Kevin Bales is a scholar and activist who has been doing important work for years to end the scourge of slavery in the world today. He was a founder of the organization Free the Slaves, and he is an important source of information of the scale of the slavery problem today. There are currently an estimated 46 million slaves in the world, and their trade is a 150 billion dollar industry. This is not the same thing as sweat shop labor. This is actual slavery.
The definition that he uses involves three components:
- One person is completely controlled by another,
- Violence is used in order to maintain that control, and
- That control is being used to exploit people for economic benefit.
While over 300 international laws and agreements have been signed since 1815, this practice persists. It is linked into a globalized supply chain that contributes to ‘legitimate’ goods that we all buy. Moreover, slaves today are considered disposable, rather than being seen as investments. This is because the price of slaves has bottomed out to the point at which they can be replaced at a negligible cost.