Jimmy Carter: Slavery is worse now than in 1700s

Human slavery is not just a major issue in developing countries, but is a serious problem in the U.S. and is more prolific now than during the 18th and 19th century, former President Jimmy Carter has told Tania Bryer, host of "CNBC Meets."

Carter said 200-300 girls are sold into sexual slavery every month in his home state Georgia, and many living in advanced economies are completely unaware of the abuse happening to young women close to home.

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Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter speaks at the Commonwealth Club of California in February 2013 in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan I Getty Images
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter speaks at the Commonwealth Club of California in February 2013 in San Francisco, California.

Referring to facts in his most recent book, "A Call to Action, Women, Religion, Violence and Power," Carter describes the abuse of women around the world as "the worst, unaddressed issue that the world faces today."

"And those of us in the more advanced countries don't know much about horrible abuse of girls whose genitals are mutilated when they're very young, children who are killed because a girl is raped by strangers and her family kills her to protect their own nation's honor. These kinds of things go on in the more remote parts of the world as far as we're concerned," the Democratic former president said.

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"But even in the United States, human slavery now is greater than it ever was during the 18th or 19th century. In Atlanta, Georgia, we have between 200-300 girls sold into sexual slavery every month," he added.

Before moving into politics, Carter was in the Navy and worked on the family's farm. He served as the 39th president from 1977 to 1981 and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his efforts in finding peaceful solutions to international conflicts and his work in human rights.

Carter, who is turning 90 on Wednesday, and wife Rosalynn still travel the world doing work for The Carter Center, his human rights and health care charity, which he set up after leaving the White House.

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In his new book, Carfter details how gender discrimination and sexual abuse in the U.S. Navy and college campuses across the country is widely covered up.

"It's not addressed directly because the college owners and administrators don't want it to be known that they have sexual assaults still taking place on their college campuses. And the same thing applies obviously in the military," he told CNBC.

Carter, who has written 28 books, hopes his most recent offering will encourage governments to take action.

"Well I hope that this book, which is doing quite well, as far as number of sales, it's got a lot of publicity, I hope it will induce governments, not only in America but around the world, to do something about these abuses that are quite often self-concealed by the people responsible," he said.

CNBC Meets: President Jimmy Carter will air on 1 October at 23:00 CET