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
By Leif Coorlim, CNN
A U.S. national campaign is under way to raise more than a million dollars in 24 hours.
The Everyone’s Kids, Everyone Gives campaign is working to raise $1 million for more than 100 non-profit organizations united in the fight against human-trafficking and modern-day slavery.
Like many other hidden criminal issues, accurate statistics on trafficking can be difficult to obtain. Globally, more than 20 million people are believed to held in slavery, according to the International Labour Organization.
The U.S. government estimates anywhere between 100,000 and 300,000 children could be “at risk” of being trafficked each year.
The U.S. State Department also states as many as 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into the United States each year as well.
“Americans need to know that this tragedy is happening here at home, under our noses, and is a reality of our times especially with the influx of child trafficking happening online through sites like Backpage and Craigslist,” says Bonnie Calvin, one of the event’s organizers.
The 24-hour “giving day” will take place on September 16. The aim is to connect donors with information about the issue and the organizations working to end child slavery and sex trafficking in the U.S.
Non-profit partners of the campaign include: GEMS, Humanity United, Polaris, The McCain Institute, and Youthlink.
“These organizations work day in and day out with victims and survivors of child trafficking,” says Calvin. “They provide survivor's recovery services like education, housing, therapy and job placement.
"Beyond that, they provide the hope and direction survivors need to get their lives back on track and pointed to a brighter future.”
"This is what real empowerment looks like to victims and survivors of human trafficking,” says Rani Hong, a sex trafficking victim and now a United Nations Special Advisor for victims.
“Everyone’s Kids, Everyone Gives” is the result of a 2013 Ted challenge. The crowdfunding platform, Razoo.com, is also committing an additional $50,000 in cash prizes to nonprofit groups that receive the most donations on the Giving Day.
“We should not stand for child trafficking and the sexual slavery of children anywhere in the world and especially here at home.” says Calvin.
“We can be an example for the world to follow if we tackle this problem head on and eradicate it forever.”
By Nina Smith
Editor’s Note: Nina Smith is the founding CEO of GoodWeave International, a Washington DC-based non-profit organization that works to stop child labor in the carpet industry.
In a small village in central Afghanistan, 13-year-old Basma is about to start her first day of school –- ever.
She’s a world away from the millions of western children who are now heading back to their classrooms for a new school year.
Only weeks before, Basma was found working on a carpet loom. Her weaving fingers already showed signs of arthritis from holding tools since the age of nine, tying knots for 14 hours a day.
She was rescued by GoodWeave, an international organization I head in the U.S. that seeks to eliminate child labor in carpet manufacturing.
According to the International Labour Organization, there are 168 million child laborers like Basma around the world, forced to sacrifice their youth and their education.
Many of these boys and girls manufacture the very items that American consumers will have purchased this Labor Day weekend in anticipation of the new academic year –- as well as other parents across the world.
The U.S. National Retail Federation estimates that parents will spend $26.5 billion this back-to-school shopping season.
Some of their purchases will include clothes stitched in Bangladeshi factories not far from Rana Plaza, the factory complex that collapsed last year, killing more than 1,100 garment workers including some who were underage.
"End Slavery Now' has relaunched its website to help people understand more about global slavery and unite those fighting to stop it.
The U.S.-based abolitionist group, founded in 2009, produced the new site to show the global reach of modern day slavery, but also, crucially, to showcase its partners around the world who are tackling the issues.
The group has also produced a video to help people understand its mission.
Congratulations to everyone involved in the relaunch.
Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen tells CNN why "12 Years a Slave" was such an important film to make, and says news events like the abduction of the Nigerian schoolgirls should encourage everyone to spread awareness of modern day slavery and expose its horrors.
By Jason Evans
(CNN) - It was 2002 in the Philippines, and American business traveler John Drake was presented with a disgusting offer.
He says a pimp offered him a four-year-old girl for sex "for about 25 bucks".
Drake returned home to Jackson, Michigan, but couldn’t forget the heart-breaking and disturbing scenes of child exploitation.
So, aged 58, he retired from his job as senior vice president of human resources for CMS Energy and Consumers Energy, where he'd worked for 32 years, and began a new phase of his life.
Cambodia has a young population and awareness about the dangers of modern day slavery is spreading, thanks in part to student activists. During filming for the documentary "Every Day in Cambodia", actress Mira Sorvino met some of the teenagers who are warning communities against falling for the traffickers' false promises.Watch Mira Sorvino's report
Don Brewster, a former pastor from California, is the founder and director of Agape International Missions, an organization dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating the victims of child trafficking in Cambodia and smashing the networks that exploit them. He moved to Cambodia with his wife in 2009 after a harrowing trip to the neighborhood and worked with CNN on the documentary 'Every Day in Cambodia'.
He has written a post on Agape's site in which he explains why he agreed to be a part of the documentary. He says: "We need more recruits ... in order for the truth to win out it must be spoken out."Read his blog post here
By Gena Somra
Nepalgunj, Nepal (CNN) - At first blush, one could mistake 88-year-old Olga Murray, a petite white-haired woman with a thousand megawatt smile, as something other than what she is: a passionate force to be reckoned with.
She may be tiny, but don't be fooled. Murray is a powerhouse.
The sun is blazing, the heat daunting, but as she walks through a remote area of Nepalgunj nestled along the Indian border, infamous for being the "hottest place in Nepal", Murray shows little sign of discomfort.
She is energized. And it is the work she has done here she says, that is one of her proudest achievements.
In this tiny corner of the world, far from the trappings of modern life, Murray's Nepal Youth Foundation has rescued more than 11,000 girls from the practice of "Kamlari" and the life of indentured servitude it brings.
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
By Guy Ryder, Special for CNN
Editor’s Note: Guy Ryder is the Director-General of the International Labour Organization. This week it is launching The Work in Freedom program, an initiative funded by the UK Department for International Development which aims to help 100,000 women and girls from Bangladesh, India and Nepal who are in forced labor in countries including Lebanon, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and India.
Across the planet, about one in every seven of us lives in extreme poverty, having to survive on less than $1.25 a day. Every day, they and the millions more living just above the poverty line struggle to have enough to eat, and dream of a better life and of earning enough to provide for their families.
Geeta Devi was one of these people. The 32 year-old mother of two from Nepal had been struggling to support her children and, like millions before her, made the difficult decision to leave her family behind in search of better work. Geeta, whose real name is being withheld to protect her safety, left her home believing she had secured a job through a local recruitment agency to work in a hospital in Lebanon.
When she arrived in Beirut, the man who collected her at the airport told her that she would actually be employed as a domestic worker in his house.
Geeta had used her meager savings to travel abroad and now had no money to fly home. And so she was forced to accept the job. What followed was an all too familiar story of exploitation – no wages, physical and psychological abuse, loss of contact with family and restriction of movement. FULL POST