Saturday, January 30, 2010

Chain Store Reaction

It's time to act! Do the companies you buy products from use slave-free methods? Find out and make sure they are! You'd be surprised at the amount of items in your closet, you kitchen pantry, and throughout your house that have been made by slaves.

Chain Store Reaction: Our working definition of forced labor:Anyone who is forced to work without pay (beyond minimal subsistence), under the threat of violence, being economically exploited and unable to walk away.

All you need to do is choose a store, click to send a pre-made letter, and view the responses! Let's make the companies accountable - NO SLAVE LABOR!

CNN: Child and Organ Trafficking in Haiti

On CNN last night Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive talked to the network's Christiane Amanpour about child trafficking and organ trafficking from victims of the earthquake that struck a few weeks ago.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery

In his book Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Slavery, author Siddharth Kara presents a business and economic analysis of sex trafficking. Though such a study may seem heartless or dehumanizing, Kara argues that analyzing sexual slavery through the lens of economics can reveal short- and long-term solutions to end trafficking, and that, in fact, without this type of analysis intervention attempts may do more harm than good.

Kara, a former investment banker with an MBA from Columbia University, left his corporate career to pursue anti-slavery research and work. He is a board member of Free the Slaves. In his book, he argues that ending sex slavery will necessitate ending the demand for sex slavery, and that the most effective way to decrease demand is to increase risk. He presents suggested ways to increase the risk/cost of slavery to traffickers, and uses basic economic concepts, such as elasticity of demand, to evaluate the effectiveness of anti-trafficking efforts.

Many of Kara's findings are more suggestive than conclusive, which he readily acknowledges. For example, he argues that increasing the costs of using sex slaves will dramatically decrease the demand for these slaves due to the elasticity of demand for commercial sex. Though his conclusion aligns with my own beliefs and the beliefs of many NGOs, the analysis is based on an extremely small sample size that may not be representative. While this example points to some of the challenges in conducting research on human trafficking and its causes, it also points to the need for more research and data.

Kara extensively researched sex trafficking around the world, and he contextualizes his economic analysis within his firsthand interviews with sex trafficking victims and survivors, and his experiences with the market for sex slaves. While many of the most compelling parts of his books spring from these experiences, his analysis of slavery in the United States is somewhat anemic and does not discuss the sex trafficking of US citizens.

Throughout the book, Kara discusses the role that globalization has played in creating situations rife for exploitation and slavery. He demonstrates the ways that governmental policies and corrupt greed help perpetuate human rights abuses and poverty. He argues that vulnerability to trafficking can often be traced to unequal distributions of power and wealth that are only increasing as a result of globalization.

Though his book focuses mainly on sex trafficking, Kara does touch on labor trafficking issues and acknowledges the need for a similar analysis of the business of labor trafficking. Many of his insights about the economic factors that contribute to the demand for slavery and the need to increase the economic costs of slavery for producers and consumers will prove useful in such an analysis. At the same time, the causes of labor trafficking and the factors that fuel its demand are different from sex trafficking, and more research on this form of trafficking is vitally needed.

Kara's research and analysis provide a useful foundation for further efforts to effectively end slavery that is grounded in an understanding of the economic and business realities that fuel this crime.

posted by JenniferKK at The Human Trafficking Project

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Walmart Won’t Buy Cosan Sugar Amid Slavery Blacklist

By Helder Marinho and Lucia Kassai

Jan. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s biggest retailer, suspended a supply contract with Cosan SA Industria & Comercio after the Brazilian sugar maker was added to a government slavery “blacklist.” Cosan said it won an injunction ordering it be removed from the list.

Walmart is the first retailer to come out with sanctions against Cosan after the sugar producer was added Dec. 31 to a Brazilian Labor Ministry’s list of companies whose workers operate in slave-like conditions. Walmart’s local unit said it temporarily suspended purchases of Cosan’s Acucar Uniao and Acucar da Barra sugar brands.

Walmart “vehemently repudiates any practice that does not respect human rights,” the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer said in a statement.

Walmart’s move follows a decision by Brazil’s national development bank BNDES to cut off Cosan from financing. The inclusion on the blacklist means Cosan isn’t eligible for new loans and won’t receive future installments of agreed-to financing, BNDES said yesterday in a statement.


Cosan climbed today in Sao Paulo trading after Agriculture Minister Reinhold Stephanes called the company’s inclusion a “mistake.” Cosan rose 0.9 percent to 23.67 reais, after earlier increasing as much as 3.5 percent.

“Cosan had problems with a contractor three years ago and solved them immediately,” Stephanes said. “It has good practices.”

The slavery blacklist is managed by the Labor Ministry. Stephanes suggested Cosan and Labor Ministry officials meet to discuss its removal from the blacklist.

The Labor Ministry said 42 Cosan workers were found and “liberated” from conditions analogous to slavery. Another 163 employers are also on the ministry blacklist, which was created in 2004 and is updated every six months.

Petroleo Brasileiro SA’s fuel distribution unit, which buys ethanol from Cosan, may consider “restrictions” on the company, a BR Distribuidora spokesman, who couldn’t be named because of company policy, said yesterday. Petrobras is Brazil’s state-controlled oil producer.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Recognize the Signs

Potential Trafficking Indicators

The following is a list of suggested red flags that may be signs of a human trafficking situation of victim. It is important to note that this is not an exhaustive list. Indicators listed are intended only as potential red flags to keep in mind. In addition, each indicator taken individually may not imply a trafficking situation, but when taken with other indicators, may cumulatively paint a larger picture of human trafficking. Lastly, many of these indicators apply to victims of both transnational and local trafficking as well as both sex and labor trafficking.

Potential Indicators include individuals who:

■Have few or no personal possessions
■Travel through town frequently
■Have few or no personal financial records
■Ask about their whereabouts and/or do not know what city they are in
■Are not in control of their own identification documents (ID or passport)
■Owe a large debt and are not able to pay it off
■Have their communication restricted or controlled. They may not be allowed to speak for themselves,
■a third party may insist on translating, or they may seem watched or followed.
■Have an attorney representing them that they don’t seem to know or didn’t seem to agree to representation
■Have injuries, signs of physical abuse, and/or signs of torture
■Have signs of malnourishment
■Have been “branded” by a trafficker with the trafficker’s name
■Lack the freedom to leave working or living conditions
■Exhibit behaviors including fear, anxiety, depression, submission, tension, and/or nervousness
■Are unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips in their work environment
■Are not in control of their own money
■Work excessively long and unusual hours
■Are not allowed breaks during work
■Exhibit a lack of health care for a prolonged period of time
■Are under 18 and are providing commercial sex – de facto
■Live in locations with peculiar security including barbed wire, guarded compounds, bars on outside of windows, or opaque boarded-up windows
■Claim to be “just visiting” an area but are unable to articulate where they are staying or to remember addresses
■Have numerous inconsistencies in their story
■Exhibit unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up “law enforcement”
■Are performing odd tasks at odd hours (e.g., washing a car at 10pm at night in the cold)
■Avoid eye contract
■Exhibit “hyper-vigilance” or paranoid behavior
■Have a loss of sense of time or space
If you have reason to suspect that someone is a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline (1-888-373-7888). Multilingual call specialists are on standby 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What Can YOU do to help?

I can...

•Educate myself
•Save the hotline number in my cell phone: 888-373-3888
•Tell others
•Email this website to people I know
•Keep my eyes open at all times in my community
•Report suspected incidents of trafficking to the hotline
•Wear a baseball cap
•Wear a T-shirt or sweatshirt
•Wear a button
•Carry a book bag or tote bag
•Put a bumper sticker on my car or truck
•Put a bumper sticker on my luggage
•Put a bumper sticker on my notebook
•Display a hotline magnet
•Distribute hotline wallet cards
•Sign a petition
•Pass out flyers
•Put up posters
•Distribute brochures
•Host a video or film screening
•Declare myself a New Abolitionist
•Print flyers
•Take action
•Coordinate with my local neighborhood watch group
•Download, print and distribute copies of the Community Guide
•Join the New Underground Railroad
•Find out if my state has an anti-trafficking law
•Ask my state legislators to pass an anti-trafficking law
•Tell others to take action
•Attend a community training
•Watch for suspicious activity at truck stops
•Watch for suspicious activity in airports
•Keep my eyes open for suspicious activity or cargo
•Examine or report suspicious cargo
•Be an Internet sleuth
•Request training for employees in my organization
•Have a bake sale to fund an anti-trafficking library
•Start a church library of anti-trafficking books
•Design flyers
•Design posters
•Design t-shirts and other clothing
•Write a poem
•Write a report or research paper
•Write to my congressman
•Write a petition and get people to sign it
•Make a video and put it on YouTube
•Find out if my company’s products are Fair Trade certified
•Teach computer skills
•Teach English as a second language
•Provide translation services
•Teach children
•Cook meals
•Give a presentation to a local travel club
•Give a speech
•Provide graphics services
•Offer writing services
•Provide IT services
•Provide web design and webmaster services
•Provide printing services
•Provide security for a shelter
•Provide film production services
•Start a New Abolitionist club or meetup
•Start a “Slavery-Free City” campaign
•Form an airport watch
•Volunteer to do victim outreach
•Offer shelter
•Minister to rescued slaves
•Provide free counseling
•Provide free health care services
•Provide pro bono legal or accounting services
•Assist with T-visas
•Advocate for policy changes
•Examine my company's supply chain
•Examine my clients’ books for Fair Trade practices
•Report Wage and Hour violations
•Offer employment to rescued slaves
•Assist nonprofits with research
•Research and write about human trafficking
•Write a song
•Write op-ed pieces
•Write public service announcements
•Write press releases
•Write freelance articles
•Write and/or produce a television episode or series
•Write and/or produce a film
•Produce a public service announcement
•Make a music video
•Make a film to teach children safety
•Organize a march
•Hold a candlelight vigil
•Organize a fundraising event
•Organize or support a fundraising walkathon or marathon
•Stage a rally
•Sell clothing and accessories
•Train others
•Sponsor an anti-trafficking law
•Sponsor a walkathon or marathon
•Support a new film project
•Apply for Fair Trade certification
•Become a celebrity spokesperson
•Stage a benefit concert or tour

See your options here!

End It Now

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Month

President Obama declared January, 2010 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

The proclamation states that "As a Nation, we have known moments of great darkness and greater light; and dim years of chattel slavery illuminated and brought to an end by President Lincoln's actions and a painful Civil War. Yet even today, the darkness and inhumanity of enslavement exists. Millions of people worldwide are held in compelled service, as well as thousands within the United States. During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we acknowledge that forms of slavery still exist in the modern era, and we recommit ourselves to stopping the human traffickers who ply this horrific trade."

In addition to acknowledging the realities of the horror of modern-day slavery, the proclamation calls for increased medical and social services for victims, increased training for first respondents, and increased public awareness.

In the proclamation, President Obama states that "Fighting modern slavery and human trafficking is a shared responsbility. This month, I urge all Americans to educate themselves about all forms of modern slavery and the signs and consquences of human trafficking. Together, we can and must end this most serious, ongoing criminal civil rights violation. . . I call upon the people of the United States to recognize the vital role we can play in ending modern slavery."

See this full article at The Human Trafficking Project.