Currently more than 27 million people are enslaved.

Slavery may be illegal today in every country, but it exists and is actually growing rapidly throughout the world. But unlike the slaves of the past, the new slaves are not seen as long-term investments. Instead, slaveholders view them as cheap, requiring little care, and in the end, disposable. But one thing remains the same: violence. People are still taken by force and held against their will through fear. Take a look at the economic and social forces that sustain slavery, from the corruption of local governments to the complicity of multinational corporations. See just who benefits from the incredible profits of the new slavery -- and how we all lose, in the end. See how the lives of these slaves are bound by our own through our purchase of slave-made products or mutual funds that invest in companies using slave labor. Learn how individuals and governments can combat slavery; take on successful antislavery actions encouraged by international and local organizations. Have mercy: Do something.

We WILL be next, Coppertop.

This piece is excerpted from Kevin Bales' new book, Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. I sincerely urge you to do much more than read it: share these ideas with others and take concrete action through the conscious choices you make.

Five Things You Can Do to Stop Slavery