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
June 20th, 2014
09:21 AM ET

Opinion: U.S. must practice what it preaches as it judges others on human trafficking

By Melysa Sperber

Editor’s Note: Melysa Sperber is Director of the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), a U.S. based coalition that advocates for solutions to prevent and end all forms of human trafficking and modern slavery around the world. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author.

(CNN) - For the past 14 years, the U.S. State Department has used its Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report to judge how well the world is addressing modern slavery.

Each year, the report draws much-needed attention to the horrors of human trafficking that flourish everywhere from fishing boats in Thailand and palm plantations in Malaysia, to brick kilns in India and the sex industry in just about every country worldwide.

Hidden behind the shadows, traffickers prey on men, women and children, luring the vulnerable among us with promises of honest employment that are merely a facade for work conditions that are dangerous, exploitative and sometimes deadly.

To date, the TIP Report’s country-by-country assessment has proven to be a powerful motivator, inspiring governments to improve efforts to reduce modern slavery in order to avoid the report’s lowest Tier 3 ranking - a diplomatic black eye that comes with the threat of U.S. sanctions.

The State Department’s power to influence other countries’ anti-trafficking efforts depends on the TIP Report’s integrity.

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Topics: Government • In The News • The Facts • TIP Report
June 20th, 2014
09:05 AM ET

Human Trafficking: U.S. downgrades four countries in TIP Report

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.

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Topics: Government • In The News • The Facts • TIP Report
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
Cambodia anti-slavery hero Somaly Mam resigns after Newsweek exposé
May 30th, 2014
10:38 PM ET

Cambodia anti-slavery hero Somaly Mam resigns after Newsweek exposé

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
Topics: In The News
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.

FULL POST

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.

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
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
May 6th, 2014
03:08 PM ET

Eight more girls kidnapped in Nigeria

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.

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