Q&A with Sanjay Rawal, director of Food Chains
November 19th, 2014
05:23 PM ET

Q&A with Sanjay Rawal, director of Food Chains

Food Chains, a documentary that examines the plight of farm laborers in the U.S., releases to the American public on Friday. CNN asked its director, Sanjay Rawal, about the movie and how it came to be made.

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Topics: Business • How to Help • In The News • Voices
November 18th, 2014
03:37 PM ET

Fight for freedom on U.S. farms documented by Food Chains movie

Do you care about who grows your food - and in what conditions these farm laborers work?

A new movie called Food Chains releases in the U.S. on Friday.

The documentary, produced by actress Eva Longoria and narrated by Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, examines working conditions for laborers harvesting tomatoes in Immokalee, Florida, and grapes in California's wine region Napa Valley.

It follows the fight of some laborers taking on big business interests to establish their rights.

The film premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and recently played at the Napa Valley Film Festival, and by the reaction in the Napa Valley Register, certainly prompted strong debate.

Topics: Business • In The News • Life In Slavery • Voices
November 5th, 2014
05:19 PM ET

ISIS says Islam justifies slavery - what does Islamic law say?

Professor Bernard Freamon teaches courses on modern-day slavery and human trafficking at Seton Hall University School of Law in New Jersey and also specializes in Islamic Legal History. He is currently writing a book, “Islam, Slavery and Empire in the Indian Ocean World.” The views in this article are his alone.

By Professor Bernard Freamon

In the past few months, the world has witnessed horrific accounts of the enslavement of thousands of innocent Yazidis and other religious minorities by ISIS partisans in Iraq and Syria.

In a recent article in its online English-language magazine, ISIS ideologues offered legal justifications for the enslavement of these non-Muslim non-combatants, stating that “enslaving the families of the kuffar [infidels] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah or Islamic law.”

The article argues, based on a variety of Shariah sources, that ISIS partisans have a religious duty to kill or enslave members of the Yazidi community as part of their struggle [jihad] against their enemies.

This argument is plainly wrong, hypocritical and astonishingly ahistorical, relying on male fantasies inspired by stories from the days of imperial Islam.

It is also an affront to right-thinking Muslims everywhere and a criminal perversion of Islamic law, particularly its primary source, the Glorious Quran.

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Topics: In The News • Voices
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.

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

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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
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 20th, 2014
05:09 PM ET

Nepal's Organ Trail: Coming soon on CNN

The CNN Freedom Project first exposed the horrific practice of organ trafficking in Egypt, with the documentary "Death in the Desert".

Now we travel to a tiny district in Nepal where hundreds of people have had their kidneys stolen by organ traffickers.

The problem has become so widespread, the district has developed the unfortunate reputation as "the kidney bank of Nepal."

CNN's Delhi-based correspondent Sumnima Udas leads the investigation to unravel how traffickers dupe poor villagers into giving a piece of themselves away.

"Nepal's Organ Trail" will air on CNN International at these times:

• Friday June 27; 530am ET, 1130am ET

• Saturday June 28; 430am ET, 9am ET, 330pm ET

• Sunday June 29; 530am ET; 1130pm ET

• Monday June 30; 430am ET

• Tuesday July 1; 530am ET, 1230pm ET

• Wednesday July 2; 130am ET

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
May 22nd, 2014
04:05 PM ET

Teenage abolitionists take to the stage

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.

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Topics: In The News • Voices
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
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.

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Topics: Government • In The News • Solutions • Voices
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