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Slavery in the Global Economy

Synopsis Slavery is illegal throughout the world, yet more than twenty-seven million people are still trapped in one of history's oldest social institutions. Kevin Bales's disturbing story of slavery today reaches from brick kilns in Pakistan and brothels in Thailand to the offices of multinational corporations. His investigation of conditions in Mauritania, Brazil, Thailand, Pakistan, and India reveals the tragic emergence of a "new slavery," one intricately linked to the global economy.

The new slaves are not a long-term investment as was true with older forms of slavery, explains Bales. Instead, they are cheap, require little care, and are disposable. Three interrelated factors have helped create the new slavery. The enormous population explosion over the past three decades has flooded the world's labor markets with millions of impoverished, desperate people.

The revolution of economic globalization and modernized agriculture has dispossessed poor farmers, making them and their families ready targets for enslavement. And rapid economic change in developing countries has bred corruption and violence, destroying social rules that might once have protected the most vulnerable individuals.

Disposable people: new slavery in the global economy | LSE Digital Library

Bales's vivid case studies present actual slaves, slaveholders, and public officials in well-drawn historical, geographical, and cultural contexts. He observes the complex economic relationships of modern slavery and is aware that liberation is a bitter victory for a child prostitute or a bondaged miner if the result is starvation.

Bales offers suggestions for combating the new slavery and provides examples of very positive results from organizations such as Anti-Slavery International, the Pastoral Land Commission in Brazil, and the Human Rights Commission in Pakistan. He also calls for researchers to follow the flow of raw materials and products from slave to marketplace in order to effectively target campaigns of "naming and shaming" corporations linked to slavery.

Human Rights Quarterly

Disposable People is the first book to point the way to abolishing slavery in today's global economy. All of the author's royalties from this book go to fund anti-slavery projects around the world. Preface to the Revised Edition Preface to the Edition 1.

NCPR Podcasts

The New Slavery 2. Brazil: Life on the Edge 5. India: The Ploughman's Lunch 7.


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What Can Be Done? Books Digital Products Journals. About the Book Slavery is illegal throughout the world, yet more than twenty-seven million people are still trapped in one of history's oldest social institutions.

From Our Blog. Reviews "Convincing, emotionally wrenching, and freighted with appropriate moral indignation, Kevin Bales's startling presentation shows us that while the general public is convinced slavery is a historical phenomenon of the ancient past. This book innovatively and usefully describes the permutations of an ancient tradition as it exists in this modern day and age.

Few people realize that the increasing globalization of the economy has led to the use of coerced labor in many parts of the globe. Bales has traveled widely and has gathered a great amount of shocking and disturbing information. None of us is allowed the luxury of imagined impotence. We can do something about it.

Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy

Using a common sense approach, Bales offers a clear, economic rationale for why slavery is not as profitable or sustainable as fair labor practices. In addition, this book shows that the solutions for such severe suffering are not simply the purview of the social sector but are opportunities for transformation among policy makers and business people around the world.

Bales shows how we can all play a role, and he inspires each of us to take action.