The United States is home to about 60,000 people who can fairly be called modern versions of slaves...These modern slaves aren’t sold in chains in public auctions, so it’s not exactly the same as 19th-century slavery. Those counted today include illegal immigrants forced to work without pay under threat of violence and teenage girls coerced to sell sex and hand all the money to their pimps.
- Nicholas Kristof
Journalist, columnist, and 2011 Stowe Prize winner for Half the Sky (written with his wife Sheryl WuDunn), Nicholas Kristof is one of the world's leading activists on human trafficking and modern day slavery. In response to the wide-spread attention surrounding the recent release of the film 12 Years a Slave, Kristof wrote "Slavery Isn’t a Thing of the Past" an op-ed piece for the New York Times, which raises awareness on the slavery that still exists today. Just two weeks later, the Associated Press ran an article "UK police: 3 women held for 30 years" which reported that three women - a Malaysian , a woman from Ireland, and a third from Britain - had been freed after being held captive in a south London home for 30 years and "basically treated as slaves." Sadly, stories like this continue to surface.
Kristof's article was also prompted by the new Global Slavery Index 2013 which estimates the number of modern slaves across the world, country by country, and shares the work of each government to work to end slavery. The report reveals an astounding 30 million people who are enslaved today, 60,000 being right here in the United States. Read the report below or visit www.globalslaveryindex.org.
Looking to the future, Kristof closed his article with a compelling thought and call to action: The abolitionists succeeded in ending the trans-Atlantic slave trade, but their work is not finished. I fear that a century from now, someone may put together a movie about slavery in 2013, leading our descendants to shake their heads and ask of us: What were they thinking?
To avoid future generations asking "What were they thinking?" what will you do to help create change around human trafficking? Visit the event recap of our How to Be an Abolitionist Workshop to learn how you can take action around this important issue, and share what you are doing/will do in the Comments section below.