Here’s a startling statistic. According to a 2010 article in the Harvard Gazette, an estimated 12 million people around the world are enslaved in one form or another. To put that in perspective, that number totals the entire metropolitan area of Los Angeles. Out of those, over 1.3 million are engaged in prostitution within the world’s sex trade. A recent feature on CNN estimated that almost 1 in 7 people in the West African country of Mauritania live their lives in slavery. In fact, Mauritania didn’t even make slavery illegal till 2007.
Jodi Cobb, a former staff photographer for National Geographic has produced a number of articles for the magazine, including an article on 21st century slavery in 2004. She shared her stories and photographs on National Geographic Live and talked about child trafficking in West Africa and India, sex slavery, and the invisible world of slavery in wealthy societies: