Sarah's Reviews > The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today

The Slave Next Door by Kevin Bales
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Nov 30, 11

Read from November 26 to 30, 2011

Definitely a frustrating book. While I think it is an important book for raising awareness it paints a very narrow picture of human trafficking and the form it takes in the US. I would caution folks to question the validity of some of the authors' claims. (Ask yourself, where did they get those numbers). As someone who works in the area of trafficking and forced labor internationally, I can assure that while the cases the authors present are undoubtedly not fictitious, they are hardly representative. Furthermore, they use terminology such as slavery, forced labor, bonded-labor, and trafficking interchangeably. This is highly problematic and I would encourage the reader to explore their use of the term slave. Again, I do think this is an important read as it demonstrates that human trafficking, forced labor, bonded-labor, child labor, etc are not just issues in far away lands. They happen right here in the US.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Ed (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ed I see comments like this all the time. Forced labor, bonded-labor, and trafficking, in the context of what this book is talking about IS slavery. Also, the numbers they use are estimates. Why is talk about the numbers relevant? Did the numbers matter at Abu Ghraib? No, what mattered was the sexual humiliation of the prisoners. Likewise what matters is the slavery that people are put through all over the planet.


Sarah Ed, I agree that some may define the examples used in this book as slavery. However, there are very important legal and technical differences in each of these. Forced labor is not the same as trafficking, which is not the same as bonded labor as defined by both the TVPRA (US) and the Palermo Protocol (UN). Therefore, it causes me concern when they are used as the same thing. What I don't want is for folks to come away with the idea that this is representative of trafficking, which is what it alludes to (not to say that the small number of cases aren't important, they most certainly are.) My point is that there are lots of individuals who are trafficked into bonded, forced, dangerous, and/or exploitative labor, or folks who are in bonded, forced, dangerous, and/or exploitative labor who have not been trafficked that are not in as extreme a situation as described in this book. By only describing the extreme, concerned individuals may be less away of less extreme cases and may overlook them. For example, the domestic worker who is fed well, has a safe and comfortable place to stay, but who is not adequately paid or permitted to leave. Or the underage boy who goes to school but who is "forced" to labor in the fields until late into the night because his family needs the money from their agricultural yield. Many of these individuals remain invisible but greatly outnumber those presented in the cases in the book.


message 3: by Ed (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ed Sarah, Forced Labor IS Trafficking, as Human Trafficking is defined as the theft of labor through force, fraud or coercion. I really could care less what the UN says. The UN is also in favor of legalizing prostitution without criminalizing the purchase of sex. This will lead only to making pimps making MORE money and thus making them even more powerful while making police less able to curb abuses. The example you give, of the domestic worker is also a theft of labor. I'm pretty sure Bales includes child labor as an abuse to fight too. If you feel so strongly, why not write your own book?


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