FTS frontline work is focused on community organizing, and our partners in Ghana are no strangers to doing it effectively. One technique is to form a “CCPC,” a Child Community Protection Committee. These community watchdog groups protect children from various forms of slavery.
The CCPCs are comprised of community-chosen members, often well-respected local leaders and reflective of the diversity of the community. This approach has been used successfully on a large scale to greatly reduce cases of child labor in the cocoa industry.
On my recent trip to Ghana, I visited several CCPCs along with our partner organization Challenging Heights (started by Freedom Award winner James Kofi Annan). I was thrilled to see what these groups had accomplished in a short time.
One CCPC had particularly amazing stories to share. In the Kyenkyiso community in the coastal town of Senya, committee members (seen in these photos) were waiting anxiously for us to arrive. Among them: the community chief and his advisors, a government assemblyman, and the leader of a local women’s group.
A young girl represented the children of the community. She appeared shy and was silent as we spoke to the adults; but when we asked her what she had been doing in her CCPC role, a huge grin crossed her face. She lit up as she told us about the after-school meetings she led with other children, where they discuss the dangers of being trafficked and how to protect themselves from it.
The CCPC members had gone door-to-door to speak with community members about the importance of keeping their children in school, and advise them how to avoid falling victim to empty promises from traffickers that their children will be cared for if sent away.
This resulted in greatly increased school enrollment rates– so high that one CCPC member had given up a room in her house as a space for the school because they couldn’t fit all the students in the classroom!
But the most astounding accomplishment of this CCPC was that after receiving a tip-off, several members managed to stop a night bus traveling to Yeji (the town most trafficked children cross through before reaching their destination of enslavement). The CCPC cornered the bus driver, demanding to know why 25 of the 40 passengers on the bus were children ranging from 5 to 12 years old. Not having a good answer, the driver was forced to let the children off. They were taken home and are being closely monitored by the CCPC.
Fortunately, the Kyenkyiso CCPC is just one of many shining examples of the community work that FTS supports around the world.
Voters in California this November will be deciding more than whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney will be president. They’ll have a chance to send a message to traffickers. The CASE Act has qualified for the ballot.
If approved, the anti-trafficking initiative will strengthen penalties against human traffickers and online predators, require sex traffickers to register as sex offenders, mandate training on human trafficking for police officers, and require that criminal fines from convicted traffickers be used to pay for services for sex slavery survivors.
Organizers collected nearly 900,000 signatures to qualify the CASE Act for the ballot. The initiative’s name is short for Californians Against Sexual Exploitation. The group notes that three California cities — San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego — are recognized by the FBI as high-intensity child sex trafficking areas.
A powerful new video series is exposing modern-day slavery in places where it is extraordinarily difficult to document. Filmmakers from the company “Good Morning Beautiful” have captured dramatic human stories of slavery in Burma, North Korea, Thailand and China.
Their project is called “An Invisible World: The Lives of Slaves in Modern Asia.” It is produced by Radio Free Asia, whose mission is “to bring a free press to closed societies.”
The films profile trafficking survivors, and parents whose children have disappeared into slavery. The stories reveal the complexity of slavery in Asia by exploring how poverty, ethnic discrimination, war and corruption underpin trafficking today. The series reveals how many traffickers target refugee camps, where people are especially vulnerable.
The films are haunting proof that although slavery is illegal everywhere, it happens nearly everywhere.
Lisa Kristine has seen a lot. She’s traveled the world to photograph remote indigenous peoples.
So she was “floored” at a conference when she heard that slavery still exists in the modern world. She’d never seen it in all her journeys.
Or had she?
You can read about Lisa’s journey of discovery in a new article, “Hidden in Plain Sight,” in the latest edition of Spirituality & Health magazine. Lisa describes how the realization that slaves are all around us burned a hole in her stomach and lit a fire in her heart.
Lisa grabbed her camera and visited FTS frontline operations in Ghana, Nepal and India. Her stunning photos came together in the book “Slavery.” It’s available for sale at Lisa’s website. Proceeds benefit Free the Slaves. (Her photo posted with this story shows gold mine slaves in Ghana.)
You should also read the companion article featuring FTS co-founder Peggy Callahan, “Bearing Witness to Modern Slavery.” Peggy describes the early days of forming FTS, and offers ideas for what everyone can do to take a stand against slavery today.
In a landmark vote that may set a global example for getting tough with traffickers, Brazilian lawmakers approved a constitutional amendment this week that allows authorities to confiscate land owned by slaveholders.
FTS supporters helped make this happen, by joining the 61,000 people who signed a global petition urging Brazil to take this trailblazing step.
The move will create a powerful anti-slavery enforcement tool, by targeting “one of the most sacred values of the country’s elite — the sacred right to property,” according to Xavier Plassat of the Pastoral Land Commission, one of FTS’ frontline partner groups in Brazil.
Work on the final wording of the law and the rules to implement it are now underway. The amendment still requires final passage, but observers say the biggest hurdle has been passed with Tuesday’s historic vote by the Brazilian House.
You can learn more in a story by the Associated Press.