Welcome to the Bridge to Freedom Foundation Blog

Thank you for visiting the Bridge to Freedom Foundation (BTFF) blog, where we look forward to bringing you inside information on the inner-workings of BTFF, inside information on our volunteer team and leadership, in-depth coverage of BTFF and partner events, news and happenings from across the globe and so much more.

Learn more about Bridge to Freedom Foundation and how you can help on the BTFF website. We do hope you will subscribe to and follow our blog and please e-mail us at blog@btff.org if you have any feedback, ideas or contributions.

Thank you for your support!
Cassandra Clifford
Executive Director and Founder of BTFF

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Groups battle sex trafficking in Atlanta
On average, 100 adolescent girls are sexually exploited for money in Georgia on a typical night, according to a report by the Schapiro Group, an Atlanta-based research, marketing and communications firm. The data reveal that 7,200 men pay for sex with adolescent females in Georgia each month and the largest concentration of men — 42 percent — seeking to pay for sex with adolescent females in Georgia is in the north metro area, outside the Perimeter. Twenty-six percent come from inside the Perimeter and 23 percent from the south metro area outside the Perimeter. Nine percent are from the immediate vicinity of the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Human trafficking decision will allow class action suits for guest workers, says civil rights groups
A federal judge’s decision to grant class action status to a group of immigrant Filipino teachers who were allegedly duped into forced labor in Louisiana could be used to protect other guest workers in the U.S., said the civil rights group representing the teachers. A recent ruling by federal judge in the Central District of California granted class action status in a human trafficking lawsuit involving more than 350 Filipino teachers is the first time the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) has been applied to a group of people, rather than just individual victims, said the Southern Poverty Law Center on Dec. 20. The ruling, it said, sets a precedent by showing that the TVPA's legal protections can be applied on a class-wide basis.

Super Bowl attracts human trafficking
As the Super Bowl draws near, one Indiana state senator is looking to close existing loopholes in laws regarding human trafficking and prostitution. Senator Randy Head, a former Tippecanoe County Deputy Prosecutor, said human trafficking will be a major problem as visitors stream into Indiana for this year's Super Bowl. As a former deputy prosecutor for Tippecanoe County, Head said he's seen the type of scars human trafficking can leave on a child.  Indiana does have laws that punish human trafficking, but Senator Head feels those laws aren't strict enough. The bill he's proposing bumps up most offenses from a class B felony to a class A felony. It would also make it illegal for any person to sell a child into the sex trade, as the wording stands now, it only prohibits a parent or guardian from trafficking a child.  Senator Head is hoping to have the bill read, approved and in place in time for Super Bowl Sunday on February  5.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Monetary Incentive to End Child Marriage in Indian State is Successful

Photo: Sandeep Saxena for Hindu.com 
One in seven girls in developing countries is married before their 15th birthday, usually against her will. Across the globe, more than 60 million girls find themselves innocent victims as child brides, despite the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulation that 18 is the minimum age for marriage. While many countries have adhered to this age restriction, others have fixed the minimum age at 16, while some countries have yet to set or enforce any minimum age for marriage.

Though child marriage is outlawed in many states, it continues to thrive in the dark of night or in the rural villages often out of reach of the rule of law. In India, Parliament passed the Child Marriage Restraint Act in 1978, setting the minimum age for women to get married at 18 and 21 for men. Despite the law, child marriages still continue, especially in populous northern states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. According to a 2010 study in India one-fifth of married women were wed before they were 15 years-old and half of those surveyed were married before they turned 18 years-old. The study was conducted by the Population Council of India and released by Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad in Febu. It also found that 47 percent had their first pregnancy in the first year of their marriage, while a quarter of those who were married as children also experience some form of physical violence in the marriage (Hindu).

Child marriages violate the rights of the child in many ways, but the most concerning violation is a girl’s right to consent. How do we end this outdated practice, that continues to harm girls across the globe? One Indian state believes that they may have found a viable solution to help curb child marriage. In the state of Haryana, child marriage is on the decline, a rare victory in this battle.

To read the rest of this article by Bridge to Freedom Foundation's Executive Director and Founder, Cassandra Clifford please follow this link to the Foreign Policy Association's Children's Rights Blog: http://foreignpolicyblogs.com/2011/12/22/monetary-incentive-to-end-child-marriage-in-indian-state-is-successful/

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Korean "comfort women" in landmark protest against Japan
Korean women seized by Japanese military during World War II, then forced into sexual slavery, staged their 1,000th successive weekly protest outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul, South Korea on Wednesday. "I want President Lee [Myung Bak] to urge Japan to apologize for the past sins and make compensation. The Japanese ambassador should make a formal apology as quickly as possible before we all die," said Kim Bok-dong, 88, one of five former "comfort women" in attendance, and one of only 63 still alive today from among the more than 200,000 girls taken to military brothels.

Bensouda to take on gender violence at ICC
Holding perpetrators of gender-based crimes accountable for their actions will receive increased focus moving forward, newly elected International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda says. Bensouda, who is the first woman to hold the ICC's top prosecution position, believes the court's efforts can help end the impunity that surrounds sexual assault and gender-based crime in many parts of the world.

Photojournalist exposes secret world of child brides
In an interview, photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair -- who shot the feature "Too Young To Wed" for National Geographic magazine -- discusses nearly a decade of work investigating child marriage throughout the world. Despite international agreements that outlaw the practice in many countries, millions of young girls, some as young as five, are forced into marriage annually.

Five girls who resisted child marriage hailed as ‘icons' by President
Economic progress is not the only indicator of a country's development, a nation requires its people to show courage against social pressures and overcome social evils, said President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on Wednesday after meeting five teenagers from West Bengal who fought social and family pressure and resisted child marriage. The girls, with little education and almost no support, turned down marriage proposals and faced the anger of their families and the community. They earned praise from the President, who described them as “icons” and asked them to share their stories and encourage girls to say no to under-age marriages.

Human trafficking for flesh trade on the rise in Mindanao, say two groups
Both Bernardo Mondragon, executive director of the group Child Alert, and Jeanette Ampog, executive director of Talikala, said most of the documented cases of human trafficking in the region this year had minors as victims, who were lured into the growing but clandestine world of “sex entertainment” because of poverty. Ampog said as the poverty situation worsened, more women and children were trafficked into prostitution. “But although most of the victims of human trafficking are women, some boys are also being lured into the cybersex dens in Davao City because of the promises of big money,” said Mondragon. He said Child Alert has documented cases of minors, as young as 14 years old, lured into Davao’s cybersex dens, so mobile and probably backed up by a powerful syndicate, they continued to elude apprehending authorities this year. Mondragon said the cybersex dens have been mostly in private homes, aided only by “spotlight,” laptops and a camera.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Identifying Human Trafficking Victims in a Health Care Setting

It’s estimated that between 14,500 and 17,500 individuals are trafficked into the United States each year. Health care providers are often one of the few “outsiders” with an opportunity to interact with human trafficking victims, and therefore play a key role identifying and rescuing victims. Providers at all levels must be trained to recognize and identify the signs and symptoms in order to rescue victims and fight this intolerable injustice. The following signs and symptoms may indicate that a patient is a victim of human trafficking:
  • Patient is unaware or lacks knowledge of his/her whereabouts, states that he/she is “just visiting”
  • No documentation, or lack of control over documents and paperwork
  • Few to no personal possessions
  • Inconsistent story
  • Patient refuses to speak to medical personnel, won’t make eye contact
  • 3rd party insists on being present or interpreting
  • Injuries (multiple, old & new)
  • Malnourishment
  • Branding
  • Patient lacks health insurance
  • A patient who is under 18 and in the sex industry – VERY big red flag, must be investigated
  • Patient exhibits a behavior change when law enforcement is mentioned
***Do not mention law enforcement if you suspect human trafficking, as it may cause the patient to shut down and not feel safe disclosing his/her status
  • Sexually transmitted infections, or history of bacterial or yeast infections
  • Patient’s demeanor (e.g., fearful, anxious, submissive, distant, emotionless)
  • Multiple abortions or miscarriages
If you suspect that a patient or any individual is a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center:
English: 1-888-373-7888
Korean: 1-888-967-5246
Spanish: 1-888-80-AYUDA

Monday, December 12, 2011

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Human Rights Watch pressures Yemen on child brides
After an agreed resolution to Yemen’s months of political unrest, Human Rights Watch is pressing its campaign against child marriage in the country. The organization is calling on the Yemeni government to ban marriage for girls under 18, noting that the arrangements often pair them with much older men, affecting the brides’ health and denying them a chance at education.

School system aims to aid India’s female Dalits
Sister Sudha has launched dozens of schools catering to marginalized girls and women in India’s poorest areas in a bid to promote literacy and knowledge about sanitation, reproductive health and basic human rights. India’s Dalits, the untouchables at the bottom of the country’s caste system, number about 170 million and make up the overwhelmingly majority of landless, bonded-laborers.

Ireland: Law criminalising employers over forced labour considered
The Labor Party is examining British legislation on forced labor with a view to preparing a specific law to criminalize offending employers in Ireland. Joe Costello TD said the party was examining legislation passed in the U.K. in 2009, which made it an offence to hold a person in slavery or subject them to forced labor. “The Labor Party has passed it to our legal advisers with a view to preparing legislation to deal with the loopholes in the present system,” Mr Costello said. Gráinne O’Toole, workplace and project leader with the Migrant Rights Center, said that over the past six years it had dealt with 160 cases of forced labor in Ireland, but said this was “the tip of the iceberg.”

Clinton Orders Review of Visa Program
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has ordered an "extensive and thorough review" of a foreign exchange program that has been used by U.S. businesses as a source of cheap labor and exploited by criminals to import women to work in the sex industry. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee's immigration subcommittee also has been gathering information on the J-1 visa, which was created in 1963. More common than sex trade abuses is shabby housing, scarce work hours and paltry pay. In August, dozens of workers protested conditions at a candy factory that packs Hershey chocolates in Hershey, Pa., complaining of hard physical labor and pay deductions for rent that often left them with little money.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fact: Organ Trafficking is On the Rise

  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 66,000 kidney transplants, 21,000 liver transplants, and 6,000 heart transplants were performed worldwide in 2005.
  • A global increase in kidney diseases and a decreasing supply of transplantable kidneys have led to a substantial increase in the illegal kidney trade. In fact, the WHO estimates that just 10% of the demand for kidney transplants was met in 2005.
  • Conservatively, it’s estimated that 15,000 kidneys are illegally trafficked each year.
  • On average, one can earn between $2,000 and $6,000 for a kidney, however, there is no post-operative medical care for the donor. As a result, many donors suffer serious medical complications and incur substantial medical costs, leaving them with little or no money to survive.
  • Organ trafficking is illegal in Israel, Egypt, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, India, and Iraq, but as a result of poverty and corruption, the illegal organ trade flourishes in each of these countries.
  • Desperation leads many buyers to “overlook” or justify the illegality and inhumanity of purchasing a trafficked organ.
  • Kidneys (and other organs) are frequently used as collateral for money lenders in some parts of India.
  • According to the University of California, Berkeley, the majority of donors who sold a kidney to get out of debt find themselves in serious debt again shortly thereafter. Despite this reality, most donors would say "I'd do it again. I have a family to support. What choice did I have?"

Monday, December 5, 2011

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Would-be teen bride is hospitalized in Afghan acid attack
The recent acid-throwing attack on a teenage Afghan girl and her two sisters has again focused attention on the fates of child brides. The 17-year-old girl in the Kunduz province, north of Kabul, was apparently supported by her family in rejecting the match with an older suitor, who is suspected in the incident.

Vietnam, China grapple with increased trafficking
Vietnam is facing a trend of laborers being trafficked into China as companies look to employ cheaper foreign labor after changes to labor laws, the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking says. In 2008, Chinese authorities passed legislation that requires Chines nationals to receive certain levels of pay and benefits.

A crackdown on child marriage in Bangladesh
Communities across Bangladesh are beginning to act decisively against the practice of child marriage in response to coordinated efforts by aid groups and local authorities. Prevention efforts include public awareness campaigns and the creation of local income-generating activities to help keep girls in school.

U.S. States Failing to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation

Did you know that there is an estimated 14,500 to 17,500 foreign nationals trafficked into the United States each year?  Shockingly, the number of U.S. citizens trafficked within the country is even higher!

“Is it really that bad?” is the question usually asked- the answer is undeniably, “Yes!” According to the 2009 Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking report by Shared Hope International, which reported in-depth on the high prevalence of child sex trafficking in the United States, the number of American children at risk of being pulled into the sex industry is an estimated 200,000.  Shockingly, the average age of entry in the sex trade industry in the U.S. is only 12 years old.  There is no stereotypical face of slavery; the chains of modern slavery can bind anyone of any gender, race, religion or age. Those trapped by slavery do not have to cross borders to be victimized, for one can be exploited within their own home, community, as well as halfway across the globe.  The issue of child trafficking and sexual exploitation has all to often been deemed an international issue, leaving the child victims in the United States overlooked.  Therefore, many states continue to inadvertently provide safe havens for sex trafficking, including for minors.

Therefore I was excited to be watching as Shared Hope International announced Protected Innocence Initiative in San Antonio, Texas on Thursday.  The long awaited report from the extensive project looked at the sex trafficking legislation in all 50 States and the District of Columbia, and then gave each state a letter grade and full report card.  “Each state’s laws show omissions in protective provisions for child victims, and lack strong laws to prosecute the men who rent the bodies of other men’s children,” said former Congresswoman and the President and Founder of Shared Hope International. “Early in our research it was clear that responses to child sex trafficking must originate at the state level. The Protected Innocence Initiative establishes the essential legislative framework that attempts to harmonize the state’s response to the treatment of prostituted children and emphasize the appropriate prosecution of the buyer.”

To read the rest of this article by Bridge to Freedom Foundation's Executive Director and Founder, Cassandra Clifford please follow this link to the Foreign Policy Association's Children's Rights Blog: http://foreignpolicyblogs.com/2011/12/03/u-s-states-failing-to-protect-children-from-sexual-exploitation/

Monday, November 28, 2011

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Fate of child brides goes prime time on Turkish TV
A two-minute trailer for a highly anticipated Turkish soap opera focuses on the fate of a 15-year-old girl from a poor family in the region of Anatolia who is married to a 70-year-old man. The soap opera, which is scheduled to debut Friday on Turkish television, coincides with the release next week of a documentary film, “Child Brides,” following a women’s rights group’s 18-month information and awareness campaign in a country where every second woman was married off as a teenager.

India faces scourge of bridal slavery
Women’s and children’s rights activists are sounding the alarm over the abuse of young girls as part of a growing trend for bridal slavery. Young girls are sold into marriage for as little as $120, then forced to work as day laborers and sex slaves to the men who purchase them.

Afghan child bride is denied a divorce despite abuse, beatings
In an interview, a rural Afghan woman who was given, as a 6-year-old girl, to a man and his extended family — along with eight of her sisters and female cousins — talks about the beatings and abuse she sustained after she was married to a considerably older man at the age of 12. She ran away while still a teenager after several suicide attempts.

Raids are rescuing girls trafficked to brothels in Cambodia
A raid on a brothel in northern Cambodia has unmasked the underlying rape and child abuse against young girls as young are trafficked and forced into prostitution. The raid was carried out with the participation of Cambodian author and anti-trafficking advocate, Somaly Mam, whose memoir, “The Road of Lost Innocence,” recounts being sold into prostitution in Cambodia, then escaping.

Groups struggle to combat Somali gender violence
Women’s rights advocates are raising the alarm over a sharp increase in gender-based attacks on internally displaced Somali females in the Mudug region as a result of a deteriorating security situation and a lack of accountability. Women’s groups are reaching to religious leaders and community elders as part of campaigns to raise awareness on the issues.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Shop Consciously and Child Labor Free This Black Friday

Now that you have managed to make it through the Thanksgiving holiday, your mind has begun to drift away from thoughts of turkey and stuffing, not to mention pumpkin pie, to thoughts of holiday giving.  Today the Christmas shopping season officially begins, as Black Friday consumes shoppers across the country.  It’s the American way to look for a deal and a bargain, but does your bargain gift come with a price?

Global March Against Child Labor estimates that one in every eight children from 5 to 17 years old, some 179 million, work in the worst forms of child labor. Slavery taints many of our consumer products such as clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, electronics, sports equipment, rugs, agricultural produce, sugar, tea, coffee, chocolate, and many others. Often products, like clothing, may even be tainted at multiple points in the supply chain. For example, children may have been used to pick the cotton of a shirt, while workers were held in situations of slavery.

Why not make your holiday shopping list one that not only brings joy to your friends and family, but is free from slavery and gives back to individuals and communities in need? Slavery touches each one of us as a

consumer, therefore take a stand against child and slave labor and work toward being a more conscious consumer by keeping slavery tainted products out of your home today in just a few easy steps:

Continue Reading on the Foreign Policy Association (FPA) Children's Rights Blog, written by Bridge to Freedom Foundation Executive Director and Founder, Cassandra Clifford: http://foreignpolicyblogs.com/2011/11/25/shop-consciously-and-child-labor-free-this-black-friday/

Monday, November 21, 2011

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Using DNA to combat trafficking of children
KUALA LUMPUR: The global trafficking of children for illicit adoption, prostitution, forced labour or recruitment of minors as child soldiers is a serious problem of international concern.
According to the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime's (UNODC), an estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year, with children being 20 per cent of the human trafficking victims. Since understanding law enforcement alone cannot combat this crime, a scientist from Spain's University of Granada suggested in 2004 a unique programme to combat human trafficking by using DNA-Prokids (www.dna-prokids.org).

Gangs Enter New Territory With Sex Trafficking
The MS-13 gang got its start among immigrants from El Salvador in the 1980s. Since then, the gang has built operations in 42 states, mostly out West and in the Northeastern United States, where members typically deal in drugs and weapons. But in Fairfax County, Va., one of the wealthiest places in the country, authorities have brought five cases in the past year that focus on gang members who have pushed women, sometimes very young women, into prostitution.

Study Documents Scope of Area Human Trafficking and Reveals Urgent Need for Services to Survivors
On Wednesday, November 9th at 11 a.m. in the University Club on the north campus of Hofstra University, a press conference will be held to release a groundbreaking study on human trafficking in the New York City metropolitan area, and to announce the opening of a new safe house for survivors.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


  • Human Trafficking is the modern-day slave trade
  • Slaves work anywhere their owners can make a profit - ­the fields, brothels, homes, mines, restaurants….
  • We can end slavery in our lifetime. Everyone has a role to play: government, business, international organizations, consumers, and YOU.
  • National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) is a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. Please call 1-888-3737-888 to report a tip, connect with anti-trafficking services in your area, or to request training and technical assistance. For more information, please see the Polaris Project website.



Monday, November 14, 2011

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

The business of human trafficking
Companies often use complex global procurement systems to deny their part in human trafficking but what can responsible businesses do to address the issue? Seven years ago, David Arkless took a call from the first lady of an African state. She wanted to know what his company was doing about human trafficking. His answer was blunt: "What human trafficking?" The question prompted him to investigate. The figures proved startling. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, more than 2.4 million people are being exploited by traffickers at any one time. Some campaign groups suggest the annual number of victims could be as high as 27 million.

Put an End to Blood Minerals
Imagine your 15-year-old daughter walking to the corner store to get a carton of milk. She has walked along this street nearly every day growing up. But this afternoon on the way home, a group of men pull her into the bushes. Each man takes a turn raping her, the last one with the barrel of his AK-47. Left bleeding and unable to walk, she takes shelter in the nearby forest. Why doesn’t she go home, you ask? She can’t. The rape is considered her fault. She is now disowned by her family. After surviving weeks on berries and sugar cane she is discovered by a man who thought he smelled a rotting corpse. But the stench is the result of a rape so brutal that the passageway between her vagina and anus broke down, becoming one gaping wound.

MYANMAR-THAILAND: Undocumented workers exploited post-floods
BANGKOK, 8 November 2011 (IRIN) - While the Burmese government has re-opened a key border checkpoint between Thailand and Myanmar to accommodate thousands of migrants fleeing Thailand's flooded factories, undocumented - and now unemployed - migrants face extortion and abuse as they try to return home, according to migrants and activists.

Zimbabwean girls struggle to access education
One-third of primary-school-aged girls and 67% of those at the secondary school level are unable to access education in Zimbabwe, according to a study from Plan International. Poverty, sexual abuse and child marriage are among the major factors adversely affecting school attendance for girls.

11,000 girls are recruited to promote India gender equality
Red Cross societies across the Indian state of Haryana are gearing up to train more than 11,000 predominately female college students to persuade parents not to abort fetuses shown to be girls. “These students will turn into parents in coming years, and we hope that they won’t forget the importance of girls. As parents, they will be in a position to make a change by deciding against gender bias,” said Syham Sunder, secretary of the Red Cross Society in the district of Yamunanagar.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Debt Bondage: When a Person Becomes Security for a Debt

Debt bondage (bonded slavery) is:

  • The least well known, but most commonly used method of enslaving people.
  • Used to control victims of both labor and sex trafficking, but it’s particularly common in the exploitation of agricultural workers.

How Does Someone Become a Bonded Slave?

  • A person is considered a bonded slave when their labor is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan.
  • The person is then tricked or trapped into working (often seven days a week) for very little or no pay.
  • Most often, victims are lured by promises of economic opportunity, but soon find themselves in a migrant labor camp with no documentation, money, or means of escape.
  • The debt repayment system is designed to prevent the victim from ever repaying the debt in full, so many victims work their entire lives but never achieve freedom.

Why Isn’t the Victim Able to Pay Off the Debt?

  • The system is rigged so that victim’s initial debt, plus their cost of living ‘debt’, food, and rent, will always exceed their meager wages and the ‘debt’ will continue to increase.
  • For example, the victim may be charged an additional fee to use the restroom, for water, for transportation to the job site, or to use the very tools that are necessary for his/her job.
  • Essentially, the traffickers create an illusion that the victim is being paid a fair wage even though the victim never actually sees any of the money. Once this illusion wears off, the traffickers often rely on violence, fear, intimidation, and abuse to force compliance.

Is Debt Bondage a New Phenomenon?

  • No, debt bondage has existed for hundreds of years in South Asia, Africa, the Caribbean South-East Asia, Pakistan, and many other countries around the world.

Why Does Debt Bondage So Prevalent in Today’s World?

  • Poverty is at the heart of all human trafficking and exploitation cases.
  • Impoverished people often do not own land, are not educated, and have no marketable skill or opportunity to earn a decent wage. The need for money just to survive makes these people vulnerable to traffickers, and causes them to sell their labor in exchange for a lump sum of money or a loan.

Aren’t Their Laws Against this Practice?

  • Yes, but although bonded labor is illegal in most countries where it is found, governments are often unwilling or unable to enforce the laws, or to ensure that those who profit from it are punished.

What Action Can I Take To Fight Debt Bondage and Modern-Day Slavery?

Educate Yourself - Follow any of these links to learn more about debt bondage and modern day slavery:

Spread the Word - Share your knowledge with family, friends, classmates, and work colleagues, and use social media tools (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.) to bring greater awareness to this issue.

Volunteer - Offer to lend your time, talent, and services to a local, national, or international organization.

Support Your Favorite NGO - Give generously to an organization fighting bonded labor and modern day slavery.




Image: http://wikis.milkenschool.org/Jewish_Studies_Wikis/In_Every_Generation_Project_(2010)/Nathan_Sabah_and_Mark_Gurman

Monday, November 7, 2011

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Girl Up highlights the importance of counting girls
With the seventh billion child expected to be born this month, Girl Up is drawing attention to the need to count, advocate for and invest in girls worldwide. Investing in a girl today means in the future she will have the tools to reinvest in her family and community, which helps build a better world for all of us

The War Against Modern Slavery
The heinous crime that exploits, abuses, rapes and enslaves millions upon millions of children is hardly a new story. As a society we have become more open and aware of the issues of modern slavery and human trafficking, but we envision the facts as distant, far removed realities. Sadly modern slavery impacts some 27 million men, women and children across the globe, a number too big to ignore. Those most affected are women and children: the U.S. State Department estimates 80% of human trafficking victims are women and girls, and up to 50% are minors.

Good by Design 2011

Bridge to Freedom Foundation was selected as one of the non-profit beneficiaries of Good by Design 2011.  Each year The BOSS Group hosts a charity design day that benefits DC area non-profits.  Today members of the Bridge to Freedom staff met with area professional and student volunteers from The Art Institute of Washington to get a makeover of some of its creative assets.  One of the pieces created from the 10 hour digital arts make-over was the 2012 National Global Human Trafficking Awareness Day poster.  Check back here for a preview soon. BTFF will be making the poster available in PDF form for reprinting so you can get involved by raising awareness in your school or workplace.  Look for upcoming installments of our blog to get a look at our redesigned logo and our all new brochures.  The crew at BTFF would like to thank all of the designers who toiled relentlessly to make sure we had finished assets to take away from the workshop.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Bengal slammed for not implementing right to education act
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) Friday slammed the West Bengal government for not implementing right to education act in the state. Addressing the media here at conclusion of a two-day-long public hearing, NCPCR Chairperson Shanta Sinha said the problem of child labor and trafficking were rampant in West Bengal because of non-implementation of the right to education act. “It seems that the issue is not of resources but that of will,” Sinha said. “These and many other children are falling victim to child labor and trafficking because the authorities have not implemented the RTE in all seriousness that could allow children a chance at education and better future,” she said.

U.S. is urged to keep up fight against trafficking
The U.S. remains a key player in the fight against human trafficking and a congressional proposal to cut funding would adversely affect the global battle to end the trade, writes Matthew Friedman, regional project manager for the United Nations Inter-Agency on Human Trafficking. Between 12 million and 27 million people around the world are trapped in slave like conditions as result of human trafficking.

If Super Bowl brings influx of human trafficking, prosecutors are ready
A two-day training session for county prosecutors this week was the latest in Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller's efforts to combat human trafficking. Two deputies from the Vanderburgh County prosecutor's office were among the 40 law enforcement officials who attended a seminar in Indianapolis and aimed at showing those officials how to prosecute traffickers and deal with victims.

Fighting Over Online Sex Ads
Village Voice Media has a classified network called Backpage.com that includes a section labeled “adult” with categories like “escort” and “strippers & strip clubs.” The vast majority of ads involve one consenting adult seeking another, but there have been instances in which the section was used to offer minors for sexual ends. In September 2010, Craigslist, which hosted a great deal of sexually related advertising, bowed to pressure and banned that advertising in the United States. A significant portion of the estimated $44 million in sex-related advertising on Craigslist found a home on Backpage.com. But in August the country’s 51 attorneys general sent a letter demanding that the site close its “adult” section, and now a coalition of religious leaders has joined that effort.

Senate leaders: Deal on human trafficking bill possible before Nov. 16
A day after a Republican senator broke with decorum and criticized colleagues for prolonged negotiations on a bill cracking down on human trafficking, the Senate’s point-person on the issue said a deal is within reach and could be sealed within three weeks, when the Legislature is scheduled to recess until January. The bills establishes the crimes of trafficking persons for sexual servitude and trafficking persons for forced services, each which would carry a potential 15-year sentence. Traffickers of children could face life in prison. The Senate bill proposed fines of up to $1 million on businesses found to engage in human trafficking, and added state-funded social services for victims of sex trafficking or forced labor. The House bill would authorize $10,000 fines for those convicted of soliciting sex from a minor.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi Named in Human Trafficking Report
Controversial Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was named in a U.S. government report on human trafficking. The 75-year-old media baron turned politician landed on the list because of his alleged relationship with a 17-year-old belly dancer, Karima El Mahroug, during one of his now-infamous "bunga bunga" parties. “In February 2011, judges set a trial date for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for the alleged commercial sexual exploitation of a Moroccan child, media reports … indicate evidence of third party involvement in the case, indicating the girl was a victim of trafficking," the State Department report said. The annual report is just the latest embarrassment for Berlusconi over the incident, which has him facing criminal charges in Italy.

U.S. Lawmaker Seeks More Scrutiny on India Trafficking
A U.S. lawmaker on Thursday urged more scrutiny of India's record on human trafficking as the State Department insisted that the emerging Asian power was taking significant strides against the problem. In its latest annual report on human trafficking, the State Department took India off a watchlist and credited the democracy's independent judiciary and civil society with spurring action to rescue women and children. But Republican Chris Smith, author of the law that requires the trafficking report, queried the upgrade. Smith asked the State Department to look carefully next year at whether India is making "an all-out effort to eradicate slavery" or only trying to appease criticism. Robert Blake, the assistant secretary of state for South Asia, defended the administration's assessment. He said India had traffickers in their crosshairs, while until recently authorities would arrest the victimized women and girls.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Global Child Sex Trafficking Facts

1) Young girls make up the majority of the approximately 2 million children worldwide who are sexually exploited each year.
2) Globally, between 50 and 60 percent of the children who are trafficked into sexual slavery are under age 16.
3) 25 % of all child sex tourists around the world are U.S. citizens.
4) Sex traffickers often recruit children not only because they are more vulnerable, but also because of the high market demand for young victims.
5) Traffickers target young victims on the telephone, on the Internet, through friends, at the mall, and in after-school programs


Monday, October 24, 2011

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Girls prepare message for G20 leaders
Girls representing the G20 countries and the African Union have gathered for a G(irls) 20 Summit to highlight efforts to end child marriage and discuss other issues that affect young women around the world. Participants will prepare a communiqué on the issue to be delivered to policymakers at the G20 summit next month.

Elders work to confront child marriage
Working to bring an end to child marriages is a key focus area for Nelson Mandela, Mary Robinson and The Elders. The group of senior diplomats is endorsing community-level education efforts and engaging males in conversations on ending a practice that affects 10 million young girls every year.

Movement against genital cutting spreads across Senegal
Villages across Senegal are galvanizing behind a growing grass-roots social movement against female genital cutting. More than 5,000 such villages have promised to abandon the practice.

Vietnam province launches child-marriage awareness campaign
The provincial authority of Long An has issued an instruction to fight against child marriage in the province. The instruction was made after many marriages at an early age were reported in the province’s remote areas and districts with industrial zones, such as Tan Hung, Duc Hue, Moc Hoa, Duc Hoa and Ben Luc. To prevent child marriage, Long An People’s Committee has assigned the Department of Justice to better educate residents about marriage law. The Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs was asked to conduct a survey on causes of early marriages and to map out policies on vocational training for young people who may be involved in child marriages so they could more easily find jobs.

The Child Slavery Behind Your Chocolate
October could almost be designated “candy month” in the United States, thanks to the consumer buying power and commercialization of Halloween. As I wrote in my post, Trick-or-Treating Minus the Slavery, the chocolate industry in the United States alone is a$13 billion industry. It is led by Hershey’s, which holds42.5% of the U.S. chocolate market. Yet the global cocoa industry often traffics children to work as slaves, according to UNICEF (The United Nation’s Children’s Fund).

Trick-or-Treating Minus the Slavery
With Halloween quickly approaching, most of us are running around trying to find costumes and stock up on candy for the wee ones that will barrage our doors in their tiny costumes. Everyone wants make sure the little ghosts, princesses, supper heroes, and other characters are greeted with a sweet treat. But what if you’re handing them a sweet that was made at the price of another child? Chances are, it was. Last year Americans spent nearly two billion dollars on Halloween candies and treats. While it frightening to think of this financial cost, the real fright is that much of the stuff is produced by children and slave labor.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Do You Know the Red Flags of Human Trafficking?

Although every human trafficking case is unique, the following is a non-exhaustive list of potential red flags and indicators of human trafficking (compiled by Polaris Project):
Common Work and Living Conditions: The Individual(s) in Question
  • Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
  • Is under 18 and is providing commercial sex act
  • Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp / manager
  • Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
  • Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
  • Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work
  • Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
  • Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work
  • High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)
Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior
  • Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid
  • Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement
  • Avoids eye contact
Poor Physical Health
  • Lacks health care
  • Appears malnourished
  • Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture
Lack of Control
  • Has few or no personal possessions
  • Is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account
  • Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport)
  • Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)
  • Claims of just visiting and inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address
  • Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or do not know what city he/she is in
  • Loss of sense of time
  • Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story

Monday, October 17, 2011

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Elders work to confront child marriage
Working to bring an end to child marriages is a key focus area for Nelson Mandela, Mary Robinson and The Elders. The group of senior diplomats is endorsing community-level education efforts and engaging males in conversations on ending a practice that affects 10 million young girls every year.

Vietnam province launches child-marriage awareness campaign
The provincial authority of Long An has issued an instruction to fight against child marriage in the province. The instruction was made after many marriages at an early age were reported in the province’s remote areas and districts with industrial zones, such as Tan Hung, Duc Hue, Moc Hoa, Duc Hoa and Ben Luc. To prevent child marriage, Long An People’s Committee has assigned the Department of Justice to better educate residents about marriage law. The Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs was asked to conduct a survey on causes of early marriages and to map out policies on vocational training for young people who may be involved in child marriages so they could more easily find jobs.

Revulsion over Nigeria rape video shows power of social media

In Nigeria, rape video depicting an apparent gang attack on a woman by college students sparks a criminal investigation, and raises questions of how much smartphones have changed Nigerian society. On Sept. 17, a popular Nigerian blogger named Linda Ikeji wrote that she was in possession of an hour-long tape of five students from Abia State University gang-raping a young woman. Ms. Ikeji is a widely followed and popular writer known for her accurate celebrity gossip and entertainment reporting. Her claim to be in possession of such a tape drew immediate attention.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

5 Facts About the Global Human Trafficking Crisis

1) It is estimated that there are approximately 27 million slaves around the world

2) The average cost of a slave around the world is $90.

3) Approximately half of all trafficking victims around the world are under the age of 18.

4) According to some estimates, 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation, and 19% involves labor exploitation.  

5) Trafficking victims normally don't get help because they think that they or their families will be hurt by their traffickers, or that they will be deported.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Inside the world of child brides
Understanding the true depth of the issue of child marriage sometimes requires a new lens so to speak.  BBC presenter Nel Hedayat travels to India and Bangladesh, countries with two of the highest rates of child marriage, to chronicle what life is like to be one of the 10 million girls worldwide who are married off each year before they reach the age of 18. The 23-year-old Hedayat has a legacy of child marriage in her family, as both of her grandmothers and an aunt were married as children in her native Afghanistan.

UNESCO hosts forum on education gender gaps
Academics, government and NGO representatives have gathered for a two-day UNESCO forum to discuss the causes behind gender equality in education. Enrollment ratios have increased around the world over the past decade, but large gaps remain in Sub-Saharan and Arab countries, UNESCO said.

Police in Peru say they have rescued nearly 300 women from sexual exploitation in a raid in the country's Amazon region. At least four people were arrested in Puerto Maldonado on suspicion of human trafficking. Among those rescued from about 50 brothels were at least 10 minors - the youngest was a 13-year-old girl. More than 400 police took part in the three-day operation in the region, known for its illegal gold mining. Prosecutors say young girls are lured to the area by women who travel around offering them jobs in shops or as domestic helpers, but that the girls often end up being forced to work as prostitutes in local bars.
EU Lawmakers Block Textile Deal with Uzbekistan Over Child Labor Concerns
European Union lawmakers have rejected a trade deal that would have made it easier for Uzbekistan to export textiles to Europe, citing objections to that country's continued use of forced child labor in its cotton harvests. The European Parliament's foreign affairs committee unanimously voted against the inclusion of textiles in the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), a document that has formed the basis of trade in most other goods between the EU and Uzbekistan since it came into force in 1999. The deal would have lowered the tariffs on EU imports of Uzbek cotton, which currently represent one-quarter of that country's exports. The committee wants international organizations to verify that child labor is not used during the cotton harvest in Uzbekistan before considering an inclusion of textiles.

Thailand: Escaping From Burma but Falling into Slavery

There are an estimated 2 to 3 million Burmese working in Thailand. Khun Mint says two years ago he had made up his mind to head to Thailand, but he needed help. When he reached Mayawatti, the Northeastern town that borders Mae Sot, Thailand, he met what many refer to as a "broker" or "recruiter" at a barbershop. The man helped him cross the river into Thailand, for a fee to be paid later, and from there, he eventually was led to a fishing village in the South. The young Burmese man essentially worked as slave labor the first six months, paying off his debt. Conditions were horrible, he says, thanks in part to enforcers on the boat, who carried what Khun Mint refers to as the, "stingray." "When you're casting the net or pulling it back up, if he see something he doesn't like, or even randomly, he'll start whipping you. It's like that."

Human Trafficking: Washington Works to Stem Demand

The Seattle area ranks among the top in the world for sexual exploitation of minors, according to Robin Schildmeyer of Genesis Project. Human trafficking is especially prevalent in Washington because of the state's ports, said Sen. Tracey Eide (D-District 30). In 2003, Washington became the first state to pass a law that criminalizes human trafficking. Since then, a series of laws have addressed restrictions on sex tourism, along with confidentiality and benefits for victims. In 2012, the Legislature will attempt to restrict advertisements for escort services related to underage victims. Chris Johnson, policy director for Attorney General Rob McKenna, credits the growing grass-roots support for allowing the state to "chip away" at human trafficking. "Where we are with human trafficking is where we were with domestic violence 30 years ago," said Johnson at a public forum. "We have a long way to go."

Intl. Bodies Hold Seminar on Curbing Money Laundering to Combat Human Trafficking

An expert seminar organized by the OSCE and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on leveraging efforts to fight human trafficking through clamping down on money laundering started in Vienna today. Trafficking in human beings is one of the most lucrative forms of organized crime, estimated to generate $32 billion dollars in gross proceeds each year. Criminal assets arising from this grave violation of human rights may be invested in legitimate and criminal activities. To minimize the profitability and increase the risk of human trafficking, these assets must be traced, seized, frozen and confiscated. A key goal of the seminar is to advance the body of operational knowledge available to law enforcement, financial intelligence units and private sector compliance departments in the use of financial investigations in identifying and confiscating the proceeds and instrumentalities of human trafficking.

Indiana Could Change Human Trafficking Law Before Super Bowl

State Attorney General Greg Zoeller is making a push for law enforcement to crack down on human trafficking in the state ahead of the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis. Zoeller says the last two Super Bowl sites had trouble getting out in front of the issue.  A major problem, he says, is differentiating commercial sex crimes that involve human trafficking from more standard prostitution. “I think the deficiencies are really that we look at prostitution where the prostitute is the criminal,” Zoeller said. “In this instance, where you recognize human trafficking, where the prostitute is a victim herself.” Zoeller says to help deal with the core issue, he will urge the General Assembly to pass legislation before the Super Bowl that will close gaps in state law.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

ILO: Hazardous Work is One of The Worst Forms of Child Labor

According to the International Labor Office, hazardous work* is one of theworst forms of child labor. In its recent report entitled, “Children in Hazardous Work,” the ILO states:
Children in hazardous work are in many respects the silent majority within child labour. Although they appear in photos, when it comes to action they are often eclipsed by form of child labour that have captured the public eye, such as child soldiers or trafficked children, or they are subsumed within general child labour efforts. Still too few policies or programmes are geared to the special needs of children who do hazardous work.
The Facts
  • According to the most recent statistics (2008), there are approximately 115 million children currently employed in hazardous work.
  • Although less than one-third of younger children in employment (those aged 5–14) are now in hazardous work, almost half of all children aged 15–17 who are employed perform hazardous work.
  • Hazardous work is increasing among older children, aged 15–17. Within four years (2004–08), it jumped 20%– from 52 million to 62 million. Boys outnumber girls by two to one in this age group.
  • Children have higher rates of injury and death at work than adults, as shown by data from industrialized countries.
Despite the Dismal Facts, Progress is Being Made
Although the number of children in hazardous work is large, some of the most dangerous types of child work are concentrated in specific localities, specific occupations, specific tasks and specific age groups. Focusing energies on these pockets could go a long way towards generating the momentum needed to make progress. However,…the scale of the problem could increase in many countries due to demographic changes, as youthful population bulges move into adolescence….Major and sustainable progress requires public policies that address the root causes of child labour: tackling poverty, ensuring children have access to education and providing a social protection floor which protects the vulnerable.
The Report acknowledges the challenges and difficulty in tackling this issue on a global level; however, the Report found that there is progress being made. Specifically, the Report found:
  • For younger children (aged 5–14) in hazardous work, rates came down 31 % between 2004 and 2008; for girls they are down by 24%.
  • There are 173 countries that have committed themselves to tackling hazardous work of children “as a matter of urgency” by ratifying the ILO’s Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999.
Call For Action
Children in hazardous work must be made a priority in the next five years, and the Report recommends action on the following fronts:
  • There must be a renewed effort to ensure that all children remain in school, at least through the minimum age of employment;
  • We must strengthen workplace safety and health for all workers, and enforce specific safeguards for youth between the minimum age of employment and the age of 18; and
  • Each nation must develop a legal foundation for action against hazardous child work, with the support of workers and employers.
*Hazardous labor is defined as “work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.”
Image: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_1EmsgX2RU3Y/SzKKNCKvvFI/AAAAAAAACPA/9tam6JJ8Qik/s400/childlabour.jpg