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
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Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi share Nobel Peace Prize
Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai and India's Kailash Satyarthi both champion children's rights.
October 10th, 2014
11:31 AM ET

Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi share Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 is awarded to India's Kailash Satyarthi and Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai for their struggles against the suppression of children and for young people's rights, including the right to education.

Thorbjorn Jagland, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said, "Children must go to school, not be financially exploited."

Yousafzai came to global attention after she was shot in the head by the Taliban - two years ago Thursday - for her efforts to promote education for girls in Pakistan. Since then, after recovering from surgery, she has taken her campaign to the world stage, notably with a speech last year at the United Nations.

Satyarthi, age 60, has shown great personal courage in heading peaceful demonstrations focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain, the committee said.

FULL STORY

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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
April 10th, 2014
10:49 AM ET

Drive to end child marriage stalls, but fightback begins

By Gordon Brown, U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education

Editor's note: Gordon Brown is a United Nations Special Envoy on Global Education. He was formerly the UK's prime minister.

It is a descent into barbarism. This month’s plan by Iraqi parliamentarians to legalize girl marriage at nine follows the Pakistan Islamic Council’s demand last month that Pakistan abolish all legal restrictions on child marriage, the revelation that Syrian refugee girls are being sold into marriage against their will and the increased pressure in many African countries to ease the restrictions on selling child brides.

As one who has believed that worldwide disgust at child marriage would end it within our generation, I now find that progress has stalled. In the last few months Mauritania, at the center of allegations of girls’ genital mutilation to make possible the early marriage of eight and nine year olds, has resisted pressure to enforce a legal minimum age for marriage.

Attempts in Yemen to do so have also failed. Even Nigeria has been considering reducing the age of marriage.

In India, the rape of girls has brought millions on to the streets in protest and it has now been exposed as the country with 40% of the world's child brides.

The U.N. says one in nine girls is a bride by the age of 15 and that by 2020 142 million - or one in three girls in developing countries - will be married before they are 18. For example, in Afghanistan 60% are married before they turn 16 and in Niger 74% of girls are married by the age of 18.

Fortunately, the reluctance of governments to end abuses is being met with an even stronger movement from girls themselves.

FULL POST

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February 27th, 2014
03:55 PM ET

'End It Movement' looks to shine a light on slavery

For more than a year, a coalition of several non-profits working to end human slavery has been running a campaign to raise awareness about modern-day slavery all over the world.

It’s called the “End It Movement”.

CNN talks to Nate Buzolic about the movement and the significance of the red “X” symbol. 

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'We need more recruits'
December 12th, 2013
09:03 AM ET

'We need more recruits'

Don Brewster, a former pastor from California, is the founder and director of Agape International Missions, an organization dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating the victims of child trafficking in Cambodia and smashing the networks that exploit them. He moved to Cambodia with his wife in 2009 after a harrowing trip to the neighborhood and worked with CNN on the documentary 'Every Day in Cambodia'.

He has written a post on Agape's site in which he explains why he agreed to be a part of the documentary. He says: "We need more recruits ... in order for the truth to win out it must be spoken out."

Read his blog post here
10. Bangladesh
October 17th, 2013
10:01 AM ET

Global Slavery Index: Report shames India, China, Pakistan

A report claiming to be the most comprehensive look at global slavery says 30 million people are living as slaves around the world.

The Global Slavery Index, published by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation, lists India as the country with by far the most slaves, with an estimated nearly 14 million, followed by China (2.9 million) and Pakistan (2.1 million).

The top 10 countries on its list of shame accounted for more than three quarters of the 29.8 million people living in slavery, with Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh completing the list.

 

FULL STORY
July 15th, 2013
10:30 AM ET

Fighting forced labor helps women beat poverty

By Guy Ryder, Special for CNN
Editor’s Note: Guy Ryder is the Director-General of the International Labour Organization. This week it is launching The Work in Freedom program, an initiative funded by the UK Department for International Development which aims to help 100,000 women and girls from Bangladesh, India and Nepal who are in forced labor in countries including Lebanon, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and India.

Across the planet, about one in every seven of us lives in extreme poverty, having to survive on less than $1.25 a day. Every day, they and the millions more living just above the poverty line struggle to have enough to eat, and dream of a better life and of earning enough to provide for their families.

Geeta Devi was one of these people. The 32 year-old mother of two from Nepal had been struggling to support her children and, like millions before her, made the difficult decision to leave her family behind in search of better work. Geeta, whose real name is being withheld to protect her safety, left her home believing she had secured a job through a local recruitment agency to work in a hospital in Lebanon.

When she arrived in Beirut, the man who collected her at the airport told her that she would actually be employed as a domestic worker in his house.

Geeta had used her meager savings to travel abroad and now had no money to fly home. And so she was forced to accept the job. What followed was an all too familiar story of exploitation – no wages, physical and psychological abuse, loss of contact with family and restriction of movement. FULL POST

July 11th, 2013
06:02 PM ET

Saudi princess charged with human trafficking

A woman identified as a Saudi Arabian princess has been accused of holding a domestic servant against her will at her condominium in Irvine, California.
Meshael Alayban, 42, faces one felony count of human trafficking. Court details released Thursday say Alayban is one of the wives of Saudi Prince Abdulrahman bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz al Saud.

FULL STORY
Child miners face death for tech
A young worker at one of the mineral mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
June 26th, 2013
07:51 PM ET

Child miners face death for tech

By Roger-Claude Liwanga, Special for CNN
Editor’s note: Roger-Claude Liwanga is a human rights lawyer from the Congo and visiting scholar at Boston University. He worked for The Carter Center as a legal consultant, where he developed a training module to train Congolese judges and prosecutors on the protection of children against trafficking for economic exploitation in the mines. He is also the co-founder and executive director of Promote Congo, and is currently directing and producing a short documentary, “Children of the Mines,” which will be launched shortly in Boston. He writes in his personal capacity.

While the world was celebrating the International Day Against Child Labor on June 12, children in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were hard at work in the country’s artisanal mines. Out of two million people working in the DRC’s artisanal mines, 40 percent of them are children.

Six months ago, I met a boy I will call Lukoji in the mine washing site of Dilala near the DRC’s Kolwezi city.

When I first saw him, the seven-year- old was sifting and washing heterogenite, an ore rich in cobalt and copper minerals.  He told me: “I began working in the mines when I was five”. He works along with his two brothers who are 12 and 13 years old.

Lukoji only works in the afternoon because he goes to school in the morning. Unlike him, his siblings are school dropouts and work all day in the mine from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lukoji’s brothers abandoned school because their unemployed parents were unable to pay the school fees for all of Lukoji’s siblings.

Seventy-five percent of children surveyed in the DRC’s artisanal mines are dropouts. The DRC’s Constitution guarantees a free elementary education; but this constitutional provision is ineffective and there are almost no schools in many of the remote mining areas. FULL POST

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Topics: How to Help • Technology • Uncategorized
Black e-economy hiding traffickers' profits
June 26th, 2013
07:46 PM ET

Black e-economy hiding traffickers' profits

By Ernie Allen, Special for CNN
Editor’s note: Ernie Allen in the president and CEO of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, a global organization to protect children from sexual exploitation and abduction.

Human trafficking, including sex trafficking of children, is moving from the streets to the Internet.  Increasingly, the traffickers are also migrating to a new, unregulated, unbanked and largely anonymous Internet-based financial system.  For the traffickers, the appeal is obvious. This virtual economy offers them anonymity with little if any regulation or oversight. It is easy, low risk, and enormously profitable.

The issue is complex. The global payments market continues to evolve with the boom in e-commerce and mobile payments and alternative payment methods are being adopted.

In emerging economies mobile payments are becoming more prevalent because there are more mobile phones than bank accounts. Technology is changing the very nature of money and has prompted the creation of a new Internet-based financial system which has resulted in alternative payment methods and digital currencies being widely used today.

However, this new system is unregulated and has become a preferred venue for the sale of illicit drugs, weapons and for those who are involved in commercial child sexual exploitation. FULL POST

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Topics: Technology • Uncategorized
June 19th, 2013
04:40 PM ET

U.S. downgrades Russia, China for anti-trafficking efforts

Russia and China were downgraded to bottom tier nations for their efforts to fight human trafficking, by a U.S. government report.

In the State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, China and Russia were relegated to Tier 3 - the lowest of four rankings which names countries whose governments do not fully comply with minimum anti-trafficking standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.

The classification includes countries like Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe, and Tier 3 countries are open to sanctions from the U.S. government. FULL POST

Topics: In The News • TIP Report • Uncategorized
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