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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
CNN is joining the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on the horrors of modern-day slavery, amplifying the voices of the victims, highlighting success stories and helping unravel the complicated tangle of criminal enterprises trading in human life. WHY WE'RE DOING THIS | MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT