In doing more research, I have come to realize that there are many, many, many types of slavery going on today. For example, in Disposable People, Bales examines several different types, from traditional labor exploitation as in the case of workers at Pakistani kilns and Brazilian charcoal camps, to the “old-style” slavery in Mauritania, to forced sexual exploitation. Each category has a different set of costs, benefits, risks, and challenges associated with it, and thus one thing that is very apparent to me at this stage is that each of these different types of human bondage requires a different business model to support it.
This leads me to draw the conclusion that my research on the business processes of human trafficking may have to focus on a single type of slavery. This is a tough decision; it is difficult to compare different types of forced work from a human level; viewed through this lens, they are all tragic to say the least. But in my opinion, the most destructive form of forced work today is sexual slavery. Morally, this is one of the most terrible phenomena one can possibly think of. It is incredibly damaging to societal structures both modern and traditional, displacing large numbers of women, many of whom will not be accepted by their families or communities if they can ever manage to return to their homes. According to the United Nations, sex trafficking has been linked with the growth of the AIDS epidemic, at least in South Asia.
No matter what topic I end up going with, one of my research goals is to posit ideas for combating human trafficking from a business perspective. Some of my initial ideas in this regard may be better suited for the sex trafficking industry than others. For example in many countries slaves contribute to industries that make up a major percentage of national GDP. I believe that successful intervention in many of these cases would involve reorganizing major economic sectors and possibly entire national economies, as would surely be the case in Mauritania. This is simply too broad a research topic.
It is for these basic reasons that I’m considering focusing my research on the business processes of sex trafficking/slavery, though I haven’t completely decided yet.