October 30th, 2014
11:20 AM ET

'Treated like cattle': Yazidi women sold, raped, enslaved by ISIS

By Ivan Watson

Jana was a 19-year-old in her final year of high school, with dreams of becoming a doctor. Then, ISIS came to her village last August.

She described to me in chilling detail, how the jihadis first demanded that members of her Yazidi religious minority convert to Islam. Then they stripped villagers of their jewelry, money and cellphones. They separated the men from the women.

A United Nations report explained what happened next. ISIS "gathered all the males older than 10 years of age at the local school, took them outside the village by pick-up trucks, and shot them."

Among those believed dead were Jana's father and eldest brother.

A different fate lay in store for the women.

FULL STORY
Topics: In The News • Life In Slavery • Voices
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.

FULL STORY
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.

FULL STORY
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.

FULL STORY
Topics: Business • In The News • Life In Slavery • Solutions
While India's girls are aborted, brides are wanted
Akhleema and Tasleema, two sisters from Kolkata in India's east, were sold as brides in Haryana state, in western India
September 4th, 2014
02:32 PM ET

While India's girls are aborted, brides are wanted

Cultural preference for boys in parts of India results in some of the largest imbalances between males and females in the world. And that creates a demand for brides that human traffickers are willing to meet.

Film maker Carl Gierstorfer visited villages where brides fetch a price and teenage girls are snatched from their families. And he met the people who are fighting to stop this vicious cycle.

Read his story and watch some of his video
Topics: Life In Slavery • The Traffickers • Voices
Time to get children out of factories and into schools
August 31st, 2014
11:08 PM ET

Time to get children out of factories and into schools

By Nina Smith

Editor’s Note: Nina Smith is the founding CEO of GoodWeave International, a Washington DC-based non-profit organization that works to stop child labor in the carpet industry.

In a small village in central Afghanistan, 13-year-old Basma is about to start her first day of school –- ever.

She’s a world away from the millions of western children who are now heading back to their classrooms for a new school year.

Only weeks before, Basma was found working on a carpet loom. Her weaving fingers already showed signs of arthritis from holding tools since the age of nine, tying knots for 14 hours a day.

She was rescued by GoodWeave, an international organization I head in the U.S. that seeks to eliminate child labor in carpet manufacturing.

According to the International Labour Organization, there are 168 million child laborers like Basma around the world, forced to sacrifice their youth and their education.

Many of these boys and girls manufacture the very items that American consumers will have purchased this Labor Day weekend in anticipation of the new academic year –- as well as other parents across the world.

The U.S. National Retail Federation estimates that parents will spend $26.5 billion this back-to-school shopping season.

Some of their purchases will include clothes stitched in Bangladeshi factories not far from Rana Plaza, the factory complex that collapsed last year, killing more than 1,100 garment workers including some who were underage.

FULL POST

Topics: Business • How to Help • Life In Slavery
What's your slavery footprint?
July 8th, 2014
12:23 PM ET

What's your slavery footprint?

By Allyssia Alleyne

How many slaves work for you? If you’ve answered “zero,” you’re probably way off. At least that’s the premise behind Slavery Footprint, an online survey developed by the U.S. State Department and anti-slavery organization Made in a Free World.

The web interactive invites users to insert information about their consumer habits and lifestyle choices - this covers everything from what sports you play to what products line your medicine cabinet - and then determines approximately how many forced laborers they rely on.

The results are startling. It turns out that if you’ve ever eaten, worn, or used pretty much anything, you’ve likely been complicit in some form of slavery. In fact, Made in a Free World estimates that there are some 29 million slaves in the world today.

But the project’s goal is education, not blame. After completing the survey, you’re encouraged to be more thoughtful about where your products come from, and send pre-written emails to companies asking what they’re doing to address forced labor in their supply chains.

Check it out for yourself and let us know what you think: http://www.slaveryfootprint.org

Topics: Life In Slavery
June 26th, 2014
02:39 PM ET

Nepal's Organ Trail: How traffickers steal kidneys

On the streets of Kathmandu, the sight of people begging for kidney treatment has become common.

The capital of Nepal is no different from many places in the world where aging populations, poor diets and no health insurance systems mean increased organ disease.

The organ in highest demand is the kidney and black market traffickers are meeting that demand.

CNN Freedom Project's new documentary investigates the appalling illegal trade in kidneys.

Read the full story, watch clips from the documentary and check out TV schedule times
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.

FULL STORY
Topics: Government • In The News • Life In Slavery • TIP Report
Images of America's sex trade, caught on camera
May 21st, 2014
09:51 PM ET

Images of America's sex trade, caught on camera

Jon Lowenstein trains his eye on the parts of society many people try to avoid.

“I'm really interested in stories that are hidden or untold or in places that are off the beaten path and forgotten,” the photographer says. “But I try to do it in an elegant way. I try to find a poetic and intimate way of telling the stories.”

For the past 10 years, Lowenstein has documented gun violence in Chicago’s crime-riddled South Side and highlighted the experiences of undocumented immigrants living across the United States.

His work looks at the issues of power, poverty, alienation and violence, and it has recently taken him across the United States, Central America, Haiti and Uganda.

When it comes to photographing modern day slavery, Lowenstein says he tries to take an overwhelming problem and engage people on a personal, emotional level.

“My subjects are people who have been left behind by the global market or are being used by the global market," Lowenstein says.

"It's the intersection between the past and the present, but also how globalization is impacting the world."

Look at the photos here
Topics: Life In Slavery • Voices
May 7th, 2014
01:51 PM ET

Slavery in Nigeria 'based on lack of respect for girls' rights'

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.

May 7th, 2014
01:34 PM ET

Nigeria and the ongoing battle against slavery

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.

Topics: In The News • Life In Slavery • The Facts
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