The campaign has been honored in the “New Approaches” category, in recognition of its innovative techniques to build awareness about trafficking among college students.
Broadcast to more than 750 college campuses nationwide, mtvU reaches nearly 9 million U.S. college students – making it the largest, most comprehensive television network just for college students. mtvU can be seen in the dining areas, fitness centers, student lounges and dorm rooms of campuses throughout the U.S.
The Against Our Will Campaign was launched in 2011 at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. The campaign amplifies America’s college students’ efforts to end modern-day slavery in the U.S., and empowers them to learn more and get involved.
The campaign’s website features remarkably creative material – including slavery survivor poetry read by A-list musicians and actors such as Alicia Keys and Jada Pinkett Smith, as well as interactive stories depicting how young people become enslaved, portrayed by interpretative dancers from Ailey II of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Fingers crossed! The Daytime Emmy winners will be announced in mid-June.
One of our goals at FTS is to “mainstream” anti-slavery work. That means getting field workers for charities and development institutions, such as USAID and the United Nations, to recognize slavery when they see it, and take appropriate action.
A recent article by FTS Associate Programs Director Ginny Baumann helps to do just that.
Her how-to piece, the cover story in the March 2013 edition of Monthly Developments magazine, answers vital questions that can help mobilize development workers into anti-slavery activists. The magazine is read by development and humanitarian aid professionals throughout the world.
She notes that there are both moral and practical reasons to take a stand against modern-day slavery.
“Removing slavery from a community allows other interventions to more fully take root,” Ginny tells aid workers in her article. “If your project focuses on education, microenterprise development, women’s empowerment, health care, migration – you name it – a greater number of individuals will benefit if their community is free from slavery.”
Ginny’s article lists steps that development professionals can take when they witness slavery.
Just as important, she provides cautions for things not to do, things that could actually endanger slaves rather than helping them toward sustainable freedom.
“If development agencies do not equip their staff on slavery, there is a risk that in some places they can become part of the problem,” she concludes. “Their resources can be used to reinforce existing patterns of control and exclusion.”
Ginny says that eliminating that risk is time and money well spent.
Ginny’s full article is now available online by creating a free online user account with the group Interaction, and looking for the March edition of their Monthly Developments magazine.
Our thanks to Interaction for helping to spread the word!
There’s major news this week from Europe involving government compensation for slavery survivors. Ireland has formally apologized for decades of slave labor inside laundries run by Catholic nuns.
The notorious facilities, known as the “Magdalene Laundries,” have been described by ABC News as “virtual slave labor camps.”
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny issued an apology Tuesday night to 10,000 women and girls who were sent to work without pay in the laundries, according to The Guardian newspaper.
Some women were sent by state authorities and institutions through contracts, simply because they were unmarried, came from broken homes or were abused, according to the BBC. Others were sent for petty crimes such as forgetting to pay a train ticket. There were 10 laundries with government contracts between the years of 1922 to as late as 1996.
The women toiled behind locked doors, unable to leave, and while the laundries were paid, the women and girls received no wages, according to the BBC.
Kenny apologized during a speech in parliament, two weeks after an official 1,000-page report expressed the suffering the women and girls endured in the laundries. In his apology, he said they deserved “the compassion and recognition for which they have fought for so long, deservedly so deeply.”
He said their experiences had cast a “long shadow” over Irish life and that it had been “humbling and inspiring” to meet them.
“For 90 years Ireland subjected these women, and their experience, to a profound indifference,” he said. “By any standards it was a cruel and pitiless Ireland, distinctly lacking in mercy,” according to the BBC.
Along with his apology, Kenny offered a government-funded memorial to remember the victims, and a compensation package to 800 survivors who are still alive. This package includes counseling services, healthcare and individual cash payments.
“He didn’t hold back on anything, he really did us proud,” Maureen O’Sullivan, a Magdalene Laundries survivor, told the Irish Times. “Now we can get on with our lives, now that we have an apology and they’ve taken responsibility.”
The Magdeline Laundries have been the subject of numerous exposes, a documentary and even a movie.
Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Jason Mraz will headline a free outdoor concert in Myanmar this weekend to raise awareness about modern-day slavery and trafficking.
His performance at the base of the Shwedagon pagoda in People’s Square in Yangon is believed to be the first international concert of its kind in Myanmar, according to the Associated Press (AP).
He tells the AP that he has three goals: “educate, empower, engage.”
Jason has been a global ambassador for the modern abolition movement ever since he accompanied Free the Slaves frontline activists in Ghana on a child-slavery rescue mission.
His tearful account of meeting child slavery survivors was captured in the FTS video “The Journey of the Freedom Song.”
“I thought this (slavery) was something that was abolished when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation,” Jason recently told the AP. “But all it did is become hidden from our view. So I signed on, lent my voice, lent my music to the cause.”
Jason performed the “Freedom Song” at the 2010 FTS Freedom Awards in Los Angeles, backed up by energetic singers from the Agape Youth Choir.
Jason hosted a major anti-slavery concert in the Philippines last year, and now he is bringing his unique spirit of optimism to Myanmar, listed by the U.S. State Department as a Tier 3 country in the 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report, meaning it is one of the world worst hotspots for slavery.
“I’m going there with an enormous amount of gratitude and respect, and I hope we can actually make a difference,” Jason told the AP. “I hope it’s also a testament to the songs. I’ve always wanted my songs to be about healing and self-empowerment.”
Sunday’s Myanmar concert is being organized by MTV, and it will be broadcast internationally next year. It’s funded by the Australian Government’s Agency for International Development (AusAID), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Walk Free, a global movement to end modern-day slavery; and produced in partnership with the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the United Nations Inter-Agency Project Against Human Trafficking (UNIAP) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
FTS co-founder Kevin Bales is in Myanmar now for the show. Watch the FTS blog for his notes on how things went!
An armed rebellion is spreading in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Rebel troops are attempting to expand the territory they hold. International aid organizations are evacuating personnel. There are serious concerns about the safety of DRC residents as the crisis deepens.
You can take action to help. FTS has signed onto a campaign by our colleagues at the Raise Hope for Congo project, along with Jewish World Watch and Falling Whistles. It’s a petition asking the U.S. government to exert its influence in the region to promote peace and safeguard lives. You can sign here.
Read about the situation in Congo in yesterday’s blog post. Our own staff and those working for our frontline partner organizations are now in rebel-controlled territory, but they’re safe for now.
Thank you for taking action.