Slave-Free Community Project debuts in towns

MILLBURN, NJ — The Slave-Free Community Project is enlisting residents, organizations, businesses, schools and governments in South Orange, Maplewood, Millburn and Short Hills to become the first communities in the nation that can confidently say “slave free” by raising awareness and working to eliminate the effects of modern slavery from every aspect of daily life.

It is estimated that there are more than 21 million enslaved people worldwide generating $150 billion annually in illicit profits. Modern slavery encompasses human trafficking, forced labor, sex trafficking and debt bondage, and exists in supply chains for items such as gold jewelry, electronic goods, shrimp, cotton, cocoa and carpets; 26 percent of today’s slaves are children.

The Slave-Free Community Project is hosting its first event, “What Slavery Looks Like Today and How Local Communities Like Ours Can Help End It,” on Sunday, Jan. 22, at Wyoming Presbyterian Church, 432 Wyoming Ave. in Millburn, from 2 to 4 p.m.

Kevin Bales, professor of contemporary slavery at the University of Nottingham, U.K., co-founder of Free the Slaves and Pulitzer-nominated author, will be the keynote speaker and Anisa Mehdi, award-winning journalist and filmmaker, will moderate the event.

At this free event, attendees will learn about the impacts of modern slavery in today’s world and how they can be part of this important project to effect change in the South Orange, Maplewood, Millburn and Short Hills communities.

“I am thrilled that Kevin Bales, a leader in addressing this important global issue, is joining us as we launch our local effort to eliminate modern slavery from our communities,” Bob Boneberg, coordinator for the Slave-Free Community Project, said in a press release. “And, Anisa Mehdi is a great partner in helping us spread our message throughout our communities so that we can join together to make a positive impact in our own backyards.”

For more information about this event, contact or call 973-376-3066.