The warm waters of Lake Volta in eastern Ghana support local fishermen from the small town of Kete-Krachi, which is perched on the edge of the lake. If you were to stand upon the shore, you would see numerous wooden boats bobbing on the waters with two or three fishermen in each, trolling for the day’s catch.
The lake is where local fishermen earn a living for their families, but it is also a destination for thousands of trafficked children. Sold by their parents in exchange for food, these children work 20 hours a day casting nets. Many are forced to dive into the lake’s dangerous waters to wrestle nets free from trees; far too often, they dive in but never resurface.
Dismayed by the plight of these children, a schoolteacher in Kete-Krachi named George Achibra took action. He began to keep track of the children he saw working on the lake, befriending them… more »
Ten years ago, in the federal courthouse in Honolulu, I was among a small group of civil rights prosecutors who had just started trial in the largest slavery prosecution in U.S. history, in which over 300 Chinese and Vietnamese workers had been enslaved in a garment factory in American Samoa. But on the third day of trial, a hammer blow fell on our prosecution team: Paul and Sheila Wellstone’s airplane had gone down in northeastern Minnesota, taking their lives as well as that of their daughter and several aides. Senator Wellstone was not just the conscience of the Senate, a voice for the dispossessed and an inspiration to so many, he was the sponsor of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. He was not only a fellow Midwestern wrestler, but had been… more »
On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, announcing his intention to emancipate all the slaves in the Confederate states that did not return to the Union within 100 days. On January 1, 1863, he declared free the 3.1 million slaves in those states.
Today, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of that date in 1862, which heralded the victory of freedom and justice, and our country’s ongoing commitment to those values. Yet, at the same time, as many as 27 million men, women, and children around the world live in a state of modern slavery — what we also refer to as trafficking in persons. So as we mark this occasion, we reflect not just on the tragedy of the past, but on the ongoing responsibility to fight for freedom. To honor the memories of those who lived and died in bondage, and those who fought and died so that… more »
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton poses for a photo with the 2012 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report Heroes, individuals around the world who have devoted their lives to the fight against human trafficking, at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on June 19, 2012. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]
U.S.Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Under Secretary Maria Otero, Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, and Vincent Paraiso deliver remarks during the release of the 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C on June 19, 2012. [Go to http://video.state.gov for more video and text transcript.]
Secretary Clinton Delivers a video Message to the Yale Human Trafficking Conference from the Department of State in Washington, D.C. on April 13, 2012. [Go to http://video.state.gov for more video and text transcript.]
Seventy years ago, a group of men and women organized at Independence Hall in Philadelphia to lay a wreath before the Liberty Bell to commemorate the date — February 1, 1865 — that President Abraham Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment, banning slavery in the United States. The plan to set aside February 1 was led by Richard Wright, who was born into slavery in 1855. After Emancipation, Wright went to college, joined the army, and late in life became the first African-American in the United States to own a bank. A year after Wright died, in 1948, Wright’s legacy was written into law when Congress passed a bill making February 1 National Freedom Day. Harry S. Truman was the first President to declare National Freedom Day, a tradition upheld every year since and reaffirmed again today by President Barack Obama.
As we mark that moment, when Lincoln sent to the states a… more »
In the United States, report your suspicions to law enforcement at 911, Department of Justice at 1-888-428-7581, and the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-3737-888. Victims, including undocumented individuals, are eligible for services and immigration assistance.
Be a conscientious consumer. Make socially responsible investments. Let your favorite retailers know that you support their efforts to maintain a slavery free supply chain. Encourage your company or your employer to take steps to investigate and eliminate human trafficking throughout its supply chain and to publish the information for consumer awareness. Refer to the Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor.
Hire trafficking survivors.
Volunteer your professional services to help an anti-trafficking organization that need help from lawyers, doctors, dentists, counselors, translators and interpreters, graphic designers, public relations and media professionals, event planners, and accountants.
Donate funds or needed items to an anti-trafficking organization.
Organize a fundraiser and donate the proceeds to an anti-trafficking organization.
Join or start a grassroots human trafficking coalition.
Encourage your local schools to include modern slavery in their curriculum. As a parent, educator, or school personnel, be aware of how traffickers target school-aged children.
Meet with and write to your local, state and federal government representatives to let them know that you care about combating human trafficking in your community.
Host an awareness event to watch and discuss a recent human trafficking documentary. On a larger scale, host a human trafficking film festival. Several noteworthy films and documentaries have been produced in the last several years that bring attention to the plight of victims worldwide.
Write a letter to the editor for your local paper about human trafficking in your community.
Incorporate human trafficking information into your professional associations’ conferences, trainings, manuals, and other materials as relevant.
STUDENTS: Join or establish a university club to raise awareness about human trafficking throughout the local community and identify victims. Request that human trafficking be an issue included in such university courses as health, migration, human rights, social work, and crime. Increase scholarship about human trafficking by publishing an article, teaching a class, or hosting a symposium.
COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS: ensure that your staff is able to identify and assist trafficked persons.
LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS: join or start a local human trafficking task force.
MENTAL HEALTH OR MEDICAL PROVIDERS: extend low-cost or free services to human trafficking victims assisted by nearby anti-trafficking organizations.
IMMIGRATION ATTORNEYS: learn about and offer to human trafficking victims the immigration benefits for which they are eligible.
EMPLOYMENT LAW ATTORNEYS: look for signs of human trafficking among your clients.
USAID Launches “Stop Human Trafficking App Challenge”
About the Author: Sarah Mendelson serves as Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance at USAID.
When was the last time you used your mobile phone to look up an address, stream a video clip, or play a game? Now think about the last time you used your mobile phone to support human rights, raise awareness for a cause, or contribute to sustainable development. What would the world look like if we spent as much time using our cell phones to contribute to development as we do watching YouTube or sending email? What new tools could be developed — or new uses for existing technology found — to solve some of the world’s most pressing development challenges?
Our new Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance — launching later this summer — will devote expertise and resources to tackle these very questions, paying particular attention to marrying innovation and the challenge of protecting against and preventing human rights abuse.