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Monday, August 8, 2011

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Saudi cleric moves against child-marriage limits
Reformers in the Saudi Arabian ruling family and a senior cleric are on a collision course over child marriage after a fatwa was issued allowing fathers to arrange marriages for their daughters “even if they are in the cradle.” The kingdom’s Justice Ministry said this month that it would set a minimum age for marriage in an effort to help protect prepubescent girls.

Recruitment of child soldiers is rising in Somalia
The exodus of tens of thousands of Somalis escaping drought and violence has heightened the danger to children of recruitment as soldiers by Islamic insurgents. Amnesty International says the methods used by the armed groups — targeting children between 10 and 17, but sometimes as young as 8 — include luring children with promises of money and cellphones, and abduction and raids on schools.

Human Trafficking Summit Explores Darker Side
The FBI recently recognized Atlanta as one of 14 cities in the nation with the highest incidences of children used in prostitution. Georgia's most powerful law enforcement officials held a summit on Monday seeking new solutions to combat the age-old problem of human trafficking. The stories they heard of the sexual enslavement of children were as disturbing as they were unfortunately familiar. But human trafficking is not limited to sexual slavery nor to children, although those cases can be the most disturbing. It also takes the form of forced labor for the agriculture and restaurant industries and domestic servitude. There is hope, because heightened attention to the problem has spurred government action. The U.S. departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Labor announced last week that Atlanta had been selected as a site for one of six anti-trafficking coordination teams. The others sites are El Paso, Texas; Kansas City, Mo.; Los Angeles; Memphis; and Miami.

Feds Work to Increase Use of Special Visa to Help Trafficking Victims
Federal immigration officials are working with authorities in Philadelphia and other cities around the U.S. to try to increase the use of a special visa to help victims of human trafficking. At issue is the nonimmigrant "T visa," which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials say is an underutilized tool that can be used to help victims of human trafficking who have been brought into the country — using deception in many cases — and then used as sex slaves or forced into other types of involuntary servitude. There is a 5,000 yearly cap on the visa, which allows eligible victims and family members to stay in the country up to four years. But fewer than 5,000 have been approved in total since it was instated in 2002.

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