Critical Awareness

  • MJD 59,323
    Yesterday, I was testing a new bench power supply I just bought. I tested it with a multimeter, then connected it up to a motor, to make it go brrr for fun. It’s the sort of thing I haven’t done since grad school, decades ago. As I was tinkering, I was idly wondering about whether…
  • Lower house of U.K. parliament to vote on declaring Uyghur oppression a genocide
    The House of Commons, the lower house and primary chamber of the U.K.’s parliament, is set to vote next week on a motion to declare the Chinese government’s actions in the Uyghur Region—which include systematic forced labor—a genocide. Collective decisions on genocide are uncommon but not unheard of in the U.K. parliament, which in 2016…
  • How the pandemic makes it easier for traffickers in Europe
    A new report by Council of Europe (CoE) anti-trafficking experts known as GRETA finds that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it easier for human traffickers to exploit people with few options while making it more difficult for trafficking victims and survivors to access justice and support. The Thomson Reuters Foundation reports, GRETA’s annual report noted…
  • Lebanon’s financial crisis worsens exploitation of domestic workers
    Al Jazeera reports that Lebanon’s current financial crisis heightens the insecurity of domestic workers, particularly migrant domestic workers, as they are being paid a fraction of their time’s worth – if at all. All migrant workers are subject to the kafala system which binds employees to their employers and leaves them vulnerable to exploitative situations…
  • Why Nordic Model policy pushed in the U.K. won’t tackle sex trafficking
    This week, Labour Member of Parliament (MP) Diana Johnson sought support from her party for amendments to the U.K.’s controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that would criminalize sex workers’ clients, otherwise known as the Nordic Model. Some proponents of the Nordic Model, including Diana Johnson who tabled a bill in December calling for…
  • The continued horror of “marry-your-rapist” laws around the world
    A new report from the United Nations has revealed that laws allowing rapists to evade prosecution by marrying their victims persist around the world. According to the findings from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), so-called “marry-your-rapist” laws still exist in Russia, Thailand, Venezuela and 17 other countries. In these countries, men can legally have rape…
  • International Olympics Committee uniforms made with Uyghur forced labor
    Axios reports this week that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has given a uniform contract for the Tokyo 2021 Summer Olympics and the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics to a company implicated in forced labor. The Hengyuanxiang (HYX) Group, which was contracted by the IOC to supply formal uniforms, has a subsidiary factory in the Uyghur…
  • U.S. law enforcement: when “rescue” becomes exploitation
    The criminalization of sex work in the U.S., barring the state of Nevada, further complicates and undermines efforts to tackle sex trafficking, the Washington Post reports. Like many countries, in the U.S., there is a dangerous conflation of sex work and sex trafficking due to the criminalization and stigmatization of sex work. U.S. law enforcement…
  • Lebanon’s vaccine rollout risks excluding migrants and refugees
    Migrants and refugees in Lebanon, including many survivors of modern slavery, are at risk of being left behind by the government’s COVID-19 vaccination plans, according to Human Rights Watch. The organization interviewed numerous refugees, migrant workers, UN staff, and aid workers as part of an investigation that has uncovered wide disparities in the country’s vaccine…
  • Pandemic leads to fall in reports to U.K. modern slavery helpline
    The United Kingdom’s national anti-slavery helpline received fewer reports in 2020 than in 2019, a drop that experts have warned hides a troubling reality. In its annual report released Wednesday, the anti-trafficking charity Unseen—which operates the helpline—said that while overall cases only fell by 4 percent, potential victims dropped by around a quarter. This disparity…
  • Legislator calls for an end to prison slavery in Louisiana
    “I just don’t believe that Louisiana and the United States should be in the business of legalized slavery.” – Curtis Ray Davis II, executive director of Decarcerate Louisiana and formerly incarcerated person Louisiana lawmaker Rep. Edmond Jordan this week called for action to end prison slavery by introducing House Bill 196 which seeks to remove language…
  • Here’s why we don’t understand heavier-than-air flight
    If you’ve been reading popular science websites or magazines lately, then you may have heard the news: we don’t understand how airplanes work. For example: This fact may surprise you, given that humans have been successfully designing, building, and flying airplanes for over a century now. But I’m afraid that the articles are pretty clear:…
  • U.S. escalates action against Top Glove with total rubber glove import ban
    The U.S. has banned the import of all rubber gloves from the world’s largest manufacturer, Top Glove, as a result of forced and indentured labor in its factories, the Guardian reported on Tuesday. The decision comes at the close of a months-long investigation by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which found “conclusive evidence” that…
  • Investors push fashion brands to hold ground amid China backlash
    Western fashion brands are under pressure from an alliance of more than 50 investors and funds to take action on forced labor in the Uyghur Region, according to a Reuters exclusive. The group, which is backed by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), said it was contacting dozens of companies demanding supply chain transparency…
  • Lawyers call out U.K.’s unsubstantiated claims about false modern slavery survivors
    The U.K.’s interior ministry, the Home Office, recently published a press release entitled “Alarming rise of abuse within modern slavery system.” The press release announced new measures to address this supposed abuse by the likes of “child rapists, people who pose a threat to our national security, serious criminals and failed asylum seekers” without providing…
  • “I am a feminist, I am teacher, and I am a survivor advocate of human trafficking”
    Writing for Global Citizen, Freedom United board member Sophie Otiende shares why centering lived experience in the anti-modern slavery movement is crucial to identifying sustainable solutions and achieving meaningful justice. Sophie Otiende works with Liberty Shared to offer a victim case management system and in her new role on the board of directors at the…
  • Trafficking victims’ pursuit of justice delayed in Bangladesh
    Research released this week has found human trafficking cases in Bangladesh are being prevented from progressing through the justice system due to a lack of evidence from foreign authorities and insufficient financial support for survivors. Delays in receiving justice as well as “inadequate witness protection mechanisms”, and in some cases, not being able to afford…
  • Attitudes towards massage parlors are putting workers in danger
    In the wake of the racist attack that targeted massage parlors in Atlanta last week, advocates for massage workers, sex workers and others including Freedom United are concerned that targeted police raids on these establishments that are said to “curb sex trafficking” will instead put workers in greater danger. While it is unclear if any…
  • Motion on Uyghur forced labor before Australian parliament
    Reuters reports that on Monday this week, Australia’s parliament debated a motion to condemn human rights violations by China in the Uyghur Region. The very same day, the E.U., U.K., Canada and the U.S. announced sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, targeting senior Chinese officials. The BBC points out that this is the first…
  • Stealth policy could see more trafficking survivors put behind bars
    In the U.K., if someone in immigration detention is identified as a potential victim of modern slavery they are automatically considered for release, barring extenuating circumstances such as public security. This may soon change as a new immigration policy is being pushed by the Home Office, the U.K.’s interior ministry, whereby suspected trafficking survivors will…
  • How corporations like Corcraft benefit from prison slavery
    Truthout reports the horrors of prison slavery and how incarcerated people continue to be exploited under the prison industrial complex. Stephanie Foxworth was previously incarcerated at the Albion Correctional Facility in New York where she was forced to work, spending long days lifting sheets of metal. Her employer Corcraft, the New York State division of…
  • Petition EU to ban biometric mass surveillance practices
    Civil society initiative for a ban on biometric mass surveillance practices We call on the European Commission to strictly regulate the use of biometric technologies in order to avoid undue interference with fundamental rights. In particular, we ask the Commission to prohibit, in law and in practice, indiscriminate or arbitrarily-targeted uses of biometrics which can lead to unlawful mass surveillance.
  • Success! Sudan ratifies ILO Forced Labour Protocol
    In a major milestone for Freedom United’s campaign calling on world governments to ratify the ILO Forced Labour Protocol (P29) and do more to end forced labor, this week Sudan became the fiftieth country to ratify the protocol. Thank you to 100,000+  Freedom United supporters and our partners at United Nations Association of New York…
  • New scheme puts migrant workers in the U.K. at risk of modern slavery
    A report released this week has warned that the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme, a new pilot initiative allowing overseas workers to take up agricultural work, puts workers at direct risk of human trafficking and forced labor. The scheme was put in place following the U.K.’s exit from the E.U., after concerns were raised that workers…