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
June 30th, 2014
05:18 PM ET

'End Slavery Now' relaunches Website

"End Slavery Now' has relaunched its website to help people understand more about global slavery and unite those fighting to stop it.

The U.S.-based abolitionist group, founded in 2009, produced the new site to show the global reach of modern day slavery, but also, crucially, to showcase its partners around the world who are tackling the issues.

The site, which took 16 months to develop, includes a news feed, a calendar of events, photo galleries and suggestions of practical ways to help fight slavery.

The group has also produced a video to help people understand its mission.

Congratulations to everyone involved in the relaunch.

Topics: How to Help • In The News • Solutions • The Facts • Voices
June 19th, 2014
02:59 PM ET

Steve McQueen: You can help people to be free

Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen tells CNN why "12 Years a Slave" was such an important film to make, and says news events like the abduction of the Nigerian schoolgirls should encourage everyone to spread awareness of modern day slavery and expose its horrors.

Topics: How to Help • Solutions • Voices
The American capitalist saving children in Philippines, 'one at a time'
The Lingap Center offers children shelter from human traffickers in the Philippines
May 18th, 2014
10:11 PM ET

The American capitalist saving children in Philippines, 'one at a time'

By Jason Evans

(CNN) - It was 2002 in the Philippines, and American business traveler John Drake was presented with a disgusting offer.

He says a pimp offered him a four-year-old girl for sex "for about 25 bucks".

Drake returned home to Jackson, Michigan, but couldn’t forget the heart-breaking and disturbing scenes of child exploitation.

So, aged 58, he retired from his job as senior vice president of human resources for CMS Energy and Consumers Energy, where he'd worked for 32 years, and began a new phase of his life.

FULL POST

Topics: How to Help • Solutions • Voices
December 13th, 2013
04:06 PM ET

How students in Cambodia take up the fight against trafficking

Cambodia has a young population and awareness about the dangers of modern day slavery is spreading, thanks in part to student activists. During filming for the documentary "Every Day in Cambodia", actress Mira Sorvino met some of the teenagers who are warning communities against falling for the traffickers' false promises.

Watch Mira Sorvino's report
'We need more recruits'
December 12th, 2013
09:03 AM ET

'We need more recruits'

Don Brewster, a former pastor from California, is the founder and director of Agape International Missions, an organization dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating the victims of child trafficking in Cambodia and smashing the networks that exploit them. He moved to Cambodia with his wife in 2009 after a harrowing trip to the neighborhood and worked with CNN on the documentary 'Every Day in Cambodia'.

He has written a post on Agape's site in which he explains why he agreed to be a part of the documentary. He says: "We need more recruits ... in order for the truth to win out it must be spoken out."

Read his blog post here
November 8th, 2013
11:55 AM ET

A goat, a pig and saving children from slavery in Nepal

By Gena Somra

Nepalgunj, Nepal (CNN) - At first blush, one could mistake 88-year-old Olga Murray, a petite white-haired woman with a thousand megawatt smile, as something other than what she is: a passionate force to be reckoned with.

She may be tiny, but don't be fooled. Murray is a powerhouse.

The sun is blazing, the heat daunting, but as she walks through a remote area of Nepalgunj nestled along the Indian border, infamous for being the "hottest place in Nepal", Murray shows little sign of discomfort.

She is energized. And it is the work she has done here she says, that is one of her proudest achievements.

In this tiny corner of the world, far from the trappings of modern life, Murray's Nepal Youth Foundation has rescued more than 11,000 girls from the practice of "Kamlari" and the life of indentured servitude it brings.

FULL POST

August 8th, 2013
10:04 AM ET

Rescued children shouldn’t be in handcuffs

Editor’s note: Francesca L. Garrett is a long-time victim’s advocate and Executive Director of the Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio.

By Francesca Garrett, Special for CNN

The girl on the news is wearing pink flip flops.  An oversized plaid shirt hides a figure that has barely begun to develop. According to the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act, as a minor who has been forced to perform a sexual act for money she is a victim of sex trafficking. Yet under prostitution statutes in most states she has also committed a criminal offense - and now she is in handcuffs.

About three-quarters of  the children rescued last week by the Federal Bureau of Investigation through Operation Cross Country VII live in states that afford them no legal protections from prostitution charges.

Some could face up to two years in juvenile detention, others, thousands of dollars in fines (pdf). Many may also be charged for possessing the cocktail of drugs that traffickers use to create dependency and compliance in the children they sell. And though the FBI is likely to afford special leniency to those rescued in the sting, without change, the same may not hold true for the children arrested on the streets in the coming months and years. FULL POST

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

Child miners face death for tech
A young worker at one of the mineral mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
June 26th, 2013
07:51 PM ET

Child miners face death for tech

By Roger-Claude Liwanga, Special for CNN
Editor’s note: Roger-Claude Liwanga is a human rights lawyer from the Congo and visiting scholar at Boston University. He worked for The Carter Center as a legal consultant, where he developed a training module to train Congolese judges and prosecutors on the protection of children against trafficking for economic exploitation in the mines. He is also the co-founder and executive director of Promote Congo, and is currently directing and producing a short documentary, “Children of the Mines,” which will be launched shortly in Boston. He writes in his personal capacity.

While the world was celebrating the International Day Against Child Labor on June 12, children in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were hard at work in the country’s artisanal mines. Out of two million people working in the DRC’s artisanal mines, 40 percent of them are children.

Six months ago, I met a boy I will call Lukoji in the mine washing site of Dilala near the DRC’s Kolwezi city.

When I first saw him, the seven-year- old was sifting and washing heterogenite, an ore rich in cobalt and copper minerals.  He told me: “I began working in the mines when I was five”. He works along with his two brothers who are 12 and 13 years old.

Lukoji only works in the afternoon because he goes to school in the morning. Unlike him, his siblings are school dropouts and work all day in the mine from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lukoji’s brothers abandoned school because their unemployed parents were unable to pay the school fees for all of Lukoji’s siblings.

Seventy-five percent of children surveyed in the DRC’s artisanal mines are dropouts. The DRC’s Constitution guarantees a free elementary education; but this constitutional provision is ineffective and there are almost no schools in many of the remote mining areas. FULL POST

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Topics: How to Help • Technology • Uncategorized
June 14th, 2013
03:54 PM ET

Striking out to combat slavery

As a boy,  Jeremy Affeldt, a pitcher for the World Series champions San Francisco Giants, experienced the menace of human trafficking first hand in Thailand. Now every time he strikes out a player he donates money to help the fight against slavery.

FULL STORY
June 11th, 2013
06:56 PM ET

Victim's plea: Change New York law, charge the traffickers

Editor’s note: Lauren Hersh is New York Director of Equality Now and head of its Sex Trafficking program combatting violence against women and girls. She is a former prosecutor at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office which covers Brooklyn.

By Lauren Hersh, Special for CNN, New York

Three months ago, Ruth came into my life. Sixteen years and two weeks old, Ruth is spunky and smart.

She loves Hello Kitty and iced coffee, listens to Alicia Keys and spends days planning her Sweet 16 outfit. Ruth wants to build schools in Africa.  Her contagious smile lights up a room. But, for years, the smile I have come to love was hidden.

Ruth is not her real name. She is a sexually exploited child. At 12, after being raped by her mother’s boyfriend, she met an older man who promised to love and care for her. Instead, he brutally beat her, repeatedly raped her and sold her for sex more times than she could count.

There is a common misconception that girls like Ruth choose to enter prostitution. This could not be further from the truth. FULL POST

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Topics: How to Help • Solutions • Uncategorized
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