (inhuman but owners treated slave in a way that would get maximum work out of them which meant certain precautions)

New Slavery = small investment (low risk of travel and plenty to choose from) = used battery (just throw away because it is easy to replace)

Two back to back stories are told about how a village was freed from 18 years of slavery on a rice mill and a woman fighting for boys and girls forced into prostitution. The bottom line for both of these groups was: “a single act of kindness to fighting for justice on a grander scale is the quintessential story of the abolitionist.”

We often look back thinking that all of the great moments of history are behind us. We wonder what we would have done if we were a German in Germany while the Jews were being slaughtered? Would we have been like the Christian church, silent, at best trying to avoid thinking of the issue? Would we have been been content to let “colored people” stand at the back of the bus while we sat in front? Would I have been ok with restaurants that only served people of my color? If I lived in rural Tennessee in 1855 and Harriet Tubman came knocking at my door saying, “We are smuggling fugitive slaves across an underground railroad, and we need safe houses where they can receive shelter, food, and rest,” would I have stood up and been counted among the just?

“There are times to read history, and there are times to make history.”p18


2 Responses to “Not For Sale: Introduction-Finding Slavery in My Own Backyard”

  1. Sarah G April 4, 2007 at 2:18 am #

    This actually made me cry. It’s so easy for us to ignore the things we don’t like in the world. We think it doesn’t affect us. Maybe it just doesn’t affect us enough to the point when we are willing to take proactive steps to stop it. It makes my heart hurt 😦

  2. Rob April 7, 2007 at 9:33 am #

    It’s a disturbing book and that was only the introduction. The next chapter is on sex trafficking and it is disturbing. The bright side of the book is that it is full of stories of people who are taking steps to stop it.

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