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Homeless Children in Ethiopia Ethiopia, especially in its capital city of Addis Ababa, is experiencing a growing homelessness crisis. Young adults and children leave the countryside to try and find work and education in the country’s urban areas, but the cost of living and housing is often unaffordable. Here are seven facts about homeless children in Ethiopia.

7 Facts about Homeless Children in Ethiopia

  1. Forty-two percent of Addis Ababa’s homeless population is under the age of 18. An official survey in 2010 counted 12,000 homeless children in Addis Ababa alone but some NGOs have estimated that the number is much higher.
  2. Family problems are cited as one of the main reasons that children leave their homes and end up living on the streets. Approximately 46% of street children in Ethiopia live with people other than their birth parents because of death, divorce, or separation.
  3. Residential shelters exist for homeless children in Ethiopia, but they must pay their way into them and continue to make money in order to stay there. Shelters are small and fit fewer than 20 children at once. For about 20 birr (57 cents in USD) children can pay to have meals and a bed for a night. One particular shelter, Hold My Hand, has been serving at-risk homeless boys by providing them food at Addis’s largest school, Bole, or by reuniting them with lost family members. Though the shelter’s capacity is small, they have been able to reunite five families with their lost sons and continue to feed children through the Bole Project.
  4. Homeless children in Ethiopia are often exploited. Human trafficking networks have a large presence in the country’s crime rings, and often young girls that are experiencing homelessness in Ethiopia fall victim to these syndicates. Once in Addis Ababa, these girls are forced into slavery-like working conditions in domestic service. Close to 400,000 humans were trapped in slavery in 2016. Retrak Ethiopia helps businesses learn more about the people they employ and then tries to rescue homeless children in Ethiopia from human trafficking.
  5. Many homeless children experience addiction or substance abuse. Glue-sniffing is a popular form of drug abuse among homeless children in Ethiopia because the substance is inexpensive and easy to obtain on the street. Street children sniff glue in order to try and ease the pain of hunger and exposure to the elements.
  6. Ethiopia’s government does not offer any type of public funding for homeless children and has instead relied on a heavy police presence to try and contain the growing crisis in cities. One method used by the police is apprehending children and forcing them back to their hometowns, but this effort has been largely unsuccessful.
  7. Ethiopia’s newest prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has charted a new path for the way the country addresses its growing homeless youth population. His new stance is the “Children on the streets have a right to live” which is a far cry from mottos of the past like the one in 2017 that emphasized “Cleaning Addis Ababa’s streets of children.” Now, Ethiopia’s government involves more conversations with on-the-ground NGOs. Habitat for Humanity has opened an Ethiopian chapter to try and rebuild old housing units and provide new ones for the country’s homeless population. Sanitation services in Ethiopia are unavailable in 80% of urban areas, so Habitat focuses on creating communal points of access for water distribution and hygienic purposes in cities like Addis Ababa.

-Grace May
Photo: Flickr

Five Ted Talks About Human TraffickingTED talks about human trafficking help to shine a spotlight on the issues from how to spot examples of trafficking to how to end it. These talks can be a powerful educational tool not only for individuals but also in settings like the classroom and the workplace. Here are five TED Talks about human trafficking.

5 TED Talks about Human Trafficking

  1. “Human Trafficking is All Around You. This is How it Works.” In this talk, Noy Thrupkaew discusses the behind-the-scenes world of human trafficking and its prevalence in ordinary places of business such as nail salons. She shows the human faces behind the exploited labor that feeds global consumerism and breaks down how human trafficking works all around the world.
  2. “Escaping the Pain of Human Trafficking.” Markie Dell is a human trafficking survivor who shares her experience as well as her road to recovery. Dell also talks about the unusual advice from a friend that helped her to heal and reclaim her life.
  3. “Three Ways Businesses Can Fight Sex Trafficking.” Attorney Nikki Clifton points out three ways businesses can fight sex trafficking. She reveals to the audience how sex trafficking happens in the open more than people think. It can occur online, in the middle of the workday or while using company equipment and resources. As she says, this puts companies in a powerful position to mobilize employees and educate them to stop sex trafficking. Hiring sex trafficking survivors and setting clear policies are just some of the ways she says businesses can stop sex trafficking.
  4. “The Fight Against Sex Slavery.” Sunitha Krishnan spends her time leading powerful discussions surrounding the multi-million dollar global sex slavery industry. A longtime ally of sex traffickers, she tells the stories of children of slaves and advocates for a more humane reform to helping survivors rebuild their lives.
  5. “I Was Human Trafficked for 10 Years. We Can Do More to Stop It.” Barbara Amaya courageously tells her story of being human trafficked when she was 12 years old. After running away from home to escape her abusive family, Amaya was “rescued” by a family that locked her into human trafficking for 10 years. Since escaping in 2012, she has raised awareness about the sexual exploitation of children and domestic sex trafficking. Amaya is an anti-trafficking advocate, speaker, trainer, author and survivor leader in the movement to end sex and human trafficking.

By taking just a few minutes to watch these TED talks about human trafficking, people can do something today to prevent human trafficking. Sharing their talks on social media is also a great way to continue the movement of ending human trafficking through education.

Emily Joy Oomen
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Human Trafficking in El Salvador
El Salvador is the most densely populated nation in Central America, with a population of 6.375 million people and the size of 21,041 kilometers squared. Citizens of El Salvador are impacted by daily petty crimes such as thieft and pickpocketing, as well as more intense gang violence. El Salvador has the fifth-highest murder rate in the world, mainly caused by gang violence. Many gangs also partake in human trafficking, exploiting victims both domestically and abroad. These 10 facts about human trafficking in El Salvador aim to shed light on the main perpetrators, as well as steps taken to combat these abuses.

10 Facts About Human Trafficking in El Salvador

  1. Women, children, and LGBTQ people are at a higher risk of exploitation than men. Traffickers will often exploit El Salvadorans, as well as citizens from neighboring countries such as Nicaragua and Guatemala, who fall into those demographics. Transgender people are particularly at risk for sex trafficking as they are often dehumanized and fetishized in Latin America and other parts of the world.

  2. According to the United States Department of State, El Salvador does not currently meet the bare minimum standards for combating human trafficking. The government has made some small efforts, such as investigating an allegedly complicit government official and providing psychiatric services to female victims. These small efforts demonstrate a willingness to be on the right track, which makes El Salvador a strong candidate for potential growth in combating human trafficking.

  3. Gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha, more commonly known as MS-13, lure women into trafficking by offering them jobs. Women from poor backgrounds are baited and then forced into sex slavery. Experts are weary to pinpoint gangs as the main source for trafficking, as there is evidence of government officials and other people in power who also partake in trafficking whether for sexual or labor purposes.

  4. The Human trafficking network in El Salvador involves a lot of different members from the private sector, including transportation, tourism, media, entertainment and legal industries. Bus drivers, taxi drivers and truck drivers all take part in transporting victims. The media industry is also used to recruit victims by advertising fake jobs in newspapers and on the radio. These advertising methods are usually aimed at the aforementioned demographics, as they are often the most vulnerable in communities.

  5. The public sector is also very much involved in trafficking networks. Often, immigrants, police and other civil servants aid traffickers. Public officials provide false birth certificates and other legal documents. Border enforcement patrols are easily bribed into allowing victims to be trafficked to other countries. Suspects in human trafficking cases are often protected by public officials.

  6. The average age of trafficked victims ranges from between 9 to 15 years old. Teenagers and children are often recruited at school or within their own communities. Traffickers are able to brainwash children because of their young age, making them more malleable. Children are trained to murder, sell drugs or sell their bodies. Girls, in particular, are harassed and forced into relationships with gang members. Children are physically harassed, assaulted, threatened until they have no choice but to join a gang.

  7. Florida is the top destination for trafficked victims from El Salvador. Florida has high demands for human slaves, including both sex and labor slaves. Victims from El Salvador are forced into the commercial sex industry with the demand to make a profit for their traffickers. Victims are threatened to the point that they have no other choice but to comply.

  8. The root of human trafficking is the demand for victims. People are trafficked not because of the needs of human traffickers, but because of the demand of people who will pay for human services. In El Salvador, this manifests itself through a demand for prostitution and stripping. The growth of gang networks and the tourism industry has led to sec trafficking in El Salvador to become a multinational scheme.

  9. Many organizations are working to combat sex trafficking in El Salvador. The Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) started a campaign in 2013 called Tu Voz, which acmes to educate, alert, and support young people who are vulnerable to trafficking. The PADF worked with many other organizations to create the campaign, including MTV Latin America, the Inter-American Development Bank and its youth network (BID Juventud) and the Cinepolis Foundation (largest movie complex franchise in Latin America).

  10. The campaign has been incredibly successful so far, with over 150,000 people reached across 200 awareness events. Also, MTV produced and screened an anti-human trafficking documentary called “Invisible Slaves,” which had a successful impact across youth in danger of trafficking. The campaign also strengthened vulnerable youth to become activists against human trafficking. The success of the campaign demonstrates how empowering awareness and education campaigns can be, in combating some of the biggest villains in El Salvador.

Overall, minorities and women are the most vulnerable to be trafficked. There are many factors involved such as demand and poverty that contribute towards the human trafficking market. These 10 facts about human trafficking in El Salvador aimed to cover some of the reasons for the prominence of human trafficking in the region, as well as steps being taken to combat human trafficking. There has been an increase in effort from the international community, as well as the government of El Salvador to put an end to human trafficking. Education, advocacy and activism can all help to put an end to the atrocities of human trafficking in El Salvador.

– Laura Phillips-Alvarez
Photo: Flickr

Global Infancia

Global Infancia is a nongovernmental organization (NGO) that specializes in protecting children from abuse in Paraguay. It was founded in 1995, “Global Infancia works towards creating a culture which respects the rights of children and adolescents in Paraguay.”

It has attempted to promote the human rights of children in a myriad of ways, ranging from creating a branch of the government tasked with protecting children to founding a news agency focusing on children’s rights. Global Infancia represents the blueprint for a successful NGO because of its ability to form partnerships with governments, influence local communities, and follow through with its goals.

Partnerships with Governments

Studies have estimated that roughly 60 percent of children in Paraguay have been victims of violence. Faced with this fact, Global Infancia worked with the National Secretariat for Childhood and Adolescence along with the Paraguayan Government to pass a law stating “all children and adolescents have the right to be treated properly and with respect for their physical, psychological and emotional well-being. This includes protections for their image, identity, autonomy, ideas, emotions, dignity and individual values”.

Additionally, Global Infancia spearheaded the forming of Municipal Councils for the Rights of Children and Adolescence who have become instrumental in protecting children’s rights throughout Paraguay. Global Infancia’s work is proof of how a successful NGO can form fruitful partnerships with local governments.

Integration into the Local Community

Since the end of authoritarian rule in Paraguay, it has been working to integrate itself into local communities and promote the recognition of children’s rights. In the town of Remansito, Global Infancia is providing supplementary nutrition and school support to over 1,000 children. Approximately 22 percent of Paraguayans live below the poverty line. The child labor force of participation with a rate of 25 percent, shows that the conditions for many children in Paraguay are not ideal.

However, Global Infancia recognized these problems and has created national media campaigns to raise awareness for children’s rights and used training forums around the country to educate the public that violence against children will no longer be tolerated. Finally, Global Infancia has harnessed the power of local communities by “installing an alert system which reduces the demand for childhood labor”. These actions illustrate how a successful NGO employs the power of the communities they are working in.

Accomplishing Goals

At its inception, it was primarily focused on fighting the trafficking of babies and children. Today it has evolved into a children’s rights organization with a bevy of goals. Whether it be their success at establishing legal rights for children in Paraguay or the founding of CODENIS bodies which protect children throughout the country today, Global Infancia has had a considerable impact on Paraguayan society. In a 2017 report by the United States Department of Labor, experts found significant advancement in Paraguay’s fight to end child labor.

However, the current situation still puts many children in danger, requiring more resources to fully end child labor. With the help of Global Infancia and the multitude of other successful NGO’s, there are no doubts that Paraguay will continue to see improvements to children’s rights.

Overall, Global Infancia is a perfect example of how a successful NGO operates. From its crucial government and community partnerships to their impressive track record of accomplishing its goals.

Myles McBride Roach

Photo: Flickr

Reduce Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is a criminal activity that reaches every country. Today, trafficking affects over 40 million people. The regions that suffer the most from this inhumane transgression are those poorest in the world. People in impoverished countries have limited access to education and well-paying jobs, making them naive and desperate. The demand for cheap labor around the world creates profitable markets for criminals who then target and trick the vulnerable with false promises of better lives. Those victims become lost in the complex networks of human trafficking, and many times people never hear from them from again. One nonprofit is making it its mission to reduce human trafficking.

Traffickers Have Expanded Their Arsenal

In this age of rapidly expanding technology, many perpetrators use technology to enhance their modern slavery rings. Examples of this include controlling those already captured through mobile phones and webcam surveillance. Also, human traffickers recruit potential victims via online grooming scams.

Since criminals have begun to incorporate technology in how they traffic victims, it has become imperative for others to use technology to reduce human trafficking. Each incident of trafficking can be unique, but each case happens within the same three steps; acquisition, transportation and then forced labor. Technology can help disrupt each of these phases and save victims.

Using Technology to Advantage Instead

Specific technological solutions that people use today include directly connecting workers with safe employers in order to eliminate an intermediary who could exploit the worker. A great example of this application is the site, Contratados. As more resolutions like this develop, the ability for traffickers to obtain victims significantly diminishes.

Global imaging has enhanced the capability of identifying human trafficking routes. The company DigitalGlobe produces high-quality images of the earth to expose slave ships in the seas. Applying its powerful satellites in this way allows law enforcement to police seas like never before. DigitalGlobe also combats against child labor by investigating brick kilns in Inda and fisheries in Ghana.

Technology can also provide a way out for those already trapped in forced labor situations. Carrying a mobile phone has given people the ability to call for help after they went to prison wrongfully. That is if migrants have access to the funds for a mobile phone. It is uncommon for migrants to carry such devices if they are from impoverished countries where human trafficking is most rapid.

Technology has many solutions that can reduce human trafficking, but the most significant obstacle is its availability. Migrants of impoverished regions are not the only ones suffering isolation from helpful technology, their governments are too. Without the resources to combat this intricate crime, little improvements happen. Nevertheless, there is still good news for these nations.

How BSR is Doing its Part

In recent years, big tech companies have banded together in order to address this worldwide crisis and reduce human trafficking. Because of the nonprofit Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), the big players in this initiative have formed a group called Tech Against Trafficking. These companies include Amazon, AT&T, BT, Microsoft Corporation, Nokia, Salesforce.org and Vodafone.

The mission of this collaboration is to work “with global experts to help eradicate human trafficking using technology.” BSR wants all possible parties to become involved. Everyone from survivors and academia to law enforcement and technologists. With all these forces combined, BSR hopes to advance technology in order to reduce, disrupt and even completely prevent human trafficking. Of course, it also plans to provide resources for survivors.

The first action Tech Against Trafficking took in its mission consisted of mapping out the landscape that currently exists. After the initial review, the group identified over 200 different technologies to use as tools to reduce human trafficking. However, the gaps in the effectiveness of the tech implemented were evident. Specifically, in the Southern hemisphere, there is massive room for improvement in technological applications. Tech Against Trafficking’s next step is to work with those on the ground in these regions to better serve them with tech aid.

The U.S. government is also using cutting edge technology in its fight against global trafficking through the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). This agency uses a sophisticated data analytics program called Memex. The agency uses it to search the dark web for potential leads on trafficking rings, both domestic and internationally.

How to Keep Yourself and Others Safe

While big tech companies and government agencies do a large part to be at the forefront of fighting trafficking with technology, consumers can do the same. Using applications such as GoodGuide can help people be conscientious about the impacts of how their money is spent. Spreading awareness is the greatest ally to reduce human trafficking. Communicating via apps and social media is a simple call to action for this humanitarian cause that can easily disrupt human trafficking and save many lives.

– Ariana Kiessling
Photo: Flickr

Factors That Lead to Human Trafficking

There are many factors that lead to human trafficking, a form of modern-day slavery that exists in the 21st century. Today, an estimated 24.9 million people worldwide are still forced into a world of captivity. According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), factors that lead to human trafficking consist of three core elements: action, means and purpose. Action refers to how victims are recruited and transported. The means of trafficking includes deception, coercion and the use of or threat of force. The purpose of trafficking is always exploitation, including sexual services and forced labor.

Human trafficking is a global problem. Any nation in the world can be a country of origin, transit or destination for trafficked individuals. However, most trafficking occurs in developing countries where potential victims are vulnerable due to poverty or conflict. The problem is as widespread as it is complex and the factors that lead to human trafficking differ by country.

Factors That Lead to Vulnerability

Human trafficking is a complex issue, dependent on the social, economic and cultural spheres in origin, transit and destination countries. However, there is one commonality in every case of trafficking—traffickers seek to exploit their potential victim’s desire to move toward better opportunities. They use coercive measures to gain control and cooperation from the victim.

Victims of human trafficking often come from dangerous situations in their origin country and are falsely promised outcomes that will improve their quality of life. These factors of human trafficking are called push and pull factors. They either push people out of their origin or pull them toward their destination.

Push factors that provoke travel are often poverty, the lack of social or economic opportunity and human rights infringements. Other factors like political instability, internal armed conflict and natural disaster are also common. War creates major displacements of people, leaving women and children vulnerable to trafficking.

The pull factor is the need for slave labor, which is obtained by exploiting those in more vulnerable positions. When the origin country is devastated by war and destination countries are free of similar conflict, potential victims will be pulled toward stability. Those that desire to improve their quality of life by leaving their home countries can be deceived when trafficking offenders coerce and capture them. In the presence of conflict, the remaining vulnerable population can be exploited by offenders that deceivingly offer a better life.

Combating Root Causes

The UNODC operates on an international level and provides legislative assistance to address the root causes of human trafficking. This includes the review of domestic legislation concerning the protection of victims and the training of criminal justice practitioners to effectively prosecute offenders. Additionally, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 2000. This legal instrument aims to combat and prevent trafficking, protect victims and seek international cooperation to meet these goals.

There are many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that address issues on a local level. Challenging Heights is an NGO based in Ghana that focuses on fighting child trafficking to Lake Volta, where an estimated 21,000 children are forced to work in the fishing industry. The organization regularly conducts rescue missions for trafficked children in the region. Recovered children are brought to Hovde House, a transitional shelter. At that point, the rehabilitation process begins, which includes education as well as medical, psychological and emotional care. Once children are ready to reintegrate into their communities, Challenging Heights continues to monitor their progress and provides services like health care.

NGOs like Challenging Heights that address regional needs distill international legal instruments like the UNODC into local efforts. By addressing the root causes of trafficking like poverty, these organizations hope to stop the cycle of and factors that lead to human trafficking.

Andrew Yang
Photo: Pixabay

Combating Global Corruption
Cosponsored by six congressmen, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) re-introduced the Combating Global Corruption Act of 2019 on May 2, 2019. The bill requires the Department of State to rank countries into three tiers by how the country complies with the anti-corruption standards established in section four of the bill. This bill previously died in the 115th Congress. However, the 2019 re-introduction has already proven to be more successful. In mid-July 2019, the Senate placed the Combating Global Corruption Act of 2019 on its legislative calendar.

Cosponsor Sen. Young says, “I am proud of this bipartisan effort to combat corruption around the world by standing with the world’s most vulnerable and holding those in power responsible for their actions.” Global corruption is a direct threat to democracy, economic growth, national and international security. It increases global poverty, violates human rights and threatens peace and security.

Corruption and Global Poverty

Bribery negatively impacts literacy rates and access to adequate health and sanitation services. Eight times more women die during childbirth in places where over 60 percent of the population report paying bribes compared to countries with rates below 30 percent. Bribery significantly increases the costs of services like education and health care while decreasing a family’s disposable income. For example, in Mexico, the average poor family spends one-third of its income on bribes. Some families must use the income meant for school or dinner to pay a bribe to local law enforcement.

Corruption and Human Rights

Article six of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states: “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”

However, UNICEF reports that every five seconds, a child under the age of 15 dies of generally preventable causes. Over five million of these deaths occur before the age of five due to lack of water, sanitation, proper nutrition and basic health services. Impoverished families living in corrupt communities often do not have access to these services. Therefore, they suffer from higher rates of child mortality. Children are 84 times more likely to die before their fifth birthday in Angola, the sixth most corrupt country in the world, than Luxembourg, the 10th least corrupt country. Corruption denies children their right to life.

Peace and Security

Transparency International’s report “Corruption as a Threat to Stability and Peace” found that corruption fuels conflict and instability. Consequently, more than half of the 20 most corrupt countries have experienced violent conflict. Iraq and Venezuela have violent death rates above 40 per 100,000 individuals.

Further, one of the most profitable forms of corruption is human trafficking. UNICEF estimates that human traffickers generate $32 billion by smuggling approximately 21 million victims each year. Human trafficking occurs in unstable environments where corrupt officials allow criminal activity to persist. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that addressing human trafficking and combating global corruption together will generate better results.

Combating Global Corruption Act of 2019

The Combating Global Corruption Act of 2019 will establish a three-tiered system of countries by their level of corruption and efforts to combat injustices.

  1. Tier one includes countries complying with the minimum standards stated in section four of the bill.
  2. Tier two includes countries attempting to comply with the minimum standards in section four but are not succeeding at the level of a tier-one country.
  3. Tier three includes countries to which the government is making little, to no effort to comply with the minimum standards in section four.

The minimum standards set expectations about national legislation and punishments to deter and eventually eliminate, the corruption inside a country’s borders. The second part of the Combating Global Corruption Act sets forth a procedure to conduct risk assessments, create mitigation strategies and investigate allegations of misappropriated foreign assistance funds to increase the transparency and accountability for how the U.S. provides foreign assistance to tier-three countries.

Sen. Cardin has four points of focus:

  1. Fighting corruption must become a national security priority.
  2. The U.S. government must coordinate efforts across agencies.
  3. The U.S. must improve oversight of its own foreign assistance and promote transparency.
  4. The U.S. can increase financial support for anti-corruption work by using seized resources and assets.

According to Sen. Cardin, the Combating Global Corruption Act of 2019 “recognizes the importance of combating corruption as a hurdle to achieving peace, prosperity and human rights around the world.”

– Haley Myers
Photo: Flickr

Freeset

At the age of 13, Kondola became the tenth wife to an older man and a servant in her in-laws’ house. Shortly after, she was tricked, sold and forced into prostitution in Sonagachi, Kolkata. She was forced to work in order to send money back to her family, who lived in Murshidabad, a high-risk district of West Bengal for human trafficking. Her future looked incredibly bleak. That was until she started a conversation with Annie and Kerry Hilton on the street. Along with twenty other brave women, she took the step to leave the sex trade business that she was unjustly forced into and began a sewing job with Freeset.

How Did This Organization Begin?

In 1999, Kerry and Annie Hilton left New Zealand and moved to Kolkata, signing for an apartment in the middle of the day. To their surprise, by nightfall, they discovered they had moved into one of Asia’s largest red-light areas, Sonagachi, and their neighbors were women who were forced into prostitution. They began building relationships with the women around them, including Mina, a woman who shared a similar past to many others, was advocating for new employment opportunities to help. Head of In-Country Communications, Sophie Bond, told The Borgen Project, despite the fact that “the Hiltons had no experience in manufacturing or business”, they were determined to be compassionate and trustworthy employers who could offer training and a secure job to these women, “to bring real change and freedom”.

Human Trafficking in India

Human trafficking in India is still a prevalent issue that the government must tackle. Two-thirds of the population live in poverty, with 68.8 percent living on less than two dollars per day. A small percentage of the population has benefited from the recent economic boom, in which 133 million Indians rose out of poverty between 1994 and 2012, yet there has been a steady increase in trafficking and violence, with almost 20,000 women and children trafficked in 2016. Victims usually belong to poor families in rural areas, with 70 percent of trafficking victims being members of the Dalit class of the caste system, among the most disadvantaged socio-economic groups in India. Members are prone to vulnerabilities and the pressures of survival make them easy targets to trick with false promises of repaid debts and money for their families. Women are the most vulnerable as social pressures have confined them to the domestic sphere, resulting in having a lack of education and literacy. They are also prevented from any justice or equality, further subjecting them to human rights abuses.

Freeset Today

Today, Freeset makes about 50,000 t-shirts and 240,000 bags per year. All staff members earn wages, with entry-level staff earning slightly more than the average garment maker in West Bengal. The designs are made by the women themselves, as well as by those who have volunteered at the organization. The organization typically sells in bulk orders to larger businesses looking to add their own logos to the merchandise. Bond shared that currently, about 200 women are employed and 30 men. In most cases, each woman supports at least three other family members and share eerily similar, yet simultaneously unique stories of being forced into prostitution by trafficking and poverty.

Freeset Offers Counseling

Tamar, an organization funded by the Freeset Trust, is a means of holistic care in each community. Bond told The Borgen Project, “Tamar is there to help with life skills and supporting women in their new path”. Several of the Tamar staff members are trained in Trauma-informed care, which is a huge part of the lives of the women working at Freeset. “For many of them, traumatic experiences–in the sex trade, as victims of trafficking, in domestic violence–have left deep mental and emotional (not to mention physical) scars. Counselling can help a woman to understand her own behaviors and reactions, as a result of the trauma she has experienced, and give her the tools to integrate into the workplace, and ‘normal’ society”. Additionally, as of 2016, Freeset has been awarded Fair Trade Guaranteed status by the World Fair Trade Organization (WTFO).

What is the World Trade Organization?

Home of Fair Trade Enterprises, this organization recognizes those who are empowering their staff to alleviate poverty. The goal of the WTFO is to transform communities by empowering women, practicing sustainable methods, and applying a community concept to trade those who are typically exploited by larger corporations.

What is Fair Trade?

Fair Trade has become an increasingly integral part of poverty alleviation, as it now impacts about one million livelihoods, with 74 percent of those being women. In fact, 54 percent of senior roles in fair trade organizations are held by women. Fair Trade policies aim to help empower people to combat poverty, strengthen, and take control of their own lives.

What Is The Government Doing To Help?

In India today, women constitute about 14 percent of the total entrepreneurship. However, the lack of equal access to education, employment, labor, and sexual violence hinders further advancements. The government has struggled to combat the issue of human trafficking, as it has been so widespread. Currently, it is looking toward crime prevention and harsher penalties for child prostitution and forced marriage, as well as improvements to protect victims. However, India’s vast landscape and corruption of officials still pose as obstacles that the government must overcome to further the progress throughout the country.

Check this out to see how you can get involved with Freeset: https://freesetglobal.com/volunteer/

– Adya Khosla
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Child Labor in Liberia
Liberia, a country along the western coast of Africa, is Africa’s oldest republic and enjoyed relative stability until the civil war of 1989. This destructive civil war lasted from 1989 until 1997. Fighting, however, did not officially end until 2003. This war left the country without infrastructure and displaced approximately 300,000 people. Public services shut down and maternal and infant mortality rates increased, drastically affecting the number of people living in poverty. Below are the top 10 facts about child labor in Liberia everyone should know.

Top 10 Facts about Child Labor in Liberia:

  1. Approximately 16.6 percent of children in Liberia are employed. Of this 16.6 percent, 78.4 percent work in the agricultural field. Work in agriculture includes rubber and charcoal production and farming including the cocoa, cassava and coffee production. All of these industries are deemed hazardous by the U.S. Department of Labor.
  2. The minimum age for recruitment into the Armed Forces of Liberia is 18 years old. However, during the civil war and up until 2005, children were recruited to be a part of the army. In 2005, the Council on Foreign Relations estimated there were between 5,000 to 15,000 child soldiers in Liberia. During the civil war, former President Charles Taylor used children in his army who participated in rapes, murders, executions and dismemberments.
  3. Only 75.6 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 14 attend school. However, only 58.8 percent finish primary schooling. Longstanding consequences of the civil war and school closures during the 2015 Ebola outbreak have taken a toll on the Liberian education system. The cost of textbooks, uniforms and transportation all severely limit a child’s ability to attend school. Instead, children who do not attend school begin working.
  4. Children under the age of 15 are not legally allowed to work more than 2 hours of “light work” a day. Children under the age of 18 are not allowed to do hazardous work. However, a 2018 Human Rights Report from the U.S. State Department found that the Child Labor Commission did not enforce child labor laws effectively due to inadequate staffing and underfunding.
  5. The 2018 U.S. State Department Human Rights Report detailed the widespread child labor infractions found throughout every socio-economic sector of the country. In urban areas, children work as street vendors or tap rubber on private farms. Other children are involved in hazardous labor such as alluvial diamond and gold mining. Girls are also sent from their homes in rural areas to do domestic housework in the urban sector to raise money to send home to their families instead of receiving an education.
  6. Instate, the Liberian government-sponsors and participates in programs to eliminate and prevent child labor. For example, Winrock International donated $6.2 million to reduce child labor in the rubber sector. Through this program, 3,700 households were rewarded livelihood services, and 10,126 children were provided with education services.
  7. In July 2018, the Liberian government promised to eliminate child labor in Liberia by 2030. Through the Ministry of Labor, the country has stated that over 12 years they will take measures to eradicate forced labor, modern slavery and human trafficking. With the introduction of this plan, the country began a National Action Plan, demonstrating how they will address child labor and a Hazardous List, addressing which fields are not acceptable places for children.
  8. Only 25 percent of children are registered at childbirth, making their births unknown to the government. The lack of registration and identification documents makes children more susceptible to trafficking. Traffickers are often family members who promise poorer relatives a better life for their children. The children are often forced into street vending, domestic servitude or sex trafficking. In some poorer families, young girls are encouraged to participate in prostitution to supplement the family’s income.
  9. In June 2019, Verité, a nonprofit organization, partnered with Lawyers without Borders and Winrock International, to provide technical assistance to Liberia’s Ministry of Labor to reduce child labor. The CLEAR II project, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, aimed to improve the government’s response to labor, increase awareness of child labor and reduce the number of children exploited. The project held training sessions for government employees to improve their understanding of child labor and allow them to train other employees correctly.
  10. In 2019, the Liberian government investigated four traffickers, however, only one was prosecuted. This marks a decrease from the year before when the government investigated four traffickers and convicted all four. In a report, the U.S. Department of State stated that many officials did not consider internal trafficking, such as child domestic servitude, a crime but rather a community practice.

These top 10 facts about child labor in Liberia depict a country that is in need of humanitarian aid and more governmental funding. Child labor continues to be a problem in Liberia. However, the government is actively working to eradicate this problem and allow children the opportunity to get a formal education. Advocating for laws such as the Keeping Girls in School Act gives young girls the chance for a life without domestic servitude.

– Hayley Jellison
Photo: Unsplash

7 Facts About Ugandan Child Soldiers
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) began in 1987 in Uganda to rebel against President Yoweri Museveni. Children constitute most of the army. The LRA forces child soldiers in Uganda to commit acts of violence on other minors within the LRA ranks as well as brutalities on their own siblings.

LRA and Child Soldiers in Uganda

Between 1988 and 2004, the LRA abducted 30,000 Ugandan children.

Joseph Kony heads the LRA. He grew up in the northern Ugandan village, Odek. His relative, Alice Auma Lakwena, began a rebel group called The Holy Spirit Movement in 1986 when Museveni seized power. In 1987, Kony declared himself a prophet, changed the name of the group to the LRA and began proclaiming rule based on the Ten Commandments.

In October 2005, the International Criminal Court (ICC) began attempting to arrest Kony. A peace agreement was finalized in April 2008, but the child soldiers in Uganda and neighboring countries remained an issue.

Since 2008, Kony and his forces have been shifting their presence to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and the Central African Republic. The LRA Crisis Tracker, a website that reports LRA attacks and notifies email subscribers, lists 27 verified child abductions in these countries in 2018 alone.

Issues with the LRA

The LRA has displaced more than two million people since 1986 thereby increasing poverty in Uganda, especially in the north. However, the relation between the LRA and poverty is not mutually exclusive. The LRA and its brutal use of child soldiers in Uganda is a result of the harsh poverty that Kony and many others in the LRA ranks have experienced. Note the following:

  1. A huge income inequality, rooted in colonialism, exists between northern and southern Uganda’s north and south.
  2. British colonists created a militant north.
  3. The Acholi people have been systematically oppressed.

When the British colonized Uganda in 1860, a centralized government did not exist. They created agricultural and commercial centers in southern Uganda.

This left the north to provide labor. The British found higher success rates in northern Uganda for army recruitment because it provided northerners an opportunity to improve their livelihoods. These divisions continued after Uganda gained independence in 1962.

Acholi

Kony came from the impoverished north and is Acholi, an ethnolinguistic group. Idi Amin Dada, Former Ugandan President from 1971 to 1979, persecuted and executed the Acholi due to their military ties and alignment with Apollo Milton Obote, who was in office as the Prime Minister from 1962 to 1966 and as the President from 1966 to 1971 and then again from 1980 to 1985.

The British created a system where many Acholi people turned to the army to escape extreme poverty and then they were persecuted for it. Poverty and persecution influenced Kony’s disillusionment with the government and his desire to rebel and create child soldiers in Uganda.

However, the LRA’s actions have not combated the root issues of poverty and oppression. The cycle of poverty in Uganda propagates because of Kony and the LRA’s use of Ugandan child soldiers in the following ways:

  1. One of the biggest populations of displaced people now exists in northern and eastern Uganda. Most LRA raids take place at night, so when Kony’s presence was focused in Uganda, mothers and children trying to avoid becoming Ugandan soldiers fled their villages to bigger towns and secure government camps. More than 80 percent of the Acholi people were displaced.
  2. Malnutrition exists within the LRA ranks as well and many Ugandans focused on fleeing for their lives over planting food. This created severe food shortages, particularly in 2004.
  3. A lack of health workers exists because so many of them had to escape the LRA.
  4. Kony and other men in the LRA took many female captives as “wives” and forced them to have more children in order to provide more resources.

Moving Forward in Uganda

Now that most of LRA’s presence is focused elsewhere, Uganda is working to solve its problems. In 2006, 31.1 percent of Ugandans were under the national poverty line, according to The World Bank’s 2016 Uganda Poverty Assessment. In 2013, it went down to 19.7 percent. Northern and eastern Uganda still suffer devastating consequences from Kony’s reign of terror, and the same study reveals that poverty has increased in those regions from 68 percent to 84 percent in those seven years.

In June 2009, the LRA had abducted 491 civilians and caused 484 civilian fatalities in Uganda. While peace is coming to Uganda and its children, the LRA still violently demonstrates its power in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where it abducted 124 civilians in 2018.

In June 2018, there have been no reported fatalities or abductions, meaning there are no new child soldiers in Uganda this year. The growing peace in Uganda provides hope that the country’s poverty rate might reduce and that the LRA would not reign indefinitely.

– Charlotte Preston
Photo: Flickr