Free the Slaves’ college chapter coordinator Laura Murphy has been doing an awesome job recruiting and maintaining the FTS presence in schools. (If you haven’t already, check out our new “students” page on our website to find out how you can make your own student chapter).
When she’s not managing FTS’ student chapters, Laura is a professor at Loyola University in New Orleans. And, she has told us, her favorite class to teach is a freshman seminar called “Slavery and Abolition in the 21st Century.” As part of this seminar, Laura has created a blog—called, appropriately, “Slavery in the 21st Century.”
The blog is updated with four new posts every Thursday. The articles will be used as discussion points in Laura’s seminar. But, you don’t have to attend her classes to be educated—and intrigued—by the information. A recent post tackled the issue of rehabilitation—once enslaved people find freedom, how do they move forward? How can society, the rule of law support their freedom?
It’s a good read. And we’ll do our best to keep you, the wider FTS audience, up-to-date with the latest on the Loyola blog!
Also, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the Loyola New Orleans Free the Slaves chapter! You can check out their facebook page here. And, while you’re at it, join the Free the Slaves student Facebook page as well!
Here’s the latest from the “Slavery in the 21st Century” blog, written by Molly Alper:
It’s a Man’s WorldChina’s one-child policy was originally created to help minimize China’s already dense population. Created in 1979, it limited each family to only raising one son or daughter. Although successful in limiting the population, this policy has triggered an increase in the child sex trafficking industry. With government officials turning a blind eye, and the policy holding strong today, many female children are left without answers and looking for help.
China’s long withstanding traditions and cultures have always placed more emphasis on the importance of men. Men are viewed as a key factor in helping care for their elders, and also can carry on the family name. Due to this gender discrimination, many families are choosing to raise males rather than females. Chai ling, founder of the group “All Girls Allowed” explains how this policy affects the families’ gender selection in children by saying “some families are taking this matter into their own hands by selectively aborting, abandoning, and selling their baby girls” And the sex trafficking industry is more than willing to pick up these children.
Vice President Joe Biden will address modern-day slavery: Human trafficking on agenda for U.S. vice president’s trip to Moldova, Russia:
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden plans to address the issue of human trafficking on his visit to Moldova and Russia next week, a White House official said Friday.
“That is a subject I am quite certain he will bring up,” said U.S. National Security Advisor to the Vice President Tony Blinken.
“It’s an issue that this administration is very focused on, has deep concerns about and is something that we bring up when relevant wherever we go, so I expect it will be on his agenda,” he said on a conference call with reporters Friday, in response to a question from Xinhua.
Here’s an interesting story out of Hong Kong: A group of wealthy, corporate professionals take their business acumen, and apply it to ending slavery. Asia One has a feature on The Mekong Club, an exclusive band of moneymakers, whose mission is to marry “the strengths of the private sector with the expertise of the counter trafficking community.”
The article quotes Matthew Friedman, regional manager for the UN’s Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking (UNIAP): “Trafficking happens within the realm of bad business, of rotten business. So who better to address fixing this than the private sector?”
Here is the article, (via Asia One):
From Boardroom Battles to Beating Slavery
An estimated 9.5 million people across Asia are victims of human traffickers. Now a United Nations team is enlisting wealthy professionals from Hong Kong to help tackle the misery of modern-day slavery and sexual exploitation, reports Simon Parry.
By day, they are among Hong Kong’s most high-powered professionals – bankers, accountants, lawyers and telecom professionals who command stratospheric salaries and look out at Victoria Harbour from boardrooms high in the city’s most imposing skyscrapers.
Outside office hours, however, they have a very different mission. They’re preparing to become secret agents who will use their expertise, their contacts, their resources and their brainpower to fight the scourge of human trafficking which claims millions of victims across Asia.
The wretched lives of the trafficked people the “city slickers” have pledged to help could hardly be more different than their own. But already dozens of executives have agreed to use their considerable influence to combat an evil that destroys lives across the region.
These necessarily anonymous executives are the first members of the Mekong Club – a newly formed group set up by a United Nations task force to harness the financial muscle, brain power and expertise of Hong Kong professionals into the war on human trafficking.
At a series of meetings earlier in February, executives from five major legal companies and three telecom companies as well as large financial brokerages pledged support to the project which will provide finance and brain power to help bring traffickers to justice.
When it begins its work in earnest, the Mekong Club is expected to parachute top lawyers in to tackle court cases around the region, to draw on the financial expertise of its members to trace traffickers’ cash trails, and to use telecom experts to set up trans-border hotlines for victims.
It is estimated that up to 20,000 children in China are kidnapped every year. Some are sold to gangs to be used as beggars, others to families who don’t have a son but want one. Most are never recovered.
[Kidnapped child] little Lele’s family… found help from Deng Fei, a journalist, who has a massive following on the internet.
Twitter-type microblogs took off in popularity in China last year. Well over 100 million people now use them. Deng Fei tweeted Lele’s picture to his two million followers. Someone saw it and spotted the boy in Jiangsu province, 2,000km away from where he was kidnapped.
So Lele’s father headed there. Overcome with emotion he waited outside the police station as officers went to investigate the sighting. They returned with his son.
Peng Gaofeng shouted the boy’s name. Lele replied: “That man crying is my father.” It was all filmed and tweeted live by journalist Deng Fei.
Inside the police station Peng Gaofeng called his wife to tell her the news, breaking down in sobs as he told her the boy had been found. Then he clutched Lele close and told him: “No matter where you go, I will find you.”
A new online campaign to publish photographs of child beggars is helping to reunite children who have been kidnapped with their families.
On Thursday, the Ministry announced that people can call the number 110 if they believe that a child has been a victim of human trafficking and made to beg. The campaign was initiated by Professor Yu Jianrong of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
The police’s decision to involve ordinary citizens in anti-trafficking activities comes after the January 25 launch of a similar initiative by online bloggers and internet communities. Professor Jianrong has urged ordinary citizens to take picture of children they suspect of being forced to beg and posting them on micro-blogs.
Free the Slaves Policy and Research Associate Jody Sarich is featured on Big Think today, speaking about her research on forced marriage and its relation to slavery and human trafficking in China. With FTS President Kevin Bales, Sarich is currently writing the first ever book on forced marriage worldwide.
In many cases, forced marriages subject women and girls to conditions indistinguishable from those recognized by international and domestic laws as modern-day slavery. Although the U.N. Slavery Convention called servile marriage a “practice similar to slavery” over half a century ago, the enslavement of women into forced marriages remains one of the least understood (and most misunderstood) forms of modern slavery today.
Sarich and Bales’ groundbreaking book seeks to change that. They will show how the enslavement of women can be hidden within the institution of marriage—and what can be done to stop it. Through the voices of women and girls themselves, they will show how once-enslaved “brides” have found lasting freedom.
In March, Sarich will travel to South Africa to meet with survivors and local organizations—watch this space for updates!
Here is Jody Sarich’s interview with Big Think:
As many as 24 million Chinese men will be unable to find wives in 2020, say experts. In some areas there are already as many as 130 men for every 100 women. This gender gap, just one of the many consequences of China’s one-child policy, is driving many of the country’s men to look for wives through forced marriage and human trafficking.
Jody Sarich, an anti-slavery researcher and advocate, is currently writing a book on forced marriage with former Big Think expert Kevin Bales. Sarich told Big Think that while exact numbers aren’t available, studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that slavery and human trafficking are already huge problems in China.
“There is a great demand for women, especially in poor, rural areas,” says Sarich. “Certainly the gender gap is a major factor, but it is one factor among several that work together to make it such a problem in China. Working alongside that is the fact that there’s been a great increase in women’s economic empowerment and desire for education in China. So you have fewer women overall as well as more women who are choosing to be educated and to have jobs. In many cases they don’t see it as compatible to be married and work, so the women who do exist aren’t necessarily marrying at the same rate.
“An additional pillar of what is leading this problem in China, especially for foreign brides, is China’s policy of repatriating foreign women who are discovered—even though they’re victims of trafficking,” she says. And for women from North Korea, repatriation means a sentence to North Korean labor camps, which Sarich likens to concentration camps. This fear of repatriation makes trafficked women all the more vulnerable and keeps them from coming forward, she says. And there is now a generation of children born from these forced marriages who are also illegal and must remain invisible to the government. “These children are equally vulnerable to all sorts of exploitation, especially the girls but also the boys and young men,” says Sarich.
This week, the Global Post published a great article about human trafficking in Ruili, a city on the Chinese side of the border with Myanmar. The article, written Kathleen E. McLaughlin, says that China’s one child policy is fueling trafficking of women from poorer neighboring countries like North Korea and Myanmar into forced marriages.
Recently, we reported from a congressional hearing in which North Korean defectors spoke of being trafficked upon landing on Chinese soil. And worse yet, arrested and sent back to North Korea, where they were tortured. (Read ’90% of North Korean Defectors Sold to Chinese Traffickers, Advocate Says’). China is currently on the Tier 2 watch list on the latest Trafficking in Persons Report. And the Chinese government has made several high profile human trafficking busts in recent months (like this, this and this).
But critics, such as Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) have said that China does not comply with the minimum standards prescribed by the Trafficking Victims Protections Act.
Read McLaughlin’s report (via Global Post):
At least 10,000 women from Myanmar live and work in the Ruili area, with varying degrees of legal status. Many are maids and nannies. Many more work in the sex trade. This is a hub of prostitution, and foreign women are both exotic — a big draw for Chinese men — and cheaper than Chinese girls. Prostitution halls are often disguised as massage parlors, but the sex trade is barely hidden.
Women lured from Myanmar to China fill a gap created by this country’s one-child policy and cultural preference for sons. By 2020, an estimated 35 million Chinese men will be unable to find wives. Increasingly, bachelors buy women from poorer countries like Myanmar and North Korea.
Watch video of the report after the jump!