U.S. State Department 2015 Anti-Slavery Heroes visit Immokalee!

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A 25-year-old Yazidi woman showed a “Certificate of Emancipation” given to her by a Libyan who had enslaved her.  2015 TIP Hero, Ameena Saed Hasan, has worked tireless to raise international awareness and liberate Yazidi women enslaved by ISIL.

A 25-year-old Yazidi woman shows a “Certificate of Emancipation” given to her by a Libyan who had enslaved her (the photo is from the August 13, 2015 article in the New York Times entitled “ISIL Enshrines a Theology of Rape”, exceprted below).  Ameena Saeed Hasan, a recipient of the US State Department’s 2015 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Hero Award, has worked tireless to liberate Yazidi women and girls enslaved by ISIL and to raise international awareness of their horrific plight.


“TIP” Heroes share struggles to combat modern-day slavery across the globe with farmworkers in Immokalee, learn about Fair Food Program and worker-led efforts to defend fundamental human rights…

Every year, thousands of engaged, dedicated individuals — people of all faiths, campus leaders, human rights activists, award-winning authors, and journalists — come through the small, dusty town of Immokalee to learn about the CIW and the Fair Food Program, as well as to share their own efforts for justice with CIW members.  Two weeks ago, however, we were fortunate enough to host some very special visitors whose contributions to the global human rights movement are truly awe-inspiring:  the recipients of the US State Department’s 2015 Trafficking In Persons Hero Award.

Each summer, the State Department honors “individuals around the world who have devoted their lives to the fight against human trafficking by awarding them the TIP Report Hero Acting to End Modern Slavery Award.”  In 2010, the CIW’s Anti-Slavery Campaign Director, Laura Germino, was the first TIP Hero to be honored for her groundbreaking work to end slavery within the bounds of the United States.  In the words of the State Department, TIP Heroes “are recognized for their tireless efforts—despite resistance, opposition, and threats—to protect victims, punish offenders, and raise awareness of ongoing criminal practices in their countries and abroad.”

Here are quick descriptions of this year’s Heroes, pictured below with Secretary of State John Kerry:

Secretary of State John Kerry with 2015's TIP Heroes

Secretary of State John Kerry with 2015’s TIP Heroes

Ameena Saeed Hasan is a Yazidi Kurd, a minority group targeted by the extremist group ISIL. She has helped secure the release of over 100 captives.

Moses Binoga leads a government task force in Uganda to combat modern-slavery. He actively advocates for better policies and cooperation.

Betty Pedraza Lozano is the founder and director of a Colombian NGO that provides victim services, spreads awareness, and encourages international cooperation.

Parosha Chandran is a human rights lawyer who operates out the UK. Both a cutting edge policymaker, and a practicing attorney, she has helped victims to seek justice in the courts.

Norotiana Jeannoda is an incredible civil society advocate in Madagascar, helping victims and changing policy.

Founder of Confident Children out of Conflict in South Sudan, Catherine Groenendijk-Nabukwasi fights against child trafficking and exploitation.

Gita Miruškina is the lawyer for a Latvian NGO that provides critical services and runs Latvia’s human trafficking hotline.

During the TIP Heroes’ visit to Immokalee, we had the opportunity to discuss the CIW’s unique, twenty-year struggle to forge a new human rights model in the Florida tomato industry.  The CIW was a pioneer of today’s movement to end human trafficking in the US.  The CIW’s efforts in the 1990’s and early 2000’s led to the successful prosecution of seven slavery operations and the birth of a model of anti-trafficking work that has come to be known as the “victim-centered approach” (that work is captured in the CIW’s mobile Slavery Museum, pictured here below).  Today, however, thanks to the worker-driven, market-based mechanisms of the FFP, the CIW has traveled a path from the prosecution of slavery operations to the prevention of slavery on Fair Food Program farms altogether, the path from a world of thousands of victims obliged to suffer the abuse and trauma of forced labor to a world without victims.  Today, the Fair Food Program’s prevention model is the gold standard in the fight against modern-day slavery.

CIW's Anti-Slavery Campaign Director and 2010 TIP Hero Laura Germino guides the international delegation through the Modern-day Slavery Museum

CIW’s Anti-Slavery Campaign Director and 2010 TIP Hero Laura Germino guides the international delegation through the Florida Modern-day Slavery Museum

The TIP delegation’s visit to Immokalee was a timely one, indeed.  In the very week following the TIP Heroes’ visit, the New York Times published a shocking, in-depth report on the work of TIP Hero Ameena Saeed Hasan, who has labored tirelessly to mobilize women’s rights and human rights organizations all over the world against the systematic enslavement of Yazidi women and girls by ISIL.  During her stay in Immokalee, Ms. Hasan spoke passionately about her work and urged us to help spread the word about the human rights crisis in her community.  In case you missed it, we want to share some excerpts from the article, ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape,” though we strongly encourage you to read the piece in its entirety at the NYT website.  

[A warning: the Times story is a powerfully written, unflinching document of horrific abuse, happening today to thousands of young women and girls, and so can be extremely challenging to read.  So for parents and teachers out there, while what follows is some of the most compelling and urgent human rights reporting in the world today, it is decidedly not for most of our youngest readers.]:


ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape

Claiming the Quran’s support, the Islamic State codifies sex slavery in conquered regions of Iraq and Syria and uses the practice as a recruiting tool.

A 12-year-old girl in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.

A 12-year-old girl in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.

QADIYA, Iraq — In the moments before he raped the 12-year-old girl, the Islamic State fighter took the time to explain that what he was about to do was not a sin. Because the preteen girl practiced a religion other than Islam, the Quran not only gave him the right to rape her — it condoned and encouraged it, he insisted.

He bound her hands and gagged her. Then he knelt beside the bed and prostrated himself in prayer before getting on top of her.

When it was over, he knelt to pray again, bookending the rape with acts of religious devotion.

“I kept telling him it hurts — please stop,” said the girl, whose body is so small an adult could circle her waist with two hands. “He told me that according to Islam he is allowed to rape an unbeliever. He said that by raping me, he is drawing closer to God,” she said in an interview alongside her family in a refugee camp here, to which she escaped after 11 months of captivity.

Aishan Ali Saleh, 40, at a refugee camp. She had lived in Kojo, one of the southernmost villages on Mount Sinjar, which was overrun by Islamic State fighters.Kidnapping and Sex Slavery: Covering ISIS’ Religious Justification for RapeAUG. 14, 2015
The systematic rape of women and girls from the Yazidi religious minority has become deeply enmeshed in the organization and the radical theology of the Islamic State in the year since the group announced it was reviving slavery as an institution. Interviews with 21 women and girls who recently escaped the Islamic State, as well as an examination of the group’s official communications, illuminate how the practice has been enshrined in the group’s core tenets.

The trade in Yazidi women and girls has created a persistent infrastructure, with a network of warehouses where the victims are held, viewing rooms where they are inspected and marketed, and a dedicated fleet of buses used to transport them.

A total of 5,270 Yazidis were abducted last year, and at least 3,144 are still being held, according to community leaders. To handle them, the Islamic State has developed a detailed bureaucracy of sex slavery, including sales contracts notarized by the ISIS-run Islamic courts. And the practice has become an established recruiting tool to lure men from deeply conservative Muslim societies, where casual sex is taboo and dating is forbidden.

A growing body of internal policy memos and theological discussions has established guidelines for slavery, including a lengthy how-to manual issued by the Islamic State Research and Fatwa Department just last month. Repeatedly, the ISIS leadership has emphasized a narrow and selective reading of the Quran and other religious rulings to not only justify violence, but also to elevate and celebrate each sexual assault as spiritually beneficial, even virtuous.

“Every time that he came to rape me, he would pray,” said F, a 15-year-old girl who was captured on the shoulder of Mount Sinjar one year ago and was sold to an Iraqi fighter in his 20s. Like some others interviewed by The New York Times, she wanted to be identified only by her first initial because of the shame associated with rape.

“He kept telling me this is ibadah,” she said, using a term from Islamic scripture meaning worship.

A 15-year-old girl who wished to be identified only as F, right, with her father and 4-year-old brother. “Every time that he came to rape me, he would pray,” said F, who was captured by the Islamic State on  Mount Sinjar one year ago and  sold to an Iraqi fighter.

A 15-year-old girl who wished to be identified only as F, right, with her father and 4-year-old brother. “Every time that he came to rape me, he would pray,” said F, who was captured by the Islamic State on Mount Sinjar one year ago and sold to an Iraqi fighter.

A 15-year-old girl who wished to be identified only as F, right, with her father and 4-year-old brother. “Every time that he came to rape me, he would pray,” said F, who was captured by the Islamic State on Mount Sinjar one year ago and sold to an Iraqi fighter.  “He said that raping me is his prayer to God. I said to him, ‘What you’re doing to me is wrong, and it will not bring you closer to God.’ And he said, ‘No, it’s allowed. It’s halal,’ ” said the teenager, who escaped in April with the help of smugglers after being enslaved for nearly nine months.

Calculated Conquest

The Islamic State’s formal introduction of systematic sexual slavery dates to Aug. 3, 2014, when its fighters invaded the villages on the southern flank of Mount Sinjar, a craggy massif of dun-colored rock in northern Iraq…

Make sure to read the full report from the New York Times.

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