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Inside the Unnerving Reality of Modern Slavery

The number of people currently in slavery is estimated to be upwards of 27 million — double the number of slaves taken from Africa during the transatlantic slave trade


“The number of people currently in slavery is estimated to be upwards of 27 million — double the number of slaves taken from Africa during the transatlantic slave trade,” says PetaPixel, echoing the statement photographer Lisa Kristine delivered during her recent TEDx talk, which detailed her journey inside the realm of modern slavery.

The photos captured by Kristine, and on display in the video above, are not graphic, but they are gripping. A wrenching tale of people overlooked and abused. Kristine’s photographs describe the plight of people in India, Nepal, Congo, and others.

And it’s not just developing nations either. Even in the United States, says the BBC, slavery persists.

The sale of humans for sex or labour is still a massive problem in the country.

… The US is a leading destination for human trafficking, with an estimated 17,500 people brought to the country against their will.

As part of CNN‘s Freedom Project, the news agency describes the state-by-state policies set to combat human slavery, working from data collated by the Polaris Project.

South Carolina, West Virginia and Ohio were also rated ‘most improved’ for taking concrete steps to address human trafficking. Of those states, Massachusetts was singled out for particular praise as it is now also ranked in the top four states having the strongest legal framework.

Washington tops the list, with Minnesota third and Texas fourth.

…Meanwhile, Wyoming, Arkansas, Montana and South Dakota were included in the bottom tier, or as the report calls them – the Faltering Four – for what Polaris says was a minimal effort to enact human trafficking legislation.

Kristine hopes her photographs and talks will remind people that slavery is not a thing of the past. Stopping the slave trade is a global challenge, but it’s one that will liberate millions.

More from Smithsonian.com:
Born into Bondage
One Woman’s Journey to Save Child Slaves

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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