The Common Good
March 2007

Inside Story

by The Editors | March 2007

The problem of modern slavery is staggering.

The problem of modern slavery is staggering. Today, 27 million slaves exist in the world, according to Not For Sale, a new book by David Batstone, author of this month's cover story on human trafficking. Tens of thousands of them live in the United States, and thousands more arrive each day. Selling and trafficking human beings for sexual exploitation, domestic or commercial labor, or for use as soldiers, in places such as Uganda, are among the most lucrative businesses on the planet.

The sheer scope of this scourge invites depression and discouragement. But there are signs of hope, examples of abolitionists willing to sacrifice their time, energy, and money -and, in some cases, their lives- to lift others out of slavery. People such as Pierre Tami, who established a center in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for women who had suffered violence and exploitation. Not only has Hagar Shelter helped more than 100,000 women and children through its social programs, its three entrepreneurial spin-offs have generated job skills training and secure employment for many. It's a remarkable story of vision, hard work, and faith.

We can also learn from early abolitionists, such as William Wilberforce and Elizabeth Heyrick, who worked much of their lives -using many of the same tactics activist groups use today- to end the British slave trade. Assistant editor Elizabeth Palmberg shares the story of how they and others were able to form a coalition broad enough to ultimately succeed. Parliament voted to abolish the slave trade in the early 1800s throughout the entire British Empire. They are lessons well worth applying today.

-The Editors

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