No, the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t do the trick. Slavery is evidently alive and well.
The news is regularly filled with stories of people being coerced into slavery. They are domestic servants, farm and factory laborers, street beggers and prostitutes.
They all have something in common besides the obvious fact that they receive little or no remuneration for working around the clock, seven days a week. Often, they don’t get fed. Many are beaten, threatened and sexually abused.
And most are so frightened, confused and disoriented that they don’t even attempt to escape their masters.
Unlike the slaves of the old South who toiled openly in the fields and whose bondage was protected by law, today’s slaves are mostly invisibile to an apathetic public.
There are people being exploited as slaves in Westchester and other suburban enclaves, but we just don’t see them. Take the case of Joseph Yannai, a 65-year-old restaurant guide owner who was arrested last month for allegedly making a slave out of a 21-year-old Hungarian woman he hired as a personal assistant.
The woman’s alleged victimization followed a familiar pattern. She simply didn’t know what she was getting into when she was “hired.” Quickly, she discovered that her communication with the outside world would be severely limited. She was paid nothing and had no access to transportation.
Yannai was accused of using threats to coerce into giving him sexual favors.
Sadly, none of this is much of a surprise to Ron Soodalter, who, along with Kevin Bales, co-authored “The Slave Next Door,” a book (University of California Press) that examines human trafficking and slavery in modern America. It’s an eye-opener.
Soodalter will be my guest on my “High Noon” radio program, Thursday at 12 noon. That’s 1460 AM and wvox.com.