Sunday, January 01, 2006

modern slavery. right here right now, yes, in connecticut

almost a million people a year (MOSTLY WOMEN OF COURSE) are trafficked across the us borders as forced labor or prostitutes or much worse i'm sure. let's not let them remain invisible.

UP FROM SLAVERY Woman Tells Of Years Of Servitude In Haiti, Fairfield County
Courant Staff Writer
January 1 2006
Her high school graduation picture is a lie.In it, Micheline Slattery is just another wiry teenager in a white cap and gown, mugging for the camera with her family - three cherubic children and their mother.But behind Slattery's practiced smile is an anguish she kept from classmates and teachers at Norwalk's Brien McMahon High School. The only clue to the truth is a ragged scar on her left cheek - the work of a butcher knife wielded in fury.The older woman in the picture had sealed Slattery's shame four years earlier, when she had the girl smuggled from their native Haiti to Connecticut to become a "restavec," or child servant, who would be her maid, cook and nanny. Slattery knew her own worth: $2,500, and not a cent more."I remember the day she picked me up at Kennedy Airport. I was crying. She yelled at me, `Shut up. I just paid $2,500 for you,'" Slattery recalled. "Since that day, I carried that number in my head. I thought that was what I owed her."Slattery, an orphan who says she endured a childhood of abuse in Haiti at the hands of estranged relatives who made her their servant, is one of a handful of victims of human trafficking who have emerged from anonymity to draw attention to what some call "modern-day slavery."Her decision to speak out comes as Connecticut and other states are considering ways to toughen penalties for those accused of human trafficking, and to improve support services for victims.Slattery, now 29 and working as a nurse outside Boston, says she was among a number of Haitian children brought to Connecticut in the late 1980s and 1990s and sold to families as domestic workers. Some of her own relatives, whom she will not name for fear of retribution, were involved in the trafficking. "It was the way they made their money," she said. "These were church-going people who drove school buses and worked in the community, and this was their business."The U.S. Department of State calls human trafficking "among the fastest growing criminal activities" worldwide, estimating that as many as 800,000 people a year, mostly women and girls, are trafficked across international borders, many for prostitution and others for forced labor. Of those, between 14,500 and 17,500 are believed to be trafficked into the U.S.Authorities in Connecticut say they have no estimates of the numbers of illegal immigrants who are smuggled into the state or who are victims of human trafficking, which involves coercion and exploitation. But several recent arrests, as well as the state's proximity to New York and Boston, have raised concerns......................

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