Modern Slavery

A Documentary and Reference Guide

by Laura J. Lederer


Some experts believe that as many as 30 million people are trapped in slavery today, and that sex trafficking and other forms of slavery generate as much as $150 billion annually.

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Cover image for Modern Slavery

February 2018


Pages 366
Volumes 1
Size 8 1/2x11
Topics Current Events and Issues/International

This book provides a sobering look at modern-day slavery—which includes sex trafficking, domestic servitude, and other forms of forced labor—and documents the development of the modern-day anti-slavery movement, from early survivor voices to grassroots activism, to the passage of U.S. and international anti-slavery laws.

Slavery was formally abolished across most of the world by the end of the 19th century, but it continues to lurk in the shadows of the modern world. As with slavery of yesteryear, modern slavery hinges on the exploitation of vulnerable populations—and especially women and children. The result is the same as in bygone centuries, when slavery was practiced in the open: unimaginable misery for those exploited and financial gain for the exploiter.

Modern Slavery: A Documentary and Reference Guide is an invaluable resource for students, researchers, academics, policymakers, community leaders, and others who want to learn about modern-day slavery. Covering forms of modern slavery that include sex trafficking, labor trafficking, and domestic servitude, the book provides a complete examination of the modern-day anti-slavery movement. Its coverage includes historical antecedents, the various and sometimes opposing schools of thought about how to combat modern slavery, and the legislative processes that united them and resulted in a groundbreaking approach to combating human trafficking.

The book uses primary source material, including survivor stories, witness testimony, case law, and other materials to discuss the nature and scope of modern-day slavery, the grassroots movement to stop it, and U.S. leadership in the international arena. Examples of primary source material include the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (2005); remarks and statements from Presidents Bush, Clinton, and Obama on human trafficking and modern slavery; the United Nations' Office of Drugs and Crime report, A Global Report on Trafficking in Persons (2009); excerpts from the U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report, including harrowing victims stories from around the world (2013 and 2014); and excerpts from 2015 Senate hearings, including testimony from Holly Austin Smith, trafficking survivor, and from Malika Saada Saar, Human Rights Project for Girls.


  • Presents an accurate and comprehensive account of the size and scope of modern slavery in the United States and around the world
  • Uses primary source materials to illuminate efforts by human rights organizations, lawmakers, and slavery survivors to combat human trafficking and rescue millions of men, women, and children from lives of backbreaking labor, forced prostitution, and other forms of enslavement
  • Illustrates how early survivor voices catalyzed the new abolitionist movement—that the brave actions of a few have benefited thousands of victims of human trafficking
Series Description

Documentary and Reference Guides

What does the U.S. Constitution really say about the right to bear arms? The controversy surrounding this single issue illustrates how important documents are to understanding history--and how they can be open to interpretation. How can students best understand the impact and nuances of the documents that frame America's story?

Expertly chosen primary source documents, analytical commentary, and comprehensive study resources present Americans grappling directly with complex social and political issues in ways that have had a deep and lasting impact on contemporary society.

Students often are unaware that hotly contested public debates have deep historical roots. Intended to allow readers to engage with history and discover the development of controversial social and political issues over time, the Documentary and Reference Guides series introduces such issues through carefully chosen primary source documents.

The documents analyzed in these volumes encourage critical thinking, offering fresh perspectives as they sweep away preconceptions and restore immediacy to debates that may have become stale. They encourage students to explore for themselves how important issues came to be framed as they are and to consider how contemporary discussion might advance beyond the assumptions and hardened positions of the past.


  •  Offers primary source documents--well known and less so--that are most important for understanding a given issue, selected and analyzed by subject-area specialists
  •  Presents document headnotes, text, and analysis in a consistent manner, making the book easy for readers to navigate
  •  Steers students and general readers to the most useful and reliable sources for further information, whether print, electronic, multimedia, or institutional resources


  •  50-100 primary source documents, topically and chronologically organized, including excerpts from legislation, U.S. Supreme Court decisions, manifestos, broadcast statements, controversial writings such as Thomas Paine's pamphlets and excerpts from the Federalist Papers, and personal writings, such as letters
  •  15-25 photographs
  •  Accessible analysis sections and lively sidebars illuminating documents that are crucial to the subject, but relatively legalistic or technical
  •  A Reader's Guide to the Documents and Sidebars, organized by subject, to enable readers to pursue particular lines of inquiry through more than one chapter
  •  A comprehensive, annotated, general resources section supporting student research needs
Author Info

Laura J. Lederer, JD, is president of Global Centurion, a nonprofit organization fighting trafficking by focusing on demand. She serves as Subject Matter Expert on Human Trafficking to the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She is the former Senior Advisor on Trafficking in Persons at the U.S. Department of State in the Office of Democracy and Global Affairs (2001–2009). She has received numerous awards, including the University of Michigan's College of Literature, Science, and the Arts Humanitarian Service Award in 2009, for her work to stop human trafficking. The award is the College's "greatest living alumni honor" and is given "to recognize noble character and citizenship and to celebrate service to humanity." She has written on the health consequences of human trafficking, the link between street gangs and sex trafficking, and other specialized and sector-specific issues related to modern-day slavery.



"This is essential to every public or academic library covering current issues, civil rights, human rights, and history."—ARBAonline

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