Report shines light on slave labor in U.S.
October 21st, 2014
04:16 PM ET

Report shines light on slave labor in U.S.

They work on U.S. construction sites and farms, in restaurants and hotels, even in homes.

Foreign workers, lured by false promises of good jobs in America, soon find themselves enslaved in plain sight as victims of labor trafficking, according to a new report published by the nonpartisan Urban Institute and Northeastern University.

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Mauritania: Where escaping slavery can be a crime
October 20th, 2014
04:34 PM ET

Mauritania: Where escaping slavery can be a crime

By John D. Sutter

Imagine being rescued from modern slavery, only to be charged with a crime.

That's the apparent reality in Mauritania, the country with the world's highest incidence of modern slavery. Located in West Africa, on the edge of the Sahara Desert, an estimated 4% to 20% of people there remain enslaved. It was the last country in the world to abolish the practice - in 1981. And it only criminalized owning humans in 2007.

So perhaps this latest news should come as no surprise.

Mbeirika Mint M'bareck, a 15-year-old girl, was rescued from slavery only to be subsequently charged with having sex outside of marriage, according to a letter activists drafted on her behalf. (It is unclear who fathered the child). That crime is potentially punishable by death by stoning, according to an expert I spoke with. The activists planned to send the letter to the country's ministry of justice on Monday.

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Time for electronics industry to end supply chain slavery
September 26th, 2014
04:43 PM ET

Time for electronics industry to end supply chain slavery

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.

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Topics: Business • In The News • Life In Slavery • Solutions
September 15th, 2014
10:58 PM ET

Race on to raise $1m in a day to combat human trafficking in U.S.

By Leif Coorlim, CNN

A U.S. national campaign is under way to raise more than a million dollars in 24 hours.

The Everyone’s Kids, Everyone Gives campaign is working to raise $1 million for more than 100 non-profit organizations united in the fight against human-trafficking and modern-day slavery.

Like many other hidden criminal issues, accurate statistics on trafficking can be difficult to obtain. Globally, more than 20 million people are believed to held in slavery, according to the International Labour Organization.

The U.S. government estimates anywhere between 100,000 and 300,000 children could be “at risk” of being trafficked each year.

The U.S. State Department also states as many as 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into the United States each year as well.

“Americans need to know that this tragedy is happening here at home, under our noses, and is a reality of our times especially with the influx of child trafficking happening online through sites like Backpage and Craigslist,” says Bonnie Calvin, one of the event’s organizers.

The 24-hour “giving day” will take place on September 16. The aim is to connect donors with information about the issue and the organizations working to end child slavery and sex trafficking in the U.S.

Non-profit partners of the campaign include: GEMS, Humanity United, Polaris, The McCain Institute, and Youthlink.

“These organizations work day in and day out with victims and survivors of child trafficking,” says Calvin. “They provide survivor's recovery services like education, housing, therapy and job placement.

"Beyond that, they provide the hope and direction survivors need to get their lives back on track and pointed to a brighter future.”

"This is what real empowerment looks like to victims and survivors of human trafficking,” says Rani Hong, a sex trafficking victim and now a United Nations Special Advisor for victims.

“Everyone’s Kids, Everyone Gives” is the result of a 2013 Ted challenge. The crowdfunding platform, Razoo.com, is also committing an additional $50,000 in cash prizes to nonprofit groups that receive the most donations on the Giving Day.

“We should not stand for child trafficking and the sexual slavery of children anywhere in the world and especially here at home.” says Calvin.

“We can be an example for the world to follow if we tackle this problem head on and eradicate it forever.”

Topics: How to Help • In The News
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 25th, 2014
04:33 PM ET

FBI shuts website allegedly linked to child prostitution

The FBI has shut down a website advertising children for prostitution - a move made as part of a broader crackdown on the sex trafficking of minors, law enforcement sources told CNN on condition of anonymity.

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Topics: In The News
Condemned by the U.S., can Thailand tackle human trafficking?
June 20th, 2014
02:32 PM ET

Condemned by the U.S., can Thailand tackle human trafficking?

Migrant laborers are photographed here on a fishing boat in Thailand's Rayong province - a common destination for trafficking victims.

Trafficking in Thailand's fishing industry has again been highlighted by the U.S. State Department, which on Friday downgraded the country in its 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report.

Now, Thailand shares the "Tier 3" category with 22 other countries, putting it on par in the eyes of Washington with the likes of North Korea, Syria and the Central African Republic in its response to human trafficking.

Thai officials acknowledge they have a problem, but say progress is being made.

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Topics: Government • In The News • Life In Slavery • TIP Report
June 20th, 2014
09:21 AM ET

Opinion: U.S. must practice what it preaches as it judges others on human trafficking

By Melysa Sperber

Editor’s Note: Melysa Sperber is Director of the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), a U.S. based coalition that advocates for solutions to prevent and end all forms of human trafficking and modern slavery around the world. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author.

(CNN) - For the past 14 years, the U.S. State Department has used its Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report to judge how well the world is addressing modern slavery.

Each year, the report draws much-needed attention to the horrors of human trafficking that flourish everywhere from fishing boats in Thailand and palm plantations in Malaysia, to brick kilns in India and the sex industry in just about every country worldwide.

Hidden behind the shadows, traffickers prey on men, women and children, luring the vulnerable among us with promises of honest employment that are merely a facade for work conditions that are dangerous, exploitative and sometimes deadly.

To date, the TIP Report’s country-by-country assessment has proven to be a powerful motivator, inspiring governments to improve efforts to reduce modern slavery in order to avoid the report’s lowest Tier 3 ranking - a diplomatic black eye that comes with the threat of U.S. sanctions.

The State Department’s power to influence other countries’ anti-trafficking efforts depends on the TIP Report’s integrity.

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Topics: Government • In The News • The Facts • TIP Report
June 20th, 2014
09:05 AM ET

Human Trafficking: U.S. downgrades four countries in TIP Report

By Leif Coorlim

Washington, DC (CNN) –- After several years of what it says are broken promises, the U.S. government has singled out Thailand, Malaysia, Venezuela and The Gambia for taking insufficient action against human trafficking.

In its annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, released Friday, the U.S. State Department downgraded the four countries to Tier 3, the lowest possible ranking it gives for national responses to fighting modern day slavery.

The report says there is evidence of forced labor and sex trafficking in Malaysia and Thailand. It highlights Malaysia’s problem with migrants from other Asian nations who seek work on farms, factories and construction sites only to be trapped and have their passports taken and wages withheld.

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Topics: Government • In The News • The Facts • TIP Report
Cambodia anti-slavery hero Somaly Mam resigns after Newsweek exposé
May 30th, 2014
10:38 PM ET

Cambodia anti-slavery hero Somaly Mam resigns after Newsweek exposé

By Michael Martinez

She was the world's crusader against the trafficking of girls for sex in Cambodia, and she told an extraordinary personal tale: she was a village girl sold by a grandfatherly man into sex slavery.

Triumphant as well as beautiful, Somaly Mam won attention from Oprah Winfrey, a New York Times columnist, a PBS documentary, Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2009, and even CNN, which named her a "Hero" in 2007.

The fame - and her memoir "The Road of Lost Innocence" - generated millions of dollars for her Somaly Mam Foundation, fighting sex traffickers.

But her personal story wasn't true, according to a Newsweek exposé this month.

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Topics: In The News
May 22nd, 2014
04:05 PM ET

Teenage abolitionists take to the stage

By Katie Cappiello and Lauren Hersh

Editor’s note: Katie Cappiello is the co-founder and Artistic Director of The Arts Effect NYC and writer of the play “A Day In The Life.” Lauren Hersh is the Director of Anti Trafficking Policy & Advocacy at Sanctuary for Families. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writers.

Mira stands on the stage. At only 14 years old, she explains the devastating impact of watching her cousin sold for sex by a local Boston boy, who lured her in with "love" and drugs and enslaved her for years.

Darci, 15 years old, follows. She takes us into her home (and her head) the night her father was arrested for purchasing sex from a 14-year-old girl on Backpage.com.

Odley, 17, speaks of the repeated rapes by her mother's boyfriend that drove her onto the streets and into the hands of a trafficker when she was just halfway through the 7th grade.

These stories are inspired by real girls and real events. They are being brought to life by impassioned teen actors/activists like Mira, Darci and Odley at community centers, schools, hospitals and theaters across New York and New Jersey.

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Topics: In The News • Voices
U.S. lawmakers work to end underground sex trafficking
May 21st, 2014
01:44 PM ET

U.S. lawmakers work to end underground sex trafficking

According to the FBI, an estimated 293,000 American youth are at risk of being trafficked in the nation's underground sex trade.

Now lawmakers in Washington have passed a broad package of bills aimed at trying to shut down America's multi-million dollar sex trafficking industry.

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Topics: Government • In The News • Solutions • Voices
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