Read More, Learn More – December 2012 Book List

Bonded Labor: Tackling the System of Slavery in South Asia by Siddharta Kara (Columbia University Press, 2012)

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.

About the Author: Siddharth Kara is an author, activist and one of the world’s foremost experts on modern day slavery and human trafficking. He is the first Fellow on Human Trafficking with the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a Visiting Scientist on Forced Labor at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Runaway Girl: Escaping Life on the Streets, One Helping Hand at a Time by Carissa Phelps (Viking Adult, 2012)

Carissa Phelps was a runner. By twelve, she had run away from home, dropped out of school, and fled blindly into the arms of a brutal pimp, who made her walk the hard streets of central California. But even when she escaped him, she could not outrun the crushing inner pain of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. With little to hope for, she expected to end up in prison, or worse.

But then her life was transformed through the unexpected kindness of a teacher and a counselor. Miraculously, by the time Carissa turned thirty, she had accomplished the unimaginable, graduating from UCLA with both a law degree and an MBA. She had left the streets behind, yet her path would eventually draw her back, this time working to help homeless and at-risk youth find their own paths to a better life.

This is Carissa’s story, the tale of a girl who lost herself and survived, against all odds, through the generosity of strangers. It is an inspiring true story about finding the courage to run toward healing and summoning the strength to light the way for others.

About the Author: An attorney, motivational speaker, and youth advocate, Carissa Phelps works as part of a global collective to help local and international survivors of sex trafficking rebuild their lives. Her life story was the subject of the award-winning documentary “Carissa.” She lives in San Luis Obispo, California.

Restavec: From Haitian Slave to Middle Class American by Jean-Robert Cadet and Cynthia Nassano Cadet (University of Texas Press, 1998)

African slaves in Haiti emancipated themselves from French rule in 1804 and created the first independent black republic in the Western Hemisphere. But they reinstituted slavery for the most vulnerable members of Haitian society–the children of the poor–by using them as unpaid servants to the wealthy. These children were–and still are–restavecs, a French term whose literal meaning of “staying with” disguises the unremitting labor, abuse, and denial of education that characterizes the children’s lives.

In this memoir, Jean-Robert Cadet recounts the harrowing story of his youth as a restavec, as well as his inspiring climb to middle-class American life. He vividly describes what it was like to be an unwanted illegitimate child “staying with” a well-to-do family whose physical and emotional abuse was sanctioned by Haitian society. He also details his subsequent life in the United States, where, despite American racism, he put himself through college and found success in the Army, in business, and finally in teaching.

My Stone of Hope: From Haitian Slave Child to Abolitionist by Jean-Robert Cadet (University of Texas Press, 2011)

There are 27 million slaves living in the world today–more than at any time in history. Three hundred thousand of them are impoverished children in Haiti, who “stay with” families as unpaid and uneducated domestic workers, subject to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. This practice, known locally as restavek (“staying with”), is so widespread that one in ten Haitian children is caught up in this form of slavery.

Jean-Robert Cadet was a restavek in Haiti from the late 1950s until the early 1970s. He told the harrowing story of his youth in Restavec: From Haitian Slave Child to Middle-Class American–a landmark book that exposed ongoing child slavery in Haiti. Now in My Stone of Hope, Cadet continues his story from his early attempts to adjust to freedom in American society to his current life mission of eliminating child slavery through advocacy and education. As he recounts his own struggles to surmount the psychological wounds of slavery, Cadet puts a human face on the suffering that hundreds of thousands of Haitians still endure daily. He also builds a convincing case that child slavery is not just one among many problems that Haiti faces as the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation. Rather, he argues that the systematic abuse of so many of its children is Haiti’s fundamental problem, because it creates damaged adults who seem incapable of governing the country justly or managing its economy productively.

For everyone concerned about the fate of Haiti, the welfare of children, and the freedom of people around the globe, My Stone of Hope sounds an irresistible call to action.

About the Author: Jean-Robert Cadet is an advocate for children enslaved in the Haitian Restavek system (spelled restavec in French) and the founder of Jean R. Cadet Foundation, based in the United States. He is an author, husband, father and onetime member of the UN Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery. He has collaborated on several documentaries and has testified before the United Nations and the U.S. Congress regarding his experience as a survivor of slavery.

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