August 9th, 2013
10:48 AM ET

Slave maids cost the price of a smart phone


Editor’s Note: Susan Ople is founder and president of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute, a Philippine non-profit organization dedicated to helping distressed Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) with labor and migration issues. The center also provides free legal help to human trafficking survivors, and other free reintegration services. She was named as a U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Hero of 2013.
http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2013/210547.htm

By Susan V. Ople, Special for CNN

If you ask young people what they could get for U.S. $200 or less, their answers would probably include a tablet, a smart phone, or a designer bag. Not on the list, a foreign maid - unless you live in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, or any country in the Middle East.

In the United States, maids are for the rich and famous. Modern-day slavery in the western world commonly wears the face of a prostitute, a trafficked child, or an illegal migrant exploited by his or her employer. For third world countries, human slavery often has the face of a domestic worker isolated from society and kept invisible inside private homes of their employers.

As an advocate for migrant workers’ rights, I have seen slavery up close. It has many faces: a jealous female employer, sexual predators, pimps, illegal recruiters, and corrupt officials. Common among them is the belief that a foreign domestic worker is a commodity to be used or sold, or both. FULL POST

August 8th, 2013
10:04 AM ET

Rescued children shouldn’t be in handcuffs

Editor’s note: Francesca L. Garrett is a long-time victim’s advocate and Executive Director of the Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio.

By Francesca Garrett, Special for CNN

The girl on the news is wearing pink flip flops.  An oversized plaid shirt hides a figure that has barely begun to develop. According to the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act, as a minor who has been forced to perform a sexual act for money she is a victim of sex trafficking. Yet under prostitution statutes in most states she has also committed a criminal offense - and now she is in handcuffs.

About three-quarters of  the children rescued last week by the Federal Bureau of Investigation through Operation Cross Country VII live in states that afford them no legal protections from prostitution charges.

Some could face up to two years in juvenile detention, others, thousands of dollars in fines (pdf). Many may also be charged for possessing the cocktail of drugs that traffickers use to create dependency and compliance in the children they sell. And though the FBI is likely to afford special leniency to those rescued in the sting, without change, the same may not hold true for the children arrested on the streets in the coming months and years. FULL POST