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
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.
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
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
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
Editor’s note: Lauren Hersh is New York Director of Equality Now and head of its Sex Trafficking program combatting violence against women and girls. She is a former prosecutor at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office which covers Brooklyn.
By Lauren Hersh, Special for CNN, New York
Three months ago, Ruth came into my life. Sixteen years and two weeks old, Ruth is spunky and smart.
She loves Hello Kitty and iced coffee, listens to Alicia Keys and spends days planning her Sweet 16 outfit. Ruth wants to build schools in Africa. Her contagious smile lights up a room. But, for years, the smile I have come to love was hidden.
Ruth is not her real name. She is a sexually exploited child. At 12, after being raped by her mother’s boyfriend, she met an older man who promised to love and care for her. Instead, he brutally beat her, repeatedly raped her and sold her for sex more times than she could count.
There is a common misconception that girls like Ruth choose to enter prostitution. This could not be further from the truth. FULL POST
Activist Cecilia Flores-Oebanda explains to CNN the challenges she faces every day running an anti-trafficking organization in the Philippines.
In the video interview above she says the trafficking gangs regularly threaten her life but can't stop her, and neither can the frustrating shortcomings of the Philippines political and legal systems.
Oebanda adds that winning the support of boxing superstar and Filipino hero, Manny Pacquiao has given her a new drive.
By Krupskaia Alis and Rafael Romo, CNN
Joanna moves her hands nervously as she speaks. Her oversized, golden earrings rattle as she shakes her head to make a point. Joanna is not her real name. She's speaking on the condition that CNN will protect her privacy and not disclose her real name. She's only 16 years old, but has already experienced a lifetime of horror, abuse and torture. She's a former sex slave.
It all started when she met a charming man. "I was in a normal relationship with him for three months," she says. At the time she was only 14 years old. She was treated like royalty and fell in love. A few months later he asked her to elope and she agreed.
"He promised that we would get a house and that we would raise children. I was naïve and believed everything he said. We started living together in July and by September he was already forcing me to work as a prostitute," Joanna said.
By then it had become painfully clear that Joanna's boyfriend was in reality her captor, a pimp who preyed on young, vulnerable teenagers whom he recruited in central Mexico with the purpose of forcing them into prostitution. FULL POST
As France commemorated the 150th anniversary of its abolition of slavery, modern forms are regularly surfacing.
Sylvie O'Dy, president of the Committee Against Modern Slavery, said 122 people were freed from bondage last year in France and she believes that figure is the tip of the iceberg.
Tina Okpara was legally adopted in her native Nigeria and taken to France by football star Godwin Okpara and his wife.
Her birth family agreed to adopting the 12-year-old girl thinking she was heading off to a better life, but once in France, she was kept out of school and made to work as a domestic, sexually abused and mutilated. After running away, she eventually managed to convince local authorities of her plight. The Okparas were convicted and jailed.
In another case, a Cambodian refugee named Sok was held in cruel conditions and – according to his lawyer - forced to work by a French mother and daughter who took advantage of his mental incapacity for more than 10 years. Denied medical treatment he pulled out his own teeth with a pliers. Eventually the French women were taken to court. Sok is now a ward of the state.