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Suddenly… Human Trafficking

Update: 10/01/12 A powerful collection of modern day slavery photographs published in the Atlantic this week.  Photographed by Lisa Kristine. It turns out Lisa also has a Ted talk. Some things are so horrible you can hardly bring yourself to learn more about them. At the very least, we can make a donation. Free The Slaves!

Yesterday, driving in to work I listened to this talk and was surprised I didn’t know more.

Then today on a show I like ThisWeekInTwitter,  guest Aaron Cohen, author of ‘Slave Hunter’ really got my dander up. Throwing the phrase ‘the children’ around like a Fox News anchor, calling Amsterdam a failure, and talking about the ‘tools’ (i.e. laws) he and like minded activists need in order to go in and shut down these slave trade operations. Another part of his argument that really rankled me was his statement that ‘Craigslist receives a third of its earnings from sex postings’, as though this was something Craigslist was doing. Why pick on Craigslist? Can we not assume that a large portion of any classified ad publisher’s income derives from sex related ads? (Here’s the recent NY Times article about Craigslist and sex related ads Aaron was probably thinking of). But just because I didn’t like the way Aaron framed his argument didn’t mean he doesn’t have valid points. Certainly it made me realize I have a lot to learn.

So then I went back to Ted and found this…

About Amsterdam I found various articles discussing changes being made, like raising the age to 21 and requiring prostitutes to be licensed. Also this:

Anti-slavery campaigner and labour party city councillor Lodewijk Asscher already raised the issue in February. This week he submitted a detailed report , noting that between 50 and 90 per cent of all the prostitutes working in Amsterdam’s inner-city were found to be working there against their will – coerced and forced by international criminal gangs.

These are such messy issues. You want to think that somewhere, drugs and prostitution are being handled intelligently and effectively. If not Amsterdam, where? I will try to follow-up on the Amsterdam situation. But in the meantime I obviously have a lot of reading to do around the issue of human trafficking. How can there be 27,000,000 people caught up in slavery and I hardly know the first thing about it?


  1. Kevin Bales wrote:

    John – great post, thanks. A lot of us feel and felt shocked when we learned about modern slavery, and then had to dig a little to get to the facts and away from the sensationalism. For a clear introduction visit our website And some basic books are: Disposable People (for the size and shape of the problem); Ending Slavery (for the size and shape of the solution); and The Slave Next Door (everything you ever wanted to know about slavery in America today).
    All best
    Kevin Bales (Free the Slaves)

    Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 6:16 am | Permalink
  2. John wrote:

    Thank You Kevin! I will spend some time on your site and check out the books you mention.
    Much Appreciated

    Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 9:22 am | Permalink
  3. Mel wrote:

    Perhaps it is unreasonable and a mistake to expect or hope that drugs and, particularly, prostitution can be handled “intelligently and effectively”. What does that even mean?
    No need to answer, just food for thought.

    Friday, May 7, 2010 at 7:32 am | Permalink

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