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Cassandra Clifford
Executive Director and Founder of BTFF

Monday, March 18, 2013

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Tackling FGM, violence against women and forced marriage around the world 

The theme of this year’s CSW (Commission on the Status of Women) session - when member states representatives come together at UN Headquarters to discuss gender equality and the advancement of women - has been violence against women, a subject much in the hearts of attendees and supporters alike.

Many speakers explained how gender-based violence affects women in their own countries; it was expressed how 48 women an hour are raped in the DRC, and three million of the world’s woman are subjected to female genital mutilation every year, with 10% dying as a result. One of the most shocking examples revealed was how one woman in Burundi had both arms cut off by her husband because she gave birth to a second girl. It’s incomprehensible that anyone could listen to these accounts and not be convinced of the need for immediate and concerted action.

Next year the focus of the CSW will be on the plans that will follow the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire in 2015. Christian Aid is working hard to encourage world leaders to put the rights of women and girls into the heart of these negotiations, and it was encouraging to hear both Secretary of State Justine Greening and UN Women’s Director Michelle Bachelet both reinforcing this within the last two weeks.

Human Trafficking: The Crisis in Boston

The Obama Justice Department has elevated human trafficking as a major civil rights issue. The Administration has encouraged the creation of local and federal task forces around the country to deal with this growing concern, which, by one estimate, involves the smuggling of nearly 20,000 victims per year into the US. The numbers trafficked within the US for the purposes of sex and labor are considerably higher, by most estimates. New England is not immune to this crisis.

Last spring, a 6-year anti-trafficking investigation led to the indictment of five people charged with conspiracy to smuggle Asian women into Massachusetts for the purpose of prostitution. The victims would be picked up at regularly at the South Station Bus Terminal and then farmed out to apartments and other venues in Quincy, Boston, Stoneham, Wellesley, Newton, Woburn, Malden, Peabody, Somerville, Burlington, Watertown, and Medford.

For nearly a decade, prostitution behind closed doors was essentially legal in Rhode Island. Not during the 1920s, the '30s or the '40s. Prostitution, on the face of it, was legal in Rhode Island up until last November, if it took place indoors. Legislation passed last year closed that loophole, and Lt. Michael Correia believes it has made life that much more difficult for those who traffic human beings.

Brit teenage sex slave girl raped by 90 men over weekend

A teenage girl in Britain was raped by 90 different men in one weekend after allegedly being enslaved by a sex ring. The 16-year-old is said to be ‘deeply traumatized’ by the experience, despite not coming from an ‘at risk’ background. According to the Daily Express, she was caught up in the web of horrific abuse after befriending vulnerable girls. Her claims were revealed in a report by the Centre for Social Justice into modern slavery and sexual exploitation in Britain.

A CSJ spokesman branded the situation ‘absurd and unacceptable’, and called for slavery and exploitation to be handled by the criminal authorities rather than the Minister for Immigration. They want a new Modern Slavery Act passed by Parliament to bring all exploitation crimes together.

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