Q&A with Sanjay Rawal, director of Food Chains
November 19th, 2014
05:23 PM ET

Q&A with Sanjay Rawal, director of Food Chains

Food Chains, a documentary that examines the plight of farm laborers in the U.S., releases to the American public on Friday. CNN asked its director, Sanjay Rawal, about the movie and how it came to be made.

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Topics: Business • How to Help • In The News • Voices
November 18th, 2014
03:37 PM ET

Fight for freedom on U.S. farms documented by Food Chains movie

Do you care about who grows your food - and in what conditions these farm laborers work?

A new movie called Food Chains releases in the U.S. on Friday.

The documentary, produced by actress Eva Longoria and narrated by Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, examines working conditions for laborers harvesting tomatoes in Immokalee, Florida, and grapes in California's wine region Napa Valley.

It follows the fight of some laborers taking on big business interests to establish their rights.

The film premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and recently played at the Napa Valley Film Festival, and by the reaction in the Napa Valley Register, certainly prompted strong debate.

Topics: Business • In The News • Life In Slavery • Voices
November 5th, 2014
05:19 PM ET

ISIS says Islam justifies slavery - what does Islamic law say?

Professor Bernard Freamon teaches courses on modern-day slavery and human trafficking at Seton Hall University School of Law in New Jersey and also specializes in Islamic Legal History. He is currently writing a book, “Islam, Slavery and Empire in the Indian Ocean World.” The views in this article are his alone.

By Professor Bernard Freamon

In the past few months, the world has witnessed horrific accounts of the enslavement of thousands of innocent Yazidis and other religious minorities by ISIS partisans in Iraq and Syria.

In a recent article in its online English-language magazine, ISIS ideologues offered legal justifications for the enslavement of these non-Muslim non-combatants, stating that “enslaving the families of the kuffar [infidels] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah or Islamic law.”

The article argues, based on a variety of Shariah sources, that ISIS partisans have a religious duty to kill or enslave members of the Yazidi community as part of their struggle [jihad] against their enemies.

This argument is plainly wrong, hypocritical and astonishingly ahistorical, relying on male fantasies inspired by stories from the days of imperial Islam.

It is also an affront to right-thinking Muslims everywhere and a criminal perversion of Islamic law, particularly its primary source, the Glorious Quran.

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Topics: In The News • Voices
October 30th, 2014
11:20 AM ET

'Treated like cattle': Yazidi women sold, raped, enslaved by ISIS

By Ivan Watson

Jana was a 19-year-old in her final year of high school, with dreams of becoming a doctor. Then, ISIS came to her village last August.

She described to me in chilling detail, how the jihadis first demanded that members of her Yazidi religious minority convert to Islam. Then they stripped villagers of their jewelry, money and cellphones. They separated the men from the women.

A United Nations report explained what happened next. ISIS "gathered all the males older than 10 years of age at the local school, took them outside the village by pick-up trucks, and shot them."

Among those believed dead were Jana's father and eldest brother.

A different fate lay in store for the women.

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Topics: In The News • Life In Slavery • Voices
Report shines light on slave labor in U.S.
October 21st, 2014
04:16 PM ET

Report shines light on slave labor in U.S.

They work on U.S. construction sites and farms, in restaurants and hotels, even in homes.

Foreign workers, lured by false promises of good jobs in America, soon find themselves enslaved in plain sight as victims of labor trafficking, according to a new report published by the nonpartisan Urban Institute and Northeastern University.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
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