Culture Guides

Kevin Bales On 27 Million People in Slavery Today

What price freedom?

The price is about 10.8 billion to emancipate the 27 million people who are in slavery across the world today. Across the world people are tricked and abducted into human bondage and made to work terrible, exhausting jobs under the regular threat and use of violence.

For those of us who live in the West, living on a media diet that features almost exclusively films, books and TV from the West, it’s sometimes easy to forget that most of humanity lives in the rest of the world in cultures we’re not familiar with, speaking languages that we don’t understand. It’s a platitude to say that we’e all humans under the skin but faced with a sea of foreign faces across Africa and Asia dressed in clothes we would never wear, living lifestyles we would never consider, it becomes hard to out ourselves in their shoes.

How many of us stopped to wonder whether the Nepali kid carrying rocks up the mountain had a choice? Whether the guys cutting down hardwoods in the Amazon wanted to be there? Whether the Thai girl in the massage parlour would rather be with her family than ingesting the bodily fluids of a stranger?

Kevin Bales takes us into the world of modern slavery and shows us the exit – and if we don’t take it, we’re left with the question: how free are we?

Free the Slaves is an organisation dedicated to fighting modern slavery.