National Geographic : 2003 Sep
had been recovered, at which point she would be sold again and would begin to work off the purchase price paid by her new owner. Although slavery in its traditional form survives in many parts of the world, debt slavery of this kind, with variations, is the most common form of servitude today. According to Milorad Milakovic, such a system is perfectly aboveboard. "There is the problem of expense in bringing a girl here," he had explained to me. "The plane, transport, hotels along the way, as well as food. That girl must work to get that money back." In November 2000 the UN-sponsored Inter national Police Task Force (IPTF) raided Mila kovic's nightclub-brothels in Prijedor, liberating 34 young women who told stories of servitude similar to Victoria's. "We had to dance, drink a lot, and go to our rooms with anyone," said one. "We were eating once a day and sleeping five to six hours. If we would not do what we were told, guards would beat us." Following the IPTF raids, Milakovic complained to the press that the now liberated women had cost a lot of money to buy, that he would have to buy more, and that he wanted compensation. He also spoke openly about the cozy relations he had enjoyed with the IPTF peacekeepers, many of whom had been his customers. But there were no influential friends to pro tect him in May this year, when local police finally raided Sherwood Castle and arrested Milakovic for trafficking in humans and possessing slaves. We think of slavery as something that is over and done with, and our images of it tend to be grounded in the 19th century: black field hands in chains. "In those days slavery thrived on a shortage of person power," explains Mike Dottridge, former director of Anti-Slavery International, founded in 1839 to carry on the campaign that had already abolished slavery in the British Empire. The average slave in 1850, according to the research of slavery expert Kevin Bales, sold for around $40,000 in today's money. I visited Dottridge at the organization's head quarters in a small building in Stockwell, a non descript district in south London. "Back then," said Dottridge, "black people were kidnapped and forced to work as slaves. Today vulnerable people are lured into debt slavery in the expectation of a better life. There are so many of them because there are so many desperate people in the world." The offices are festooned with images of con temporary slavery-forced labor in West Africa, five- and six-year-old Pakistani children deliv ered to the Persian Gulf to serve as jockeys on racing camels, Thai child prostitutes. File cabi nets bulge with reports: Brazilian slave gangs hacking at the Amazon rain forest to make char coal for the steel industry, farm laborers in India bound to landlords by debt they have inherited from their parents and will pass on to their children. The buying and selling of people is a profit able business because, while globalization has made it easier to move goods and money around the world, people who want to move to where jobs are face ever more stringent restrictions on legal migration. Almost invariably those who cannot migrate legally or pay fees up front to be smuggled across borders end up in the hands of trafficking mafias. "Alien smuggling [bringing in illegal aliens who then find paying jobs] and human trafficking [where people end up enslaved or sold by the traffickers] operate exactly the same way, using the same routes," said a veteran field "Isitacrime to sell women? They sell footballers, don't they?" Milorad Milakovic, after his brothels inPrijedor were raided, complained that the now liberated women had cost alot of money to buy ... and that he wanted compensation.