The newest front in fighting slavery involves educating consumers that many everyday products are tainted by slavery. Sometimes it’s sweatshop slavery where products are made. Other times, slaves are forced to harvest or mine raw materials. America’s most influential business news organization, The Wall Street Journal, has been looking into the connection between slavery and gold. Here’s the article from their MarketWatch webpage. It features Free the Slaves Director of Programs Karen Stauss, who is urging Congress and companies to get the slavery out of products in American stores.
Speaking about children who end up in slavery, Karen says:
“It’s important to understand the motivations of the children, but also for governments, civil society and companies to take responsibility for protecting them and ensuring they have viable alternatives… It may feel like a necessity for the children under the present circumstances, but their willingness to literally risk their lives to do this work does not mean that we can accept it on their behalf as well. There is a duty of care.”
Read the rest of the article here.
Also, check out the Free the Slaves mini documentary about slavery in Congo mines below. To learn more about our work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, go to our website here.
Editor’s note: We are thrilled to feature a series of blog posts from Carol Metzker. a longtime supporter of, and donor to Free the Slaves. Carol has traveled to India to see Free the Slaves’ frontline partner work. Her most recent trip took her to the Punarnawa ashram in Bihar. She will be writing about her experience exclusively for the FTS blog. Carol!
Arriving at Punarnawa Ashram in India is no easy feat. From my home in Pennsylvania, USA, it takes a few plane rides over a few days—over expansive ocean and past snow-capped Himalaya mountains. The subsequent car trip ranges from smooth highway sailing to bumpy dirt lane adventures that make Disney thrill rides seem pale in comparison.
Along the way, the reasons for the urgency and importance of Free the Slaves’ (FTS) work and Punarnawa Ashram’s existence become apparent. Bonded laborers pluck new leaves from the region’s tea gardens. Chimneys—from brick factories that operate on the backs of slaves—dot the horizon. At a truck stop, young girls wait for their traffickers, pimps, johns and middlemen to determine their future, horrific in too many cases.
Blog entries over the next few days and weeks will be a masala—a spicy hodgepodge—of my insights, experiences, reflections and feelings about my November 2011 visit to the ashram. They will celebrate the extraordinary work being accomplished by FTS staff, ashram workers and the girls themselves. They will invite you to feel the journey and to join the quest for freedom for all worldwide.
Some of them run away. Some of them simply have nowhere to go.
But the lives of prostitutes—often coerced into sex slavery—are usually misunderstood.
Trafficking is considered the third largest industry for organized crime, generating billions of dollars annually.
Here’s a news roundup of some recent news stories about sex trafficking:
New York Times: “Shining Light on the Role of Drivers in Prostitution” by Christine Haughney:
Sofia, a sweet-voiced and cherubic 24-year-old, was one of the lucky ones: She managed to escape much of the suffering shared by the millions of sex workers trafficked throughout the world, and even saw two of her traffickers forced out of the country and back to Mexico.
But the young woman said she still feels that complete justice has eluded her, because the drivers who ferried her from john to john, her de facto bosses, remain at large.
Deseret News: “Stolen Innocence: The battle against modern-day slavery in the US” by Elizabeth Stuart:
ATLANTA — Maybe it was the defiant glint in her eye. Maybe it was the way she dragged her feet on the way to join the other underage girls in tube tops and 8-inch heels hawking their bodies in a bad part of Atlanta. Keisha Head wasn’t sure. But somehow Sir Charles always knew when she was considering trying to escape.
“You better not be thinkin’ ’bout leaving,” the pimp would say. “You know what’s gonna happen.”
CBS News: “Captive sex slave for 10 years tells her story” by CBS News:
For 10 years, Tanya Kach, of McKeesport, Pa., was held as a sex slave under her abductor’s complete control. Now, she’s come out to tell her amazing survival story.
In 1996, Kach was a 14-year-old girl carrying around grown-up problems. Her parents were splitting up. And, like most girls that age, adjusting to the teenage years was tough.
Recent news that cotton used by Victoria’s Secret to sew women’s lingerie may have been harvested by slaves has sparked a broader debate about how deep companies should go into policing their supply chains. It’s also prompting discussion in Washington about strengthening slavery disclosure rules for businesses. The story below includes comments from Free the Slaves Director of Programs Karen Stauss, a key proponent of stronger disclosure requirements.
U.S. investigators are conducting a preliminary inquiry into forced child labor used in an organic and fair-trade cotton program that supplies the American lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret, a federal law enforcement official confirmed this week.
Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, Limited Brands (LTD) Inc., said in an e-mailed statement yesterday that it continues “to take this matter very seriously as we do not tolerate child labor.” Those practices were disclosed in a Dec. 15 Bloomberg News report about the program the company buys from in Burkina Faso. Fairtrade International, the Bonn-based organization that certified the cotton, said in a statement last week that it has“prioritised further training on child labour and child protection for its members” beginning in early 2012.
The U.K.’s International Slavery Museum recently released the Contemporary Slavery Teachers’ Resource, which will educate students in England and Wales about modern day slavery and how they may take informed action against it. It is hoped that this monumental educational material will be embraced and disseminated by teachers worldwide.
The International Slavery Museum opened on August 23, 2007, the bicentenary of the abolition of the British slave trade. Located in Liverpool’s Albert Dock, just yards away from where 18th century slave trading ships once stood, the museum highlights the historic and contemporary significance of slavery in an international context.
“Our aim is to address ignorance and misunderstanding by looking at the deep and permanent impact of slavery and the slave trade on Africa, South America, the USA, the Caribbean and Western Europe. Thus we will increase our understanding of the world around us,” said Dr. David Fleming, Director of National Museums Liverpool.
Although officially abolished, slavery has not vanished; rather, it is rampant and affects 27 million people today. The new Teachers’ Resource will educate students aged 10 to 14 in England and Wales on contemporary slavery as part of their education in Citizenship, which informs students on social justice issues and emphasizes the importance of human rights and responsibilities.
This exciting resource includes key terms, descriptions of the various forms of slavery, case studies and testimonies, human rights legislation, worksheets, and a list of the world’s notable campaigns, among which is Free the Slaves. Free the Slaves has contributed photographs, slavery survivor transcripts, and other resources to the material.
If you or someone you know is interested in educating today’s youth on slavery, access the downloadable Teachers’ Resource here!
Slavery can be defeated within the next 25 years, if everyone is engaged and joins this collaborative effort for freedom.