With Mother’s Day fast approaching, here’s a stylish way for your mom to show her love for children everywhere.
Inspired by the Free the Slaves padlock logo, jewelers designed a pewter key with the letters FTS, which can be worn on the neck or wrist.
They cost $32, with $12 from every purchase going to FTS projects that help slaves break free and stay free.
If your mom prefers just a bracelet, FTS also receives 50% of the proceeds from the beautiful iHeart Freedom & Social Justice bracelet, which costs $24.
Both are unique, limited edition fashion accessories that help make the world a more humane place. All the jewelry is made under fair-trade slavery-free conditions.
If neither of the pieces fit your mom’s style, both are still inexpensive gifts to give to a friend, while giving slaves the gift of freedom.
Visit Hearts to order yours today.
Trickery cuts a wide swath in India’s impoverished communities. People often leave home in search of work, and many find themselves being trafficked instead.
FTS frontline partner MSEMVS aims to change that. And young people are at the heart of the strategy. The goal of the Trafficking Prevention Plan is to stop migration from becoming a road to slavery.
To do that, MSEMVS targets schools in some of India’s most vulnerable villages. Using case studies, posters and pamphlets, they teach students about the risks of migration and the realities of human trafficking.
With millions of people on the move worldwide, it’s easy for traffickers to pose as legitimate labor recruiters. Students are now being taught the warning signs so they won’t fall victim when they grow up.
The events are organized as mass meetings, with 250 to 300 students per site. To make the lesson stick, the approach is interactive. It’s not a lecture. Students discuss ways that they can become agents of change in their own communities.
Organizers provide a telephone hotline number and leave a “Report Box” at schools for anonymous tip-offs about suspicious activities that might be related to trafficking.
It’s working. At one location, students provided more than 30 tips for community organizers to investigate.
This educational initiative is one reason that more and more people are escaping slavery at farms, brick kilns, brothels and factories. MSEMVS reports that in 2012 they helped nearly 800 people move from slavery to freedom.
Learn more about our India program on the FTS website.
Slavery is a global problem, but it can be overcome.
It’s a simple but important message.
And I was honored to deliver it at Lehigh University’s recent event on human trafficking and modern slavery.
The presentation paralleled the 57th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, the world’s principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and the advancement of women.
My talk focused on the scope of slavery today. People can be enslaved in their own communities, or trafficked across borders. They might be sex trafficking victims, or domestic slaves, or trapped in debt bondage, or forced to work with toxic chemicals at a young age. They may work in agriculture, mining, fishing, construction, or hospitality. Poverty, violence, and inequality contribute to slavery.
But my presentation was also about hope. We can do something about slavery. We can empower the people that are the most vulnerable to slavery to reject it.
The Lehigh University program was webcast live from the campus in Pennsylvania to the U.N. conference.
About 150 students, faculty and staff attended the event at Lehigh, while others watched the webcast, including a group all the way in Burma. The audience was captivated by stories of slavery inside the U.S., as well as stories of slavery in Nigeria (such as child marriage).
The Q&A sessions deepened the conversation.
I was asked why slavery is an issue that should be important to everyone. I told the audience to recognize that slavery may be in many of their consumer products, and we must all be smart consumers and support companies working to root-out slavery in their supply chains.
The event was so successful that a group of Lehigh talked about starting a Free The Slaves student chapter.
Thanks to Lehigh University for sponsoring such a wonderful event!
Editor’s Note: An op-ed by Free the Slaves Director of Programs Karen Stauss was published over the weekend by the Huffington Post, in a special section they called “Slavery Sunday.” Here is her commentary and photos from a recent visit to our frontline projects in India.
The brick kilns of Uttar Pradesh, India are more than 7,000 miles from Capitol Hill in Washington. But for years, they have been linked by a groundbreaking piece of American legislation.
That law is the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), passed by Congress in 2000. It has established the U.S. as a world leader in the fight to eradicate human trafficking and modern-day slavery, at home and abroad.
The TVPA has helped many people escape brutal abuse. It’s a beacon of hope for millions who are still trapped in bondage.
But the TVPA must be reauthorized every few years. And sadly, Congress allowed it to expire at the end of its last session. It’s the first time that has happened. Without the key piece of authorizing legislation in place to guide America’s global anti-slavery effort, the path to freedom for those in slavery is in jeopardy.
I was thinking about the future of the TVPA as I met slavery survivors in Uttar Pradesh a few weeks ago, just days after the last Congress was gaveled to a close in America. The TVPA had helped these villages move from slavery to freedom.
They had been enslaved because they borrowed money from an unscrupulous brick kiln owner. They were forced to work for him only, for as long as he wished, and they were charged staggering amounts of interest to ensure they could never pay off the debt. Whole families – including children – were forced to work. They were threatened with violence if they questioned the situation.
Debt-bondage like this is illegal. It’s slavery. But it happens throughout the world. And the stakes are quite literally life and death. One man told me that the brick kiln manager killed his eight-year-old son after a petty dispute about access to clean drinking water at the worksite.
The U.S. government provided funding to educate these workers about their rights and organize as a group. They made a decision together that would have been impossible for any of them to make alone: they all decided to escape. The survivors have been provided with a legal advocate and I was told that the brick kiln manager has been charged with murder.
This has been happening in village after village in India. Education leads to freedom. We’re not talking about slapping up a few billboards. It’s real community organizing (President Obama knows what that is). It requires spending time with extraordinarily vulnerable people to establish trust, identify leaders and build their self-confidence. It’s remarkable what happens when people marshal their innate power and join forces with their neighbors.
This type of initiative is innovative in the remote corners of Uttar Pradesh. But it isn’t expensive. And under the TVPA, the U.S. State Department has funded similar projects around the world.
What happens after people break free is a big part of the story. When people begin to stand up for their rights, their villages begin to benefit in many, many ways: better schooling, better health care, better nutrition, a better local economy. Residents in freed villages help slaves in neighboring communities, spreading freedom.
The people of the United States have supported this investment in freedom through the TVPA.
Congress must reauthorize the act to preserve America’s role as a key participant in the growing global movement to abolish slavery in the 21st century. It speaks well of our nation that the thing we value most – freedom – is something we help others achieve. It’s unthinkable that we would stop – that we would tell the next village in slavery that America can’t help.
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 New York Times. “Europe Urged to Fight Modern Slavery at Home.” http://rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/18/europe-urged-to-fight-modern-slavery-at-home/?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss
2. Electronics News. “Foxconn admits to child labour.” http://www.electronicsnews.com.au/news/foxconn-admits-to-child-labour
3. The Daily Nebraskan. “James Kofi Annan speaks out against child trafficking in Ghana at annual conference.” http://www.dailynebraskan.com/news/article_f6be9fda-180b-11e2-9aa2-001a4bcf6878.html
4. CNN Freedom Project. “Shrimp exports to West tied to bonded labor.” http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/16/shrimp-exports-to-west-tied-to-bonded-labor/
5. McClatchy. “Big U.S. poultry processor hit with fines over youth labor.” http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/10/16/171687/uss-biggest-poultry-processer.html
6. The Boston Globe. “Owners of massage parlors in Wellesley, Revere arrested in human trafficking operation.” http://www.boston.com/metrodesk/2012/10/18/feds-state-seek-arrests-sex-slavery-operation/B3UGV1wkGYcGM7UOc71PWI/story.html
7. BBC News. “Trafficked and sold as a sex slave.” [VIDEO] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19993193
8. NPR. “With A Phone Call, Truckers Can Fight Sex Trafficking.” http://www.npr.org/2012/10/19/163010142/with-a-phone-call-truckers-can-fight-sex-trafficking
9. BBC News. “A tipping point in the fight against slavery?” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19831913
10. BBC News. “Doctors and nurses forced to pick cotton.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19931639