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 19th, 2014
02:59 PM ET

Steve McQueen: You can help people to be free

Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen tells CNN why "12 Years a Slave" was such an important film to make, and says news events like the abduction of the Nigerian schoolgirls should encourage everyone to spread awareness of modern day slavery and expose its horrors.

Topics: How to Help • Solutions • 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.

FULL STORY
Topics: Government • In The News • Solutions • Voices
The American capitalist saving children in Philippines, 'one at a time'
The Lingap Center offers children shelter from human traffickers in the Philippines
May 18th, 2014
10:11 PM ET

The American capitalist saving children in Philippines, 'one at a time'

By Jason Evans

(CNN) - It was 2002 in the Philippines, and American business traveler John Drake was presented with a disgusting offer.

He says a pimp offered him a four-year-old girl for sex "for about 25 bucks".

Drake returned home to Jackson, Michigan, but couldn’t forget the heart-breaking and disturbing scenes of child exploitation.

So, aged 58, he retired from his job as senior vice president of human resources for CMS Energy and Consumers Energy, where he'd worked for 32 years, and began a new phase of his life.

FULL POST

Topics: How to Help • Solutions • Voices
April 29th, 2014
05:21 PM ET

Opinion: Cocoa farmers need bigger slice of profits

After seeing Cocoa-nomics, the documentary about the chocolate industry's efforts to end slavery and child labor in its supply chains, Han de Groot, Executive Director of UTZ Certified, which promotes sustainable cocoa, coffee and tea, was prompted to write about his experiences working with farmers in Ivory Coast.

He says progress is being made. But there is much to do, especially alleviate crippling poverty and ensure that farmers get a greater slice of the industry's revenues. If not, he argues, chocolate will become an expensive niche product and communities which depend on cocoa will suffer further.

Read Han de Groot's article in Confectionery News
Topics: Solutions • Uncategorized
Pineapple program fights traffickers in Sierra Leone
April 2nd, 2014
04:36 PM ET

Pineapple program fights traffickers in Sierra Leone

By John Lyon, Special for CNN

Editor's note: John Lyon is the President and CEO of World Hope International. Based in the United States, WHI is a direct partner of Sierra Leone in the fight against human trafficking. In Sierra Leone, WHI helps trafficking victims find a safe, healthy life through emergency after-care and community education programs.

(CNN) - Selina was just 10 years old when her parents sent her off to Freetown to live with her uncle, who promised education and better opportunities.

Her parents, petty-traders in a small fishing village in Sierra Leone, barely made enough to feed their children.

The uncle's offer seemed like the break they had been waiting for - an opportunity to give their daughter a better life than the one they could provide for her. They never anticipated the nightmare that would ensue.

When Selina, whose name has been changed to protect her, arrived at her uncle's house, it quickly became clear she would not be getting the education she had hoped for.

Instead, Selina was immediately locked inside her uncle's house, where he proceeded to sexually assault her over the course of the next several months, often raping her multiple times a day.

Selina’s story is one of many that have been shared with World Hope International’s staff since we started anti-trafficking prevention and rehabilitation efforts in Sierra Leone in 2004.

Unfortunately, stories of exploitation and servitude are not unusual in this country where more than 60% of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day.

FULL POST

Topics: Life In Slavery • Solutions
February 4th, 2014
04:32 PM ET

Cocoa-nomics: Now can chocolate companies stamp out slavery?

Two years ago, the documentary Chocolate's Child Slaves exposed the plight of youngsters forced to harvest the beans that make the chocolate we eat around the world. Many of the children made to work in the cocoa plantations in countries like Ivory Coast have never even tasted chocolate. Now CNN has returned to the plantations, this time with the Executive Vice President of Nestle, to find out if anything has changed and to see if the chocolate industry is willing and able to eradicate slavery from its supply chains.

Cocoa-nomics, presented by Richard Quest, will air on CNN International for the first time on February 27. You can watch the trailer above. And we'd like to hear from you too if you are taking steps to make sure the food you eat is not produced by slave labor. Find out more in our iReport assignment.

January 10th, 2014
11:29 AM ET

The Gambia: How one teenager stood up to child marriages

In The Gambia, child marriages help alleviate poverty for many families. But Ramatoulie Jallow, a straight-A student with ambitions to be a doctor, wanted a different destiny and stood up to her father. Now she is an activist for children's rights, fighting to replace a culture of silence and early marriage for girls with education and the confidence to speak out.

Topics: In The News • Life In Slavery • Solutions • Voices
January 9th, 2014
11:47 AM ET

Ghana: Journalist goes undercover to expose traffickers

Police in Ghana storm a camp being used to keep children in slavery after one journalist spent weeks infiltrating the traffickers. In this video, CNN correspondent Vlad Duthiers meets the journalist and asks the minister responsible for protecting children what the government is doing to help.

December 13th, 2013
04:06 PM ET

How students in Cambodia take up the fight against trafficking

Cambodia has a young population and awareness about the dangers of modern day slavery is spreading, thanks in part to student activists. During filming for the documentary "Every Day in Cambodia", actress Mira Sorvino met some of the teenagers who are warning communities against falling for the traffickers' false promises.

Watch Mira Sorvino's report
Mira’s Cambodia Journal – Day Two: Meeting Heroes and Survivors
Lim, one of the girls working at the artisan space in Rahab's House, and Mira wearing a bracelet Lim made.
December 12th, 2013
02:30 PM ET

Mira’s Cambodia Journal – Day Two: Meeting Heroes and Survivors

By Mira Sorvino, Special to CNN

Phnom Penh, Cambodia (CNN) – Today we drove out to Svay Pak, a slum notorious as a hub of child sex trafficking.  There we met Don Brewster, a white haired, blue-eyed bespectacled man in flip-flops with a pleasant face and high energy. He runs Agape International Missions (AIM), a non-profit for trafficked and at risk children and teenagers. The residence, Rahab’s House, is filled with bustling energy with a school and a children’s center. It takes its name from an Old Testament prostitute who provided sanctuary and was blessed. He says this and every other building used by AIM is a former brothel."

Don takes me on a walking tour of Svay Pak; we pass “The Lord’s Gym,” a center Don started, filled with local guys—human traffickers-turned-kickboxers. How he did it: He invited a “power team” of U.S. bodybuilders to display their might through the streets, leading the young men to the gym to work out, where they are inspired by a coach who teaches them respect for women and children.  They have traded the high money (they used to make U.S. $200 or more a month bringing girls in from Vietnam and selling them to brothels) for the prestige of being known pro-fighters. I'm very impressed by Don’s outside-the-box methodology, proving transformation is possible in this generation of young men.

As we continue our walk, Don points out a group, mostly men, sitting around a couple of tables at the end of road.  They are all traffickers, he says: They sell not only other people’s children, but their own.

As we approach with the cameras, they start to disperse, like roaches exposed to the light.  A feeling of utter revulsion and ire rises in me. I finally burst out: "It's not ok to sell children! It's not ok to sell children to pedophiles … The world is watching."

I felt so impotent with a rage that could do nothing in the moment. I felt a little ridiculous but I couldn’t walk away saying nothing.

Don felt we should move out of there quickly. Then we looked at each other and both started crying. I just can't stand it, that little children and teenagers are being hurt a stone’s throw away and we can’t get to them, can't swoop in like guardian angels and pluck them out of harm’s way; that those men and shifty-eyed women are using children for profit and going through with their ipso facto destruction without a shred of empathy or humanity.  I’m crying again thinking about it. FULL POST

Mira’s Cambodia Journal – Day Three: The Front Lines
December 12th, 2013
02:28 PM ET

Mira’s Cambodia Journal – Day Three: The Front Lines

By Mira Sorvino, Special to CNN

Phnom Penh, Cambodia (CNN) – This morning Don Brewster takes us to the Agape Restoration Center, a secure facility in Phnom Penh for the protection and development of the most-at-risk girls. We are brought through gates into a lush courtyard with pools and a gaggle of smiling young girls, awaiting our arrival.

I’m experiencing déjà vu ; the very first time I met young survivors of sex trafficking was when I pulled into a secret shelter deep in the heart of Mexico City, and hoped desperately that the smallest kids I saw were the sisters or daughters of victims. This time I know better: At least three girls I met today were just six years old and had been rescued from sex trafficking.

In the courtyard, we interviewed another young virgin sale victim.  Kieu was probably somewhere between 13 and 14 (they have few birth records).  She was very lovely with the shy expression of a young doe. She wore an intricate braid plaited in her hair, and a pretty green dress.  She told of how she had been sold by her mother to a Khmer man of “maybe more than 50” who had three children of his own. The price set in advance for her virginity: $1,500, though she was ultimately only given $1,000, of which she had to give $400 to the woman who brought her to the man. Her mother used the money to pay down a debt and for food for the fish they raise under their floating house-their primary income source.

Beforehand, Kieu said, “I did not know what the job was and whether it was good for me.  I had no idea what to expect.  But now I know the job was not good for me.”  After she lost her virginity to the man, she felt “very heartbroken.” Her mother supposedly felt bad too, but still sent her to work in a brothel.  Kieu said she did not want to go, but had to.  She said, “They held me like I was in prison.” FULL POST

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