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Monday, September 16, 2013

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Great Britain: 'Modern slavery' bill to tighten laws on human trafficking
Home secretary, Theresa May, aims to toughen legislation and counter 'shockingly low' prosecution rates. The home secretary said that prosecution rates for human trafficking were still "shockingly low" across Europe and that an overhaul of the law was needed as there was still some uncertainty over which agencies should be tackling the problem. The bill, which will be introduced before the current session of parliament ends next spring, will consolidate and toughen existing anti-trafficking legislation.

Texas: Bill would target domestic human trafficking
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, co-sponsored with Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble, will add to existing federal efforts to combat what he called the “scourge of human trafficking.” “We have to make human trafficking unprofitable, and we have to make the consequences such that people simply don't want to risk it,” he said. The bill would create a special fund that would finance human trafficking deterrence and victims' support programs through fines and penalties assessed on those convicted of child pornography, sexual exploitation, human trafficking and human smuggling offenses. Currently, about $20 million to $30 million in federal money goes to domestic trafficking prevention and deterrence — far less than that dedicated to international trafficking deterrence programs, Cornyn said. His bill would boost federal funding for domestic human trafficking victim support programs by an estimated $10 million to $20 million.

Black Mauritanians suffer 'slavery-like' conditions, says UN Black Mauritanians are still subject to slavery-like practices, including sexual violence and discrimination, a UN human rights expert has said. The UN special rapporteur on racism, Mutuma Ruteere, told the Guardian that generations of people, particularly women and girls, were still living with families in a "slavery-like" relationship, and were being forced into sex with male relatives, in some cases with their fathers.

Mauritania: Modern-Day Slave Finds Freedom in the Desert
At SOS Esclaves offices in Nouakchott, Mauritania's capital, Matallah Ould Mbarak Alsalem prepares tea. Matallah is a handyman and cleaner at SOS Esclaves, an NGO dedicated to the fight against slavery and coming to the aid of slaves and former slaves. He is one himself. Born in a desert region of north-eastern Mauritania, his mother was a Hratine, a slave, and by convention so was he. The Hratine, the main slave caste, are descendants of black African ethnic groups subjugated for the most part by white Arab Berbers. Estimates indicate that 10-20 percent of Mauretania's 3.5 million people are slaves, though exact numbers are hard to come by.

Cindy McCain: Address human trafficking before 2015 Super Bowl
McCain is calling on Arizona leaders to enact harsher penalties for human traffickers before the Super Bowl lands in Glendale in 2015 because the sports event is one of the largest drivers of the sex-trade industry. The annual football game is among the most-watched sports events in the world and draws tens of thousands of people to its host city. State attorneys general in Texas and Indiana, where recent Super Bowls were held, and other experts, have said the event creates an ideal setting for traffickers because they easily can go unnoticed in the influx of people, according to media reports. New Jersey, which will host the 2014 Super Bowl, recently passed a new law toughening penalties for traffickers.

ILO Initiative Protects Women from Modern-Day Slavery Over 100,000 girls and women in South Asia are set to benefit from a new initiative by the International Labor Organization and the UK Department for International Development, which aims to prevent trafficking within the region and to the Middle East. The Work in Freedom program, funded by UK aid, will focus on trafficking in domestic labor and the garment sector through known labor trafficking routes from Bangladesh, India and Nepal, to Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and India.

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