Critical Awareness

  • Soaring glove sales during pandemic boost industry, but workers still suffer
    Disposable and medical glove manufacturers are thriving as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has led to unprecedented demand and booming sales. But in Malaysia—which produces 60 percent of the world’s gloves—little has changed for their workers, who continue to face widespread exploitation and debt bondage. Top Glove, which with around a quarter of the global market … Read More
  • BBC investigative documentary shows harsh reality of forced organ trafficking in Egypt
    A new episode of the BBC’s investigative documentary show Panorama follows two reporters in Egypt who track down and interview a real organ trafficker. The form of trafficking is a major problem in Egypt, where organs are mostly taken from desperate migrants and refugees seeking the money to reach Europe. As part of the BBC … Read More
  • New work contract makes progress against kafala in Lebanon, but more action needed
    A new work contract allowing foreign domestic workers to resign while keeping their passport has brought Lebanon a step closer to the end of the exploitative kafala system, but campaigners have been wary of undue celebration. The revised legal document, approved yesterday by the labor ministry in Beirut, replaces a 2009 version and makes several … Read More
  • Notes: The Starship and the Canoe by Kenneth Brower
    This next book has probably my favorite so far of my pandemic reads. Kenneth Brower’s The Starship and the Canoe. It’s a strange paired biography of physicist Freeman Dyson and his son, adventurer and historian George Dyson. The “starship” refers to the nuclear powered Orion rocket program that Dyson Sr. helped conceive and lead, while … Read More
  • Proposal to use prison labor on Malaysian palm plantations prompts concern
    A high-ranking figure in the Malaysian palm oil industry has proposed employing incarcerated people on the country’s plantations, prompting concern among campaigners who fear it could lead to exploitation and forced labor. Malaysia’s lucrative palm oil industry, one of the world’s biggest, is suffering major labor shortages because the ongoing pandemic has limited its main … Read More
  • Freedom United, Uyghur groups, and models stage protest at New York Fashion Week
    As New York Fashion Week kicked off on Sunday, Freedom United took the opportunity to protest the fashion industry’s links to forced labor in the Uyghur Region of northwest China. In a demonstration outside Spring Studios in Manhattan, the week’s principal venue, model-activists took to a catwalk in white cotton t-shirts and red ribbon as … Read More
  • Defending the 2020 election against hacking: 5 questions answered
    the NSA and CIA have classified evidence that the Russian intelligence services placed malware in the election registration systems of at least two Florida counties in 2016, and that the malware was sophisticated and could erase voters. This appears to confirm earlier reports.
  • U.S. prepares to block cotton imports from Uyghur Region
    Last week, Freedom United signed a petition urging the U.S. to ban the import of cotton goods from Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China, where over a million Uyghurs have been detained and many forced to work. Less than a week later, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has moved to accept our demands. Details … Read More
  • Further warnings of modern slavery risk in UK post-pandemic economic slump
    The leader of a prominent UK anti-slavery charity had delivered the latest warning that human trafficking threatens to increase amid the economic repercussions of the pandemic. Andrew Wallis, who heads Unseen UK, argued this week that with rising financial hardship and poverty, more people will become vulnerable to exploitation and modern slavery. Traffickers and criminal … Read More
  • Beirut’s domestic workers struggling to survive in aftermath of explosion
    As the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated an existing economic crisis in Lebanon, its many migrant domestic workers already bore the brunt of this vicious double blow. But the deadly blast that ripped through the port just over a month ago and brought the country to its knees has pushed Beirut’s domestic workers to the brink. Even … Read More
  • The domestic workers fleeing modern slavery in the UK
    “A year and six months, I don’t go out,” recalled Florence (not her real name), a domestic worker from the Philippines who has found refuge in a safe house after escaping modern slavery in London. She had begun working for a diplomatic family in Kuwait and moved with them when they relocated to London. But … Read More
  • Pandemic worsens exploitation of migrant farmworkers in Greece
     Undocumented migrant workers that provide the bulk of seasonal labor in Greece’s strawberry farms have reported suffering increased exploitation this year. More than 10,000 undocumented Bangladeshi men work seasonally in Greece’s strawberry industry, the eighth-largest in the world. The exploitative conditions and wages on these farms have long been recognized, with violently repressed protest against … Read More
  • Wittgenstein’s Revenge
    A short series by Mike Elias We treat facts like they’re “atoms of truth” — small, indivisible, solid — and if you add them up, you get “big truths.” But like atoms, facts are mostly empty space, and the closer we examine them, the less solidity we find. It may be time to graduate from … Read More
  • Children as young as 10 at risk of forced marriage in Somalia
    A new bill tabled in Somalia last month would allow children to marry once they have reached puberty which could leave children as young as 10 years old at risk of being forced into marriage. The new Sexual Intercourse Related Crimes Bill has sparked outrage amongst members of parliament in the country as it seeks … Read More
  • Freedom United signs petition urging U.S. to ban goods made with forced Uyghur labor
    In a petition submitted last week to customs officials, Freedom United joined other civil society groups in urging the U.S. to ban the import of goods made with forced labor in China. Sent by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility on behalf of Freedom United and eight other human rights groups, the petition urges Customs … Read More
  • Hyperreality Prevails
    To picture a rhinoceros in Renaissance Portugal, consider the unicorn. Whether conflated with the oryx or the narwhal at its southernmost and northernmost coordinates, the unicorn was no less of a shapeshifter than Dionysus, who came from the East―the two sharing goatlike renditions; the axis, as Pliny described it, being “sacred to Bacchus.” The unicorn … Read More
  • UK Home Office U-turns after slashing support for trafficking survivors
    The UK Home Office has reversed its decision to unlawfully slash financial support for survivors of modern slavery during the pandemic under threat of legal action against the move. In July, hundreds of human trafficking survivors temporarily placed in hotels and other accommodations abruptly stopped receiving their weekly government allowance of £35. The move prompted … Read More
  • Promising Qatar reforms strike at kafala system
    Qatar has taken promising steps towards dismantling the abusive kafala system that puts migrant workers at risk of modern slavery by passing two new laws. The Emir of Qatar abolished restrictions on migrant workers changing jobs without their employer’s permission and introduced a monthly minimum wage of 1,000 Qatari riyal, in addition to giving basic … Read More
  • Malawi campaigner: dissolve child marriages performed during lockdown
    Village chiefs in Malawi have been ordered by a senior traditional leader to dissolve all the child marriages that occurred while the country was under lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Senior Chief Theresa Kachindamoto said that the move was essential for girls to return to their classrooms once schools reopen in September. A … Read More
  • How one Nigerian woman managed to bring her trafficker to justice in Italy
    The inspiring story of Susan, shared this week as part of the Guardian’s Long Read series of in-depth essays, represents a rare success story in a world where too often traffickers evade justice. As is not uncommon in trafficking cases, Susan’s trafficker was an acquaintance, a woman named Evie in her home village in southern … Read More
  • U.S. government takes action on fraudulent child adoption in Uganda
    The U.S. government has launched legal action against four individuals involved in fraudulent adoption scheme in Uganda, amid growing concern over birth parents in the country losing their children to trafficking. Financial sanctions and visa restrictions were imposed last week on two Ugandan judges, along with a lawyer and her associate, who worked together on … Read More
  • Little improvement to World Cup working conditions in Qatar
    Migrant workers on World Cup sites in Qatar continue to face systematic exploitation, a new report has found. The report from Human Rights Watch, which was released earlier this week, found that migrants working on preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup remain subject to widespread wage abuse, despite the Qatari government’s commitment to change. … Read More
  • New Mexican series shows human trafficking is “in broad daylight”
    A new documentary television series is receiving praise for its survivor-centered exploration of human trafficking in Mexico. The Route of Human Trafficking (original title: La Ruta de la Trata), an eight-part documentary airing on the government-funded Canal Catorce, interviews survivors and explores the factors that lead to their exploitation. The featured survivors, the identity of … Read More
  • The Stack: A Love/Hate Story
    For a while now, I’ve been interested in what I think of as “stack research” — investigations into how the high-tech built environment stack works at all levels. I have a milquetoast cyberpunk story to tell you that sheds some light on the matter. It is about how I retrieved this remote control for my … Read More