By Krupskaia Alis and Rafael Romo, CNN
Joanna moves her hands nervously as she speaks. Her oversized, golden earrings rattle as she shakes her head to make a point. Joanna is not her real name. She's speaking on the condition that CNN will protect her privacy and not disclose her real name. She's only 16 years old, but has already experienced a lifetime of horror, abuse and torture. She's a former sex slave.
It all started when she met a charming man. "I was in a normal relationship with him for three months," she says. At the time she was only 14 years old. She was treated like royalty and fell in love. A few months later he asked her to elope and she agreed.
"He promised that we would get a house and that we would raise children. I was naïve and believed everything he said. We started living together in July and by September he was already forcing me to work as a prostitute," Joanna said.
By then it had become painfully clear that Joanna's boyfriend was in reality her captor, a pimp who preyed on young, vulnerable teenagers whom he recruited in central Mexico with the purpose of forcing them into prostitution. 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.
Cecilia Flores-Oebanda has spent her life fighting - as a child for some education, as a teen rebel against a dictator, and for more than 20 years against human traffickers.
She has become the face of the Philippines anti-trafficking movement - a woman who has the ear of presidents, royalty and philanthropists around the globe.
Along the way she persuaded the biggest name in the Philippines - boxing legend Manny Pacquiao - to join her fight.
After two years of reporting in the Philippines – from going on police raids in Manila to going undercover in search of human trafficking in remote provinces - CNN can now tell their story.
Rescued girls describe how they were recruited by traffickers, the ordeals they endured - sometimes by men a computer click and half-a-world away - and how Oebanda saved them.
Now Oebanda is fighting a battle that could truly ruin her reputation and the organization she created - fraud allegations made by Philippine investigators.SPECIAL REPORT
By Atika Shubert, CNN
(CNN) Like so many Indonesian women, Eli Anita wanted to earn more money than she could at home.
In 2007, she moved to Dubai through a labor recruitment company where, she says, her manager immediately began harassing her for sex, at one point becoming violent.
“He got very angry and he also beat me and kidnapped me in the bathroom for many hours. He locked the door,” she says in broken English. FULL POST
By Bibek Bhandari, Special for CNN
Kathmandu, Nepal - Bijaya Limbu is an experienced circus performer who enjoys his art - but his introduction to the traveling showbiz lifestyle came through human traffickers who bought him from his parents.
While other children watch the circus in awe, Limbu was just nine when he was first forced to work in a circus.
He says he was trafficked from Nepal to a circus in India, and forced to perform for four years until he was rescued.
Limbu's story highlights the state of human trafficking in Nepal, where poverty coupled with lack of awareness fuels the trade in children. 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 has won two honors at the 2012 Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards - one for an online-led Freedom Project special report on modern-day slavery in Mauritania and one for its coverage of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
For Mauritania, the judges said 'Slavery's Last Stronghold' upholds "the highest ideals of journalism" and recognized the covert reporting of CNN Digital reporters John D. Sutter and Edythe McNamee.
The judges noted: “They had to do their reporting on slavery covertly, often in the presence of a government-assigned minder. Their project was published online, accompanied by haunting photos and video.”
Senior international correspondent Arwa Damon and photojournalist Sarmad Qaseera won in the breaking news category. The reporting shed light on the attack which killed U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
Judges said: “Damon’s courageous reporting showed it appeared to be a planned attack that came after U.S. diplomats had been warned days before by Libyan officials about the deteriorating security there. The network stood firm in the face of harsh criticism from the State Department. The U.S. government’s investigation later proved CNN’s reporting to be accurate.”
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
Conscientious consumers are credited with driving change in forced child labor practices inside one of the world's most repressive regimes: Uzbekistan.
But while progress has been made, the fight is far from over.
"Uzbekistan has one of the most atrocious human rights records of any nation in the world," said Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia research for Human Rights Watch. "It's longstanding President (Islam Karimov) has been in power for 23 years and he crushes dissent."
Hundreds of thousands of students in Uzbekistan are pulled from their classrooms every fall and ordered into the fields to pick cotton for little or no pay.
A mother was recorded on video saying that if she didn’t send her child to pick cotton, she faced a fine equivalent to two weeks pay. Rights groups say students are also threatened with losing their seat in the classroom. FULL POST