Slavery Inc.: The Untold Story of International Sex Trafficking.

Author:Brennan, Christopher
Position:Book review


The Untold Story of International Sex Trafficking

by Lydia Cacho; translated by Elizabeth Boburg

Soft Skull Press, 2014

256 pp.;$17.95

Human trafficking--for sex, labor, and even organ selling--is among the most profitable businesses in the world, yet it is ignored or minimized by governments and mainstream society. Worse than governmental ignorance, perhaps, is the unwitting contribution that well-meaning but uninformed travelers make to this thriving industry. Renowned Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho captured this world in her 2010 book, Esclavas del Poder ("Slaves of Power"), and peeled away the myths surrounding the trafficking industry to reveal the truth of this human tragedy. Ibis year Elizabeth Boburg brings the English-speaking world her translation of Cacho's work, retitled, Slavery Inc.: The Untold Story of International Sex Trafficking.

From Turkey to Thailand, from Burma to Argentina, Cacho chronicles the stories of victims of human trafficking, along with the efforts of NGOs and the UN to rescue them. She paints a vivid picture of how free markets and a borderless world contribute to the spread of this affront to humanity, offering a crash course in how both legal and illegal commerce form a backbone for the enslavement of women and children in the sex tourism industry, for the production of child pornography, and for forced labor.

Cacho's reporting has seen her imprisoned and tortured in the past. Here, she recounts the confrontations she's had with members of organized crime and corrupt military and police officials. These powerful men, both within and outside the "legal" establishment, have vested interests in the ongoing market for human beings. Cacho explains the role complicit governmental officials play in the illegal migration of trafficked persons and how the laundering of money from these ill-gotten gains occurs. Boburg's translation captures the intensity of Cacho's writing and makes palpable the pain of the victims and the frustration of those trying to help them.

While discussions of autonomy and freedom of choice are integral parts of any humanist discussion, far too often the real world details are lost in a haze of philosophical debate. Cacho's book bridges the gap between clinical, some might say cynical, reports published to expose the human trafficking industry and first-person narrative. Her discussion pays particular attention to the role that legal, non-coercive prostitution plays in setting...

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