Last month, we talked about types of human trafficking, modern slavery, and vulnerable populations. While we continue to debunk false narratives of human trafficking, today I am sharing some resources to continue learning and growing, so I am sharing some books, organizations, and articles.
Often when talking about human trafficking survivors, we are not talking about one set of people. These individuals who have been trafficked have a range of experiences, and often the things that bind them to their traffickers are not physical chains but emotional and physical trauma. I have read most of the books I am recommending below. You can get any of these from your local library, or at least I did. I have noted which books are Fiction and NonFiction, I realize that it is not fun to read about human trafficking but the stories told help to humanize and show the messiness of those who we like to put into a clean box. I also recognize that I prefer reading nonfiction, reality is in many ways much stranger than fiction.
White Devil’s Daughters by Julia Flynn Siler – Non Fiction
During the first hundred years of Chinese immigration–from 1848 to 1943–San Francisco was home to a shockingly extensive underground slave trade in Asian women, who were exploited as prostitutes and indentured servants. In this gripping, necessary book, bestselling author Julia Flynn Siler shines a light on this little-known chapter in our history–and gives us a vivid portrait of the safe house to which enslaved women escaped. The Occidental Mission Home, situated on the edge of Chinatown, served as a gateway to freedom for thousands. Run by a courageous group of female Christian abolitionists, it survived earthquakes, fire, bubonic plague, and violent attacks. We meet Dolly Cameron, who ran the home from 1899 to 1934, and Tien Fuh Wu, who arrived at the house as a young child after her abuse as a household slave drew the attention of authorities. Wu would grow up to become Cameron’s translator, deputy director, and steadfast friend. Siler shows how Dolly and her colleagues defied convention and even law–physically rescuing young girls from brothels, snatching them from their smugglers–and how they helped bring the exploiters to justice. Riveting and revelatory, The White Devil’s Daughters is a timely, extraordinary account of oppression, resistance, and hope.
A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah – Non Fiction
The devastating story of war through the eyes of a child soldier. Beah tells how, at the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he’d been picked up by the government army, and became a soldier.
This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them.
What is war like through the eyes of a child soldier? How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this hell and survived.
In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now twenty-five years old, tells a riveting story: how at the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he’d been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts.
This is a rare and mesmerizing account, told with real literary force and heartbreaking honesty. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeYu7jsak-Q https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJPvPZwUSKY
Sold by Patricia McCormick – Young Adult Fiction
Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut in the mountains of Nepal. Her family is desperately poor, but her life is full of simple pleasures, like raising her black-and-white speckled goat, and having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. But when the harsh Himalayan monsoons wash away all that remains of the family’s crops, Lakshmi’s stepfather says she must leave home and take a job to support her family.
He introduces her to a glamorous stranger who tells her she will find her a job as a maid working for a wealthy woman in the city. Glad to be able to help, Lakshmi undertakes the long journey to India and arrives at “Happiness House” full of hope. But she soon learns the unthinkable truth: she has been sold into prostitution.
Lakshmi’s life becomes a nightmare from which she cannot escape. Still, she lives by her mother’s words – “Simply to endure is to triumph” – and gradually, she forms friendships with the other girls that enable her to survive in this terrifying new world. Then the day comes when she must make a decision – will she risk everything for a chance to reclaim her life? Written in spare and evocative vignettes, this powerful novel renders a world that is as unimaginable as it is real, and a girl who not only survives but triumphs.
Life Interrupted by Denise Brennan – Non Fiction
Life Interrupted introduces us to survivors of human trafficking who are struggling to get by and make homes for themselves in the United States. Having spent nearly a decade following the lives of formerly trafficked men and women, Denise Brennan recounts in close detail their flight from their abusers and their courageous efforts to rebuild their lives. At once scholarly and accessible, her book links these firsthand accounts to global economic inequities and under-regulated and unprotected workplaces that routinely exploit migrant laborers in the United States. Brennan contends that today’s punitive immigration policies undermine efforts to fight trafficking. While many believe trafficking happens only in the sex trade, Brennan shows that across low-wage labor sectors—in fields, in factories, and on construction sites—widespread exploitation can lead to and conceal forced labor. Life Interrupted is a riveting account of life in and after trafficking and a forceful call for meaningful immigration and labor reform.
Below is an active on-going list of organizations in the US and abroad fighting human trafficking including forced labor, sex trafficking, forced marriage, child soldiers, and debt bondage.
- IJM – South Asia
- THORN – USA
- BEST – USA
- Truckers against Trafficking – USA
- Holistic Aftercare
- A21 – Bulgaria
- CAST – Southern California
- Love146 – USA
- Restore – NYC
- Saving Innocence – Los Angeles
- Pathfinders – Milwaukee, WI
- McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center – Syracuse, NY
- Olive Crest – Washington & California
- Youth Spark – Atlanta, GA
- Anti-Slavery International
- The Freedom Story – Northern Thailand
Polaris Project USA
International Labor Organization
Human Rights Watch
End Slavery Now
Prevent Forced Marriage