Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • You know for me, the interest in contemporary forms of slavery

  • started with a leaflet that I picked up in London.

  • It was the early '90s,

  • and I was at a public event.

  • I saw this leaflet and it said,

  • "There are millions of slaves in the world today."

  • And I thought, "No way, no way."

  • And I'm going to admit to hubris.

  • Because I also, I'm going to admit to you,

  • I also thought, "How can I be like

  • a hot-shot young full professor

  • who teaches human rights and not know this?

  • So it can't be true."

  • Well, if you teach, if you worship

  • in the temple of learning,

  • do not mock the gods,

  • because they will take you,

  • fill you with curiosity and desire,

  • and drive you. Drive you with a passion

  • to change things.

  • I went out and did a lit review,

  • 3,000 articles on the key word "slavery."

  • Two turned out to be about contemporary -- only two.

  • All the rest were historical.

  • They were press pieces and they were full of outrage,

  • they were full of speculation, they were anecdotal --

  • no solid information.

  • So, I began to do a research project of my own.

  • I went to five countries around the world.

  • I looked at slaves. I met slaveholders,

  • and I looked very deeply

  • into slave-based businesses

  • because this is an economic crime.

  • People do not enslave people to be mean to them.

  • They do it to make a profit.

  • And I've got to tell you, what I found out in the world

  • in four different continents,

  • was depressingly familiar.

  • Like this:

  • Agricultural workers in Africa,

  • whipped and beaten,

  • showing us how they were beaten in the fields

  • before they escaped from slavery

  • and met up with our film crew.

  • It was mind-blowing.

  • And I want to be very clear.

  • I'm talking about real slavery.

  • This is not about lousy marriages,

  • this is not about jobs that suck.

  • This is about people who can not walk away,

  • people who are forced to work without pay,

  • people who are operating 24/7

  • under a threat of violence

  • and have no pay.

  • It's real slavery in exactly the same way

  • that slavery would be recognized

  • throughout all of human history.

  • Now, where is it?

  • Well, this map in the sort of redder, yellower colors

  • are the places with the highest densities of slavery.

  • But in fact that kind of bluey color

  • are the countries where we can't find any cases of slavery.

  • And you might notice that it's only Iceland and Greenland

  • where we can't find any cases of enslavement

  • around the world.

  • We're also particularly interested

  • and looking very carefully

  • at places where

  • slaves are being used to perpetrate

  • extreme environmental destruction.

  • Around the world, slaves are used to destroy the environment,

  • cutting down trees in the Amazon; destroying

  • forest areas in West Africa;

  • mining and spreading mercury around

  • in places like Ghana and the Congo;

  • destroying the coastal ecosystems in South Asia.

  • It's a pretty harrowing linkage

  • between what's happening to our environment

  • and what's happening to our human rights.

  • Now, how on Earth did we get to a situation like this,

  • where we have 27 million people

  • in slavery in the year 2010?

  • That's double the number that came out of Africa

  • in the entire transatlantic slave trade.

  • Well, it builds up with these factors.

  • They are not causal, they are actually supporting factors.

  • One we all know about, the population explosion:

  • the world goes from two billion people to almost

  • seven billion people in the last 50 years.

  • Being numerous does not make you a slave.

  • Add in the increased vulnerability of very large numbers of people

  • in the developing world,

  • caused by civil wars, ethnic conflicts,

  • kleptocratic governments, disease ... you name it, you know it.

  • We understand how that works. In some countries

  • all of those things happen at once,

  • like Sierra Leone a few years ago,

  • and push enormous parts ... about a billion people in the world, in fact,

  • as we know, live on the edge,

  • live in situations where

  • they don't have any opportunity and are usually even destitute.

  • But that doesn't make you a slave either.

  • What it takes to turn a person who is destitute and vulnerable

  • into a slave, is the absence of the rule of law.

  • If the rule of law is sound, it protects

  • the poor and it protects the vulnerable.

  • But if corruption creeps in

  • and people don't have the opportunity

  • to have that protection of the rule of law,

  • then if you can use violence,

  • if you can use violence with impunity,

  • you can reach out and harvest the vulnerable

  • into slavery.

  • Well, that is precisely what has happened around the world.

  • Though, for a lot of people,

  • the people who step

  • into slavery today

  • don't usually get kidnapped or knocked over the head.

  • They come into slavery because

  • someone has asked them this question.

  • All around the world I've been told an almost identical story.

  • People say, "I was home,

  • someone came into our village,

  • they stood up in the back of a truck, they said, 'I've got jobs,

  • who needs a job?'"

  • And they did exactly what

  • you or I would do in the same situation.

  • They said, "That guy looked sketchy. I was suspicious,

  • but my children were hungry.

  • We needed medicine.

  • I knew I had to do anything I could

  • to earn some money to support the people I care about."

  • They climb into the back of the truck. They go off with the person who recruits them.

  • Ten miles, 100 miles, 1,000 miles later,

  • they find themselves in dirty, dangerous, demeaning work.

  • They take it for a little while,

  • but when they try to leave, bang!, the hammer comes down,

  • and they discover they're enslaved.

  • Now, that kind of slavery

  • is, again, pretty much what slavery has been all through human history.

  • But there is one thing that is particularly remarkable

  • and novel about slavery today,

  • and that is a complete collapse

  • in the price of human beings --

  • expensive in the past, dirt cheap now.

  • Even the business programs have started

  • picking up on this.

  • I just want to share a little clip for you.

  • Daphne: OK. Llively discussion guaranteed here, as always,

  • as we get macro and talk commodities.

  • Continuing here in the studio with our guest Michael O'Donohue,

  • head of commodities at Four Continents Capital Management.

  • And we're also joined by Brent Lawson

  • from Lawson Frisk Securities.

  • Brent Lawson: Happy to be here.

  • D: Good to have you with us, Brent.

  • Now, gentlemen ... Brent, where is your money going this year?

  • BL: Well Daphne, we've been going short on gas and oil recently

  • and casting our net just a little bit wider.

  • We really like the human being story a lot.

  • If you look at a long-term chart,

  • prices are at historical lows and yet global demand

  • for forced labor is still real strong.

  • So, that's a scenario that we think we should be capitalizing on.

  • D: Michael, what's your take on the people story? Are you interested?

  • Michael O'Donoghue: Oh definitely. Non-voluntary labor's greatest advantage

  • as an asset is the endless supply.

  • We're not about to run out of people. No other commodity has that.

  • BL: Daphne, if I may draw your attention to one thing.

  • That is that private equity has been sniffing around,

  • and that tells me that this market is about to explode.

  • Africans and Indians, as usual,

  • South Americans, and Eastern Europeans in particular

  • are on our buy list.

  • D: Interesting. Micheal, bottom line, what do you recommend?

  • MO: We're recommending to our clients

  • a buy and hold strategy.

  • There's no need to play the market.

  • There's a lot of vulnerable people out there. It's very exciting.

  • D: Exciting stuff indeed. Gentlemen, thank you very much.

  • Kevin Bales: Okay, you figured it out. That's a spoof.

  • Though I enjoyed watching

  • your jaws drop, drop, drop, until you got it.

  • MTV Europe worked with us and made that spoof,

  • and they've been slipping it in between music videos

  • without any introduction, which I think is kind of fun.

  • Here's the reality.

  • The price of human beings across the last 4,000 years

  • in today's money has averaged about 40,000 dollars.

  • Capital purchase items.

  • You can see that the lines cross when the population explodes.

  • The average price of a human being today,

  • around the world, is about 90 dollars.

  • They are more expensive in places like North America.

  • Slaves cost between 3,000 to 8,000 dollars in North America,

  • but I could take you places in India or Nepal

  • where human beings can be acquired for five or 10 dollars.

  • They key here is that

  • people have ceased to be that capital purchase item

  • and become like Styrofoam cups.

  • You buy them cheaply, you use them,

  • you crumple them up, and then when you're done

  • with them you just throw them away.

  • These young boys are in Nepal.

  • They are basically the transport system

  • on a quarry run by a slaveholder.

  • There are no roads there, so they carry loads of stone

  • on their backs, often of their own weight,

  • up and down the Himalaya Mountains.

  • One of their mothers said to us,

  • "You know, we can't survive here,

  • but we can't even seem to die either."

  • It's a horrible situation.

  • And if there is anything that makes me feel very positive about this,

  • it's that there are also --

  • in addition to young men like this who are still enslaved --

  • there are ex-slaves who are now working to free others.

  • Or, we say, Frederick Douglass is in the house.

  • I don't know if you've ever had a daydream

  • about, "Wow. What would it be like to meet Harriet Tubman?

  • What would it be like to meet Frederick Douglass?"

  • I've got to say, one of the most exciting parts about my job

  • is that I get to,

  • and I want to introduce you to one of those.

  • His name is James Kofi Annan. He was a slave child in Ghana

  • enslaved in the fishing industry,

  • and he now, after escape and building a new life,

  • has formed an organization that we work closely with

  • to go back and get people out of slavery.

  • This is not James, this is one of the kids that he works with.

  • James Kofi Annan (Video): He was hit with a paddle

  • in the head. And this reminds me

  • of my childhood when I used to work here.

  • KB: James and our country director in Ghana,

  • Emmanuel Otoo are now receiving regular death threats

  • because the two of them managed to get

  • convictions and imprisonment for three human traffickers

  • for the very first time in Ghana

  • for enslaving people, from the fishing industry,

  • for enslaving children.

  • Now, everything I've been telling you,

  • I admit, is pretty disheartening.

  • But there is actually a very positive side to this,

  • and that is this: The 27 million people

  • who are in slavery today,

  • that's a lot of people, but it's also

  • the smallest fraction

  • of the global population to ever be in slavery.

  • And likewise, the 40 billion dollars that they generate

  • into the global economy each year

  • is the tiniest proportion of the global economy

  • to ever be represented by slave labor.

  • Slavery, illegal in every country

  • has been pushed to the edges of our global society.

  • And in a way, without us even noticing,

  • has ended up standing on the precipice