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

Friday, December 28, 2012

Fact: Human Trafficking and Human Smuggling are Two Separate Crimes

Image source: International Organisation for Migration (IOM)

According to the United Nations, human trafficking and human smuggling are some the fasest growing areas of international criminal activity. They often occur in conjunction with a number of different crimes and span several countries around the world. They are two separate crimes that involve criminals taking advantage of human beings to make massive profits. It is difficult to differentiate between the two crimes as the tend to overlap in the initial phase. 
  • Smuggling is "often a criminal commercial transaction between two willing parties who go their separate ways once their business is complete" whease trafficking involves threat and/or use of force, fraud or coercion against a victim.Trafficking often includes an element of smuggling, specificially, the illegal crossing of a border. However, it is not always the case as trafficking can and does take place within national borders.
  • Smuggling always involves a consenting migrant who wants entry into a state illegally whereas trafficking does not. The difficulty to distinguish between the two starts when a smuggling migrant becomes trafficked victime.
  • Smuggling can lead to trafficking. For example, smuggled migrants can become victims of violence and exploitation during their journey and/or upon their arrival into the state. 
  • Smuggling is a crime committed against a country and its borders whereas trafficking is committed against an individual.
  • Smuggling is always a transnational crime as it requires illegal entry into a country whereas trafficking can be legal or illegal entry and does not require any physical movement of an individual.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Chinese Police Bust Trafficking Rings

On Christmas eve, the Public Security Ministry of China announced that they broke up nine child trafficking rings, rescuing 89 children and arresting 335 traffickers in an operation which covered nine provinces across the country. The investigations began last Decembers after four people were arrested in Henan province for trying to sell four babies. 
In the last decade, child-trafficking has become a major problem in China due to the strict "one-child" policy that puts a premium on baby boys and lax adoption laws. As a result, the country has a thriving black market for buying children. Majority of the children abducted across the country tend to be boys because of the traditional preference for male heirs in China. For instance, Su Qingcai, a tea farmer in China, confessed to buying a 5 year-old boy for about $3,500 in a article on child-trafficking in the New York Times. Mr. Su justified his purchase by stating that "a girl is just not as good as a son. It doesn't matter how much money you have. If you don't have a son, you are not as good as other people have one." There are many people like Mr. Sue that fuel the illegal buying and selling of boys across China. As a result, child snatchings has become the most common method of kidnapping for traffickers. In 2009, a 9-month-old baby boy was grabbed by someone in a moving vehicle while a shopkeeper lost his son after he turend away for a while to help a customer.

In addition, adoptions by foreigners has increased profits for traffickers and led to widespread kidnappings. According to the Chinese government, 10,000 children are kidnapped each year, but some experts state that the number far exceeds this estimate. According to Chen Shique, director of the anti-traffiking office in the Public Security Ministry, police have broken up 11,000 child trafficking rings and rescued 54,000 Children since 2009. The intitaive by the Chinese government to crackdown on child-traffickers is good but they must also focus on labor and sex trafficking as they are also widespread across the counrty.

Source:  The New York Times

Friday, December 21, 2012

With Just a Click of the Mouse You Can See BTFF Thrive

We are always it doesn't always take a lot to make a big impact and now here it is your chance to make a huge impact to Bridge to Freedom Foundation and all you have to do is click a link and click a button and BTFF's life could be changed forever.  Seriously it really is that simple.

Click now and vote for Bridge to Freedom Foundation to win a much needed $10,000 Technology Makeover. These computers will ensure that we have laptops at all of our workshops for out clients and support volunteers and they could not come sooner as we are fully launching our College Prep and Job Reediness Program with Courtney's House in the new year. So please vote -can can vote every-time you open and close your web browser so please vote often and help us move to the next capacity level of our organization.

 Technology Makeovers include: 
  •  8 - Toshiba’s Satellite 840 Series Ultrabook 
  • 1 – Toshiba 40L5200U 40″ Class LED TV 
  •  2 – Toshiba 14″ USB Mobile LCD Monitor 
  • 8 – Toshiba 14.1″ Envoy Series Carrying Case 
  • 2 – Toshiba Canvio 3.0 1TB Portable USB 3.0 External Hard Drive 
  • 1 – $1,000 Staples Gift Card 
 After a week of slow computers, not enough computers and out Executive Director's screen going out on her laptop this grant will truly empower and change our organization in more ways than we can tell you.  So please, VOTE HERE and often until voting closes on Dec 25th.

FACT: Modern Slavery Will Not Go Away If We Close Our Eyes

You don't want to look, but you do and you see it...it's  right there in front of your eye's and you don't know what to do, so you close your eye's and pray it will go away.  Well that may have worked with the monsters under your bed when you were a child, but it will not make the monstrous crime of modern slavery go away.

Modern Slavery's invisible chains hold some 27 million captive and they cannot find true freedom if we close our eyes or fail to hear their cries. The realities of modern slavery are not easy to digest it is a story you see, hear or read and then instantly say, "no, that doesn't really happen does it?"  You are shocked the moment you witness any story and you cannot believe it is true? But it is and to see it's end we have to open our eyes and see the reality so we can act.

Sadly we still come across people daily that live in denial and just want to close their eyes to the many faces of modern slavery.  We see victims who are walked by day after day, young girls who's cries for help go unheard by all those around her, the child labor who is ignored as nothing but a nuisance, and so many others.  However we also come across people everyday who just don't want to hear it -they just don't want to believe it's true.  Just the other week we were at an event and a woman stooped by our table -we were selling survivor made products- and when we mentioned they were made by survivors she had apathy and then said yeah its so horrible in some of these countries.  We told her that we work at the moment in the DC area and with domestic victims of sex trafficking to which she instantly put her hands over her daughters ears -who was at least 12- and quickly walked away without another word.

Open your eyes with us and join the fight against modern slavery, together we can end it!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Younger girls forced into prostitution in economic crisis: conference
According to a conference by the International Labour Organization (ILO) about 21 million people, or three out of 1,000 people globally, are in forced labor. The ILO also stated that about 4.5 million of these people, mainly women and girls, were victims of sexual exploitation. Ruchira Gupta, founder of Indian charity Apne Aap Women Worldwide that works with prostitutes in 10 red light districts, said cuts in funding to women's projects had reduced the options open to women and girls other than prostitution. David Batstone, president and co-founder of anti-trafficking organization Not For Sale, said the global financial crisis as well as political instability created vulnerable communities at risk of exploitation.

Fighting human trafficking: 5 lessons from the field
An important worldwide campaign against gender-based violence recently came to an end. These "16 Days Against Gender Violence" began on Nov. 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and ended Dec. 10 on Human Rights Day. Many forms of inequality are woven into what creates an enabling environment for trafficking, including income disparities, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, and gender discrimination. Men, women and children are trafficked for forced labor, sexual exploitation, their organs, and petty crimes. The work of private and public organizations have yielded important results and five important lessons for consideration by the international community.


Friday, December 14, 2012

FACT: Human Trafficking Does Not Mean Movement of a Victim

The term human trafficking is often misleading and due to the use of the word trafficking makes many believe that a person must be transported to another country -or state- and must involve some form of travel, transportation, or movement across borders. However the federal definition of human trafficking in the United States does not require transportation of any kind to be involved. Therefore transportation may or may not be involved in the crime of human trafficking,but regardless it is not a required component. A victim may be trafficked by a relative and never even leave home.

 As defined by the United Nations Human Trafficking Means:
 “The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. “

At Bridge to Freedom Foundation we prefer to use the term Modern Slavery as we believe -as do many others in the field- that it more adequately describes the unspeakable crime that has taken some 27 million across the globe.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Child servants a blot on Haiti's abolitionist past
Imagine being a 12-year-old forced to wash dishes and clothes, clean the floors, cook, and other chores, beaten when you've done things wrong. That was the life of Dayanna Denois, and is also the life of many "restavek" children. The term "restavek" is a Haitian Creole word that comes from the French for "rester avec" or "to stay with;" It refers to the practice of parents giving away children they are too poor to look after and often happens to children from rural areas who are sent to stay with wealthier relatives and acquaintances in the hope that they will be given a better life and sent to school.

Human trafficking victims get more protection and services in federal court than in state court
Alex Campbell recruited foreign-born women who were looking to achieve the American dream in Chicago. He made them his victims, branding them with tattoos on their neck and back, declaring them as personal property, forcing them to work long hours with no pay and little food at the Day and Night Spa in labor and commercial sex. Campbell was sentenced to life imprisonment for sex trafficking, forced labor, harboring illegal aliens, confiscating passports and extortion. Four victims testified at the federal trial.

LA Teen Prostitutes Come From Foster Homes A Majority of the Time
The majority of young people arrested on prostitution charges in LA County come from the county's own foster care system, according to county officials. Pimps use child sex workers to recruit fellow foster care children who are currently living in shelters and foster homes. This is according to Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who introduced a motion to establish a task force to investigate sex trafficking in the foster care system. The LA County Board of Supervisors passed the motion two weeks ago. Antonovich's motion reports that the average age of entry  into prostitution is 12 years old and that the average life expectancy following entry is seven years, according to the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fact: 42% of the Recruiters of Modern Slavery are Women

Andrew Fung of Simon Fraser University put together a wonderful piece titled "Human Trafficking Visualized" for a school project. He took various statistics available on modern slavery and converted them into an infograph. He did an amazing job of simplifying this complex phenomena of modern slavery. However, the visual mislabelled the two forms of this crime, debt bondage and sexual slavery, as two of the most common causes of modern slavery. As explained in the picture, debt bondage involves people taking loans while sexual slavery involves someone being forced to sell their bodies agianst their will. Nevertheless, it is important to note that these two forms can overlap and eventually become the causes. For instance, debt bondage can result in someone becoming a victim after he/she is unable to pay off the loan borrowed and/or it can be used by criminals to keep someone in sexual slavery. While on the other hand, someone in sexual slavery can be forced to take out loans to pay for his/her housing, food, etc. 

Majority of the victims of this crime tend to be women and girls, approximately 80 percent and of that 50 percent are underage. Most often, women are only viewed as victims of this crime but rarely do people focus on the fact that women also play an active role in recruitment of victims. It is estimated that women make up about 42 percent of the recruiters. This is result of women being percieved as more trustworthy. The women recruits can themselves be previous victims of modern slavery, who are majority of the time being forced to recruit new members to buy their freedom. In about 54 percent of slavery cases the recruiters were strangers to the victims while 46 percent of the cases the victims knew their recruiter.

Due to the hidden nature of this crime, the exact number of the victims is still unclear and very difficult to calculate. This visual attempts to provide a rough estimate of the number of people illegally smuggled into North America. It shows that approximately 700 people are smuggled into Canada for the purpose of sexual exploitation and about 2,000 are smuggled into the US from Canada. However, the number of people brought into the US from around the world is far below the actual numbers and it is not clarified whether those people were brought into the US for the purpose of modern slavery or were just simply smuggled. There is a difference between smuggling and being brought to another country for the purpose of modern slavery. Smuggling is "transportation" based and the person is a willing party while modern slavery involves "exploitation" of person through teh use of force, fraud and coercion. A person being smuggled can become a victim of modern slavery as they go through vulnerable stages. 

Sources: Human trafficking infographic by Andrew Fung
              UN GIFT
              TIP Report 2007

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What Grade Did your State Get for Bringing Justice to Victims of Sex Trafficking this Year?

The fight against modern slavery is global and effects every race and age, however those most at risk for exploitation are children, including those right here at home. Despite great efforts and awareness all too many eyes remain closed to the realities of modern slavery and the innocent victims it holds in it's relentless grasp. One child victimized by the unspeakable acts of sexual exploitation and human trafficking is too many. Nonetheless every year in the United States, experts estimate at least 100,000 children -that is some 274 children a day- are exploited in the U.S. commercial sex industry. The average age of a child when they are first sexually exploited through prostitution is only 13 years old.

Last week on, On November 29, Shared Hope International released its 2012 Protected Innocence Challenge. “The Protected Innocence Challenge is a comprehensive study on existing state laws designed to inspire and equip advocates. Under the Challenge, every state receives a Report Card that grades the state on 41 key legislative components that must be addressed in state’s laws in order to effectively respond to the crime of domestic minor sex trafficking. In addition, each state receives a complete analysis of this 41-component review and practical recommendations for improvement.

Sadly no States received an A and more States received an F than any other grade, with nearly as many coming in with a D, it has left us with 69% of our States failing to even reach the C mark.
A (0)
 B (7) – FL, GA, IL, LA, MO, TX, WA
C (9) – AK, AZ, IN, MA, MN, OH, OK, TN, WI
D (17) – AL, CO, DE, IA, KY, MD, MS, NE, NJ, NV, NY, NC, OR, RI, SC, UT, VT
F (18) – AR, CA, CT, DC, HI, ID, KS, ME, MI, MT, NH, NM, ND, PA, SD, VA, WV, WY 

Despite the low rankings among the majority of States, this years report card showed significant improvement -though States have a long way to go.
  • 15 states improved their grades from 2011 
  •  2 states went up two grades: AK and MA went from F to C 
  • 13 states went up one grade:
    • 3 new “B” states: LA, FL, GA 
    • 6 new “C” states: AK, IN, MA, OH, OK, WI 6 new “D” states: CO, MD, NE, NV, SC, UT
  • 7 states improved their Protected Innocence Challenge scores by 10+ points:
    •  MA went up 29.5 pts 
    • WV went up 21 pts 
    • LA went up 17 pts 
    • SC went up 17 pts 
    • AK went up 14.5 pts 
    • OH went up 12 pts 
    • WI went up 10 pts 3. 
Each State was scored based on six categories of law; states have achieved perfect scores in sections 1 and 6, with “near perfect” scores in the other areas of law:
  1. Criminalization of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: IL and TX have perfect scores (10 points possible) 
  2. Section 2 Criminal Provisions Addressing Demand: LA now has a “near perfect” score with 24.5 points (25 points possible) 
  3. Criminal Provisions for Traffickers: MS, KY, FL and AL have a “near perfect” score with 14.5 points (15 points possible) 
  4. Criminal Provisions for Facilitators: LA and WA have a “near perfect” score with 9.5 points (10 points possible) 
  5. Protected Provisions for Child Victims: IL is the closest to a “near perfect” score with 24.5 points (27.5 points possible) 
  6. Criminal Justice Tools for Investigation and Prosecution: AL, MN, OH and TX have perfect scores (15 points possible) 4. Most Improved = MA 5. Highest Score = LA 6. Worst score = WY 
Looking at legislative progress over the past year, since the release of the 2011 Protected Innocence Challenge:* 
  • 240 state and 38 federal bills were introduced which relate to domestic minor sex trafficking. 
  • 78 laws were passed that relate to domestic minor sex trafficking. 
  • 40 states had legislation introduced that relates to the Protected Innocence Framework. 
  • 33 states enacted legislation related to the Protected Innocence Framework. 

The release of the Protected Innocence Challenge report was done in conjunction with Sharing the Hope 2012 in Washington, DC, a three-day event which included community and law enforcement training and the National Colloquium -a forum of national experts on the issue of shelter and service provisions for child victims of human trafficking.  The final day of the event cumulated with the Sharing the Hope Gala and Pathbreaker Award Ceremony honoring Ernie Allen, President and CEO of the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children; Drew Oosterbaan, Chief, Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) of the U.S. Department of Justice; Amy O’Neill Richard, Senior Advisor to the Director in the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons; and Deborah Richardson, Executive Vice President of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

The full report can be found and downloaded here.

*Statistics are based on Congressional Quarterly State Track accounting for legislation introduced or passed between August 1, 2011 and August 1, 2012.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Human trafficking legislation added to defense bill
U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Rob Portman of Ohio co-chair the bipartisan Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking. With the assistance and influence of their efforts, the Senate voted to add the End Human Trafficking in Government Contracting Act to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013. A few months ago, President Obama signed an executive order that prohibits government contractors and subcontractors from engaging in activities tied to trafficking.

Car wash accused of using forced labor
Five people were detained by Chinese police for suspicion of forced labor at the Guangliang Car Service in the Hedong district of Tianjin. The police rescued eleven workers, including a mentally disabled man who had been working at the car wash since August and claimed that he had been beaten. Another mentally disabled man was rescued by his brother, but has not received his salary, unlike some of the other rescued workers.

Bonded labour ensnares entire families in Afghanistan
Bonded labour in brick kilns is one of the most common forms of hazardous labour in Afghanistan. Over half of the brick kiln workers are children, most of them are under 14 years old and have been working at the kilns since they were about 7 or 8 years old. So much time is spent working at the kilns that most of the children do not obtain an education. Families are often tied to the kilns because of their needs to pay off loans. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), 64% of the families surveyed had worked in the kilns for at least 11 years, while 35% had worked in the kilns for over 20 years.  

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Spirit of Giving

On the cold night of November 14, NYPD officer Lawrence DePrimo helped a barefoot, homeless man by buying him a pair of $100 Skechers boots (a store employee lowered the price to $75 with his own staff discount). This kind act was captured by Jennifer Foster, a tourist from Florence Arizona, who shared it with the NYPD, which then posted the picture on its facebook page. Little did any of them know that this generosity would become an internet sensation. As of Wednesday night, the post had 1.6 million views, since then it has 529,901 "likes" and 193, 568 "shares".

As the season of the giving begins, it is not unusual to read stories about acts similar to officer DePrimo's. However, many generous acts go unnoticed. This story is just one of many simple acts of kindness that inspire others to get involved and help others in need. It is remarkable how quickly a simple act of officer DePrimo can gain wide attention of the media and the public. However, there has not been a huge public outcry when it comes to modern slavery in the United States. It is very unfortunate that we rarely hear stories of victims of this crime or organizations helping them.

This heinous crime is widely misunderstood as mostly occurring overseas and involving women and children being forced into sexual exploitation but little do they know that it is happening in their own backyards. People don't need to look any further to find a victim as they can be found from the streets of San Francisco to New York. People are unaware of the fact that modern slavery takes many forms, not just sexual exploitation (which tends to be the most talked about) and effects not only the victims but our society as a whole. Rarely do people suspect that the women and even girls they see on streets with short dresses and spike heels may be the victims of modern slavery. There are many organizations in the U.S. and around the world working year round to help the victims of this crime. The mainstream media and the general public, for the most part, have turned a blind eye toward this issue and as a result very few people are aware of it.  To increase your awareness about modern slavery, it's various forms, and how you can recognize and help a victim click here.

So in light of the holiday preparations make sure to think about the victims of modern slavery around you and help spread awareness. To get started, check out BTFF's website and begin by taking action to support BTFF's cause to help modern-day slavery victims transit from surviving to thriving by volunteering, donating, buying survivor made products, and/or voting for BTFF to win 10K.  

Source: Picture

Friday, November 30, 2012

Fighting Modern Slavery in Cambodia

On September 25, 2012, President Obama gave a historic speech committing the United States to lead the fight against modern day slavery. Making good on those words, the President during his trip to Southeast Asia urged the foreign leaders to take actions to combat the issues of modern-day slavery. During the trip, the President secured new commitments from the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to strengthen and harmonize their anti-trafficking laws, and established a landmark joint plan with the government of Burma to help eliminate that country's use of forced labor, including child soldiers.

Earlier this week, on the President's request Valerie Jarrett and Samantha Power travelled to Cambodia to meet with the U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia William Todd, trafficking survivors, as well as different organizations working to combat the crime. Cambodia has a significant amount of internal and cross-border trafficking, and is a country of origin, transit and destination. To combat this crime, the Cambodian government has taken some steps but they continue to lag because many victims continue to be labeled as 'criminals' and very few criminals tend to be prosecuted. President Obama during his meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, urged the Cambodian government to prioritize "fighting corruption, strengthening the rule of law, and protecting the rights of all Cambodians, including the vulnerable," to fully combat this issue. In the meantime, the U.S. will continue to assist Cambodia to create prevention awarwness campaigns, train law enforcement, and the rehabilitate the survivals of this horrible crime.

One successful prevention campaign is the U.S. funded MTV EXIT (End Exploitation and Trafficking) campaign. It is creating awareness in the country by providing Cambodian youth with training and mentorship using art, drama, and technology as tools to communicate messages about safe migration and dangers posed to at-risk communities-especially Cambodia's rural people. To create grass root awareness, the art created by the youth in this program will be displayed in villages all around the country to create as majority of the victims tend to be recruited and exploited from there.

Cambodian government has a tough road ahead to fully eradicate modern-day slavery as many factors contribute to the increase and continuation of this problem. However, as President Obama stated, decreasing corruption, strengthening rule of law, and providing protection to its citizens will definitely decrease this phenomena.

To continue reading: Click here
 Source: Picture

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ending Violence Against Women and Girls

Last week on Sunday, November 25th the world honored the International Day to End Violence Against Women, which culminated in many events to bring awareness to the fight against gender-based violence across the globe.   The day, which has kicked off events over the last week, was established by the United Nations in 1999 and was first observed in 2000.  Objectives of the awareness day include: strengthening local, national and international work around violence against women, providing a forum in which organizers can develop and share new effective strategies, demonstrating the solidarity of women around the world organizing against violence against women, and creating tools to pressure governments to implement promises made to eliminate violence against women.

Violence against women and girls affects all cultures and occurs in every city around the globe, taking many forms -- domestic violence, rape, child abuse,  female genital mutilation/genital cutting, dowry murder, honor killing, sexual exploitation/trafficking/slavery, female feticide, and discrimination.  The 2011 U.N. report on violence against “women estimated that up to 70 percent of women experience violence in their lifetime.” According to the World Bank data, “women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria.” 

As an activist and human rights writer who runs an anti-human trafficking organization working with survivors and moonlights managing  a Krav Maga (self-defense) studio, where I both train and instruct, I have come head on with the many faces of violence and the survivors who fight daily to win back their power.  Along the way I have not just met abused women and girls, but also the countless men who seek to restore their faith and trust, protect and empower them.  I have been lucky to spend much of my life surrounded by men who support and fuel my independent nature, but I too have been a victim of violence.  Even though my story is old and short I know that such instances both big and small forever change you.  Therefore while ensuring support and understanding for survivors is key - it is the secondary key- for preventing violence and breaking gender barriers that fuel gender-based discrimination and violence are the main key to breaking this vicious cycle that plagues the globe from small rural villages to large industrialized cities - that will once and for all unlock the chains that bind survivors and continue to fuel the cycle of violence.

The root to breaking the cycle of violence is target men, not just to empower women to stand-up, defend and protect themselves against gender discrimination and violence.  Changing the perception that gender violence is a woman's issue is a must to see that generations  of inherited bias and violence come to an end -to end violence against women we must seek to prevent it in all forms.  Real men don't rape, beat, or abuse women and girls -they educate, empower, support and honor them.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's Giving Tuesday, how will you give back?

Today is Giving Tuesday – the national day for giving back! But with this shaky economy many people are unable to donate as much to their favorite causes -like Bridge to Freedom Foundation. We know our supporters are looking for affordable ways to contribute to the fight against modern slavery; ways that will not empty their pocketbooks, but still make a great impact.

As a 100% volunteer led and donor supported non-profit, we understand the value of saving and making every penny count. Therefore Bridge to Freedom has partnered with many organisations to make sure that our supporters have lots of ways to support BTFF all year round, and especially during the holiday shopping and giving season. Now, there are so many easy ways to give back by supporting BTFF, that we decided to write them all down in this list made just for you.

  1. PURCHASE SURVIVOR-MADE PRODUCTS - Buy Better Way Imports survivor-made products (jewelry, bags, clothing and more) on the BTFF Ebay store, or contact us to host your own Freedom party! Because BTFF has partnered-up with Better Way Imports, each item sold through BTFF helps us raise funds by giving us a percentage of the profits.
  2. BUY AN INSPIRING PIECE OF ART - Purchase one of our inspiring "Little Bird" posters or set of art cards for you and -or- your loved ones. Read the amazing story of how this piece of art inspired an artist and survivor to donate their work to raise funds for BTFF's programs and place your order here.
  3. SEARCH THE INTERNET-Goodsearch.com: Every time you search on the Internet with Goodsearch.com (powered by Yahoo!), about a penny is raised for the charity or school of your choice! You use it exactly as you would any other search engine. No gimmicks!
  4. SHOP -Goodshop.com: Each time you click from Goodshop.com to one of the 2,500 plus participating stores (including Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Toys R Us, Sephora, Macy’s, PetCo and more), an average of 4% of the purchase price is donated to your favorite cause (at no cost to you!). *To support Giving Tuesday, Goodshop has partnered with dozens of top merchants to provide exclusive discounts so everyone can shop, save money and give back this holiday season! 
  5. EAT OUT - Gooddining.com: Every time you dine at more than 10,000 Gooddining.com restaurants across the country, up to 6% of the cost of the meal is donated to your favorite cause!
  6. SHOP SOME MORE - Shop with the iGive app, and it will tell stores for you that you want a percentage of every purchase you make donated to BTFF, at no cost to you!
  7. GIVE GIFT CERTIFICATES - Give back each time you purchase a gift card this season, just choose BTFF from the Local and National Charities list in Virgina on Charity Gift Certificates. Your donation is 100% tax deductible, and what's more, the person you give to can even designate a part of their total gift go to BTFF!                             
  8. START A HOLIDAY CAMPAIGN FOR BTFF - Raise funds for our programs (you can even designate where you want the funding to go!) via RootFunding.
  9. VOLUNTEER - BTFF is always looking for dedicated volunteers.  Currently we are looking for individuals who can help with web and graphic design, grant writing and events. If you are interested, please contact us at info@btff.org with your application, resume and cover letter.
  10. VOTE FOR BTFF TO WIN 10K - Vote daily for BTFF to win Toshiba's Big Reboot under the Powering Good Category to win a 10k technology makeover! Please help our dedicated volunteers to be less frustrated and more productive by helping us win this competition. To vote click here.
  11. DONATE - Kick off the giving season by donating to BTFF! 100% of each dollar will be delivered to BTFF to help modern slavery survivors to transit from surviving to thriving. To donate click here.
Doing good doesn’t have to cost money or be complicated, and your actions can count both on Giving Tuesday and every day!

On behalf of everyone at BTFF and all the survivors we serve -now and in the coming New Year- we thank you for your support!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Three firms agree to pay $213,000 in back wages to foreign student workers at Hersheys plant
Three companies have agreed in settlement to pay more than $213,000 in back wages to hundreds of foreign students for summer jobs they held at a Hershey candy company facility, the U.S. Department of Labor said Wednesday. The settlement also requires two of the companies to pay fines totaling $148,000. Hersheys was not cited because it contracts out the operation of the warehouse and distribution center to Exel, Inc, an Ohio-based company. Exel, SHS Group, and the San Clemente, California-based Council for Education Travel USA agree to pay these back wages to $1,087 at an average of $207 per student.

Ikea Admits Forced Labor was Used in 1980s
Ikea, the popular Swedish furniture company, recently admitted that political prisoners in the former East Germany were used as forced labor to make components of Ikea furniture. Some of the employees were aware. The accusations began about a year ago, stirring more victims to demand compensation for work they were forced to do under the Communist government.

Human trafficking victims freed in prostitution bust
Last week, authorities broke a $7 million three-state prostitution and money laundering ring, rescuing two human trafficking victims and arresting more than a dozen people in New York. The crackdown was a result of a 16-month investigation into Somad Enterprises, Inc., an advertising agency with offices in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania that placed classified ads for five escort services. Approximately half of the $7 million went to Somad, while the other half went to the escort services. Two of the 19 people indicted remain at large.

U.S, Burma agree human trafficking pact
The U.S and Burma have agreed to cooperate on anti-trafficking measures, according to a statement issued by the Department of State, hours before the first visit to Burma by a U.S. president. Burma will use its efforts against forced labor and illegal recruitment of child soldiers while the U.S. pledged to "provide technical assistance, training, and the regular sharing of best practices in the areas of law enforcement investigations, victim/witness interviewing, victim assistance, and trafficking prevention, through U.S. government-funded programs."

Celebrate #GivingTuesday

Today is #CyberMonday but don't forget tomorrow is #GivingTuesday. The day will celebrate the spirit of giving and serve as a national call to action around the shopping and spending season. #GivingTuesday is working with charity rating organizations to help everyone make the best decisions about their donations. To kick of the giving season start with donating to BTFF. 100% of each dollar will be delivered to BTFF to help modern slavery survivors to transit from surviving to thriving. To donate click here.

Also do not forget to vote daily for BTFF to win Toshiba's Big Reboot under the Powering Good Category to win a 10k technology makeover. Please help our dedicated volunteers to be less frustrated and more productive by helping us win this competition. To vote click here.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

November 25: International Day to End Violence Against Women

The violence against women is "not confined to a specific culture, region or country, or to particular groups of women within a society." It takes many forms and is widespread throughout the world. The 2011 UN report on violence against "women estimated that up to 70 percent of women experience violence in their lifetime." The types of violence experienced by women around the world include rape, female gential mutilation/genital cutting, dowry murder, honor killing, sexual exploitation, female foeticide, discrimination and domestic violence. According to the World Bank data, "women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria."

To combat this human rights violation, International Day to End Violence Against Women was established by the United Nations in 1999 and first observed in 2000. The day is observed to:
  • raise awareness about gender-based violence as human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international levels; 
  • strengthen local work around violence against women; 
  • establish a clear link between local and international work to end violence against women; 
  • provide a forum in which organizers can develop and share new effective strategies;
  • demonstrate the solidarity of women around the world organizing against violence against women;
  • create tools to pressure governments to implement promises made to eliminate violence against women
Since the establishment of the international day, "one hundred and eighty-seven countries have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, at least 125 countries have outlawed domestic violence and there is a  large body of legislation to end violence against women and girls." In the the twelve years of observing the day, awareness of the types of violence women experience around the world has increased, understanding of root causes of the violence has improved, assistance for the victims has improved, and many policy-makers have begun to take action. However, women around the world still experience violence in their daily lives. As we observe this day, it is essential that we recognize how important it is to stop violence against women as it is not only "an appalling human rights violation but also a burden on national economies and a barrier to lasting peace."

Sources: Michelle Bachelet
              United Nations

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fact: $90 is the average cost of human slave sold around the world

The average price of a slave has decreased during the past 200 years, according to Kevin Bales. a leading abolitionist and the President of Free the Slaves, who has written several books about modern-day slavery. In 1809, the average price of a slave was $40,000 when adjusted to today's money. In 2009, the average price of a slave was $90, Bales says.

In 1850 it was difficult to capture a slave and then transport them to the US. Today, millions of economically and socially vulnerable people around the world are potential slaves. This "supply" makes modern-day slaves  more inexpensive than they have ever been. Since they are so cheap, slaves today are not considered a major investment and thus not worth maintaining. Therefore if slaves get sick, are injured, outlive their usefulness, or become troublesome to the slaveholder, they are dumped or killed.

Modern slavery is directly connected to the global economy, as most slaves were forced to work in agriculture, mining, and prostitution. From these sectors, their exploited labor flows into the global economy, and into our daily lives.  

Source: here

Make your Black Friday Child Labor and Slavery Free

You've filled your plates and stuffed you faces with the barrage of Turkey Day delights and now belly full your mind begins to drift to Christmas Shopping and the Black Friday deals. So sure prepare yourself for a deal, but why not shop in the true holiday spirit and give back as you give to your loved ones this year and shop slave free!

 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. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that some 80 million plus children under 14 years old work in conditions deemed hazardous to their health. 

Slavery taints consumer products such as clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, electronics, sports equipment, rugs, agricultural produce, sugar, tea, coffee, chocolate, and many other products. 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 and forced to sew the clothing. Slavery touches each one of us as a consumer, therefore as don’t waste anymore time you can begin to take a stand against child labor and work toward being a more conscious consumer and keeping slavery tainted products out of your home, today in just a few easy steps.

  1. Donate to local organizations that help empower people out of poverty & slavery 
  2. Educate yourself about the companies that use slavery in the making of their products 
  3. Don’t buy commercial sex 
  4. Become a more conscious consumer and buy products made by survivors of trafficking or Fair Trade products -such as the items BTFF sales from Better Way Imports. 
  5.  Make your own gifts or support local artisans, you can also search online for handmade items; Artfire.com has artists from around the globe selling their crafts and art supplies, Etsy features handmade and vintage items, Ebay has a number of used, one of a kind and vintage items and even has a specifically designated ribon to show items for sale that benifit charities like BTFF and you can even choose us and donate at checkout.
  6. Remember to recycle and reuse as much as possible, for not onlu y does it help us reduce waste and maintain fight global warming, you can also help reduce the consumption of slavery tainted goods.
  7. Shop your local vintage and charity shops. See How to Go Green: Gift Giving

Monday, November 19, 2012

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Judge halts part of human trafficking initiative
A federal judge blocked part of the voter-approved ballot initiative related to human trafficking, until a court hearing that will be held tomorrow, November 20. The decision has temporarily halted a provision of Proposition 35 that requires registered sex offenders to give authorities a list of their Internet providers and screen names. The initiative passed on November 6, election day, with 81 percent support. The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on behalf of sex offenders, arguing that such a requirement restricts offenders' First Amendment right to free speech and their due process and equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Travel Industry Takes on Human Trafficking
The travel industry has been increasing efforts to combat human trafficking, working with private advocacy groups and the federal government in long-term, coordinated initiatives that go beyond its normal philanthropic activities. At a news conference in September, Mr. Gilliland announced Sabre’s “Passport to Freedom” initiative, which will train its 10,000 employees in 60 countries how to identify and report potential trafficking incidents. Jada Pinkett Smith, an actress and anti-human trafficking activist, was one of the speakers. Sabre, which owns Travelocity, plans to expand its outreach to businesses, travel agents and travelers who use its software and will eventually include informational links in all itineraries to raise awareness of the largely hidden problem.

Cotton ban gains momentum with apparel firms 
 More than 120 international apparel brands and retailers have now pledged to ban the use of cotton from Uzbekistan as part of efforts to stop the country using forced and child labor to harvest its cotton crop. Zara, JC Penney, American Eagle, and Fruit of the Loom are the most recent companies to join the growing list of signatories, which include Gucci, H&M, Walmart, and the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), which represents more than 75% of the US apparel and footwear industry. The US-based Responsible Sourcing Network (RSN) has coordinated the so-called 'Cotton Pledge', which builds on efforts that began in 2004 in response to a call to action by Uzbek human rights groups. The companies say they intend to maintain the ban on Uzbek cotton until the International Labor Organization (ILO) independently verifies the end of forced labour.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fact: Children are used as soldiers in armed conflict

Most Americans probably do not realize that everyday young children are forcibly recruited into armed military groups and forced to fight in deadly combat situations. War is an everyday reality for much of the world, and therefore, the demand for child soldiers continues to increase with each new or ongoing conflict. Research has revealed several factors which make a child more vulnerable to becoming a child soldier, the primary factor being that many adolescents see few, if any alternatives to "volunteering" for the army. Economic, social, community and family structures are frequently destroyed as a result of armed conflict, leaving many adolescents with a desire to avenge the killing of family members and the destruction of their community. Poverty, lack of access to education, and the absence work opportunities are important factors as well. When coupled with the desire for power, status, and social recognition, as well as family and peer pressure, the "choice" to become a child soldier seems a bit more understandable.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

U.N. Report Calls for Decriminalizing Prostitution
Prostitutes in Thailand and New Zealand don't face the repressive laws that exist in the rest of the region, according to a new U.N. report that calls for the decriminalization of the voluntary sex trade. The worst countries to be caught possessing a condom while  appearing to work as a prostitute include China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Malaysia  Myanmar, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, the Phillipines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. So-called "flying" sex workers are people, such as students, who work part-time. Cherie Hart, a spokesperson for the U.N. Development Program (UNDP), stated that the "criminalization [of prostitutes] increases vulnerability to HIV." The report found "no evidence that [criminalization] has prevented HIV epidemics among sex workers," and called for euphemisms, like the preferred use of the term/phrase 'sex work'.

California's Prop 35: Why Some Oppose an Anti-Sex-Trafficking Initiative
California is quite solidly behind Prop 35, and if it passes tomorrow, several new provisions will be put in place, including a raise in the punishment for sex trafficking of a minor with force or fraud to as high as a life sentence, increased fines for trafficking to pay for services that help victims, and required registration of all convicted sex traffickers to the sex offender registry. The FBI says California is a major hub for trafficking, and the Los Angeles Police Department says that more gangs are using forced prostitution for revenue, rather than drugs.

North Korea, China Joins Calls for Japan to Settle Grievances over Wartime Sex Slavery
North Korea and China joined South Korea's calls for Japan to resolve a lone-standing grievance regarding women forced to serve as sexual slaves during World War II, displaying a show of unity against Tokyo over the issue at a U.N. meeting, Seoul officials said Thursday. A total of seven nations, including North and South Korea, China, and the Netherlands, pressed Japan to settle the issue on a humanitarian level at last week's meeting of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Human Rights Council, a U.N. body. It appears that aging women were forced into sexual slavery in brothels run by the Japanese military during World War II.

Salma and Jada's Campaign to Stop Modern Slavery

To listen to English version audio click Here

Salma Hayek and Jada Pinkett Smith joined forces with the 'Don't Sell Bodies' campaign to raise awareness about the explotation of girls and women around the world. The gripping video, titled "Nada" ("Nothing"), was directed by the Mexcian actress and features Smith singing the track in Spanish. The video is aimed at Latino girls who are often lured into sexual slavery by someone who they believe 'loves' them. Even though the video is in Spanish, it does not mean that the issue of modern slavery exists just in that part of the world. In fact, it exists and affects every country around the world. The issue of Modern Slavery was brought to Smith's attention by her daughter, Willow, and was inspired to get involved to bring awareness and combat the issue of modern slavery by Hayek.

To hear Smith talk about her vision for the piece and what the Spanish lyrics mean click Here 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Domestic Violence: A Global Plague?

As we quickly roll into November and the holiday season, we remember October for a number of reasons; however, one important one is often forgotten. October was Domestic Awareness Month in the United States, but the purple ribbons — representing courage, survival, honor and dedication to ending domestic violence — were over shadowed by the flood of pink for Breast Cancer, which shares October as an awareness month. Undoubtedly both causes are worthy, but the uncontrollable plague of cancer seems to be easier to digest with the mainstream public and no one — not even NFL players — are afraid to wear pink all year long in support. Domestic violence is preventable, and it’s victims are more than just the wives of abusive spouses, but their children. So where was the purple?

Four million women are victimized by domestic violence every year, and three women die from abuse each year. Women and girls aged 16-24 are the most vulnerable, but violence affects Americans — as well as their international counterparts — regardless of gender, age, income, sexual orientation, race or religion. Victims of domestic violence are often also victims of modern slavery/human trafficking, via sex trafficking and forced marriages. The plague of domestic violence in the U.S. affects a woman or girl every nine seconds as a woman is assaulted physically and/or sexually. The most shocking fact about domestic violence is that most of these incidents/assaults are never reported. The reporting of domestic violence has continued to decrease even more in times of economic hardship because women so often stay with their abusive partner for financial sustenance in addition to fear and feel they do not have the needed resources to escape their abusers.

Although the numbers of those in situations of domestic violence are shocking in the U.S., these victims are not alone. Domestic violence has become seemingly a global plague, studies show that between one quarter and one half of all women in the world have been abused by intimate partners. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that in 48 surveys from around the world, 10-69% of women stated that they had been physically assaulted by an intimate partner at some point in their lives. The WHO also reports that studies from a range of countries show that 40-70% of female murder victims were killed by an intimate partner.

To read the rest of this post by Bridge to Freedom Foundation Executive Director and Founder, Cassandra Clifford please click here to go to the Foreign Policy Association, where you will learn more about the links between domestic violence and modern day slavery.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

With A Phone Call, Truckers Can Fight Sex Trafficking
Eight years ago, Willis Wolfswinkel, a truck driver, was parked at a travel center near Detroit when he made a phone calll that changed a life. He called 911 after having two young girls knock on his truck door, bothered by something about those girls. It turns out that Wolfswinkel's phone call marked the beginning of a major investigation. If You See Something, Say Something
 You can also listen to the story. Just click the link.

 Cuts Threaten Scotland Yard's Anti-Trafficking Unit
The future of Scotland Yard's pioneering anti-trafficking unit is uncertain less than a year after David Cameron promised to make Britain a "world leader" in the fight against people smuggling. Senior police sources have voiced fears that the Metropolitan police's flagship trafficking unit, the human exploitation and organized crime command (SCD9), may be forced to lose specialist officers due to budget constraints.  Government figures showed the number being trafficked into the UK was rising. But immigration minister Mark Harper warned that the number of those being prosecuted was still "not enough".

Child Labor Concerns Across Hershey's Supply Chain Prove it Pays to be Proactive
In early October, Whole Foods Market said it has haltered orders of Scharffen Berger chocolates - one of The Hershey Company's artisan chocolate brands - over concerns about child labor in Hershey's West African supply chain. Whole Foods says the chocolates will remain off store shelves "pending receiving further information from Hershey's." Whole Foods's decision came in response to a campaign organized by Raise the Bar, Hershey, a coalition made up of leading nonprofits and advocacy groups. Since 2010, Raise the Bar has mobilized more than 150,000 consumers to send emails, talk store managers, and post handbills at stores around the country demanding that Hershey be held accountable for child labor in its supply chain.

Friday, November 2, 2012

FACT: 28 States (55%) passed new laws to combat Modern Slavery in 2011

Polaris Project has been tracking and ranking all 50 states plus the District of Columbia in one of four teirs based each states laws to combat modern slavery since 2007. The ratings are "based on 10 categories of laws that are critical to basic legal framework that combats human trafficking, punishes traffickers and supports survivors." In 2004, only four states had laws to combat modern slavery. However in 2012, 48 states plus District of Columbia now have some type of new laws. Mary Ellison, Polaris Project's Director of Policy,  stated that "...over the past year, 28 states, or 55 percent of the states, have passed new human trafficking laws."
  1. Teir 1 (7+ points): States has passed significant laws to combat human trafficking, and should continue to take steps to improve and implement its laws.
  2. Teir 2 (5-6): State has passed numerous laws to combat human trafficking, and should take more steps to improve and implement its laws.  
  3. Teir 3 (3-4): State has made nominal efforts to pass laws to combat human trafficking, and should take major steps to improve and implement its laws.
  4. Teir 4 (0-2): These "Faltering Four" states have not made nominal efforts to enact a basic legal framework to combat human trafficking, and should actively work to improve their laws.

Massachusetts earned the 'most improved' distinction on the Polaris Projects 2012 State Ratings on Human Trafficking laws, for enacting a comprehensive anti-Modern slavery law in November  2011. The new ranking moved the state from the bottom teir in 2011 to the top teir in 2012. In reponse to the improved ranking Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley stated that, "Massachusetts has taken major steps to combat the egregious crime of human trafficking, and we are pleased that this report recognizes those efforts."

South Carolina, West Virginia and Ohio were also rated 'most improved' for taking concrete steps to address modern slavery. Meanwhile, Wyoming, Arkansan, Montana and South Dakota were included in the bottom teir for minimal effort to pass legislation. Wyoming, according to the report, is the only state that has failed to pass any robust laws against modern slavery at the state level.

While states like Washington (11 pts) and Massachusetts (10 pts) are clearly at the top of the list, every state can -and should- do more to improve and implement anti-modern slavery laws. It is necessary to have strong anti-modern slavery laws to not only increase prosecutions to punish and hold traffickers accountable, but to also provide local support to the survivors. Bridge to Freedom Foundation plays a critical role in helping the survivors transit from "survivng to thriving".

Check how your state rates on human trafficking laws in 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

National Human Trafficking Hotline Bill Passed 
Great news everyone! The Human Trafficking Hotline Act has passed the PA legislature. It is now on to the Governor's Office for final approval. Once the Governor signs the legislation, it will take effect in 60 days. House Bill 235 was introduced by Rep. Paul Clymer (R-Bucks) as a companion bill to Leach's Senate Bill 338. The bills would require the Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline number to be placed prominently in certain establishments and locations in an effort to curb the incidence of human trafficking in Pennsylvania and help victims. You can view the Press Release here: SB 338 Press Release

Shrimp Exports to West tied to bonded labor
In the third chapter of Siddarth Kara's new book on bonded labour, she explores the shrimp industry of Bangladesh. Chingri (shrimp) harvesting provides a highly illustrative case study of the very powerful ways in which environmental change can directly contribute to human trafficking, debt bondage, and forced labor exploitation, especially in the far reaches of the developing world. Each of the stages of Bangladesh's shrimp industry supply chain is tainted by some form of severe labor exploitation.

Increase in Teen Sex Trafficking in DC
If you think human trafficking is something that happens only in other countries, think again. It's happening to girls as you as 12 years old right here in the area of the Nation's capital. FAIR Girls is a non-profit organization that helps victims of human trafficking to survive. Asia Graves of Northwest DC works for the organization, speaking out in high schools and telling her story. At age 16, she was bought, beaten, raped, choked and sold again. She's 24 today, a college student, an advocate and a true inspiration. But her path wasn't easy. This college student, and now-women's right advocate has scars you can see, and many you can't. She says her hell started when she ran from her drug-addicted mom and alcoholic dad, "The support I found was from young men as well as men who were actually pimps who told me they loved me. They were the father figure that I never had," she said.

Forced Migration in the 21st Century: Urbanised and Unending
More than 70 million people have been forced to leave their homes because of conflict, political upheaval and disasters, as well as by climate change and development projects, and are now living as migrants, the International Red Cross said on Tuesday. The World Disasters Report 2012 said most forced migrants are displaced for the long term or are  permanently dispossessed, requiring governments and humanitarian agencies to adopt more flexible approaches to migrant and integration. The cost to the international community of forced migration is at least $8bn (£4.9bn) a year, according to the report.

New Human Trafficking Law to Make Prosecutions in Scotland Easier
It is hoped that the statutory aggravation legislation will make it easier to prosecute the perpetrators. The move was one of a series of measures agreed at a summit on human trafficking held in Edinburgh. The meeting came on the day it was revealed there were 93 suspected victims of the crime in Scotland last year. The inter-departmental ministerial group also showed the majority of trafficking victims north of the border came from Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Beedi industry's child workers trapped in economic slavery
Each day, between 10 and 14 hours, Indian women and children roll at least 1,000 beedis- for less than $2. Beedis, traditional hand-rolled Indian cigarettes, make nearly half of India's entire tobacco market and while the manufacturers make billions of dollars, the millions of workers are trapped in economic slavery.  A study estimated over 1.7 million children working in the industry and it is usually the only way to keep food on the table.  "The pressure to keep up with the speed and meet the target is so intense that many skip their meals and even avoiding drinking water so they do not need to go to the toilet," says Shanu, a community volunteer. The situation of the beedi workers involves violations of their fundamental right sand freedoms.

Life gets strange hunting traffickers in the US
CNN Freedom Project is reporting on the fight against sex trafficking- not in the developing world, but in the affluent Orange County near Los Angeles.  Undercover cops are working to earn the trust and confidence of  girls forced into prostitution, a new attitude of law enforcement that prostitutes are victims, controlled and manipulated by their pimps.  The police set up sting operations to capture these pimps, but even with months of surveillance, it can be difficult to get charges to stick.  Despite the frustration, the women are offered shelter, protection and a chance to start anew.

Canadian teen girls charged with human trafficking
Two girls have been charged with human trafficking and a third teenager is still at large for alleged pimping.  Three separate incidents were identified where three female victims were lured to a housing complex in Ottawa through social media and then forced to other locations for prostitution purposes.  Staff Sgt. John McGetrick said that the meetings were supposed to be an "enjoyable activity", like a hang out.  "There was no ill-intention in the invite."  Police believe that there were no adults involved in the operation and the police are now looking for the johns that sexually engaged with the victims.