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

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Making everyday Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Yesterday was National Global Human Trafficking Awareness Day (NGHTAD) and the buzz against human trafficking was all about. E-mails and 24 hour campaigns were bustling around the Internet, while Facebook was exploding with chatter on what one could do on the day to promote the day.  People across the country were sharing resources and information on how to become more aware, and what one could do to be involved in the global fight to see an end to the enslavement of some 27 million men, women and children who are held by the chains of modern slavery.

However what I want to stress most about NGHTAD, is that this is not a day to be aware, but to get aware, stay aware and act! I hope that people took today, and this national awareness month to learn some of the facts, look into resources, but most of all take tomorrow and thereafter to use them. Sure having a nationally recognized awareness day is great, but it is useless if it just sits there on the books and the only ones shouting from the rooftops about human trafficking/modern slavery, are those who are already standing on the front lines. I can write, type, talk and shout till my fingers go numb and my lungs go dry, but it’s all useless if no one is on the other side listening and learning.

True, an awareness day and awareness month, is great but for those of us in the field every day, every month, every year, is a National and Global Human Trafficking Awareness day. Did I talk more about trafficking today than any other day, yes and no! Sure, I used the day as an opener to talk to people I came across at every corner; the metro, my martial arts studio, cafe, CVS, etc. and I posted flyers everywhere I could, blogged, twittered, and facebooked away every second I could. Therefore while it seems like I was non-stop, and I was publicly so to speak, as were so many others in the field, but the reality is that most of us are non-stop every day. I am famed for my 4am bedtimes, and all too often have had a colleague at another organization say, “You should have called me I was up”, while another is constantly yelling at me that I need to get my rest so we can win this fight as it will take all of us and we need our strength. Thus weather you hear the voices of activist on the front line or not, they are there and they are strong.  Nonetheless the harsh reality is there are far fewer of us than there are victims and survivors to assist. It is for this reason that it is so vital that the fight to combat modern slavery is not that of a day, nor that of a month, but a year long global fight by each and every local and global citizen, that will not end until each victim is rescued and every survivor is in a sustainable and thriving life. It is a long hard road, but it is a fight we can win if we unite to do so.  We all have a role to play…the end to modern slavery is a giant puzzle, and each one of us holds a piece to that puzzle…the puzzle of freedom!

What can you do?
  • Learn more; watch films, read books and websites about Human Trafficking.
  • Tell others about Human Trafficking…your voice is powerful…write, blog, talk!
  • Start or join a student or community organization to raise awareness and learn more.
  • Volunteer or organize a fundraiser with a local organization that works on Human Trafficking or a related cause.
  • Post awareness flyers/posters in your office/school/gym.
  • Buy Fair Trade and Slave Free products as often as you can.
  • Don’t remain silent! Report it! Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline if you suspect any potential cases of human trafficking. (Put the number in your cell phone NOW!): 1-888-3737-888 
It takes all of us to build the bridge to freedom!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

1-11-12 National Global Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Today is National Global Human Trafficking Awareness Day (NGHTAD), a a day of awareness and vigilance for the countless victims of human trafficking across the globe. Yet President Obama announced that this year, and every year hence forth, January will be known as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month (White House).

Therefore use this day and month to take action, promote awareness, and support those who have been victimized by modern slavery. Make this the day that you fight to end a global plague that has stolen the freedoms of some 27 million men, women and children. Be it via the internet or in your own city/town/village across the world, make today a day to remember those who have been victimized by modern slavery and who are unable to govern their own lives. We have it in our power to see that future generations of children are no longer at risk for exploration and slavery. Let us unite to end slavery in our lifetime.
  • There are some 27 million people held in slavery today across the globe. 
  • According to 2009 State Department Trafficking in Persons Report over 80% of those trans-nationally trafficked are women and children. 
  • The U.S. State department estimates that some 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year and about 80 percent of them are female and at least 50% are children. 
  • In 1850 a slave in the Southern United States cost the equivalent of $40,000 today. According to Free the Slaves, a slave today costs an average of $90. 

If you suspect a situation or a potential victim, please call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-3737-888 now! We highly recommend you take a moment to place this number in your mobile phones now.

*The awareness poster is available for free download via Bridge to Freedom Foundation, please see there site to download this poster as well as their two other awareness posters.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Human trafficking cases down in Dubai
Human trade cases recorded in Dubai declined by nearly 50 per cent in 2011 and Asian girls were the main victims last year, according to the general administration for human rights in the emirate. The figures showed the emirate handled 16 human trade cases in 2011, involving 48 defendants and 32 female victims. In 2010, 35 cases were recorded, involving 109 defendants and 76 female victims, the department said. “The decline in human trade cases last year was a result of intensified police campaigns against such crimes and the increase in awareness programmes,” the Administration’s director Colonel Mohammed Al Murr told the Dubai-based Arabic language daily Emirat Alyoum.

Three to eight million people work as bonded labour in Pakistan
Activists from human rights organisations held a protest on December 30, 2011 to show solidarity with bonded labour. The protesters were holding placards and banners in front of Karachi Press Club. They were demanding the government to ensure the labourers got their rights.  According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), there are more than three to eight million people working as bonded labour in Sindh and Punjab. They claim that these people work for land lords and brick kiln owners because of debt.

California cracks down on global slave labor
A new California law will force retailers and manufacturers to disclose how they guard against slavery and human trafficking throughout their supply chains, ratcheting up scrutiny of some of the largest U.S. corporations.
Beginning 2 January 2012 about 3,200 major companies doing business or based in California, a list that includes Apple and Gap Inc., will be required to disclose steps they take, if any, to ensure their suppliers and partners do not use forced labor.  Companies risk getting sued by the state attorney general if they flout that law. But experts say the real pressure will come from the court of public opinion: consumers who care about ethical working conditions and take an interest in how their favorite brands get made.