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.
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.FULL STORY
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.
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.FULL STORY
The world is paying attention to the abduction of Nigerian schoolgirls because the numbers are so high, but the slavery of girls is prevalent in northern Nigeria, and is often not reported when the victims are taken in ones and twos, says Aidan McQuade, Director of Anti-Slavery International. The abuse stems from a lack of respect for women and girls, he tells CNN anchor Jim Clancy.
There are 700,000 people currently in slavery in Nigeria, according to Walk Free. They are often abducted from extremely poor rural areas. Some are trafficked for slave labor including prostitution, occasionally to criminals in Europe and the Middle East. Others are forced into marriage.
CNN anchor Jim Clancy looks at the wider issues around slavery in Nigeria and west Africa.
A new attack is reported in Nigeria, with eight more students abducted in a region where terrorist group Boko Haram says it will sell girls.
One year ago this month, Boko Haram's leader Abubakar Shekau released a video announcing a new, reprehensible front in its bloody attempt at forced Islamism: his fighters will begin abducting girls and selling them. The terrorist group has just done that.
For months the incidents received little attention beyond Nigeria. Now the disgust is spreading worldwide.FULL STORY
By Shasta Darlington, CNN
The newly-renovated Castelao football stadium looms into sight up ahead. Driving just past it, we see women standing on street corners, leaning into cars and flashing nearly naked bodies in the low light.
We're in Fortaleza in the northeastern corner of Brazil, one of the World Cup host cities but also known as a magnet for sex tourism.
This week Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury who is head of the Anglican Church, and the Grand Imam of the al-Azhar mosque in Egypt, Islam's highest-ranking Sunni cleric, united to tackle modern day slavery.
Their representatives gathered at the Vatican to sign on to the Global Freedom Network, an initiative launched by Australian billionaire and mining magnate Andrew Forrest.
“I got dragged, really, kicking and screaming, into this cause by my daughter, Grace,” Forrest said. “When she was 15, she worked in an orphanage in Nepal and our intelligence was that there was something suspect about the orphanage.”
The Global Freedom Network wants international support. It wants 50 multi-national businesses to free their supply chains from slavery. And it wants to convince the G20 to adopt an anti-slavery initiative.
Christiane Amanpour spoke to Forrest, along with Archbishop David Moxon of the Anglican Church and Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo of the Catholic Church.FULL STORY
Qatar says it has made “tangible progress” in addressing welfare concerns of migrant workers, as the nation builds the infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup. Amnesty International says the reforms are positive but not enough.
“On one level, always pleased to see positive efforts to improve rights to migrant workers and prevent these kind of abuses happening," says James Lynch, Amnesty International’s researcher on migrants’ rights. "But I think it’s important to make it clear that this doesn’t really fundamentally change the situation. This is a limited contractual standard being applied to World Cup stadiums."
Watch his interview on CNN.
And read how Qatar is defending its record on human rights.
Carpets woven by slaves are could be for sale in some of the world's biggest stores. Researchers investigating the hand-made carpet industry documented thousands of workers in northern India and found widespread slave labor, bonded labor and human trafficking in the supply chains. Siddharth Kara, who worked on the report for the Harvard School of Public Health, said that the reality may be far worse because they were violently turned away from many of the operations they tried to visit. Read his report in full here.