You’ve seen her posts in the FTS blog. Now you can read the in-depth account of one woman who decided to take action after discovering that child slavery still exists.
The book is called Facing the Monster: How One Person Can Fight Child Slavery. In it, author Carol Metzker describes her moving journey—both physical and emotional—to understand modern slavery, including visits to FTS frontline projects. It’s a deeply personal story about confronting one of the world’s greatest injustices.
“At close range I had to face a real, roaring monster,” Carol writes, “we could no longer deny the existence of the growing beast.”
“Metzker’s compelling chronicle inspires us with the amazing work of today’s liberators and the struggle for healing by slavery survivors,” says FTS Associate Director of Programs Ginny Baumann.
“But perhaps the most important part of her story is to show us that because slavery reaches deeply into all our lives, those same connections allow each of us to be part of the liberation story, and of the ending of slavery,” Ginny says. “We can walk with Metzker through her encounters with slavery, and emerge to take a stand.”
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. “Human Trafficking Case Against Executives is Dismissed.”
2. BBC News. “Fighting Human Trafficking on U.S. Soil.”
3. The New York Times. “Church of Scientology Defeats Human-Trafficking Claims Case.”
4. U.S. Department of Homeland Security Blue Campaign (Blog). “Combatting Human Trafficking, One Step at a Time.”
5. LA Weekly. “Girls Paraded Before Johns in South L.A.; International Sex Trafficking Ring Busted.”
6. WFAA-TV. “Human Trafficking Battle Moves to the ER.”
7. Fox News Latino. “Mexico is a people trafficking ‘paradise,’ expert says.”
8. Citizens Voice. “Spotlight on Human Trafficking in Pennsylvania.”
9. Lexington Herald Leader. “Man sentenced to 15 years in Federal Sex Trafficking Case.”
10. Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law. “Comparative Models of Reporting Mechanisms on the Status of Trafficking in Human Beings.”
When I got the news, I rushed to the site with our local colleagues. I knew that this day would be especially important.
Labor Department authorities were raiding a brick kiln. Freedom was within reach for 27 adults and 24 children.
The raid was triggered by one courageous man, Ram ji (that’s him in the photo below on the right). He had escaped the kiln, and sought advice from a local community vigilance committee (CVC). Part of what a CVC does is to work like a neighborhood watch, keeping traffickers away and strengthening a village’s resistance to slavery.
CVC members explained to Ram ji that everyone could break free from the kiln, if he would go back and prepare them for a rescue. Despite the danger, Ram ji said yes. And his risk paid off.
Freedom came on the hottest day of the season. At first the workers were scared, and when I arrived there was an unusual silence. Many girls and women were hiding in small huts; labor officials were unable to reassure them. When I told the workers that we could ensure their freedom and safety, they gradually began to share their appalling stories. We compelled the authorities to take the whole day to get a statement from everyone (photo below on the left).
“We had been living under the threat of being thrown into the kiln furnace,” one of the women explained. This is what the brick kiln manager would say to them every day.
They had been lured from their village by small up-front payments and promises of good work, but when they arrived at the kiln they were told they were in debt. They were forced into two years of labor without wages. They were beaten almost every day.
As the rescue unfolded, rather than waiting at the kiln for a truck to bring them home, the men and women immediately headed up the road.
As I helped one man pick up his bundle of belongings, he laughed, saying, “I’m running to freedom!” (That’s him in the photo on the right, literally running to freedom.) For a moment, I could feel what this was like: not wanting to lose the opportunity to run away from slavery.
The silence was broken by the excitement of the children who saw their parents rushing to get on the truck. We lifted the small children up inside. Finally the women began to smile.
As I lifted those kids, I knew they would remember this day, and they would never get on another truck to be taken off to slavery.
We escorted the survivors back to their village, where they have now formed a joint savings group to protect each other from future illegal debts.
Many of the children are back in school and many of the adults now have paying jobs.
The brick kiln has been closed.
This story demonstrates not only the courage of one man, but the importance of community vigilance committees. Without them, the slave who initially escaped, Ram ji, would have had no one to turn to. Without the training that the CVC received from FTS and our local partner, MSEMVS, the villagers would not have known what to do. The brick kiln slaves would have remained hidden in slavery – like so many thousands of others in India.
Editor’s note: FTS has supported 10 similar raids on brick kilns in northern India during the past year. You can read more about our innovative and inspiring India projects on the FTS website.
The ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is one of the greatest humanitarian challenges in the world today. And most consumers are connected to the crisis, because valuable minerals from Congo are used in global manufacturing. Many laborers at the mines are slaves.
But there’s good news to report: we’re thrilled that corporations are now taking action to help end the conflict and the slavery it fuels. Major electronics companies, a mining company and a trade association are trying to end human rights abuses and promote peace in the DRC.
Several companies have gone beyond investigating their own supply chains to learn if conflict minerals are in their products. They have participated in talks with the U.S. State Department to encourage the American government to help the DRC create stable and effective governance. Some companies signed a joint letter urging the State Dept. to prioritize peace, security and good governance in Congo. (See the letter on our Congo webpage at the bottom.)
As well, some of these companies are working to mitigate what has become a de facto mining embargo of Africa’s Great Lakes Region. Rather than avoiding minerals from Congo all together, which harms everyone in the region, some corporations and trade associations are supporting projects that will allow minerals to be traced so they can be certified as conflict or slavery free.
The work is proceeding through company efforts and the Public Private Alliance for Responsible Mineral Trade and the Solutions for Hope Project.
Please join us in thanking Advanced Micro Devices, Hewlett-Packard, the Information Technology Industry Council, Intel, Kemet Electronics, Motorola Solutions, Pamoja Minerals, Philips and Research in Motion for their strong stance on bringing peace to the DRC.
And please join the fight to end slavery and conflict in Congo. You can learn more on the FTS website.
Katie Ford is no stranger to those in the fashion world, and is no stranger to Free the Slaves. Made famous by her family’s modeling agency, Ford Models, Katie made the transition from CEO to abolitionist after attending a U.N. human trafficking conference in 2008.
She’s featured this month in Vogue’s annual age issue, explaining her decision and how fighting slavery has changed her life.
“I could think of so many things to do to stop trafficking because of the parallels to how we brought models into the U.S.,” Katie says in the story. “I had this weird set of knowledge about immigration law, a very distinct skill set that not many people have. I thought, I’ve go to do this. It became all-consuming.”
Katie has helped Free the Slaves as a Global Ambassador. She has accompanied our staff on a trip to Ghana. It was there that she met a young slavery survivor, Abeiku, and was faced with the harsh reality of child labor in the Ghanaian fishing industry. Katie went on to help us create a PSA with Ford Models and later founded the Katie Ford Foundation, which has been instrumental in creating targeted change to bring an end to slavery in our world.
Vogue’s article on Katie, “Doing Good at 56: The Ford Factor,” features Free the Slaves partners Reporter Brasil and JEEVIKA, and the work that they’re doing on the ground. Katie’s dedication to ending modern slavery is inspiring, as it demonstrates the ways that activism can manifest itself in our lives.
As Free the Slaves Co-founder Kevin Bales describes: “Many activists are long on passion but short on strategy and organization. Katie’s got the skills of the business world combined with a sense of style.”
Be sure to pick up Vogue’s August issue and read it for yourself!