Slavery: A 21st Century Evil

Food Chain Slaves

It is a nation built on the abolition of slavery, but there are at least 40,000 slaves in the US today.

The US has been leading the global fight against modern slavery, but, according to conservative estimates, there are between 40,000 and 50,000 slaves in the US today.

It was a great opportunity to be had in America. I'd hoped that I'd be able to build a better future for my family ... But I was hung out to dry and cannot get any justice.

by Thanit, a Thai farmer

So why is a nation built on the abolition of slavery – a country that had to go through a painful civil war to formally bring an end to slavery – failing to address the problem inside its own borders?

Al Jazeera investigates food chain slavery, which is considered the easiest form of slavery to stamp out, in the US.

The investigation begins in the poor villages of Thailand, where agents for the US slave masters trick desperate peasants with promises of well-paid jobs abroad.

But far from fulfilling their American dream, many end up in slave labour farms in Hawaii, California and Florida – unable to return home and working to pay off the debts they incurred in the pursuit of a better life for themselves and their families.

This film was first broadcast on Al Jazeera English in 2011.