Katie Ford is no stranger to those in the fashion world, and is no stranger to Free the Slaves. Made famous by her family’s modeling agency, Ford Models, Katie made the transition from CEO to abolitionist after attending a U.N. human trafficking conference in 2008.
She’s featured this month in Vogue’s annual age issue, explaining her decision and how fighting slavery has changed her life.
“I could think of so many things to do to stop trafficking because of the parallels to how we brought models into the U.S.,” Katie says in the story. “I had this weird set of knowledge about immigration law, a very distinct skill set that not many people have. I thought, I’ve go to do this. It became all-consuming.”
Katie has helped Free the Slaves as a Global Ambassador. She has accompanied our staff on a trip to Ghana. It was there that she met a young slavery survivor, Abeiku, and was faced with the harsh reality of child labor in the Ghanaian fishing industry. Katie went on to help us create a PSA with Ford Models and later founded the Katie Ford Foundation, which has been instrumental in creating targeted change to bring an end to slavery in our world.
Vogue’s article on Katie, “Doing Good at 56: The Ford Factor,” features Free the Slaves partners Reporter Brasil and JEEVIKA, and the work that they’re doing on the ground. Katie’s dedication to ending modern slavery is inspiring, as it demonstrates the ways that activism can manifest itself in our lives.
As Free the Slaves Co-founder Kevin Bales describes: “Many activists are long on passion but short on strategy and organization. Katie’s got the skills of the business world combined with a sense of style.”
Be sure to pick up Vogue’s August issue and read it for yourself!
A brief article appeared over the weekend in The Palm Beach Post with the headline: “Human trafficking becoming epidemic in Florida.” The piece was likely a response to the recent rash of modern day slavery arrests reported in the sunshine state. All but one of these news stories involve undocumented migrants, lured into the US with promises of work—but forced into slavery. Many of the victims were hidden in plain sight, afraid to get help for fear of deportation or retaliation from their captors.
Here are some of the recent reports of modern day slavery in Florida:
- Earlier this month, six men in Jacksonville were charged with sex trafficking of a 15-year old runaway girl. The minor was able to escape, and report the crime to the police.
- Three people were arrested in Alachua County for trafficking 34 Haitian workers into Florida. The laborers were forced into debt and made to work on farms, their passports confiscated upon arrival.
- A report in The St. Petersburg Times, opened with a story about a Guatemalan woman who was brought to Clearwater, Florida ostensibly to work as a maid. Instead, she was sex trafficked. Her captors warned her not to escape, because police “will show you no mercy.” Clearwater Police Chief said this case demonstrates how undocumented immigrants, trafficked into slavery, victims are unlikely “to report the crime. That’s how you breed these organized crimes.”
- Two sisters from Honduras were trafficked into a Palm Beach nightclub, where they were forced into sex slavery. Authorities investigated the club after an anonymous tipster called the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hot line.
To learn more about identifying domestic slavery, download our pamphlet, “Slavery Still Exists and it Could Be in Your Backyard: a community member’s guide to fighting human trafficking and slavery” here.
If you suspect a case of modern day slavery, please call the Human Trafficking Information and Referral Hotline, toll free: (888) 373-7888.