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Monday, July 4, 2011

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

How U.S. budget cuts prolong global slavery
In April, Congress slashed the grant-making capacity of the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. When the Republicans won the House of Representatives last November, the office's $21.2 million annual budget to fight the war on slavery was already microscopic. At the time, it was barely equal to the U.S. government's daily budget to fight the war on drugs. For fiscal year 2012, Congress sliced away nearly a quarter of those antislavery funds, as part of its broader $8 billion State Department budget cuts.

The country where slavery is still normal
The North African nation of Mauritania has tried three times to abolish slavery within its borders, most recently in 2007, and three times it has failed. Though the most recent effort established tougher legal penalties -- 10 years prison time for holding slaves, two years for "promoting" slavery -- the practice remains pervasive, with an estimated half million Mauritanians enslaved. Paradoxically, the government's official position is that slavery has been abolished, putting it in the awkward position of trying to fight slavery while simultaneously maintaining that it doesn't exist.

Massachusetts Senate approves anti-human trafficking bill
Pimps and others found guilty of trafficking children for sex or forced labor would face life in prison under a bill passed by the Massachusetts Senate. The anti-human trafficking bill passed Thursday increases the penalties for human trafficking and for soliciting a prostitute. Under the proposed law, anyone convicted of trafficking would need to register as a sex offender. The bill would also consider children and others forced into prostitution victims instead of offenders.

Report: illegal immigrants abused as domestics
Illegal immigrants working as domestics in the European Union are often subject to beatings, sexual abuse and overwork while being paid a fraction of what they would be entitled to if employed legally, an EU agency reported Tuesday. The Vienna-based EU Fundamental Rights agency interviewed 72 people working illegally in 10 EU nations. It described the accounts it heard as "chilling." "Migrants in an irregular situation employed in domestic work are at heightened risk of exploitation and abuse, including sexual abuse," the report says.

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