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, 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