Editor’s Note: Tammy Lee Stanoch is the Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Carlson. She has more than a decade of executive leadership experience in the airline and travel industry. The opinions expressed are her own.
I have an 11-year-old daughter and, as a mother, would risk everything to keep her safe. So today, I shuddered to learn that 180 Degrees, a Minnesota-based nonprofit, just rescued a 10-year-old girl from sex trafficking.
The good news: She’s now safe. The bad news: There are countless more like her. But with the passage of Minnesota’s Safe Harbor law, we are now able to provide shelter, services and a safe haven to help this girl and others like her.
Where I live isn’t India, which has the largest number of people in modern slavery, 14 million, according to the Walk Free Global Slavery Index. It’s Minnesota – largely Scandinavian, the setting of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon.
But here, and around the world, girls and boys are falling prey to human traffickers. FULL POST
Hong Kong (CNN) – College students in Hong Kong stood on campus for 27 hours to raise awareness of modern-day slavery, in a campaign that ended on Thursday.
The “Stand for Freedom” event, which was organized by students from the University of Hong Kong's International Christian Fellowship group, raised HK$10,000 (U.S.$1,300) for human rights agency International Justice Mission. FULL POST
New York City taxi drivers will soon not just be taking passengers around the city, they're being asked to help spot potential sex trafficking victims.
Under a new city law, drivers should be on the lookout for clues that a passenger is a victim of sex trafficking activity.
In a little under three months the law will kick into effect, and drivers will be required to alert authorities if they see suspicious situations in their cabs which may cause them to believe there is a trafficking victim in the backseat.
By Deborah Feyerick & Sheila Steffen, CNN
Tamara Vandermoon is barely recognizable in the photo she holds up; her face is swollen and bruised, her eyes nearly battered shut. She was 19 at the time. "My pimp had beaten me and stomped my face," she says. "I was black and blue."
The Minnesota woman has seen a lot in her relatively short life. Abandoned by her father and angry at her mother, she ran away when she was 12, the same age she turned her first trick trading sex for money and gifts.
"I just wanted to be accepted and loved. I was told how beautiful I was and if you do this I'll get you this ... and I'll make you my girlfriend." Before she knew it she was prostituting herself up to 50 times a night, the money going to her pimp or to feed the drug habit she developed, she says, to "numb the pain" of her life.
Her eyes fill with tears as she remembers: "I was just a baby. I was 12 and they preyed on me. What would a grown man want with a twelve-year-old child?!" Now 31, she is finally getting out after nearly two decades in the sex-trade.
When it comes to child and adolescent sex-trafficking in the United States, the FBI ranks Minneapolis-St. Paul among the top 13 places in the nation. With its tangle of highways known as Spaghetti Junction, its year-round sporting events and frequent conventions, millions pass through on any given day. "There's the thought no one's going to catch you in the Midwest," says Dan Pfarr who works with teens in crisis.
One of the world's leading workers' rights groups has revised upward its global estimate of the number of people working in forced labor.
Almost 21 million people are now in forced labor, according to the new study from the International Labour Organization.
That is up from a "minimum estimate" of 12.3 million in ILO's similar report in 2005 - but the group says the increase is down to better research methods rather than indicative of a trend.
By Justine Lang and Robyn Curnow, CNN
KwaCele, South Africa (CNN) - The landscape of the rural Eastern Cape in South Africa has a haunting beauty. A myriad of round turquoise huts scatter across the land in a series of endless villages.
Yet these villages are also home to a terrible and devastating traditional practice that destroys children's lives and tears families apart.
In these villages, girls as young as 12 are kidnapped by older men and forced to 'marry.' It is accepted as part of the Xhosa people's culture. It has continued unabated for decades.
Ukuthwala, which translates as 'to pick up' or 'to take,' is used to justify the abduction of girls. In many cases the parents have given their consent in exchange for a bride price.
But a concerted campaign to educate these isolated communities of the illegality of under-aged sex and abduction appears to be paying off.
By Ryan Cooper, CNN
(Jupiter, Florida and Scottsdale, Arizona) - A growing number of Major League Baseball players are coming together to make every pitch, home run and strikeout count in the fight against child trafficking.
The players are pledging to donate money for each of their on-field achievements this season to the Free 2 Play campaign, a platform for the California-based Not For Sale non-profit group.
"A lot of Americans are shocked to hear that there are 30 million people living in slavery today, and [many] of those are children," Dave Batstone, Not For Sale's co-founder, said. "So we decided to create a program that not just releases a child from slavery, but provides them a new future."
Jeremy Affeldt, a relief pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, has been one of the most vocal athletes raising money and awareness for Not For Sale. Last season, he pledged $250 for every strikeout he pitched.
By Mimi Chakarova, Special to CNN
For the past decade, photographer-filmmaker Mimi Chakarova has examined conflict, corruption and the sex trade. Her film "The Price of Sex," a feature-length documentary made over seven years on trafficking and corruption, premiered in 2011. She was awarded the Nestor Almendros Award for courage in filmmaking at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York. It will air in the U.S. on The Documentary Channel on April 11 at 4.30p0.m. ET
She was wearing a polka dot skirt and her favorite pink flip-flops the day she left her village in Albania. Her mom called out her name before she got into her boyfriend's red Mitsubishi. She didn't turn to wave goodbye. She was 12 and angry. FULL POST
By Hyun Soo Suh, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and heads of various U.S. government departments made clear Thursday that preventing human trafficking is a priority of the Obama administration.
The 27 million men, women and children victims of human trafficking are an "affront to our most fundamental values," Clinton said at the annual meeting at the White House of the President's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
Clinton chaired the meeting of the task force, which is a Cabinet-level unit that coordinates federal efforts.
Those in attendance - including Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper - highlighted recent successes and the new collaborative efforts to combat human trafficking around the world and on the domestic front.
"For us at the national security staff, this is a national security issue," said Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough. "... Human trafficking is at the nexus of organized crime, is a source for funding for international terrorist groups, (and) is a source for funding for transnational terrorist groups. It fundamentally endangers international security."
Actress and human rights activist Ashley Judd spoke Thursday at the United Nations
She has spent years traveling the globe - from Congo to Cambodia - fighting against human trafficking.
After appearing at the UN, she chatted with CNN's Richard Roth to explain how gender equality was one of the root causes contributing to the world's unrest. She also pointed to some successes in the fight against trafficking.
By Athena Jones, CNN
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sheila White was beginning to feel numb. She had been beaten numerous times by a man who forced her to work as a prostitute on the streets of New York City.
"I done got beaten up in front of the Port Authority in Times Square," she said, a reference to a bus terminal on the city's West Side. "When stuff like that happens out in the open, you really feel like you're not even a person."
White was eventually able to escape her pimp and now works with victims of sex trafficking throughout New York state. But her story is proof that slavery is alive and well in America, 150 years after it was supposedly abolished.
While modern slavery may look different from the old images of plantations, slave cabins and auction blocks, abuse, coercion and manipulation remain the order of the day.
The most valuable weapon in the fight against human trafficking may be you.
CNN is celebrating the work of ordinary people inspired to do something, to take action; to stand up against slavery.
People from West Africa, South America, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, have all joined the fight.
Watch the "Taking a Stand, Making a Difference" show here in three parts. In the first segment, viewers horrified by our expose of working conditions for people cocoa farming in West Africa campaign for more Fair Trade products.