The Slave Next Door

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kevin Bales and Ron Soodalter expose the disturbing phenomenon of human trafficking and slavery currently going on in the United States, and look at how it can be stopped. The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today weaves together accounts from slaves, slaveholders, and traffickers, as well as from experts, counselors, law enforcement officers, and rescue and support groups.


Kevin Bales and Ron Soodalter

Comments [24]

Amy from Manhattan

Ron, thanks for your answers on this page! I'm glad to have you confirm that Rugmark is reliable--I was going to ask, but the segment was ending & I didn't realize I could get the answer in the comments.

On [22], that's exactly what I was concerned about. I'm not sure whether to approach the person, in case they're being watched & might be punished for talking to someone who could report their situation. On the other hand, I wouldn't want to call in a false alarm. I'll look for your book & read that chapter first!

Jun. 19 2009 01:01 PM
Ron Soodalter from Chappaqua, NY

To Eileen [8]: There have, in fact, been instances of trafficked Asians working in the kitchens of some of New York's Chinese restaurants. But as in all instances relating to trafficking and slavery, it's often hard to know who is, and who isn't. Again, if you suspect, make the call.

Jun. 19 2009 11:26 AM
Ron Soodalter from Chappaqua, NY

To Amy [7]: The most important thing is to avoid further jeopardizing the person you suspect of being enslaved - or yourself! We devote most of a chapter to what to do in the event. Do NOT attempt a rescue on your own; as we say in the book, we are not action heroes, and we'll do more harm than good. Best to contact a reputable local NGO. We list many, by state. In Manhattan, one of the best is an organization called Safe Horizon; they've been rescuing and helping victims for years.

Jun. 19 2009 11:23 AM
Ron Soodalter from Chappaqua, NY

To Seth [11]: As the internet becomes inextricably woven into our lives, the opportunities for traffickers have grown exponentially. I'm sure you've heard the storm around Craigslist; tip of the iceberg. The Pound Ridge guy who was arrested last month for sex and labor trafficking had been advertising on a legitimate site for au pairs - although he has no children! It's insidious.

Jun. 19 2009 11:18 AM
Ron Soodalter from Chappaqua, NY

To Gene [9]: The hotline is 888-3737-888. It's 24/7 and well-staffed, so if you suspect a slavery situation, don't hesitate to call.

Jun. 19 2009 11:16 AM
Ron Soodalter from Chappaqua, NY

to Amy [15]: Thank you for mentioning Rugmark; it's the surest way to ensure that you're not buying slave-made rugs and carpets.

Jun. 19 2009 11:14 AM
Ron Soodalter from Chappaqua, NY

To Ann Hawker and Wonky Diva: Sandra Bearden, the woman who so brutally used the 12-year-old Mexican girl, Maria, is deservedly serving a life sentence.

Jun. 19 2009 11:12 AM
Ron Soodalter from Chappaqua, NY

To Bruce [1] and Peter [12]: While it's tempting to point to specific countries as worse than others in regard to human trafficking, it becomes a difference in degree, when we realize that practically every one of the world's nations practices some form of slavery. I writing The Slave Next Door, Kevin and I were hoping to hold up a mirror in which we Americans can see the part we play in this global travesty.

Jun. 19 2009 11:08 AM
Ron Soodalter from Chappaqua, NY

Gene [4]: Well done. Many would have simply walked away. You might have been instrumental in rescuing a person from slavery. In the book, we refer to Good Samaritans - everyday people who take that extra step when they suspect someone might be enslaved. You qualify.

Jun. 19 2009 11:04 AM
Amy from Manhattan

For oriental rugs, there's Rugmark to certify that they weren't made by child laborers.

More generally, the "Better World Shopping Guide" & its website,, show researched ratings of all kinds of products & services based on 5 issues, the 1st one being human rights. It's really changed the way I shop.

Jun. 18 2009 12:51 PM
Wonky Diva from Queens

Just looked up the book on If the woman in question is the "27-year-old middle class housewife" described in the Editorial Review, then she's serving a life sentence for that and other charges.

Jun. 18 2009 12:46 PM
Teresa from new york

your guests need to study up on the cocoa protocol- it doesn't address poverty, the root cause of child and forced labor. Tulane University is conducting a study to address the slave trade in the cocoa industry, and they continue to find trafficked children working in dangerous jobs on cocoa farms.

Jun. 18 2009 12:44 PM
Peter from Sunset Park

Great show Leonard!

A talking point you will not touch on.

Palestinians are the biggest traffikers in Eastern European women.


Jun. 18 2009 12:42 PM
Seth from Upper West Side

Isn't it ironic that the culturally sensitive Village Voice will take money for advertising from potential abusers and enslavers. It's really disgusting. And they never seem to get called on this. They rail against the pigs of the right wing and yet they contribute to the same reprehensible and CRIMINAL power structures. But hey, it's all cool. It's just sex man, get over it! Where is the Asian and Asian-American community on this?!!

Jun. 18 2009 12:40 PM
kenneth from tenement town

Please focus on the happy ending massage parlors.

Jun. 18 2009 12:39 PM

The hotline number went by too fast--can you post it here?

Jun. 18 2009 12:38 PM
Eileen from Bronx

what about Chinese restaurants? I remember hearing that many of the Fujinese workers, particularly in far flung restaurants in small towns, are enslaved or held by debt.

Jun. 18 2009 12:37 PM
Amy from Manhattan

What's the best thing to do if you suspect a person you see (like Gene in [4]--& thanks for doing something about it, Gene!) might be enslaved, but there isn't a police officer around to report it to? Or if you're not sure? Should you try to talk to the person, or are they likely to be too intimidated or ashamed to say they're being held in slavery? Is the slaveholder likely to be nearby, watching?

And who's the right authority to notify? Should you call 911, or is it not considered an emergency?

Thank you, Mr. Bales & Mr. Soodalter, for telling the public about this, & thank you, Leonard, for having them on your show.

[Actually, I think they're answering my q. right now--but the previous paragraph still stands!]

Jun. 18 2009 12:36 PM
Wonky Diva from Queens

I was wondering the same thing

Jun. 18 2009 12:25 PM
ann hawker from 255 W 95th Street, NYC, NY 10025

Does Mr. Soodalter know if the woman who enslaved the 12-year-old Mexican girl was punished once her cruelty had been discovered. Thanks you.

Jun. 18 2009 12:23 PM

On the #4 up to 125th St. one night, I saw a miserable-looking older asian woman, with an armful of cds, give money to a young, asian man, casually smirking by the door. No words were exchanged. She then went on to the next car.

At 125th St., I saw a cop, told him the situation while the train was still in the station, and that I was afraid there was a slavery situation going on.

I was pleased to see the cop was _very_ concerned, made sure he had the descriptions, and ran off to the train.

Jun. 18 2009 12:22 PM
JP from The Garden State

Mechanize all farming!!! If you need slaves or workers working below the minimum AG wage to make ends meet to farm, you shouldn’t be farming or you need to pick another crop. You don’t see slave workers or immigrant workers on mechanized farms!!!

Jun. 18 2009 12:17 PM
Jeff Putterman from Queens

I also recommend another book about slavery, of a kind which I find worse than what these authors detail:

Slavery by Another Name, by Douglas Blackmon.

Blackmon details, in painful examples, how black men were enslaved in the south, and "sold" to major corporations as workers, up until the second world war.

Jun. 18 2009 12:10 PM
bruce from nyc

Great show Leonard!
A talking point you will not touch on.
Israelis are the biggest traffikers in Eastern European women.


Jun. 18 2009 12:08 PM

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