Editor’s Note: Steven Procopio is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. He helps male victims of childhood abuse including a focus on public health, HIV, and homelessness. He is also is a faculty adviser at the Boston University School of Social Work macro practice department.
I recently met with a 15-year-old named Brian - his name has been changed to protect his identity - who had a family history of domestic violence and drug abuse. He also had a desperate need for money - money that he planned to use to escape his abusive home. He found his opportunity online. Brian learned that he could make money selling “Skype sex."
Desperate and in need, Brian started to sell his underage body on the Internet and fell victim to the seedy industry that is the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC).
Buyers usually resort to manipulation of their vulnerable victims with grooming activities such as purchasing clothing, cell phones, gifts, and other products as a way of seducing them into a relationship.
Often, these manipulative activities give the impression to the victim that they are "loved" and "cared for” in ways their biological families may not have been able to demonstrate. This manipulation often keeps victims in the industry for many years.
Brian’s parents eventually found out about his online activity, and instead of disapproving and finding a way to protect him from this exploitation, they feared it was indicative of their son’s sexual orientation, which they did not accept, and kicked him out of his home. FULL POST
Editor’s Note: Susan Ople is founder and president of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute, a Philippine non-profit organization dedicated to helping distressed Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) with labor and migration issues. The center also provides free legal help to human trafficking survivors, and other free reintegration services. She was named as a U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Hero of 2013.
By Susan V. Ople, Special for CNN
If you ask young people what they could get for U.S. $200 or less, their answers would probably include a tablet, a smart phone, or a designer bag. Not on the list, a foreign maid - unless you live in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, or any country in the Middle East.
In the United States, maids are for the rich and famous. Modern-day slavery in the western world commonly wears the face of a prostitute, a trafficked child, or an illegal migrant exploited by his or her employer. For third world countries, human slavery often has the face of a domestic worker isolated from society and kept invisible inside private homes of their employers.
As an advocate for migrant workers’ rights, I have seen slavery up close. It has many faces: a jealous female employer, sexual predators, pimps, illegal recruiters, and corrupt officials. Common among them is the belief that a foreign domestic worker is a commodity to be used or sold, or both. FULL POST
Editor’s note: Francesca L. Garrett is a long-time victim’s advocate and Executive Director of the Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio.
By Francesca Garrett, Special for CNN
The girl on the news is wearing pink flip flops. An oversized plaid shirt hides a figure that has barely begun to develop. According to the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act, as a minor who has been forced to perform a sexual act for money she is a victim of sex trafficking. Yet under prostitution statutes in most states she has also committed a criminal offense - and now she is in handcuffs.
About three-quarters of the children rescued last week by the Federal Bureau of Investigation through Operation Cross Country VII live in states that afford them no legal protections from prostitution charges.
Some could face up to two years in juvenile detention, others, thousands of dollars in fines (pdf). Many may also be charged for possessing the cocktail of drugs that traffickers use to create dependency and compliance in the children they sell. And though the FBI is likely to afford special leniency to those rescued in the sting, without change, the same may not hold true for the children arrested on the streets in the coming months and years. FULL POST
Cecilia Flores-Oebanda has spent her life fighting - as a child for some education, as a teen rebel against a dictator, and for more than 20 years against human traffickers.
She has become the face of the Philippines anti-trafficking movement - a woman who has the ear of presidents, royalty and philanthropists around the globe.
Along the way she persuaded the biggest name in the Philippines - boxing legend Manny Pacquiao - to join her fight.
After two years of reporting in the Philippines – from going on police raids in Manila to going undercover in search of human trafficking in remote provinces - CNN can now tell their story.
Rescued girls describe how they were recruited by traffickers, the ordeals they endured - sometimes by men a computer click and half-a-world away - and how Oebanda saved them.
Now Oebanda is fighting a battle that could truly ruin her reputation and the organization she created - fraud allegations made by Philippine investigators.SPECIAL REPORT
By Bibek Bhandari, Special for CNN
Kathmandu, Nepal - Bijaya Limbu is an experienced circus performer who enjoys his art - but his introduction to the traveling showbiz lifestyle came through human traffickers who bought him from his parents.
While other children watch the circus in awe, Limbu was just nine when he was first forced to work in a circus.
He says he was trafficked from Nepal to a circus in India, and forced to perform for four years until he was rescued.
Limbu's story highlights the state of human trafficking in Nepal, where poverty coupled with lack of awareness fuels the trade in children. FULL POST
World champion boxer Manny Pacquiao has had more than 50 professional fights. But none may be more important than the battle he has joined against the trafficking of tens of thousands of women and children.
Pacquiao, who is also a lawmaker in his native Philippines, teamed up with campaigner Cecilia Flores-Oebanda, who has spent 20 years trying to protect victims of sex slavery and forced labor.
CNN spent two years documenting her struggle as she enlisted the help of Pacquiao. The resulting full length film premieres on CNN International on May 17 and 18. Watch the trailer here.
Download the Fighters-End It boxing glove here, share it with your friends and join The Fighters to end modern-day slavery.
MTV has launched a new interactive, anti-slavery campaign inspired by a winning entry in its “Against Our Will” project on the college network, mtvU.
“The Backstory” contains a series of dance videos that show how women can be trafficked into prostitution and immigrants into forced labor.
Rapper Talib Kweli and dancers from Ailey II have joined the campaign which features choreography by Ailey II’s artistic director, Troy Powell, and music scored by Kenna.
Ima Matul, a survivor organizer with the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST)
You might not know that January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. You might not even know why we need such an awareness campaign, or that, right here in America, women, children and men are trafficked every day into forced labor or the sex industry.
More than likely, though, you do know that modern slavery exists, but do not know all of what it looks like or what you can do about it. As both a survivor of human trafficking and an advocate working to free and support others, I can tell you.
Some victims are American citizens, others hold valid visas, and some are undocumented immigrants. They are educated or illiterate, young or old, native English speakers or barely fluent. They are found in factories, farms, nursing homes, on the streets, or in your neighbor’s house. In other words, modern slavery fits no stereotype. FULL POST
By Jesse Eaves, Senior Policy Adviser for Child Protection, World Vision
Simean knew something was wrong when her 15-year-old younger sister Savoeun failed to show up at the factory where they both worked.
With both daughters helping to support their family, even one day off would put a great deal of strain on the family. What concerned Simean the most was a woman she had seen hanging around Savoeun at the factory the previous few days.
Simean asked her coworkers where her sister was. The answer sent a chill through her body: her sister said she was leaving Cambodia for Malaysia. Simean then ran to call her mother. She knew time was not on her side.
By David Abramowitz, Special for CNN
Editor's note: David Abramowitz is Vice President, Policy & Government Relations for Humanity United and Director of the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), a coalition of U.S.-based human rights organizations working to end modern slavery and human trafficking in the United States and around the world. ATEST recently issued “The Path to Freedom,” a road map for the second-term Obama Administration to follow as it works to fulfill its commitment to eliminate modern slavery.
It’s been 150 years since President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation declared in the midst of the U.S. Civil War that all slaves “shall be free.”
Today, the word “slavery” still conjures up horrifying images and stomach-churning thoughts about the most disgraceful days in U.S. history.
This shamefully evil chapter still cannot be fully explained, because no facts can possibly answer how humanity allowed it to happen, and why we didn’t stop it sooner.
Similar questions haunt the United States and countries around the world today - how has slavery evolved into a multi-billion dollar illicit global industry, overshadowed only by drugs?
The annual Trafficking in Persons Report - the world's most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-human trafficking efforts - was published Tuesday by the U.S. State Department.
It identifies countries that the U.S. says meet minimum standards of anti-trafficking efforts, countries working towards them and countries that appear to be doing little to stop trafficking.
The report is compiled with the help of U.S. embassies, non-governmental organizations, aid groups and individuals around the world.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “Ultimately, this report reminds us of the human cost of this crime. Traffickers prey on the hopes and dreams of those seeking a better life and our goal should be to put those hopes and dreams back within reach, whether it's getting a good job to send money home, to support a family, trying to get an education for one's self or for one's children or simply pursuing new opportunities that might lead to a better life.
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.