2010 has been a banner year for the fight against human trafficking. Activists from across the country and around the world have come together to hold companies accountable for slavery in their supply chains, fought to end the sale of sex trafficking victims online, and worked to make the American food industry slave-free. And as a result, laws have been passed, corporate policies have been changed, and traffickers have fewer places to advertise for trafficked people. Check out the top ten victories won in the fight against human trafficking in 2010. 1. Craigslist blocked sex ads in the U.S and internationally. After years of pressure from anti-trafficking organizations, states attorneys general, and others, Craigslist abruptly closed their adult ads section in the U.S. in September. A couple months later, the AIM Group released a report which showed the site's sudden ban of adult ads has meant a 48% drop in the overall volume of prostitution ads online, and the online commercial sex industry is now projected to shrink by $37 million this year. That includes a reduction in the untold number of children and trafficking victims who have been advertised on Craigslist. Over 11,000 Change.org members helped win this victory. And just three months after they shut down sex ads in the U.S., they did the same overseas after another 10,000 Change.org members advocated for a change.
2. Governor Schwarzenegger signed the California Supply Chain Slavery Act into law. After lobbying from anti-trafficking and corporate social responsibility groups and letters from almost 2,000 Change.org members, Governor Schwarzenegger signed the California Supply Chain Transparency Act in September. The new law marks a huge leap forward for consumers, who will now have access to information about how some of the largest companies in the world monitor their supply chains.
3. Human trafficking was criminalized in the nation's capitol. In June, after a four year struggle, the Washington D.C. City Council finally passed a law criminalizing modern-day slavery in America's capitol. The progressive law provides severe penalties for anyone who knowingly benefits from the crime of trafficking, resources for victims, and a private right of action for victims to sue their traffickers.
4. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers made 90% of the Florida tomato industry slave-free. Florida-based farm worker advocacy group the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) scored a major victory in their Fair Food campaign this year. After a 15 year stand off, the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange (FTGE) — a private cooperative of farm owners — agreed to sign CIW's code of conduct, pledging to improve working conditions and pay farm workers an extra penny per pound of tomatoes harvested. This is a historic victory in the fight against farmworker slavery and exploitation.
5. Imprisoned journalists and organizers fighting human trafficking were set free. After three Ivorian journalists were imprisoned for revealing the truth about child labor in the cocoa industry, over 1,000 Change.org members demanded their immediate release. Within a week, they were free again. Similarly, over 1,000 Change.org members helped free imprisoned Bangldeshi workers' rights advocates, and they continue to press the government to stop harassing them.
6. Domestic workers were guaranteed basic rights in New York. It's a lot harder to traffic domestic workers in New York, now that they are protected by a state bill of rights. The law guarantees basic rights to domestic workers, like being paid, having the occasional day off, and being free to leave their job. These protections allow trafficked domestic workers to seek help more easily and make it more difficult for employers to abuse workers. Hopefully, 2011 will see even more states passing a domestic workers bill of rights.
7. The Washington Post stopped advertising for massage parlors. On the heels of Craigslist's shutting down of their adult services section and Backpage.com's lawsuit from a child trafficking survivor, The Washington Post announced in October they will no longer run ads for massage parlors. The announcement came after over 3,400 Change.org readers and several NGOs complained that these massage parlors are often fronts for human trafficking operations. The WaPo's decision exemplifies the continued trend of businesses making socially responsible decisions, and has inspired other campaigns against similar ads in other papers.
8. Ohio passed its first anti-trafficking law. Ohio has long been a hub of human trafficking, in part because the state has not had a law prohibiting the crime. But this year, they finally criminalized human trafficking at the state level, which will help get justice for the thousands of victims enslaved in Ohio each year. Over 900 Change.org members helped achieve this victory.
9. President Obama signed the first major national legislation to label conflict minerals. In July, President Obama signed into law a huge victory for consumers and human rights advocates around the world: a provision requiring companies to label products made with minerals from Congo and the surrounding countries. The legislation promises to make it easier for consumers to choose products made without conflict minerals that support violence, rape, human trafficking, and other serious crimes.
10. Choice Hotels took action to prevent child prostitution. The tragic death of 5-year-old Shaniya Davis after being sold into prostitution at a Comfort Inn prompted a campaign asking parent company Choice Hotels to prevent child prostitution in their hotels. After receiving letters from over 4,200 Change.org members, they agreed to incorporate child trafficking into their employee training.
Thank you to everyone who helped win these incredible victories in 2010, and everyone else who started or supported campaigns that will become victories in 2011. You are what has made this year victorious in the fight against modern-day slavery.