Editor's note: Richard Stearns is the author of “The Hole in Our Gospel” and president of the U.S. office of World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. Follow Stearns on Twitter @RichStearns. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Richard Stearns.
By Richard Stearns, special to CNN
This February, I visited Cambodia, where my heart was broken by the evils of the sex trade in that country. Too often there is an acceptance of prostitution that leads to a male culture that believes sex with virgins improves health has created an epidemic of young girls and boys trafficked into the cities. Roughly 30,000 young women and men in that country (some estimates are as high as 100,000) are trapped in slavery. When imprisoned in the brothels, these young women and men serve roughly 700 people every year.
I interviewed a young woman named Ruse (not her real name) who had spent three years in a Cambodian brothel before being rescued and sent to World Vision’s Trauma Recovery Center in Phnom Penh.
Ruse’s story was heartbreaking. Her family was extremely poor, and when she was just 13, her mother became very ill and needed medical attention. Her father had left, and she had two smaller siblings as well. The family desperately needed money. Ruse told me, “My virginity was the most valuable possession my family had.” FULL POST
Chocolate maker Ferrero has pledged to eradicate slavery from farms where it sources its cocoa by 2020, as part of a growing movement by the multi-billion dollar industry to clean up its supply chains.
The Italian company, which produces Ferrero Rocher chocolates, Nutella spread and Kinder eggs, follows Nestle and Hershey as the third major chocolate manufacturer to announce new anti-slavery moves since September.
It says it will eradicate child labor and forced adult labor from cocoa plantations it uses by 2020, verified by “independent and credible” third parties. Also, it says it will publish a more detailed progress report this summer and promises improved communication to customers.
Up to 75% of the world’s cocoa beans are grown in small farms in West Africa. In the Ivory Coast alone, there are an estimated 200,000 children working the fields, many against their will, to create chocolate enjoyed around the world. Many of the children don’t even know what chocolate is. FULL POST
By Ryan Cooper, CNN
(Jupiter, Florida and Scottsdale, Arizona) - A growing number of Major League Baseball players are coming together to make every pitch, home run and strikeout count in the fight against child trafficking.
The players are pledging to donate money for each of their on-field achievements this season to the Free 2 Play campaign, a platform for the California-based Not For Sale non-profit group.
"A lot of Americans are shocked to hear that there are 30 million people living in slavery today, and [many] of those are children," Dave Batstone, Not For Sale's co-founder, said. "So we decided to create a program that not just releases a child from slavery, but provides them a new future."
Jeremy Affeldt, a relief pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, has been one of the most vocal athletes raising money and awareness for Not For Sale. Last season, he pledged $250 for every strikeout he pitched.