May 31st, 2011
01:37 PM ET

Many Afghans enslaved in bonded labor

Bonded labor is the most common form of enslavement in the world, human rights advocates say. In Afghanistan many children are entrapped, working off their families' debts.

As CNN's Phil Black reports, even with six of the male members of the family toiling, making bricks, it will take years for one Afghan man to pay off his debt.

May 27th, 2011
04:51 PM ET

The Facts: Forms of modern-day slavery

What is slavery? See a definition here. But the following is a list of common words and phrases used by slave holders in order to avoid using the word "slavery," according to Free the Slaves:

– debt bondage
– bonded labor
– attached labor
– restavec
– forced labor
– indentured servitude

Source: Free the Slaves

Topics: The Facts
May 27th, 2011
04:07 PM ET

Sex slavery: A family business

A couple of months ago, The CNN Freedom Project brought you the harrowing tale of a sex slave ring run by a Romanian father and son, with reporting from CNN's Jonathan Wald and Dan Rivers.

Now, explore the story further with these excerpts from the documentary, "Sex slavery: A family business," which examines the flourishing sex trade in Romania and provides an inside look at the authorities' struggle to bring it under control. FULL POST

May 27th, 2011
03:40 PM ET

How to Help: Travel and tourism

Throughout the week, Richard Quest, of Quest Means Business, has tackled the issue of sex tourism - the act of traveling to another country with the intention of soliciting sex from prostitutes.  While this may seem condemnable in itself, the real tragedy occurs when these prostitutes are children who have fallen victim to sex trafficking.

We started the week off with a success story in Dan Rivers’ piece on Thai sex trafficking - the Thai Police busted a sex slavery ring, rescuing nine young boys who had been held captive and abused.  The ring leader was sentenced to 84 years in prison (later halved because the convicted cooperated with investigators and the court), and a monk who admitted to abusing the boys was sentenced to 21 years in prison.  While a definite success, there is still much work to be done.

Fortunately, there are efforts being made to put an end to sex tourism.  We interviewed several experts in the field, including John Morton , the Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  He discussed the operation Twisted Traveler, which actively pursues Americans who travel abroad and abuse children.  The operation’s achievements are possible because of the cooperative relationship it has with international partners.

Several preventative efforts are under way as well.  For example, ECPAT has partnered with Accor Hotels.  As explained by Sophie Goldbum-Flak, executive vice president of Accor, has committed to raising awareness of the issue and is training its staff to identify victims and properly deal with the situation.

Jennifer Silberman, vice president of global diversity and corporate responsibility with Hilton, has also spoken to us about Hilton’s role in the fight against human trafficking.  We also heard from Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Carlson Companies, and Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary General.

Nelson shared with us what her travel companies are doing to prevent the sexual exploitation of children in the travel and tourism industries.  The companies have agreed to train employees, report perpetrators, inform travelers of the legal penalties involved if they are found guilty, and help in the development of a global code for other companies in the industry to follow.  Taleb Rifai  also discussed what companies can do, but also what steps governments around the world can take.

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Topics: How to Help
May 27th, 2011
08:06 AM ET

Study finds 'alarming' human trafficking figures in Mexico's capital

While an estimated 10,000 women are victims of human trafficking in Mexico's capital, there were only 40 investigations of the crime and three convictions in the city last year, according to a report issued this week.

The discrepancy is an "alarming figure" that shows a need to improve laws and policies, according to a study on human trafficking and sexual exploitation from Mexico City's human rights commission, which calls the phenomenon a "new form of slavery."

"The authorities are not investigating, nor are they asking witnesses," said Eva Reyes, investigation coordinator at the Antonio de Montesinos Center for Social and Cultural Studies, one of the partners of the study.

Read the full story

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Topics: In The News
May 26th, 2011
07:56 AM ET

South Korea school takes a stand

An entire high school in South Korea is taking a stand to end slavery.

It started when Elizabeth Pruitt, an English conversation teacher at Yeong Gwang Girls High School in Gunsan, South Korea, and her co-teacher assigned their class to make group presentations about a current event. They pulled up on a big screen to give them some project ideas.

One group of girls selected the topic of modern-day slavery right away. FULL POST

May 24th, 2011
05:47 PM ET

Official: Most cases start with tip from public

Working across international borders to clamp down on sex abuse is no easy task, especially when it involves young children. But as a U.S. official told CNN's Richard Quest, it's a task that's made easier with the help of the public.

In the past eight years, the United States has prosecuted 90 pedophiles who went overseas to abuse children. John Morton, the director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, says discovering these criminals is hard work because it involves tracking people who are doing everything they can to keep a secret and also means working with a local police force in a foreign nation.

He said that most of the tips in these cases come from the public.

"We don't generate the vast majority of the leads in these cases," he told CNN. "We get them from non-governmental organizations, from people who are paying attention on an airplane and notice that a child is traveling with someone that they really shouldn't be traveling with, who see something amiss and report it to authorities or to a group that specializes ... in this kind of work. And then we get involved."

The children are too scared or too young to report the crime, so it is vital that if someone suspects something suspicious, they need to report it.

"We are not talking about some ordinary crime. We are talking about the assault and abuse of small children, as young as three or four years of age, usually in circumstances of grinding poverty, very difficult cultural conditions," he said. "And if they don't speak up, chances are the crime is going to go uncovered and that child's life is ruined. They need to say something. They need to allow us to get in there and investigate and put these people away.

"We all have to stand up and vindicate those children, because they can't stand up for themselves," he added.

May 24th, 2011
08:30 AM ET

Fighting child sex slavery in Thailand

Thai police recently busted a sex slavery ring, rescuing nine boys and arresting a Buddhist monk. Police footage shows the monk in possession of several fake guns. Experts working the case say he and another Thai man bought boys, held them prisoner and then sold them to Westerners for sex.

The leader of the ring was sentenced to 84 years in prison for human trafficking and sexual abuse, a sentence that has since been halved because the judges said he’d cooperated with investigators and the court. The monk, who has been expelled from the clergy, received a 21-year prison sentence for trafficking and sexually abusing under-aged children.

CNN's Dan Rivers reports.

May 23rd, 2011
10:50 AM ET

Is Danish man a danger or hero to trafficked women?

A man in Denmark has opened up his home to more than just trafficked women. The man, who identifies himself only as Christian, also faces constant criticism for his methods and his fatherly attitude.

"I get a lot of enemies in my work," he told CNN.

But Christian is undeterred and says we need to fight for everyone who doesn't have their freedom.

May 20th, 2011
04:44 PM ET

Child author donates proceeds from book

Ben Sherman, a nine-year-old from Dallas, Texas, says he hopes his book will help save the lives of Cambodian women.

He also talks about his plans for the future.

May 20th, 2011
02:32 PM ET

How to help: Who’s in the fight?

This past week, on Jim Clancy’s The Brief, we have focused on young activists who are serving as role models in the fight against modern day slavery.  Our guests included Bradley Myles, the Executive Director and CEO of Polaris Project; Zach Hunter, author and founder of the Loose Change to Loosen Chains campaign through IJM; and Cheryl Perera, Founder and President of One Child.

Polaris Project,  IJM, and One Child are excellent sources of information on the topic and accept donations as well as provide suggestions as to how you can get involved.  But most importantly, these three young activists exhibit the power this generation can exert.  As Cheryl Perera said, “Young people, our generation today, has the power, the intellect, the talent, the creativity, the know-how, the technology and the resources to actually see slavery go down in this generation. …  I think that young people who have been exploited in the sex trade themselves would feel a sense of empowerment, they are an invaluable insight into what can be done to challenge this.”

Tina Frundt, featured later in the week, was herself a victim of trafficking.  She is an excellent example of someone who has overcome her tragic past and now puts her energy into doing good for other victims.  Frundt is the owner and director of Courtney’s House, a shelter for recovering child sex slaves.

ECPAT (End Child Prostitution Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes), another group working against human trafficking has dedicated itself to many projects, including working with the hotel, retail, and travel industries to prevent this awful crime.  On Thursday, we spoke with Carol Smolenski, the Executive Director of ECPAT-USA, about these efforts.

And finally, on Friday, we presented one of the youngest fighters to you: nine-year-old Benjamin Sherman, who wrote a book, Gregory’s Paper Airplane, on the subject of human trafficking.  Proceeds from sales of the story are being donated to Agape International Missions and IJM.

Throughout the week, we have shown that sometimes the least expected individuals can have an impact - in this case, the young as well as former victims of slavery.  The Frederick Douglass Family Foundation is another organization working to end human trafficking.  The group accepts financial donations and encourages more young people to join in the fight through their educational projects.  You can find out how to get your school involved by visiting their website.

You can also check out the CNN Freedom Project blog’s Educator and Parents Guide.

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Topics: How to Help
May 19th, 2011
12:58 PM ET

Frundt: Building awareness among the young

A 2007 CNN Hero, Tina Frundt of Courtney's House works to save victims of child sex trafficking. She herself was a victim at the age of 14.

"The average age of forced prostitution in the U.S. is 11-14 years old. That is the target age that traffickers target to traffick children. So it's very important for young people to be aware of that," says Frundt.

Watch more about Tina Frundt's journey from slave to activist

Topics: Solutions
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