September 26th, 2011
02:55 PM ET

'Trapped by Tradition': Your questions on slavery in India

Last week we asked for your questions about 'Trapped by Tradition', the documentary featuring actor Anil Kapoor which explored how in someIndia villages girls are sent into prostitution by their families. Here is a selection of your questions, answered by CNN correspondent Mallika Kapur, who worked on the documentary.

Question: Creating awareness is good but what measures have been put in place to help eradicate this abnormal tradition and give these girls hope for a new beginning? – labelle

Answer: Groups like Plan India and its sister organization, Gram Niyojan Kendra, are working hard to stop this practice. Their goal is to prevent the next generation from falling into the same trap, so they are building schools in the area and encouraging children to attend. They have a team of people who work closely with the men and women in the village. They also spend a lot of time counseling people and explaining the dark side of this tradition. Often the people involved don’t realize what they are doing is wrong because it’s been this way for generations, so nobody questions it. One lady, Ranu, who works with Gram Niyojan Kendra, has been living in the village for 10 years. She runs a residential school/shelter and looks after the babies of prostitutes while they are at work. She does this so that the babies are brought up in a safe environment and don’t end up being forced into the sex trade. So yes, there’s a lot of work being done to change the mindset of the people, and to encourage children to go to school.

Question: What is being done to the criminals who are involved in these activities? – Twaha

Answer: Unfortunately, many times, nothing happens at all. This is because the men who push the girls into prostitution are family members of the girls, so it gets difficult to prove they are traffickers.India does have a law against trafficking - the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act - but many anti-trafficking groups say it isn’t very effective. Also, traffickers can be punished only if someone files a police report first. Because family members are involved in trafficking themselves, who is there to file a police report? That’s one of the main reasons traffickers don’t get tried and punished.

Question: How long has this been going on? What part of India? Is there anything we can do to help? – Concerned

Answer: This has been going on for generations. In our documentary, we focused on the Bedia community which lives in a few villages in Bharatpur district in Rajasthan state, western India. You could contact Plan India which works with 40 villages in this district to find out how you can help.

Question: Who started this tradition/business and what do you think about the government’s duty in this matter? – A. Bhattacharjee

Answer: This has been going on for generations and is a by-product of poverty and tradition. Also, the people here are at the bottom of the caste system. Historically, they had few job opportunities and were exploited by the rich, upper castes. They formed the most vulnerable strata of society and had to resort to sending their own daughters and sisters into the sex trade to earn money.
The Indian government has good policies and intentions but anti-trafficking groups will tell you what the government really needs to have is targeted intervention. It needs to have specific programs to help this group of people. For example, if the government decides to build schools, it needs to have a school right there in the middle of the village so that the children don’t have a long commute. It needs to counsel the people to send children to school. It needs to sensitize the community there not to attach a stigma to the children of sex workers. So a targeted, specific intervention for this vulnerable community is essential.

IMPORTANT-It is not trapped by tradition it is TRAPPED BY POVERTY!!!!! - Shree

Answer: Yes, absolutely. Poverty breeds desperation and in this case, extreme poverty meant these people had no alternative but to send the women to work in the sex trade so they could earn money to feed their families. It’s vital to provide the people of these villages with an alternative form of income, so groups like PlanIndia and Gram Niyojan Kendra are providing them with vocational training programs and working to link them up with government-run employment schemes. The challenge is to provide an income that matches the hefty earnings the women get from prostitution. For instance, a sex worker can earn as much as $2,000 a month. While it’s hard to find a job that pays as much, anti-trafficking groups say their focus is convincing the people here to find a job that gives them dignity and a way out of this dark tradition.


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.

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

May 18th, 2011
07:15 AM ET

Young advocates fight human trafficking

In a CNN roundtable, moderated by Jim Clancy, young activists discuss the fight against human trafficking, how they got involved and what are the next steps to combat slavery for the next generation. FULL POST

Topics: Reader Response • Solutions • Voices
Taking a stand to end slavery
April 11th, 2011
01:17 PM ET

You are taking a stand to end slavery

Modern-day slavery is not often talked about, but we’ve learned that people all over the world are passionate about stopping the problem.

Last month, CNN iReport and GOOD asked readers and viewers to join the fight against human trafficking by taking a virtual pledge to end slavery.

We’ve received more than 100 pledges from people in dozens of countries. Of those, we’ve spoken to 50 submitters and found that our audience is committed to educating themselves and those around them about sexual exploitation and forced labor beginning with a simple message:

"I’m taking a stand to end slavery." FULL POST

April 11th, 2011
09:29 AM ET

Reader: Humans have good track record in the impossible realm

The debate about how we can end modern-day slavery is happening all across the web, including reader comments on The CNN Freedom Project blog, Twitter and the project's Facebook page.

Here's just one opinion from a reader on Facebook, Aya Reall Hansen, arguing why people are trying to end this.

"Yeah, it may be hard to win the battle, but heck, I'd say humans have a pretty good track record: good luck finding a "new world" – oh wait, thanks Columbus, you did the impossible; good luck sending someone to the moon – oh wait, thanks NASA, you did the impossible; good luck abolishing the Transatlantic Slave Trade – oh wait, thanks mankind, you did the impossible! Human Trafficking not only affects females, but also men, families, morals, ethics, morality, and religion! It appeals to the very soul of a person (for those who still have one), and if the only reason a person gets involved is so they can sleep well at night, I would say that at least they still have a conscience in tact, and from that starting point, their reasonings for putting an end to this nasty disease will be enlarged, their motivations deepen, and their understanding of the importance of freedom/agency solidified. To those who lack understanding, who choose to stand by and watch the innocent suffer – watch out, the barge of RESPONSIBILITY is coming through and cannot be stopped!"

What do you think?

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Topics: Reader Response • Voices