Child workers in India's beedi industry
June 11th, 2012
06:18 PM ET

Beedi industry's child workers trapped in economic slavery

Editor's note: Davinder Kumar is an award-winning development journalist who works for children’s rights organization Plan International.

Five-year-old Aliya thinks it is a game she must master quickly to be a winner. From the time she wakes up, until she goes to bed, Aliya watches her mother and all the girls and women in her neighborhood consumed in a frantic race: Making beedis - traditional hand-rolled Indian cigarettes.

To create each beedi, the maker painstakingly places tobacco inside a dried leaf sourced from a local ebony tree; tightly rolls and secures it with a thread; and then closes the tips using a sharp knife.

For anything between 10 and 14 hours, regardless of how long it takes, Aliya’s mother and others must all roll at least 1,000 beedis to earn a paltry sum of less than $2 a day, paid by the middleman. FULL POST

June 11th, 2012
02:55 AM ET

Task force busts sex trafficking ring

California (CNN) –  CNN's Freedom Project went undercover with the Human Trafficking Task Force in Orange County, California, as officers worked to break up a suspected Asia sex trafficking ring.

Police say the suspects moved women from China to the U.S. and enslaved them in residential brothels to work as sex slaves.  The women were given little food and clothing, according to police.

Life as a sex slave is a nightmare, a woman who asked to be identified as “Soo” told CNN’s Thelma Gutierrez.  Soo knows what the victims were going through.  She came to the United States with dreams of a better life, but wound up a sex slave in a massage parlor. 

Soo, who is now free, said:  “We are humans. We are not animals.”

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