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Bonded Labor: Tackling the System of Slavery in South Asiaby Siddharth Kara
Synopses & Reviews
In Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery, Siddharth Kara conducted one of the most comprehensive, systematic accounts of the global sex-trafficking industry. His book became a widely consulted resource not only for its uncommon revelations into an unconscionable business but also for its detailed analysis of the trade's immense economic benefits and corresponding human costs. Sex Trafficking has become an invaluable resource for policy makers, women's and human rights activists, NGO workers, and specialists in dozens of related fields, as well as for university scholars and everyday citizens.
Bonded Labor: Tackling the System of Slavery in South Asia is Kara's second explosive study of slavery, this time focusing on the pervasive, deeply entrenched, and wholly unjust system of bonded labor. From his eleven years of research in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, Kara delves into this ancient and ever-evolving mode of slavery, which ensnares roughly six out of every ten slaves in the world and generates profits that exceeded $17.6 billion in 2011. In addition to providing a thorough economic, historical, and legal overview of bonded labor, Kara travels to the far reaches of South Asia, from cyclone-wracked southwestern Bangladesh to the Thar desert on the India-Pakistan border, to uncover the brutish realities of bonded labor in such industries as hand-woven-carpet making, tea and rice farming, construction, brick manufacture, and frozen-shrimp production. He describes the violent enslavement of millions of impoverished women, children, and men who toil in the production of numerous products at minimal cost to the global market. He also follows supply chains directly to Western consumers, vividly connecting regional bonded labor practices to the appetites of the world. Kara's pioneering analysis encompasses human trafficking, child labor, and global security, and he concludes with ten specific initiatives to eliminate the system of bonded labor from South Asia once and for all.
"Kara (Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery) turns his attention to bonded labor, 'a type of slavery in which the servitude commences with an agreement whereby credit is provided in exchange for pledged labor.' Based on a decade of research and travel in the epicenter of the practice (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal), Kara's book offers a scholarly account of the practice that delineates its cultural and legal history. He is sensitive to nuances between regions and occupations; intimate and affective in individual conversations with victims, perpetrators, and defenders; and usefully explicit about the actions individuals, groups, and governments can take to end the practice. Obstacles to completing this project were abundant, ranging from secrecy at Bangladeshi processing plants to impedance by Pakistani officials. As Kara observes, 'Virtually everyone's life, everywhere in the world, is touched by bonded labor in South Asia,' which for American consumers may make frozen shrimp less sweet, tea less comforting, and hand-woven carpets less lovely. Passionate ('Pray there is a special place in hell for scoundrels such as these'), yet data-driven and absent of sensationalism, Kara's spotlight on debt bondage, 'at once the most ancient and most contemporary face of human servitude,' warrants profound attention. Agent: Susan Cohen, Writers House." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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