A newly recognized form of slavery is gaining attention among activists, thought leaders and philanthropists. It is forced marriage, and it’s a problem in many parts of the world.
FTS Co-founder Kevin Bales will be discussing forced marriage and other aspects of the modern abolition movement next week at the Trust Women conference in London.
This global conference, sponsored by The Thomson Reuters Foundation and the International Herald Tribune, is about “putting the rule of law behind women’s rights.”
You can see a preview of Kevin’s presentation in this short video where he discusses: “Why Slavery is Different for Women.”
Kevin was also featured this week in a Thomson Reuters article called “Slavery Beyond the Sex Trade.”
If you live in the New York area, you know firsthand that climate change is affecting the intensity and frequency of severe storms. What you might not know is that slavery is part of the problem.
You can learn about this connection, and other ways in which slavery creates environmental destruction, during a special presentation on Wednesday by FTS Co-founder Kevin Bales. He’ll be speaking at at event sponsored by Columbia University.
Kevin’s groundbreaking research has sparked and shaped the modern anti-slavery movement. His new work on the slavery-environment connection — including global climate change — underscores that modern-day slavery affects everyone on earth.
Event Details: New York. 6 p.m., James Chapel, Union Theological Seminary, 121st & Broadway.
One of the most important things to happen to the anti-slavery movement in the past decade has been an infusion of resources from philanthropists who’ve decided they don’t want to live in a world with slavery in it.
And no one has been more generous than Pam and Pierre Omidyar.
Their story is featured in the latest edition of Forbes Magazine. The article’s title: “Inside eBay Billionaire Pierre Omidyar’s Battle to end Human Trafficking.”
The story reveals that the Omidyars’ have donated $115 million to their foundation, Humanity United, which in turn funds 85 anti-slavery groups including Free the Slaves. They pledge to invest $50 million more.
The creation of the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), of which FTS is a founding member, has been made possible by funding from Humanity United. ATEST has been instrumental in coordinating the efforts of America’s top anti-slavery groups to advocate for a stronger commitment from the U.S. government.
“Having the Omidyars’ names attached to the cause has helped legitimize it,” FTS co-founder Kevin Bales says in the Forbes article. “If you want a politician to pay attention to anything, put a billionaire’s name on it.”
Read more in Forbes about how a billionaire’s optimism (“all people are basically good,” says Pierre) has helped kick start the effort to free slaves worldwide.
President Barack Obama today outlined several steps his administration will take to strengthen the U.S. government’s efforts to battle slavery.
The plan follows a simple philosophy, the president said: “Spot it and stop it.”
- An executive order issued today that prohibits human trafficking by government contractors and provides federal investigators with tools to crack down on violators.
- Training for law enforcement, immigration judges and others to help spot trafficking victims, and to treat them as victims instead of criminals.
- A $6 million partnership with Humanity United and the Goldman Sachs Foundation to spur innovation in local communities to help trafficking survivors.
- Streamlining T-visa procedures so that trafficking survivors aren’t quickly deported after being rescued.
- A new annual presidential award for exceptional contributions to the anti-slavery movement.
- Development of a national action plan to strengthen victim services, and a domestic slavery tracking study to spot trends in U.S. trafficking.
Mr. Obama announced these actions to fight slavery at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York. See the speech here. He did not shy away from using the “S” word to characterize slavery for what it is.
“It’s a debasement of our common humanity,” the president said. “It ought to concern every community, because it tears at the social fabric. It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name: modern slavery.”
The White House also announced that the administration’s efforts augment other developments discussed at this year’s CGI gathering. These include:
- A Global Business Coalition Against Trafficking that will work business-to-business to mobilize corporate efforts to fight slavery in supply chains.
- A trafficking “toolkit” from the U.S. Travel Association to create awareness in the travel and tourism industry.
- A campus challenge to raise awareness and inspire activism.
- A Johns Hopkins university research partnership to focus on child sex trafficking.
- A Made in a Free World initiative to help buyers and suppliers identify and eliminate slavery-tainted materials in corporate supply chains.
FTS co-founder Kevin Bales welcomes the high level attention that slavery is receiving.
“How many slave-made goods are flowing into our lives is still unknown, but no consumer thinks slavery is a bargain,” says Bales. “It’s time for leaders in the Global Business Coalition Against Trafficking to dig deep into their supply chains and work for a slave-free world. At the same time, the president and Congress should enact the Business Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act, to ensure that all businesses, not just business leaders, have to report on what if anything they’re doing to address slavery in their own operations.”
President Obama received strong applause during his remarks about modern day slavery. “It is barbaric and it is evil,” he noted, “and it has no place in a civilized world.”
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.