Magdalen-asylumThere’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.

Slavery in this Week’s News

We see slavery and trafficking stories throughout the world each week. It’s great news that journalists and bloggers are exposing the problem of slavery, and examining solutions to it. Awareness creates momentum for change. Here are 10 top stories that caught our eye:

1. The Indian Tribune. “Over 60 million child laborers in India!” http://www.indiatribune.com/index.php?option=com_content&id=2884:over-60-million-child-laborers-in-india&Itemid=400

2. Enough Project. “Apple Makes New Pledges on Conflict Minerals, Should Begin Clean Congo Sourcing Program.” http://www.enoughproject.org/blogs/apple-new-pledges-conflict-minerals-clean-congo

3. The Examiner. “Likely girl trafficking victims are instead becoming young leaders in Nepal.” http://www.examiner.com/article/likely-girl-trafficking-victims-are-instead-becoming-young-leaders-nepal

4. Thomson Reuters. “The Word on Women – Transporting bras to aid sex-trafficking survivors.” http://www.trust.org/trustlaw/blogs/the-word-on-women/transporting-bras-to-aid-sex-trafficking-survivors

5. The Examiner. “World renowned sculptress Cybele Rowe to partner with Free The Slaves (Photos).” http://www.examiner.com/article/world-renowned-sculptress-cybele-rowe-to-partner-with-free-the-slaves?cid=rss

6. The New York Times. “Seeking Redress for a Mother’s Life in a Workhouse.” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/07/world/europe/seeking-redress-in-ireland-over-magdalene-laundry.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0

7. The Times of India. “Hewlett-Packard directs its suppliers to limit child labor in China.” http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-02-08/strategy/36992296_1_school-students-fair-labor-association-supplier-factory

8. All Africa. “Congo-Kinshasa: Girl Child Soldiers Face New Battles in Civilian Life.” http://allafrica.com/stories/201302130106.html

9. Ghana Business News. “NGO rescues 111 Ghanaian children from slavery in 2012.” http://www.ghanabusinessnews.com/2013/02/13/ngo-rescues-111-ghanaian-children-from-slavery-in-2012/

10. News OK. “Nonprofit head: Oklahoma delegation should work to end human trafficking.” http://newsok.com/nonprofit-head-oklahoma-delegation-should-work-to-end-human-trafficking/article/3752938

Slavery in this Week’s News

We see slavery and trafficking stories throughout the world each week. It’s great news that journalists and bloggers are exposing the problem of slavery, and examining solutions to it. Awareness creates momentum for change. Here are 10 top stories that caught our eye:

1. Ghana Business News. “Ghana agric workers campaign against child labour in cocoa growing areas.” http://www.ghanabusinessnews.com/2013/02/08/ghana-agric-workers-campaign-against-child-labour-in-cocoa-growing-areas/

2. Enough Project. “Conflict Gold 101.” http://www.enoughproject.org/blogs/conflict-gold-101

3. The Times Picayune. “Authorities nab 85 in effort to combat Super Bowl sex trafficking.” http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2013/02/85_sex-trafficking_arrests_in.html

4. ABC News. “Congo, M23 Rebels Sign Preliminary Agreement.” http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/congo-m23-rebels-sign-preliminary-agreement-18420841

5. The Sun Sentinel. “Human trafficking coalition grows as awareness does, too.” http://www.sun-sentinel.com/fl-human-trafficking-meeting-20130204,0,4281755.story

6. Asian Human Rights Commission. “INDIA: Police officers run human trafficking cartel.” http://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-036-2013

7. The New York Times. “Notorious Attack Spurs India to Approve New Rape Laws.” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/04/world/asia/india-approves-tougher-rape-laws.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

8. Ghana Web. “Princess Ocansey arrested for human trafficking.” http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=264251

9. International Business Time. “Voiceless Cargo: Symposium On Human Trafficking And Sex Slavery.” http://www.ibtimes.com/press-release/20130205/voiceless-cargo-symposium-human-trafficking-sex-slavery-1062630

10. Arizona Daily Star. “Guest Column: Modern slavery is brutal reality in US, and we must act to stop it.” http://azstarnet.com/news/opinion/guest-column-modern-slavery-is-brutal-reality-in-us-and/article_2ba74ebd-7cac-5c55-b4e4-b3b90da61866.html

brazil graphicThe Brazilian state of São Paulo is taking a dramatic new step.

The state’s governor has just signed a law to shut down companies caught using slave labor. Violators would be banned from opening a new business for 10 years.

The man behind this groundbreaking law is human rights activist, Carlos Bezerra Jr., a São Paulo state senator.

He believes the measure is the toughest of its kind since Brazil abolished slavery in 1888.

“In this state,” Bezerra says, “profit at any cost will never be worth more than human life.”

logo_topoNews about the law comes to us from Reporter Brasil, one of our frontline partners. The group’s president, Leonardo Sakamoto, says it’s good for business in a country whose economy depends on exports. “Cleaning the supply chain is a quick way to gain markets and improve the lives of workers,” he says.

Senator Bezerra was in Washington, D.C. this week, visiting U.S. government officials and activist organizations, including Free the Slaves.

“Brazil is taking some of the most progressive and far reaching steps in the world to remove slavery from product supply chains,” says FTS Executive Director, Maurice Middleberg. “What they are doing is a global model.”

middleberg, bezerra, stauss at fts 130205

Carlos Bezerra Jr. (center) meets in Washington with FTS Executive Director Maurice Middleberg (left) and FTS Programs Director Karen Stauss (right).

Brazilian activists are hoping for a domino effect, where other states will follow São Paulo’s lead.

Middleberg believes Brazil is setting an example for politicians in other countries as well.

“The successes in Brazil highlight the need to network members of parliament worldwide, to help build a community of parliamentarians who are committed to taking action against slavery in their countries,” he says.

FTS is pushing for a nationwide law in the U.S. where all large companies would be required to investigate and root out slavery in their supply chains.

You can see more about the successes of FTS frontline partners in Brazil, including Reporter Brasil, in the minidocumentary, “Partners in Action.”

 

FTS Partners in Action: CPT & Reporter Brasil from Free the Slaves on Vimeo.

 

Slavery in this week’s news

We see slavery and trafficking stories throughout the world each week. It’s great news that journalists and bloggers are exposing the problem of slavery, and examining solutions to it. Awareness creates momentum for change. Here are 10 top stories that caught our eye:

1. Yahoo! News. “Apple’s Child-Labor Problem Runs Deep.” http://news.yahoo.com/apples-child-labor-problem-runs-deep-141954177.html

2. Ghana.gov. “Child Labour and Child Trafficking in Ga South and Dangme West—Christian Council leads mitigation efforts.” http://www.ghana.gov.gh/index.php/news/features/19375-child-labour-and-child-trafficking-in-ga-south-and-dangme-westchristian-council-leads-mitigation-efforts

3. GreenBiz. “How business can help achieve a conflict-free Congo.” http://www.greenbiz.com/news/2013/01/24/how-business-can-help-achieve-conflict-free-congo

4. The Hill. “Heed Congo’s hero women – Send an envoy now.” http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/foreign-policy/278913-heed-congos-hero-women-send-an-envoy-now#ixzz2J0Hjd1rL

5. The New York Times. “Urging Action, Report on Brutal Rape Condemns India’s Treatment of Women.” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/24/world/asia/report-in-india-rape-case-condemns-nations-treatment-of-women.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0

6. NBC Sports. “R.A. Dickey is off to India to aid an anti-human trafficking organization.” http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/01/22/r-a-dickey-is-off-to-india-to-aid-an-anti-human-trafficking-organization/

7. The Washington Post. “India’s child maids face slavery, abuse and sometimes rape.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/india-turns-blind-eye-to-trafficking-rape-of-child-maids/2013/01/19/3f7ec544-5e73-11e2-9940-6fc488f3fecd_story.html

8. Oregon Live. “Washington man gets 10 years in prison for sex trafficking.” http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2013/01/washington_man_gets_10_years_i.html

9. IRIN News. “Rainforest riches a curse for civilians in northeast DRC.” http://www.irinnews.org/Report/97314/Rainforest-riches-a-curse-for-civilians-in-northeast-DRC

10. WPTV. “Foster care sex trafficking: Pimps, labor contractors targeting youth in Florida foster care system.” http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/state/foster-care-sex-trafficking-pimps-labor-contractors-targeting-youth-in-florida-foster-care-system#ixzz2Iu9PtfSA