Posts tagged with: slavery

While living in Nigeria, a twenty-four-year old woman named Ope met a man offering to help her find employment abroad. She was told she would be working as a nanny or in a factory. Instead, she was forced into prostitution. “It was like I was a slave,” she says.

The BBC has put together an animated version of Ope’s story, a heart-rending tale of modern-day slavery.

basketballJust when I think I’ve heard and read everything about the slavery that is human trafficking, something new comes along. This time, it’s the trafficking of boys and young men for sports.

NPR’s Alexandra Starr writes about teens from Nigeria being lured to the U.S. with the promise of basketball scholarships, only to end up homeless on the streets of New York City or in foster care. Then there is this:

Last month, the Department of Homeland Security raided the Faith Baptist Christian Academy South in Ludowici, Ga., and discovered 30 young boys, mostly Dominican, who had been living in the campus gym, sleeping on the floor. Apparently students had been housed there since 2013. These boys also had been recruited to America with the promise of a high school education and a shot at a college scholarship.

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Trafficked workers striking against Signal International

Trafficked workers striking against Signal International

While sex trafficking gets a lot of media attention, labor trafficking is the larger problem globally. Recently, the largest court case ever involving labor trafficking was settled in Mississippi against Signal International. (You can read more about the case here.)

Labor trafficking is not a secret. However, we are just beginning to grasp the scope of the problem and the deep wounds it inflicts on its victims. In The Economist this week, the magazine goes so far as to say “its everywhere:”

Estimates of the number of workers trapped in modern slavery are, inevitably, sketchy. The International Labour Organisation (ILO), an arm of the UN, puts the global total at around 21m, with 5m in the sex trade and 9m having migrated for work, either within their own countries or across borders. Around half are thought to be in India, many working in brick kilns, quarries or the clothing trade. Bonded labour is also common in parts of China, Pakistan, Russia and Uzbekistan—and rife in Thailand’s seafood industry … A recent investigation by Verité, an NGO, found that a quarter of all workers in Malaysia’s electronics industry were in forced labour.

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HTFinal CoverPlease note update on free ebook giveaway.

Acton’s latest monograph, A Vulnerable World: The High Price of Human Trafficking, will be available as a free ebook download beginning Wednesday, March 11 through Friday, March 13. To access the free download, click on this link during the two-day time period.

Today, human trafficking impacts entire industries and job sectors—both legitimate and illegitimate. Monetarily, it is the second largest criminal activity in the world. Only the illegal drug trade is more profitable—and trafficking and drug smuggling are often linked. The profits generated from human trafficking play an enormous role in national and global economies. There is also the untold human cost. It is, as Pope Francis said, an open wound on humanity.

Experts believe that in the next ten years human trafficking (if left unchecked) will become more profitable to criminals than drugs and arms trafficking and will continue to grow in both developed and developing countries. The purpose of this monograph is to outline both the economic dimension and the moral fallout of modern slavery and to suggest ways that the business of trading in human beings can be severely curtailed.

Angelina and Sarah Grimke

Angelina and Sarah Grimke

March is Women’s History Month, and during this month the Acton PowerBlog will be highlighting a number of women who have helped advance the cause of liberty and a free and virtuous society.

A month or so ago, I read Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings, which is a fictionalized account (in part) of the lives of the Grimke sisters, Sarah and Angelina. When I realized it was based on two real-life women, it gave me the impetus to learn more regarding these two amazing women. (more…)

One of the trailers used by Signal, International to house workers

One of the trailers used by Signal, International to house workers

While sex trafficking gets a lot of attention in the media, labor trafficking is actually more common. It largely affects middle-aged men, most of whom are looking for ways to support themselves and their families. Often faced with overwhelming poverty, these men make ill-informed and risky choices, hoping that what they are being told by potential employers is true.

In a landmark case, a Gulf Coast company, Signal International, has been ordered to pay $14 million in damages to men they had “hired” from India.

After more than four weeks of testimony and several days of deliberations, the jury found that marine construction company Signal International and its agents engaged in human trafficking, forced labor and racketeering, among other violations. (more…)

A brick factory in India

A brick factory in India

International Justice Mission [IJM] works around the world to bolster rule of law, fight corruption and help human trafficking victims. In India, human trafficking – both sex trafficking and labor trafficking – is rampant. IJM announced that government officials (who had been trained by and working with IJM) were able to free 333 people from labor trafficking at a brick factory last week.

They [the trafficking victims] lived in tiny, thatched-roof huts. Each couple was responsible to make 2,000 bricks a week; children as young as 12 worked alongside their parents to help meet this enormous quota. (more…)

HTFinal CoverThis week on Radio Free Acton, I spoke with my colleague Elise Graveline Hilton about her new monograph A Vulnerable World: The High Price of Human Trafficking.

Human trafficking is not a pleasant subject to discuss; it can be hard to believe that in our modern world, people are still enslaved and exploited sexually or for their labor, treated as nothing more than commodities to be used in the pursuit of illegal profit. And yet the practice is widespread and growing, even in the developed world. It is incumbent upon all of us who believe in the inherent dignity of the human person to understand the nature of this awful criminal activity, to know how to recognize the signs of human trafficking, and to stand ready to assist those who are at risk of being trafficked or who have become ensnared in that dark world.

In this week’s podcast, Elise talks about her monograph and provides some basic resources for everyone interested in fighting the scourge of human trafficking. You can listen to the podcast via the audio player below; beyond the jump, I’ve included video of the event Elise organized last year at the Acton Building to shine a light on human trafficking in Acton’s home town of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Human Trafficking Resources:

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slavery-handsThousands of girls and women in Iraq and Syria have been captured by the Islamic State and sold into sex slavery. But one Iraqi man is trying to save them by buying sex slaves in order to free and reunite them with their families.

As the Christian Post reports, “an Iraqi man, who remains nameless, disguises himself as a human trafficking dealer in order to ‘infiltrate’ the Islamic State and get the militants to sell him sex slaves. But in purchasing sex slaves, the man finds a way to reunite them with their fathers, husbands, and the rest of their family.”

It’s hard to criticize a man for using his resources and risking his life in order to free these women. But while the individual effects—women and girls being freed—are laudatory, the long term effect of implementing the policy on a large scale could be disastrous.

In the 1990s, humanitarian groups traveled to Sudan to redeem slaves by buying them out of slavery. The result of the program, as economist Tyler Cowen explains, was likely an increase in the number of people enslaved.

HTFinal CoverIn 2013, the State of Michigan published its Report on Human Trafficking. In anticipation of the publication of the Acton Institute’s monograph, A Vulnerable World: The High Price of Human Trafficking, I interviewed Attorney General Bill Schuette last month.

Schuette (who served as co-chair for the Commission) explained that he realized upon his election that Michigan had a great deal of work to do in this area. As he prepared to attend the National Conference of Attorneys General, he

became aware that our state of Michigan was behind the curve and that we were low in the rankings of tools and law enforcement and assistance to victims and acknowledgement that this is a problem.

I asked Mr. Schuette this: I ask every teacher I meet, every first responder I meet, every medical personnel I meet, “Have you ever received any training on human trafficking?” And I’ve never had a yes. What do you say about that? He responded:

[U]nfortunately, the past has been that not enough people have been trained to spot, deal with, observe, try to stop human trafficking. And that’s one of the features that I think law enforcement in Michigan will move towards now, and that is having training sessions and training seminars, whether you’re EMS or sheriff patrol or a local police organization, where you learn about human trafficking. That’s an area that we have to improve. I’m not surprised by [your informal survey] because that was one of these glaring issues that came out in our 5 subgroups or working groups that wanted to, in essence, attack in the state of Michigan. That’s one of the proposals that’s high on my agenda.

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