Sex Trafficking

Inside the Business of Modern Slavery

Siddharth Kara

Columbia University Press

Sex Trafficking

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Pub Date: November 2008

ISBN: 9780231139618

320 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $18.95£13.95

Pub Date: November 2008

ISBN: 9780231139601

320 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $29.95£21.95

Pub Date: November 2008

ISBN: 9780231511391

320 Pages

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List Price: $17.99£13.00

Sex Trafficking

Inside the Business of Modern Slavery

Siddharth Kara

Columbia University Press

Every year, hundreds of thousands of women and children are abducted, deceived, seduced, or sold into forced prostitution, coerced to service hundreds if not thousands of men before being discarded. These trafficked sex slaves form the backbone of one of the world's most profitable illicit enterprises and generate huge profits for their exploiters, for unlike narcotics, which must be grown, harvested, refined, and packaged, sex slaves require no such "processing," and can be repeatedly "consumed."

Kara first encountered the horrors of slavery in a Bosnian refugee camp in 1995. Subsequently, in the first journey of its kind, he traveled across four continents to investigate these crimes and take stock of their devastating human toll. Kara made several trips to India, Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, Albania, Moldova, Mexico, and the United States. He witnessed firsthand the sale of human beings into slavery, interviewed over four hundred slaves, and confronted some of those who trafficked and exploited them.

In this book, Kara provides a riveting account of his journey into this unconscionable industry, sharing the moving stories of its victims and revealing the shocking conditions of their exploitation. He draws on his background in finance, economics, and law to provide the first ever business analysis of contemporary slavery worldwide, focusing on its most profitable and barbaric form: sex trafficking. Kara describes the local factors and global economic forces that gave rise to this and other forms of modern slavery over the past two decades and quantifies, for the first time, the size, growth, and profitability of each industry. Finally, he identifies the sectors of the sex trafficking industry that would be hardest hit by specifically designed interventions and recommends the specific legal, tactical, and policy measures that would target these vulnerable sectors and help to abolish this form of slavery, once and for all.

The author will donate a portion of the proceeds of this book to the anti-slavery organization, Free the Slaves.

Sex trafficking is more of a problem than most people realize. Read this well-written book and find out.

Kirk Douglas

Sex trafficking is a crime that shames us all. To fight it we need to research it, know it in depth, and calibrate measures accordingly. Siddharth Kara's compelling economic and strategic analysis is very useful to our work. Readers will gain a deep understanding of the functioning of modern-day slavery as well as what can be done to eradicate it.

Antonio Maria Costa, executive director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

I approached this book with a certain weariness. Having worked on the subject of sex trafficking for many years, I was unenthusiastic about yet another exposé or cri de coeur from a business executive turned human rights advocate. I could not have been more wrong. This is a unique and inspiring book—an honest, lucid, and immensely intelligent account of a devastating yet pervasive aspect of contemporary globalization. It deserves to be widely read by anyone who wants to understand one of the most persistent and complex human rights violations of our times.

Jacqueline Bhabha, Harvard Law School

Siddharth Kara has done a great service by laying bare the realities of sexual exploitation of women and girls around the world and the scale of this modern slavery. His analysis is rooted in an understanding of the way unregulated economic globalization has impoverished whole regions, failed to improve the miserable lot of women in many countries, and facilitated global criminal networks. His book should be widely read and his recommendations taken very seriously.

Baroness Vivien Stern, King's College London

This book could not be more important. After years of witnessing slavery and meeting with slaves, Siddharth Kara illuminates one of our most pressing human rights issues. He offers brand new research and reliable facts, shattering the myths and sensationalism that tend to surround this topic. Everyone should read this book: it will change the way we think about our world.

Zoe Trodd, Harvard University

An impressive, scholarly book that will prove an asset for the global anti-trafficking movement in the next decade.

Holly Burkhalter, Stanford Social Innovation Review

A disturbing and illuminating study of one of the underbellies of economic globalization: the global sex trafficking industry.

Padraig Carmody, Irish Times

An eloquent, campaigning book that addresses an evil that belittles our humanity.

Jonathan Birchall , Financial Times

The best book ever written on human trafficking for sexual exploitation. Representing a new period of solid yet humane scholarship, this breakthrough analysis represents a quantum leap in the study of this subject. Simply beyond anything I have seen anywhere.

Kevin Bales, president of Free the Slaves

This is an important and necessary work and it will educate many people about sex trafficking around the globe.

Meredith Ralston, H-Human-Rights

An important innovative resource that enriches the discourse on modern-day slavery and human trafficking.

Noam Perry, Human Rights Review
1. Sex Trafficking: An Overview
2. India and Nepal
3. Italy and Western Europe
4. Moldova and the Former Soviet Union
5. Albania and the Balkans
6. Thailand and the Mekong Subregion
7. The United States
8. A Framework for Abolition: Risk and Demand
Appendix A: Selected Tables and Notes
Appendix B: Contemporary Slavery Economics
Appendix C: Selected Human Development Statistics
Works Cited
Web Features:

Siddharth Kara discusses Sex Trafficking

Co-winner of the 2010 Frederick Douglass Book Prize from Yale University's Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History based in New York City.

About the Author

Siddharth Kara is the first Fellow on Human Trafficking with the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He advises several governments as well as private and non-governmental organizations on antislavery policy and law and is the author of Bonded Labor: Tackling the System of Slavery in South Asia (Columbia, 2012).