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
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
Cocoa-nomics: Will the chocolate industry now end child labor and slavery?
February 17th, 2014
04:48 PM ET

Cocoa-nomics: Will the chocolate industry now end child labor and slavery?

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.
February 21st, 2013
10:59 AM ET

Cotton exporters using child labor

Conscientious consumers are credited with driving change in forced child labor practices inside one of the world's most repressive regimes: Uzbekistan.

But while progress has been made, the fight is far from over.

"Uzbekistan has one of the most atrocious human rights records of any nation in the world," said Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia research for Human Rights Watch.  "It's longstanding President (Islam Karimov) has been in power for 23 years and he crushes dissent."

Hundreds of thousands of students in Uzbekistan are pulled from their classrooms every fall and ordered into the fields to pick cotton for little or no pay.

A mother was recorded on video saying that if she didn’t send her child to pick cotton, she faced a fine equivalent to two weeks pay.  Rights groups say students are also threatened with losing their seat in the classroom. FULL POST

Post by:
Topics: Business • In The News
It's time for anti-slavery action, Mr. President
President Obama, in front of Lincoln's Memorial which honors his fight against slavery, can act against modern-day slavery.
January 10th, 2013
06:10 PM ET

It's time for anti-slavery action, Mr. President

By David Abramowitz, Special for CNN

Editor's note: David Abramowitz is Vice President, Policy & Government Relations for Humanity United and Director of the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), a coalition of U.S.-based human rights organizations working to end modern slavery and human trafficking in the United States and around the world. ATEST recently issued “The Path to Freedom,” a road map for the second-term Obama Administration to follow as it works to fulfill its commitment to eliminate modern slavery.

It’s been 150 years since President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation declared in the midst of the U.S. Civil War that all slaves “shall be free.”

Today, the word “slavery” still conjures up horrifying images and stomach-churning thoughts about the most disgraceful days in U.S. history.

This shamefully evil chapter still cannot be fully explained, because no facts can possibly answer how humanity allowed it to happen, and why we didn’t stop it sooner.

Similar questions haunt the United States and countries around the world today - how has slavery evolved into a multi-billion dollar illicit global industry, overshadowed only by drugs?

FULL POST

October 18th, 2012
12:52 PM ET

India's children suffer in brutal conditions

Editor's Note: Anti-trafficking expert Siddharth Kara is the author of “Bonded Labor: Tackling the System of Slavery in South Asia,” providing the first comprehensive overview of bonded labor in South Asia.

During the CNN coverage of my last major research trip for my new book on bonded labor, I wrote an article about my findings of debt bondage, human trafficking, and child labor in several construction projects for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

Thousands of workers had been trafficked into Delhi by labor contractors to complete the massive construction projects for the Games at minimal cost.

These findings proved consistent with much of the construction sector across South Asia.

In fact, the labor conditions for the Commonwealth Games in 2010 were shockingly similar to those almost 30 years earlier when New Delhi hosted the Asian Games.

FULL POST

October 16th, 2012
01:04 PM ET

Shrimp exports to West tied to bonded labor

Editor's Note: Anti-trafficking expert Siddharth Kara is the author of “Bonded Labor: Tackling the System of Slavery in South Asia,” providing the first comprehensive overview of bonded labor in South Asia.

In the third chapter of my new book on bonded labour, I explore the shrimp industry of Bangladesh. Chingri (shrimp) harvesting provides a highly illustrative case study of the very powerful ways in which environmental change can directly contribute to human trafficking, debt bondage, and forced labor exploitation, especially in the far reaches of the developing world.

To research the shrimp industry of Bangladesh requires a journey to the cyclone-wracked southwestern reaches of the country.

Here, one finds four stages to Bangladesh’s shrimp industry supply chain: 1 shrimp fry (baby shrimp) collection, shrimp farming, the distribution to processors, and shrimp processing. Each one of these stages is tainted by some form of severe labor exploitation.

FULL POST

October 15th, 2012
01:40 PM ET

Bonded labor stretches from third to first world

Editor's Note: Anti-trafficking expert Siddharth Kara is the author of “Bonded Labor: Tackling the System of Slavery in South Asia,” providing the first comprehensive overview of bonded labor in South Asia.

In September 2010, I met a young girl named Nirmala in the remote western Terai region of Nepal.  Nirmala is one of the thousands of internally trafficked domestic slaves in Nepal, called kamlari, who belong to the outcast Tharu ethnic group.

Agents recruit Tharu girls as young as eight to work as servants in upper-caste homes.  Aside from room and board, the children receive little to no payment for up to 10 years of work.  Kamlari girls often suffer extreme abuse and maltreatment.

“I did all the work,” Nirmala explained, “cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, washing dishes.  I woke each morning at 5 a.m. and went to sleep at 10 p.m. I slept on the floor…I did this work seven days a week. Sometimes the wife would beat me. The husband in the home would rape me.  I did not want to be in that home.”

FULL POST

July 6th, 2012
11:19 AM ET

U.N.: Journalism can 'spark action' to help end human trafficking

Investigative journalism can "spark action" when it comes to helping end human trafficking, according to a recent United Nations report that examined CNN Freedom Project's "Factory Slaves" investigation

The U.N. Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking (UNIAP) details how CNN senior international correspondent Dan Rivers and his colleagues uncovered bonded labor in Southeast Asia, where workers had been sent abroad, burdened with large debts and forced to work long hours for years at a time. The practice was part of the complex trail of exploitation in a business supply chain.

In one bonded labor scheme, recruiters got jobs for Cambodian workers at a Malaysian factory. As part the Factory Slaves investigation, which debuted in late 2011, CNN alerted a client company to the factory and the recruiters that employed the migrant workers, who were stranded abroad after surrendering their passports to their employer. 

That client company "was moved to action by the (CNN) report," the UNIAP report states, and "quickly took action through an on-site audit at the factory in Penang (Malaysia), and ultimately ensured that their supplier improved the pay and conditions at their factory."

Read the full UNIAP report here.

Topics: Business • In The News • The Traffickers
June 29th, 2012
06:31 PM ET

Nestlé advances child labor battle plan

An independent investigation into Nestlé's cocoa supply chain has found numerous child labor violations and kickstarted an ambitious plan to eventually eradicate forced labor and child labor in its production cycle.

The study was carried out by the Fair Labor Association with Nestlé's support.

"Our investigation of Nestlé's cocoa supply chain represents the first time a multinational chocolate producer has allowed its procurement system to be completely traced and assessed. For too long child labor in cocoa production has been everybody's problem and therefore nobody's responsibility," said FLA President Auret van Heerden.

It means Nestlé is the first chocolate-maker to comprehensively map its cocoa supply chain – and can work on identifying problems areas, training and educating workers and taking action against child labor violations.

FULL POST

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

May 10th, 2012
03:59 PM ET

A lurid journey through Backpage.com

Editor’s Note: On CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," correspondent Deborah Feyerick reported on controversy surrounding the nationwide classified-advertising website Backpage.com. While working on the broad problem of sex trafficking, she and producer Sheila Steffen became aware of the website's adult section and how prosecutors say it's being used by some pimps to peddle girls online.

By Deborah Feyerick and Sheila Steffen, CNN

Go to Backpage.com, choose any city in any state, then click on the adult section of the nationwide classified ads website.

Young women wearing almost nothing pose provocatively. One of the first advertisements I open shows a girl in lacy black underwear. Her eyes are downcast, and she appears much younger than 19, the age stated in her ad.

No one checks whether it's true - not the ages or the identities of these young women. Someone else is clearly taking the picture. The pose appears unnatural, forced.

The text next to her photo reads, "Choke me. Spank me. Pull my hair. Do Whatever You Want...I don't Care - 19." The young woman promises "a time you will NEVER forget."

It's hard to know whether this alleged 19-year-old is doing this because she wants to or because she's being coerced. That's another thing the website doesn't check.

FULL POST

« older posts