moda livre photoHave you ever wondered if the shirt on your back — or that new one on the rack — may have been made by slaves? Now there’s an app for that.

FTS frontline partner group Repórter Brasil has launched a free application for smartphones that evaluates popular clothing brands. It’s called Moda Livre (Free Fashion). This app highlights that slavery is often found in everyday products—including the things we wear. Unscrupulous businesses reap illicit profits through labor that is cheap or free.

Textile manufacturing is one of Brazil’s largest industries. The International Textile Manufacturers Federation reports that Brazil is among the top 10 textile markets worldwide and among the top five as an apparel producer.

Brazil is also a global hot spot for trafficking, with nearly 210,000 people in modern-day slavery, according to the Walk Free 2013 Global Slavery Index.

With assistance from PiU Comunica, Repórter Brasil created the Moda Livre app to evaluate efforts of Brazil’s major clothing retailers to fight slave labor in their supply chains. The app acts as a real-time shopping aid for consumers, by revealing the actions that Brazilian clothing retailers are taking to prevent their products from being manufactured with slave labor.

To develop the application, 22 companies were asked to answer a questionnaire based on four criteria:

  1. Policies: commitment to fight slave labor in their supply chains.
  2. Monitoring: measures to monitor their clothing suppliers.
  3. Transparency: actions to monitor suppliers and fight slave labor.
  4. Background: summary of companies involved cases of slave labor, according to the government.

Based on their answers, the companies were assigned one of three color rankings according to the level of their commitment to prevent slave labor: green, yellow, or red. Companies who did not respond to the questionnaire were automatically tagged as red.

The app is focused on Brazil’s clothing market, but it includes at least one brand that’s familiar to American consumers.

To visit the Moda Livre download site, click here.

To learn more about other innovative Free the Slaves work in Brazil, click here.

Editors Note: FTS Brazil Program Manager Flavia Modell contributed material for this article.

Slavery Survivors Brief U.S. Senate

Slavery survivors brief U.S. Senate | FTS photo/Hodges

Slavery survivors brief U.S. Senate | FTS photo/Hodges

People who have endured the brutality of slavery are often the best ones to ask about how to end it. Five survivors brought their firsthand experiences to Capitol Hill this morning for a briefing on what the U.S. government should do.

Survivor Sandra Woworuntu, who works with the group Voices of Hope, wants stronger regulations on foreign labor recruiters. She explained that fraudulent labor contractors lure desperate foreign workers to the U.S. with promises of better jobs.

New legislation could subject recruiters to penalties for providing misleading information to incoming workers. Woworuntu praised efforts by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) to encourage stronger regulation on foreign labor contractors in his Comprehensive Immigration Reform Plan.

Survivor Ima Matul, who works for the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), focused on the need for the U.S. government to train law enforcers, community leaders, educators, and government officials to learn how to properly identify and profile trafficking victims.

Matul said the proposed Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Human Trafficking Act of 2013 (S.1823) would help welfare officials prevent future abuse through better identification of trafficked children. Matul also called for quick implementation of the goals listed in the recently-published Federal Human Trafficking Strategic Action Plan.

Survivor Beth Jacobs, of the group Willow Way, discussed how survivors could re-enter more quickly if law enforcement officers treat sex slavery survivors as victims and not criminals – because a prostitution arrest hurts the survivor’s chances of finding a job.

Margeaux Gray, a survivor of child sex trafficking, noted that, “survivors of trafficking are not truly free until we are free of the traumatic aftereffects.” She stressed the need for an increase in services such as art therapy, psychological counseling and medical care for survivors. She called for schools to teach children about trafficking as well as providing programs where students can learn about the value of self-esteem.

The final survivor, James Kofi Annan from the FTS frontline partner group Challenging Heights in Ghana, recently received the 2013 World’s Children’s Prize. He requested the U.S. government to put pressure on Ghana’s government to implement its own trafficking laws. He also praised the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report for making African leaders accountable for combatting slavery. He wants the U.S. to increase funding for the Labor Department so it could be “integrating an anti-trafficking lens” in all its programs.
“We all have a role to play to ensure that children will not fall victim to the traffickers who prey on them,” said Annan.

Melysa Sperber, director of the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) called for increased corporate transparency to cleanse product supply chains of slavery-tainted components or raw materials. She suggested that companies above $100 million in income should report to the Securities and Exchange Commission and on their websites about efforts to address slavery and child labor within their operations. 

Beth Jacobs concluded the briefing with a simple but powerful statement: “Human trafficking is an issue that crosses all lines and doesn’t discriminate. This is a human issue, we are not as far removed from it as we may think.”

Broward-FTS_logo (1)In you live in South Florida, this event next Thursday is for you!

In recognition of National Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Broward College, in partnership with Free the Slaves, will host a day-long conference titled “Human Trafficking: Exposing the Crisis, Devising Strategies and Solutions.”

It’s on Thursday, January 30th, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Broward College’s Bailey Hall, 3501 S.W. Davie Road, Davie.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will bring awareness to the magnitude of human trafficking in Florida, the United States and around the world, while promoting discussion on effective responses and encouraging participants to join the movement to end modern slavery.

“This conference will educate and engage community leaders, Broward College students and faculty, law enforcement professionals, and members of the community at-large by discussing issues and increasing awareness of a problem that is rampant in Florida, the United States, and around the world,” says FTS board member Gregory A. Haile, who is general counsel and vice president for public policy and government affairs for Broward College. “We are pleased to be partnering with Free the Slaves in an effort to put an end to human trafficking, and we encourage everyone to attend so they can not only learn of the problem, but learn how to identify it and solve it.”

Speakers attending the event include U.S. Representative Ted Deutch; U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (by video); Maurice Middleberg, executive director, Free the Slaves; Sara Gilmer, U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons; Dawn Thompson, assistant executive director, Kristi House; Ed Potter, director, Global Workplace Rights, Coca-Cola Company; Guerda Constant, director, Fondasyon Limye Lavi, Haiti; Leonardo Sakamoto, president, Reporter Brasil; Detective Nick Masters, Strategic Investigations Division, Broward County Sheriff’s Office; and many others.

Topics of discussion will focus on state and local law enforcement issues, the scope of human trafficking in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the role of multinational businesses in the effort to remove slavery from product supply chains.

“Modern-day slavery is one of the greatest human rights challenges of our time, but it is an evil we can overcome if governments, corporations, academic institutions and members of the public all get involved. The Broward College conference will help people learn what they can do to bring human trafficking to end,” says FTS Executive Director Maurice Middleberg.

Registration is required to attend the event. For more information, visit endtraffickingsymposiumfl.eventbrite.com.

Will you help End It in 2014?

This month marks the official re-launch of End It, the campaign to shine a light on slavery. 

End It began last year as two-month public awakening project to remind young adults they have resources to fight slavery, such as spreading the word through social media. This year, the campaign’s message is simple but powerful: draw a red X on your hand and tell people what it means. Especially on February 27th, End It’s official “Shine a Light on Slavery Day.”

The End It website is filled with resources to learn more about slavery, and it provides  a way to donate to End It coalition partners, including Free the Slaves.

Many young people wonder what they can do to fight one of the greatest injustices of our time. End It provides an answer. Get smart about slavery by learning the facts. Then mark your calendar, and mark your hand. Take a stand.

Two years ago, President Barack Obama delivered the longest presidential speech on slavery since Abraham Lincoln. In his address to the Clinton Global Initiative he committed to three steps to strengthen the fight against human trafficking.

First, he promised to increase awareness by training teachers, police officers, and transportation inspectors to be better equipped to handle trafficking victims. Second, he vowed to use technology and the Internet to stop the predation by traffickers. Third, he signed an executive order to prohibit federal procurement of goods or services that are rooted in slavery.

Federal Strat Act PlanThis week, during National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the White House unveiled specific plans for the protection trafficking victims and survivors. It’s called the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States.

Because modern-day slavery touches all corners of the world, a combative strategic plan was needed, according to Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Munoz. She says the White House plan includes services that are “comprehensive, trauma-informed, and responsive to the needs of all victims, regardless of the type of trafficking they endured or immigration status.”

The administration is also focusing efforts on increasing the federal government’s capacity to identify trafficking victims and to help them “recover and rebuild their lives.” Slavery survivors assisted in the plan’s development.