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  Field Notes From
21st-Century Slaves

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21st-Century Slaves On AssignmentArrows

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From Author

Andrew Cockburn

21st-Century Slaves On Assignment

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From Photographer

Jodi Cobb

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Mark Thiessen


21st-Century Slaves

Field Notes From Author
Andrew Cockburn
Best Worst Quirkiest
    I met many incredibly brave people committed to helping victims of the slave trade. In Bosnia a woman named Mara Radovanovic publicly offers to harbor any woman who wants to escape the brothels, even though she has received vicious death threats from slave owners. One day she told me, very matter-of-factly, that one of them was probably going to kill her. But the fear wasn't enough to make her stop doing what she thought was right. 
    In Florida I met a group of farm workers, including many former slaves, who are trying to improve the barbaric work conditions of migrant farm laborers. They call themselves the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. It felt good to see that there are people who have escaped slavery and are now trying to empower others. 

    While I was in Costa Rica, I met some very young kids and listened to them talk about their horrible trafficking experiences in the sex industry. Young girls are enslaved in areas like San Jose's Gringo Gulch, where a lot of American sex tourists go for a "good time."
    I heard hundreds of stories like this during my assignment, and just when I thought I heard the worst one, it wasn't long before something else topped it. Sometimes I just wanted to throw up. 

    During my investigation I went to Prijedor to visit Bosnia's most notorious slave trafficker, Milorad Milakovic. He's got a strange fixation with medieval England, and he actually calls his headquarters Sherwood Castle. It comes complete with battlements and a well-guarded entrance. It throws off his castle theme, but a private zoo houses a trio of sleek Siberian tigers. Milorad is definitely a quirky guy and, last I heard, he had been arrested for trafficking.

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