Tag Archives: modern slavery

Human Trafficking in Hair Salons

Laura Kenney writes about a recent case of moder-day slavery for the StyleList.

A West African immigrant has pleaded guilty to running a human trafficking operation that forced women to braid hair for up to 14 hours a day in Newark and East Orange NJ, reports the New Jersey Star Ledger.

In a case prosecutors equated to modern day slavery, Lassissi Afolabi, 46, told a judge he headed a ring that smuggled victims from villages in Ghana and Togo. He brought twenty women, age 10 to 19, to New Jersey, where he seized their passports, forbade them to learn English and make friends, and planted them in salons where they were forced to work up to 14 hours per day, 7 days a week.

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FEATURED! Causecast

Causecast is the social network for social good.

“People want to do good, want to be inspired, and want to inspire others to join them in giving back,” the site says. “Causecast makes this easy by providing users with means to connect with people, leaders, charities, nonprofit organizations, and brands that inspire them.”

In How To Helo Human Trafficking, the Causecast blog gives the following suggestions:

  • Step One: Educate Yourself

    Human trafficking takes on many different forms, sometimes using new methods to disguise itself. The best way to begin to fight against human trafficking is to educate yourself about the problem’s complexities. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t understand it and you can’t spread the word if you can’t explain it.

  • Step Two: Spread the Word

    While it’s really important to understand about all the different types of human trafficking, it’s easier to make a tangible difference when you focus on one specific aspect of the problem at a time.

  • Step Three: Dollah Dollah Bills, Ya’ll

    Of course, money is always an integral part of campaigning for any cause, and human trafficking is no exception.

  • Step Four: Time to Act

    Giving money is great, but it’s only a part of the solution. Check out the Polaris Project Action Center for some hands-on ways you can help. For example, Polaris is pushing Congress to allocate federal funding for human trafficking victims. Call your senators and representatives to let them know how you feel about this issue.

  • Step Five: Keep It Up!

    Remember, technology is your friend. Even the most dedicated of us can’t always keep up with our causes 24/7. So sometimes, it’s a good idea to bring the cause to you.

There Is A List of Goods That Use Slave Labor–But Where Is It?

Cassandra Clifford with the World Affairs Blog Network has an important call to action for people who are looking to take a stand against modern-day slavery and trafficking in their every day lives. Everything that we consume comes from somewhere, and opting for products that are fair-trade and slavery-free goes a long way in relaying the message to companies that we don’t want to support slavery.

This can be daunting–how can you, going about your own life, take time to ask and research where everything comes from? Imagine there was a list that let you know the products that were made using slave labor, wouldn’t that be easier? It would. The funny thing is: there is a list. It just hasn’t been released.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) was revised by Congress in 2005, at which time it was mandated that the Department of Labor (DOL) establish a list of products which where made by various forms of human trafficking/modern slavery, including child labor.

However when the TVPRA was reauthorized again in 2008, the list has still to find its way into any consumers hands, despite increasing consumer and political awareness and activism. The need to release this crucial list was brought back into the public spotlight with the efforts of Ambassador Mark P. Lagon, who is the Executive Director of Polaris Project, and previous Ambassador-at-Large and Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP), and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State.Ambassador Lagon recently published an article for Change.org, Where’s the List of Slave-Made Goods the Department of Labor Promised?

The Department of Labor, under the leadership of Secretary Elaine Chao until last January, said the requirement was an unfunded mandate – as they didn’t have enough people to put on the task absent any extra funding from Congress.

Congress unwisely put no deadline on the mandate in the 2005 legislation, then gave the Department a luxurious one year to produce it with the enactment of the latest December 2008 revision of the landmark 2000 anti-slavery act.

But the list exists. While I was still the anti-trafficking ambassador, a public hearing had been held for information and a draft list was fashioned.

So what can be done to see that this list finally makes it’s way into our hands as consumers, and concerned citizens? E-mail the new Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis to release the list and correct the errors of the past four years, demand that the American consumer is both educated and empowered, that we have a right and choice to be purchase goods which are no longer contaminated by child and slave labor, that we want a true “free” marketplace.

You can sign the petition here.

Greater Cincinnati Human Trafficking Report Findings Released

The Greater Cincinnati Human Trafficking Report is the first of its kind. A year-long study of human trafficking in Cincinnati and the Tri-state area, led by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center has found, based on some 140 interviews with law enforcement personnel, judges, social workers, healthcare providers, government leaders and other affected parties, several areas of concern:

  • Lack of awareness about the problem both in the general public and among people who deal with it, such as police officers, judges and first responders
  • Inadequate legislation
  • Lack of training to help law enforcement identify victims.

More than 90% of the report’s interviewees say they are aware of trafficking happening locally, and just under half said they or their organizations have encountered victims directly. The report does not state the exact number of confirmed cases in the area, but it does note that many cases go undocumented.

“Trafficking cases are underreported both locally and nationally,” said Deborah Lydon, an attorney from Dinsmore & Shohl who helped spearhead the study. “Our first responders and social service providers acknowledged that they need better training to identify cases.”

In addition to inadequate training, the report says that existing laws and regulations covering trafficking are not streamlined and often come with weak penalties. States in our region also treat the crime differently: In Kentucky and Indiana, trafficking is a distinct crime, but in Ohio, it’s not.

The report offers two main conclusions for how the region should prepare for dealing with human trafficking: Focus on public awareness and training, and use benchmark statutes from other cities that would define
trafficking as a crime.

The Freedom Center was assisted on the project by more than 30 volunteers in the community including attorneys, law students, paralegals, and individuals from non-profit organizations interested in justice issues.

Read the press release.

Virginia Man Forces Some 24 Women Into Slavery

In October of last year, Soripada Lubis was taken into custody for forcing almost two dozen women into slavery.

The story is familiar: he promised them a way to stay in the country after their visas had expired or lured them away from legal employers with financial rewards, confiscated their passports and threatened kill their families in Indonesia and alert immigration officials if the women tried to run. He put them to work as live-in housekeepers at other homes in the area. Given the weekends off, Lubis charged them between $300 and $350 monthly, to live in his one-story home, where they often had to share beds.

It been reported that the scheme has been going on since at least 2000 and that during the last five years, Lubis has made more than $90,000.

Authorities learned of Lubis in 2006, when a relative of a woman living in his basement contacted U.S. diplomats in Jakarta, Indonesia, seeking help. Over the next two years, authorities met with four women who said they had lived with Lubis at various times starting in 2001.

Soripada Lubis was charged with conspiracy to harbor illegal immigrants and released on bail, with the order to stay at his residence.

On February 25, Lubis plead guilty today to harboring illegal aliens for commercial advantage and private financial gain. His wife, Siti Chadidjah Siregar, a citizen of Indonesia, pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal agents who were investigating the scheme.

Lubis faces up to 10 years in prison as well as an order to pay restitution. Siregar faces up to five years in prison at sentencing.

Read more in Forced labor operation busted by Freeman Klopott at The Washington Examiner and on the Examiner.

Break the Chains–The 500 Mile Dash

Are you on Twitter? Eric Proffitt is and he’s using the micro-blogging platform to keep people up to date on his quest to bring awareness to modern-day slavery by running 500 miles in chains across the UK, beginning this August 1.

Proffitt will set off from London’s Westminster Abby and run eight hours a day, for 27 days as part of his Break These Chains campaign.

“I’m doing this to help the world know that human trafficking still happens in every city on earth,” Proffitt said in an interview last week. “The whole point is that I want the entire world to stop and say ‘this is wrong’, I want this event to tip the balance and stop human slavery.”

Why the UK? According to the Break The Chains site, it’s to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Wilberforce, the driving force behind the fight against slavery throughout the UK in 1833, which was the tipping point for abolishing legalized slavery throughout the world.

“Thus the UK is the ideal place to once again become a tipping point for slavery today,” the site concludes.

Hillary Rodham Clinton on Human Trafficking

In a piece for The Washington Post, Secretary of State Hillary Rhodam Clinton discusses the battle against slavery in the world and at home:

To some, human trafficking may seem like a problem limited to other parts of the world. In fact, it occurs in every country, including the United States, and we have a responsibility to fight it just as others do. The destructive effects of trafficking have an impact on all of us. Trafficking weakens legitimate economies, breaks up families, fuels violence, threatens public health and safety, and shreds the social fabric that is necessary for progress. It undermines our long-term efforts to promote peace and prosperity worldwide. And it is an affront to our values and our commitment to human rights.

The Obama administration views the fight against human trafficking, at home and abroad, as an important priority on our foreign policy agenda. The United States funds 140 anti-trafficking programs in nearly 70 countries, as well as 42 domestic task forces that bring state and local authorities together with nongovernmental organizations to combat trafficking. But there is so much more to do.

The problem is particularly urgent now, as local economies around the world reel from the global financial crisis. People are increasingly desperate for the chance to support their families, making them more susceptible to the tricks of ruthless criminals. Economic pressure means more incentive for unscrupulous bosses to squeeze everything they can from vulnerable workers and fewer resources for the organizations and governments trying to stop them.