Author and President of Free the Slaves
The End of Slavery
The world’s leading expert on contemporary slavery will share his vision on how to end slavery in our time. Co-sponsored by the Department of Political Science.
According to human rights organizations, scholars, government agencies and journalists, slavery exists in virtually every country of the world and in almost every U.S. state. A growing antislavery movement has been hard at work documenting and exposing this troubling discovery.
Although slavery is illegal in every country of the world, it is estimated that there are more slaves today than ever before: 27 million, which is twice as many as the number of Africans enslaved during the four centuries of the transatlantic slave trade.
Slavery has evolved since the American Civil War when antebellum slavery meant that one person was owned completely by another and could be inherited as property. Today’s slavery, however, is defined as one person forcing another to work without pay, by the use of violence or psychological manipulation.
The different types of slavery that still persist today are:
•Chattel Slavery, where slaves are considered their masters’ property – exchanged for things like trucks or money and expected to perform labor and sexual favors. Chattel slavery is typically racially-based.
•Debt Bondage is the most widely practiced form of slavery around the world. Staggering poverty forces many parents to offer themselves or their own children as collateral against a loan.
•Sex Slavery finds women and children forced into prostitution. An estimated 2 million women and children are sold into sex slavery around the world every year.
•Forced Labor often results when individuals are lured by the promise of a good job, but instead find themselves enslaved – working without pay and enduring physical abuse, often in harsh and hazardous conditions.
About the Speaker
Kevin Bales is president of Free the Slaves, the U.S. sister organization of Anti-Slavery International (the world’s oldest human rights organization), and professor of sociology at Roehampton University in London.
Bales’ book Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, published in 1999, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and has now been published in ten other languages. Archbishop Desmond Tutu called it “a well researched, scholarly and deeply disturbing exposé of modern slavery.” In 2006, his work was named one of the top “100 World-Changing Discoveries” by the association of British universities. A documentary based on his work, which he co-wrote, Slavery: A Global Investigation, won the Peabody Award in 2000 and two Emmy Awards in 2002.
In 2005, he was awarded the Laura Smith Davenport Human Rights Award. He is a trustee of Anti-Slavery International and was a consultant to the United Nations Global Program on Trafficking of Human Beings. Bales has been invited to advise the U.S., British, Irish, Norwegian, and Nepali governments, as well as the governments of the Economic Community of West African States, on the formulation of policy on slavery and human trafficking.
He recently edited an Anti-Human Trafficking Toolkit for the United Nations, and published, with the Human Rights Center at Berkeley, a report on forced labor in the U.S.A., and completed a two-year study of human trafficking into the U.S. for the National Institute of Justice. He is working with the chocolate industry to remove child and slave labor from the product chain, and writing on contemporary slavery. His book Ending Slavery, a roadmap for the global eradication of slavery, was published in September 2007. He is currently editing a collection of modern slave narratives, and co-writing a book on slavery in the United States with Ron Soodalter. He gained his Ph.D. at the London School of Economics.