Slavery Inc.

The Untold Story of International Sex Trafficking

Lydia Cacho

Published: 6 September 2012
Trade Paperback, Royal PB
153x234mm, 320 pages
ISBN: 9781846274213

Other Editions


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Published: 5 September 2013
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 320 pages
ISBN: 9781846274220

Ebook Available

Translated by Elizabeth Boburg


Illegal, inhuman, and impervious to recession, there is one trade that continues to thrive, just out of sight. The international sex trade criss-crosses the entire globe, a sinister network made up of criminal masterminds, local handlers, corrupt policemen, wilfully blind politicians, eager consumers, and countless hapless women and children. In this ground-breaking work of investigative reporting, the celebrated journalist Lydia Cacho follows the trail of the traffickers and their victims from Mexico to Turkey, Thailand to Iraq, Georgia to the UK, to expose the trade's hidden links with the tourist industry, internet pornography, drugs and arms smuggling, the selling of body organs, money laundering, and even terrorism. This is an underground economy in which a sex slave can be bought for the price of a gun, but Cacho's powerful first-person interviews with mafiosi, pimps, prostitutes, and those who managed to escape from captivity makes it impossible to ignore the terrible human cost of this lucrative exchange. Shocking and sobering, Slavery Inc, is an exceptional book, both for the colossal scope of its enquiry, and for the tenacious bravery with which Cacho pursues the truth.

About the author

Image of Lydia Cacho

Lydia Cacho (born 1963) is a Mexican journalist, author and a feminist activist against violence. In 2000 Ms. Cacho founded and directed a high security shelter for battered and sexually exploited women and children in Cancun, Mexico. She was the first woman in Mexican history to take to trial an organized crime ring involved with child pornography, sexual tourism and trafficking of women. She filed a successful counter-suit for corruption and for violation of human rights. In this regard, Ms. Cacho was the first woman in Mexico to file a federal suit against a Governor, a District Attorney, and a judge for corruption and for attempted rape in prison. Ms. Cacho herself has been imprisoned for her work and has put her life on the line on behalf of women and children in Mexico. As a consequence of her unwavering defense of human rights and journalistic freedom, her own life has been repeatedly threatened. Despite these dangers, she continues to champion the advancement of human rights for all women and children because she believes that every single person deserves to live a life of dignity. With more than twenty years of experience as a workshop teacher and keynote speaker, Ms. Cacho has toured the globe with her inspirational conferences on peace education, freedom of expression, and ethical commitment to changing the world. She has spoken at the United Nations General Assembly, UNESCO, and the European Union. She was recently appointed by the UNODC and the Spanish Government as Ambassador for the Blue Heart Campaign against sex trafficking. Ms. Cacho has published seven books, one of them is the award-wining Manual to prevent, detect and heal child sexual abuse (Con mi hijo no). Currently, Ms. Cacho is a columnist with El Universal, the main daily newspaper in Mexico, and a workshop teacher on successful approaches to help trafficking victims and on Community Schools for Peace: a holistic approach to negotiate conflicts. Her new book, Slaves of power: a journey into sex trafficking around the world, will be released in many countries around the world during 2010-2012. A sampling of Ms. Cacho's awards include: Human Rights Watch Premio Nacional de Periodismo Ginetta Sagan Amnesty Award 2007; OXFAM award 2007; IWMF award; CNN Hero; UNESCO- Guillermo Cano freedom of expression award; The Wallemberg Medal; The Tucholsky Award; PEN Canada Award; UNANIMA World Press International Hero 2010 (for the International Press Institute in Vienna). More about the author


‘A woman of great strength and courage, who is deeply committed to ethical journalism and the advancement of human rights.’ Marianne Pearl



‘An extremely valuable contribution to knowledge and debate on this contentious human-rights and feminist issue’ Niamh Reilly

‘Cacho has brought to light information that was previously unavailable and she has exposed herself to enormous risk by informing against powerful businessmen and politicians.... The importance of her evidence has universal validity.’ Roberto Saviano, author of Gomorra

‘Cacho uncovers some of the most harrowing tales from kidnapped sex trafficking victims, those who save and protect them, as well as traffickers themselves’

‘Courageous... [Cacho has] risked her life in order to report the truth’ Lucy Popescu

‘Independent and critical journalism has become a high risk profession, but Lydia has spent seven years living under impending threats from the people in power that she has so bravely identified in her books... The work that Lydia Cacho does is as indispensable as the air we breathe’ English PEN

‘Lydia Cacho inspires, encourages, protects, empowers. She has modelled what investigative journalism should be for generations to come. She has attacked and shaken a Mexican elite who thought their power allowed them to act in all impunity. And she has stood for women's rights when many of us would have retreated. She does not. I suspect she never will. Lydia is never scared to uncover the truly ugly: that hatred which runs deep in all societies, that which rapes, abuses, maims and kills millions of girls and women. Her voice, modest for herself, is strident for others, the small, the forgotten, the victims. For that, she has faced violence, abuse, imprisonment and death. Her countless international awards for investigative journalism, human rights, anti-corruption, women's rights, and personal courage testify to Lydia's exceptional display of courage and determination.’ Agnes Callamard, Director, Article 19

‘Lydia Cacho is an extraordinarily brave writer who, despite having been subject to repeated attacks and threats, never fails to give a voice to those unable or unwilling to speak out for themselves. Whether victims of domestic violence, child prostitution, sex trafficking, organised crime, or corruption, or fellow journalists reluctant to publish their findings for fear of the possible repercussions, Cacho tells their stories with power and compassion. This willingness, or compulsion, to tackle the thorniest of issues, led to Cacho being named the winner of the PEN Pinter Prize for an International Writer of Courage in 2010. She is an inspirational journalist and campaigner who, in the words of Harold Pinter's Nobel Speech, certainly casts an "unflinching, unswerving" gaze, not only upon her native Mexico, but on the world.’ Gillian Slovo, President of English PEN


26/05/2017, 12:30


We welcome two of Mexico's finest journalists - Lydia Cacho and Anabel Hernández - to talk about their international campaigns to lay bare the shocking corruption and violence of their government. Cacho and Hernandez's determination to change the world's view of Mexico and heal the country's many sorrows draws strong parallels with Harriet Martineau, who wrote openly against discrimination, slavery and corruption in Britain and the US.
Norwich, UK, The Adnams Spiegeltent, Norwich

28/05/2017, 17:30

Lydia Cacho and Anabel Hernández talk to Gaby Wood

Veering between carnival and apocalypse, Mexico has in the past ten years become the epicentre of the international drug trade. The so-called war on drugs has been a brutal and chaotic failure: more than 160,000 lives have been lost. The drug cartels and the forces of law and order are often in collusion; corruption is everywhere. Life is cheap, and inconvenient people - the poor, the unlucky, the honest or the inquisitive - become the 'disappeared', leaving not a trace behind. In September 2015, more than 26,798 were officially registered as 'not located'. Yet people in all walks of life have refused to give up. Hernandez gives a chilling account of the 'disappearance'" of 43 students. Cacho describes what it's like to live every day as a journalist under threat of death.
Hay Festival, UK

27/05/2017, 11:00 - 12:00

Lydia Cacho and Anabel Hernández In Conversation

Over the last twelve years Mexico has become the epicentre of the international drug trade, and more than one hundred journalists have been killed or have disappeared while investigating corruption and criminality. There now are vast areas of the country from which no-one dares to report - and, without a free press, there can be no democracy. Renowned journalists Lydia Cacho and Anabel Hernández (pictured) lay bare the issues which afflict Mexico, exploring the depth and range of corruption and violence in the country.
Bristol, UK, Anchor Road, Harbourside, Bristol, BS1 5DB

26/05/2017, 19:00

The Sorrows of Mexico: Lydia Cacho and Anabel Hernandez in Conversation

Over the last twelve years, as Mexico has become the epicentre of the international drug trade, more than one hundred journalists, a generation of writers, has been killed or disappeared. And not a single culprit has been jailed. There are vast areas of the country where no-one now dares to report from - and without a free press, there can be no democracy. The Sorrows of Mexico is a collection of essays from the leading writer-journalists of Mexico, each one concentrating on a single issue among the many which afflict their country. So - in the words of Lydia Cacho, Anabel Hernández, Juan Villoro, Diego Enrique Osorno, Elena Poniatowska, Sergio González Rodríguez and Marcela Turati - this will be a crucial testimony and proof of the bravest voices in a country which needs this courage to denounce the depth and range of corruption and violence. The contribution of each writer consists of a new essay along with passages of previously untranslated text. We will be joined by two of the book's contributors, Anabel Hernandez and Lydia Cacho, who will discuss their experiences as female journalists working in one of the most hostile environments for human rights reporting. Speakers: Lydia Cacho is a Mexican journalist, author and a feminist activist against violence. Ms. Cacho herself has been imprisoned for her work and has put her life on the line on behalf of women and children in Mexico. As a consequence of her unwavering defense of human rights and journalistic freedom, her own life has been repeatedly threatened. Despite these dangers, she continues to champion the advancement of human rights. Anabel Hernández is one of the most important journalists in Mexico. She bravely confronted narcotic gangs and state corruption often at a great risk to herself and her family. She is the author of many books including Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and Their Godfathers; La IRA de Mexico: Siete Voces Contra La Impunidad and most recently La Verdadera Noche de Iguala: La Historia Que El Gobierno Quiso Ocultar, an investigation into the disappearance of students in Iguala.
London, UK, 13 Norfolk Place, London, W2 1QJ

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