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. AOL. “Kevin Bales: Slavery in the Modern Age.”
2. Associated Press. “Jada Pinkett Smith appears before Congress; speaks against human trafficking.”
3. Philadelphia Inquirer. “Ukrainian gets life sentence for trafficking workers in the US.”
4. NY Times. “China-Police Crack Down on Child Trafficking Rings.”
5. The Hindu. “39 children rescued from traffickers.”
6. WSJ. “SEC May Toughen Proposal on Minerals Tied to Violence.”
7. CNN. “Teen’s brothel escape triggers Mexico Clampdown.”
8. NY Times. “Human Trafficking Report Adds Syria to Failure List.”
9. Dallas Morning News. “SMU Conference Focuses on Innovative Ways to Fight Child Sex Trafficking.”
10. GMA News. “Poverty one of the biggest obstacles in PHL’s fight vs. human trafficking.”
CNN’s Freedom Project has just posted powerful coverage of Mauritania, the last country on Earth to formally outlaw slavery.
“On this land, everybody is exploited,” one source told CNN. Only one slaveholder has been successfully prosecuted since slavery was criminalized in 2007, CNN reports.
CNN’s team produced a moving 23-minute documentary and companion article featuring FTS co-founder Kevin Bales, who traveled undercover to Mauritania for his groundbreaking book Disposable People.
CNN’s documentary coverage is a rare look into a little-covered corner of West Africa.
Free the Slaves co-founder Kevin Bales was on CNN last Friday. He was interviewed by Richard Quest about the state of slavery in the cocoa industry. Just over 10 years ago, in September 2001, Free the Slaves helped broker the historic Harkin-Engel Protocol.
Otherwise known as the “Cocoa Protocol,” the agreement marked the first time in the 250-year history of the anti-slavery movement that a global industry took responsibility for slavery in its supply chain. Chocolate companies, several NGOs, international labor organizations, Senator Harkin, Representative Engel, and the governments of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire all signed on.
The agreement was inspired by a growing awareness of slavery and other human rights abuses on the cocoa farms of West Africa. Free the Slaves helped shed light on these abuses in the Peabody award-winning documentary, “Slavery: A Global Investigation” which aired in 2001.
In the CNN interview above, Kevin Bales reflects on what has happened in the 10 years since the protocol was signed:
“I was proud to sign it and not least because there is something historic about an entire industry coming together to pool their funds to address the issue of child slavery and adult slavery in cocoa… But I am disappointed. To a large part it’s a resource question. It’s about the fact that while several million dollars a year are moving from the chocolate industry into work on the ground in West Africa, it’s simply not enough to meet the size of the problem… I believe that any time anyone happens to be in slavery, that’s a serious problem.”
Bales added that, while it is important to continue to pressure the chocolate industry to keep their supply chains free of slavery, there are other cocoa-using industries—like cosmetics and food manufacturers—that have not “taken part in dealing with the problem in their source material.”
“Not My Life” a documentary by oscar-nominated director Robert Bilheimer airs Saturday and Sunday at 7pm. Be sure to tune in to see our very own Kevin Bales.
CNN covered how Free the Slaves staff and partners work to alleviate modern-day slavery despite challenges like extreme poverty. Ghana director Emmanuel Otoo shares his gratitude for his mother’s choices and his motivation to continue his work. “We observe a lot of situations currently where out of poverty, out of need, out of desire to give their children the basic necessities, parents tend to traffic their children – give them out or sell them out,” he told CNN. “So I compare this to our relationship with our mother that in spite of the difficult times, in spite of the lack, the need, and the want, she did not give us out. She could’ve done that, but she did not.” The story also touches on our recent trip to Congo. You can find the report on the extent of slavery in the Congo mines and the full video here