July 15th, 2013
10:30 AM ET

Fighting forced labor helps women beat poverty

By Guy Ryder, Special for CNN
Editor’s Note: Guy Ryder is the Director-General of the International Labour Organization. This week it is launching The Work in Freedom program, an initiative funded by the UK Department for International Development which aims to help 100,000 women and girls from Bangladesh, India and Nepal who are in forced labor in countries including Lebanon, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and India.

Across the planet, about one in every seven of us lives in extreme poverty, having to survive on less than $1.25 a day. Every day, they and the millions more living just above the poverty line struggle to have enough to eat, and dream of a better life and of earning enough to provide for their families.

Geeta Devi was one of these people. The 32 year-old mother of two from Nepal had been struggling to support her children and, like millions before her, made the difficult decision to leave her family behind in search of better work. Geeta, whose real name is being withheld to protect her safety, left her home believing she had secured a job through a local recruitment agency to work in a hospital in Lebanon.

When she arrived in Beirut, the man who collected her at the airport told her that she would actually be employed as a domestic worker in his house.

Geeta had used her meager savings to travel abroad and now had no money to fly home. And so she was forced to accept the job. What followed was an all too familiar story of exploitation – no wages, physical and psychological abuse, loss of contact with family and restriction of movement. FULL POST

Campaigner: We can see the finish line
April 15th, 2013
10:20 AM ET

Campaigner: We can see the finish line

By Jesse Eaves Senior Policy Adviser for Child Protection, World Vision

Advocates are dynamic voices for change. Those voices often have a simple beginning. Two years ago, if 13-year-old Ravi was told that he would become a leading advocate against child labor in India, he would have taken that statement the same way that people treated him  - “as a joke.”

When his father fell ill when he was 8 years old, Ravi was forced to quit school and work to pay off his family’s never-ending debts.  For two years Ravi toiled in a small shack making wire brushes to clean machine parts in the city of Kanpur, India.

It was not the life he wanted to lead. However, Ravi’s life took a turn at age 10 when a social worker for World Vision found Ravi on the streets and got him out of forced labor and back into school. FULL POST

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Trafficking survivor: It's time to help others
Ima Matul was trafficked to the U.S. Now she is helping other survivors.
January 17th, 2013
06:13 PM ET

Trafficking survivor: It's time to help others

Ima Matul, a survivor organizer with the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST)

You might not know that January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. You might not even know why we need such an awareness campaign, or that, right here in America, women, children and men are trafficked every day into forced labor or the sex industry.

More than likely, though, you do know that modern slavery exists, but do not know all of what it looks like or what you can do about it. As both a survivor of human trafficking and an advocate working to free and support others, I can tell you.

Some victims are American citizens, others hold valid visas, and some are undocumented immigrants. They are educated or illiterate, young or old, native English speakers or barely fluent. They are found in factories, farms, nursing homes, on the streets, or in your neighbor’s house. In other words, modern slavery fits no stereotype. FULL POST

A life saved: How a U.S. law helps fight slavery
Cambodian police trained by the FBI in anti-trafficking techniques helped save Savoeun when she was lured from her home.
January 15th, 2013
05:22 PM ET

A life saved: How a U.S. law helps fight slavery

By Jesse Eaves, Senior Policy Adviser for Child Protection, World Vision

Simean knew something was wrong when her 15-year-old younger sister Savoeun failed to show up at the factory where they both worked.

With both daughters helping to support their family, even one day off would put a great deal of strain on the family. What concerned Simean the most was a woman she had seen hanging around Savoeun at the factory the previous few days.

Simean asked her coworkers where her sister was. The answer sent a chill through her body: her sister said she was leaving Cambodia for Malaysia. Simean then ran to call her mother. She knew time was not on her side.

FULL POST

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

September 25th, 2012
02:12 PM ET

Obama: Every nation can tackle slavery

President Barack Obama called modern day slavery "barbaric" and "evil" as he spoke out Tuesday against trafficking and praised companies, organizations and individuals fighting the traffickers.

He also signed an executive order strengthening protections against human trafficking for domestic federal contracts, and tightening anti-trafficking rules for government contracts abroad worth more than $500,000.

Speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative, Obama said: "It ought to concern every person, because it's a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at the social fabric.

"It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime.

"I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name–modern slavery."

FULL POST

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Topics: Government • In The News • TIP Report
Opinion: Anti-slavery law needs saving
August 31st, 2012
09:54 AM ET

Opinion: Anti-slavery law needs saving

Editor's note: Jesse Eaves works as the senior policy adviser for child protection with World Vision, an international Christian humanitarian organization working in nearly 100 countries around the world. Mary C. Ellison currently serves as the director of policy for Polaris Project, a leading organization in the United States combating all forms of human trafficking and serving both U.S. citizens and foreign national victims, including men, women, and children. Together they are calling on U.S voters to make sure their senators pass a key anti-slavery bill.

With the upcoming elections, you can’t turn on the television without seeing a negative campaign ad or heated news segment giving Americans a glimpse of the political divisions that currently exist in our country.

While politicians argue over our future government, we lose sight of how the actions of our current government are impacting the lives of real people right now, like the millions of enslaved men, women and children in the U.S. and around the world at risk if Congress fails to pass the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act by the end of the year.

FULL POST

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Trafficking report spotlights slavery efforts
Thousands gathered in Manila, The Philippines last week to march against human trafficking.
June 19th, 2012
10:44 AM ET

Trafficking report spotlights slavery efforts

The annual Trafficking in Persons Report - the world's most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-human trafficking efforts - was published Tuesday by the U.S. State Department.

It identifies countries that the U.S. says meet minimum standards of anti-trafficking efforts, countries working towards them and countries that appear to be doing little to stop trafficking.

The report is compiled with the help of U.S. embassies, non-governmental organizations, aid groups and individuals around the world.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “Ultimately, this report reminds us of the human cost of this crime. Traffickers prey on the hopes and dreams of those seeking a better life and our goal should be to put those hopes and dreams back within reach, whether it's getting a good job to send money home, to support a family, trying to get an education for one's self or for one's children or simply pursuing new opportunities that might lead to a better life.

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

Commentary: Urge U.S. Congress to action via your tweets
Ruse spent three years in a Cambodian brothel before being rescued.
April 23rd, 2012
12:51 PM ET

Commentary: Urge U.S. Congress to action via your tweets

Editor's note: Richard Stearns is the author of “The Hole in Our Gospel” and president of the U.S. office of World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. Follow Stearns on Twitter @RichStearns. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Richard Stearns.

By Richard Stearns, special to CNN

This February, I visited Cambodia, where my heart was broken by the evils of the sex trade in that country. Too often there is an acceptance of prostitution that leads to a male culture that believes sex with virgins improves health has created an epidemic of young girls and boys trafficked into the cities. Roughly 30,000 young women and men in that country (some estimates are as high as 100,000) are trapped in slavery. When imprisoned in the brothels, these young women and men serve roughly 700 people every year.

I interviewed a young woman named Ruse (not her real name) who had spent three years in a Cambodian brothel before being rescued and sent to World Vision’s Trauma Recovery Center in Phnom Penh.

Ruse’s story was heartbreaking. Her family was extremely poor, and when she was just 13, her mother became very ill and needed medical attention. Her father had left, and she had two smaller siblings as well. The family desperately needed money. Ruse told me, “My virginity was the most valuable possession my family had.” FULL POST

Topics: Government • How to Help
December 30th, 2011
01:53 PM ET

January declared U.S. anti-trafficking month

U.S. President Barack Obama has declared January 2012 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

The presidential proclamation says: "Human trafficking endangers the lives of millions of people around the world, and it is a crime that knows no borders. Trafficking networks operate both domestically and transnationally, and although abuses disproportionally affect women and girls, the victims of this ongoing global tragedy are men, women, and children of all ages.

"Around the world, we are monitoring the progress of governments in combating trafficking while supporting programs aimed at its eradication. From forced labor and debt bondage to forced commercial sexual exploitation and involuntary domestic servitude, human trafficking leaves no country untouched.

"With this knowledge, we rededicate ourselves to forging robust international partnerships that strengthen global anti-trafficking efforts, and to confronting traffickers here at home."

Topics: Government • In The News
Breaking the chains: Freedom's successes
This image showing enslaved fishing boys in Ghana was one of the first to appear on the Freedom Project.
December 19th, 2011
03:44 PM ET

Breaking the chains: Freedom's successes

(CNN) - Since its launch in March, the CNN Freedom Project has helped shine a spotlight on all aspects of modern-day slavery and spurred action from governments, corporations and individuals.

CNN reported on sex slaves and bonded workers, children and adults caught in despair, and the inspirational against-all-odds work of individuals and organizations fighting the trade.

Nearly 2,000 people have come out of slavery, either directly or indirectly, as a result of the hundreds of  stories broadcast on air and published online.

FULL POST

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