By Gordon Brown, U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education
Editor's note: Gordon Brown is a United Nations Special Envoy on Global Education. He was formerly the UK's prime minister.
It is a descent into barbarism. This month’s plan by Iraqi parliamentarians to legalize girl marriage at nine follows the Pakistan Islamic Council’s demand last month that Pakistan abolish all legal restrictions on child marriage, the revelation that Syrian refugee girls are being sold into marriage against their will and the increased pressure in many African countries to ease the restrictions on selling child brides.
As one who has believed that worldwide disgust at child marriage would end it within our generation, I now find that progress has stalled. In the last few months Mauritania, at the center of allegations of girls’ genital mutilation to make possible the early marriage of eight and nine year olds, has resisted pressure to enforce a legal minimum age for marriage.
Attempts in Yemen to do so have also failed. Even Nigeria has been considering reducing the age of marriage.
In India, the rape of girls has brought millions on to the streets in protest and it has now been exposed as the country with 40% of the world's child brides.
The U.N. says one in nine girls is a bride by the age of 15 and that by 2020 142 million - or one in three girls in developing countries - will be married before they are 18. For example, in Afghanistan 60% are married before they turn 16 and in Niger 74% of girls are married by the age of 18.
Fortunately, the reluctance of governments to end abuses is being met with an even stronger movement from girls themselves.
By John Lyon, Special for CNN
Editor's note: John Lyon is the President and CEO of World Hope International. Based in the United States, WHI is a direct partner of Sierra Leone in the fight against human trafficking. In Sierra Leone, WHI helps trafficking victims find a safe, healthy life through emergency after-care and community education programs.
(CNN) - Selina was just 10 years old when her parents sent her off to Freetown to live with her uncle, who promised education and better opportunities.
Her parents, petty-traders in a small fishing village in Sierra Leone, barely made enough to feed their children.
The uncle's offer seemed like the break they had been waiting for - an opportunity to give their daughter a better life than the one they could provide for her. They never anticipated the nightmare that would ensue.
When Selina, whose name has been changed to protect her, arrived at her uncle's house, it quickly became clear she would not be getting the education she had hoped for.
Instead, Selina was immediately locked inside her uncle's house, where he proceeded to sexually assault her over the course of the next several months, often raping her multiple times a day.
Selina’s story is one of many that have been shared with World Hope International’s staff since we started anti-trafficking prevention and rehabilitation efforts in Sierra Leone in 2004.
Unfortunately, stories of exploitation and servitude are not unusual in this country where more than 60% of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day.
By Shasta Darlington, CNN
The newly-renovated Castelao football stadium looms into sight up ahead. Driving just past it, we see women standing on street corners, leaning into cars and flashing nearly naked bodies in the low light.
We're in Fortaleza in the northeastern corner of Brazil, one of the World Cup host cities but also known as a magnet for sex tourism.
This week Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury who is head of the Anglican Church, and the Grand Imam of the al-Azhar mosque in Egypt, Islam's highest-ranking Sunni cleric, united to tackle modern day slavery.
Their representatives gathered at the Vatican to sign on to the Global Freedom Network, an initiative launched by Australian billionaire and mining magnate Andrew Forrest.
“I got dragged, really, kicking and screaming, into this cause by my daughter, Grace,” Forrest said. “When she was 15, she worked in an orphanage in Nepal and our intelligence was that there was something suspect about the orphanage.”
The Global Freedom Network wants international support. It wants 50 multi-national businesses to free their supply chains from slavery. And it wants to convince the G20 to adopt an anti-slavery initiative.
Christiane Amanpour spoke to Forrest, along with Archbishop David Moxon of the Anglican Church and Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo of the Catholic Church.FULL STORY
The Freedom Project documentary, "Every Day in Cambodia", first broadcast last year, airs again this weekend. The film, presented by actress Mira Sorvino, documents the appalling plight of children sold into sex slavery, sometimes by their own mothers, and the people fighting to stop the practice.
Watch it on CNN International at the following times in ET: Saturday March 22 at 0400, 1500 and 2100; Sunday at 0600.
Is change really happening in the cocoa fields? Is child labor actually being eradicated, is slavery in the plantations finally coming to and end and are conditions improving for workers? After watching Cocoa-nomics, CNN's investigation into the chocolate industry's supply chains, Richard Quest challenged a panel of experts. Here are the highlights of his discussion with Guy Ryder of the International Labour Organization, Nick Weatherhill of the International Cocoa Initiative, Ben Skinner of Tau Investment Management and Bryson Vogeltanz of the End It Movement.
As part of the Freedom Project documentary Coaco-nomics, which investigates how the chocolate industry is trying to eradicate slavery from its supply chains, Richard Quest interviewed Ivory Coast Prime Minister Daniel Duncan. He said the government was committed to improving revenues for famers and building schools for children.
This farmer from Ivory Coast has been growing cocoa beans for decades, yet he'd never tasted chocolate. As part of the CNN Freedom Project documentary Cocoa-nomics, Richard Quest explored the economics of the chocolate industry which is trying to eradicate slavery from its supply chains. And when he met some of the men, women and children who harvest the beans, he arrived with a KitKat and a box of luxury chocolates from a business class flight.Read Richard Quest's story in full.
For more than a year, a coalition of several non-profits working to end human slavery has been running a campaign to raise awareness about modern-day slavery all over the world.
It’s called the “End It Movement”.
CNN talks to Nate Buzolic about the movement and the significance of the red “X” symbol.
The chocolate industry is worth an estimated $110 billion a year, and yet its key commodity is grown by some of the poorest people on the planet, in plantations that can hide the worst forms of child labor.
Two years ago CNN uncovered slavery in the plantations of Ivory Coast. Now manufacturers are facing up to the growing demand for "ethical" chocolate and are taking measures to clean up their supply chains.
But do these measures go far enough and are they fast enough? In the forthcoming series airing on CNN International from February 27, CNN returns to Ivory Coast. Ahead of that, you can read more background about how slavery has tainted the industry. You can find out where in the world the demand for and supply of chocolate is greatest, look at the true cost of a bar of chocolate and see how it is made from bean to bar by scrolling through our info-graphics.
You can also take part in our iReport challenge to eat ethically, and you can meet the village elder who gets to taste a KitKat for the first time.Read more about what Nestlé found when it sent a team to the Ivory Coast.