SKHMOperating in the red-light districts of Kolkata in India is the organization South Kolkata Hamari Muskan (SKHM). SKHM works to secure safe shelter, basic needs and education for women involved in prostitution and the children of these women. Since 2009, it has supported women and children living in red-light districts. The organization provides women and children with the resources and skills needed to become self-sufficient without having to resort to red-light district activities.

The Dangers of Impoverished Red-Light Districts

The impoverished red-light districts of Sonagachi and Bowbazar are notorious for dangerous and often illegal tertiary trades. These include prostitution, gambling halls, marijuana bars, brothels and liquor stores. Unique to red-light districts is the fact that where civilians conduct their services is most often also where they live. Women working as prostitutes will almost always work out of their homes. This exposes children and other family members to the dangers of these jobs, which include violence and abuse.

Prostitution is the main occupation for women in red-light districts and is traditionally a trade passed down through generations.  Many women involved in prostitution come from impoverished backgrounds. The trade has become a hallmark of life in these areas, making it harder for women and young girls to escape the vicious cycle. Children growing up in this environment often witness or endure violence, abuse and neglect. The resulting trauma impacts a child’s mental, emotional and social abilities, which in turn, impacts their development and progress in life. These children are often not in school, leaving them illiterate, uneducated and forced to participate in red-light district activities.

According to India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), India has more than three million prostitutes. Roughly 1.2 million prostitutes are estimated to be children. Red-light districts are at the epicenter of these trades and impoverished communities are often targeted for prostitution rings because of their vulnerabilities.

SKHM’s Work

SKHM strives to break the cycle of prostitution and poverty by protecting women and children through educational programs, safe centers, vocational training and psychosocial therapy. SKHM works directly in red-light districts with the belief that change can only come from within when it is demanded by the community itself. During the last 12 years, SKHM has helped hundreds of women and children in Kolkata acquire a better life.

  • The organization has placed nearly 200 children in formal schooling. Giving children access to education introduces them to what SKHM calls “the mainstream world.” Education shows children that there is a life outside of the red-light district and teaches them to aspire toward a better life. Proper education gives children the knowledge and skills to rise out of poverty. It also helps break the cycle that holds them to a life of poverty and violence.
  • SKHM is the first NGO in Kolkata to use play and art-based therapy with children. The innovative therapy allows specialists to determine the trauma and psychosocial needs of women and children living in red-light districts in a relaxed and non-confrontational way. This is important when dealing with children who have been severely abused. Since 2009, SKHM has opened four safe centers. With two centers in Sonagachi and two in Bowbazar, the safe centers act as shelters and education centers for women and children. The centers help rehabilitate women who wish to escape prostitution and children seeking education and safety.
  • SKHM has implemented successful programs such as Project Dignity. Project Dignity is a rehabilitation program exclusively for women in prostitution. The goal of the program is to encourage women to leave the dangerous job of prostitution and work to become successful heads of households. Through Project Dignity, women can seek mental health counseling, learn about finances, enjoy new hobbies, take literacy classes and learn various occupational skills. They can do so through driving classes, computer classes, jewelry making classes and cooking classes. The program gives women the skills and confidence to qualify for work outside of traditional red-light district occupations. The mother’s group also strictly enforces keeping children in school, which decreases the rate of second-generation prostitution.

Making a Difference

SKHM’s work in Kolkata’s red-light districts has exponentially improved the lives of hundreds of women and children. Society deemed areas like Sonagachi and Bowbazar impoverished, unsafe and beyond help. This left the communities within them helpless and victimized in a vicious environment of prostitution and violence. South Kolkata Hamari Muskan started a mission with the belief that vulnerable people in these red-light districts could be supported by the strength of the community itself. Today, women and children in Kolkata’s red-light districts are dreaming of a better life and they have the skills and education to help them get there.

Kendall Couture
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Central America
In 1928, the League of Nations conducted a three-year global study of sex trafficking of women and children throughout Central America, which concluded, “Latin America is the traffic market of the world.” Currently, Central America is the third-highest source of human trafficking. These 7 facts about human trafficking in Central America will explain the factors leading to this significant problem and what people are doing to combat it.

7 Facts About Human Trafficking in Central America

  1. Dangers During Migration: It is not always an easy decision to relocate one’s entire family to a new country, but rampant poverty, extreme violence and governmental corruption throughout Central America force families and children to flee for a more prosperous life elsewhere. Risky job prospects and economic opportunity abroad may tempt migrants, but the true danger of migration lies in the 2,000-mile trek from Central America to the U.S. On this journey, migrants are in danger of human trafficking for domestic servitude, forced labor or the sex trade. A report by UNICEF states, “These families must navigate a long, uncertain journey in which they risk being preyed upon by traffickers or other criminals.” To avoid detection by authorities, migrants and refugees take dangerous routes where they do not know their whereabouts and where others can take advantage of their invisibility.
  2. The Vulnerability of Children: Children are one of the most vulnerable populations to trafficking due to their immaturity and the ease in which others can overpower them. According to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), children account for three in every five victims of human trafficking, backed in large part by organized crime rings. The impact of child trafficking in Central America is far-reaching, with many risk factors leaving children susceptible. For instance, criminal gangs’ main operation is illegal adoption, which they can achieve through kidnapping and involvement of government officials. Street and orphaned children are especially vulnerable to trafficking into the sex trade, while others must work under dangerous circumstances in the agricultural and mining industries. In 2014, a report from the Department of Labor found ample evidence of the use of child labor in the production of goods throughout Central America, including bricks, coffee, gold and sugarcane.
  3. The Vulnerability of Women: Along with young children, women are another vulnerable population at high risk for trafficking, especially sexual exploitation. Traffickers traffick most females for prostitution, especially near the Guatemala-Mexico border, while they use others for stripping and pornography. These women are often irregular migrants who fall through the cracks and eventually suffer further exploitation in bars and brothels to local clientele. It can occur forcefully, with smugglers kidnapping victims or coercing them into prostitution. In other cases, women may have no other means of support, and with dependents at home, traffickers may lure them into the sex trade. Once they are involved, it is not easy to leave, as brothel owners may threaten violence or exposure if they sense that a worker is tempted to leave. Traffickers may send women internally or internationally and State Department officials have estimated that 10s of thousands of Central Americans suffer trafficking internationally each year. Large numbers of these victims come from Colombia and the Dominican Republic.
  4. Central America and Trafficking: Although human trafficking is a significant problem among Central American countries, none of them comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000, which establishes human trafficking and related offenses as federal crimes with severe penalties. Through the TVPA, the U.S. Department of State ranks countries based on tiers, focusing on the country’s governmental efforts to comply with the TVPA standards. Mexico, Panama, Honduras and El Salvador rank as Tier 2, meaning they do not meet TVPA standards but are making significant efforts to combat human trafficking. Belize ranks as Tier 3 country, signifying it does not meet TVPA standards and are not making substantial efforts to comply.
  5. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS): The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has attempted to step in in the absence of action from Central American governments. In early 2019, the DHS developed a partnership with government officials from the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador by signing a Memorandum of Cooperation, which concentrates efforts to combat human trafficking and stem the flood of irregular migration. Other initiatives are establishing, including combatting criminal organizations and gangs, addressing the root causes of human trafficking and smuggling and developing a proposal to tighten the region’s laws regarding trafficking. After a temporary halt of foreign aid being dispersed by the U.S. to the Northern Triangle countries, the White House resumed its support for the program by releasing $143 million in October 2019 to specific targeted efforts.
  6. The United States-Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act: In July 2019, the U.S. took an additional effort to address the root causes of migration by passing the United States-Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act. This bill, which New York Representative Eliot L. Engel and Texas Representative Michael McCaul announced, passed unanimously through the House of Representatives. Because of the serious challenges that drive illegal migration to the U.S. and threaten the Northern Triangle’s stability, the act proposes a five-year strategy that prioritizes anti-corruption, economic growth and development and strengthening security conditions. Additionally, the bill authorizes $577 million in foreign assistance to the region for the 2020 fiscal year.
  7. The Polaris Project: Another organization working to stop human trafficking is the Polaris Project. Polaris’ work focuses on dismantling the networks that support human trafficking and sexual exploitation while boosting the international safety net. It acknowledges that its response must include a comprehensive understanding of migration, cultural context and gender norms. Not only does it engage in active efforts to combat the root causes of human trafficking, but it also recognizes the importance of supporting survivors in rebuilding their lives after the trauma they have endured. The organization operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline as well as the BeFree Textline to connect survivors with resources and support. Also, as 26 percent of the world’s trafficking victims are children, Polaris synchronizes its efforts with the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking as well as the National Network for Youth to support legislative efforts that increase protections for youth. Its combative efforts to end human trafficking by partnering with government officials and law enforcement are the crucial steps that are necessary for ending this exploitation.

The issue of human trafficking throughout Central America is a complex and nuanced one. A combination of political, cultural and socioeconomic factors contribute to a sense of desperation in Central America, forcing individuals to seek alternatives elsewhere. This environment creates a space in which traffickers can take advantage of the vulnerable. It is important that Central American countries work with one another as well as with international supports to combat human trafficking and promote a sense of safety and security within the region.

– Rachel Baum
Photo: Flickr

End Modern SlaverySlavery is never an easy problem to confront. It is uncomfortable and unpleasant to think about, a complex jumble of economics, politics, culture, and dozens of other areas. It is also very uncomfortable to address the possibility that many western clothes and electronics are made by slaves. However, poverty cannot end completely without ending slavery, and slavery will not end without an end to poverty. They feed off one another, so in order to end poverty, people must end modern slavery as well.

Society tends to imagine slavery as an issue of the past, a horrible chapter of human history that closed with the ban on the slave trade in Europe and the emancipation proclamation in America. But slavery has continued, and today, there are more people in slavery than at any other time in human history. Twenty-seven million people are enslaved today, 79 percent of whom are women and children. Almost every country in the world is somehow involved in human trafficking and slavery, either as a country of origin, transit or destination.

Many people who become trapped in slavery are the people who are already trapped in poverty. People in extreme poverty often try to find ways out of their desperate situation, and many are lured into the slave trade with promises of education, steady work and a better life. Instead, they are sold into slavery, often for as little as $90 a person, and imprisoned with literal chains or psychological pressure. They can then be forced into different types of slavery, including sexual exploitation and prostitution, forced labor, being compelled to act as beggars, benefit fraud and organ removal.

There are laws and international protocols against the slave trade, but they are poorly enforced and often ineffective. Victims fear coming forward to the authorities because of stigmas and the risk of imprisonment or deportation, even when they are the victims, not the criminals. The victims are often the ones to carry the social shame and punishments while the conviction rate for the slave traders remains low.

Ending modern day slavery feels like a difficult task. There is no open slave trade to end as there was in the 1700s and 1800s. The U.N. is one of the many organizations working to free people and give them a new life. Since the early ’90s, it has freed more than 90,000 people by working to prevent trafficking and protect victims. However, there are still millions more to free and prevent from becoming victims in the first place. The State Department has devised a strategy of prosecution, protection and prevention, the “3 P’s” that are aimed to end modern slavery.

One of the most important ways to end modern slavery is by preventing it. Both slavery and poverty are about “excluding people from economic and social justice,” so addressing economic and social issues deals with slavery and poverty together. By preventing individuals from falling into the desperate situations of poverty, they are less vulnerable to slave traffickers. Preventing social exclusion and discrimination is also an important step to stop slavery. Slowing the supply of victims by addressing these social and economic causes is a crucial step to ending modern slavery. Since many of these problems are also related to global poverty, this is a win-win situation.

Protection is another key way to end slavery. The movements of refugees and migrants have made many people more vulnerable, so safe migration and trade unions can help keep workers from becoming susceptible to the slave trade. Those already trapped in the slave trade should receive the proper treatment and legal action. This leads to the final P, which is prosecution of those running the slave trade. The low prosecution rates provide little deterrence for those involved with the slave trade, so cracking down on prosecution can act as a form of further deterrence.

Compared to the number of people in poverty, about 10 percent of the world’s population, the number of people in slavery is small. However, these 27 million people deserve far better treatment. Addressing the issues of poverty that cause the desperation can help end modern slavery, and ending modern slavery helps end poverty.

Rachael Lind

Human Trafficking
There are several types of human trafficking, and they all have a common denominator: an abuse of the intrinsic vulnerability of the victims.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, human trafficking is defined as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the treat or use of force or other forms of coercion.”

Trafficking of individuals is a serious crime and a heinous violation of human rights.

“Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad. Almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims,” said the UN.

The following are various categories linked to human trafficking.

Sex Trafficking

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime suggested that 53 percent of the victims are forced into sexual exploitation. “Sex trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, or harboring of persons through threat, use of force, or other coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation. This includes movement across borders, as well as within the victim’s own country,” affirmed Human Trafficking Search.

The International Labour Organization estimated that there is a worldwide profit of $100 billion for forced commercial sexual exploitation.

Additionally, “the perceived inferior status of women in many parts of the world has contributed to the expansion of the trafficking industry,” confirmed Human Trafficking Search.

Involuntary Domestic Servitude

Involuntary servitude happens when a domestic worker becomes enslaved in an exploitative position they are incapable of escaping.

“Domestic servitude is the seemingly normal practice of live-in help that is used as a cover for the exploitation and control of someone, usually from another country. It is a form of forced labor, but it also warrants its own category of slavery because of the unique contexts and challenges it presents,” said End Slavery Now.

Forced Labor

According to Human Trafficking Search, “Forced labor is work or service that is extorted from someone under the menace of any penalty and work or service that the person has not offered voluntarily.”

The International Labour Organization estimated that approximately 20.9 million people are enslaved to forced labor, and 4.5 are subjected to sexual forced exploitation.

Debt Bondage

“Debt bondage is a type of forced labor, involving a debt that cannot be paid off in a reasonable time,” said Human Trafficking Search. It is a period of debt during which there is no freedom, consequently, it is also known as debt slavery.

Child Soldiers

Child soldiers are described as persons under the age of 18, who have been recruited by armed forces in any capacity. Currently, there are thousands of soldiers worldwide.

“The definition includes both boys and girls who are used as fighters, cooks, porters, messengers, spies, or for sexual purposes,” added Human Trafficking Search.

Child Sex Trafficking

There are approximately 1.8 million children subjected to prostitution or pornography globally.

The Human Trafficking Search defined it as “a sexual exploitation by an adult with respect to a child, usually accompanied by a payment to the child or one or more third parties.”

Child Labor

A child is considered to be involved in child labor activities if this minor is between the ages of 0 and 18, is involved in a type of work inappropriate for their age and in a dangerous work environment.

However, there are several forms of child labor. The most common ones are related to the informal sector of the economy and are linked to agricultural labor, mining, construction and begging in the streets.

Said by the Polaris Project, “human trafficking is a form of modern slavery – a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to 20.9 million people around the world. And no matter where you live, chances are it’s happening nearby. From the girl forced into prostitution at a truck stop, to the man discovered in a restaurant kitchen, stripped of his passport and held against his will. All trafficking victims share one essential experience: the loss of freedom.”

Isabella Rolz

Sources: Human Trafficking Search, UNODC, End Slavery Now, Polaris Project, United Nations, International Labour Organization

Guatemala Street ChildrenIt is estimated that there are between 1,500 and 5,000 street children in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Approximately 65 percent of these children are between the ages of 10 and 17 — and around 30 percent are girls.

Street children are those for whom the street has become their real home — a situation in which there is no protection, supervision or direction from responsible adults. Consequently, most of these children live and sleep on the street, with some taking refuge in parks or under stairs.

Children living on the streets migrate from rural areas of Guatemala or from Honduras or El Salvador. This migration is caused by the extreme poverty in Guatemala, which is both widespread and severe. According to the World Bank, “approximately 75 percent of the population is estimated to live below the poverty line, which is defined as an income that is insufficient to purchase a basic basket of goods and services.”

The main sources of income for these children are usually activities such as robbery, begging and prostitution. Specialist Irving Epstein indicated that “many children inhale the fumes of shoe glue or paint thinner, often their only avenue to escape hunger, pain and hopelessness.”

Due to the lack of access to any educational institution, these children are more likely to choose violent pathways and tend to join street gangs. In 2005, approximately 10,000 Guatemalan children were members of street gangs.

Unfortunately, joining these street gangs comes at a price. According to Epstein, “violence between street gangs is common and is often used as an excuse by the national police and private security guards to harass and beat street children.”

Additionally, condom use is irregular and the pregnancy rate among the girls is high. This is unfortunate for many reasons, but largely because these girls hardly have what they need to take care of themselves and do not have the capacity to raise a child.

The social panorama in which street children find themselves living reflects the widespread poverty and severe inequality existing in Guatemala. Yet the plight of street children is hardly uncommon amongst developing countries.

However, several governmental and nongovernmental organizations have become active in Guatemala City since 2003. With his wife, former president Alvaro Arzu opened a center that provides both traditional humanitarian aid, such as food, shelter and clothing, and long-term sustainable aid, such as health services and education, to the homeless.

Casa Alianza is another agency working in Guatemala City that has provided several services for street children. It promotes residential and outreach programs, legal aid, drug rehabilitation and other vital services.

Children living in the streets of Guatemala are the most vulnerable to major social issues. Nonetheless, these initiatives are fighting to ensure a better life for these children, and hopefully in the coming years, Guatemala may see fewer children living alone and in destitution.

Isabella Rölz

Sources: World Bank, Google Books
Photo: Hansen Photo

Pornography is a business globally worth $57 billion, with the United States accounting for over $11 billion. Pornography was first developed as a means to help individuals fulfill their sexual fantasies and serve as a criminal deterrent against violent crimes, but pornography has just made sex more violent. Just as the pornography industry began to flourish, a survey of U.S. college girls showed that 69.8 percent of them had been “verbally coerced” into having “unwanted sex.” And in the United Kingdom in 2006, 33 percent of all women say that they have been forced into sex. Pornography has been further exacerbated through the Internet and the emerging trend to use child victims. Statistics indicate​ that upon the legalization of pornography, emerging growth rates of failed marriages have occurred, as well as an increase in sex-related crimes.

In 2013, child pornography arrests grew by 2,500 percent. It is attributed to the demand and an impoverished supply. Families under economically desperate conditions utilize their children as vessels of income. Pornography pretends to offer economic gain to the vulnerable, many of whom are led by coercion, force or kidnapping. In general there is an issue with the way in which the poor are represented in media. The media’s use of impoverished people objectifies them, as does pornography.

Sex industry recruiters and sexual deviants alike choose from a pool of candidates who have experienced various levels of previous exploitation and remain economically desperate. In countries such as Kenya, children as young as the age of six are sold and used in child pornography. The documentary “ Working Lives” is about child sex tourism and pornography in Kenya’s coastal towns. It discusses how in Kenya, some parents send their children to have sex for foreigners for as little as one dollar.

Due to limited options, some parents choose to knowingly rent their children for pornographic or sex slave purposes. In “The Secret Child Sex Trade Hiding in Kenya’s Tropical Paradise,” viewers are introduced to a six-year-old girl suffering from signs of rape, sodomy and beatings, that occurred on film for pornographic purposes.

In the Philippines, there was a major case involving a made-to-order porn operation, with charges that include murder and torture. An Australian made a global business of using impoverished victims for sexual and violent performances based upon customer request. Here he monopolized on the poverty and was strategic when choosing the cities, local child recruiters and victims. Often, he would utilize the other poor local children to establish connections and lure in street children. The documentary “ Catching a Monster” covers methods of grooming and deviant practices to recruit the needy for pornographic use.

His youngest performer was an 18-month-old girl name Daisi, of whom he created a series of pornographic videos of her sexual abuse. All of the children used in these videos had parents that had been coerced by false promises and the opportunity to provide a better life for their children.

Many people are victims to poverty and more so generational poverty, that has passed down impoverishment from the previous generations. Many of those in vulnerable populations experience exploitation and are forced to become workers in the sex industry. For the extreme poor, many questionable work opportunities arise; pornography is one of them. Ending poverty can help to decrease victimized children in pornography.

– Erika Wright

Sources: Oh My News, Feed the Right Wolf, Huffington Post, The Crime Report,

Transgender Population and HIV: Uncovering Problems
HIV is one of the few viruses to completely alter the landscape of the entire world as a whole. Not since great pandemics such as the Black Death has a sickness decimated families, communities and nations like HIV has.

HIV does not discriminate. The virus infects people from all walks of life: Muslims, Christians and Atheists; Blacks and whites; males and females; even the old and the young. Likewise, to combat HIV, the world needs to fund prevention programs just as indiscriminately.

From the misconceptions as an exclusively homosexual disease to the unity the world has made in dealing with it, one thing is for certain—HIV is still present and must be eliminated.

HIV strategies have been largely successful in combating HIV and preventing AIDS from infecting people at staggering rates. According to UNAIDS, in 2014, 2 million new infections of HIV were recorded. This was down 35 percent from the year 2000 when that number was reported at 3.1 million new infections.

The overall HIV and AIDS mortality rates have also fallen over the course of 15 years. A total of 36.9 million people worldwide are living with HIV, and 1.2 million have died from AIDS. That is down from 2 million in 2005. Almost half the current HIV population is taking antiretroviral therapy (15 million). Currently, $20.2 billion is invested in the AIDS response, right on target of expected funding required at $22 billion.

There is, however, one group of minorities who are of a great deal of concern. They are transgender people. They represent a group of people with the most imbalance of all infected groups.

According to the most comprehensive WHO report on transgenders to date, transgender women have 49 times higher odds of HIV infection than the general population. Among sex workers, transgenders have nine times higher odds of contracting HIV compared to female sex workers.

The imbalance has many factors behind it. They are the largest under-served community when it comes to HIV prevention. This is due to marginalization, lack of access to proper treatment for many mental health-related issues, grouped with homosexuals in prevention tactics and also being a target of violence.

Transgender individuals face many social issues in society. While some may be well off, many transgenders work low-paying jobs due to a lack of equal opportunities for employment. Stigma and discrimination cause many to turn to drugs and sex work as a means of making money.

That lifestyle can lead to many health risks, including drug abuse, homelessness and the lack of access to adequate medicines. Many transgenders also face discrimination when they attempt to receive medical treatment from healthcare workers. It makes them more susceptible to infection.

Another problem is the lack of countries properly defining what gender a transgender person is. Many countries consider transgender sex the same as homosexual behavior. Anti-homosexual laws make transgenders fearful, hiding their infections for fear of death or incarceration. Some fear carrying condoms, as they may be used against them to confirm illicit behavior by law officials.

Inadequate training among healthcare workers to transgender-sensitive issues leads to misdiagnosis and mistrust.  The negative discrimination mentioned also decreases the quality of care they receive. Coupled with the general stigma, this creates a vicious cycle that is not helping with HIV prevention measures.

Transgenders are also vulnerable to higher degrees of violence and rape. There are no feasible studies to measure the number of rapes and murders transgenders experience due to misreported gender identity. Rape victims may contract HIV and not report it due to fear of retaliation.

All these problems have led to poor results in HIV prevention amongst transgender populations in the world. The issue is crucial in the fight against AIDS because some transgender people may have sexual partners with both males and females, making more people susceptible to spreading HIV. The global effort to combat AIDS must include all types of people around the globe.

The next part of this article will demonstrate working solutions and how continuous funding will help reduce HIV.

Adnan Khalid

Sources: UNAIDS, World Health Organization
Photo: HIV Plus Mag

modern slavery
“Slavery is closer than you think” is the slogan of a new campaign in the United Kingdom to raise awareness of slavery happening in the country. The Home Office has launched a two-month campaign that aims to encourage those experiencing modern-day slavery to come forward and seek help from the government, as well as to urge the public to report anyone suspected of enslaving others.

Modern slavery is a major problem in the U.K. The Human Trafficking Foundation estimates that around 20,000 people are living in slavery throughout the country. The three most common types of slavery are agricultural labor, sexual exploitation in a brothel and domestic servitude in another’s home.

Many cases of slavery have been reported lately. In November, three women were discovered in a house in south London after being held there for 30 years of domestic servitude. In another case, James and Josie Connors were convicted of manipulating and exploiting destitute men for their own financial gain in Bedfordshire.

The slogan encompasses the campaign’s main idea, which is that these examples of modern slavery are going on everywhere, like in average households and families.


Facts on Modern Slavery


A new national helpline, supported by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), has also been created to offer information for victims of slavery on how to get help, and to educate the general public on how to accurately report persecutors.

The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness for these previously unknown situations. Through various forms of advertising, the U.K. government hopes to see more victims seeking help and more people reporting the crimes.

Home Secretary Theresa May said, “The first step to stamping out modern slavery is acknowledging and confronting its existence. This campaign aims to bring this hidden crime out into the open and challenges us all to report it wherever we suspect it.”

– Hannah Cleveland

Sources: The Guardian, BBC
Photo: The Guardian

Prostitution has increased during the World Cup as Brazilian women are turning to prostitution for the lucrative duration of the competition, which takes place June 12 – July 13 throughout 12 cities in the host country. Five to 6 of Brazil’s top cities are the targets of these workers, many of whom took up prostitution just before the tournament started.

The women are reported to be taking English classes to converse with clients from English-speaking countries. Interviews with some of the prostitutes revealed that many of them, especially the younger women, have high hopes of being swept off to another country and a more comfortable lifestyle as the result of a transaction.

Maria, an 18-year-old student, stated to a journalist, “I’m here to find a gringo to take me away and give me a quiet life. I do not want luxury but just to live with a little more dignity and to help my family.”

England fans seem to be the biggest target for the girls who can be seen in brothels, near the beaches and amongst street vendors near the football stadiums, some even wearing English football team shirts.

While some of the women have dreams of being whisked away by a wealthy foreigner, all the women have their own reasons for taking up the profession, whether temporarily or permanently. Some women have seen an opportunity to earn extra money; some have a more severe need for the income.

One woman, according to social worker Cleide Almeida in Vila Mimosa, took on prostitution as a second job due to financial necessity after her husband passed away. It is legal for women in Brazil to sell sex if they are over the age of 18, but women as old as 77 are reported to work in the industry. Many foreign clients are looking for something they can’t get legally, however, and underage workers are often available by delivery to various hotels.

There are 120,000 sex workers in the state of Rio, and Almeida expects trade to double to 10,000 serviced men per day during the World Cup. Women are charging the equivalent of about $27 for a half hour of their time and $44 for an hour.

The World Cup is one of the world’s most celebrated occasions, and for good reason. Through competition, the football tournament unites nations for a month of good sport and excited nationalism. Whether increased prostitution can provide access to money for these women or not, the trend reflects bigger issues concerning demand for sex work and lack of other opportunities.

 — Edward Heinrich

Sources: IBN Live, Mirror OnlineLiverpool Echo
Photo: Flickr

Generating an industry worth billions of dollars, human trafficking poses one of the greatest threats to human rights globally. The U.N. defines the act as “a process by which people are recruited in their community, and exploited by traffickers using deception and/or some other form of coercion to lure and control them.”

The problem stems from various elements, including migration floods, political instability, economic uncertainty, dysfunctional state institutions and a rapidly growing sex industry. The U.N. goes on to identify three different elements that must be present for an act to be considered human trafficking: recruitment and transporting, an act of deception or abuse of power and a form of exploitation to which the victim is subjected.

Here are five basic realities of human trafficking that give a snapshot of the current situation:

1. What we see is the tip of the iceberg.

Cases of human trafficking are extremely difficult to detect. Conviction rates from the crime are extremely low: even though 460 different trafficking flows have been identified worldwide, 16% of affected countries reported zero cases between 2007 and 2010.

2. Victims remain tantalizingly close to home.

Most traffickers do not transport their victims across the world. Instead, they tend to keep victims within the region they were taken from. Globally, the trafficking flow with East Asian origins exports the most victims out of the region.

3. Men are trafficked, too.

Human Trafficking is an act of those in power exploiting those who are vulnerable. Women and children, then, with smaller physical stature and less social empowerment, are at highest risk. But that does not mean they are the only victims: men account for a quarter of all human trafficking victims. A third of all trafficked children are boys.

4. It’s happening right now, even in the U.S.

More than 10,000 people are forced laborers in the U.S., and this does not account for all the cases that go unnoticed. Taking those into account, the figure is more likely in the tens of thousands. Most of these will end up in the sex industry, while others will be forced to work in agriculture, domestic settings, sweatshops and in hotels.

5. It’s everyone’s problem.

It is estimated that 20.9 million people work forced labor globally, and this number can be thought of as a good indicator for the number of trafficked people worldwide. Victims have been identified with 136 different nationalities in virtually every region of the world, and all countries play some part in the process, with 118 of them containing victims.

The news is not all bad, though. There are ways to combat these trends, like lessening discrimination, empowering women, keeping children healthy and clear of conflict zones and, as always, battling global poverty.

Currently, evidence shows that in some regions, human trafficking has been on the decline since 2000, and 134 countries have now made laws against it.

– Rachel Davis

Sources: UN(1), UN(2), UNODC, Human Rights Center
Photo: LB International