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
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.
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
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
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
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
As France commemorated the 150th anniversary of its abolition of slavery, modern forms are regularly surfacing.
Sylvie O'Dy, president of the Committee Against Modern Slavery, said 122 people were freed from bondage last year in France and she believes that figure is the tip of the iceberg.
Tina Okpara was legally adopted in her native Nigeria and taken to France by football star Godwin Okpara and his wife.
Her birth family agreed to adopting the 12-year-old girl thinking she was heading off to a better life, but once in France, she was kept out of school and made to work as a domestic, sexually abused and mutilated. After running away, she eventually managed to convince local authorities of her plight. The Okparas were convicted and jailed.
In another case, a Cambodian refugee named Sok was held in cruel conditions and – according to his lawyer - forced to work by a French mother and daughter who took advantage of his mental incapacity for more than 10 years. Denied medical treatment he pulled out his own teeth with a pliers. Eventually the French women were taken to court. Sok is now a ward of the state.
CNN's Fionnuala Sweeney talks to a group of long-distance runners raising awareness about human trafficking.
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
Three runners update CNN on their 1,000-mile trek through Europe raising money to help children rescued from trafficking.
The run began in Ukraine by the Black Sea and ends in Croatia on the Adriatic Coast.
CNN and iReport is joining the #enditmovement to help shine a light on slavery.
Join us by drawing a red X on your hand, window, wherever – be creative! – and sharing your photos by tagging them #enditmovement. You can also send them to iReport here. We’ll share some of the best on CNN.
You can find out more about the End It Movement here or watch this interview where actor-comedian Nick Cannon talks to CNN about the movement.