Elevate Difference

The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today

Before starting this book, prepare yourself. Bales and Soodalter take an in depth look at slavery in America, and they reveal some dark stories that some people may find too disturbing. Slavery, unfortunately, did not end in the United States with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. It exists throughout the world through house, field, and sexual servitude. Many of the victims of slavery go unheard or receive little support; if they are afraid to report or do not have the proper paperwork, they face deportation and returning home in shame. Others do not get the necessary psychiatric help after the devastation they endure.

The treatment of the slaves described in this book is deplorable. One of the first stories given is about Maria, who was lured from Mexico with promises of an education, and then was enslaved. The young girl was ordered to do housework and was subject to physical and sexual abuse. When she was not working, she was chained outside and sometimes was forced to eat dog feces. If a neighbor had not seen Maria (the yard had an eight-foot concrete fence), she might have died. The sad part is Maria's story is not uncommon; what is rare is her being rescued.

Would you be able to identify someone held in captivity? Would you know what to do? Many people may say that it could never happen in their town, but it exists everywhere. You may be surprised. Bales and Soodalter referenced cases in Connecticut, which I've never heard of, even though I have lived in the state for fifteen years. However, besides describing the serious offenses of slavery, Bales and Soodalter offers stories of Good Samaritans who have made a difference. In addition, at the end of the book, resources are provided if you want to get involved in fighting human trafficking. The Slave Next Door provides an exceptional view of slavery in the world, and is a valuable tool for human trafficking activists.

Written by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch, July 19th 2009

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