An Advocate's Guide to Books

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Calling all bookworms! Yes, I am talking to you, the one with 5 books on your bedside table and even more on your “list” waiting to be read. Because you can never have enough good reading material, we have compiled a list of books that are not only great reads but will also help you understand and fight modern slavery more effectively. Whether it’s a  gift for that fellow freedom fighter in your life, or a treat-yourself purchase, these books are must-reads to add to your reading list.

Are you ready for it? (<-- Taylor Swift reference? Yes? No?)

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This book is a great starting point for anyone trying to understand the fundamental issues that make up modern slavery across the globe. International Justice Mission (IJM) Founder and CEO, Gary Haugen, unwraps the effect that poverty has on rape, forced labor, illegal detention, land theft, police abuse and other brutalities that make up modern slavery. He delves into the why behind this phenomenon and discovers an answer as equally horrifying as it is simple: no one is there to protect the poor from abuse.

Why you should read it: Without the knowledge and understanding of how statistics about modern slavery came to be, even the most well-intentioned advocate is at risk of minimizing the experiences of the individuals that make up those numbers. It is not just the amount of individuals that should strike a sense of urgency within advocates, but the dire situations of injustice that those individuals face. We cannot help restore their dignity without first understanding how they had it taken from them in the first place.


Survivors of Slavery relates almost 40 different stories from individuals in Cambodia, Lebanon, Ghana, Macedonia, Mexican, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine, and the United States. These stories expose how the exploitation that fuels modern slavery works across a wide variety of situations and countries throughout the world. Laura T Murphy also goes on to examine through these stories how slavery has persisted as a global institution throughout human history--and how it has grown into its most formidable forms today.

Why you should read it: It is no secret that words have the power to change us, and that books have the ability to create windows into the lives of other people we most likely will never meet. Books and the stories they contain can bring about empathy in a way that no other form of storytelling can. And that is why you should read this book and the stories from the individuals it relays. To fight this fight you need to have not just sympathy, but empathy, to understand what it will take to restore dignity, bring about true freedom, and end slavery for good.

I know what you’re thinking: wasn’t there already a blog post about this book? The answer is yes, but it was too good, too important, to leave off this list. Hidden in Plain Sight gives insight not only into what victims of modern slavery face in the United States and beyond, but the mindset behind their traffickers as well. Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco’s book stands out because of the first-hand accounts of traffickers and sex mongers that reveal, with horrifying honesty, the extent to which victims are being objectified and exploited. Fair warning: this is not a G-rated book.

Why you should read it: Rescuing enslaved persons is only half of the fight against modern slavery. If we are truly going to see a future one day where all are free, we have to know how to target the perpetrators of this crime as well. Reading this book would be a great place to start in increasing our knowledge of why these individuals are committing such unthinkable crimes.

Prostitution. The main event within sexual slavery. Janice G Raymond takes on the debate as to whether or not legalization would benefit or hurt people caught in sexual slavery via prostitution. After examining many myths that surround prostitution, Raymond finds that legalizing prostitution would only promote sex trafficking as an organized crime and leave victims without the resources to demand justice for the crimes committed against them.

Why you should read it: The legalization of prostitution is one of the most debated topics surrounding both women’s rights and anti-slavery advocates. The importance of this book, however, lies in Raymond’s exposition of the exploitative factors that hide behind prostitution and her findings on what individuals and governments can do to provide freedom to people trapped within such exploitation.



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About the Author

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Beth Woods is a lover of all things outdoors, animals, and random dance parties in the car. She lives in College Station, Texas where she is studying international relations and French at Texas A&M University and hopes to continue advocating against slavery for her career someday.