Modern Slavery Prevalent in U.S., BYU Conference Told

Published on October 29, 2010 at 10:15AM

(PROVO)-Although vast strides have been made in alleviating slavery throughout the world, in the United States it is alive and well in various shapes and forms, Kevin Bales said in a human trafficking conference at Brigham Young University Thursday.

Bales, the president of the nonprofit Free the Slaves, said in modern times, slavery occurs more in recruiters showing up in villages around the world offering jobs.

Since many people are living in dire straits, despite the shady visage recruiters have, many people take a chance in order to give their families a better life.

Currently, what may be the largest U.S. human trafficking escapade in recorded history, involves Thais who were recruited by Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Global Horizons Inc. and eventually ended up working on hog and chicken farms in Utah.

As the Salt Lake Tribune reported, they mortgaged farms in Thailand to pay huge upfront fees to Global Horizon upon the guise from the company promising three years of high wages in the United States.

The Thais found that if they quit, they would lose their homes and farms and ultimately, were not paid at all after experiencing worsening conditions.

Roughly 60 Thais in Utah were able to attract help from Utah Legal Services and contacted officials concerning their plight.

Bales said some countries, including the U.S., don’t follow up well on workers brought into their boundaries, at least not poorer ones from developing countries.

Donna Hughes, a professor at the University of Rhode Island and international researcher of human trafficking, said many countries prosecute prostitutes but should drop charges against those who are human trafficking victims, while offering them compassion and help.