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Disposable People

Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy

Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 3
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Disposable People
    Book Description:

    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. 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.Disposable Peopleis 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.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95138-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xxxvi)
    (pp. 1-33)

    THE FRENCH COUNTRYSIDE IN SUMMER lives up to its reputation. As we sit outdoors in a little village about one hundred miles from Paris, the breeze brings us the scent of apples from the orchard next door. I have come here to meet Seba, a newly freed slave. She is a handsome and animated young woman of twenty-two, but as she tells me her story she draws into herself, smoking furiously, trembling, and then the tears come.

    I was raised by my grandmother in Mali, and when I was still a little girl a woman myfamily knew came and asked...

  6. 2 THAILAND: Because She Looks Like a Child
    (pp. 34-79)

    WHEN SIRI WAKES IT IS ABOUT NOON. In the instant of waking she knows exactly who and what she has become. As she explained to me, the soreness in her genitals reminds her of the fifteen men she had sex with the night before. Siri is fifteen years old. Sold by her parents a year ago, her resistance and her desire to escape the brothel are breaking down and acceptance and resignation are taking their place.

    In the provincial city of Ubon Ratchitani in northeastern Thailand, Siri works and lives in a brothel. About ten brothels and bars, dilapidated and...

  7. 3 MAURITANIA: Old Times There Are Not Forgotten
    (pp. 80-120)

    MAURITANIA HAS A CERTAINAlice in Wonderlandcharacter. The country is a violent military dictatorship, but most people, even the ubiquitous soldiers, are friendly and welcoming. Bribes are expected in most public situations, but everyone is very gracious about it, and often a kind word will suffice. It is a police state where calling for free elections can lead to disappearance and death, but even the police fall all over themselves in apology if they accidentally jostle you in the street. Mauritania has the largest proportion of its population in slavery of all the countries in the world, and it...

  8. 4 BRAZIL: Life on the Edge
    (pp. 121-148)

    THE NEW SLAVERY FLOURISHES WHERE old rules, old ways of life break down. The much-publicized destruction of the rain forest and the rest of Brazil’s dense interior creates chaos as well for the people who live and work in those areas. Much of the slavery in Brazil grows out of this social chaos. Think of the way in which serious flooding or an earthquake can destroy sanitation and spread disease. In even the most modern countries, when natural or human-made disaster demolishes a city’s water system and sewers, killer diseases such as dysentery or cholera can erupt and infect the...

  9. 5 PAKISTAN: When Is a Slave Not a Slave?
    (pp. 149-194)

    IN THE SOFT MORNING LIGHT. IN AN AIR still thick with the night’s dew, children are mixing water and soil and kneading it into lumps that look like loaves of bread. They chat and laugh as they work. For the moment the work is easy; the sun is low and the day is still cool. It’s just after six in the morning and the Masih family has been at work for almost two hours making bricks. The work of the children—two boys, age eleven and nine, and a girl, age six—is crucial to their family’s survival. They mix...

  10. 6 INDIA: The Ploughman’s Lunch
    (pp. 195-231)

    WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING AN INDIAN FARM laborer in debt bondage? You can get a sense of their daily life by trying the following experiment at home.

    In the kitchen find a bag of rice, or even better some plain, un-ground wheat. Fill up a coffee mug four times with the rice or wheat. Now feed a family of five for one day with the grain you have measured out. For every meal you’ll need to give each person only one-third of a coffee mug of grain so that it will last all day. If you are having wheat, you’ll...

    (pp. 232-262)

    WHEN I BEGAN TO STUDY SLAVERY I BECAME convinced that we really didn’t understand what was going on. But as I traveled around the world meeting slaves, both the patterns of new slavery and the changes in old slavery and feudalism emerged and became clearer. Three key factors helped create the new slavery and change the old slavery. The first is the population explosion that flooded the world’s labor markets with millions of poor and vulnerable people. The second is the revolution of economic globalization and modernized agriculture, which has dispossessed poor farmers and made them vulnerable to enslavement. In...

  12. CODA: Three Things You Can Do to Stop Slavery
    (pp. 263-264)

    We can eradicate slavery. The laws are in place, international agencies like the UN are ready, but nothing will happen until the public demands action. When every person that doesn’t want to live in a world with slavery takes these three steps, slavery will end.

    Step 1. Learn—If you have just read this book, you’ve already taken this step. Now share this book with a friend, your church, your class, and order one for your library. Remember that every penny of the royalties goes to anti-slavery work. Then keep educating yourself about how slavery infiltrates our world and our...

    (pp. 265-274)
    (pp. 275-278)
  15. NOTES
    (pp. 279-288)
    (pp. 289-290)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 291-298)