It is always a good time to start a new book. Reading improves memory and empathy and books are important gateways to learning something unfamiliar. Books can also provide intimate accounts of harrowing experiences such as human trafficking. In 2016, an estimated 24.9 million people were subject to forced labor. Of these people, “16 million were in the private economy, another 4.8 million were in forced sexual exploitation and 4.1 million were in forced labor imposed by state authorities.” Several nonfiction books about human trafficking aim to bring global awareness to the issue.
“A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier” (2007)
This memoir recounts Ishmael Beah’s time as a child soldier during the civil war in Sierra Leone. After the destruction of his village, 12-year-old Beah flees and wanders the war-devastated land. Later, the military captures Beah. At the age of 13, the military forces him to become a child soldier. Beah was eventually released by the military and rehabilitated by UNICEF. His story discusses the horrific effects of war from the eyes and mind of a child. It also explores the difficulties of adjusting to a normal life after being freed from a forced life in the military.
“I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced” (2009)
In 2008, at the age of 10, Nujood Ali was forced to marry a man three times older than her. After enduring months of abuse, she planned her escape. Through local advocacy and support from the press, Ali was able to gain her freedom. Ali became the first child bride in Yemen to be granted a divorce. The memoir recounts the end of her childhood in a tale of survival, persistence and female empowerment.
“Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery” (2009)
In this book, Siddharth Kara uses an economic lens to understand the world of human trafficking. Kara “initially encountered the horrors of slavery in a Bosnian refugee camp in 1995.” After, he traveled to several countries across four continents to investigate and uncover the horrors of human trafficking. The book recounts more than 400 stories from both victims and traffickers. Using his history in business, economics and law, Kara breaks down the business of sex trafficking, the most devastating form of slavery today. In contrast to other books about human trafficking, Kara utilizes a technical analysis to educate the reader and offer an explanation as to why and how human trafficking is still happening in the modern world.
“The Natashas: Inside the New Global Sex Trade” (2003)
In this exposé, Victor Malarek goes inside the world of sex trafficking in Israel where women and girls from across the Eastern Bloc are lured into a life of prostitution with false promises of better jobs and better lives. Instead, the women are forced into prostitution, stripped of their identities and given the name Natasha. Oftentimes, their abusers are the same people meant to protect them. Malarek offers a damning account about the horrors of the sex trade and the corrupt systems keeping these women imprisoned.
“God in a Brothel: An Undercover Journey into Sex Trafficking and Rescue” (2011)
This nonfiction story describes Daniel Walker’s investigation into the global sex industry. He writes the tales of rescuers from inside trafficking rings. The book discusses the terrifying stories of those who were saved from sex trafficking, the torment they experienced and their return to society. It also tells the heartbreaking tale of those who continue living in these circumstances. In this book, Walker gives the reader an extremely close and personal look inside the world of sex trafficking.
In order to bring awareness to a global issue, it is important to remain educated and empathetic. These books about human trafficking shed light on modern-day slavery so that more can be done to address it.
– Claire Olmstead