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.
Editor’s Note: Slavery survivor Timea Nagy now helps others escape enslavement on the streets of Canada. She is a recipient of a Free the Slaves Freedom Award for her heroic resilience and ongoing commitment to others. Her group, Walk with Me, has recently released a powerful music video, which we thought you should see. We asked Timea to say in her own words how the video came to be.
As the winter months say farewell, warm weather seems to be right on the horizon. Unfortunately, the coming of summer will bring with it a rise in human trafficking in Canada. Sex slavery will return to the streets, and Walk With Me is making a great effort to raise awareness.
Walk With Me Canadian Victim Services is a survivor-led organization dedicated to raising awareness and providing education about slavery, delivering and coordinating services to support survivors, and advocating action for change. We have trained and assisted more than 60,000 law enforcement personnel across Canada since 2009. Our organization has been involved in big cases such as Project OPAPA, assisting 22 victims in Canada’s largest human trafficking case to date.
The battle against human trafficking is now starting to enlist Canadian musicians and dancers. “Break the Silence” — a song written and performed by Francois Mudler, a young, talented Canadian artist – illustrates the struggles of people exploited by human trafficking.
Hearing Francois’ voice had been one of my personal coping and healing mechanisms when I would feel overwhelmed by work or by flashbacks from my past. I was fortunate to actually meet him. Francois then read my book, “Memoirs of a Sex Slave Survivor,” and said he would be happy to write a song to expand public understanding. The dancer in the video is a young artist, who came to our first fundraising gala last year and asked to volunteer any time we need help.
The song was recorded last September. Every single story in the video is real, and permission was granted by those involved in the cases to include their stories. The idea is for anyone to be able to use the video. It has been launched as a public service announcement, aiming to raise awareness all over the world. Funds that are generated will be used to keep providing services for victims of human trafficking.
Trickery cuts a wide swath in India’s impoverished communities. People often leave home in search of work, and many find themselves being trafficked instead.
FTS frontline partner MSEMVS aims to change that. And young people are at the heart of the strategy. The goal of the Trafficking Prevention Plan is to stop migration from becoming a road to slavery.
To do that, MSEMVS targets schools in some of India’s most vulnerable villages. Using case studies, posters and pamphlets, they teach students about the risks of migration and the realities of human trafficking.
With millions of people on the move worldwide, it’s easy for traffickers to pose as legitimate labor recruiters. Students are now being taught the warning signs so they won’t fall victim when they grow up.
The events are organized as mass meetings, with 250 to 300 students per site. To make the lesson stick, the approach is interactive. It’s not a lecture. Students discuss ways that they can become agents of change in their own communities.
Organizers provide a telephone hotline number and leave a “Report Box” at schools for anonymous tip-offs about suspicious activities that might be related to trafficking.
It’s working. At one location, students provided more than 30 tips for community organizers to investigate.
This educational initiative is one reason that more and more people are escaping slavery at farms, brick kilns, brothels and factories. MSEMVS reports that in 2012 they helped nearly 800 people move from slavery to freedom.
Learn more about our India program on the FTS website.
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:
Administration officials have been asking anti-slavery activists for several months if there is more that the U.S. government can do to combat slavery. In partnership with our colleagues in the ATEST coalition of leading U.S. human rights organizations, FTS has suggested a wide range of policy initiatives.
Last week, FTS co-founder Kevin Bales also outlined important steps that the U.S. can take, in his FTS Blog “memo” to Abraham Lincoln. For the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, Kevin suggested things Lincoln could do about modern slavery if he were alive today.
It’s not clear just which ideas President Obama might endorse today. White House aides say his strategy on human rights has two key pillars: protecting human dignity and leading by example. We’ll learn today how Mr. Obama might translate those ideals into action.
Combating slavery has long been a bipartisan effort bringing elected officials together even in polarized times. The first Trafficking Victims Protection Act was passed during the Clinton administration, and it has been strengthened and reauthorized multiple times during the Bush presidency. Proposals for fighting trafficking are included in both the 2012 Republican and Democratic party platforms.
The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) has also been an incubator for partnerships to fight slavery. The annual conference brings together activists, thought leaders, corporate executives, philanthropists and government officials to seek ways to tackle worldwide problems. At the 2009 CGI gathering, Clinton himself endorsed the FTS blueprint for change, the Kevin Bales book “Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves.”
“It’s a problem we can solve, and here’s how to do it,” Clinton said while holding up a copy of Kevin’s book.