Breaking the chains: Freedom's successes
This image showing enslaved fishing boys in Ghana was one of the first to appear on the Freedom Project.
December 19th, 2011
03:44 PM ET

Breaking the chains: Freedom's successes

(CNN) - Since its launch in March, the CNN Freedom Project has helped shine a spotlight on all aspects of modern-day slavery and spurred action from governments, corporations and individuals.

CNN reported on sex slaves and bonded workers, children and adults caught in despair, and the inspirational against-all-odds work of individuals and organizations fighting the trade.

Nearly 2,000 people have come out of slavery, either directly or indirectly, as a result of the hundreds of  stories broadcast on air and published online.


Join the conversation: Ending slavery
June 24th, 2011
11:06 AM ET

Join the conversation: Ending slavery

Actress Demi Moore partners with the CNN Freedom Project for the documentary, "Nepal's Stolen Children," which premiered Sunday, June 26 (Find times and details). In the documentary, Moore travels to Nepal to meet 2010 CNN Hero of the Year Anuradha Koirala and some of the thousands of women and girls Koirala’s organization has rescued from forced prostitution.

The problem of slavery isn't isolated to one part of the world: the levels of slavery and people trafficking today are greater than at any point in history across all countries. But people with great courage are tackling this modern-day slavery and making a difference. (Related: Why CNN is doing this: A problem that can't be ignored)

What do you think? Were you aware the problem still exists in the world today? What can governments, communities and individuals do to help combat modern-day slavery? Why do you think slavery continues in the 21st century? Take a moment to think: How is slavery possibly connected to the products you buy, the clothes you wear or other aspects of daily life?

[Update 9:30 p.m. ET] Thanks to all of our viewers who took part in our discussion during the premiere of "Nepal's Stolen Children." Some fantastic questions and insightful comments. If you missed the documentary, it will re-air at 11 p.m. ET in the United States.

Still looking for a way to help? Check out our "How you can help" section for ideas. And while you're looking for ways to get involved, take a stand with iReport's "Take a stand to end slavery" project.

Special thanks to CNN producers Leif Coorlim, Gena Somra, and Neil Curry.

[Update 9:22 p.m. ET] More reaction from viewers on Twitter:

"@aplusk This CNN special on Nepal Human Trafficking is oddly beautiful for such a brutish subjects #endslavery" –@DancingFriar, San Diego

"@CNNFreedom i watched this 3 times today! The level of cruelty to those victims are horrifying!!" –@Marshiepooh

[Update 9:20 p.m. ET] "Will there be more documentaries to #EndSlavery from Africa, other countries, or the U.S.? (because there is child trafficking here 2)" –@Ms_Terion, Georgia, USA

CNN producer Leif Coorlim, editorial director of The CNN Freedom Project: "We have several documentaries in production now, which will be rolling out in the coming months. Stay tuned for pieces involving both the US, Africa and other regions as well!"

[Update 9:18 p.m. ET] "@CNNFreedom #endslavery I think at least few cases should be taught in history classes in schools." –@shakirbahzadm, Kuwait

CNN producer Gena Somra: "I couldn't agree more! As we have said - awareness and education are two key things needed to help bring an end to this type of practice and prevent it from happening in the future."

[Update 9:14 p.m. ET] "@cnnfreedom Watched Nepal's Stolen Children #endslavery – Excellent coverage. Wondering if the PM mandated any changes following meeting?" –@EricEwe, Houston

CNN producer Gena Somra: "Unfortunately with Nepal's political instability and lack of a cohesive government, making changes are quite difficult to do. I am not aware of the PM mandating any changes, at least to my knowledge at this time, but by shining a light on this very real issue, perhaps now changes can be made."

[Update 9:08 p.m. ET]!/jennybennyx33/status/85150936263168000

CNN producer Gena Somra: "Hopefully because of the response by people like you, more attention will be shown to this topic. It takes each and every person to raise his or her voice so that modern-day slavery will end."

CNN producer Leif Coorlim: "We agree completely. That's why CNN created the Freedom Project. To devote our resources to helping bring this story out of the shadows and give voice to the victims' plight."

[Update 9:07 p.m. ET] @toznsnd in Atlanta: "After watching #nepalsstolenchildren with @mrskutcher I wonder if things there can really change when the govt won't help. #endslavery"

CNN producer Leif Coorlim: "Be watching CNN tomorrow. The US State Department releases its 2011 Trafficking in Persons report. It's a way to pressure governments to make sure they are tackling this issue properly."

[Update 9:04 p.m. ET] "Questions: Are the Nepalese police trustworthy? Are they involved in the human trafficking? How low are their wages? #endslavery" –@fgwiazdon, San Francisco

CNN producer Gena Somra: "I don't think I can speak to every policeman in Nepal, but I can say the ones we encountered were very committed to helping stop this practice from happening. But we were told by the various NGO's [non-government organizations] that there are still cases of indifference or acceptance of this problem and that there is more work to be done to get the authorities to enforce consequences for those that are caught. But these organizations are also very hopeful because they see more attention than ever before from their law enforcement in combating this problem."

[Update 8:58 p.m. ET] @Darryl_Nielsen in Toronto asks: "@mrskutcher How long were you in Nepal for? #endslavery"

CNN producer Gena Somra: "Our team in Nepal, Producer Neil Curry, myself, cameraman Farhad Shadravan, cameraman Christian Streib, and cameraman Hamit Shonpal filmed with Demi Moore throughout various locations in Nepal for 6 days. It was an incredible experience to see these things first hand and see the way people are trying to bring this horrible practice to an end."

[Update 8:55 p.m. ET] Rob asks "Is it only girls that are traffic, and why does the Government of Nepal allow this."

CNN producer Gena Somra: "No. Young boys are also trafficked. We spent time in Nepal's carpet factories, where both boys and girls were forced into bonded labor and made to work under terrible conditions. We highlighted the organization Goodweave, a group that is working to end bonded labor in Nepal's carpet industry.

"Also the problem of trafficking in Nepal is a very complex problem rooted in poverty. Nepal's unemployment rate is over 40 percent. And with many men leaving the country to seek employment elsewhere, women and children are left vulnerable. Nepal's government does not even have a constitution right now, because of political instability so that combined with the economic migration of its citizens, makes it hard for an effective governance that can address this very real and tragic issue."

CNN producer Leif Coorlim: "Our correspondent Dan Rivers recently uncovered a trafficking ring involving boys sold to foreigners in Thailand.

"They are also vulnerable to being trafficked for labor in fields, factories and mines in many parts of the world."

[Update 8:47 p.m. ET]

CNN producer Gena Somra: "Yes. Anuradha Koirala's Maiti Nepal organization goes into villages and conducts awareness campaigns where they put on skits highlighting what trafficking does to a young girl. They also pass out pamphlets on what to look for and educate the whole community, not just the women and girls. This is one key step they are making to broaden people's knowledge and help them understand this practice is wrong. Also thanks to organizations like Maiti Nepal, police and government agencies are becoming more involved and paying more attention to this crime and taking it more seriously than before. But more needs to be done. The main problems in these countries that lead to trafficking are poverty and illiteracy. And those problems need to be addressed if a real difference is to be made."

CNN producer Leif Coorlim: "It's a long, slow process. But efforts are underway. Making the 'customers' aware of the pain and abuse these women suffer through is critical to changing perceptions."

[Update 8:45 p.m. ET] "@CNNFreedom I am looking for an educational video to show young children to teach them about human trafficking, any ideas? #endslavery" –@fighter06_xtina, North Carolina

CNN producer Leif Coorlim: "Given the nature of the topic, that can be tough to find age appropriate videos. There is a good book called "Gregory's Paper Airplane." It's written by a 9 year old named Ben Sherman." Read more

[Update 8:41 p.m. ET] From the comments: Virna Luque: "I applaud the effort CNN is making to be a part of the force fighting Human Trafficking. I am watching from Panama City, Republic of Panama the film Nepal's Stolen Children. It is heartbreaking to see what these women have been gone through. I AM TAKING A STAND TO FIGHT HUMAN TRAFFICKING and so should everyone."

Virna, we're thrilled you're taking a stand to fight human trafficking!

If you're willing to join Virna and take a stand to end slavery, take part in iReport's "Take a Stand" assignment.

[Update 8:37 p.m. ET] abreitnauer asks in the comments "What can college students really do to make a difference and stop human trafficking in the US? What efforts are put forth to work with the men that are drawn to traffic women?"

CNN producer Leif Coorlim: "College students are some of the most active in the fight against slavery. Check out groups like Polaris Project, which was started by college students and now runs HHS's Human Trafficking Hotline."

[Update 8:34 p.m. ET] "While I appreciate #CNN bringing awareness to sex trafficking, they have a lot of work to do at home, not just in Nepal. #endslavery" –@christina014, California

CNN producer Leif Coorlim: "You are so right – sadly there's a lot more work to be done, no matter which country you call home."

"Watching stolen children of Nepal on CNN. There is so much for us to do to make sure trafficking doesn't take place in our country!" –@lokeshtodi, Boston

CNN producer Gena Somra: "CNN is committed to highlighting the dangers of trafficking through the CNN Freedom Project at, not just in Nepal but all over the globe. It may come as a surprise to some that trafficking does indeed take place in the United States. And is not limited to other countries."

[Update 8:29 p.m. ET] @robinsoletzky in Phoenix: "@CNNFreedom This story is so sad. I hope Demi speaks to Nepal's prime minister to help out. Those poor young girls. Namaste..#endslavery"

CNN producer Gena Somra: "We did have an opportunity to speak to the Prime Minister. Be sure to keep watching to see his response, and what he says can be done to end this very real problem in his country."

[Update 8:25 p.m. ET] "The tiny women warriors at the border are fierce. #endslavery" –@RivetingSC

[Update 8:22 p.m. ET]

CNN producer Leif Coorlim: "Awareness is definitely the first step. Getting the word out through social media, at public events and during conversations with friends and family is a good start."

CNN producer Gena Somra: "Awareness is key. Get involved with those organizations in your community that work to end human trafficking. By learning about how people are trafficked, you can help raise awareness yourself by sharing with friends, family and others that you know the signs to look for, and they in turn can help educate the young and vulnerable about the danger that is very real."

[Update 8:18 p.m. ET] @jennybennyx33 from Sterling Heights, Michigan asks: "@CNNFreedom is their a way to volunteer and help out in shelters for victims of trafficking? Are these shelters dangerous for victims?" ... "what I mean is, after rescuing can these traffickers come back and it become dangerous? Traffickers are scary ppl"

CNN producer Gena Somra: "I can't speak to all shelters, but most that I have encountered in the US and elsewhere, including Maiti Nepal, are places where trafficked victims can at last find safety and have a protected environment in which they begin to heal."

CNN producer Leif Coorlim: "There are a number of ways to volunteer. You can go to and click on "how to help" to find organizations that may be of interest to you.

"It can definitely be dangerous. But many of the shelters I've visited have a number of security measures in place to protect the children."

[Update 8:15 p.m. ET] More emotional response to "Nepal's Stolen Children:"

"Watching @mrskutcher on @cnn I'm already crying. I love you Demi & @aplusk for all you do!" –@cmccormick26, Oklahoma

"Only seven minutes into @CNNFreedom doc and several tissues used. Heart is aching for those who are abused/sold. #endslavery" –@elaine123abc, Washington State

"@mrskutcher Only 8 minutes into the CNN Special ... all i can say is wow. Hard not to tear up listening to these stories. Heartbreaking." –@RaymondBevidas, Philadelphia

[Update 8:12 p.m. ET]

CNN producer Leif Coorlim, editorial director of The CNN Freedom Project, weighs in: "You're absolutely correct. Most Americans don't realize as many as 100,000 people are trafficked every year inside the United States."

[Update 8:10 p.m. ET] @persephone101 in Jamaica tweeted this: "Watching @mrskutcher in "Nepal's Stolen Children: A CNN Freedom Project Documentary". Powerful. Sad. Reality. 5 mins in and I'm crying."

It's an emotional topic - and @persephone101 is just one of several who have shared their emotions in response to learning more about the problem of modern slavery. What are you feeling as you watch? Let us know in the comments.

[Update 7:45 p.m. ET] In 15 minutes "Nepal's Stolen Children" will premiere in the United States on CNN. Be sure to submit your questions and comments for the producers behind "Nepal's Stolen Children" and the CNN Freedom Project. You can also connect on Twitter and Facebook. Please be sure to keep questions and comments on topic.

Demi Moore took some questions from Twitter followers earlier this afternoon during the documentary's debut on CNN International:

[Update 4:20 p.m. ET] Thanks for your questions and comments about modern slavery and "Nepal's Stolen Children." Didn't tune in? The documentary will air at 8 p.m. ET in the United States. (See other showtimes here)

Join us right here at 8 p.m. ET for another live discussion about modern slavery, and a chance to get your questions about "Nepal's Stolen Children" answered by the documentary's producers.

[Update 4:05 p.m. ET] @maureenagena in Uganda asks:
"Are young boys also trafficked?"

CNN producer Leif Coorlim: "Yes they are. Our correspondent Dan Rivers recently uncovered a trafficking ring involving boys sold to foreigners in Thailand.

"They are also vulnerable to being trafficked for labor in fields, factories and mines in many parts of the world."

[Update 3:57 p.m. ET] @hundun, in Manila, Philippines: "@mrskutcher @cnni such a heartbreaking story but learning so much.the same is happening in the philippines bec of our culture and poverty"

CNN producer Leif Coorlim: "You are correct. Cecilia Flores-Oebanda is doing incredible work with her Visayan Forum Foundation in that country to help protect victims and arrest traffickers."

[Update 3:53 p.m. ET] @canahuii asks "Did any of the girls or their families want their perpetrators to be sentenced to death? #endslavery"

CNN producer Neil Curry: "Most of the women we spoke to wanted life sentences for traffickers and many did want death sentences.

"I don't have the specific law in front of me but as far as I understand prostitution is not illegal in India and the rules on using or keeping brothels are not as strict as in many other countries. Anuradha spoke of her frustration that its usually the women who face punishment while men receive a slap on the wrist - or in our film they literally received a slap from the policewoman leading the raid on the brothel."

[Update 3:49 p.m. ET] @maureenagena in Uganda asks "What is the REAL cause of this Slavery? Poverty? This is what needs to be addressed/solved #endslavery"

From CNN producer Leif Coorlim: "In many cases, poverty obviously makes someone become more vulnerable to becoming a victim of slavery - but it is not the only reason.

"UNICEF, for example, says modern-day slavery exists because of the "poverty-plus" equation.

"Someone becomes a victim because they are 'poor + there is a problem with corruption in a certain area' or they are 'poor + there is a lack of political will to protect them.'"

[Update 3:46 p.m. ET] OSEI JNR asks in the comments if the Nepalese Prime Minister really gave Demi and Anuradha permission to see the convicted trafficker.

Producer Neil Curry says "Yes. He did so on camera. But the jailer told us that irrespective of the Prime Minister's permission he would not allow us to talk to the trafficker without the permission from the Director of Prisons, which was never given, despite repeated requests."

[Update 3:37 p.m. ET] Some more reaction to "Nepal's Stolen Children:"

"As hard as it is 2 watch @cnni 'Nepal's stolen children' we MUST be informed in order to #endslavery" –@pabl0godoy

"Thumbs up to Ma'am Koirala,Demi Moore and all those women who further strengthened my faith and belief in THE POWER OF WOMEN. Big Cheers!!!" –Prarthna Golay, New Delhi via Facebook

"It's very pity to see such a horrendous condition of Women trafficking in My home land. We should do something from our side whatever we can to stop this Modern day Slavery. :|" –Bishesh Lama, Kathmandu via Facebook

[Update 3:33 p.m. ET] @NathalieWill says "I sponsor 5 women a year thru Women for Women International. Is there a similar program for victims of human trafficking?"

From Leif Coorlim: "The UN Office of Drugs and Crime has established a Trafficking Victims Fund, which any company, country or individual can contribute to. It provides money for small, local charity groups to care for victims all over the world."

[Update 3:26 p.m. ET] @NhlalonhleSM asks "#endslavery are there any african campaigns?"

CNN producer Leif Coorlim, editorial director of the CNN Freedom Project, has details: "Yes, there are a number of organizations that are working hard to fight slavery in Africa right now. Two organizations worth looking at are World Vision International and the Enslavement Prevention Alliance in West Africa."

[Update 3:15 p.m. ET] @NathalieWill in Johannesburg, South Africa, asks a question that is shared by many: "what can I do to help?"

We've put together an entire section to answer just that. Visit our "How you can help" section here.

[Update 3:05 p.m. ET] Some more reaction from Twitter:

"Brotherly love, rescuing sisters sold into sex trade. Surely the men using the girls have sisters too? #endslavery @mrskutcher" –@grightford

"Guys, the 1st 10 mins of @cnnfreedom: "Nepal's Stolen Children" w/ Demi @MrsKutcher will absolutely break your heart. #Impact #endslavery" –@MrStevenGeorge

Be sure to share you comments or questions for the producers in the comments below.

[Update 2:55 p.m. ET] Some early reaction to "Nepal's Stolen Children" on Twitter:

"@mrskutcher watching nepal's stolen children on #cnn rather touching! Great job" –@tapalF

"It starts with you and me #EndSlavery" –@kennObara

"@aplusk @mrskutcher Nepalstolenchildren Its a very touching effort, a hard reality an excellent program. Congratulations #endslavery" –@pavelrg

June 24th, 2011
08:16 AM ET

A sex trafficker's worst nightmare

More than 17,000 women and girls from Nepal become sex slaves every year. Many end up in India, China or other Southeast Asian countries, and roughly half of them are children.

Anuradha Koirala - the 2010 CNN Hero of the Year - has been fighting to end this sex trafficking for nearly two decades. Since 1993, she and her organization, Maiti Nepal, have helped rescue and rehabilitate more than 12,000 women and girls.

Recently, Koirala partnered with actress Demi Moore on "Nepal's Stolen Children: A CNN Freedom Project Documentary." For the film, which premieres Sunday, Moore traveled to Nepal to meet Koirala and some of the people rescued by her group.

CNN's Kathleen Toner recently spoke with Koirala, 62, about how her life has changed since being honored as Hero of the Year and what work remains to be done. FULL POST

June 23rd, 2011
06:45 AM ET

Demi Moore sees plight of sex slaves

Actress Demi Moore partners with CNN Freedom Project for a compelling documentary. A passionate advocate for victims of human trafficking herself, Moore travels to Nepal to meet 2010 CNN Hero of the Year Anuradha Koirala and some of the thousands of women and girls Koirala’s organization has rescued from forced prostitution. Premieres Sunday, June 26 MORE DETAILS & TIMES

Kathmandu, Nepal (CNN) - Dawn breaks in Nepal, a nation whose natural beauty brings tourists from across the globe.

Sun glints off the Himalayas and in the ancient capital, Kathmandu, trekkers gear up for a day of sightseeing and adventure.

Amid the beauty is devastating poverty which provides fertile ground for one of man’s horrors – human trafficking and sexual slavery.

Nepal is a major hub for traffickers luring girls into brothels in India with promises of well-paid - or at least better paid - jobs.

Fighting the traffickers is a small, dedicated band whose limited resources are stretched. FULL POST

June 22nd, 2011
07:33 AM ET

Saving Nepalese children from a life in slavery

Actress Demi Moore partners with CNN Freedom Project for a compelling documentary. A passionate advocate for victims of human trafficking herself, Moore travels to Nepal to meet 2010 CNN Hero of the Year Anuradha Koirala and some of the thousands of women and girls Koirala’s organization has rescued from forced prostitution. Premieres Sunday, June 26 MORE DETAILS & TIMES

At a busy, exhaust-choked checkpoint along the India-Nepal border, Anuradha Koirala moves briskly among the box trucks, ballast tractors and passenger buses hastily queued up for inspection.

This is Koirala’s best, and possibly only, chance to save stolen Nepalese children from a life in the sex trade.

“Girls are brought from the villages by people who can lure them and tell them they are getting a nice job,” says Koirala, winner of CNN’s 2010 “Hero of the Year” award.

Her organization, Maiti Nepal, intercepts 4 to 5 girls a day. It’s an exhausting, unending endeavor. FULL POST

'Nepal's Stolen Children'
June 17th, 2011
10:40 AM ET

'Nepal's Stolen Children'

NEPAL’S STOLEN CHILDREN: A CNN Freedom Project Documentary

UPDATE: CNN Encore Presentation – Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hong Kong 21:00
London 21:00
Berlin/Johannesburg 22:00
Abu Dhabi 00:00 (July 3)
Miami 8PM
Mexico City 7PM

 Actress Demi Moore partners with CNN Freedom Project for a compelling documentary.

A passionate advocate for victims of human trafficking herself, Moore travels to Nepal to meet 2010 CNN Hero of the Year Anuradha Koirala and some of the thousands of women and girls Koirala’s organization has rescued from forced prostitution. How were they taken and where were they sent?

Hear the emotional, first-hand experiences of these young survivors. And follow along with Moore as she searches for answers in the fight to end this form of modern-day slavery.

Along the way she hears horror stories from former sex slaves, plays games with their children, and joins one woman making the daunting trip home.

The group also has a hospice for women with HIV-AIDS, a learning center for women hoping to make a new life and a band of border guards trying to stop women being smuggled in the first place.