There’s a terrific online opportunity today at 1 p.m. ET to learn about the loosely regulated world of international labor recruiters, and what needs to be done to stop traffickers from posing as legitimate labor brokers.
With millions of people on the move from poorer countries to wealthier ones, looking for a chance to build a better life and send money back home, conditions are perfect for traffickers to pretend that they are legitimate labor recruiters. One activist says there’s a “Wild West” atmosphere in parts of the labor recruiting industry, allowing traffickers to operate openly, without fear.
Today at 1 p.m. ET, the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) will present a half-hour webcast and online discussion forum to raise awareness about the problem and potential solutions.
“Hidden in Bondage: Labor Intermediaries and Human Trafficking”
Wednesday, May 1, 1:oo p.m. ET.
ATEST experts will be joined by a survivor of labor trafficking to discuss the ways in which labor intermediaries not only facilitate, but also engage in human trafficking for sex slavery, domestic servitude and other forms of forced labor slavery.
The interactive webcast will explore the exploitative recruitment practices used by labor intermediaries, the potential regulations to prevent abuses, and the solutions to hold traffickers accountable.
As a participant, you will be able to chat live with our panelists throughout the event. Please note that you do not have to register in order to attend. Simply click on the link the day and time of the event, and you’ll be set!
Labor recruiters are often complicit or directly involved in the trafficking of workers. Last week, U.S. senators introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill, S. 744, which incorporates provisions that strengthen regulations of foreign labor recruiters for the prevention of human trafficking and forced labor slavery.
Today is May Day throughout the world, a day of international recognition of workers. A good way to spend one hour of your May Day could be to learn the latest on ways to protect workers from becoming slaves.
The U.S. Senate has reauthorized the cornerstone legislation that guides the federal government’s efforts to combat human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
Reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. It happened on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, no less.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) proposed that the TVPA be attached as an amendment to the Violence Against Women Act yesterday morning. Senators approved Leahy’s amendment by a vote of 93 to 5. A short while later, the Senate approved the combined bill with another strong bipartisan vote.
“We’re delighted that the TVPA and Violence Against Women Act could pass the Senate together, because gender-based violence and modern-day slavery are often closely related,” says FTS Executive Director Maurice Middleberg.
“Reauthorizing the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) sends important signals worldwide. It says that the United States is still committed to ending human trafficking at home and abroad. It tells those in slavery that they have a partner in the American government and the American people. It tells traffickers that we haven’t lost our resolve,” Middleberg says.
Senate approval came after a rapid and comprehensive mobilization of anti-trafficking supporters throughout the country. Many organizations, including Free the Slaves, sent action alerts to get supporters to phone, e-mail, tweet and petition their senators.
It worked. Thousands of people signed a petition or contacted their senators to let them know that fighting slavery is important to voters. Senator Leahy helped marshal Democratic support.
“Today is February 12, the day on which Abraham Lincoln was born,” Leahy said in a public statement. “It was 150 years ago that he delivered the Emancipation Proclamation and it would be fitting that the Senate pass the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act on his birthday. Although the 13th amendment to our Constitution was ratified long ago making slavery illegal, we continue to fight human trafficking,” he wrote.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) helped rally Republican votes.
“We applaud Senators Leahy and Rubio for their bipartisan leadership and commitment to ending modern-day slavery,” says David Abramowitz, Director of the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking ATEST and Vice President for Policy & Government Relations of Humanity United.
“We urge the House of Representatives to show similar bipartisan cooperation to move a bill quickly to a vote and onto President Obama’s desk,” Abramowitz says.
The president has indicated he will sign the bill.
The TVPA was first passed in 2000 to authorize a wide range of federal action to combat slavery at home and abroad — from prosecuting traffickers, to providing shelter for slavery survivors, to preventing vulnerable people from enslavement in the first place.
It must be reauthorized every few years.
Now, it’s onto the House. Free the Slaves will need to demonstrate public support for the bill to House members, just as we did in the Senate.
Thanks to everyone who helped move TVPA through the Senate.
Stay tuned – we’ll let you know when it’s time to mobilize again for final passage in the House.
Today brings a new tool that can help. The Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) has released a path breaking report, called “Beyond SB 657: How Businesses Can Meet and Exceed California’s Requirements to Prevent Forced Labor in Supply Chains.”
The title refers to the first-in-the-nation law that requires major manufactures and retailers in California to investigate and disclose what the company is doing to end human trafficking and slavery within their supply chains.
This pioneering law is viewed as a model for national action for all major companies throughout the U.S.
ATEST estimates that approximately 3,200 businesses will be required to comply with SB 657. “If California were a separate country, California’s economy would be in the top 10 largest economies worldwide. Effective efforts to eliminate human trafficking in supply chains of companies doing business in the state could prevent untold numbers of people worldwide from being trapped into what is essentially modern slavery,” says David Abramowitz, Director of ATEST and Vice President, Policy and Government Relations, Humanity United.
“This report aims to make it easier for companies to comply and even go beyond California’s requirements to eliminate forced labor in supply chains and we hope it will serve as a model for action by all companies committed to having modern sourcing practices that avoid human trafficking.”
In the coming months, ATEST will release results of on-going research on hundreds of company disclosures in order to demonstrate how the law is—and is not—leading to changes in corporate practice around trafficking. Free the Slaves is a founding member of the ATEST coalition.
Here are three things you can do today to help fight modern-day slavery.
1. Get Smart. Read-up on the very latest developments in the global movement to end modern day slavery. FTS Co-founder Kevin Bales helps present a situation report on slavery’s global comeback in the December issue of the Atlantic. The article features the stunning photography of Lisa Kristine, who visited FTS projects in Nepal, India and Ghana to document the human face of slavery today. You can see Lisa talk about her experiences on TED. Also, today on the CNN Freedom Project webpage, there’s a great op-ed by David Abramowitz of the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), the coalition of leading U.S. anti-slavery groups that includes Free the Slaves. Sign up for the FTS blog RSS feed, so you’ll know when there’s important news, or friend us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Buy FTS books that will deepen your understanding of how slavery today can be ended.
2. Get Active: Contact your U.S. Senators and representative in the U.S. House, and ask that they support reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). This law is the cornerstone of the federal government’s anti-slavery work. The 112th Congress ended last week without renewing this vital commitment to those trapped in modern slavery. We owe it to those victims – and to the many abolitionists who fought and died in the past to outlaw slavery in America – to keep up the fight. A bill to reauthorize the TVPA in the current 113th Congress will be introduced soon. But it’s never too early to let your elected representatives know that this is important. Background on the bill is here. Sign up for FTS newsletters and action alerts so you can stay in the loop.
3. Get Vocal. Share this blog post with your friends, family, coworkers and others. Bring up the subject of modern-day slavery on a coffee break, or at a dinner party, or while you watch the Golden Globes award show Sunday night and the movie Lincoln comes up. (Outlawing slavery didn’t end it. We must finish what Lincoln started.) Let people know that the Free the Slaves website is a valuable repository of facts, maps, history, research papers, films, interviews with slavery survivors, lesson plans for teachers, and more.
Lastly, if you haven’t already done so, please donate to Free the Slaves. Spreading the word that slavery still exists is vital, but so is the innovative community empowerment work that FTS does to help slaves break free and stay free.
If you aren’t able to take action today, no worries. The entire month of January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month (it began with the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, and it ends on February 1 with the 148th anniversary of the 13th Amendment — which enshrined abolition into the U.S. Constitution).
Thanks for taking initiative today – and beyond!
A roadmap to strengthen America’s efforts to combat modern slavery was delivered to the White House today. It’s called “The Path to Freedom.”
It’s filled with dozens of specific recommendations for the Obama administration’s second term. The report was prepared by the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) a coalition of leading anti-slavery groups, including Free the Slaves.
“The U.S. has been a global leader in fighting trafficking, but the number of people in slavery worldwide is the highest it’s ever been,” says FTS programs director Karen Stauss.
“What’s needed is a truly historic effort to end slavery once and for all,” she says. “The ‘Path to Freedom‘ lays out how the Obama administration can shape history by turning the tide on slavery in the next four years.”
In September, the president pledged during a speech at the Clinton Global Initiative to step-up anti-trafficking efforts. He issued an executive order to prevent trafficking by federal contractors, he promised to expand services for victims, and he committed to developing a long-term plan to combat trafficking.
ATEST’s “Path to Freedom” provides comprehensive, detailed steps that Obama can take to deliver on his pledge. These include:
- Begin immediately to work with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to reauthorize the lapsed Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), which provides critical resources and new tools in the fight against human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
- Develop a National Action Plan based on a “whole of government approach” that coordinates all available resources and tools instead of providing piecemeal solutions.
- Back up its commitment to fighting human trafficking and modern-day slavery with a Fiscal Year 2014 budget request that fully funds critical initiatives.
- Partner with willing countries to create innovative, focused and comprehensive approaches to combat human trafficking, forced labor, and other forms of modern-day slavery around the world.
“We hope they’ll answer the call. We’re ready to help,” Stauss says. “An important recommendation we’ve made, especially in the current economic climate, is that funds we are already spending on international development be leveraged to fight slavery and poverty at the same time — many of the same countries are highly vulnerable to both.”
Today’s release of “The Path to Freedom” comes as ATEST unveils its new website, filled with resources to guide policy makers. Check it out: