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Cassandra Clifford
Executive Director and Founder of BTFF

Monday, February 25, 2013

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Global development podcast transcript: ending gender violence
Next month's meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women will bring together nearly 6,000 leaders from civil society to address ways to eliminate violence against women and girls, said Lakshmi Puri, deputy executive director of UN Women. About one-third of the delegates will be from grass-roots organizations, which Puri said means that "what is accepted here globally by member states will be implemented at the regional level, national level and at the local level.

'It was like dying': a raped woman in Congo DRC speaks out Mark Tran interviews female rape survivors at a rehabilitation center in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where more than 200,000 women have been sexually assaulted since 1998, according to the United Nations. Tran also interviews a former child soldier who says he was forced to rape women by militia commanders. Marie was 13 when she and her mother fled their village as it was attacked by Rwandan Hutu militia, but they were caught. Marie was taken into the bush where she spent eight months being repeatedly raped. Marie. Now 26, this softly spoken woman lives with other abused women at a rehabilitation center outside Goma, the main city in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Heal Africa , where Marie receives support, life and job skills; says the number of women and children raped rose sharply last year because of a surge in rebel militia activity. It registered 2,517 cases in the first half of 2012.

Irish leader apologizes for infamous Magdalen laundries Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny offered an emotional apology Tuesday for government involvement in a harsh system of laundries run by Roman Catholic nuns, where women and girls labored long hours behind locked doors, unpaid and often bewildered about why they were there. The apology came two weeks after a report found that the Irish government had been involved in the infamous Magdalen laundries, helping to send girls and women into the workhouses, paying them through government programs and contracts, and bringing runaways back in the hands of police. The report painted a picture of a punishing regime of work and prayer, imposed on women and girls who felt trapped, often told little or nothing about why they were at the laundries and when they could leave. More than 10,000 women worked in the laundries between 1922 and 1996, it found.

Myanmar lauded for child soldiers' release The release of 24 child soldiers from Myanmar's military should help the country reach its vow to end child rights violations sooner, the United Nations said. The two dozen children were officially discharged Monday at a ceremony in Yangon, attended by senior officials of the armed forces, known as the Tatmadaw, and government and U.N. officials, UNICEF said in a release. In June, the United Nations and the Myanmar government signed an action plan establishing a timetable and measurable activities for the release and reintegration of children associated with armed forces, as well as the prevention of similar recruitment in the future. Myanmar is one of 14 countries with armed forces or armed groups identified as committing grave child rights violations that is working with the United Nations to end grave violations against children in situations of armed conflict.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fact: A Pimp is not "Cool", they are a Human Trafficker

According to Websters Dictionary a Pimp is defined as. "a man who solicits clients for a prostitute." The words "pimp" and "pimping" have been noted in much of popular culture as cool and hip as they are glamorized via music, movies, novelty items, popular literature and media as "cool". Pimps, are not cool, they are human traffickers/modern slave owners and buyers.

As defined in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPRA), sex trafficking is a crime in which a commercial sex act is induced by either force, fraud, or coercion. Pimps sell women, girls and boys for commercial sexual use and exploitation, using them as a disposable commodity. These traffickers use a number of various ways to gain control over both the body and mind of their victims. Many of these factors directly meet the definitions of force, fraud, or coercion placed within the TVPRA. A pimp will lure a child with various items,promises, and a sense of security, including; food, clothes, positive attention, friendship, love (romantic or that of a father figure), and place to stay - all of which seem safe and real. The pimp develops a relationship creating a false sense of trust with their victims and then engaging them into forced prostitution.

Pimps are violent traffickers that coerce, physically and mental abuse and even brand young children...they are not someone to idolize or emulate, they deserve no respect or glamorization, -they deserve to be imprisoned for the crimes they have and continue to commit.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Women and girls make up 75% of all trafficked people
An estimated 20.9 million people are trafficked worldwide -- about 58% for purposes of sexual exploitation and another 36% for other forms of forced labor, according to a report of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime. Traffickers target more women and foreign nationals than in other crimes, pulling from at least 136 nationalities in 118 countries, the report said.

Social cause game's aim: To help girls win
A Facebook game scheduled to be introduced next month will promote awareness of issues affecting woman and girls, including child prostitution and female genital mutilation. The three-year undertaking, Half the Sky Movement: The Game, is based on a book and allows players to help a female character by donating virtual goods to nonprofits including the United Nations Foundation.

Legal recourse out of reach for women in developing world
Many governments are denying women and girls equal protection under the law, according to a report by the International Development Law Organization. Many women are unaware of their rights or are unable to bypass informal systems for formal courts.

Global campaign protests violence against women
Thousands of women in Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday joined women worldwide to draw attention to rape and discrimination as part of the One Billion Rising campaign. In India, women demonstrated using music and dance.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Fact: Recruiters Modern Slavery Can be a Stranger or Someone the Victim Knows

According to a United Nations report, the recruiter in 54 percent of human trafficking cases was a stranger to the victim. In 46 percent of the cases, the recruiter was known to the victim. The U.N. report said that the “majority of suspects involved in the trafficking process are nationals of the country where the trafficking process is occurring.” The majority of suspects involved in the trafficking process are nationals of the country where the trafficking process is occurring.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Make Sure Your Valentine’s Day is Not Tainted by Slavery

It’s February and love is in the air… Valentine’s day is just around the corner and many millions are looking for that perfect gift to show how they feel for their special someone. It is clear that much of the day’s meaning is lost to heavy commercialization. This year, American’s alone are expected to spend a total of $15.7 billion this Valentine’s Day; two of the most common items purchased are chocolate and flowers, two industries fraught with human rights violations, including modern slavery and child labor.

Chocolate: slavery’s bittersweet treat 
Those sweet heart-shaped chocolate boxes often begin with a children enslaved to pick cocoa pods. UNICEF estimates that some 200,000 children are victims of trafficking each year in West and Central Africa alone, for the purpose of working in the supply chain of products such as cocoa and coffee. Child trafficking continues to plague the cocoa fields of West Africa, which is the source of 70% of the world’s cocoa. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO) there are an the estimated 215 million child laborers around the globe, and two-thirds of children aged 5-17 and work in agriculture. These children are placed in hazardous working conditions in order to ensure that we have our sweet treats, it is truly a bitter story.

Flowers: The stem of slavery
Valentine’s Day is a flower seller’s dream, but it is a daily nightmare of exploited workers, many of whom are women.  Americans will buy more than 189 million stems of roses this Valentine’s Day, the majority of which will travel all the way from Ecuador and Colombia before they’re sold to doting beaus.  According to the US Labor Education in the Americas (USLEAP), women comprise 65% of those working in the flower field, nearly a third are single mothers, working long hours (12-16) for around $2 or less per day.  These slave-like wages leave young mothers unable to cover their families’ basic monthly expenses, while the flowers they picked that day will sell for between $600 and $800.  Aside from the long workdays and impossible quotas, flower workers are exposed to high levels of toxic pesticides and fungicides, which are sometimes sprayed on workers bodies while they are in the field.  This has left women flower workers with high rates of birth defects, miscarriage, and sterilization.  These mothers often pass on the legacy of exploitation to their children as the cycle of slavery continues generation after generation.

How do you ensure your Valentine’s gifts are free from modern slavery?
Become a conscious consumer and search for items labeled ‘Fair Trade’.  Fair Trade works towards greater transparency in both industries and helps to ensure that workers in the fields receive a fair wadge and human rights protection. So buy Fair Trade, especially products known to be associated with worker exploitation. These include agricultural products like cocoa, coffee, coconuts, cotton, fruit and vegetables, jasmine, palm oil, rubber, sisal, sugar cane, tea, tobacco, and vanilla.

  • Flowers: Fair Trade Certified roses can be found in-store at Whole Foods Market.  Just look for the green Whole Trade Guarantee sticker in the floral department. If you are ordering flowers online try One World Flowers and schedule the delivery of beautiful Ecuadorian roses. In addition to traditional red and pink roses, you can select themed bouquets like “Helping Haiti” and “Honoring Japan” that support much-needed relief efforts in those countries.  FTD also offers Fair Trade flowers including their Go Green Living collection.  1800Flowers also offers organic roses, as well as a line of Fair Trade mixed bouquets, certified by TransFair USA.  Try local flowers like California Organic‘s.  Organic Bouquet, has flowers certified through the VeriFlora program, which sets standards for worker rights, water conservation, recycling and organic production.  Also search for Florverde Certified flowers, which requires better treatment of workers and more sustainable farming practices.
  • Chocolate: More and more retailers carry Fair Trade chocolate so just keep your eye out for the Fair Trade label as you shop.  You can also purchase special valentines gifts online including heart-shaped chocolates from Divine Chocolate, the sweet and spicy chocolate sampler from Equal Exchange, the Valentine’s Day Heart Box from Sweet Earth Chocolates and a full tub of chocolate hearts of cherry  or dark chocolate with raspberry bar from Sjaak’s.  Sweet Earth Chocolates Classic Red Velvet BoxChocoDream SpreadsKopali Chocolate Covered Cacao NibsTCHO “My Heart’s Desire” Adigard 12-Bar SamplerAlter Eco Dark Velvet Chocolate and sweetriot riotous riotBar gift set.  Why not reach outside the box and  try Kopali’s Dark Chocolate Covered Bananas.
  • Ice Cream: Frozen desserts also make a sweet treat on Valentine’s Day.  Look for Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Macadamia and Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss Dark Chocolate.
  • Wines and Spirits: Fair Trade Certified beverages are available at Whole Foods Market and other retailers.  Try these wine favorites: Fairhills’ Bus Stop Red and the Live-a-Little Really Ravishing RedHeritage Link One World Shiraz.  Shop online at; JugShop.com67WineMarketview Liqueur or Cask. In addition to wine, why not try a delicious “Gogipolitan” made with the recently certified Fair. Quinoa vodka and Fair. Gogi liqueur?
  • Tea and Coffee:  Coffee and Tea are also easy to find in retailers.  A few tea favorites are; Tea Forte’s Cherry Cosmo, Numi ’s Ruby ChaiRishi’s Cinnamon Plum Set, Choice Organics’ Rooibos SuperfruitRishi Tea Pu-erh Gift SetChoice Organic Tea Rooibos ChaiArt of Tea Vanilla Berry Truffle or Zhena’s Gypsy Tea Pomegranate Rose.  For that after dinner coffee try; Newman’s Own CoffeeGreen Mountain CoffeeCaribou Coffee, Global Exchange Equal ExchangeDean’s Beans Larry’s BeansJust CoffeeHigher Ground RoastersGrounds for Change , Fair Trade Coffee Co.

  • Tuesday, February 12, 2013

    US Senate Passes Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) - Adds as Amendment to Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

    The U.S. Senate voted on Tuesday, February 12th, 95-3 to reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), one of the most important tools for the United States against human trafficking and modern-day slavery. The TVPA expired in September of 2011, placing critical anti-trafficking efforts at risk that includes support to law enforcement and services for survivors. To further support this important act, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) recommended the TVPA reauthorization as an amendment to the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The Senators voted 78-22 in favor of reauthorization for the VAWA, bolstering the impact of the TVPA as an important legislation against human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

    Source: ECPT-USA

    Monday, February 11, 2013

    Modern Slavery News Round-Up

    International Tour Management Institute Signs Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct
    At the International Tour Management Institute's (ITMI) 26th Annual Symposium, ITMI became the first travel and tourism institute to sign the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct. Last year, ITMI incorporated human trafficking training into their curriculum. All graduates of the program are educated on the issue, the signs of trafficking, and empowered to report suspected incidences to the proper authorities.

    UN Conference on the Rights of the Child gives concluding remarks on the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children
    The United Nations gave their concluding observations on the second periodic report of the United States of America to the Committee on the Rights of the Child on the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, adopted by the Committee at its sixty-second session (14 January-1 February 2013), how the U.S can improve its protection of children covered under this protocol. The recommendations state how the U.S. government can do a better job in protecting children from sexual exploitation and come from a review of the government’s report and additional conversation and between the US and the UN Committee on the Rights of the child in January.

    150 years after U.S. emancipation, slavery isn’t over
    This January marked not only the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, but also the third annual National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The presidential proclamation began in 2011 as a way for the administration and human rights groups to raise awareness of what President Obama has called “a crime that amounts to modern-day slavery.“ There are more people living in bondage today than at any other time in human history. The market value of a trafficked human life has decreased from the equivalent of $40,000 in today’s dollars in the mid-nineteenth century American South, to about $90 today. The number of human trafficking cases in the U.S. has more than doubled since 2007, according to the FBI.

    Apple's Child-Labor Problem Runs Deep
    Apple has released its 2012 Supplier Responsibility Report, which claims to have found no underage workers in "any of our final assembly suppliers." But Apple's supply chain goes much deeper than that, and what the company found in the supply chain of its suppliers — the places that send Foxconn parts — came out less clean. "In many of the cases of underage labor we’ve discovered, the culprit behind the violation was a third-party labor agent that willfully and illegally recruited young workers," explains the report. In one plant that makes circuit-board components, Apple's auditors found 74 cases of workers 16-years-old and younger. Another huge labor agency, Quanshun Human Resources, forced parents of young children to forge papers in order to cover for its underage workers. While 95 percent of the factories Apple audited had no signs of child labor, the other 5 percent include more sordid stories.

    King County of Seattle Displays Awareness of Human Trafficking on Its Billboards
    In early February, King County of Seattle unveiled billboards that increase awareness of Human Trafficking along the Interstate-5 corridor, in Kent and Tukwila as well as Tacoma, Mill Creek and Bellingham. The ad space, donated by Clear Channel Outdoors, advertises a national hotline and message to reach out to victims, potential victims and the public about where to turn for help on its 15 electronic and traditionally displayed billboards. The ads, in eight languages, encourage people to call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-3737-888 if they suspect someone may be a victim of human trafficking or if they are victims. Similar ads are being displayed on Metro Transit buses and on county websites and other resources. Clear Channel Media & Entertainment also airs public service announcements on their radio stations throughout the region as part of their $88,000 contribution to the awareness campaign.

    Friday, February 8, 2013

    Myths and Realities of Human Trafficking

    The reality of Human Trafficking is that it occurs in nearly every country and its networks are vast and difficult to investigate. According to the United Nations, there are between 27 and 30 million slaves in the world. The U.S. State Department cites that 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across borders every year, but these numbers are often under-reported and victims are usually hidden, meaning that real statistics are hard to substantiate. This also means that there is a vast amount of incorrect information out there, which fuels the myths about human trafficking.

    The most common myths are listed below and are further discussed by a contributor to Forbes' The Daily Muse:
    1. Myth - Human Trafficking and Human Smuggling Are the Same
    2. Myth - Most Traffickers Are What the Movies Show You
    3. Myth - Human Trafficking Only Refers to Forced Prostitution
    4. Myth - Only Women Are Trafficked
    5. Myth - Everyone Trafficked is Kidnapped or Deceived
    6. Myth - Trafficking Only Happens in Other Countries, Not in the United States
    While the quest to better understand human trafficking seems a formidable task, the more you learn the more you are armed with the facts to better educate yourself and others, while being better equipped to take action against this global problem that reaches to our very own neighborhoods.

    Sources: Forbes, The Daily Muse, "Human Trafficking: The Myths and The Realities"

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

    What is Fair Trade?

    We are very often asked, "what is Fair Trade?" Therefore we thought we would give you a brief definition and overview to get you started on how to be a more conscious consumer.

     The Fair Trade label is applied to products that pass a standard certification system. In addition to agricultural consumables, Fair Trade versions of sports balls, clothing, rugs, and other products can be easily found. Fair trade certification empowers workers and communities to lift themselves out of poverty by investing in their farms/businesses and communities, protecting the environment, and developing the business skills necessary to compete in the global marketplace. Fair Trade is much more than a fair price, it enables safe working conditions, living wages for workers, prohibits forced child labor and slavery, promotes environmental sustainability, and encourages community development. However, please note that just because a product does not carry the label, it does not mean that it is not Fair Trade, as many smaller co-ops and others have not yet been able to afford the certification. Nonetheless, do not let this put you off, being a conscious consumer and knowing where your products come from is always a better way forward for everyone, so don’t be afraid to investigate and do some research.

    There are sites like Fair Trade Proof.org and the list on Fair Trade USA will help you find brands that sell Fair Trade Certified productsto help you get started.  I have also compiled a list of some Fair Trade and Slave Free LinksShopping Fair Trade and Slave Free this Holiday Season on the Foreign Policy Association Blog.

    Please remember this is only a brief idea and with anything the best way to know is to research and ask questions.  Best tip we can give you is to start small and choose one item/product you consume or use to go fair trade with, such as coffee, tea, chocolate or sugar. Once you fine your fair trade staple in that category move on to the next one.

    Monday, February 4, 2013

    Sex Trafficking and the Superbowl

    Last night was one of the biggest events of the year for American sports fans -and non-sports fans for that matter- as the Baltimore Ravens battled the San Francisco 49ers battled it out for Super Bowl XLVII. However as the Ravens worked to see their way into NFL history, countless people were the victims to the sex crimes - all directly associated with football’s biggest day.

    America's biggest sporting event is also America's biggest day for sex trafficking. Only days before the Super Bowl XLVII, New Orleans police arrested eight people and rescued five women from a human-trafficking-related operation (Fox 8 News).  Busts such as this one are not only a small indicator to the large scale, but have now dubbed the sports event the “single-largest human-trafficking incident in the United States". Some 300,000 American women and children as young as 12 years old are sexually exploited each year. While it is possible for people to be abducted during the Super Bowl, most are likely taken beforehand and used at major, large-scale events like the Super Bowl.

    Such incidents include the estimated 10,000 women and minors that were trafficked in the Miami area during the 2009 Super Bowl in Tampa, Fla., according to the Florida Commission Against Human Trafficking. The Tampa Bay Times provided details of a trafficker being arrested for offering two girls, one 14 and one 18, for $300 as "a Super Bowl special." The trafficker, Manuel A. Walcott, was apparently advertising the girls on Craigslist and was subsequently sentenced to 20 years in prison. The girls had been held captive as prostitutes for two years.

    Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told USA Today in 2011 -when his state hosted Super Bowl XLV- that; "The Super Bowl is the greatest show on Earth, but it also has an ugly underbelly," In 2011 while the Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers; 133 prostitution-related arrests were made that year.

    Clemmie Greenlee, a survivor of sex trafficking,recounted in the New Orleans how she was taken to Southern cities to prostitute for those attending such large-scale events as the Super Bowl. She's sitting in the lobby of a New Orleans hotel, decorated with San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens decorations. Her pimps took advantage of the large influx of people who attended the Super Bowl to increase business by mandating 25 a day to Greenlee and their other victims. If they didn't make the quotas they were severely beaten, raped, or forced to watch another girl receive the punishment. Now 53, Greenlee works at Eden House in Uptown New Orleans, the first shelter for sex-trafficking victims in Louisiana; the center opened in October 2012.

    This year in preparation for the the Super law enforcement agencies and advocacy groups collaborated with local businesses in order to spread awareness. One such group of volunteers and coalition members, Klaas Kids travel to each Super Bowl to investigate the sex trafficking. They often find young girls, some who were reported missing. According to Brad Dennis, Klaas Kids search director, as many as "2,200 children are reported missing every day in the United States. That`s an awful lot of kids on the streets for predators to take advantage of..." and the primary reason they target Super Bowls for their investigations (Fox).  He and Nita Belles, who began work after researching human trafficking for her book ‘In Our Backyard,’ along with other members split up into groups searching through neighborhoods from New Orleans to Biloxi, MS. They`re sending information to joint task forces in both states. Biloxi Police Sgt. Aldon Helmert says, “when we`re able to have citizens to be our eyes and ears, it provides us a great deal more resources.” The investigations have led to at least 15 rescues with one of the girls had been reported missing.

    Large scale awareness campaigns such as the USA Today  full page ad promoting the End It Movement -an anti-human-trafficking campaign launched at the 2013 Passion Conference, in accordance with the Super Bowl. The A 21 Campaign, established in 2008, released several Super Bowl-related info-graphics -such as the one shown above- about human trafficking this year.

    Modern Slavery News Round-Up

    In Limpopo, the system fails a young girl of thirteen who should be at school, but is sold off as a child bride to a 57-year-old sangoma, a traditional healer, by her struggling single mother of five to pay off supposed mounting bills. Child marriage continues to plague South Africa as in this case where the young child's rights are not protected by the courts who let off the sangoma once it was learned that the family had consented to the marriage.

    China's child abduction by traffickers hard to curb leading officials and parents to social media
    Despite authorities cracking down over the past two decades, child abduction is tough to eliminate. Officials claim the problem has become less prolific, but given the inconsistencies of data reporting, this is hard to substantiate. But Deng Fei, a Beijing-based journalist and prominent campaigner on behalf of victims and their families, believes the number of children being abducted is decreasing. Social media may have helped to reduce the crimes as in recent years, parents and activists have been using websites and microblogs to share information about cases and draw public attention to child abduction. Their efforts put pressure on the police, who have responded such as Chen Shiqu, the police official in charge of anti-trafficking, who has an account on Sina Weibo, one of China’s most popular microblog services. His account has 3.4m followers.

    Syrian Refugee Women Exploited for Marriage
    Lina Al Tiby, a Syrian activist living in Cairo, runs a support network for Syrian women refugees; helps them adapt to life in Egypt; and tries to persuade them not to allow poverty to push them into sex work or unwanted marriage. Arriving in Egypt with little more than the clothes they are wearing, some Syrian women see marriage as the only means of survival. "Egyptian men tell Syrian women they will marry them to help them and their families, but… can’t these men help Syrian women without marrying them?" said Al Tiby.

    Eliminating human trafficking from the global business landscape
    Businesses may unknowingly be associated with the crime of human trafficking when their suppliers, subcontractors, or partners supply materials or products that have been produced by trafficked persons. “In today’s globalized world, the risks of human trafficking in supply chains are significant throughout economic sectors and affect all States,” says Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons...Ezeilo recommends that all global businesses commit themselves to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and become signatories to the UN Global Compact. Ezeilo also urges businesses to exercise due diligence and conduct a risk assessment for their entire production chain in order to eliminate risks of human trafficking in their operations.

    U.S. Agents Rescue Sex Slaves Through Data Fusion
    Data-mining is proving a key tool for U.S. law enforcement to free sex slaves and to convict human traffickers involved in the $32 billion industry. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have rescued sex slaves by using software that identifies geographic locations by syncing financial transactions, phone records and other discordant data, ICE officials said at a Symposium to address immigration-related crime to technology companies; senior federal officials; and actress Mira Sorvino, the United Nations Goodwill Ambassador to combat human trafficking. Angie Salazar, an ICE section chief who investigates human smuggling and trafficking, confirmed that ICE was able to find victims of trafficking by using data to look for trends. Palantir, a data company that assists many U.S. intelligence agencies, helps ICE with investigations by flagging individuals and organizations.