Books & Films to Learn about Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery

Vol.4 “Underground Life of High School Girls: Girls Living in Relationship Poverty” (tentative English title)

Unfortunately for English readers this book is published only in Japanese, but it’s imperative to introduce it.  Ms. Nito is director of the NGO Colabo which supports high school girls who wander about cities, having lost their connection to others (family, friends and/or schools). 

In this book you will find girls getting caught in a so-called false safety net and easily being exploited in the JK (joshikosei=high school girls) industry.  One of the services called “JK osampo”, walking with a high school girl, has been identified as a typical trafficking case in the Trafficking in Persons Report in 2014 by US Department of State. 

From this book you can learn about the actual condition of trafficking happening today right in front of our eyes. (Nozomi Kuriyama)

(Written by Yumeno Nito, Published in 2014 by Kobunsha (Shinsho), 264p, 760yen+tax,

Vol. 3 “Born Into Brothels: Calcutta’s Red Light Kids” (Film)

This documentary follows in the steps of professional New York-based photographer Zana Briski who travels to Kolkata, India (Calcutta) to photograph women in red-light districts. While there, she befriended the children of sex workers and gave them cameras. The children were given cameras so they could learn photography and possibly improve their lives. The documentary presents the children’s perspective and highlights their experiences growing up in the red light district, highlighting how many of the children are destined to become sex workers themselves. 

The non-profit organisation Kids With Cameras (as of January 2011, this non-profit organisation merged with a new non-profit, Kids With Destiny, which continues operation in India as of Dec. 2013) helped produce this film and coordinate these efforts.

Though this documentary does not address human trafficking directly, it serves as a wake-up call for the conditions that trafficked individuals live in and opens our eyes to a new issue: What happens to those whom have been affected by trafficking indirectly? (Sonny S.)

(Directed by Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman, released in 2004, 85 minutes. Available at Amazon Prime Video:

Vol.2 “30 Ways to Protect Child Rights Around the World: Leave No One Behind!”

Vol.2 “30 Ways to Protect Child Rights Around the World: Leave No One Behind!”
(tentative English title)

*This book is not available in English.

This book was published in October 2019, the year of two milestones: 30 years after the Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the United Nations and 25 years after the Japanese government ratified it. 

The book presents 30 approaches for empowering children to learn about problems and try to find solutions. It introduces each authors’ efforts to protect child rights and livelihoods in various fields with specific examples. 

The first chapter discusses human trafficking presenting cases of girls from Cambodia to Japan (JK Business). Premature marriage, child labor, and other issues facing children are also dealt with from a variety of angles, making this book an invaluable resource for understanding global issues and learning about one’s rights.       

I was involved in the publication project of this book as an illustrator. I drew each illustration with children around the world in mind and with the hope that the problems mentioned in the book will not be carried over to the next generation. I hope you will pick up a copy of this book and read it for yourself.  (Namura Michiyo)

(Edited by Japan International Center for the Rights of the Child and Machiko Kaida,  Published in 2019 by Godo-Shuppan, 176p, 1,800yen+tax,


Vol. 1 “OVERDRESSED:The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” 

When exactly did one’s clothing, even though not necessarily one’s favorite item, but of mediocre quality for the price asked, become so popular in the world? 

The first half of this book, mentioning a number of  brands like Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, and H&M, introduces the mechanism of the American apparel industry that has been dominated by fast fashion. 

The reports of visits to apparel factories in Bangladesh and China are interesting, but the latter half of the book is the best part that describes how the author’s thinking has changed from “I want to avoid exploitation, but cannot resist the inexpensiveness.” As to how she broke away from the “depression in the closet,” please read the book and find out! 

In the afterword, she says that she wrote not only about fast fashion, ie clothing, but also about the general societal tendency to prefer anything to be “faster and cheaper”. She also writes that the distance between producers and consumers is one of the causes of the exploitation. Rethinking the issue of exploitation, I realized that as we take time to imagine who is actually making our clothing and how it connects people, we discover a key to eradicating modern day slavery. (Nozomi Kuriyama)

(Written by Elizabeth L. Cline,  Published in 2012 by Portfolio, 244p, $12.00 (paperback),