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Laws do little to curtail sex slavery

Author Siddarth Kara

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Kai Ryssdal: Modern day slavery is a topic that's not easy to discuss. But it's too important and too big to avoid.

By some estimates, slavery as an industry is worth about $91 billion a year. Sex slaves represent about 4 percent of all slaves around the world. But they account for about 40 percent of the profits. And as the global economy worsens so could the lives of those women and children. Siddarth Kara's book about them -- and the business -- is called "Sex Trafficking."

Welcome to the program.

Siddharth Kara: Thanks. It's good to be here.

Ryssdal: As a purely business model question, slavery is all up-side? I mean, it sounds flip, but really it's almost hard to lose money doing it.

Kara: That is a very good point. The fundamental economics of slavery is to maximize profit by minimizing the cost of labor, in this case, zero or close to zero. So, yes, there is a tremendous profit incentive. There should be more risk to the commission of these crimes. Slavery is illegal in just about every country in the world. But, there is almost no real risk to the exploitation of slaves around the world.

Ryssdal: Why is that? I mean, if it's illegal, if governments know about it, which they all do because we're talking about it -- and everybody talks about it from time to time -- why is this the case?

Kara: Weak laws. In India, for example, there is actually no financial penalty for exploiting a sex slave, but there is a $44 fine for owning a brothel. Now you can actually make, as a brothel owner, close to $13,000 a year per slave in profit. So, even if you rounded up every exploiter of sex slaves each and every year and fine them that $44, sex slavery would still be a high-profit enterprise to be in.

Ryssdal: As you think about how to eradicate sex slavery -- and that's a good part of the book -- you talk about the supply side and the demand side. But with access to sex slaves so cheap and human biology being what it is, can you ever really eradicate the demand side?

Kara: I do believe that the most effective attack on the sex slave industry in the near-term, is an attack on the demand force. To eradicate slavery in the long-term you'll have to address the supply side -- issues relating to poverty, lawlessness, corruption, etc. But I, in the book, focus on what I call two strategic points of intervention in the fundamental business structure of sex slavery and that's slave owner demand for profit and consumer demand for low-priced commercial sex. And if you can significantly increase the risk inherent to the system -- increase the cost of committing these crimes -- you can make a strong negative impact on both slave owner and consumer demand.

Ryssdal: This is obviously an incredibly emotional topic. How do you remain so analytical about this, because you clearly do?

Kara: I -- it's not easy. As I sit here and talk with you about this business analysis -- I have a business and legal background -- my mind is still filled with the faces of so many of the slaves I met: Hundreds of slaves who have suffered unspeakable acts of savagery. Women and children who are raped, tortured and killed every day. And I believe that a business and economic analysis is the best way to attack a fundamentally economic crime, slavery. But the moral outrage of these crimes and the human cost of these crimes, is going to be what motivates us to initiate more effective efforts to redress these crimes.

Ryssdal: Are you optimistic that anything is going to come of what you clearly hope to achieve from this book?

Kara: I go through waves of emotion. There are some real down days and there were some down days on the research trail. For me this book is step one. Step two is to get in front of the right audiences, governments, international organizations, and argue for the case I'm making for a new brand of global abolitionist movement that will design and deploy more effective tactics to abolish slavery once and for all.

Ryssdal: The book by Siddharth Kara is called "Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery." He sits on the board of directors of the group Free the Slaves. Siddharth, thanks a lot for coming in.

Kara: Thank you.

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please, keep this information away from media because i do not want those people to find me
i am now 21 and after watching the show sex slave in suburb after my husband recording it. I have now reolized that i am one of those poor children that get forced into this world. It all started when i was in freshman in highschool (16 years old) and i did not have many friends, very sheltered, naive, and young . I needed friends because i always had a hard time. then this girl that was a junior at the time became my friend. She played the simpanthy card because of her large size and me being the "helpful one" became her friend. about a month into the friendship i rember seeing her on a website for personal adds, me not knowing about this secret world, shrugged it off like nothing. Then the unknown men started coming up to the door of her house around 12 at night, no parents at home, and these men ages ranged from 25 to 60s she would go to there car and talk to them, just talk. I came outside to see what was going on and before I talked to him, my friend instructed me to lie about my age ( i thought it was weird ) but her being slick made it sound like she needed help getting a boyfriend, then she asked me if i could go home and get some clothing that was kinda sexy looking. i didnt i told her that i did not have clothing like that. And I went home because i did not like the feeling of the situation. Then me being desperate for friends she called the next day wonderin if i can sleep over because she said that she was upset becuase her mother was being mean to her (mother is a convicted prostitue) So i went to spend the night and we eneded going to her "uncles" house about 15 miles out. There were a total of 9 people at the party at the "uncles" house she said they where all relatives. I rember help cooking food for the relatives and I asked for something to drink. After drinking a pre opened sprite can i rember feeling a little loose and fuzzy. Then i rember seeing one of the friends heavly intoxicated falling and hurting himself. SO me being the helpful one decided to help him into the rv with my friend onto the sofa. By then i could not feel my hole body, I was aware but numb. Thats when it started my friend sat there the hole time wile i was being held down and raped my 8 men that turned out to be customers and one women that was a prostitute. My own friend that i reached out to with extended arms to help only to have her help these men hold me down. I passed out. Woke up next day still being raped. then like a blessing i rember there being a shotgun under the bed in the rv. it felt like a dream. I grabed the shot gun and pulled the trigger, caulked then pulled, caulked then pulled i did it till i could not lift my arm. i grabed then man that was suppose to be her fauther and held it to his head and said TAKE ME HOME NOW or i will kill you bitch. he did not say anthing he opened his truck and i grabbed my clothes and got in with the gun in hand he had a blank look i sat in the passanger seat i told him to turn the interior lights on. he asked are you sure, i demanded it then. He started to cry then turned on i looked at my arms i was covered in semen, dirt, and blood. lots of it. told him to go to a gas station with an out door bathroom to wash up i walked in and turned on lights to see a mirror. Then i saw my face, brused, cut, bit, bloody i did not reconize myself. i rember after cleaning up i broke the mirror and got back in the truck and he took me home. and i did not tell my parents the full story still i was about 20 after being into a mental institution and having to see this friend everyday at school till she graduated. no police report because my parents where scared what i told them and still never fully beleved me

I appreciate that Marketplace is exposing this (financial) aspect of sex trafficking. I am a major supporter of sctnow.org and its mission and through my education have learned that these young women are manipulated, abused and sold into a world where they will have no future unless WE all take a stand to stop this disgusting crime from occurring. As a woman, I feel a direct connection to the cause and plan on continuing to educate myself on this and what my role can be in bringing forth change. I recently saw an in-depth documentary by Lisa Ling highlighting the trafficking situation in India and what is being done to put a stop to it. I am pleased that so many people are finally beginning to view sex trafficking as modern day slavery, which it is, and taking a stand to end it. Please visit sctnow.org and learn about ways that you can make a significant difference in the life of another.

I appreciate that Marketplace is exposing this (financial) aspect of sex trafficking. I am a major supporter of sctnow.org and its mission and have learned that these young women are manipulated, abused and sold into a world where they will have no future unless WE all take a stand to stop this disgusting crime from occurring. As a woman, I feel a direct connection to the cause and plan on continuing to educate myself on this and what my role can be in bringing forth change. I recently saw an in-depth documentary by Lisa Ling highlighting the trafficking situation in India and what is being done to put a stop to it. I am pleased that so many people are finally beginning to view sex trafficking as modern day slavery, which it is, and taking a stand to end it. Please visit sctnow.org and learn about ways that you can make a significant difference in the life of another.

I was struck by one comment that reflected the general male bias of the show. The notion that "biology" along with economic incentive is an inevitability illustrates the western and male dominated cultural lens through which we continue to interpret the world. Can anyone ever imagine a world of non-aggressive, non-predatory males, and non-profit motivated economic structures? Probably not as long as we have our institutions controlled and populated by ambitious males.

It's a crying shame that people are hurt, but I have to say that I can't get too worked up about it. You KNOW there's both supply and demand, and that means there's a market. Aside from a couple of locales starting with 'Ne', the entire world is frightened to death when it comes to peepees and hoohoos, and rather than have a market be safe and sane and well-regulated, everything gets driven underground and people get hurt.

Thank you for calling attention to the global pandemic of sex slavery.

It's very appropriate that Marketplace covers this story since human trafficking (of which sex slavery is one part) is the 2nd highest-grossing illegal enterprise on earth. Only illegal drugs bring in more money. You can sell a drug once, but you can sell a child or adult over and over.

Born to Fly International works to stop child sex slavery -- across the globe and across the street, as it's in most every city in the US. This year we'll launch the B2F child trafficking awareness project for at-risk kids all over the world. You can learn more at www.born2fly.org

Thanks again for interviewing Siddharth Kara and covering this story.

Diana Scimone
President
Born to Fly International, Inc.
www.born2fly.org
www.dianascimone.com

I listened to most of the show (until I started writing!) looking @ the website.
While listening to Siddarth's ideas about behavior modification, my attention was inexorably drawn to the image of Dan Ariely, behavioral economist par excellence. Siddarth, his organization, Nicholas Kristof who covers the subject for the NYTimes, et al, would do well to talk to Mr. Ariely for ideas on modification.
I don't think these thoughts would have occurred had I not been listening and watching the site simultaneously. I wonder what Dan Ariely would make of that?

And by the way, good story well done by Kai and Siddarth.

Thank you so much for airing this story. It's critical that the public have greater awareness of the tragedy of human trafficing. I will follow up with research about Mr. Kara's book to learn more about how I can help women and girls who are suffering as humans living in slavery.

Thanks again!

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