LATEST NEWS

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

Share Button
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.]:

nyt5

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.

Tipping Point FINALE! #FairFoodNation takes the call for Fair Food to Twitter…

Using #MyPublixStory hashtag, consumers revisit six-year Publix campaign history, demand commitment to Fair Food…For the past week, we have been sharing highlights from the flood of letters, emails, and articles by consumers who can no longer countenance the empty excuses from Publix, Kroger, and Wendy’s for refusing to join the Fair Food Program.  Today, we bring you the grand finale of the “Tipping Point” series with a collectively-crafted, powerful message for Publix from consumer allies — on Twitter.First, a little background.  Recently, Publix launched a new campaign on social media dubbed #MyPublixStory, an effort to collect glowing consumer anecdotes about their favorite personal experiences at the Florida-based supermarket. […]

Read More »

Tipping Point, Vol. 7: Texas school teachers confront Kroger!

Letter delivery by local school teachers dismissed by Kroger managers…So far in this past week’s “Tipping Point” series, we’ve heard from consumers speaking out against the final fast food hold-out, Wendy’s, and the stubborn Florida grocer, Publix.  But what about the second largest food retailer in the country after Walmart, Ohio-based Kroger?  After Ahold USA became the first major U.S. grocer to join the Fair Food Program last month, inquiring minds began turning to Kroger, a company which, with over $100 billion in annual revenues, dwarfs Ahold and Publix and the rest of its supermarket competition.  Why would Kroger refuse to support U.S. agriculture’s leading human rights program […]

Read More »

Tipping Point, Vol. 6: Longtime Publix shopper calls for transparency, action from Florida grocer!

 “What I want to see from you is action — step up to the plate and join the Fair Food Program…”Today, as a part of our weeklong “Tipping Point” series, we want to share a letter to Publix from a Florida customer.This note from Palm Beach resident Stephen Bickel builds on a longstanding tradition of letter-writing in the Publix campaign.  From celebrated authors to church-goers to Immokalee farmworkers, many thousands of people have authored sincere, thoughtful messages to Publix over the past six years, in the hopes of receiving the same courtesy in return.  Alas, most of them are still waiting for a response.Today’s letter, which Mr. Bickel […]

Read More »

Tipping Point, Vol. 5: New Jersey puts Wendy’s in the hot seat after Ahold USA joins FFP!

“As Wendy’s modernizes its brand and its “Old Fashioned Burgers” marquees fall away, so too must this old fashioned way of doing business…”For much of our weeklong “Tipping Point” series, Publix has taken the brunt of consumer contempt for refusing to join the CIW’s Fair Food Program.  But Publix isn’t the only hold out on the receiving end of consumers’ growing ire.Wendy’s — which stands alone among the country’s five major fast food chains in not joining the Fair Food Program — has also been getting an earful.  As consumers in the northeastern U.S. look forward to seeing the Fair Food label on display in the produce aisles […]

Read More »

Tipping Point, Vol. 4: Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster lifts up Ahold USA agreement as “victory” for farmworkers, consumers!

“…When the wisdom and expertise of workers is honored at the head of the table, and consumers use public pressure to urge the institutions they patron to heed that expertise, it can result in justice…”Last week, we launched the weeklong “Tipping Point” series, sharing a daily sample of letters, emails, and articles from consumer allies who are celebrating two extraordinary advances of the Fair Food Program in just the past month: the Fair Food agreement with Ahold USA in July, and the inspiring segment on the FFP by CBS Sunday Morning earlier this month.  But rather than simply celebrate the recent advances, these consumers are making use of the moment […]

Read More »

Tipping Point, Vol. 3: Presbyterian Church USA calls on Publix and other companies to follow lead of Ahold USA!

  “My prayer is that Kroger, Wendy’s and Publix will also join and that there will come a day when we know that behind every tomato we buy stands a farmworker who is respected and fairly compensated…”We continue today with this week’s “Tipping Point” series, documenting the deluge of messages from consumers following last month’s groundbreaking agreement with Ahold USA and last weekend’s extraordinary report on the Fair Food Program by CBS Sunday Morning.Yesterday, we shared a letter from one of the Fair Food Nation’s newest members, Emmy Award-winning TV producer Lisa Moody of Sarasota.  Ms. Moody expressed her disappointment at discovering that Publix — where she […]

Read More »
Long-time Publix customers joining a farmworkers for one of thousands of protests outside Publix (2013).

Tipping Point, Vol. 2: “I will now make better and more informed choices when shopping… and will take my business elsewhere.”

 Former producer of Publix video advertisements and longtime customer is “appalled” by grocer’s rejection of Fair Food Program, pledges support for farmworkers…Today, we bring you the second installment of our “Tipping Point” series.  The series will feature a daily letter, email or article penned by consumers who — in the wake the recent groundbreaking Fair Food agreement with Ahold USA and brilliant report from CBS Sunday Morning — can no longer abide the excuses and smoke screens thrown up by Publix, Wendy’s, and Kroger in justifying their rejection of the Program.One of the most striking themes in this flood of recent messages from consumers is that even longtime customers […]

Read More »

Tipping Point: Ahold signing, CBS Sunday Morning story pull rug out from under Publix, Kroger, Wendy’s in their fight to turn back Fair Food!

 Amidst ever-brighter spotlight on success of Fair Food Program, consumers increasingly fed up with retailers’ empty excuses…It has been a mighty fine fortnight for farmworkers.  Between last month’s groundbreaking Fair Food agreement with Ahold USA and this past weekend’s powerful, in-depth report from CBS Sunday Morning seen by millions of viewers across the nation, the future of the Fair Food Program has never looked brighter.  And if the public’s overwhelmingly positive response to the latest news — as seen on Twitter, on Facebook, and over email — is any indication, it is becoming increasingly clear that an ever-growing number of mainstream consumers stand with farmworkers, forward-thinking growers and responsible retailers in their collaborative […]

Read More »

CBS News Sunday Morning: “How the Fair Food Program is making a difference for struggling migrant farm workers…”

Following powerful CBS story, viewers take to social media to call out Publix for “unconscionable” refusal to join FFP…Yesterday morning, as they do every week, millions of viewers across the U.S. tuned into CBS News Sunday Morning, but this time they were in for a rare treat on network television: an excellent, in-depth report on the CIW’s Fair Food Program.  Brought to us by correspondent Mark Strassmann and producer Mark Hudspeth, the piece traced the hard-fought transformation of Florida’s fields from the “Harvest of Shame” days in 1960 to what is being called the best working environment in American agriculture in the New York Times today. The CBS Sunday Morning […]

Read More »

MUST WATCH VIDEO: CBS Sunday Morning, ​”The Growing Demand for Fair Food”…

This morning, CBS Sunday Morning aired an excellent, in-depth report on the Fair Food Program — in case you missed it at 9:00 AM, here above is the Fair Food segment in full!Check back tomorrow for more on the news program as well as highlights from the overwhelming positive responses on Facebook, Twitter, email and more… 

Read More »

THIS SUNDAY: CBS News Sunday Morning to feature Fair Food Program!

Peabody Award-winning morning news show to broadcast feature on Fair Food Program, agreement with Ahold USA!We’ve just received the exciting news that tomorrow, Sunday, August 9th, the Fair Food Program will be the featured “cover story” on the venerable CBS News show Sunday Morning, one of the country’s most-watched news programs with an audience of over 6.5 million viewers!  The show will air at 9 AM on the east coast.  Check here to find your local station and show times (west coast times may vary).Coming just a few weeks after last month’s groundbreaking Fair Food agreement with Ahold USA — the first major U.S. grocery chain to join the Fair […]

Read More »

Worker-to-worker education team wraps up first summer of Fair Food Program expansion in Virginia, New Jersey!

 Local tomato harvesters on the Fair Food Program:  “We’ve never seen anything like this in New Jersey…”Just two short months ago, the Fair Food Program’s worker-to-worker education team broke new ground outside the state of Florida with labor rights education sessions on participating farms in South Georgia.  We were there to bring you a report from those exciting first steps on the summer harvest road north for the Fair Food Program, and since those first days of the season the CIW education team has remained hard at work.  All in all, traversing five additional new states — South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey — […]

Read More »

Ahold agreement sparks major buzz in mainstream media, Twitter!

Take Part: “Buying ethical tomatoes just got a whole lot easier”…Wednesday’s big announcement of the CIW’s newest Fair Food agreement caused quite a stir in the media, mainstream and otherwise, as Ahold became the first mainline grocer to join the award-winning Fair Food Program.  From the Washington Post to Eva Longoria, everyone had something to say about the breakthrough agreement.  With a media round-up this big, we might as well just roll our sleeves up and dig into it, so away we go…First up, the Associated Press sent the story out to hundreds of papers and television stations across the […]

Read More »

BREAKING NEWS: “A Giant step forward for farmworkers!”… Ahold, parent company to Giant, Stop & Shop, and Peapod, joins Fair Food Program!

Ahold:  “The Fair Food Program is a time-tested leader in improving the lives of agricultural workers…”CIW:  Ahold’s “leadership will send an invaluable message to the rest of the grocery industry that social responsibility is greatly strengthened when workers, suppliers and retailers work together toward a more modern, more humane agricultural industry.”In a landmark development for the Fair Food Program, Ahold USA and the CIW announced today that Ahold has agreed to join the award-winning social responsibility program, bringing worker-certified Fair Food tomatoes to over 50 million new customers a month in nearly 780 new stores in 14 states.  Here below is an excerpt from […]

Read More »

“Tear down the wall!”…

Over 100 Disciples of Christ (Christian Church) leaders march on Wendy’s in Columbus, Ohio, call on Wendy’s to tear down the wall keeping the fast-food leader from joining the top human rights program in the US food industry today!As announced last week, when leaders of the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church) learned that last weekend’s annual General Assembly was to take place in Wendy’s hometown of Columbus, OH, they wasted no time planning a demonstration at a local Wendy’s restaurant. Compelled by their deeply-held values of justice and long history of standing with farmworkers since the days of the Taco Bell boycott, […]

Read More »

Recent news archives »