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Despite the Modern Slavery Act, poor labour conditions are prevalent in the fast fashion industry – PoliticsHome.com

British people are Europes fast fashion addicts. Consumption of new clothing is estimated to be higher in the UK than any other European country, and manufacturers are in engaged in an unceasing floral-printed arms-race to satisfy that demand.

Earlier this year the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC)investigated the social and environmental impact of disposable fast fashion. For the fashion industry, the report was damning.

Describing the way that we make and use clothing as unsustainable, the report attracted headlines for its focus on the environmental damage caused by fashion that people perceive as disposable.

Companies like ASOS and Boohoo came under criticism for their focus on saving money in the production process rather than sustainability, but the undeniable truth is that they are simply responding to public demand. Last year Boohoo released a range of 5 dresses, and despite howls of anguish from campaigners and competitors, the range has proven immensely popular with the companys millennial target market.

Modern Slavery

The cost is more than just environmental, however. The EACs report emphasised that forced labour was still present in contemporary supply chains, expressing particular concern about the use of child labour and prison labour.

Arguably most concerning was the comparatively high awareness of poor labour conditions within garment-making the globalisation of production has also to led to an apparent globalisation of indifference. The forced labour within cotton production can be found in far-off Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, whereas Anti-Slavery International campaigner Kate Elsayed-Ali also highlighted the Sumangali system practiced in India to illustrate the often gendered nature of forced and child labour.

Tempting though it might be, however, to dismiss modern slavery as an overseas problem, to do so would grossly mischaracterise the situation.

A Made in the UK label may assuage the worries of concerned consumers, but the Committee noted the open secret that there were British factories paying wages well below the legal level. Leicester has the dubious honour of being Britains fast fashion capital, with a number of garment factories paying staff well below the minimum wage, often in illegally sub-standard working conditions.

The fact that such practices have a presence in the UK may surprise some observers. The much-vaunted Modern Slavery Act contains a clause relating directly to transparency in supply chains; businesses with a turnover of more than 36m required to produce a statement setting out the steps the organisation has taken to ensure that modern slavery is not taking place in their business or supply chain.

The Government believes that this is sufficient, claiming that the Act has increased transparency in supply chains. However, concerns have been raised by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the Government does not monitor whether statements made under the Modern Slavery Act comply with the legislation and the Government has never used its powers to penalise companies that do not comply.

Compliance is far from universal - research at Leeds University identified 24 leading retailers, including Foot Locker and Valentino, who are non-compliant with the Modern Slavery Act by not making available their modern slavery statements as of December 2018.

Governmental Response So Far

Despite the EACs damning conclusions, May this year saw the Government respond with comparative indifference. They rejected each of the reports recommendations, pointing out their commitment to the rising minimum wage and the actions of the 2015 Modern Slavery Act.

On the topic of public procurement, the official response to the report highlighted that bidders for Government contracts are now required to show their compliance and the Government believes these measures are sufficient to root out Modern Slavery within the context of public contracts.

Behavioural change was another area in which the Government claimed to be acting proportionately. They noted a series of events held in the UK to boost environmental awareness and insisted that children were educated on the topic of sustainability throughout their school lives.

Chair of the Committee Mary Creagh was withering in her criticism of the Government response, claiming that Ministers had failed to acknowledge the severity and urgency of the environmental crisis. She repeated her calls for greater transparency within the supply chains of big fashion companies and accused some of them of flouting the 2015 Modern Slavery Act.

The Future Direction of Policy

Of course, much has changed since the summer, with a new Prime Minister, a new Cabinet and a new set of political priorities. The Government has responded to growing public concerns about the climate crisis by emphasising their environmental record but have, so far, remained comparatively reticent in the area of sustainable fashion.

More action has been seen in combatting low domestic wages - over Conference season, the Chancellor Sajid Javid announced a dramatic increase in the minimum wage, taking it to two-thirds of median earnings by April 2024, for all workers aged 21 and over.

However, campaigners have warned that this may prove ineffectual in the case of fashion supply chains, due to the disproportionately globalised nature of the work force and the fact that some British factories have been flatly ignoring the existing rules for many years.

Only four years after the landmark Modern Slavery Act, there remains a clear prevalence of unsustainable environmental and social practices in the sector. Ultimately, this is unlikely to change dramatically until it becomes politically expedient for it to move up the agenda, and, given the overwhelming sense of indifference towards the issue amongst the general public, this seems a long way away.

If your organisation needs to keep abreast of political and policy developments, Dods Monitoring can offer intelligence to keep you one step ahead. Find our more HERE.

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Despite the Modern Slavery Act, poor labour conditions are prevalent in the fast fashion industry - PoliticsHome.com

ITUC: ‘Qatar is changing’ with the abolition of the kafala system – Morning Star Online

QATAR claimed to abolish their vile modern slavery kafala system today and announced a new evidence-based minimum wage law from January 2020.

The bloodstained Gulf state won the right to stage the 2022 World Cup in a controversial vote by footballs governing body Fifa during December 2010.

In the wake of delivering the successful bid for international footballs showpiece event, there was increased scrutiny over Qatars diabolical labour laws governing the estimated two million migrant workers who have been exploited while building the infrastructure.

Despite numerous broken promises from the Qatari government to improve matters within the small, but oil-and-gas-rich, country, nothing was done.

Last month, human rights organisation Amnesty International published a 52-page report, titled All Work, No Pay: The Struggle of Qatars Migrant Workers For Justice, which points out that the pledges have not yet been matched by reality.

However, yesterdays announcement to end the kafala system, a sytem of virtual enslavement under which their ability to leave the country or change job is entirely at the whim of their employer, saw International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) general secretary Sharan Burrow declare that Qatar is changing.

Exit visas for workers including domestic workers, those in government and public institutions, and workers employed at sea, in agriculture as well as casual workers have been eliminated and these workers finally have the same rights as all workers in Qatar. The same non-discriminatory law will apply for all workers including domestic workers.

From the start of next year, a new evidence-based minimum wage law that applies to all nationalities is established.

The abolitionof the no objection certificates (NOC) will also allow workers to change their jobs without the permission of their employer, following normal contractual commitments.

Qatar is changing, said Burrow. The new tranche of laws will bring an end to the kafala system of modern slavery: exit visas for all workers including domestic workers eliminated; a system of contracts that are transparent and labour courts to enforce them; the end to permission to leave a job, with criteria equivalent to any modern industrial relations system; and a government fund to ensure workers are not disadvantaged by exploitative employers, while the state pursues recovery of entitlements.

We recognise that an evidence-based minimum wage, the first of its kind in the Middle East, will be a major improvement for workers, and will guarantee a minimum level of protection. We urge the government to announce the new rate as quickly as possible.

Workers want to work in the Gulf states, they want to support their families at home, but they also want decent work where they are treated fairly and with dignity and respect. While we witness the changes in Qatar, sadly this is not the case in neighbouring countries where migrant workers are still treated as less than human with few rights and freedoms.

The reforms need to become embedded in employment practice and strong legal compliance. But the partnership between the Qatar government and the ILO supported by the ITUC is working to change lives to change a nation.

The new laws will be submitted to the Advisory (Shura) Council in November and come into effect on January 1 2020.

The programme of reforms ispart of a three-year technical co-operation agreement with the International Labour Organisation. A review of the agreement will be reported to the ILO Governing Body in November.

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ITUC: 'Qatar is changing' with the abolition of the kafala system - Morning Star Online

Human trafficking is happening on our doorstep, says head of Sheffield anti-slavery charity – Yorkshire Post

Friday is Anti-Slavery Day but modern-day slavery is still destroying lives. Grace Hammond speaks to a victim and the charity trying to help her.

Sharon endured the ultimate betrayal. She was enticed to the UK with false promises, then manipulated into a life of slavery by a member of her own family. She came to the Yorkshire and Humber area from Ghana with dreams of becoming an accountant.

My country is beautiful but there are no opportunities for anyone and there is corruption, says Sharon, not her real name, who is now 27. I wanted to be an accountant. I managed to study for an accountancy diploma. But there was no chance of getting any further. I was sat at home, helping my mum and feeling Id just wasted three years of study.

When my cousin, who was living in the UK, told me about her successful life, and promised to help me to get into college near her, I was really excited.

She said I could stay with her and her family and offered to organise my visa and pay for my flight. People will say this sounded too good to be true but I had known her all my life; I trusted her totally.

Sharon moved into her cousins home. She was given a mattress on the floor in the childrens bedroom, but she was told she would need to wait until September to start college, and asked to work in her cousins business in the meantime.

I didnt mind. I felt it was the least I could do to repay her for her kindness, she says. I worked six days a week until late each day, without receiving a penny. I felt very grateful to them. I didnt want to make a fuss. But then I was asked to do the household chores on top of my job, and take the children to school. Without realising it, I had become the familys unpaid servant and totally dependent on them. I would have liked to go out to make friends, but without money it was impossible. I think that was the plan to isolate me. I became less and less confident.

When the cousins business collapsed, there was no escape for Sharon. She was given false identity papers and a job was found for her.

I didnt have a say in it. They told me I needed to do it to pay for my college course, and living expenses while I studied. I could see their point so went along with it. Around her household duties, she worked in a clothing warehouse. She has no idea how much she was earning, her wages went straight into her cousins bank account.

She told me she was saving the money for me. But whenever I asked about applying for my college place, she would tell me I wasnt ready. My English wasnt good enough, I needed to be more settled here. There was always a reason. I had worked at the warehouse for over a year when I asked my cousin how much had been saved for me and where the money was. She got very angry and said I owed her money for the paperwork, my airfare and my room in her house. She always made me feel I should be grateful to her.

Eventually Sharon confided in a friend at the factory, who helped her to get her payment details changed at the warehouse. That meant she would receive her next wage. It would give her the means to escape from her cousin.

I was really frightened; I knew as soon as my wages didnt drop into her account she would realise what I had done. I sneaked out of her house and went to stay with my work friend.

Sure enough, the cousin came to the warehouse and confronted Sharon, then told factory bosses and the police that it was Sharon who had acted fraudulently.

She said I had stolen her documents and identity. My manager called the police and I was put in a cell overnight. They were more interested in the fact that I only had a visitors visa which had expired and reported me to immigration authorities.

A document of deportation was issued and I was terrified. I told them I was the victim and wanted to claim asylum.

As soon as the police released her, she went to ground. With no income and no home, she slept on the sofas of her former workmates for two years.

Eventually she met a man and moved into his home. She told him about her cousin and he took her to a lawyer, who contacted immigration services.

I gave them as much information as I could. I told them my cousin had received all of my wages for over a year.

At an initial assessment for claiming asylum, it was decided there were reasonable grounds to identify Sharon as a victim of human trafficking and was referred into the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) the system by which victims of modern slavery are identified and provided with support. She was given the Salvation Armys specialist support for victims of modern slavery. By this time she had a daughter and her relationship had broken down. The Home Office found them an apartment. I had a place no one could kick me out of. I felt safe.

The Salvation Army introduced Sharon to the Sheffield charity City Hearts. Her City Hearts caseworker gave her emotional support and counselling. She was putin touch with support services for refugees and asylum seekers and a church, where she made friends. Because she is recognised as a potential victim, she is allowed to stay in the UK pending a verdict on her status. It should take 47 days she has been waiting since 2017. She is not allowed to work but has enrolled at catering college and hopes to become a cook. She lives off a weekly allowance of 37.75 from the National Asylum Seeker Service and a temporary additional amount of 27.25 from the NRM.

Amy Harrison, senior anti- human trafficking caseworker at City Hearts, says: Sharon is stuck in the system somewhere and while she waits in limbo, we are supporting her. She is working towards a future, but where that future will be is unknown.

CEO of Sheffield charity City Hearts, Ed Newton, said: People should not imagine trafficking only exists in major cities like London. It is happening right now, on our doorsteps, in Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster.

According to the charity, latest statistics indicate there are as many as 136,000 modern-day slaves in the UK.

Founded in Sheffield 14 years ago, City Hearts aims to restore the lives of people rescued from trafficking and modern slavery. Nationally recognised for its work with over 2,000 survivors in the last five years, the organisation has grown dramatically to cope with the explosion in trafficking in 2018 6,993 were referred into the National Referral Mechanism, a 36 per cent rise from 2017.

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Human trafficking is happening on our doorstep, says head of Sheffield anti-slavery charity - Yorkshire Post

From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: Central Florida’s hotels and restaurants are the chief reason Orlando consistently has the lowest median income of…

Were going to revisit a topic from last weeks commentary because its of vital importance. Last week, we told you how the president of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Carol Dover, decried the words of attorney John Morgan, who compared Floridas minimum wage to slave wages.

While Morgan is no pauper, its important to note that Dover, whose response diverted attention with empty words about slavery and human trafficking, herself is paid more than $620,000 a year for her job.

As has been widely reported year after year, Central Floridas hotels and restaurants are the chief reason Orlando consistently has the lowest median income of all major metros in the U.S.

Restaurants, at the behest of organizations like Dovers and lobbyists for hotel and service industries, pay servers as low as $5.44 per hour, not the $8.46 minimum other employers pay, because restaurants are allowed to let servers tips make up the remaining $3.02 an hour.

While tips are an unstable source of income that only serves to keep menu prices low for restaurant owners, working as a lobbyist to keep restaurant employees pay as low as possible is one of the very best ways to get rich in Florida.

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From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: Central Florida's hotels and restaurants are the chief reason Orlando consistently has the lowest median income of...

Car washes in Bexhill, Northiam and Robertsbridge issued warnings over treatment of staff – Bexhill Observer

Operators of five car washes in Rother have been warned over failures in how they treat their staff, according to a council spokesman.

Inspections by Rother District Council (RDC) found all of them were failing to comply with health and safety legislation or to pay their workers the minimum wage.

Breaches included failure to provide basic safety equipment such as appropriate safety footwear, waterproof clothing and basic eye protection for mixing chemicals, and failure to carry out risk assessments.

The council is highlighting the issue to coincide with Anti-Slavery Day on Friday (October 18), a national initiative aimed at raising awareness of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Cllr Jay Brewerton, district council cabinet member for safer communities, said: People may not realise that modern slavery encompasses exploiting workers by failing to treat them in accordance with the law.

The people who wash our cars work incredibly hard for very long hours and are entitled to receive at least the minimum wage and to be given appropriate workwear to enable them to do their job safely.

Anti-Slavery Day is a good opportunity to highlight this issue and to send a clear message to employers who flout the law and mistreat their staff that well use all powers available to us to ensure they comply.

The council has powers to issue Community Protection Notices (CPNs) to businesses and individuals responsible for persistent unreasonable behaviour that has a negative impact on workers quality of life.

Warning letters a precursor to a formal CPN were issued to operators of five car washes in Rother. These were Dazzle Hand Car Wash and Valeting Service in Terminus Road, Bexhill; Victoria Car Wash in Victoria Road, Bexhill; Johns Cross Hand Car Wash in Battle Road, Robertsbridge; A21 Car Wash in London Road, Hurst Green; and Unigate Car Wash in Station Road, Northiam.

Unigate Car Wash in Northiam has subsequently been issued with a full CPN for failing to comply with the requirements of the warning letter.

Businesses which fail to comply with a CPN are issued with a fixed penalty notice and if they fail to pay can be prosecuted in magistrates court, where a fine of up to 20,000 can be issued.

Modern slavery includes a wide range of abuse and exploitation including sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced labour, criminal exploitation and organ harvesting.

More information about modern slavery and how to report it is at http://socsi.in/TidxC.

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Car washes in Bexhill, Northiam and Robertsbridge issued warnings over treatment of staff - Bexhill Observer

Regina King on fighting white supremacists in Watchmen: ‘My community is living this story’ – The Guardian

Regina King had a hard time convincing some of her friends about Watchmen, her new HBO series inspired by the DC comic book of the same name and featuring the kind of details that make some people run for the exits: time travel, kung-fu fighting, masks and thinly veiled political allegory. Girl, dont do this, said one friend. King could only smile and agree.

But we would all do well to watch King in anything. At 48, she is in her prime. While filming Watchmen, King won the best supporting actress Oscar for If Beale Street Could Talk, based on the James Baldwin novel. For years, she has been turning out quietly devastating portraits in the movies Jerry Maguire and Ray, in the TV show Southland with little public recognition. Now she has her pick of roles. I appreciate winning the Oscar, she says, but thats not the ultimate goal. I should be able to use it as currency moving forward.

King was not familiar with the original Watchmen material, nor the 2009 Zack Snyder movie (her 23-year-old son Ian is more excited about this role than any of Kings previous parts). But once she read the script, she was enthused. In Damon Lindelofs adaptation, the tales 1950s cold-war storyline is spun into a look at the rise of a white supremacist group in a parallel US. King plays Angela Abar, a cop with superhuman fighting skills and an amazing French Lieutenants Woman-style cape: not the kind of part she usually gets.

King, who in a New York hotel room is slight and smiling, powers through the series like a wrecking ball. She tuned into the fantasy landscape pretty quickly, even quibbling with wardrobe over the practicality of each costume. Originally, her mask was so cumbersome it seemed to defy even the tenuous reality of a comic-book tale. I was like, This is not good for the superhero peripheral! I cant see if somethings coming you have to tell me! So our wardrobe designer had a great idea: what if it was painted on? It was hell on her skin, but its dynamite on screen.

Lindelof was co-creator of Lost and the recent HBO hit The Leftovers. Watchmen has that same compelling narrative, the story of men with bamboo torches trying to eliminate black people. In the current climate, this parallel America feels very like the real thing. One of Lindelofs triggers, says King, was Ta-Nehisi Coatess 2014 article for the Atlantic, The Case for Reparations, addressing the unacknowledged fall-out from slavery. She also cites the way policing is happening here in the States with, particularly, black men.

To this end, Watchmen is, oddly, of a piece with Beale Street, Baldwins expos of the split-screen reality in the US between white people and people of colour although Watchmen doesnt seem expressly political to King. With a laugh, she says: Being black, its part of my life. Whats happened is that Trump has just emboldened people. They were always there, feeling the way theyve been feeling, but now, oh my gosh. There are a lot of people white friends I have who have had this wedge in their families. They knew maybe a family member was a little less progressive, but whoa! Now theyre finding out their views were so far apart.

Trump has just emboldened people. They were always there, feeling the way theyve been feeling, but now, oh my gosh

Meanwhile, the idea of white supremacy as a guerrilla force is not exactly fantastical, given the extent such militias play in US history. Its easy to pretend that something didnt exist if youre not talking about it, says King. Within our community, yes, were talking about it all the time, because were living it generation to generation. But for a lot of white Americans, ignorance is bliss. For them.

King grew up in California, and wanted to be a dentist. This was not a passing phase. She loved going to her dentist so much, it seemed for many years to be the only possible career path. I would always hear horror stories about the dentist, but not mine. His dental assistant was his wife, Babe, and she had this white hair that looked like cotton candy. I always looked forward to going. Id floss to impress him. He made the experience fun. He made me understand how important your periodontal situation is. She bursts out laughing. He had a great set of teeth and Babe had a great set of teeth! So whenever I would see people without a great set of teeth Id be like, Ew!

Dont ever live in Britain, I say. Yeah, I know. Again she hoots with laughter. Not a lot of good teeth there.

King had acted in school, but it wasnt until she got to theUniversity of Southern California that it became clear to her not only that dental work wasnt in her future, but that what she should do was drop out to act. It amazes her now that she made this decision with no information to back it up. She simply knew it was the right thing to do, a strong intuition foreshadowing a steeliness that would become apparent 30 years later in her most famous roles. Her parents werent happy. My mom is a teacher and showed her disappointment, she says, but not enough that it made me decide to go back.

She was so young and inexperienced that for years, in roles she took in movies such as Boyz N the Hood and Mighty Joe Young, she had no idea of pay scale, or whether she was receiving a fair income relative to others on set. I wasnt focused on that, she says. It wasnt until I was in my 30s that I even stopped to consider the wage gap. It was something as simple as hearing a male actor say something either about his per diem, or something else and I was like, Wait! Hold up my part is way bigger than yours. No one talked about it in the early days? Well, things have been designed so that we dont.

King has been a supporter of Times Up, the campaign to equalise pay and conditions for women in Hollywood. Thats why this is a pretty exciting time. If Im blessed enough to have a granddaughter, shell come in knowing this is how its going to be. I feel like its diminishing it by calling it a movement. Its witnessing a shift, a life change. Thats how I look at it.

Its hard to convince people there is an audience that wants quiet stories

Crucially, she says, expectations have changed: theres a suspicion that, just as sexual harassment will come back to bite you, so will pay differences. No one wants their filthy past, their dirty little secret, to come out. A lot of people in these positions of power white men dont even realise it was a problem, or something you should feel embarrassed about.

King is glad she had a lot of solid success before she won the Oscar, playing supporting roles in big movies. Ive heard people say, Oh, you were robbed with Jerry Maguire, or Ray. But I dont think I wouldve had an appreciation for the art, in the way I do, if it had happened earlier.

Beale Street was a different experience. Oh, gosh, says King, who found it so personal that talking about it still makes her emotional. Astonishingly, it was the first movie adaptation of a Baldwin novel, a film that remained a quiet, literary piece despite the starriness of its cast and of its director, Barry Jenkins, fresh from his Oscar win for Moonlight the previous year. For King, who played Sharon Rivers, the mother of a young woman whose fiance is wrongly imprisoned for rape, it was everything: a love story, an indictment of the criminal justice system, and part of the vast, untold history of black life in the US. Were in a time when film is so loud and the audience is looking for shocking. Its hard to convince people that there is an audience out there that wants quiet stories.

Being in her 40s, she says, brings a confidence to go against the grain. She has started her own production company, vowing to staff all her projects with a minimum of 50% women. King wonders if she should have kept quiet about that, since she now gets asked about it every five minutes and she has hardly hired anybody yet. But at the end of the day, its holding my feet to the fire.

So does she feel in her prime? For the most part, body-wise, I dont feel different than when I was in my 20s, she says. Only when I hurt something, because it takes so long to get back. But the wisdom and regard for whats important is different now. In my 20s, that I-dont-give-a-fuck attitude is great. It helps you go out on a ledge and let your feet dangle down and not even think about it.

Still, it is nothing compared with the thrill of having better judgment: Being in your 40s and having the wherewithal to know, Yeah, maybe not that ledge. She roars with laughter.

Watchmen is on HBO in the US from 20 October and on Sky Atlantic and Now TV in the UK from 21 October.

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Regina King on fighting white supremacists in Watchmen: 'My community is living this story' - The Guardian

Deliveroo riders boycott Wagamama amid pay concerns – The Tab

Theres a very good reason you couldnt get your Katsu curry last week

Last week, around 80 Deliveroo riders refused to take orders from Wagamama on the Triangle and at Cabot, amid concerns about pay.

According to the organiser of the strike, Joseph Nunes, 43, riders can wait up to 25 minutes in a Wagamama restaurant while they prepare the food.

The wasted (and unpaid) time means that riders can do significantly fewer trips.

We all dread the waiting time at Wagamama. Its not fair on the riders. Nunes told The Bristol Post.

While the minimum wage for an over-25 is 8.21, Nunes claims to make 6 per hour when you factor in petrol costs, moped maintenance and insurance. He described his working conditions as similar to slavery.

The strike occurred on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of last week, following a 100-strong strike concerning pay that occurred on 21st of September.

A spokesperson for Deliveroo said: Deliveroo works closely with our restaurant partners and the riders we work with to make sure we have an efficient and reliable service.

Deliveroo has recently made changes to rider fees so riders are paid more for longer distance deliveries and wait times at restaurants are taken into consideration when calculating how much riders are paid.

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Deliveroo riders boycott Wagamama amid pay concerns - The Tab

Revive Fashion Show combats human trafficking, fast-fashion – UW Badger Herald

The verb revive means to restore to life or consciousness or to regain life or strength. The first-ever Revive Fashion Show on Oct. 6 did exactly that.

Hosted and sponsored by Fair Indigo, an ethical and sustainable clothing company based in Madison, all of the proceeds from the show benefit the Dressember Foundation.

Dressember, a non-profit organization founded by Blythe Hill, provides education, life skills, training, medical treatment and aftercare to the survivors of human trafficking. Hill initially started to hear about human trafficking in 2005 when she learned that slavery continues to exist in every city in the world, including all fifty states.

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According to the foundation, approximately 35 million people are currently confined to slavery, 70% of them being women. This is becoming the worlds fastest-growing criminal industry and its flourishing. Because of what we know as fast fashion in the clothing industry, society is purchasing 400% more clothing today than we did 20 years ago.

Not only this, but the workers making these clothes earn just 1-3% of the retail price of an item. Statistics such as these are what inspired the Revive fashion show to come to fruition.

We at Fair Indigo really realized how Dressember and Fair Indigo have been combating this issue separately and in different ways for years, Stacy Imhoff, a co-organizer for the Revive Fashion Show, said. We thought it was a great opportunity to get our two like-minded organizations together to bring more awareness to the issue of ethical and fair trade fashion.

As a graduate of the University of Wisconsins textile and apparel design program, Imhoff approached other women who had also graduated from the program in addition to harmonious brands and businesses within the community. The event had a mix of different brands, vendors and models participating, all of which were proponents of ethical fashion.

Spring fashion trends that wont break the bankIm going to be honest, feeding my bubble tea and customizable salad addictions costs more money than I am willing Read

At this family-friendly event, vendors were eager to educate the public about the benefits of this cause.

A pop-up market before the show featured handmade ethical goods from makers and brands around the area, where a portion of the proceeds would go towards the Dressember Foundation.

Here, guests of the event were immediately engrossed in an environment full of passion and enthusiasm to inform individuals about the cornerstone of Fair Indigo and Dressember: ethical fashion.

Ethical fashion the exact opposite of slave labor that is employed to make cheap fast-fashion clothing is what Fair Indigo is all about, Imhoff said. We pay the people who make our clothes a fair, living wage and ensure they have clean and safe working conditions and are treated with respect.

These brands intend to stray away from the expectation of inexpensive and disposable clothing, which causes a high demand for cheap labor.

[Cheaply made clothing] also results in more waste more clothes are thrown away or donated to second-hand shops that are then exported to other countries for resale or disposal. If we can find a way to reuse what we already have, there is less demand for cheap labor. Plus its just generally better for our environment too, Imhoff said.

One stand at the market was home to Lev Apparel company where founder Krystle Marks said she employs women from New Delhi, India at a fair living wage to make clothing. This pulls the women out of poverty while empowering them to contribute to a product with a purpose.

Lack of women in entrepreneurship hurts businesses, start-ups, panel of female entrepreneurs sayLocal female entrepreneurs shared their experience and expertise in a panel Thursday night. The panel, hosted by University of Wisconsin Read

Following the pop-up market, guests gathered around the runway to witness models dressed in unique, fashion-forward, recycled garments. Models wore pieces made of everything ranging from neckties to mens collared shirts to old tablecloths.

Fabric that was otherwise deemed unwearable was converted into hand-painted art. The oohs and ahs were audible as each piece was presented and smiles lit up the room.

We at Fair Indigo see this as a community-building event to bring like-minded organizations and people together around a common goal, Imhoff said in response to her hopes for the fundraiser. Its been a really fun event to organize and see how excited people are to participate.

What started as a style challenge for a college student in need of a creative outlet ultimately became a global campaign stretching across over 115,000 supporters, 45 countries and six continents and continues to grow. As the Dressember Foundation website says, Dressember is more than a dress.

Join thousands of advocates around the world by wearing a dress or tie every day this December as a symbol of liberty and empowerment to declare inherent dignity for all people, a line from one of the videos played during the fashion show.

According to a video from Dressember at the fashion show, For one month, with a dress as our flag, we will carve a path to a better future for women everywhere.

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Revive Fashion Show combats human trafficking, fast-fashion - UW Badger Herald

Keep me in your heart: Race and class politics in the Trump era – People’s World

People in the audience hold up signs as President Donald Trump speaks at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, Pa., April, 29, 2017. Some academics are beginning to seriously study the fascination some white Americans have with "Trump's fascist rhetoric," and how, in the face of intensifying exploitation, they are looking to Trump "the boss" to save them. | Carolyn Kaster / AP

Idiomatic expressions by their nature are difficult to pin down. They point to intended meaning but depend mostly on the hearer or reader to construct a definition from context. But meanings arent arbitrary, and they depend on the contested and conflicted sociality of language.

This linguistic dynamic holds for the expression heart of America. That idiom is in the subtitle of a new book by sociologist Jennifer M. Silva, titled, Were Still Here: Pain and Politics in the Heart of America. The books goal is to explain the puzzle of working-class politics, or why the working-class, in part, seems to support the authoritarian philosophy of the Trump administration.

Consider: The heart of America implies something definable and knowable about the two objects presented in the phrase. America seems obvious. It refers to a place, a country, usually by the political name of the United States of America.

But, many critical voices challenge this conflation of America with the U.S., pointing instead to its contested history, replete with genocide, slavery, brutal war, class exploitation, and imperialism. What Mexican-American author Jos Ordua calls, in his book The Weight of Shadows, our foundational violence. Foundational in the sense that it is continuously the starting point, repeatedly, for constructing Americanness in a particular way.

The U.S. Constitution supposedly created a democratic, representative, and liberal set of freedoms. The framers, however, crafted many of its provisions to defend slavery and genocide, as historian Gerald Horne writes in his books The Counterrevolution of 1776 and The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism. These atrocities had become imperatives for capitalist development and territorial expansion.

While some people usually regard the political system as a democratic one, it is also accurately characterized as corrupt and dominated by the 1%. (Although saying that can earn one the label of being unpatriotic). Americas economic system is called a free market. But it is defined by worker exploitation, oligarchy, environmental waste, racist and gendered income and wealth inequalities, and corrupt, inefficient corporations that control most political processes.

America furthermore means more than the United States. A name derived from its colonialist history, America may refer to the entire Western Hemisphere and its peoples. The narrowest usage of the term America typically betrays willful indifference to the existence, histories, and cultures of most inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere, including the descendants of the indigenous, enslaved people, and migrants. The political and economic interests of corporations whose power emanates from the U.S. and the comprador classes govern many Western Hemispheric countries.

At bottom, America is a place saturated with contradiction. A never-perfected (dis)union of geographies, cultures, peoples, and social classes; lands of white colonial settlement, white supremacy, and cultural oppression. A site, too, of anti-colonial struggle, anti-racist insurgency, and revolutionary consciousness.

So, what does it mean to be at the heart of this place?

A quick look at an online list of 70 American-English idiomatic expressions that use the word heart reveals that it tends to mean something like a site of ones authenticity, honesty, integrity, love, emotion, fervency, compassion, courage, romantic love, ones feelings. Spatially, we use it to mean a center or fountainhead of passion, meaning, values, and essential humanity.

When we get to the heart of the matter, we speak of a place of origin, authentic meaning, the truth about a situation. When something is in our heart, we mean that it has a deep, compelling value and worth in the meaning of our lives. When we talk about a heartland, we likely mean the place of the original identity, the place where you can find those who are the original people of that culture. When we heart something, we mean that we love it, identify our interests, goals, culture, and sense of worth with that thing. When something is felt deep in my heart, it means that truth beyond the surface is felt rather than rationally known. The heart is an instrument more powerful than logic in discerning truth.

Silvas phrase in the heart of America, then, locates her research findings in the space of a merged emotional center, original identity and authenticity, and fundamental truths about America. Because America is more than the geography of the U.S., I argue that meaning is implicit in her words, even if she doesnt intend it.

The full subtitle is Pain and Politics in the Heart of America. Pain in ones heart references a deep wounding, possibly life-threatening, but perhaps of such emotional effect as to render permanent the disruption of bonds of friendship, love, or even kinship. I will return to the political dimension indicated in the subtitle shortly.

The main title, Were Still Here, an utterance from a working-class person, stakes a rhetorical claim to endurance and resilience, despite the pain experienced at the heart of America.

In her opening chapter, Silva describes her methodology for this study as a fluid one. She had intended to study white working-class views of Donald Trump in the campaign season before the 2016 election. She focused her research on a community in the Southern portion of Pennsylvania, which she labels Coal Brook, to hide the identities of her interviewees. She claims, however, that she struggled finding people who felt strongly enough about politics to fully identify with a political party or advocate for specific policy platforms. So, her research agenda shifted.

Evidently, reality forced her to reconsider the media and political stereotype that equates the working class with white people or the equally distorted distinction between the working class and low-wage workers. In this vein, Carmen Rojas, the founder of The Workers Lab, has argued, The caricature is a blue-jeans wearing, Harley Davidson riding, white man who has a job his dad and granddad once had. This working man, as hes often portrayed in the media coverage he gets, feels left behind, misunderstood, and angry because he cant go anywhere without hearing a language other than English and cant turn on the TV without Black and Latinx faces overwhelming his options. The frequent association of the white working class exclusively with small towns and rural communities adds a further distortion of reality.

As it turns out, none of Silvas interviewees were coal miners. And, while the surrounding area once employed 175,000 coal miners, since the 1970s, it has become a collection of abandoned mines with only a handful of workers still associated with that industry. Further, as she notes, in the past decade, rising housing costs, poverty, and crime have pushed black and Latino people out of urban economies and into the coal region.

Instead of finding some realistic correspondence to the white male miner stereotype, Silva spoke with people who hold a variety of jobs, educational statuses, income brackets, genders, ethnic and racial identities, political beliefs, and relationships to the concept of the heart of America. Many white people, who had made this place like Alabama without the blacks, felt threatened by the demographic changes. Change threatened their claim on white racial exceptionalism and identity as the working class in the heart of America.

This threat produced an emotional response articulated as loss and being left behind. It fueled resonance with Trumps racially coded slogans and demands such as Make America Great Again, a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, and restrictions on migration from non-white and majority Islamic countries. Trumps rhetoric seemed to align with prior equations of crime and disorder with people of color encoded in the assertion that Blue Lives Matter. This transitional period represented a new landscape in Southern Pennsylvania politics, which had just a few years back tended to support Democratic candidates actively.

Economic change does lie at the heart of these big political shifts to the authoritarianism and racism of the Trump campaign. Larger numbers of non-white, working-class people in their midst, however, served most to disrupt white self-identifications with the media stereotype. Indeed, Silvas evidence reveals that many whites had (perhaps reluctantly) accepted the exchange of economic insecurity for the psychological comfort of white racial exceptionalism. White emotional affiliations with a caricature of the hard-working white person recall W.E.B. Du Boiss concept of a psychological wage of whiteness.

Class politics in a multi-racial society, by their nature and by all rational logic, require a political and cultural identification with other people from racial and ethnic communities based on the work they do and their relation to the boss and to capital. As Silva writes, borrowing from the Marxist cultural historian E.P. Thompson, social class as a political identity, is neither automatic nor something to be assumed in advance. Rather than a response to sharing the same education level, income bracket, or job, it is a process of constructing, contesting, and remaking a collective identity through concrete social relationships that generate values, traditions, and shared interests.

In other words, organized action, community building, and struggle produce a politicized class identity.

She writes that the new political terrain represented by support for Trump indicates that class is not happening as it used to. This is an insightful remark. It links a shift in class politics to the emergence of a significant fracture in class identity and action in the region that is new, perhaps within the last decade. It suggests attempting to associate this fracture solely with structural changes, such as the decline of coal, manufacturing, unionization rates, or of the emergence of neoliberalism, would be flawed and partial.

What it indicates rather is something potentially more disturbing. If the process of class identity formation has shifted in the past decade, it suggests that class had been made and remade in ways that seemed to uphold racial/gendered pieces of the working-class caricature. Indeed, that this caricature was identified with Democratic Party politics in Southern Pennsylvania suggests a disastrous association of white males as icons of Democratic Party working-class politics up to the Trump era. Silva shows that this iconic association made voting for Hillary Clinton far too hard.

Any way you skin this cat, the evidence shows that many people, in the worst traditions of Americas foundational violence, had constructed a working-class identity that rested primarily on their whiteness. Instead of a democratic alliance of all people aiming to claim power over their lives and communities in the face of corporate dominance, environmental disaster, and rampant economic exploitation, many whites seem to want tight control over the advantages of being a white person. The seeming loss of these feels like the worst disaster, the beginning of the decline of our country.

As a result of apparent trends such as this, researchers have begun to talk about white Americans fascination with Trumps fascist rhetoric, as political scientist William E. Connolly argued in a recent study of similarities between Trumps and Hitlers leadership styles. Philosopher Samir Gandesha pointed to an increase in popular identification with the aggressor among white Americans as a component of the authoritarian personality now apparently more visible in American society. Anthropologist Gregory Duff Morton linked popular acceptance of Trump as the boss to emergent structural changes in the economy that have intensified exploitation for workers.

Since altered racial demographics have challenged the caricature of white working-class identity, a rupture in political identities occurred. This crisis shows that the decline in unionization, especially one focused on organizing a multi-racial alliance, has left the ground open for such a disastrous turn of events. It also shows that racism wont let us put into our heart of hearts the people who should mean the most to us: those who share our struggles, our workspaces, our aspirations for a fully democratic and equal society, our love for hard work as a source of meaning for our lives, our belief that we, together, all of us, make the world every day through our joint labor and deserve to control its future.

Were Still Here: Pain and Politics in the Heart of America

Jennifer M. Silva

Oxford University Press, 2019, 224pp., $24.95

Read the rest here:

Keep me in your heart: Race and class politics in the Trump era - People's World

ALICIA WALLACE: Where does loyalty lie – with the party or the voters? – Bahamas Tribune

With Member of Parliament for Centreville Reece Chipmans departure from the Free National Movement, there is been quite a bit of talk about loyalty. The prime minister took the opportunity, while speaking at the funeral of Tennyson Wells, to drive home the point that political parties require loyalty. This is no secret. We know that members of political parties are expected to toe the party line. They are supposed to think the same way, or do an exceptional job of pretending they do. There are to be no arguments, no differences of opinion - and definitely no public positions that oppose the party point of view. Since Members of Parliament are elected by their constituents, this presents a problem.

We have already seen how a partys position can disadvantage a community, and difficult decisions representatives must then make. Do they stand with their constituents and point out the issues, demanding reconsideration of the issue, or do they stay in the good graces of their colleagues within the party and go along with the programme? Recall the debate about increasing Value Added Tax. FNM Members of Parliament were taken to task for opposing the proposed increase, even though they spoke on behalf of their constituents, as they are elected to do.

For whom do Members of Parliament work? Is it for us, the Bahamian people? Or is it for the puppet masters behind every move the political party makes? We know where the money comes from and who makes the final decision about who gets the job (or, more precisely, who doesnt get the job), but those employers - Bahamian citizens - do not have direct, consistent oversight. Maybe we have the right to oversight, but do not exercise it, possibly because we have never taken the time to develop the tools that would enable us to do it within the existing political environment. We may have been lax in developing appropriate tools due to lack of confidence in the current system.

Are we saving our energy for the deconstruction of the ill-fitting neo-colonial system that, in more ways than we care to consider, is failing us?

Politicians are called to be loyal to their parties. In the last election, we saw an overwhelming number of independent candidates. This was exciting, and many of us were prepared to consider them. The issue many of us could not think past was their relative power in parliament if they were, by some miracle, to win their seats. How much influence would they have? If one party got an overwhelming majority of seats, what good would our independent Members of Parliament do?

We now have an independent Member of Parliament, due in part to the reality of partisan politics. He noted a great distance between parliament and the people of The Bahamas. It is unclear how this move will do more than demonstrate Chipmans dissatisfaction with the FNM or the nature of party politics, but it will be interesting to see how it affects proceedings, decision-making, and public discourse.

Members of Parliament are elected by the people. There is, of course, a conversation to be had about the way candidates are selected and the exclusion of the general public from the process. We are presented with candidates, usually tied to a political party, and instructed to make a choice. From the moment they are announced, they become synonymous with a party, a set of colours, and a potential prime minister. Their representation of constituencies is already secondary.

It follows that their loyalty is understood to be, first and foremost, with the party and its leadership.

We have to go back to system, to process and to practice addressing the issue of loyalty and true representation.

Chipman might just show us what it looks like to have a true representative, focused on service to his constituency rather than an old machine and the people who insist it is working just fine. We have two and a half years to see how it goes.

A level playing field?

Conversations about Haitian migrants continue in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian and it is clear many see the disaster as an opportunity to expel people they consider undesirable.

It is interesting to observe frustrated Bahamians as they lament the inability of Bahamian climate refugees to enter the United States while insisting that Haitian migrants have got to go. The real issue here is not immigration itself.

We understand that people enter and exit countries for various reasons, and we are happy to participate in this activity. We intentionally travel to other countries to give birth in order to give our children access to another citizenship. We encourage our children to leave The Bahamas, get their education elsewhere, and try to stay.

We are happy to hire low-wage workers to do the tasks we do not have the time or the will to take on.

As long as they remain underfoot, it is fine. As long as they are humble, defer to us, and do not aspire to anything beyond the work and standard of living we consider suitable for them, they can remain. Cut the grass, mind the children, paint the house, sit with mama, and iron the clothes. That is all those people are meant to do.

A friend of mine shared a personal story a few days ago about his experience as the child of Haitian migrants.

They lived on the property of the parents employers who tried to keep them from leaving, impacting the childrens access to education. They were treated as tools for production rather than human beings.

It is important to note the similarities between slavery and the Bahamian micro-economy and its dependence on migrant (low-wage) labour.

We accept that wealthy people from Canada, the U.S., and the UK come to The Bahamas to take ownership and control of resources and get jobs that were never meant for Bahamians.

These are not the people we target with our Bahamians first rhetoric. We imagine they are somehow more deserving than migrants from the south. We are prepared to embrace people who have far less in common with us, and shun those who experienced the same historical violence, oppression and trauma. Is it an issue of race, colour, or class? What is it, exactly, that makes one group of people more eligible to come to The Bahamas to live and work?

What do they have to do to earn our respect as human beings or, at the very least, to be safe and have their physiological needs met, particularly in a disastrous situation like the one we face now? Who gets to be human?

Dont wait to be asked

Most of us are fortunate enough to have what we call true, true friends. They are there in an instant when we call, they celebrate our wins as if they are their own, they tell us when we are wrong and they help us to meet our needs. We do the same for them and consider ourselves good friends too.

I have a few friends who give me their support whenever I need it. Perhaps more importantly, I have friends that do not wait for me to ask. I think about these friends and the way they pay attention, anticipate and show up, especially as I try to help others.

I think about how difficult it is, when under pressure or experiencing great discomfort, to assess ones own needs and ask for help.

We cannot always expect people to be able to tell us what they need, and we should not make the assumption that all is well unless they tell us otherwise.

We all have strong friends, and we often forget to check on them. Ask them how they are doing and find out if they need anything, but go further than that.

Think about their situation, and offer the help you know they need. Particularly for friends who have experienced trauma, it is important to have visible support systems. Regular check-ins, planned events, and helping without being asked can go a long way.

Good friends, advocates, and community workers take the work out of asking for help.

We use the information we have combined with the resources we can access to meet needs because, in many cases, we see the need before they do.

Dont wait for them to ask for help. Give it.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Where does loyalty lie - with the party or the voters? - Bahamas Tribune

Research links UK supermarkets to abuse of farm and plantation workers – Retail Insight Network

Some farms and plantations that supply UK supermarket giants are being linked to poor pay and harsh working conditions, according to new research by charity Oxfams global Behind the Barcodes campaign.

The research found that workers in India, Brazil and five other countries are being exploited during the production of tea or fruit for import to retailers including Lidl, Aldi, Sainsburys, Tesco and Morrisons.

Interviews with workers across 50 tea plantations in Assam found that a lack of access to toilets and safe drinking water spreads typhoid and cholera among workers. Wages are also low, with women workers being the lowest paid when doing labour-intensive jobs, causing them to be on ration cards from the government.

The supermarkets confirmed they source their own brand tea from the companies visited in Oxfams research, with Lidl confirming they source their tea from the Assam region. The supermarkets also take the largest share of the price of the tea bought by consumers, with workers collectively receiving 3p of the 79p pence paid by consumers.

Oxfam ethical trade manager Rachel Wilshaw said: Despite some pockets of good practice, supermarkets relentless pursuit of profits continues to fuel poverty and human rights abuses in their supply chains. Supermarkets must do more to end exploitation, pay all their workers a living wage, ensure women get a fair deal and be more transparent about where they source their products.

Supermarkets are snapping up the lions share of the price we pay at the till but the workers who toil for hours to harvest tea and fruit face inhumane working conditions and are paid so little they cant even feed their families.

Dun & Bradstreet head of product and strategy Chris Laws said: With more than 40 million people living in some form of modern slavery in the world today, this problem requires a global situation which has NGOs, governments and businesses working together. Oxfams research has shone a spotlight on how this problem allegedly extends to some of the biggest retailers in the UK through their supply chains and the call for more supply chain transparency to identify and address risks has never been louder.

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Research links UK supermarkets to abuse of farm and plantation workers - Retail Insight Network

The Freedom Fund is finding ways to end slavery in the global supply chain – Logistics Management

By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor September 30, 2019

While slavery in global supply chains remains an ever-growing concern, a new coalition has been successful recently in addressing itperhaps even finding a solution.

A new report found that a five-year intervention campaign to protect workers in India backed by the Freedom Fund which works to mobilize the knowledge, capital and will to end slavery was effective at reducing debt bondage and other forms of exploitation, cutting the percentage of families in bondage from 56 percent to 11 percent in the funds focus areas.

The report, Unlocking What Works: How Community-Based Interventions Are Ending Bonded Labor in India, presents the findings of four leading institutions including Harvard University and the U.K. Home Office that the Freedom Funds interventions were effective at stopping labor abuses, protecting workers and changing the structural conditions that enable unfair labor practices.

Taken together, these evaluations affirm that the power to end modern slavery lies in frontline communities themselves, said Nick Grono, CEO of the Freedom Fund. Our programs are having a direct impact in the communities our partners are working in, and they are successfully building on this community-level work to positively change wider policies and systems.

For its interventions, the Freedom Fund identified areas where unfair labor practices were most likely in northern and southern India, and invested $15 million in more than 40 frontline nongovernmental organizations to conduct direct interventions to protect workers in these hot spots. In northern India, where workers in brick kilns and quarries are at risk, it provided $10.7 million in funding for 25 NGOs serving more than 180,000 workers and their families; in southern India, where garment workers are at risk, it provided $5.2 million in funding for 20 NGOs serving more than 93,000 workers and their families.

The NGOs that the Freedom Fund partnered with conducted direct, on-the-ground interventions to free workers from debt bondage and other forced labor conditions. Tactics included creating membership in community groups as alternative sources for loans; creation of adolescent girls and womens financial self-help groups; creation of community vigilance committees to bargain collectively with employers; creation of internal complaint committees to serve as venues for workers to address grievances; and creation of courses to inform workers of their rights and recourse under the law.

Five external evaluations of the Freedom Funds interventions were conducted by Harvard University's FXB Center for Health and Human Rights; the U.K. Home Office; the Institute of Development Studies; and the Praxis Institute for Participatory Practices.

The intervention led to reduced household debt, increased household savings, higher wage growth, increased access to medical care, increased use of government schemes and improved household food security, wrote the Harvard evaluators who reviewed the work of a core Freedom Fund partner in northern India. The evaluators from the Institute of Development Studies concluded that the Freedom Funds approach, using a variety of community-based interventions, mobilization and organization, is particularly effective in reducing the prevalence of bondage.

Read more:

The Freedom Fund is finding ways to end slavery in the global supply chain - Logistics Management

World News Day: A woman’s journey from slavery to activism in India – The Straits Times

For Ms Pachayammal, 25, freedom tastes like briyani. That was the dish she first ate after getting rescued from six years of bonded labour in Tamil Nadu.

"We were finally able to eat a meal in peace," she said.

Now a feisty activist, Ms Pachayammal, along with her husband Arul, has rescued more than 100 people from slavery, advocated for homes and helped in rehabilitating them.

Ms Pachayammal's story is one of 10 women's stories featured as part of The Quint's "Me, the Change" campaign. The campaign, presented by Facebook, sought to put focus on a demographic usually ignored by mainstream media - female voters who are heading to the polls for the first time.

Launched in October last year, the campaign highlighted the issues and aspirations of these first-time woman voters in the run-up to this year's Lok Sabha elections.

Ms Pachayammal married Mr Arul when she was barely 16. Although she married willingly, little did she know that she was being wedded into slavery.

She said: "My husband's parents had a debt which he had to repay. The 'owner' decided to get me married to my husband so that we formed a 'pair' (easy to manage, lower pay and we wouldn't run away). We didn't know this. I, too, really liked my husband so I married him."

The couple faced physical, verbal and sexual abuse daily.

Ms Pachayammal was paid 200 rupees (S$4) a week, and, along with more than 25 other bonded labourers, slaved for the quarry owner for six years. She was given one meal a day of watery rice gruel and worked nearly 12 hours daily.

"At 4am every day, the owner would call us to break rock. Some days, the men would have to work till midnight," Ms Pachayammal said. This went on until she was rescued at the age of 23.

According to The Quint, more than one million people were bonded labourers in Tamil Nadu last year. After her rescue, Ms Pachayammal turned to activism, drawing from an unending well of self-confidence and seeking out basic rights (homes, electricity, work) for rescued bonded labourers.

She stakes out quarries, brick kilns and carpentry workshops suspected of hiring bonded labourers for months, trying to get close to the workers. Afterwards, she ropes in government officials and organises raids.

Ms Pachayammal is now part of the State Rural Livelihoods Mission and gets a steady monthly income.

Occasionally, she does daily wage work. Her husband earns a living driving an auto-rickshaw he received from a corporation as part of their social work. Both of them are doing very well today.

This story was originally published on Nov 30 last year.

In gathering Ms Pachayammal's story, three reporters at The Quint reached out to global non-governmental organisation International Justice Mission, from where many case studies were sourced, before zeroing in on her.

Before The Quint's video, Ms Pachayammal was already a true inspiration, but her story was not covered in mainstream media. The sight of a camera or journalist would push her into what could be described as the "camera effect".

All her responses were rehearsed and interactions were formal. Ms Pachayammal was expecting to be fed words to say, which she would then rattle off. This had been her common experience with the media and what had always happened.

To tackle this, The Quint reporter Vikram Venkateswaran made several trips to Ms Pachayammal's village with a cameraman, but without any equipment. The team got to know the villagers and spent time with Ms Pachayammal and her husband. It was only on the fourth visit that the reporter brought a camera along.

On the sixth visit to Ullavur village, which is a three-hour drive from Chennai, the camera was finally unveiled. Over a kerosene stove, as Ms Pachayammal prepared "sambar" (a local dish), the reporter started a conversation about food - what she liked to eat and what she got to eat while she was a slave. And so began the genuine retelling of Ms Pachayammal's inspirational story, which the team managed to capture on camera, minus the hesitation.

Find out more about World News Day.

Continued here:

World News Day: A woman's journey from slavery to activism in India - The Straits Times

Freedom Fund Finding Ways to End Slavery in the Global Supply Chain – Supply Chain Management Review

By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor September 30, 2019

While slavery in global supply chains remains an ever-growing concern, a new coalition has been successful recently in addressing itperhaps even finding a solution.

A new report found that a five-year intervention campaign to protect workers in India backed by the Freedom Fund which works to mobilize the knowledge, capital and will to end slavery was effective at reducing debt bondage and other forms of exploitation, cutting the percentage of families in bondage from 56 percent to 11 percent in the funds focus areas.

The report, Unlocking What Works: How Community-Based Interventions Are Ending Bonded Labor in India, presents the findings of four leading institutions including Harvard University and the U.K. Home Office that the Freedom Funds interventions were effective at stopping labor abuses, protecting workers and changing the structural conditions that enable unfair labor practices.

Taken together, these evaluations affirm that the power to end modern slavery lies in frontline communities themselves, said Nick Grono, CEO of the Freedom Fund. Our programs are having a direct impact in the communities our partners are working in, and they are successfully building on this community-level work to positively change wider policies and systems.

For its interventions, the Freedom Fund identified areas where unfair labor practices were most likely in northern and southern India, and invested $15 million in more than 40 frontline nongovernmental organizations to conduct direct interventions to protect workers in these hot spots. In northern India, where workers in brick kilns and quarries are at risk, it provided $10.7 million in funding for 25 NGOs serving more than 180,000 workers and their families; in southern India, where garment workers are at risk, it provided $5.2 million in funding for 20 NGOs serving more than 93,000 workers and their families.

The NGOs that the Freedom Fund partnered with conducted direct, on-the-ground interventions to free workers from debt bondage and other forced labor conditions. Tactics included creating membership in community groups as alternative sources for loans; creation of adolescent girls and womens financial self-help groups; creation of community vigilance committees to bargain collectively with employers; creation of internal complaint committees to serve as venues for workers to address grievances; and creation of courses to inform workers of their rights and recourse under the law.

Five external evaluations of the Freedom Funds interventions were conducted by Harvard Universitys FXB Center for Health and Human Rights; the U.K. Home Office; the Institute of Development Studies; and the Praxis Institute for Participatory Practices.

The intervention led to reduced household debt, increased household savings, higher wage growth, increased access to medical care, increased use of government schemes and improved household food security, wrote the Harvard evaluators who reviewed the work of a core Freedom Fund partner in northern India. The evaluators from the Institute of Development Studies concluded that the Freedom Funds approach, using a variety of community-based interventions, mobilization and organization, is particularly effective in reducing the prevalence of bondage.

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Freedom Fund Finding Ways to End Slavery in the Global Supply Chain - Supply Chain Management Review

Judge rules against Hendren Plastics in suit over unpaid laborers – Arkansas Times

Federal Judge Timothy Brooks Friday evening granted a summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs in a lawsuit alleging state minimum wage law violations in Hendren Plastics use of unpaid labor at its plastics factory in Gravette.

Brooks harshly criticized Hendren Plastics, headed by Sen. President Pro Tempore Jim Hendren and the drug rehab agency, DARP, for acting in bad faith by avoiding law compliance in their own self-interest. He said they had manipulated the labor market.

The award could potentially be as high as $1.2 million $636,317 for unpaid wages and liquidated damages in that amount. John Holleman, one of the winning attorneys, said the judge has asked for more legal briefs on whether Hendren and DARP are entitled to a 30-cent-an-hour credit against wages, or about $22,000, for in-kind benefits room, board and transportation. They also will be asked to offer evidence that stipends were paid to participants in the program for successful completion of work stints. DARP has claimed on tax returns that it paid almost $179,000 in stipends from 2014 to 2018. But it wont total that amount in this case, Holleman said, because that DARP figure covers payments for other workers in Oklahoma who didnt work at Hendren. Holleman commented that the couple that operated DARP paid themselves $517,000 during that time period.

The prevailing attorneys will be seeking fees once the case is concluded.

Sen. Jim Hendren responded:

We are very disappointed with the judges ruling. It is especially shocking that he would not even allow us an opportunity to present our case to a jury. We will be appealing this decision not only because our attorneys have told us it is clear that it conflicts with the law and with numerous precedents across the country, but also because I continue to believe that rehabilitation and recovery efforts are preferable to filling our prisons with nonviolent drug and alcohol offenders. Rather than obtaining help recovering from addictions as well as work force training and employment opportunities, this ruling will ensure offenders will fill our already full prisons and jails where they will be far more likely to become career criminals. I do not regret trying to help when asked by Arkansas Courts to provide people a second chance for people who want to turn their lives around. It is undisputed that Hendren Plastics paid more than minimum wage for every hour worked. I do regret that our justice system has been so abused. However we are confident justice will prevail in the end.

Timothy Steadman, another of the plaintiffs lawyers, said:

We are incredibly gratified with Judge Brooks decision in this important case. Although Arkansas drug courts are an important tool to help vulnerable Arkansans who are battling addiction, it is important to note that DARP admits it did not provide drug and alcohol treatment, and it was not licensed to provide any such treatment. The Arkansas Minimum Wage Act exists to protect Arkansass citizens and prevent unfair competition among business. Participants in drug court should not be turned into an unpaid labor source for unashamedly for-profit manufacturers like Hendren Plastics. We look forward to continuing to fight to make sure that justice is done for our clients and the class members.

Workers were assigned to a rehabilitation program in Decatur by the local drug court as an alternative to prison.

The practice of using free labor from rehab agencies has become the focus of court battles in both Oklahoma and Arkansas after investigative reporting that suggested the workers were kept in poor conditions and got little in the way of rehabilitation other than work. Last week, a federal judge in Oklahoma allowed a suit to go forward against Simmons Industries, a major poultry producer in Northwest Arkansas. That claim was originally part of the action including Hendren Plastics, but it was severed and moved to Oklahoma.

Hendren has said he paid the equivalent of the state minimum wage to DARP, but didnt know what arrangement it had with workers. He defended the arrangement, but he terminated it in October 2017 after lawsuits were filed.

Brooks had certified the case against Hendren as a class action for work back to 2014. Hendren had fought that and the motion for summary judgment with one of his own.

Brooks order concluded the workers met the definition of employees and they should have received the minimum wage, even though Hendren said he paid the equivalent amount to DARP based on time clock records. The workers had signed an agreement acknowledging they would not be paid.

Hendren argued that neither the plastics company nor DARP should be viewed as employers under federal law. And, Hendren said, even if so, the DARP had a valid order from drug court to withhold payment to workers in return for participation.

Brooks reached back for precedent to a case decided against the Tony Alamo Foundation for workers whod toiled for the felonious late evangelist without pay.

From this, the Court identified a test for determining whether a self-avowed volunteerlike an Alamo Foundation associateshould nonetheless be considered an employee under the FLSA. If the worker expected to receive compensation in the form of in-kind benefits in exchange for their work, then the worker was an employee under the law, regardless of the workers subjective expectation of cash wages.

Hendren tried to differentiate its situation from the Alamo case, but Brooks wasnt persuaded. He said it was a joint employer with DARP and thus responsible.

Hendren claims in its brief in support of summary judgment that [u]nlike the Alamo case, Hendren Plastics was not involved in a scheme to obtain low-cost labor for an indefinite period in an effort to obtain a competitive advantagea key consideration in the passage of the FLSA. The evidence proves otherwise. Hendrens contractual dealings with DARP generated a captive workforce that Hendren paid less than its entry-level employees and significantly less than workers Hendren periodically sought from temporary employment agencies. Hendren also benefited by avoiding the expense and administrative costs involved in paying DARPs workers Social Security taxes, Medicare taxes, federal and state unemployment insurance, and workers compensation insurance. In other words, Hendren saved money by hiring DARP residents, who, in turn, displaced private-sector workers Hendren would have ordinarily paid a higher rate of pay (along with mandatory state and federal taxes and insurance withholdings).

As for DARP, its residents directly competed with private citizens in the Arkansas labor market for employment at Hendren, and DARP directly competed with temporary employment agencies supplying such a workforce. The undisputed facts show that DARP provided local businesses like Hendren with a workforce paid at a much cheaper rate than the employment agencies provided. This was because DARP negotiated rates of pay for their residents labor that profited DARP and the local businesses, and by entering into such contracts with DARP, the businesses could avoid paying employment taxes and making state and federal employment insurance withholdings.

DARP also argued it was good public policy to have such arrangements because its program diverted people from prison.

The Court does not share DARPs views. DARPs claim that its business model is the only viable one for residential substance abuse programs is unsupported by any evidence, financial or otherwise. More importantly, DARPs position ignores the strong public policy reasons behind the implementation of the AMWA [minimum wage act], which are: to establish minimum wages for workers in order to safeguard their health, efficiency, and general well-being and to protect them as well as their employers from the effects of serious and unfair competition resulting from wage levels detrimental to their health, efficiency, and well-being.

Brooks observed, too, that workers had little choice but to agree to the unpaid labor, lest they go to prison.

Finally, the undisputed facts reveal that DARPs power was jointly held with Hendren, as Hendren also held the keys to the prison cell, so to speak, through its ability to notify DARP whenever a worker performed unsatisfactorily and would not be permitted to return to work.

The above analysis brings the Court to the common-sense conclusion that businesses that profit from the labor of non-incarcerated drug addicts must still comply with the AMWAs strict requirements.

The Court also observes that the Defendants were not operating as charities. They were businesses that manipulated the labor market and skirted compliance with the labor laws for their own private ends. Consequently, they are jointly and severally liable under the AMWA for their failure to pay minimum-wage and overtime compensation to the class.

The court rejected Hendrens argument that the firm shouldnt be liable because the drug courts tacitly agreed to the arrangement.

Of course, Hendren can point to no evidence to show the state ever audited DARP or was provided with a copy of the Contract Labor Agreement that DARP and Hendren entered into to avoid paying wages and associated payroll taxes. There is no evidence to show that state drug court judges were personally aware of the details of DARPs and Hendrens business arrangement.

The most that can be assumed from the facts in the record is that drug court judges referred participants to DARPs program because they trusted DARP to comply with state and federal law, i.e., by calculating the workers minimum hourly and overtime wages earned, and then subtracting from those totals the reasonable value of in-kind services that were deductible by law. However, the record indicates that DARP has yet to calculate the value of its in-kind services and has not considered how much of a deduction from wages it may reasonably take under the law. Instead, DARP has simply assumed that its residents are not employees and are not entitled to cash wage.

Hendrens argument that state law allows defendants to be charged for cost of their care is not the same as saying their wages may be reassigned to DARP, saying, the Court has not been presented with any objective data to demonstrate the programs costs in relation to the cash wages the class members would have earned during the relevant class period.

Hendren tried to invoke a 2019 law that removed a cap of 30 cents an hour on the amount a rehab agency may deduct from worker pay to offset in-kind services. The judge said that law couldnt apply retroactively. We wrote of that law change at the time and opponents argument that it was meant to help Hendren and passed under false pretenses. Rep. Robin Lundstrum described the bill as a cleanup. Hendren said at the time he had no role in its passage.

The judge said plaintiffs were entitled to damages equal to the full amount of regular and overtime pay earned. He said the defendants had not acted in good faith in complying with the minimum wage law. DARP knew it was out of step with every other facility in the state in its pay scheme. It was clear, the judge said, it was operating in its own self-interest and had no honest intention to follow the law.

The judge was equally harsh on Hendren.

As for Hendren, it contends that it acted in good faith because it paid DARP for the class members labor. This might be a good argument if Hendren had reasonably believed its payments to DARP were being passed along to the class members as cash wages. But as the Court explained above in section III.C.1, Hendren knew full well that its labor payments were not being passed through to the class members in the form of wages. Hendren understood that its payments to DARP were being used to offset the programs operating expenses. And while the Court accepts at face value the notion that Hendren had altruistic reasons for partnering with DARP in support of its mission, the Court believes that Hendren was also motivated by its own economic interestsincluding less expensive hourly labor rates and avoidance of payroll taxes and workers compensation premiums. The Court therefore finds that Hendrens payments to DARP in exchange for a supply of laborers does not sufficiently demonstrate a good faith and reasonable basis for believing that it was complying with Arkansass wage and hour laws.

Hendrens next argument is that it acted in good faith because its owner, Jim Hendren, spoke to a sitting judge and was assured this program was appropriate and beneficial to society.. The Court does not credit this argument. The remark that Mr. Hendren attributes to Circuit Judge Tom Smith (Benton Countys presiding judge over juvenile cases and drug court programs) was made with regard to the merits and community need for programmingincluding DARPsthat offers drug offenders alternatives to incarceration. The context of the conversation does not support the notion that Mr. Hendren was trying to ascertain whether DARPs program complied with the AMWA. Moreover, judicial officers are not permitted to dispense private advisory opinions on regulatory compliance matters. It was unreasonable for Mr. Hendren to have thought back thenmuch less argue nowthat Judge Smiths passionately held beliefs about alternatives to incarceration in the context of a private conversation) were somehow intended as an assurance that Hendrens arrangement with DARP complied with Arkansass wage and hour laws.

Full opinion here.

In addition to the workers lawsuits, the ACLU has sued DARP for alleged human trafficking and Hendren had filed a defamation lawsuit against Timothy Steadman, one of the lawyers in this case,for equating the unpaid labor scheme to slavery. But that suit was dismissed by joint agreement, with each side agreeing to pay its own legal fees.

Read more:

Judge rules against Hendren Plastics in suit over unpaid laborers - Arkansas Times

Stop using the Bible to justify poverty and hunger – The Dallas Morning News

If you were curious what white nationalism cloaked in Christianity looks like, I recently received a letter informing me of the root causes of hunger and poverty in our nation. The letter stated causes such as, "genetic racial inferiority, entitlement mentality, undisciplined spending, laziness and government subsidized medicine for illegitimate children," all while citing numerous Scripture verses culminating in Jesus words, "The poor will always be with you."

Unfortunately, too many of our views about the causes of hunger in our nation are made up of one anecdotal experience, Facebook posts, or our favorite news source. Rarely are our opinions informed by actual research, a comprehensive biblical view, or proximity to the problem.

If we ever hope to solve our nation's hunger and poverty crisis, we must know the truth about it. What are its causes? Why are people poor and hungry? Are we collectively responsible for the health and well-being of our impoverished brothers and sisters?

In a little more than two decades of living and working with impoverished communities as well as working with researchers on this issue, here is what I have learned. First, the primary reason for hunger and poverty in our nation is underemployment. That simply means people are working but not making enough money to cover all their living expenses. In Texas, the minimum wage is still $7.25 an hour. If you were able to put together full-time hours at that wage, you'd bring home a little over $13,000 a year, barely enough for rent in most communities.

Another reason is educational attainment. In our 21st century reality, you must graduate from high school and get an additional degree, whether it is a technical degree, two-year degree, or college degree, to give yourself the greatest chance of not living in poverty. However, if you are living with hunger and poverty you are much less likely to graduate. This perpetuates a generational cycle.

The author of the letter was right, race also plays a factor in hunger but for very different reasons than he espoused. Too often the deck is stacked against people of color. Whether we want to admit it, we have not healed our wounds of racism. We have had our moments of triage -- the abolition of slavery and the civil rights movement -- which were critical steps to stop the hemorrhaging caused by the racist hatred, bigotry and indifference that were pervasive in our history. But we have not taken steps to heal on a national level. We have not integrated our neighborhoods, churches and social groups. The result is people of color are twice as likely to experience hunger as white households.

These are not all the causes of hunger, but they are some of the most prevalent. Regardless of cause, what remains the same for families is they are forced to decide what they are going to pay for each month. Are they going to pay for food, medicine, rent, their car or child care? They can't afford them all.

In Matthew 25, Jesus lays out our responsibility: "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me."

Here, what matters is whether a person has acted with love and cared for the needy. These acts are not just "extra credit," but constitute the decisive criterion for judgment.

The calling of the faithful is clear: Feed the hungry and you will live.

Unfortunately, we have scapegoated the poor to justify not living up to our calling. To scapegoat and push the poor out of our minds, we've had to dehumanize them. We have worked hard to classify the poor as lazy, to divide them as deserving and undeserving. We have developed theologies of prosperity to lift those who are rich in order to demonize those who are poor.

Thus, we've decided that it is morally defensible for some children to have an abundance of food while others have nothing in the fridge. We can just blame the parent for being lazy or entitled.

This is antithetical to the Scripture we read in Matthew. After all, the accused in Matthew are the ones that did not see the hungry and give them food. The ones that did not provide shelter for the stranger.

Instead, Matthew calls us to not only see the hungry as humans, but to see the hungry as Jesus.

Jeremy K. Everett is the executive director of the Texas Hunger Initiative at Baylor University and a senior fellow with World Hunger Relief Inc. His book "I Was Hungry" was published in August. He wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.

Got an opinion about this issue? Send a letter to the editor, and you just might get published.

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Stop using the Bible to justify poverty and hunger - The Dallas Morning News

STLS learns about the dangers of human trafficking – Winchester Herald Chronicle

Members of the Southern Tennessee Ladies Society listened to a very troubling and different type of topic during their September meeting.

Special Agent Rick Stout with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation went into explicit detail about human trafficking and its omnipresence within the world and, more specifically, within areas in the state of Tennessee.

Stout said that even though slavery ended after the Civil War, there are actually more slaves now than at any other time in history.

With an estimate of more than 40 million people worldwide, this form of modern-day slavery is also known as human trafficking.

Human sex trafficking is a $100 billion enterprise worldwide with an additional $52 billion attributed to labor trafficking.

While its illegal, human trafficking is a booming business that has become the second fastest growing criminal enterprise in the U.S. with estimates of victims in the hundreds of thousands, and Stout said it is happening all around the state of Tennessee, even in Coffee and Franklin counties.

Stout explained that the same people who traffic drugs and weapons realize that selling people is more profitable and less risky and people can be sold repeatedly.

In the case of a sex slave, that might be dozens of times per day.

Stout explained that sex trafficking is a commercial sex act that is induced by force, fraud or coercion.

These modern-day slaves are forced into labor, servitude, sex slavery or mail-order marriages to make money for their exploiters.

The term commercial sex act is defined as the giving or receiving of anything of value to any person in exchange for a sex act, that includes money, drugs, shelter, food, clothing, etc.

Commercial sex acts may include prostitution, pornography and sexual performance. Some forms of sex trafficking are controlled by pimps, gangs or even within a persons family.

The widespread abuse of methamphetamine has lead families to sell their children for money or drugs.

Stout said that while its true that big cities have a larger number of reported cases, practically any town that hosts large events or are located near the interstates are target areas for business related to human sex trafficking

He went on to explain that a buyer can search the internet and buy a human for a sex transaction and have the product delivered to his motel room within a few hours.

Events like Bonnaroo, local festivals, football games, county fairs, conventions in Nashville and races at Bristol Speedway are a few key examples he gave of events that may be targeted.

Stout warned, Dont leave your children alone, ever. Not at the bus stop, walking to a friends home or even in Walmart or a shopping mall without your supervision. Perpetrators are always watching and looking to prey on and recruit children, women and even men into the human-trafficking enterprise.

There are around 1,400 runways each year that are susceptible to being recruited by a trafficker who may force them to engage in survival sex.

Other victims may be tricked into the business by answering ads from traffickers posing as modeling agencies, pretending to be dance and talent scouts or offering jobs to immigrants.

Stout said, Its hard to imagine how anyone in their right mind could physically, mentally or emotionally abuse another person, let alone a child. The problem is these people are not in their right mind. There is growing demand from hundreds of thousands of demented men and individuals who think they could use, buy or sell a human being for whatever the going rate is for whatever pleases them. This is not okay. This is a real problem and it has got to stop. The TBI is trying to address the problem.

The use of computers and cell phones make this type of crime hard to detect and harder to enforce.

Agencies such as the Department of Child Services are oftentimes the first eyes that spot potential child endangerment, abuse and potential trafficking cases.

Stout listed the following signs that mean a minor could be a victim of human trafficking.

The victim may be inappropriately dressed or wearing indecent attire for the location or time of day, dirty clothing or the same clothes each day.

They may have few possessions, no formal identification or claim to be an adult while looking much younger.

They may exhibit fear of authority figures and move frequently from place to place. The victims have no control of their own money, no independence and may be inconsistent with stories.

They may have burner phones, hotel key cards and sometimes may have unexplained changes in their clothing, goods or money.

You may notice an older man with a younger child that keeps their head down and controls the child.

Traffickers will also often tattoo their products with a bar code or their name to show they are part of their stable.

Stout advised everyone to use your gut instinct.

If something doesnt look right, report it immediately, Stout said. You will not be bothering the police with your call. Do not try to approach the person directly or put yourself in danger. Oftentimes, the minor victim doesnt realize their own situation. Many minors are captured and put into sex slavery at a very young age and this is their normal life.

If you suspect someone is a victim, document what you see with photos and location using your cell phone and contact 911 or TBI at the Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline, 1-855-558-6484. The TBI website is full of more information on how you can help at http://www.ItHasToStop.com.

New nonprofit resources have been established to rehabilitate, educate, counsel and establish employment for survivors of human sex trafficking.

In Middle Tennessee, EndSlaveryTn.org provides specialized case management and comprehensive aftercare for human trafficking survivors and tactically addresses the problem through advocacy, prevention and training of front-line professionals.

Thistle Farms is a two-year residential program located in Nashville that provides housing, food, healthcare, therapy and education to women who have survived trafficking, prostitution, and addiction.

They believe these women deserve a second chance at life. The women are employed in one of their social enterprises and can learn new job skills and make a living wage to support themselves.

The women have continued access to support after they graduate from the program.

In addition to state and national law enforcement agencies, other nonprofit organizations like Truckers Against Trafficking exist.

They are educating fellow truck drivers and the public and focusing efforts on curbing the demand that perpetuates human sex trafficking.

Tennessees law enforcement officers are changing the conversation around the crime of prostitution, realizing they may be coming into contact with victims, not criminals.

The state of Tennessee is leading the nation in their efforts to enact new legislative directives that will increase the penalties for traffickers who promote another person for prostitution and requires them to register as a sex offender.

They have also made many provisions that protect minors, expunge criminal records and authorize law enforcement to transfer a minor victim of human trafficking to a shelter care facility.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has original jurisdiction to investigate cases of human trafficking.

Sex trafficking and prostitution are not a victimless crime, especially when a minor is involved.

Children under the age of 18 have no legal right to consent to sexual acts. Laws have changed within the last decade where sex trafficking was only considered a misdemeanor with minimal penalty.

Those caught in acts of prostitution are still arrested but are counselled and identified as victims.

Law enforcement is trying to get information on their handlers and to redirect the survivors into programs for healing and to break the cycle.

TBI is also responsible for training the states law enforcement officers on recognizing potential victims and investigating cases in their communities.

The TBI runs its own ongoing operation in an effort to rescue victims, address demand, and arrest traffickers.

Rick Stout has been employed as a special agent with the TBI for 34 years.

He served in the Criminal Investigations Division, the Special Investigations Unit, the Criminal Intelligence Unit-Gang Unit and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

Stout was one of the founders and president of the Tennessee Gang Investigators Association from 1998 through 2002.

He is retired from the Fusion Center in Nashville and is actively instructing new agents at the TBI in surveillance, gangs and death investigations.

Prior to working with the TBI, Stout was a police officer for five years.

He is available to present programs on human trafficking and other topics by contacting him at rick.stout@tn.gov or 615-744-4015.

The October lunch meeting will be held Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the Franklin County Country Club.

Dianne Sumner will provide the latest fall fashions from her boutique, The Tigress in Fayetteville.

New guests from the community are welcome to attend this lunch.

Link:

STLS learns about the dangers of human trafficking - Winchester Herald Chronicle

The $150B Business Of Human Trafficking – SafeHaven.com

If you thought slavery had ended, think again.

Estimates are that over 40 million people today are trapped in slavery. And its not an existential or theoretical classification: This is traditional slavery, with a slight modern-day twist.

And business is booming.

More than 165 suspected victims of modern slavery from Bulgaria have been discovered working for French winemakers following a crackdown on an organized crime network, last week.

So far, French officials have arrested four suspects, three from Bulgaria and one from France, after identifying the suspected slaves of four winegrowing companies near the eastern city of Lyon, according to Europol, Europes policing agency.

The Bulgarian members of the group were responsible for recruitment in Bulgaria while the French member arranged logistics, including organizing accommodation for the workers, said a spokesman for Europol, which supported the investigation.

The workers were recruited by a legitimate employment agency in Bulgaria, told they would receive 60 euros ($66) per day, and have their transport and housing expenses covered, Europol said.

Yet, they were made to live on a campsite, had money deducted from their wages for meals, and were denied the full amount they had promised when their contracts ended. As a result, many of them were unable to return to Bulgaria.

And the Bulgaria incident is but one of countless such operations, worldwide, in a business that earns traffickers upwards of $150 billion a year, according to international agencies.

More specifically, the annual breakdown in illegal profits looks something like this, according to Lucy International and the International Labor Organization (ILO):

- $99 billion from commercial sexual exploitation

- $34 billion in trafficked, forced workers for the construction, manufacturing, mining and utilities sectors

- $9 billion in agriculture, including forestry and fishing

- $8 billion dollars saved annually by private households that employ domestic workers under conditions of forced labor

In fact, on any given day, says the ILO, some 40 million people are victims of modern-day slavery, and women account for over 70 percent of those victims:

(Click to enlarge)

In a 2017 report, the ILO noted that modern-day slavery is most prevalent in Africa, where 7.6 out of every 1,000 people are forced into slavery. This is followed by Asia, the Pacific, Europe and Central Asia, though data is insufficient in the Arab states and the Americas.

But when it comes specifically for forced labor, Asia and the Pacific outdo Africa, following by Europe. Related: Anti-Aging Market To Hit $55 Billion

In Europe, 3.6 out of every 1,000 people are forced into slave labor.

Eastern Europe is major source of migrants who travel for work to other European countriesand also a major focal point of modern-day slavery.

And within Europe, Bulgaria is a primary source country for human traffickers.

The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons (which Bulgaria has adopted) defines trafficking in persons to include the recruitment, transportation and transfer by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion for the purpose of exploitation.

Trafficking in human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation remains the prevailing form of exploitation in Bulgaria; however, the number of trafficking victims for labor exploitation and forced begging continues to grow as well.

Earlier this month, a similar situation surfaced in Brazil, where the Brazilian Carrefour supermarket chain severed ties with Brazilian companies involved in slave labor. Theyd come under fire, according to Reuters, for buying meat sourced from farmers who had been blacklisted for their use of forced labor.

In addition to the victims themselves, the countries in which they are forced into slave labor incur financial losses.

The victims usually lose much of their earnings due to wage retention, debt repayments and underpayment of wages. They work under strenuous conditions but receive little or no pay. The countries where they work lose revenues from non-payment of taxes due to undeclared incomes or the illegal nature of the jobs concerned.

By Mirela Ajanovic for SafeHaven.com

More Top Reads From Safehaven.com:

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The $150B Business Of Human Trafficking - SafeHaven.com

Beto O’Rourke talks guns, healthcare, and ICE in Schenley Plaza – CMU The Tartan Online

Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Representative Beto ORourke visited Pittsburgh on Wednesday as part of his 2020 presidential campaign. In the tent at Schenley Plaza, he hosted an event with supporters that was a mixture of town hall and rally. He is the fifth candidate to visit Pittsburgh since the campaign season began, following, most recently, a visit by Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Sept. 18.

According to an Aug. Franklin and Marshall poll, about 1% of Pennsylvanians support O'Rourke's candidacy.

Standing on a black box in the middle of a crowd, he started off his speech with some personal stories, including the story of his last visit to Pittsburgh that was 25 years ago, and the fact that he had just celebrated his 14th wedding anniversary. Recalling how he first met his wife on a blind date, ORourke remarked that this was 15 years ago, before Tinder was invented, and we didnt have the chance to swipe left or right."

He transitioned to reflecting on his roots in El Paso, Texas. El Paso, as a city bordering another large city in Mexico, is home to a thriving international community. ORourke remarked proudly about how many El Paso schools now implement fully immersive bilingual education.

He reminded the crowd that El Paso is one of the safest cities in America to rebuke to the current presidents rhetoric about how immigrants allegedly increase crime rates in America.

ORourke then turned to his many criticisms of the Trump administrations treatment of immigrants at the southern border. No one sends their 8-year-old daughter [alone] on a 2,000 mile journey unless there is no other choice but to send their daughter on a 2,000 mile journey, ORourke said, to cheers.

ORourke then pivoted to discussing the shooting at a Walmart in his hometown, where the shooter allegedly targeted Mexicans because he was angry about what the shooter termed a Hispanic invasion of Texas, and the large-scale ICE raid in Mississippi that targeted low-income migrants that arrested hundreds.

From there, O'Rourke addressed his proposed gun control, domestic terrorism, and immigration policies. He reiterated his intention to implement a mandatory buyback of assault-style rifles because he believes there is no reason for civilians to own military-style weapons, to cheers, and to make combating domestic terrorism a top priority for federal law enforcement. One of O'Rourke's key issues on the campaign has been this gun control rhetoric, which has earned him progressive support and conservative criticism.

O'Rourke told the crowd that ICE raids were sending a message of fear, and said that he intended to remove this fear aspect from these immigrants lives by legalizing undocumented immigrants and providing a path to citizenship for the young people brought to the US illegally as children known as Dreamers.

He brought up the drought in Guatemala that was forcing many families to escape north, and the fact that extreme weather events like it will become more common as the planet warms from human activity. [The drought is] not caused by God or Mother Nature, but by you and me, our emissions, he asserted.

He highlighted that places located at lower latitudes such as El Paso may be too hot to support life in the future if anthropogenic global warming goes unchecked. To combat this, he proposed that if he is elected as president, he would have a plan to implement carbon sequestration processes that remove carbon from the atmosphere and thus reduce the percentage of greenhouse gases in the air over the next decade. ORourke told people that as Americans, we should be taking a leadership role to make sure we dont cook this planet beyond supporting life.

The rest of his speech touched on the key issues that Democrats have taken on: discrimination, healthcare, a $15 minimum wage.

He also proposed a healthcare plan with a mixture of public healthcare and private plans. He addressed the need to end discrimination in the workplace by amending the Equal Rights Amendment, and criticized the fact that it is legal in Texas and other states to fire someone for their sexual orientation and to prohibit same-sex couples from adopting children.

O'Rourke rallied his supporters by ending with a statement on the high incarceration rate in the US, saying that the war on drugs became [a] war on people, especially minorities. He called for reparations to be made to descendants of slaves and for the nation to acknowledge both the deeper legacy of slavery and how it still disadvantages minorities to this day.

The former Texas congressman spent much of the rest of the event taking questions from the audience. One man in a wheelchair asked about the proposal for paper ballots to prevent election hacking, noting that some people like him cannot pick up a pencil and asked if there would be accommodations for disabilities. In response, ORourke promised to enact a provision for disabled people to be able to get help in voting and even promised to name it after the man who asked the question.

A young woman from El Paso asked the candidate about gun control and reflected on her worries after the mass shootings in both El Paso and Pittsburgh, to which ORourke shared a story he had heard of a Mexican woman who refused to play traditional Mexican music in public after the shooting in El Paso. He also seemed to express that he understood how some gun owners liked the shooting power of assault-style weapons, but noted that there have been gun owners who told him that although they were supporters of Trump, they also wanted to keep our children safe and understood the premise behind ORourkes gun buyback proposal.

In response to a question about how to pay for this buyback, he proposed taxing capital at the same level as income, raising the corporate tax rate to at least 28%, and ending the foreign wars America is involved in to save the money otherwise spent on these wars.

He concluded the event by greeting some supporters in the front and snapping the usual crowd selfies.

Link:

Beto O'Rourke talks guns, healthcare, and ICE in Schenley Plaza - CMU The Tartan Online

Poverty in America continues to affect people of colour most – The Economist

THE RAW sewage from Pamela Rushs toilet travels through a straight plastic pipe directly into the backyard of her dilapidated mobile home. It smells badly in hot weather. Mosquitoes swarm and the children are forbidden from playing there. But when it rains, the stuff pools and it is unavoidable. Because the soil in Lowndes County, Alabama, where Ms Rush lives, sits atop a relatively impermeable base of limestone, a proper public sanitation system for the sparsely populated place would be expensive. Sanitation is left to private systems, which poor residents like Ms Rush cannot afford. Foul-smelling flooded lawns are a common sight. They are also the reason that hookworma parasitic disease transmitted largely by walking barefoot on open sewagehas been detected among the residents there. It is a disease most often encountered in developing countries. Yet decades after it was thought to be eradicated, it can be found in America, again.

Lowndes County is part of the Black Beltthe swathe of land named for its fertile topsoil which produced vast amounts of cotton on the back of slave labour and, later, sharecropping, and where emancipated black workers farmed rented land. Despite all the wealth that was extracted from the fields, those who remain there today have little; the median household income is a mere $29,785 and the official poverty rate is 30%. Three-quarters of residents are black, and they are nearly eight times as likely to be poor as whites in the county. Across America, black people remain disproportionately poor. More than 20% live in poverty, twice the rate of whites. After a moderate amount of progress was erased by the Great Recession, median black household wealth nationwide is one-tenth that of white households, just as it was 50 years ago.

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The mobile house in which Ms Rush lives today has mouldy cupboards, an unusable bathtub and holes plugged with many ingenious patches. Her income is meagre$770 a month in disability benefit, $129 for each of her two children in child support. Her ten-year-old daughter has health problems that require a visit to a specialist in Birmingham 100 miles away every three monthsa difficult journey without a car.

In one county in South Dakota, life expectancy is lower than in Sudan

While on a tour of the region, Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, remarked that he had never seen such conditions in the rich world. But it is seldom a concern of candidates for political office. Since the days of Lyndon Johnson and Robert Kennedy, poverty alleviation has hardly been at the centre of either partys political campaigns. Part of that is because of the brutal maths of vote-getting. As income declines, so does the propensity to turn out at the ballot box.

The problem is more than black and white, however. About 22% of Hispanics live in poverty. Yet, though many of them are poor when they immigrate to America, successive generations are likely to be less so. A study of tax-returns data showed that poor Hispanics, especially men, have much higher mobility than poor blacks. Asians, too, have a better record of moving up. Though pockets of poverty remainamong those born in Bangladesh and Cambodia, for examplerates are the lowest of any race, at 11.9%. Native Americans fare the worst. On some reservations, the estimated poverty rate is 52%, and 60% among children. In one county in South Dakota, life expectancy is lower than in Sudan.

Working out what issues are caused by history and what are a result of current policies also contributes to the analytical paralysis of policymakers. The yawning gap in poverty levels of blacks and whites partly results from the centuries of discrimination faced by black Americans before the civil-rights era. Macroeconomic shifts unrelated to race, like deindustrialisation, have also damaged black families and livelihoods.

Some modern conservatives are putting forward solutions to poverty that go beyond public-funding cuts and private charity. These still tend to be studiously race-neutral. Oren Cass of the Manhattan Institute has pitched more substantial wage subsidies as the heart of a new conservative anti-poverty agenda. After reforms in 1996, the safety net has already become more centred on workfare (such as the earned-income tax credit) than welfare. But many Republicans continue to see welfare as a poverty trap wrought from overreliance on the safety net, however patchy.

Looking at the same issues, progressives within the Democratic Party arrive at a very different set of answers. The failure is not personal, but of public policy, because of slavery, mass incarceration or redlining that denied mortgages to residents of minority neighbourhoods. This has led to the more left-wing members of the party to call for reparations to black people.

Yet reparations are also a political third rail. Even todays crop of Democratic presidential candidates, who have been drifting left in almost every other respect, have shied away from endorsing the idea, though some have pledged to appoint a committee to study the issue. The clearest explanation for this comes from Martin Gilens of Princeton University, author of Why Americans Hate Welfare. It found that overly racialised attitudesthe idea that white money was going to non-white peopleprevented widespread support of means-tested programmes. In large measure, Americans hate welfare because they view it as a programme that rewards the undeserving poor, Mr Gilens writes.

Implicit benefits for minorities are difficult enough to create and maintain. An explicitly race-based programme such as reparations would attract even more condemnationand one sure to fail without a Democratic president and supermajorities in Congress. In all likelihood, the reduction of racial disparities in poverty will have to be done through race-neutral means. As policymakers grapple with how to do that, enterprise and philanthropy are trying to fill the gap.

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Poverty in America continues to affect people of colour most - The Economist


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