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Expert on modern slavery to speak in Phoenix

January 06, 2009

The world’s leading expert on slavery will visit Arizona State University’s West campus on Jan. 20, for an event that is free and open to the public.

Kevin Bales, president of the international nonprofit organization Free the Slaves, will deliver a presentation entitled “End World Slavery Now,” at 12:00 p.m. in the La Sala ballroom of the University Center Building at 4701 W. Thunderbird Road. Bales’ appearance is sponsored by ASU’s Master of Arts in Social Justice and Human Rights (MASJHR) degree program and co-sponsored by The Light of Hope Foundation and ALERT (International Rescue Committee).

“Perhaps no single person has done more to end slavery in all its forms than Professor Bales,” says Michael Stancliff, assistant professor of rhetoric in ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. “His visit to the West campus will be a tremendous learning opportunity for MASJHR students, and we are excited to offer the public the opportunity to meet him as well.”

The Jan. 20 public lecture is part of a two-day visit to Phoenix by Bales, who also will serve as a guest lecturer in the “Contemporary Slavery and Human Trafficking” course that Stancliff is team-teaching with Frances Bernat, an associate professor of criminal justice. Bales also will meet with community leaders from the co-sponsoring organizations during his visit.

“It is a common misconception that slavery is a problem of the past,” says Bales, a professor emeritus of sociology at Roehampton University London. “The current number of people enslaved worldwide – 27 million – is larger than at any time in human history. The price to purchase a slave is lower today than it has ever been.”

While the problem is greatest in areas of Asia and Africa, slavery exists in the United States as well. The U.S. State Department estimates that at least 14,500 people annually are trafficked into the country and forced into slavery, on farms and in factories, in the sex industry, and as domestic servants.

Bales’ organization, Free the Slaves, works around the globe with governments, businesses, and grassroots organizations in an effort to eradicate slavery. His book Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and published in ten languages. Bales has served as a consultant to the United Nations Global Program on Human Trafficking and as an advisor to the U.S., British, Irish, Norwegian, and Nepali governments.

For more information about Bales’ visit to Phoenix, email or call (602) 543-6241.