Wednesday, August 26, 2009

There Are More Slaves Today Than at Any Time in Human History.

By Terrence McNally

One writer spent four years inside the world of modern-day slavery; an industry that produces huge profits and countless wasted lives.

The world suffers global recession, enormous inequity, hunger, deforestation, pollution, climate change, nuclear weapons, terrorism, etc. To those who say we’re not really making progress, many might point to the fact that at least we’ve eliminated slavery.

But sadly that is not the truth.

One hundred forty-three years after passage of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and 60 years after Article 4 of the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights banned slavery and the slave trade worldwide, there are more slaves than at any time in human history -- 27 million.

Today’s slavery focuses on big profits and cheap lives. It is not about owning people like before, but about using them as completely disposable tools for making money.

During the four years that Benjamin Skinner researched modern-day slavery, he posed as a buyer at illegal brothels on several continents, interviewed convicted human traffickers in a Romanian prison and endured giardia, malaria, dengue and a bad motorcycle accident.

But Skinner is most haunted by his experience in a brothel in Bucharest, Romania, where he was offered a young woman with Down syndrome in exchange for a used car.

Currently a fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and previously a special assistant to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Skinner has written for Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy and others. He was named one of National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year 2008. His first book, now in paperback, is A Crime So Monstrous: Face to Face with Modern-Day Slavery.

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