Life Interrupted: Trafficking into Forced Labor in the United States

Duke University Press
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DIVLife 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.

All royalties from this book will be donated to the nonprofit Survivor Leadership Training Fund administered through the Freedom Network.
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About the author

Denise Brennan is Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology at Georgetown University. She is the author of What's Love Got to Do with It? Transnational Desires and Sex Tourism in the Dominican Republic, also published by Duke University Press.


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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Feb 19, 2014
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780822376910
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / Human Rights
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
Social Science / Women's Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Trafficked children are portrayed by the media—and even by child welfare specialists—as hapless victims who are forced to migrate from a poor country to the United States, where they serve as sex slaves. But as Elzbieta M. Gozdziak reveals in Trafficked Children in the United States, the picture is far more complex.   Basing her observations on research with 140 children, most of them girls, from countries all over the globe, Gozdziak debunks many myths and uncovers the realities of the captivity, rescue, and rehabilitation of trafficked children. She shows, for instance, that none of the girls and boys portrayed in this book were kidnapped or physically forced to accompany their traffickers. In many instances, parents, or smugglers paid by family members, brought the girls to the U.S. Without exception, the girls and boys in this study believed they were coming to the States to find employment and in some cases educational opportunities.  Following them from the time they were trafficked to their years as young adults, Gozdziak gives the children a voice so they can offer their own perspective on rebuilding their lives—getting jobs, learning English, developing friendships, and finding love. Gozdziak looks too at how the children’s perspectives compare to the ideas of child welfare programs, noting that the children focus on survival techniques while the institutions focus, not helpfully, on vulnerability and pathology. Gozdziak concludes that the services provided by institutions are in effect a one-size-fits-all, trauma-based model, one that ignores the diversity of experience among trafficked children. 
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The book uses primary source material, including survivor stories, witness testimony, case law, and other materials to discuss the nature and scope of modern-day slavery, the grassroots movement to stop it, and U.S. leadership in the international arena. Examples of primary source material include the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (2005); remarks and statements from Presidents Bush, Clinton, and Obama on human trafficking and modern slavery; the United Nations' Office of Drugs and Crime report, A Global Report on Trafficking in Persons (2009); excerpts from the U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report, including harrowing victims stories from around the world (2013 and 2014); and excerpts from 2015 Senate hearings, including testimony from Holly Austin Smith, trafficking survivor, and from Malika Saada Saar, Human Rights Project for Girls.

#1 National Bestseller

From two of our most fiercely moral voices, a passionate call to arms against our era’s most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women and girls in the developing world.

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They show how a little help can transform the lives of women and girls abroad. That Cambodian girl eventually escaped from her brothel and, with assistance from an aid group, built a thriving retail business that supports her family. The Ethiopian woman had her injuries repaired and in time became a surgeon. A Zimbabwean mother of five, counseled to return to school, earned her doctorate and became an expert on AIDS.

Through these stories, Kristof and WuDunn help us see that the key to economic progress lies in unleashing women’s potential. They make clear how so many people have helped to do just that, and how we can each do our part. Throughout much of the world, the greatest unexploited economic resource is the female half of the population. Countries such as China have prospered precisely because they emancipated women and brought them into the formal economy. Unleashing that process globally is not only the right thing to do; it’s also the best strategy for fighting poverty.

Deeply felt, pragmatic, and inspirational, Half the Sky is essential reading for every global citizen.
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When we lift others up, they lift us up, too.

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In our interconnected world, self-interest and social-interest are rapidly becoming indistinguishable. If current negative trajectories remain, including growing climate destabilization, biodiversity loss, and economic inequality, an impending future of ecological collapse and societal destabilization will make “personal success” virtually meaningless. Yet our broken social system incentivizes behavior that will only make our problems worse. If true human rights progress is to be achieved today, it is time we dig deeper—rethinking the very foundation of our social system.

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Will you join the movement?
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