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.
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.
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 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.”
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. The 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.
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.
Slavery is one of the greatest injustices of our time. We all know it. But what can you do?
You can join a new campaign called End It, which has partnered with Free the Slaves and several other groups.
End It is a two-month project that reminds young adults –and everyone else — that getting involved does not mean spending tons of cash. You can fight slavery through social media, local or national government, or by ringing the alarm bell of awareness.
End It will also shine a light on slavery with a tour to select college campuses and special-event days nationwide.
No more bondage. No more sex trafficking. No more child laborers. Starting today, Feb 1st. Check out their launch video below.