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Monday, June 13, 2011

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

New Phone Line in UK to Crack Down on Human Trafficking 
The metropolitan police and an anti-trafficking charity have launched a new phone line to help the victims of human trafficking.  It will be advertised on a poster campaign which show women attached like puppets on strings in a dark and dingy room. They carry the strapline: 'Stop traffickers controlling you. You make the call. We'll make it stop'.  The freephone number 0800 783 2589 is for victims and those who suspect trafficked victims are living in their community, to pass on information in confidence to the police.  It has been launched by the Metropolitan police and STOP THE TRAFFIK.

Awareness, access are key to helping child brides
Child marriage not only increase risks to young women but damages the development of communities as a whole, photographer Stephanie Sinclair says in this interview about her work on the issue. Increased awareness and programs to help child brides access education and health care should be part of efforts to help bring an end to underage marriage and help those young women who have already been married.

Massachusetts House Approves Human Trafficking Bill
Pimps and others who traffic children under the age of 18 for sex or forced labor would face life in prison under a bill passed by the Massachusetts House on June 1st.  Human rights advocates and top law enforcement officials have long pushed for the measure, which they say will give police and investigators the authority to go after traffickers while also treating young people forced into sexual servitude as victims instead of criminals.  The legislation would for the first time create the crime of human trafficking in Massachusetts, one of just a handful of states without a trafficking law. It now heads to the Senate, which passed a similar measure in the last session; that bill died in the House.

Maryland Fails to Act on Human Trafficking
In Maryland, authorities can't employ many of the tools routinely used against drug traffickers against those who traffic in human lives, such as confiscating their cars and cash.  Even a relatively modest proposal to allow trafficking victims to sue pimps for restitution and compensation damages failed to pass the Maryland legislature this year. Another bill permitting victims' rights groups to post a national hotline number for trafficking victims at bus stations, truck stops, highway toll booths and other places trafficking victims might visit was approved only over determined opposition from the state's tourism and hospitality industry.

Slavery in the Tomato Fields
Author Barry Estabrook released his exposé Tomatoland last week, detailing the "human and environmental cost" of tomato production.  The Atlantic publishes an excerpt from the book, revealing the grim realities of forced labor through the story of trafficking victim Mariano Lucas Domingo.

Woman Convicted of Forcing Nannies into Slavery in Suwanee
Georgia woman Bidemi Bello was convicted on eight human-trafficking charges on Friday.  Bello lured two young women into the country under false pretenses and forced them to work against their will, one from 2001 to 2004 and the second from 2004 to 2006.  The convictions included two counts of forced labor, two counts of trafficking for forced labor, one count of alien harboring, two counts of making false statements in an application to become a U.S. citizen, and one count of "document servitude," for taking her victims' passport and government documents to prevent them from leaving.  Sentencing will occur on August 24th.

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