Child Rights expert leads a session during the launch workshop

Child rights expert leads a session during the launch workshop

Many children in informal mining communities in Ghana are forced to work in mines under dangerous conditions: carrying heavy loads and handling mercury to extract gold from ore. Young girls who go to these mining communities to sell food and water are often sexually exploited during the night.

FTS is working with adults in these communities to build awareness about ways to protect their children from slavery, violence and sexual exploitation. But how can kids protect themselves?

FTS partnered with Participatory Development Associates (PDA) to launch child rights clubs in 12 schools in 10 mining communities around Obuasi. In these child-led in-school organizations, kids learn about their rights, the risks and dangers around their communities, and who they can contact if they or their peers ever need help.

As part of the clubs’ inauguration, PDA brought in experts to give a workshop for students and teachers. During the training, the participants made posters and fliers that promote child rights. They also went to their local government district assembly office to discuss the importance of registering all children with birth certificates, and how this action makes children them less vulnerable to slavery and exploitation.

During the launch process, teachers selected student child rights ambassadors to lead the clubs within their schools and encourage their peers to join. Since then, the clubs have been meeting once a week. There are currently 522 members, and they’re creating a ripple effect. They are all making an impact: increasing children’s knowledge of their rights and how can they be protected.

PDA staff asked children in a follow up visit to one school: “What basic rights are children entitled to?” Students responded enthusiastically with answers such as: “Right to Shelter!” and “Right to Education!”

Anyinam junior high school Child Rights Ambassadors

Anyinam junior high school child rights ambassadors

The head teacher of Nana Ponko Junior High School in Kunka said that his students won an essay competition initiated by the Department of Social Welfare and the Ghana Education Service to mark this year’s World Day Against Child Labor celebrations. He attributed the win to the knowledge gained through PDA’s trainings and through the clubs.

Inspired by what she learned through the clubs, a head teacher in Tutuka  made child slavery and child rights an agenda item for PTA meetings so that parents can have another avenue for learning about these issues.

FTS and PDA will continue to train and support the clubs as they develop into important community structures for children to learn, share, and take action to protect themselves and others from slavery and abuse.

Editor’s Note: To learn more about FTS activities in Ghana, visit our Ghana webpage.

Modern slavery. It’s a global challenge that we all know needs to be solved. But the issue is so broad that it can be easy as individuals to think that we can’t do anything about it.

Anti-slavery veteran Matt Friedman from the Breaking the Links Campaign is working to change that. He’ll be in Washington, D.C. this week to help people of conscience learn what they can do to end slavery now.

Matt won’t be coming alone. His two sons will be joining the conversation to provide a teen perspective.  The presentation will also feature clips from the acclaimed documentary Not My Life.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, there’s always something that you can do to become closer to having a slavery-free world.

  • August 5th,  7pm – 9pm in the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 945 G Street NW Washington, DC 20001 (Metro Center & Gallery Place metro).
  • August 6th,  7pm – 9pm in the Friends Meeting of Washington DC, 2111 Florida Ave NW  Washington, DC 20008 (Dupont Circle metro).

 Today is the official day for raising awareness around one of the greatest human rights challenges of our time: human trafficking. The United Nations has marked July 30th as the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. This day aims to educate people about human trafficking, today’s equivalent of the slave trade that was abolished more than a century ago.

Since it’s the inaugural year of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, you can join the U.N. and actively engage in their Blue Heart social media campaign. Using the hashtag #igivehope and the campaign’s Facebook and Twitter pages, you can share photos of yourself forming a heart with two hands. Let everyone know you are taking a stand by changing your profile picture. You can find campaign logos in different languages here.

Slavery truly is a global scourge, requiring a global response. Millions of men, women, and children are victims of human trafficking worldwide. Learn where slavery is worst through the FTS Trafficking and Slavery Fact Sheet.

Right now, FTS works in six hot spot countries where more than half of the world’s slaves live: India, Nepal, Ghana, Congo, Haiti and Brazil.

India has the largest concentration of modern-day slaves with 14 million slaves. Most are victims of debt bondage, where loans illegally enslave laborers in farms, brick kilns, quarries, and embroidery factories.

In Nepal, thousands are trafficked into domestic servitude as maids, into circuses as performers, and sex slavery. Other thousands are trafficked in Congo, Haiti, Ghana, and Brazil to work in the fishing industry, mines, and plantations. FTS works hand in hand with partner organizations in these six countries to help people overcome the root causes that make them vulnerable prey for traffickers.

A world without slavery: it’s a goal that can be reached. In 2013, FTS freed 3,127 people from slavery and educated 18, 465 villagers to protect their families from traffickers. But governments, businesses, consumers, international organizations and people like you still need to join forces to expand the work of eradicating human trafficking.

Check out the U.N.’s information about human trafficking and encourage others to join the movement.

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FTS Executive Director Maurice Middleberg on VOA’s “On the Line”

Free the Slaves is spreading the word about global trafficking on global TV and radio. FTS Executive Director Maurice Middleberg was a guest on the most recent edition of “On the Line,” broadcast worldwide by the Voice of America

Even though slavery was abolished, it still exists because victims of poverty, discrimination and corruption remain vulnerable and are preyed upon by traffickers, Maurice explained. “The fact that it’s illegal, doesn’t mean that it stopped existing,” he said.

Slavery looks different today, in comparison to how it looked hundreds of years ago. “Slavery was a terrible part of all of our histories and something that we must not forget, but it’s really until now that the world is waking up to the fact that modern-day slavery exists,” said Joanna Ewart-James, campaign team manager of Walk Free in London, another guest on the program.

In the United States, sex trafficking is one of the most talked about forms of modern slavery. But worldwide, sex slaves constitute a fifth of modern-day slaves. The other 80 percent are enslaved in other forms of forced work where there is intensive manual labor.

“Wherever you need a lot of hands and brute force, there’s where you are going to find slavery,” Maurice explained. “In fact, that’s why it’s often under the noses of people and not really seen because it seems to be part of the workforce. Many of the people that you see working in these industries are in fact in the state of slavery.”

What does it mean to be in “the state of slavery” today? If slavery is under our noses, what can we do to see it and stop it?

For those answers, watch the entire show. It’s a quick and easy way to learn what slavery looks like today, and what we can do to end it within our lifetime.

ORANGE_STAMP_lock logoThis week may bring key votes in Congress responding to the increase in child refugees entering the United States from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Some of these children are fleeing widespread slavery in their home countries. But one of the policy revisions being debated in Washington would repeal protection for child slaves under American law.

Free the Slaves has joined 90 religious, academic and human rights leaders urging Congress and the Obama administration to safeguard runaway slaves by maintaining the procedures established in 2008 for child refugees under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act  (TVPRA).

A letter delivered to key House and Senate committee leaders explains that “amending the TVPRA is not the solution” and notes that discarding portions of America’s groundbreaking anti-trafficking law would be “jeopardizing the lives of children seeking safety in the United States.”

Read the full letter to Congress here.

“Instead of abiding by our international obligations and affording these children proper screening for trafficking and persecution, as well as the opportunity to receive fair and full consideration of their legal claims before an immigration judge, members of Congress appear to propose quickly removing them without access to legal counsel. Removals would follow cursory screenings that have already proven entirely inadequate to identify genuine refugee and trafficking claims among Mexican children.”

The joint letter was authored by the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), a coalition of leading anti-slavery organizations, including FTS.

“We are encouraged that Congress is considering additional funding to both address the conditions of the children as well as provide more rapid consideration of the status of these children and their safe repatriation,” the letter concludes. “These efforts appear to be a better approach than weakening the protections these children deserve by changing the TVPRA.”

If you would like to be heard on protecting child slavery victims, now is the time. You can find the contact information for your U.S. Senators at senate.gov and House member at house.gov. Just type in your zip code in the upper right of the webpages. Then give your elected representatives a call or send them an email to tell them to protect child trafficking victims by protecting the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.