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For Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade---and How We Can Fight It
Arthor; David Batstone
Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco, from Harper Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, N.Y. 10022. 2007, pp.300, $14.95 pb. (Advisory: this book deals with mature subject matter.)
In 1807, William Wilberforce won a monumental battle against the slave trade in England. It was a landmark decision with consequences still reverberating around the world. In 2007, this insidious battle goes on, but slavery is now behind closed doors and involves exploiting the misinformed, weak and helpless.
David Batstone, professor of ethics at San Francisco University and also USA Today’s Weekend Edition “America ethics guru,” has written a book showing that slavery still exists around the globe. Batstone’s real life stories (names changed) span the world from Asia to the United States to Africa, Peru, Europe and Uganda. Each chapter is devoted to a part of the world and its unique problem. In the United States, it is bringing in young adults for an education, only to have women work as domestic servants, 16 hours a day, seven days a week, or work in fields the same hours as men. Many times, women are also expected to have sex on demand, too.
The basic operation for modern-day slavers is to promise a great deal, get the victim away from family and friends, take their documents, immediately have them do something shameful (usually sex), promise harm to their family if they try to escape, promise shame to their family if they try to reach them, and keep charging them for “help” making them work to pay off this “debt.” No matter what part of the world you are in, Cambodia, Peru or Europe, it is the same method. In Uganda, boys are taken from their homes and trained as boy soldiers. They becomes slaves to barbaric acts and this is depicted in the film, “Blood Diamond” starring Leonardo Di Caprio.
Batstone writes of women who are routinely beaten to keep them in line, if pregnant have no medical care, and forced to have sex for hire with as many as 10-15 men a day, plus being in danger of contracting HIV. In the meantime, an “owner” or “pimp” keeps the profits. An estimate from the book is that three young women sex slaves in the United States, could bring in $1500 a day, or $45,000 a month or $540,000 a year and all tax free for the “owner.” Small wonder slavery is still present in the world.
There are other forms of enslavement, too, such as one “minister” who recruited poor boys from Zambia, promised their parents the boys would receive a good education, then brought them to America as a choir. The boys performed concerts several times a day, plus putting up and taking down the equipment and no education or money. It would be years before their parents ever heard from them. The money went elsewhere and the congregations were none the wiser.
Batstone is a good storyteller and skillfully weaves individual stories of slavery with people and organizations in that particular country who were able to help them. There are 29 such organizations and their contact information listed in the book ranges from the Salvation Army to Anti-Slavery International to Polaris Project and International Justice Mission.
If you think your community is immune from slavery, you may try to answer these questions about someone in question: does that person have freedom of movement? Does that person have any identity documents (driving a car without a license?) Is there a steady flow of men in and out of their residence? Is this person ever alone outside the residence or always with a man or several men? As one helper with a relief organization states, "Human trafficking can only work if the victims remain invisible to the public eye. We have to remove the veil of ignorance.” It can happen anywhere.
Reviewed by Marie Asner,