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.”

2. Enough Project. “Conflict Gold 101.”

3. The Times Picayune. “Authorities nab 85 in effort to combat Super Bowl sex trafficking.”

4. ABC News. “Congo, M23 Rebels Sign Preliminary Agreement.”

5. The Sun Sentinel. “Human trafficking coalition grows as awareness does, too.”,0,4281755.story

6. Asian Human Rights Commission. “INDIA: Police officers run human trafficking cartel.”

7. The New York Times. “Notorious Attack Spurs India to Approve New Rape Laws.”

8. Ghana Web. “Princess Ocansey arrested for human trafficking.”

9. International Business Time. “Voiceless Cargo: Symposium On Human Trafficking And Sex Slavery.”

10. Arizona Daily Star. “Guest Column: Modern slavery is brutal reality in US, and we must act to stop it.”

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.



Here’s a stylish way to state your commitment to ending trafficking and slavery. We have just partnered with a new sustainable fashion company called Hearts, to create the Free the Slaves Key 2-in-1 necklace/bracelet.

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.

It’s a unique, limited edition fashion accessory that helps make the world a more humane place. The keys are made under fair-trade slavery-free conditions. It’s an inexpensive gift to give to a friend, while giving slaves the gift of freedom. Visit Hearts to order yours.

necklace tight


What will you give your Valentine this year? Chocolate? Got it last year. Flowers? They’ll last a week.

This year, get your Valentine something original, something that lasts, something that changes the world.


Click on this link to make a donation to Free the Slaves and send an e-Valentine to the love in your life.

There are two cards to choose from. The photos were created by FTS supporters who found inventive ways to spell out the word FREE.

e-valentine 01

e-valentine 02

Don’t wait! When you personalize your Valentine on the FTS e-card webpage, you can choose the date it will be sent.

Thanks for your continued support!



smith speaks capitol hill 02 130204Smith Maxime is usually high in Haiti’s rural hills, where many poor families choose to send a child away to the city to work as a domestic servant. His job as FTS Haiti Director is to help stop the flow of children.

But yesterday, Smith was on Capitol Hill in Washington for a congressional briefing. His goal there: build awareness that many children sent to work away from home in Haiti wind up in slavery. Also: let the U.S. human rights community know that most of these “restavek” slaves in Haiti are girls.

“It’s a gender issue,” Smith told the packed briefing room. “Two of three children in restavek are girls.”

Smith’s presentation was part of a two-day program organized by Women Thrive Worldwide and the Haiti Advocacy Working Group.

It’s been three years since Haiti’s devastating earthquake. The disaster has worsened women’s vulnerability to violence, including the enslavement of girls.

Smith noted that exact slavery figures are not available, but that studies have indicated between 100,000 and 400,000 children are restaveks today. Many parents believe their child may get an education and better nutrition if they’re sent to work as a domestic servant. Some do, but many don’t. smith speaks capitol hill 130204The earthquake has made things worse, Smith said.

“The Haitian economy does not produce enough resources to take care of all Haitian citizens,” he said.

Community activists will soon be organizing to convince Haitian officials to take nationwide action.

“We need a strategic plan from the government to eradicate slavery,” Smith said.

He also called for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to fully implement policies to promote gender equality and family development in Haiti, as well as implement USAID’s new counter-trafficking initiative.

You can read about the FTS Model Communities program to educate rural parents on the dangers of sending children to work outside the home here.