The new abolitionists

How do you eliminate slavery and human trafficking? Modern abolitionists across the globe are tackling that question head on – and collaborating via the Internet on their efforts. Christian Science Monitor reports on programs that help end slavery by providing alternatives to support families.

Through, many have joined in a global competition to identify the most innovative antislavery programs and extend their impact.

More than 230 groups from 50 countries entered this summer’s competition, titled “Ending Global Slavery: Everyday Heroes Leading the Way.” Judges knowledgeable about slavery selected 15 finalists, and last week the online community voted for three winners.

• Carpets for Communities, a Cambodian organization, carries out grass-roots interventions into child trafficking and labor, providing mothers with an income (rugmaking at home) so that their children can go to school instead. Children are often sold or forced into working so their families can survive.

• The provides the international tourism industry with a tool to prevent and combat child sex tourism. According to UNICEF, about 2 million children fall victim to sex tourism, pornography, and trafficking every year…

• The Emancipation Network (TEN) raises awareness of slavery among Americans and creates jobs for survivors of slavery in several countries to help them achieve independence.

Composer Sara Symons was inspired by a documentary on modern day slavery:

Once slaves are rescued and go to shelters, they often have no place to go. Trafficked as children, they lack the skills to live on their own and are stigmatized by society.

Ms. Symons realized in 2005 that the handicrafts they made for therapeutic purposes could turn into a full-blown economic opportunity.

Today, she and her husband, John Berger, who left a Wall Street career to join the venture, work with 18 shelters in eight countries that care for former slaves. TEN trains the survivors in business development and product design, and purchases and sells the handicrafts in the US.

They market the crafts online, in a store on Cape Cod, Mass., and particularly through home “awareness” parties. The home parties also serve as a means to educate people about slavery and build the abolition movement in the US, Mr. Berger says in an interview. (They also partner with Polaris Project and Free the Slaves, in the US.)

Read more here.

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