1. Ending Slavery in Global Supply Chains
In an effort to examine exploitation in global supply chains, leaders from around the world met for the global supply chain summit on Friday, April 11th. Businesses, NGOs, and UN representatives were present and discussed the proper course of action to ensure products are made without slavery. Although attendees had different ideas on how to address with issue, some pushed for more regulation and tighter laws on corporate responsibility, while others argued for more voluntary initiatives, using investment to persuade companies to clean up their supply chains, it is clear that everyone agreed something must be done. The leaders hope this summit is a catalyst for greater momentum to change the issue of exploitation.
Last week, a six-month investigation of suspected trafficking rings in San Rafael, California, was brought to an end when police arrested two men and rescued two women who were victims of sex trafficking. The women immigrated from Central America under the false promises of better lives in the United States. Police say this is a common phenomenon that manipulates, traps, and coerces many immigrant women. Investigations will continue in the surrounding area as more tips of suspicious apartment buildings and homes could lead to additional breakthroughs.
Guatemalan palm oil is a common ingredient in many processed foods we consume everyday. Guatemala is the ninth largest exporter of palm oil in the world. However, the truth behind this growing economic asset was revealed by a recent report by Verité. The palm oil industry is plagued with many human rights violations including forced labor, child labor, environmental damage, and wage exploitation. Violence, forced labor and child labor are incredibly common practices, and sadly, the Guatemalan government is blind to the abuses occurring in their country.
Maine’s governor recently signed a bill into law that aims to support victims of human trafficking by making sex trafficking “an affirmative defense to prostitution charges and provides victims with access to a compensation fund.” Earlier this month, the bill was rejected by the Legislative Council but was later passed unanimously in the House and Senate. Legislators hope this bill will aid in the prosecution and enforcement of laws and ultimately protecting victims of sexual exploitation.
5. Brick Kilns in India
In India, millions migrate from state to state looking for work. Some become entrapped in debt and paying off loans, and many end up as bonded laborers. Though illegal, bonded labor in India’s brick kilns persists. Two men, Nilambur and Dialu, were forcibly transported to work in brick kilns in south India. They were held captive and tortured for days. The mean managed to escape, but not before suffering inexplicable damages; one of their captors chopped off their hands in an act of violence and brutality. The violence they experienced is all too common for those in similar situations of bondage.
In the industry of sex trafficking in the United States, traffickers and “johns” alike utilize the Internet to buy and sell women and children. If put in the right hands, technology can be used for positive, innovative purposes. In one such way, a team at the University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the Information Sciences Institute (ISI) of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering is creating technological tools to combat sex trafficking and help find victims. The researchers have worked with many law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of State. The software will help law enforcement investigate trafficking through facial recognition and other means of identifying child victims in online websites and advertisements.