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.

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Thank you for your support!
Cassandra Clifford
Executive Director and Founder of BTFF

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year

From everyone at Bridge to Freedom Foundation we wish you a prosperous and joyous New Year. May 2014 Bring you more than you imagined and we look forward to growing with your support as we enter this crucial year of our success! Without you we would not be able to break into the the year reveling in our our accomplishments and dancing for the successes to come!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Modern Slavery News Round-up

Report: 20 cases of child trafficking investigated in Kentucky in four-month period
A first-of-its-kind report by Kentucky’s state health agency has found authorities in the Bluegrass State investigated 20 allegations of human trafficking involving 25 children over only about a four month period in 2013.

US authorities are investigating “human trafficking” charges in the Indian diplomat case
Sangeeta Richard, the domestic helper from India at the center of the recent US-India diplomatic debacle, remains in the US on an immigration status given to victims of human trafficking, indicating that is the charge US authorities are investigating in the high-profile case.

Human Trafficking Outpaces Drugs, Guns As World's Fastest Growing Criminal Industry
Massachusetts and Rhode Island are two of several states that have established task forces to confront what has become the fastest growing criminal industry in the world — human trafficking. The smuggling of human beings for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation outranks drug smuggling, and is tied with illegal arms sales, according to a United Nations study. Task forces consisting of federal immigration officials, prosecutors, local police, the FBI and non-governmental organizations are pooling resources, knowledge and experience to deal with trafficking in southern New England. They are looking both worldwide and close to home for lessons that might help in better understanding the dimensions of the problem.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Fact: Minorities are the Main Victims of Human Trafficking

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) charged a total of 118 defendants in forced labor and adult sex trafficking cases, representing a 19 percent increase over the number of defendants charged in the previous year and the highest number ever charged in a single year. The same year DOJ prosecuted 125 total human trafficking cases (including sex trafficking of minors) and convicted 70.

In 2011, the combined number of federal trafficking convictions—including cases involving forced labor, sex trafficking of adults, and sex trafficking of minors—totaled 151, compared to 141 in 2010.

Of confirmed sex trafficking victims whose race was known, 26 percent were white and 40 percent were black.

Of confirmed labor trafficking victims, 56 percent were Hispanic and 15 percent were Asian.

Of these incidents, 82 percent involved sex trafficking allegations, of which, nearly one-half (48 percent) involved allegations of adult prostitution and 40 percent prostitution or sexual exploitation of a child.

Most confirmed sex trafficking victims in cases investigated by federally funded task forces were female (94 percent). Of the 63 confirmed labor trafficking victims, 32 percent were male and 68 percent were female.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Modern Slavery News Round-up

South Orange Recognizes Human Trafficking Awareness Day
In honor of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, which is Friday, January 11, The South Orange Board of Trustees presented a proclamation to the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking during its Dec. 9 meeting.

NJ coalition warns Kearny pols about human trafficking at Super Bowl
The New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking is gearing up to fight what a representative called “modern day slavery.” At a recent meeting of Kearny’s governing body, Jersey City resident Stephen M. DeLuca told officials that large sports events like the Super Bowl are breeding grounds for human trafficking in the form of prostitution and forced labor. An estimated 30 million people worldwide are victims of the practice, according to DeLuca.

Labor and sex traffickers practice modern slavery in Colorado
The FBI's Rocky Mountain Innocence Lost Task Force rescued 59 teen prostitutes from flesh peddlers in the state this year, up from 49 in 2012. In July, Operation Cross Country, a nationwide sweep that targeted victims of underage prostitution and their pimps, recovered 105 juveniles and bagged 150 pimps in 76 cities. Denver ranked fourth in the number of teens rescued, with nine juveniles, fewer than only San Francisco, Milwaukee and Detroit. These are chilling statistics that indicate modern-day slavers continue to ply their trade in Colorado.

Sudan: UN strengthens support to combating human trafficking, smuggling
The United Nations refugee agency is working with the Government of Sudan and partners to reduce the number of kidnappings and incidents of trafficking and smuggling in, through and out of the country. “Those most vulnerable are the newly arrived asylum-seekers, mainly of Eritrean origin, who cross the border into Eastern Sudan,” according to a joint news release by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The strategy, which strengthens the capacity of the Government, also provides care and psychosocial support for victims, and builds awareness of risks among the families in camps and urban areas.

Maine joins national effort to combat human trafficking
Maine has joined other states in asking Congress to fund anti-human trafficking measures. Maine Attorney General Janet Mills and attorneys general in 46 other states sent a letter asking Congress to fund a measure passed in 2000 designed to protect human trafficking victims and help prosecute people doing the trafficking. The letter says human trafficking is tied as the second largest and is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, generating roughly $32 billion each year. According to a study of Department of Justice human trafficking task force cases, 83 percent of sex trafficking victims identified in the United States were U.S. citizens.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Fact: Statistics on Violence Against Women and Girls

Between 15 and 76 percent of women are targeted for physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime, according to the available country data. Most of this violence takes place within intimate relationships, with many women (ranging from 9 to 70 percent) reporting their husbands or partners as the perpetrator.

- In Guatemala, two women are murdered, on average, each day.
- In India, 8,093 cases of dowry-related death were reported in 2007; an unknown number of murders of women and young girls were falsely labeled ‘suicides’ or ‘accidents’.
- In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, between 40 and 70 percent of female murder victims were killed by their intimate partners.
- In the State of Chihuahua, Mexico, 66 percent of murders of women were committed by husbands, boyfriends or other family members.

Violence and Young Women
- Worldwide, up to 50 percent of sexual assaults are committed against girls under 16.
- An estimated 150 million girls under the age of 18 suffered some form of sexual violence in 2002 alone.
- The first sexual experience of some 30 percent of women was forced. The percentage is even higher among those who were under 15 at the time of their sexual initiation, with up to 45 percent reporting that the experience was forced.

Harmful Practices
- Approximately 100 to 140 million girls and women in the world have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting, with more than 3 million girls in Africa annually at risk of the practice.
- Over 60 million girls worldwide are child brides, married before the age of 18, primarily in South Asia (31.3 million) and sub-Saharan Africa (14.1 million). Violence and abuse characterize married life for many of these girls. Women who marry early are more likely to be beaten or threatened, and more likely to believe that a husband might sometimes be justified in beating his wife.

- Women and girls are 80 percent of the estimated 800,000 people trafficked across national borders annually, with the majority (79 percent) trafficked for sexual exploitation. Within countries, many more women and girls are trafficked, often for purposes of sexual exploitation or domestic servitude.
- One study in Europe found that 60 percent of trafficked women had experienced physical and/or sexual violence before being trafficked, pointing to gender-based violence as a push factor in the trafficking of women.

Sexual Harassment
- Between 40 and 50 percent of women in European Union countries experience unwanted sexual advances, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at work.
- Across Asia, studies in Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and South Korea show that 30 to 40 percent of women suffer workplace sexual harassment.
- In Nairobi, 20 percent of women have been sexually harassed at work or school.
- In the United States, 83 percent of girls aged 12 to 16 experienced some form of sexual harassment in public schools.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Lisa Kristine Donates Photo for National Global Human Trafficking Awareness Day Poster

We are delighted to announce that Lisa Kristine, world renowned humanitarian photographer, has donated the rights to use one of her human trafficking images on our 2014 National Global Human Trafficking Awareness Day Poster.

Awakening compassion and igniting action in a worldwide audience with powerful, broad-sweeping images of courage and tender, intimate portrayals, Lisa elevates significant social causes-such as the elimination of human slavery and the unification of humanity-to missions. Lisa has gained broad recognition for her collaboration with the NGO Free the Slaves. This breathtaking body of work, illuminating human enslavement, is brought together in Slavery, published in 2010. Lisa has received global attention for shining a light on contemporary slavery across media platforms, including CNN and Reuters, speaking at TED events, museums, NGO's, business conferences, colleges and universities.

 Last month, Lisa was honored with a Lucie Award for her work as a humanitarian photographer. Bridge to Freedom Foundation is privileged to be able to use one of her moving images of modern slavery, so please stay tuned as we will unveil the 2014 NGHTAD poster in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please visit -and share- Lisa's website to see some of her remarkable work.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

U.N., U.S. Call for Investigations into Thai Trafficking of Rohingya
Following a Reuters report of Thai involvement in the transport of Myanmar refugees into human trafficking organizations, the United Nations and the United States demand investigations of the situation. The plight of the Rohingya, a Muslim people residing in Myanmar but not recognized as citizens, has remained largely unnoticed by the international community until recently. Clashes between the Rohingya and the ethnic Rakhine Buddhists have placed the former in an extremely vulnerable position and their attempts to flee to a safer location have made them the perfect target for established trafficking rings.

Russia Launches Criminal Inquiry into U.S. Child Exchanges
Russia’s Investigative Committee has indicated that it is looking into whether Russian children adopted by American families were illegally trafficked in the United States. The probe comes in response to a Reuters series that showed how U.S. parents have used Internet bulletin boards on Yahoo and Facebook to offload children they adopted but no longer want.

Human Trafficking Bill Aims to Save More Children
The Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Human Trafficking Act, sponsored by Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was introduced in the U.S. Senate this past Friday, December 13, and would help develop a uniform treatment toward minors who are victims of human trafficking or at-risk for being targeted by traffickers. The bill would also help officials understand the scope of the problem.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fact: Many Trafficked Women from Eastern Europe Have at least a High School Education

It is a common practice for many activists to promote access to education as the one certain way to pull vulnerable groups -such as women and young girls- from the constraints of repressive environments.  Education serves as an empowerment mechanism and provides needed skills and knowledge to climb out of poverty, suffering and inequality.However, it could only be effective if enough employment opportunities exist for the educated population to take advantage of.

As surprising as it might be for many, a large number of trafficked women from former socialist states in Eastern Europe have at least a high school education, and many even have college and university degrees or some kind of vocational training. Lack of education is not what makes them vulnerable; what increases the likelihood they will be exposed to the tactics of opportunistic traffickers are the economic decline and the high unemployment rate that have plagued their native countries following the break up of the Soviet Union. Unable to find channels for the acquired education and skills, many, especially women, make the difficult decision to leave family and friends behind to search salvation in foreign nations. Often, these women are aware of the risks associated with responding to various job advertisements promising easy money, but with no other options, they fall into the trap set by an elaborate system of recruiters and traffickers.  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

New RCMP Unit Being Created to Fight Human-Trafficking: In Canada, the federal Public Safety Minister, Steven Blaney, indicates that a new Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) unit has been created with the main goal of collaborating with law enforcement partners to fight human trafficking locally and internationally. A major task of the RCMP is to spread awareness of the issue among the younger generation and members of indigenous populations.

Eritrea's Military is Trafficking the Nation's Children, Report Says: In the Human Trafficking Cycle: Sinai and Beyond, a report compiled by Dutch and Swedish researchers, the authors shed a light on a nefarious practice targeting Eritrea’s most vulnerable: “Eritrean youths are being kidnapped by senior military officers, smuggled into Sudan and held to ransom.” The victims are tortured and their screams played to families on mobile phones. Some are able to raise funds and are freed, but others are not so lucky and end up being sold to Bedouin traffickers in Sinai.

Men Freed after 'Slavery' Raids in Bristol Area: In a pre-planned raid of eight properties in three travelers’ sites near Bristol, England, law enforcement agencies have rescued three men believed to be victims and arrested seven persons on suspicion of trafficking, three women and four men. The operation is viewed as an example UK’s commitment to fighting the crime of modern day slavery.

How Text Messages Help the Polaris Project Zero in on Human Trafficking: A few months ago, a worker monitoring a hotline for the Polaris Project, a nonprofit group dedicated to combating human trafficking, received a text message from an 18-year-old woman in distress. The woman, a sex-trade worker, was trapped in a motel room with her pimp and she secretly used his mobile phone to send a text seeking help. The Washington-based group moved quickly to alert authorities, who ultimately arrested the pimp.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Fact: All I Want for Christmas are Fairtrade Gifts

According to Fairtrade International, “there are now 827 Fairtrade certified producer organizations in 58 producing countries, representing over 1.2 million farmers and workers.” Products under the Fairtrade mark range from popular items such as coffee and chocolate to less known items such as
flowers, which happen to be the fastest growing Fairtrade product. Proceeds from fair trade sales allow individual producers to meet sustainable costs of production and are often distributed to local communities for use in community development. Fairtrade International estimates that six million people directly benefit from Fairtrade.

Fair trade products can now be found in grocery stores around the United States and some companies known for their continued commitment to the Fair Trade movement include:

For specific information on fair trade products in the U.S., please visit Fair Trade USA.

To help survivors of modern day slavery, please consider purchasing a gift for your loved ones from Better Way Imports. At checkout, in the comment box, enter "for Bridge to Freedom Foundation” to ensure a percentage of your purchase is donated directly to our programs.  Happy Shopping!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Award recognizes impact of anthropologist’s work on human organ trade
Nancy Scheper-Hughes, an anthropologist at UC Berkeley, was honored by the American Anthropological Association with the first ever Anthropology in Public Policy Award for her trailblazing work shedding light on the dark practice of human organ trafficking. Scheper-Hughes was instrumental in founding the Berkeley Organ Watch project, an endeavor focused on monitoring the organ-transplant trade for abuses.

Nigeria frees 16 girls, women in ‘baby factory’ raid
Police in Owerri, the capital of the Imo State in Nigeria, raided a home and rescued 16 girls and women, ages 14 to 19. All were in various stages of pregnancy and allegedly being forced to have the babies sold. The male owner of the home had registered it as a non-governmental organization promoting women’s and children’s issues.

US: Human trafficking a worry in post-typhoon Philippines
Thousands of women and children in the Philippines risk falling prey to human traffickers in the aftermath of last month's catastrophic typhoon, lawmakers and the chief US aid agency warn. Natural disasters are events that greatly contribute to the great supply of vulnerable people who are in danger of being exploited by opportunistic traffickers. This is why it is integral to create safe spaces for women and children affected by typhoon Yolanda.

Human trafficking victim speaks out
A gripping firsthand account by a young woman of her long and challenging road from captivity to freedom and growth.

Protests as France debates Bill on Prostitution
Protesters both for and against an anti-prostitution bill that would decriminalize prostitutes but fine their customers continue to demonstrate outside France's National Assembly as lawmakers debate.