In this week’s news, several organizations have made attempts to not only aid the victims of human trafficking, but also to introduce new resolutions to combat slavery. Both New York’s Legal Aid Society and the U.N. Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human trafficking launched projects to assist formerly trafficked humans through financial, humanitarian, and legal aid. Other efforts include global partnerships working to strengthen systems of justice internationally. Read below about these inspiring initiatives!
- Latimes.com: New sex-trafficking law in New York clears prostitute’s record: “A new New York law that recognizes minors forced into the sex trade as victims not criminals was used Wednesday to cleanse the record of a former Bronx prostitute.” After eight years under the control of pimps, twenty-two year-old Leni Johnson has shed her former convictions. In addition, New York’s Legal Aid Society “launched a pilot project focused on the comprehensive needs of women who are victimized at a young age.”
- Trend: The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and USAID join forces to combat modern-slavery in Azerbaijan: The United States Agency for International Development has signed a grant agreement with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to combat human trafficking. “The grant will also strengthen access to justice, fund legal resource centers in Sheki and Lankaran, and provide free legal assistance and information to the public.” U.S. Ambassador to Baku, Mathew Bryza, explained, “There is already strong cooperation between the U.S. and Azerbaijani governments in fighting this form of personal slavery.”
- Examiner.com: Fight against sex trafficking linked to immigration reform: National Immigration Reform has been deemed essential in fighting human trafficking. “Those who are either victims or witnesses are reluctant to report criminals for fear of being arrested themselves or deported,” allowing Arizona to become a hub for human trafficking. In other news, Mexico’s two most important newspapers have agreed to stop publishing sex ads, “a staple of the papers’ advertising revenue.”
- U.N. News Centre: World must do better to tackle human trafficking, stresses Assembly President: In the second ministerial meeting of the Group of Friends United Against Human Trafficking, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser called “for redoubling efforts to ensure that the rights and freedoms of every person are upheld.” His proposed plan calls on the international community to adopt “good governance” and to provide debt relief, measures that should help limit the supply and demand for trafficking. The U.N. Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking launched a project to aid the victims of human trafficking.
The June 23rd ATEST/CNN International event featured Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, the State Department’s human trafficking chief, Academy Award-winning actress and U.N. Goodwill Ambassador for Human Trafficking Mira Sorvino, CNN International executive vice president and managing director Tony Maddox, trafficking survivor and advocate Rani Hong, and Kevin Bales, president of Free the Slaves.
ATEST is a diverse alliance of U.S.-based human rights groups acting in unity to end modern-day slavery and human trafficking—both at home and abroad. Founded by Humanity United in 2007, ATEST is currently composed of the following organizations: Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), ECPAT-USA, Free the Slaves, International Justice Mission, Not for Sale Campaign, Polaris Project, Safe Horizon, Solidarity Center, Verité, Vital Voices Global Partnership, World Vision, and former U.N. Goodwill Ambassador Julia Ormond, president and founder of the Alliance to Stop Slavery and End Trafficking (ASSET).
There’s been plenty of news coverage since Monday’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report from the U.S. State Department. The report ranks 184 countries on how well they’re combating trafficking and slavery.
Other stories, however, have raised questions about the TIP report’s findings. On CNN, anchor Jim Clancy asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton if the TIP process has become “politicized.” (See video of this below). In Time magazine, author Ben Skinner writes that anti-slavery activists are “quietly furious” that several U.S. allies received unwarranted favorable treatment in this year’s TIP rankings.
Read the full 2011 TIP report, and watch Secretary Clinton’s speech unveiling the report, here.
Last Friday, Free the Slaves President Kevin Bales was interviewed on CNN, talking about modern-day slavery in the United States. He stressed that victims of slavery are often the people we overlook—”the people we tend to treat as if they were almost invisible.” Take a closer look, he urges. Learn to see the signs that slavery might be happening. And report it, when you see it. Here is the National Human Trafficking Hotline from Polaris Project: 1-888-3737-888
Woman to Run, Bike & Swim for 27 Hours Straight, to Raise Awareness of 27 Million Modern-Day Slaves:
Paula Heron, a woman from Lexington, Kentucky will be raising awareness about modern-slavery by spending “27 straight hours of swimming, biking and running.” She’s doing this for the 27 million people enslaved in the world today. A noble cause indeed! Read more about Paula’s actions here (via WKYT).
Excerpt from Investigative Book, Tomatoland Sheds Light on Slavery in Florida’s Tomato Farms
The Atlantic has published an excerpt from a new book Tomatoland—about corruption in the tomato industry. This excerpt is about modern-slavery in Florida’s tomato farms, an issue that our ATEST partner Coalition of Immokalee Workers has actively organized and raised awareness about. Here is an excerpt of the excerpt:
Taking a day off was not an option. If Domingo or any of the others in the crew became ill or too exhausted to go to the fields, they were kicked in the heads, beaten with fists, slashed with knives or broken bottles, and shoved into trucks to be hauled to the worksites. Some were manacled in chains. One day a crew member couldn’t take it anymore and ran away from a field. One of the Navarretes got in his truck to chase him down. When the truck returned, Medel said that the man’s face was so bloody and swollen that he was unrecognizable. He could not walk. “This is what happens when you try to get away,” the boss said.
More from CNN’s Freedom Project: Demi Moore Will Host and Narrate an Hour-Long Documentary: “Nepal’s Stolen Children”
From the New York Times:
In the documentary, which will be shown for the first time on June 26, Ms. Moore meets girls as young as 11 who had been forced into prostitution and were rescued by a Nepalese nonprofit.
…Tony Maddox, the executive vice president and managing director of CNN International, said of the documentary: “This wasn’t, ‘We’ll get more publicity if we work with someone high profile, so let’s go find someone high profile.’ This was, ‘Who are the leading players in this field?’ ”
One of them, he said, happened to be a famous actress.
The documentary comes in the fourth month of the CNN Freedom Project, an effort to investigate and bring an end to human trafficking, bonded labor and other forms of what advocacy groups say amounts to slavery.
Led by Mr. Maddox, CNN is taking a stand against slavery — an “easy position” to take, he acknowledges, but one requiring hard work in coverage, campaigning and following up.
“It’s an issue of fundamental humanity,” Mr. Maddox said in a telephone interview. “When that humanity has been violated, there is a moral responsibility to say that this is wrong.”