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Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery [Paperback]

Siddharth Kara
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 9, 2010 0231139616 978-0231139618 0

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.

Frequently Bought Together

Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery + The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today + Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls Are Not for Sale: A Memoir
Price for all three: $39.30

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kara, a former investment banker and executive, uses theoretical economics and business analysis to propose measures that could eradicate sex trafficking by undermining the profitability of the illegal activities associated with the crime. At considerable personal risk and expense—he is nearly attacked by a gang of pimps in Mumbai—the author penetrates seedy underworlds and forced labor markets to meet the women and children in the dungeon of human disgrace in Asia, Europe and the U.S. He highlights ubiquitous and disturbing trends—the heavy involvement of law enforcement agencies and personnel in trafficking and slavery—but this book's intentions suffers from Kara's self-professed rudimentary economic analysis, which often borders on the offensive (a theoretical calculation of the lifetime value of a sex slave) and an unscientific, ad hoc research model. While the evidence indicates the urgent need for action—a woman or child is trafficked for sexual exploitation every 60 seconds—Kara's economic approach fails to shed new light on the human cost of sex slavery and seems at the best of times beside the point, although the detailed statistical information he compiles—on everything from the costs of running a brothel in Queens, N.Y., to massage parlor and bonded labor economics worldwide—is a resource for researchers in the field. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


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 1900-01-00)

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 1900-01-00)

Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (July 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231139616
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231139618
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A shocking and informative treatise November 27, 2008
As a retired academic, I mostly read history and philosophy in my spare time. Upon a friend's suggestion, I have recently read Mr. Siddharth Kara's treatise "sex-trafficking inside the business of modern slavery." It constitutes a first-hand account of a little-noticed business of human bondage and pathos. The author exposed himself to personal danger in attempting interviews with scores of victims spanning the whole range of demographics.

This book deals with three aspects of this world-wide business: the exploitative traffickers, the wrenching servitude of the victims, and the economics of the trade.

The author presents convincing quantitative information to provide a rationale as to why the trafficking business is quite attractive to the brute; while it is useful for lawmakers and NGOs, the narrative is shocking to the public. The sheer volume of this sort of "slavery" is astounding, and the subhuman conditions these victims are forced to live in, is repelling. Reading through some of the situations was nauseating to say the least. In today's affluent world, it is abhorring that spots of utter poverty exist but go unnoticed. More repulsive and dehumanizing is the fact that, on occasion, a father is manipulated into selling his daughter into this servitude.

While contemporary society holds woman as equal to man, and given that Indian thought in particular considers woman as divine, the destitution of these exploited women renders this practice beyond the pale of repugnance. The enablers look like demons, incapable of the remotest human sensibilities; that they manage to go under radar is astounding.

In his rendition, Mr.
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39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Albania chapter weak and misleading June 26, 2009
I do not presume to offer an assessment of the entire book, since my expertise for the past six years is specifically in counter-trafficking in Albania. I was interviewed by the author when he came through the country several years ago.

Trafficking of women and children is a reality in Albania. But there is little evidence that application of the traditional code called the Kanun is a driving cause. The chapter begins with "sworn virgins", and implies that this is evidence of gender bias that creates vulnerability of females in the rural north. The number of women who have assumed this identity has always been small. But it can be argued that those who do so are likely to be less vulnerable than other women because they assume the status of "honorary man" - able to own property and able to conduct business. Thus, they are able to become more active agents of their own economic destiny, and may be less driven to make dangerous choices that would enable a trafficker to lure them into exploitation.

Blood feuds are also a reality in this country. While those who's lives are devastated by the consequence of this application of traditional "law", they are also a minority - and not demonstrably more vulnerable to human trafficking than the rest of the country. This connection is promoted as an understandable, but sensationalizing, publicity technique by some activist organizations in the country to try to draw attention to their important purpose - trying to resolve existing blood feuds, decreasing the likelihood of new feuds, and finding viable solutions for those lives are torn asunder by these feuds. Their work is important and too be respected. But it is not central to combating human trafficking.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye Opening July 17, 2009
This book has changed the way I look at the world. I had minimal knowledge of human sex trafficking prior to reading. To say it is a page turner sounds callous; however the personal vignettes tied with the history and financial analysis kept me wanting to know more. The author's passion for this cause is apparent through his heartfelt writing. Further, I don't know many people (myself included) who would stare down the devil and go into the precarious situations Mr. Kara has to collect his powerful research.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery January 21, 2009
Siddharth Kara's "Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery" is a deeply insightful, analytical and profoundly intelligent work informed by the author's justifiably strong sense of outrage and desire for social justice. I found myself both incredibly angry and moved to tears by the stories told by the women and children Kara interviewed, while also being inspired by his hard-hitting and incisive proposals to more effectively cripple and ultimately abolish this body-and-soul destroying business and all other forms of contemporary slavery.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Knowing What I Know Now April 29, 2009
This isn't normally my type of "read" - mostly I read fiction - but I was encouraged to read Mr. Kara's book, and though extremely saddened and angered by it - the economic and gender injustice that rages in our world is incisively brought to light - I am exceedingly glad I did. I'm not an academic by any stretch, but there was information useful for me, an everyday average citizen with interest in helping right a wrong, this tragic wrong called sex slavery.

I admire the author mightily for his bravery and tenacity - his deep heart and probing mind. His writing is clear and honest and builds us a picture of the conditions of this trauma -- how they affect those involved...including himself....

Knowing what I know now, there is no going back -- only forward into a future where we change what must be changed!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book! Extremely informative
Excellent book! Extremely informative. It helped me understand the true business and although very sad but we get a first look at what is going on. Thumbs up to the author.
Published 6 days ago by Margarita Lozada
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book!
By far the best book I have ever read. His personal experiences create an illusion that you are there with him and meeting these people first hand. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Katelyn Kassarjian
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book on everything about sex trafficking
This book explains every aspect of sex trafficking. It explains how slaves are aquired, the economics behind the "business" of human trafficking, the history that causes... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Heather Knight
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it and weep ~ then do something
This book should be required reading for every member of the human race. It is an indictment of all of us that these horrendous practices continue on this planet. Read more
Published 4 months ago by azuremountain
3.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting
Very interesting book, but I was more interested in the stories than the stats, although the stats were a real eye opener in illustrating how big of a problem this really is.
Published 6 months ago by rehanna
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read.
This book I could not put down. What an eye opener. I feel for these poor women and children all over the world.
Published 7 months ago by April Safranovich
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, informative read
The book is so great. Kara does a good job of giving the personal facts and stories paired with the numbers and business end of the subject matter. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Alyssa Jones
2.0 out of 5 stars Kara Review
The book is not an academic book, and should not be read or sold as such, as the methods were not at all sound. Read more
Published 9 months ago by AJ
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
I thought this gave a good in-depth look at sex trafficking across the world. I was surprised at what he found in the United States.
Published 10 months ago by Ruth
5.0 out of 5 stars great !
Amazingly well researched.

Great insights, this a must read. I wish it was on audio.
Nice to see someone looking at so many angles.
Published 11 months ago by Jess Larsen
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