Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Hidden Faces of Modern-Day Slavery (NPR "TALK OF THE NATION")

I heard this story on NPR last month and wanted to share it on the blog. You can read the full transcript and download the radio broadcast at

You can listen to the whole story at

February 28, 2012


Given Kachepa, victim of human trafficking
Sandy Shepherd, 
Given Kachepa's adoptive mother
Bradley Myles, executive director and CEO, Polaris Project

Copyright © 2012 National Public Radio®. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Neal Conan is away. You've heard the story before of human sex trafficking as a form of modern slavery. It is real, and it is widespread, and it is not going away. But neither is a much broader category of industries known to use enslavement in order to make profits, and it's not just brothels, it can be a nail salon, a restaurant, a farm.
It can even be and has been that young person knocking on your door selling magazines. He's pleasant, he's clearly working, but he's also making no money, and he cannot escape that situation; he is a slave.
Law enforcement and state legislators are working on the problem. They have bills to strengthen penalties against traffickers on the move in West Virginia and in Florida, but it's actually so prevalent that they need other eyes and ears, like yours, to spot this happening, not that it's necessarily an easy thing to do. And who is so sure that they can actually recognize slavery of this type and then go and report it?
Well, we're going to start with the story of a woman who did just that in just a moment, but have you seen this in your community, and if so, what did you do? Tell us your story. Our number is 800-989-8255. Our email is And you can also join the conversation at our website. Go to, and click on TALK OF THE NATION.
Later on in the program, Laura Vanderkam joins us. She wants you to know that you're not really quite as busy as you say you are. But first, we're joined by Sandy Shepherd. She is a resident of Colleyville, Texas, and she picked up the phone one day after she suspected something fishy in a very unlikely place: a boys' choir from Zambia performing in her community near Dallas. She joins us on the phone from her home in Colleyville, Texas. Sandy, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.
SANDY SHEPHERD: Thank you very much.
DONVAN: So Sandy, a boys' choir performing, and you suspect something, something is very wrong there. What did you see?
SHEPHERD: Well, I was associated first of all with a choir that was from 1996 to 1998, and we recognized that the boys had been promised to be paid for their work, that their families were going to be getting money, that they were going to get an education and that the money that they earned was going to be building a school in their community in Zambia.
And what we realized was that none of this was happening, and they had not had any TB of HIV testing at that time, and one of the boys actually came down with active tuberculosis. And so we began to notify people and try to get help for these kids, even talking to the FBI.
DONVAN: And did people want to hear you on this? Were they hearing you on it?
SHEPHERD: They were listening, but even the FBI said, you know, they weren't shackled, they weren't chained. They were free to walk in the area out in the country where they were being housed while they were on tour. But we knew that they were being exploited and couldn't get anybody to believe that in 1996 through 1998.
DONVAN: Well, one of the young men who was in that choir, who actually with your help escaped that situation, and we'll get into that, but one of those young men is actually able to join us now. Given Kachepa is online with us where he is now actually in a life that has evolved dramatically for the better, in dental school. Given, welcome to the program.
GIVEN KACHEPA: Thank you for having me. I'm glad to be here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dallas area non-profit events supporting victims of human trafficking and violence

Below is an email I received from Mosaic Family Services in Dallas. I live in the Dallas area and wholly support Mosaic. They have some great events coming up that I invite everyone to attend who lives in the DFW area.

Dear John,

Thank you for your ongoing support of Mosaic and our efforts to serve refugee and immigrant survivors of violence!

Mosaic is unique in providing legal protection for victims as well as food, shelter, counseling, and case management. Our Multicultural Legal Services Program assists victims of domestic violence and human trafficking in both immigration and family law.

Many of the laws that protect our clients and the funding that helps us to provide legal services is made available under the Violence Against Women Act, which is up for reauthorization this year. To learn more about the reauthorization process and how to contact your Senator about supporting VAWA, check out    

 Upcoming Events 

Benefit Dinner at Desta Ethiopian Restaurant
From 5:30-11pm on Monday, March 5, Desta Ethiopian Restaurant will donate 10% of all proceeds to Mosaic Family Services.

Come eat a delicious Ethiopian dinner and support Mosaic at the same time! 
Join us at:  12101 Greenville Ave, Suite 105  Dallas, TX 75243  

5K and 1 Mile Run 
Benefiting Mosaic Family Services

Join us on Saturday, May 12th to learn more about human trafficking in the Dallas area and what you can do help stop it!

Thank you again for your support. We look forward to seeing you at our upcoming events!

Many thanks,
 Laura's signature
Laura Haynes
Development Director 
Mosaic Family Services  

Journalist and author Lucia Mann writes new book on modern slavery

In January, posted a report of its four-month investigation into a slavery network emanating in Eastern Europe. Every year, it says, some 200,000 women and girls are  smuggled out of impoverished former Soviet countries and sent to the Middle East, Western Europe and the United States, where they’re held captive.

In Haiti, UNICEF reported thousands of children were illegally trafficked out of the country following the devastating earthquakes two years ago. Selling orphaned children as slaves is a common problem following natural disasters, it says.

“Modern-day slavery is an even bigger problem than it was during the years of legalized slave trade from Africa to the Americas,” says Lucia Mann, the daughter of a woman who was held as a sex slave in South Africa in the 1940s. Mann, a former journalist, tells a slightly fictionalized version of her family’s story in Rise Above Hate & Anger (

There are ways individuals can help end the suffering and reach out a hand to victims, says Mann, who created the Modern-Day Slave Reporting Centre as a tool to address the problem. Here are details about the reporting center and other resources.
• At The Modern-Day Slave Reporting Centre,, anyone who suspects a person is being held captive, or any person who is being held their will, can file a report. The information will be reported to law enforcement officers and the person filing can request they remain a confidential source. The Web site also includes links to relevant law-enforcement agencies in Canada and the United States.
• At, people can take a short online survey that calculates the number of slaves working for you around the world based on the clothes, cars, electronic items and other consumer goods you own. The number is calculated according to what’s known about slave labor in the regions where the raw materials are produced and the goods are manufactured. (Google Chrome is required to take the survey.)
• At, are email prepared letters and surveys to any of 1,566 companies asking what steps they’re taking to ensure no slave labor is used in their supply chains. Companies who complete the survey and go out of their way to describe ongoing and current efforts are tagged with a “Thank You.” Companies that complete the survey are tagged with “View Response.” As of mid-January, 70 companies ranging from Fruit of the Loom to Campbell’s Soup had earned a “Thank You.” Another 25, including Avon and Best Buy, had completed the survey. Most, though, had not responded despite numerous emails. Duracell, for instance, was sent 432 emails and Bounty was sent 221.
• In California, the Transparency in Supply Chains Act became effective Jan. 1. It requires retailers and manufacturers with gross receipts of $100 million to disclose what they’ve done – or haven’t done – to eliminate slavery in their supply chains. While there are no punitive consequences, advocates say the law will raise awareness and allow consumers to reward or punish companies with their shopping choices. Residents of other states can lobby legislators for a similar law.
“There is nowhere in the world now where slavery is legal, and yet more than 27 million people are held captive as forced laborers or sex slaves,” Mann says. “That’s more than twice the number enslaved during 400 years of trans-Atlantic trading.

Raising Americans’ awareness and concern is the first step to ending slavery, Mann says.“If there is no money to be made from enslaving people, it will end.”

About Lucia Mann
Lucia Mann was born in British colonial South Africa in the wake of World War II and lives in British Columbia, Canada. She retired from freelance journalism in 1998 and wrote Rise Above Hate & Anger to give voice to those who suffered brutalities and captivity decades ago.

IJM Gets First Conviction of 2012

I received this email from Sean Litton with the International Justice Mission recently. It's always great to hear about success stories like this.

Dear John,
Last week, our lawyers in Guatemala secured a conviction against a man who sexually abused his 10-year-old nephew, Ricardo.*
It was IJM Guatemala’s first conviction of the year. But more importantly, it was a huge milestone for Ricardo, who continues to heal from the abuse with support from our social workers and his family.
"Ricardo, he is a fighter," says IJM Guatemala social worker Delmi Ramirez. "He has a strong desire to move forward from here."
Imagine the courage it took for this brave boy to testify in court earlier this month against the man who had robbed him of so much. Ricardo is now studying in school, and he recently told us that he wants to be a lawyer when he grows up.
Thank you for being a part of the fight for children like Ricardo. Together, we are moving forward.
Sean Litton Signature
Sean Litton
Vice President of Field Operations