archive the scarred back of an enslaved man

Most Americans believe that slavery is a thing of the past, signed away by the 13th Amendment and, ultimately, The Emancipation Proclamation.

And it’s true. Legally we have come a long way, not just in America, but also around the world. The fact is: Slavery is not legal anywhere on the planet. No government on earth officially sanctions slavery. That’s obviously a good thing. The bad thing is that slavery still exists in almost every country… and the numbers are staggering.


As shocking as it sounds, there are more slaves today than at any time in human history. Dr. Kevin Bales, the world’s foremost authority on modern-day slavery (and our good friend and advisor) calculates that there are 45.8 million men, women and children enslaved today. Kevin says the reason is the lethal combination of:

  • Over-population
  • Poverty
  • Corruption

This makes human life cheaper than ever before where people in some of the poorest parts of the world have literally become “disposable.” Think of it this way: In 1860, a healthy male slave in the US would have cost $40,000 in today’s money. That same slave costs $90.00 today, and sometimes even less.*


  • Many governments refuse to enforce laws that already exist (or don’t have the time or money or people to enforce them)
  • Ignorance
  • Cultural bias
  • People don’t recognize slavery when they see it
  • People who are enslaved don’t know that they are being victimized and that their enslavement is illegal.


Some governments want to do good. They intend to do good. They even have good laws and programs. But things are not good.

The government of India, for instance, has some of the best anti-slavery laws in the world and some of the best government systems to help people come out of slavery, and yet there are an estimated 18.35 million Indian slaves today!

slaves in Nepal

In the northeast Indian province of Uttar Pradesh, entire villages are enslaved– men, women and children are literally controlled by another human being and held against their will, generation after generation. In many cases, these slaves don’t even understand that they are enslaved. They believe they “owe a debt” to the slaveholder, who may have given their great, great-grandfather money for medicine or a sewing machine or some other, more trivial, item. These villagers, who neither read nor write and have no idea about their legal rights, are easily manipulated into thinking they have no choice but to continue working for a landowner who never pays them and to whom they can never repay their so-called debt.  They are caught in this cycle of debt servitude because they are not educated.

VOICES4FREEDOM is working with front-line activists to free entire villages in northern India through education.  Our Program is called SCHOOLS4FREEDOM but more on that in a moment!

sunil slave india


OK, that’s the bad news. The great news is that there is no better time than now to make real lasting change, because:

  • No government officially sanctions slavery.
  • No major economic engine or business is dependent on slavery the way the cotton industry once was. (Yes, slavery exists in everything from cotton, to coffee to cocoa, cadmium, gold and more, but it is NOT an essential part of the product chain, and it tends to be part of smaller subsets of the business.)
  • There is no one in the civilized world that would dare advocate for slavery.
  • Consumers DO NOT want to buy slave-made products.


With a background in media and a lifelong passion for social justice issues, we want to use our time, energy and expertise to leverage the power of the media to shine a light on the problem of slavery. We want to inform, enlighten and inspire people to end slavery.  But it isn’t good enough for us just to spread the word about slavery– each of our programs is designed to get real, measurable help to people who are enslaved, enabling them to find a path to sustainable FREEDOM and help eradicate the conditions that cause slavery in the first place.


  • SCHOOLS4FREEDOM: We know that one of the best ways to get people out of slavery, keep them out, and to prevent others from ever being enslaved in the first place is through educational programs. Our SCHOOLS4FREEDOM project is a collaboration between VOICES4FREEDOM and some of the bravest, most knowledgeable grass-roots activists around the world. By bringing teachers into enslaved communities, we are able to help entire villages come to FREEDOM. And they stay free.
  • ENSLAVED: We created this immersive, interactive photography and art exhibit to capture the experience of a life lived in slavery and allowing the viewer to peek into the lives of those who are enslaved. What we see are two undeniable truths: the extreme brutality and the resilience of the human spirit.
  • THE FREEDOM PRIZES: We think of them as Nobel Prizes for heroes in the anti-slavery movement, except with great music and true change on the frontlines of slavery! You will meet slavery survivors, activists on the ground, international leaders and visionaries. Imagine meeting the Frederick Douglasses, Harriet Tubmans and Wilber Wilberforces of our time!
  • TELEVISION: We are developing a series of original programs for television and web distribution. The Freedom Prizes are geared to a international television audience and to stream live on the web. In addition we are creating documentary series that will showcase those who have been former slaves who are now working to bring others to sustainable and even joyful freedom. Because of our work in both television and the anti-slavery world we have skills, the trust of former slaves and the unique access to stories no one has ever told.

Celebrating ending slavery.


At VOICES4FREEDOM, we believe that everyone has a part to play in ending slavery. There are more than 120 anti-slavery organizations in the U.S. alone, each addressing a piece of the puzzle.

You  can do your part to end slavery-here are some ideas!


Together we can end slavery for the very first time in human history through acts big and small. It takes governments, businesses organizations, grass roots organizers, groups of friends, school kids, and you. Anyone, anywhere can be part of the solution. And, when the history of the modern-day abolition movement is written, it won’t be Abraham Lincoln who freed the slaves once and for all, it will be all of us!