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

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.