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.
The host of hit U.S. TV show “America’s Got Talent” is getting behind a new campaign to end modern-day slavery.
Actor-comedian Nick Cannon told CNN he wanted to use his celebrity to encourage others to join the anti-slavery fight.
Seven non-profits formed the End It Movement to fight modern-day slavery all over the world.
End It and Cannon hope people will join the campaign on social media and agree to put an X on their hands as part of the organization’s ‘Shine a light on slavery day’ on April 9.
Hong Kong (CNN) – College students in Hong Kong stood on campus for 27 hours to raise awareness of modern-day slavery, in a campaign that ended on Thursday.
The “Stand for Freedom” event, which was organized by students from the University of Hong Kong's International Christian Fellowship group, raised HK$10,000 (U.S.$1,300) for human rights agency International Justice Mission. FULL POST
In his acceptance speech after winning the 2013 Oscar for best actor Daniel Day-Lewis acknowledged "the mysteriously beautiful mind, body and spirit of Abraham Lincoln."
There was applause from the audience. It was a celebration of Day-Lewis's talent and performance as the 16th U.S. president. But in a sublime way, it was also a celebration of Lincoln himself - his life, his words and his actions, most notably his fight against slavery.
One organization is trying to connect the historical Lincoln with the issue of modern day slavery.
Lincoln fought to end slavery 150 years ago. But how can we follow his lead to put this practice to an end for good? FULL POST
Editor’s note: Watch “Mozambique or Bust” on CNN international Friday, February 15 at 1630 GMT, Saturday Feb. 16 at 1400GMT and 2130 GMT, and repeats Sunday through Wednesday.
There are several ways you can help the people featured in the CNN Freedom Project documentary, Mozambique or Bust, narrated by Mira Sorvino, an Oscar-winning actress and goodwill ambassador to combat human trafficking for the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime which tackles human trafficking. She says everyone can play a part in the fight against human trafficking.
There's more information at Free the Girls about the program that provides donated bras for sex trafficking survivors. The organization currently supports women in Mozambique, but plans to start programs in four other countries later this year.
If you are interested in Mozambique specifically, you can reach out to Project Purpose.
You can also learn more about Truckers Against Trafficking, a group educating drivers about human trafficking. On the TAT website, there's also a training video that shows drivers how to recognize victims on the road.
And there's more about Mira Sorvino’s work for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the fight against human trafficking.