August 31st, 2011
12:41 PM ET

Help for burned Gadhafi family nanny

A fundraising page has been set up by Anti-Slavery International, in conjunction with CNN, to raise money for the treatment and care of Shwygar Mullah, a domestic worker for Hannibal Gadhafi in Libya who was found severely scalded by boiling water.

CNN is helping aid agencies arrange for Shwygar to be taken to an international burn clinic for treatment. It is estimated that it will take up to eight months for Shwygar to recuperate and the money raised will go to paying for any extra care she needs, including her living costs and flights.

Money raised beyond the amount needed for Shwygar’s care will be used by Anti-Slavery International, the world’s oldest human rights organization, which works to protect domestic workers from abuse and slavery across the world.

Fundraising page by Anti-Slavery International

Luxury, horror lurk in Gadhafi family compound

CNN Freedom Project: Ways to help | Impact Your World

Topics: How to Help
August 16th, 2011
02:02 PM ET

Wyndham Hotels signs ECPAT code

Mary Falvey, Wyndham's executive vice president of human resources, says that the hotel chain wants to make sure its employees are trained to recognize sex traffickers and their victims.

Topics: Uncategorized
August 12th, 2011
03:44 PM ET

The vice unit catches their man

In our Freedom Project Undercover series, you've seen the fight against human traffickers through the eyes of the investigators.

In the fifth and final installment of our trip to Orange County, California, we see that the police try give the prostitutes a new start and do their best to lock up the pimps who are forcing these women in to selling themselves.

August 12th, 2011
12:02 PM ET

Illinois law to clear sex trafficking victims' records of prostitution convictions

Beginning next year, victims of sex trafficking in Illinois will have the chance to clear their legal records of convictions related to prostitution.

Senate Bill 1037, sponsored by Sen Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) and Rep Karen Yarbrough (D-Maywood) “allows defendants of human trafficking at the time of their prostitution convictions to file a motion to vacate the conviction if the defendant's participation in the offense was the result of being a victim,” a release from the governor's office said.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn says the new law gives victims of sex trafficking an opportunity to start over.

“Sex trafficking is a truly reprehensible crime that preys on the most vulnerable. Victims deserve a chance to clear their records and rebuild their lives,” Quinn said to the Chicago Sun-Times.

August 11th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Teen helps fight human trafficking

Fifteen-year-old Anna Demian is not taking on your typical high school project. She will be a part of the Ignite the Road to Justice Tour, a campaign to bring awareness to human trafficking. The tour, hosted by Miss Canada 2011, Tara Teng, takes off on August 15 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and will reach 10 major cities across Canada.

Anna is the youngest member of the tour and wants to show that young people have power to effect change.

“It’s for those people who don’t have voices. And I have a voice and I believe it is my responsibility to use it,” Anna said, according to the

The Ignite the Road to Justice starts at 7 p.m. PT on August 15 at Coastal Church, 1160 West Georgia Street in Vancouver. The tour will wrap up in Toronto on September 4.

Post by:
Topics: Solutions
August 11th, 2011
02:05 PM ET

Setting up the sting

Police officers in Anaheim, California, conduct an undercover operation aimed at sex traffickers.

August 10th, 2011
03:53 PM ET

CNN viewer makes a difference

Tim Rosner tells CNN how one petition and 14,000 signatures prompted change from one large hotel chain.

Fighting forced prostitution in California
August 9th, 2011
09:18 PM ET

Pimps feed on twisting Californian dream

Orange County, California (CNN) - "Hello? Hey, what are you doing, girl? You just woke up? You going to be free to hang out in a little bit?" Shane, a vice unit undercover investigator, is on the phone with a woman who placed an online ad offering adult services.

"Okay I'm going to head down to the Disneyland area and get a hotel." He's making a date, and choosing his words carefully.

"I just want to make sure I get what I need. Are you bringing condoms or do I need to bring condoms? You've got some? And it's 200 for an hour right?" Shane has become an expert at scoring that important criminal admission over the phone - making sure there is no confusion that sex is expected on this date.

"From what I found, sometimes you can use too much jargon," Shane explained. "If you use too many street terms you can come off like a cop so I almost talk to them like, "Hey this is what I'm looking for" - just common terms and maybe throw in just a little bit of street jargon.

"If you call them rude or real vulgar they'll just hang up on you. So, to them it's a business and they run it like it's a business, so there's that fine dance you have to do with them in negotiation you have to play to get the deal to work."

This is the first step in a human trafficking operation by the vice unit. Next, the team will wait for Shane's date at a local hotel, hoping to eventually grab the date's pimp. FULL POST

August 9th, 2011
01:37 PM ET

Freeing women can be 'hardest part' of police work

Officers in California scour online dating ads looking for possible human trafficking victims - and then arrange a date.

They say one of the hardest parts of the job is dealing with traumatized women who don’t think they can successfully escape.

The operations - part of the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force - include setting up an undercover sting and trying to catch the woman’s pimp.

August 8th, 2011
01:49 PM ET

In the land of opulence, police pursue pimps

There are many faces of human trafficking. There are the victims, there are the traffickers and there are those who try to destroy the connection between them - the investigators.

As part of our Freedom Project Undercover series, Martin Savidge takes a look at how human trafficking is fought in Orange County, California.

August 4th, 2011
08:12 AM ET

On patrol with top cop in New Delhi’s red light district

Editor's Note: In the recent documentary "Nepal's Stolen Children," CNN followed actress Demi Moore and 2010 CNN Hero of the Year Anuradha Koirala as they try to rescue women and girls from forced prostitution, especially girls trafficked from Nepal into India.  A few days after the documentary aired, Indian police raided a brothel in New Delhi's red light district, rescuing nine girls. Rescue efforts like this are becoming more common in India as police begin to make it a priority.

By Sumnima Udas, CNN

Police officer Surinder Kaur is on a mission.

“I want no minor girls working here, no one should be forcibly working here … I want to shut down this [red light district]” Kaur says.

As the Station House Officer of an area that includes New Delhi’s largest red light district — G.B. Road – Kaur knows it won’t be an easy job.

Since she became the officer in charge of G.B. Road two years ago, Kaur has rescued 89 minor girls. Prior to her posting, Kaur says only four or five girls had been rescued.

A desk full of awards and “thank you” messages stands testimony to her achievements.

“Previously, everyone thought the police is involved with the brothel owners … so nobody passed any information to the police. But when I took over, I took it as a challenge. I decided I will definitely do something different and I developed faith in the public for me and my police force,” Kaur says.

A rescue of 9 girls
More than 2,000 prostitutes are estimated to live and work in New Delhi’s G.B. Road.

It’s not illegal for women 18 and older to work as prostitutes here, but many are underage and most are illegally trafficked from all parts of India and neighboring Bangladesh and Nepal.

“We concentrate on minor girls because the trafficking issue is about minor girls only. They are being brought from Nepal, they are being brought from other parts of India in the name of giving them jobs, but they are illegally brought here,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Aslam Khan says.

Just a few weeks ago, Kaur and her team raided a brothel on G.B. Road after they were tipped off by an anti-trafficking group that minors were working there.

She rescued 9 girls, all of whom she says looked under the age of 18. Six of them were from Nepal.

The girls were sent to Nirmal Chayaa, a government shelter where medical tests are conducted on suspected minors to determine their age. Test results for 5 of the 9 girls have been released so far confirming they are minors.

One victim is as young as 10 years old, according the Mumbai-based anti-trafficking group Rescue Foundation.

“I have already registered a case and we have arrested the brothel manager,” Kaur says. “We are now looking for the brothel owner.” (Read more about the arrest and rescues)

The brothel manager Kaur arrested is a 38-year-old Indian woman whose identity she could not reveal for legal reasons.

A surprise visit to a brothel
The police have arrested 27 brothel owners in this area in the past 2 years. Khan, the police deputy commissioner, says they conduct an average of one raid a month.

One recent night, CNN followed Kaur on one of her evening patrols.

Each night around 11 p.m., Kaur and her team drive around the red light district to make sure police officers are manning the gates and sometimes they make a surprise visit to the brothels.

The area is normally inaccessible to outsiders. Even non-governmental organizations have hesitated to take the media there, and brothel owners have attacked cameras in the past.

But this time, CNN was with a police woman who is very much in charge of the area.

Kaur took us up some dark and dingy stairs. The remains of chewed betel nut laced the walls, rats scurried around and men who were inside the brothel ran out and hid as soon as they saw the group.

Kaur knocked on the door several times, and five minutes later, the women inside greeted Kaur warmly but covered their faces as soon as they saw us.

She asked them if anyone wanted to come away with her. They all said “no.”

None of the prostitutes we met were minors. They said they wanted to be there.

“Please don’t give this place a bad name, to us it’s a temple, its what feeds our families,” said one of the prostitutes. “We have no choice. You won’t understand.”

Why not just shut down the place?

“I can’t force women to leave if they want to be there,” Kaur says. “Then where will they go? I can’t send them to the streets.”

After many years in the business, this had become their way of life.

However, if there’s proof a minor girl is being forced to prostitute herself, the police will act immediately.

Anti-trafficking groups say rescue efforts are becoming more common in India as police make them a priority.

President of the Rescue Foundation Triveni Acharya - who has been working in this field for the past 18 years - says she’s seen a “historical change” in the way authorities are handling trafficking cases.

“Previously, when we call police they say no, we have no staff,” she explains. “But now, if we call with a tip off they say no problem, please come.”

The police have also become more sensitized toward the prostitutes.

“Earlier they’d talk to the girls rudely, use foul language, now when they rescue the girls they talk to them with respect. They say come on child, dress properly, and come with us.”

Acharya says the police officers are now seeing the girls as victims instead of criminals, and that’s the biggest change.

“Rescuing minor girls and minor children has become our top priority,” Kaur says. “It’s the demand of the 21st century we have to change.”

Post by:
Topics: Government • Solutions
August 2nd, 2011
10:22 AM ET

9 girls rescued from India's red light district

Editor's Note: In the recent documentary "Nepal's Stolen Children," CNN followed actress Demi Moore and 2010 CNN Hero of the Year Anuradha Koirala as they try to rescue women and girls from forced prostitution, especially girls trafficked from Nepal into India.

A few days after the documentary aired, Indian police raided a brothel in New Delhi's red light district, rescuing nine girls. Rescue efforts like this are becoming more common in India as police begin to make it a priority.

By Mallika Kapur and Sumnima Udas, CNN

The suspected manager of a New Delhi brothel where police recently rescued several underage girls has been charged with kidnapping, rape and forcing girls into prostitution, a police officer said Tuesday.

One of the girls rescued is 10 years old, said Triveni Acharya, the president of the Mumbai-based Rescue Foundation, an anti-trafficking group that tipped off police. FULL POST

Topics: Life In Slavery • Solutions
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