Mauritania: Where escaping slavery can be a crime
October 20th, 2014
04:34 PM ET

Mauritania: Where escaping slavery can be a crime

By John D. Sutter

Imagine being rescued from modern slavery, only to be charged with a crime.

That's the apparent reality in Mauritania, the country with the world's highest incidence of modern slavery. Located in West Africa, on the edge of the Sahara Desert, an estimated 4% to 20% of people there remain enslaved. It was the last country in the world to abolish the practice - in 1981. And it only criminalized owning humans in 2007.

So perhaps this latest news should come as no surprise.

Mbeirika Mint M'bareck, a 15-year-old girl, was rescued from slavery only to be subsequently charged with having sex outside of marriage, according to a letter activists drafted on her behalf. (It is unclear who fathered the child). That crime is potentially punishable by death by stoning, according to an expert I spoke with. The activists planned to send the letter to the country's ministry of justice on Monday.

FULL STORY
Topics: Uncategorized
Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi share Nobel Peace Prize
Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai and India's Kailash Satyarthi both champion children's rights.
October 10th, 2014
11:31 AM ET

Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi share Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 is awarded to India's Kailash Satyarthi and Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai for their struggles against the suppression of children and for young people's rights, including the right to education.

Thorbjorn Jagland, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said, "Children must go to school, not be financially exploited."

Yousafzai came to global attention after she was shot in the head by the Taliban - two years ago Thursday - for her efforts to promote education for girls in Pakistan. Since then, after recovering from surgery, she has taken her campaign to the world stage, notably with a speech last year at the United Nations.

Satyarthi, age 60, has shown great personal courage in heading peaceful demonstrations focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain, the committee said.

FULL STORY

Topics: Uncategorized
Time for electronics industry to end supply chain slavery
September 26th, 2014
04:43 PM ET

Time for electronics industry to end supply chain slavery

By Dan Viederman, CEO Verité

If you are reading this on a tablet, smart phone or computer monitor, then you may be holding a product of forced labor.

Verité's two-year study of labor conditions in electronics manufacturing in Malaysia has found that one in three foreign workers surveyed was in a condition of forced labor.

Because many of the most recognizable brands source components of their products from Malaysia, almost any device you purchase may have come in contact with modern-day slavery.

FULL STORY
Topics: Business • In The News • Life In Slavery • Solutions
September 15th, 2014
10:58 PM ET

Race on to raise $1m in a day to combat human trafficking in U.S.

By Leif Coorlim, CNN

A U.S. national campaign is under way to raise more than a million dollars in 24 hours.

The Everyone’s Kids, Everyone Gives campaign is working to raise $1 million for more than 100 non-profit organizations united in the fight against human-trafficking and modern-day slavery.

Like many other hidden criminal issues, accurate statistics on trafficking can be difficult to obtain. Globally, more than 20 million people are believed to held in slavery, according to the International Labour Organization.

The U.S. government estimates anywhere between 100,000 and 300,000 children could be “at risk” of being trafficked each year.

The U.S. State Department also states as many as 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into the United States each year as well.

“Americans need to know that this tragedy is happening here at home, under our noses, and is a reality of our times especially with the influx of child trafficking happening online through sites like Backpage and Craigslist,” says Bonnie Calvin, one of the event’s organizers.

The 24-hour “giving day” will take place on September 16. The aim is to connect donors with information about the issue and the organizations working to end child slavery and sex trafficking in the U.S.

Non-profit partners of the campaign include: GEMS, Humanity United, Polaris, The McCain Institute, and Youthlink.

“These organizations work day in and day out with victims and survivors of child trafficking,” says Calvin. “They provide survivor's recovery services like education, housing, therapy and job placement.

"Beyond that, they provide the hope and direction survivors need to get their lives back on track and pointed to a brighter future.”

"This is what real empowerment looks like to victims and survivors of human trafficking,” says Rani Hong, a sex trafficking victim and now a United Nations Special Advisor for victims.

“Everyone’s Kids, Everyone Gives” is the result of a 2013 Ted challenge. The crowdfunding platform, Razoo.com, is also committing an additional $50,000 in cash prizes to nonprofit groups that receive the most donations on the Giving Day.

“We should not stand for child trafficking and the sexual slavery of children anywhere in the world and especially here at home.” says Calvin.

“We can be an example for the world to follow if we tackle this problem head on and eradicate it forever.”

Topics: How to Help • In The News
While India's girls are aborted, brides are wanted
Akhleema and Tasleema, two sisters from Kolkata in India's east, were sold as brides in Haryana state, in western India
September 4th, 2014
02:32 PM ET

While India's girls are aborted, brides are wanted

Cultural preference for boys in parts of India results in some of the largest imbalances between males and females in the world. And that creates a demand for brides that human traffickers are willing to meet.

Film maker Carl Gierstorfer visited villages where brides fetch a price and teenage girls are snatched from their families. And he met the people who are fighting to stop this vicious cycle.

Read his story and watch some of his video
Topics: Life In Slavery • The Traffickers • Voices
Time to get children out of factories and into schools
August 31st, 2014
11:08 PM ET

Time to get children out of factories and into schools

By Nina Smith

Editor’s Note: Nina Smith is the founding CEO of GoodWeave International, a Washington DC-based non-profit organization that works to stop child labor in the carpet industry.

In a small village in central Afghanistan, 13-year-old Basma is about to start her first day of school –- ever.

She’s a world away from the millions of western children who are now heading back to their classrooms for a new school year.

Only weeks before, Basma was found working on a carpet loom. Her weaving fingers already showed signs of arthritis from holding tools since the age of nine, tying knots for 14 hours a day.

She was rescued by GoodWeave, an international organization I head in the U.S. that seeks to eliminate child labor in carpet manufacturing.

According to the International Labour Organization, there are 168 million child laborers like Basma around the world, forced to sacrifice their youth and their education.

Many of these boys and girls manufacture the very items that American consumers will have purchased this Labor Day weekend in anticipation of the new academic year –- as well as other parents across the world.

The U.S. National Retail Federation estimates that parents will spend $26.5 billion this back-to-school shopping season.

Some of their purchases will include clothes stitched in Bangladeshi factories not far from Rana Plaza, the factory complex that collapsed last year, killing more than 1,100 garment workers including some who were underage.

FULL POST

Topics: Business • How to Help • Life In Slavery
What's your slavery footprint?
July 8th, 2014
12:23 PM ET

What's your slavery footprint?

By Allyssia Alleyne

How many slaves work for you? If you’ve answered “zero,” you’re probably way off. At least that’s the premise behind Slavery Footprint, an online survey developed by the U.S. State Department and anti-slavery organization Made in a Free World.

The web interactive invites users to insert information about their consumer habits and lifestyle choices - this covers everything from what sports you play to what products line your medicine cabinet - and then determines approximately how many forced laborers they rely on.

The results are startling. It turns out that if you’ve ever eaten, worn, or used pretty much anything, you’ve likely been complicit in some form of slavery. In fact, Made in a Free World estimates that there are some 29 million slaves in the world today.

But the project’s goal is education, not blame. After completing the survey, you’re encouraged to be more thoughtful about where your products come from, and send pre-written emails to companies asking what they’re doing to address forced labor in their supply chains.

Check it out for yourself and let us know what you think: http://www.slaveryfootprint.org

Topics: Life In Slavery
June 30th, 2014
05:18 PM ET

'End Slavery Now' relaunches Website

"End Slavery Now' has relaunched its website to help people understand more about global slavery and unite those fighting to stop it.

The U.S.-based abolitionist group, founded in 2009, produced the new site to show the global reach of modern day slavery, but also, crucially, to showcase its partners around the world who are tackling the issues.

The site, which took 16 months to develop, includes a news feed, a calendar of events, photo galleries and suggestions of practical ways to help fight slavery.

The group has also produced a video to help people understand its mission.

Congratulations to everyone involved in the relaunch.

Topics: How to Help • In The News • Solutions • The Facts • Voices
June 26th, 2014
02:39 PM ET

Nepal's Organ Trail: How traffickers steal kidneys

On the streets of Kathmandu, the sight of people begging for kidney treatment has become common.

The capital of Nepal is no different from many places in the world where aging populations, poor diets and no health insurance systems mean increased organ disease.

The organ in highest demand is the kidney and black market traffickers are meeting that demand.

CNN Freedom Project's new documentary investigates the appalling illegal trade in kidneys.

Read the full story, watch clips from the documentary and check out TV schedule times
June 25th, 2014
04:33 PM ET

FBI shuts website allegedly linked to child prostitution

The FBI has shut down a website advertising children for prostitution - a move made as part of a broader crackdown on the sex trafficking of minors, law enforcement sources told CNN on condition of anonymity.

FULL STORY
Topics: In The News
June 20th, 2014
05:09 PM ET

Nepal's Organ Trail: Coming soon on CNN

The CNN Freedom Project first exposed the horrific practice of organ trafficking in Egypt, with the documentary "Death in the Desert".

Now we travel to a tiny district in Nepal where hundreds of people have had their kidneys stolen by organ traffickers.

The problem has become so widespread, the district has developed the unfortunate reputation as "the kidney bank of Nepal."

CNN's Delhi-based correspondent Sumnima Udas leads the investigation to unravel how traffickers dupe poor villagers into giving a piece of themselves away.

"Nepal's Organ Trail" will air on CNN International at these times:

• Friday June 27; 530am ET, 1130am ET

• Saturday June 28; 430am ET, 9am ET, 330pm ET

• Sunday June 29; 530am ET; 1130pm ET

• Monday June 30; 430am ET

• Tuesday July 1; 530am ET, 1230pm ET

• Wednesday July 2; 130am ET

Condemned by the U.S., can Thailand tackle human trafficking?
June 20th, 2014
02:32 PM ET

Condemned by the U.S., can Thailand tackle human trafficking?

Migrant laborers are photographed here on a fishing boat in Thailand's Rayong province - a common destination for trafficking victims.

Trafficking in Thailand's fishing industry has again been highlighted by the U.S. State Department, which on Friday downgraded the country in its 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report.

Now, Thailand shares the "Tier 3" category with 22 other countries, putting it on par in the eyes of Washington with the likes of North Korea, Syria and the Central African Republic in its response to human trafficking.

Thai officials acknowledge they have a problem, but say progress is being made.

FULL STORY
Topics: Government • In The News • Life In Slavery • TIP Report
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