By Ernie Allen, Special for CNN
Editor’s note: Ernie Allen in the president and CEO of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, a global organization to protect children from sexual exploitation and abduction.
Human trafficking, including sex trafficking of children, is moving from the streets to the Internet. Increasingly, the traffickers are also migrating to a new, unregulated, unbanked and largely anonymous Internet-based financial system. For the traffickers, the appeal is obvious. This virtual economy offers them anonymity with little if any regulation or oversight. It is easy, low risk, and enormously profitable.
The issue is complex. The global payments market continues to evolve with the boom in e-commerce and mobile payments and alternative payment methods are being adopted.
In emerging economies mobile payments are becoming more prevalent because there are more mobile phones than bank accounts. Technology is changing the very nature of money and has prompted the creation of a new Internet-based financial system which has resulted in alternative payment methods and digital currencies being widely used today.
However, this new system is unregulated and has become a preferred venue for the sale of illicit drugs, weapons and for those who are involved in commercial child sexual exploitation. FULL POST
Russia and China were downgraded to bottom tier nations for their efforts to fight human trafficking, by a U.S. government report.
In the State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, China and Russia were relegated to Tier 3 - the lowest of four rankings which names countries whose governments do not fully comply with minimum anti-trafficking standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.
The classification includes countries like Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe, and Tier 3 countries are open to sanctions from the U.S. government. FULL POST
Editor’s note: Lauren Hersh is New York Director of Equality Now and head of its Sex Trafficking program combatting violence against women and girls. She is a former prosecutor at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office which covers Brooklyn.
By Lauren Hersh, Special for CNN, New York
Three months ago, Ruth came into my life. Sixteen years and two weeks old, Ruth is spunky and smart.
She loves Hello Kitty and iced coffee, listens to Alicia Keys and spends days planning her Sweet 16 outfit. Ruth wants to build schools in Africa. Her contagious smile lights up a room. But, for years, the smile I have come to love was hidden.
Ruth is not her real name. She is a sexually exploited child. At 12, after being raped by her mother’s boyfriend, she met an older man who promised to love and care for her. Instead, he brutally beat her, repeatedly raped her and sold her for sex more times than she could count.
There is a common misconception that girls like Ruth choose to enter prostitution. This could not be further from the truth. FULL POST
By Krupskaia Alis and Rafael Romo, CNN
Joanna moves her hands nervously as she speaks. Her oversized, golden earrings rattle as she shakes her head to make a point. Joanna is not her real name. She's speaking on the condition that CNN will protect her privacy and not disclose her real name. She's only 16 years old, but has already experienced a lifetime of horror, abuse and torture. She's a former sex slave.
It all started when she met a charming man. "I was in a normal relationship with him for three months," she says. At the time she was only 14 years old. She was treated like royalty and fell in love. A few months later he asked her to elope and she agreed.
"He promised that we would get a house and that we would raise children. I was naïve and believed everything he said. We started living together in July and by September he was already forcing me to work as a prostitute," Joanna said.
By then it had become painfully clear that Joanna's boyfriend was in reality her captor, a pimp who preyed on young, vulnerable teenagers whom he recruited in central Mexico with the purpose of forcing them into prostitution. FULL POST
World champion boxer Manny Pacquiao has had more than 50 professional fights. But none may be more important than the battle he has joined against the trafficking of tens of thousands of women and children.
Pacquiao, who is also a lawmaker in his native Philippines, teamed up with campaigner Cecilia Flores-Oebanda, who has spent 20 years trying to protect victims of sex slavery and forced labor.
CNN spent two years documenting her struggle as she enlisted the help of Pacquiao. The resulting full length film premieres on CNN International on May 17 and 18. Watch the trailer here.
Download the Fighters-End It boxing glove here, share it with your friends and join The Fighters to end modern-day slavery.
By Jesse Eaves Senior Policy Adviser for Child Protection, World Vision
Advocates are dynamic voices for change. Those voices often have a simple beginning. Two years ago, if 13-year-old Ravi was told that he would become a leading advocate against child labor in India, he would have taken that statement the same way that people treated him - “as a joke.”
When his father fell ill when he was 8 years old, Ravi was forced to quit school and work to pay off his family’s never-ending debts. For two years Ravi toiled in a small shack making wire brushes to clean machine parts in the city of Kanpur, India.
It was not the life he wanted to lead. However, Ravi’s life took a turn at age 10 when a social worker for World Vision found Ravi on the streets and got him out of forced labor and back into school. FULL POST
Three runners update CNN on their 1,000-mile trek through Europe raising money to help children rescued from trafficking.
The run began in Ukraine by the Black Sea and ends in Croatia on the Adriatic Coast.
CNN and iReport is joining the #enditmovement to help shine a light on slavery.
Join us by drawing a red X on your hand, window, wherever – be creative! – and sharing your photos by tagging them #enditmovement. You can also send them to iReport here. We’ll share some of the best on CNN.
You can find out more about the End It Movement here or watch this interview where actor-comedian Nick Cannon talks to CNN about the movement.
The host of hit U.S. TV show “America’s Got Talent” is getting behind a new campaign to end modern-day slavery.
Actor-comedian Nick Cannon told CNN he wanted to use his celebrity to encourage others to join the anti-slavery fight.
Seven non-profits formed the End It Movement to fight modern-day slavery all over the world.
End It and Cannon hope people will join the campaign on social media and agree to put an X on their hands as part of the organization’s ‘Shine a light on slavery day’ on April 9.
In his acceptance speech after winning the 2013 Oscar for best actor Daniel Day-Lewis acknowledged "the mysteriously beautiful mind, body and spirit of Abraham Lincoln."
There was applause from the audience. It was a celebration of Day-Lewis's talent and performance as the 16th U.S. president. But in a sublime way, it was also a celebration of Lincoln himself - his life, his words and his actions, most notably his fight against slavery.
One organization is trying to connect the historical Lincoln with the issue of modern day slavery.
Lincoln fought to end slavery 150 years ago. But how can we follow his lead to put this practice to an end for good? FULL POST