Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Invisible chains: Sex, work and slavery
Tonight on "360," we're digging a little deeper into an issue many Americans probably thought was resolved almost 150 years ago -- slavery. But in reality, certain forms of slavery (or forced labor) still occur around the world, and even, right here in the United States.

According to the United Nations, more than 12 million people worldwide are forced to work against their will. They work in fields and sweatshops, in homes and factories; many of them are caught up in the sex industry.

Tonight, we'll have reports on this issue from around the world: Randi Kaye is in Atlanta reporting on U.S. sex slavery, Anderson Cooper brings us the story of New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof's journey to Cambodia to track down a teenage prostitute that he bought and freed three years ago, Dan Rivers is in Cambodia to report on a former sex slave who has helped free many other women and children, and Jeff Koinange is in Uganda to report on children forced to be soldiers.

If you're interested in learning more about these issues or looking for a way to help, here are some links to organizations mentioned or featured in tonight's program (by no means is the list exhaustive, but it's a way to start):

Posted By Jason Rovou, CNN Producer: 6:23 PM ET
Don't forget the slavery (of all kinds) that take place in prison. Some prisoners become literal slaves of others. Based on the large US prison population, you probably have tens of thousands of persons being forced into slavery by others inmates in the US.
Posted By Anonymous Huntigton Beach, CA Peter : 8:07 PM ET
Thank you for bringing this travesty of injustice to chidren into public light. I am pleased to see so many organizations to help. As an activist, I plan to check out these organizations you have provided on your blog and see what I can do to help. I know others will join me in this effort. Sometimes, when the world seems cold, we can kindle a fire to warm it.
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann, Nacogdoches TX : 8:16 PM ET
Actually, every amaerican is a slave. Income tax is forced labor. We all work about 4 months of the year just to keep the government from jailing us. Sounds like slavery to me.
Posted By Anonymous Jeff Mayhew, Brattleboro VT : 8:44 PM ET
I am so glad to see that "360" will be tackling such an intense issue on tonight's show. I admit that I was largely unaware of the number of "forced workers", especially sex workers around the world until Lifetime came out with their television movie "Traffic". I find this issue to be extremely compelling and feel that it is something we need to wake up and deal with immediately. Thank you again for taking on this story.
Posted By Anonymous Kimberly Miller, Hiram, OH : 9:17 PM ET
Why don't we hear more about this horrible problem? I guess it's a dirty secret that the government doesn't want to take on. I am glad you are doing this story tonight and I will watch even though I know it will be hard to swallow.
Posted By Anonymous Jess, Paris KY : 9:57 PM ET
Thanks for your fine reporting on a vital issue. Another organization doing a stellar job in this area of concern is the International Justice Mission (, based in Washington, DC.
Posted By Anonymous Baxter McGinn - Blowing Rock, NC : 10:19 PM ET
this is an issue very close to my heart, I had the opportunity to go to Bangalore, India in 2005 and I volunteered at an orphanage that housed children rescued from child labor and sex slavery, some of these girls were as young as 8. My heart broke for them and I wanted to take them all home with me. Often while driving and walking through the city streets, and especially in the temple yards, we would be followed by young girls begging for money and were often told by our guides not to give them anything because the money would only go to their "pimps". I can not for the life of me understand why this issue is still so difficult to combat, children are the most vulnerable creatures on this planet and for us as a human race to simply stand to the side and look away while their innocence is stripped from them is mind boggling and utterly vile. Thank you Anderson for shedding more light on this heart breaking issue.
Posted By Anonymous Naomi Mac Millan, 23, Island Park, NY : 10:50 PM ET
What about the boys, Anderson? At the start of the show you all mentioned that many of the individuals sold into slavery are young boys. And, at the end you all showed Shrei(sp?), the little HIV-positive boy from Cambodia. But, there are millions of little boys sold into sex slavery in the Dominican Republic, the Ukraine, throughout eastern Europe, Cambodia, and elsewhere. In the future, I think that it would be helpful to highlight their plights in this dreadful phenomenon as well.
Posted By Anonymous Billy Jeffries, Gainesville, FL : 11:01 PM ET
Thank you so much for this great reporting. In your footage of AFESIP, you showed survivors working on looms. If anyone in the US wants to buy the handicrafts the AFESIP survivors make they are sold at This is a project of The Emancipation Network - a US based social enterpise that helps survivors gain economic self sufficiency.
Posted By Anonymous John Berger, Sandwich MA : 11:01 PM ET
Thank you for exposing this. I must admit I thought I was pretty savvy and aware of such things, but I was still shocked by some of the horrible stories I heard. Once you know about this you can never go back to your la te da life again. Instead of being horrified and furious I intend to channel that enegy into doing SOMETHING, right here, right where I live, with money, volunteering, spreading the word, whatever I am led to do, I will do.
Posted By Anonymous Cindy Stewart-Birdwell Lexington, KY : 11:09 PM ET
Hey Jason,

Thank you for the links. I will never understand how you can hurt a child. You have to be a monster, no conscience. Children that are abused become adults still trapped in a kid's body that was hurt at the core. They live with it for life. I have two friends who were molested & raped as children. It is tinting everything in their lives.From the way they interact with people to the way they raise their children(especially their girls)
Sexual predators have it good. These worthless human beings have a free pass from our laws to go back on the streets in no time and get back to business.
And for ones being molested by family members,most of the time an adult knows about it. Well, in my book, that person(or persons) should be held accountable also.
Children are the world's responsability. They are our future and to just shrug it off and say,sorry,not my business is irresponsable.
I saw a story on the children soldiers of Uganda. It haunts me to this day. They call the children "the night commuters". Because they walk 2 hours every night to go sleep in a kind of big cage that was built so they wouldn't be kidnapped during the night and forced to become soldiers. And they go back to their villages in the morning. All this on an empty stomach most of the time.
How sick will the world get before we finally stand up accross the world and protect our children and at last, get hard on the predators. I'm not for the death penalty, but the things that go through my mind when I think of those scumbags...they should be locked up and the key thrown away.

Joanne R.
Laval Quebec
Posted By Anonymous Joanne R.Laval Quebec : 11:09 PM ET
Please go to to help the kids in uganda, they are doing a lot of good things.
Posted By Anonymous Meagan, San Diego, CA : 11:13 PM ET
I am glad that this will finally come to the attention of many Americans who are unaware of the horrible things still occurring today. I hope in the segment the effects society has upon the issue of human trafficking are discussed. It is believed to be one of the main contributers to this.
Posted By Anonymous Katie, Washington, DC, : 11:20 PM ET
'Disposable People' by Kevin Bales is an amazing book to read to learn more about Slavery in the Global Economy. Knowing that slavery still exists all around the world is a very sad thing, but the saddest part is that most people don't even know or care that it's going on. Thank you Anderson Cooper for shedding more light on such an important matter.
Posted By Anonymous Maureen, Laurel, MD : 11:21 PM ET
Thanks for the Special. Bringing these issues to the forefront is critical to these victims' survival.
Posted By Anonymous M, Haleiwa, HI : 11:21 PM ET
Yes, IJM does great work. I would also check out a few more:

1.Free the Slaves - Washington DC:

2. Polaris Project - Washington DC (

3. Anti-Slavery International (UK)

As for child soldiers in Uganda, there are some great grassroots organizations doing excellent work to raise awareness on this issue. Some are:

1. Invisible Children (
2. Uganda CAN (
Posted By Anonymous Susan Megy, San Francisco, CA : 11:24 PM ET
A powerful presentation of an important topic. Most estimates of the number of slaves in the world today, though, are about double what was used on the show. Two very important organizations fighting the slave trade that you missed on your list are

Anti-Slavery International

Free the Slaves

Anti-Slavery International is the oldest anti-slavery organization in the world. It has been fighting for abolition for over 150 years.

When I have taught units on slavery in university classes, I have found that every mention of the slavery of little boys catches far more emotional involvement from students than any other topic. Somehow too many people can pass over the slavery of adults and little girls just don�t seem to count as much as little boys in their strange calculations.
Posted By Anonymous TWJ, Fulton, CA : 11:25 PM ET
After working with this issue in Cambodia for the last 2 years, I'd like to thank you for doing this story. Once more, thank you for including the problem in America. I think many people believe it is a problem "over there", but it is a global issue. There are many great organizations in Cambodia working to stop the exploitation of children!
Posted By Anonymous Maren --Minneapolis, MN : 11:34 PM ET
Hi Jason,
I'm glad I watched the Ac360 special. It was very well done. We can't solve all the ills of this world, but we can be told and we can act on what we can each do. It's overwhelming with a capital O, and I can see how some would simply tune out and change the channel..I'm glad I didn't. Take care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 11:35 PM ET
I wanted to say "Thankyou" to Anderson/Cooper 360 for "Invisible chains: Sex, work and slavery". Wonderful program, please continue.
I would love to see something about the half million children living in the streets in Rio and what the Catholic Church is doing with all its wealth to relive poverty in the countries that support it. Thanks.
Posted By Anonymous Michael Gorman, Santa Cruz, CA : 11:35 PM ET
I'm glad that you are bringing this issue to the public eye. We mustn't forget that in one way or another we are part of this vicious cycle and as the poor get poorer they are subject to exploitation. This is NOT limited to developing countries but is a growing concern in developed nations as well but sadly it is often masked and largely overlooked. And we also shouldn't forget the forced labor workers along our borders: Ciudad Juarez anyone?
Posted By Anonymous Mona, Tucson, AZ : 11:40 PM ET
Slavery isn't history. It truly is a modern human rights crisis that has only begun to be addressed. Thank you for addressing so many issues surrounding slavery in the United States and around the world in your special report.

I am an intern at the American Anti-Slavery Group, a non-profit dedicated to the abolition of modern day slavery, and the attention you have given this issue will hopefully cause many to ask - What Can I Do? It is time we start to act out against the social injustices of modern day slavery instead of just talking about it. You can find out more about AASG at
Posted By Anonymous Kate Donnelly - Boston, MA : 11:45 PM ET
Thank you for bringing up this issue. Officially slavery may have been abolished, but in reality, it never has been. Instead it is a growing, profitable industry, in a variety of fields. The statistics you give may be mind-bolding, but, they are more likely much higher.

Mr Kristof's idea of buying and setting free the young prostitute may seem like a kind, humane, thing to do, but sadly, it often has the very opposite effect, as it turns out to be yet another way to make money on the abused. Many of the sex slaves are also, if freed, not welcome back to their families because of the shame of their ordeals.This gives them no way to go, but back to the brothels. To help solve the trafficking problem this issue has to be delt with as well as alternatives given for the victims to find other ways of supporting themselves (and their families). If you can stomach it, the movie "Lilya 4-ever" is well worth watching.

Would have been interesting to see the second part of your show, but it doesn't air here in Europe. Glad though to know that you bring up the many other different aspects of modern slavery and that you show that slavery actually can be found next-door.

Not long ago the world learnt about the German words "arbeit macht frei" - if the issue of slavery is truly to be resolved I think it's time to start asking, and answering, the questions of whom will be set free,(and from what?), and who ends up paying for it?Sometimes the truth is too painful to accept and people choose to close their eyes - hope your show has opened the hearts and eyes of some of these.
Posted By Anonymous Kristina, Boden, Sweden : 11:47 PM ET
Sorry for double-posting,but,I wanted to add that when the girls or women are taking out of the abusive situation,they have a long way to go. Six years ago, I went back to school to become a massage therapist.It's not my dayjob for now,I just do it for family &friends, maybe later. But,you don't only learn about the human body,but you have classes of psychology & sexology where you are put in every kind of scenario. From having the pervert on your table to having a victim of sexual abuse. You would be surprised how people react on a massage table. It's not always relaxation. We did stages in homes for battered women. Sometimes, it is the first time they are touched in a gentle way,not to arm them. It's a long process for them. Most of them, have been hurt every time another human being touched them.
There is so much pain bundle up in their bodies, it is heartsickening.Just laying a gentle hand on their arm can be too much to bare for some. The amplitude of what those children,women have endured,can not be explain by words.The road to recovery will pass by healing hands,figuratively and physically.

Joanne R.
Laval Quebec
Posted By Anonymous Joanne R.Laval Quebec : 12:02 AM ET
In a media spotlight dominated by partisan politics and reality shows, it is encouraging to see you tackle the complex subjects you often investigate. This was not an easy show to watch - at all - and it is hard to know how we can make a difference. Thank you for inspiring some of us to do so.
Posted By Anonymous Christine Evanson, Folsom, CA : 12:05 AM ET
Thank you for reporting this lesser told story. Slavery is on the rise and not just in Cambodia. In Russia, Eastern Europe, Mexico, really everywhere. In some cases, it's wealthy North Americans owning women for prostitution, sewing, and domestic labor. It's beyond disgusting and a problem I pray we can wipe out of existance. Kudos to the 360 team. for branching out and exposing the nasty truth.

Of course, the issue is global and not just within the United States. It's global.

I hope the staff, shareholders, and management of CNN will do everything in their power to not only report, but manifest change. We, as viewers, I hope, will do the same.
Posted By Anonymous Melissa, Dallas Texas : 1:24 AM ET
There is also sex slavery and forced abortions widespread in the US Territory of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. It is not uncommon for the good-looking young girls brought to work in the sweatshops from mainland China to be sold to "karaoke clubs." Some of these girls are as young as my little sister- 13 years old. It makes me sick, but its a great thing 360 is tackling this topic.
Posted By Anonymous Neil Pople, Roseville, CA : 2:11 AM ET
As long as we fail to protect and provide for our children and the aged we will remain incomplete as human beings. It does not matter whether we are super acheivers, super rich or super successful -we will be a failure as a race, because we have become incapable of protecting our children. Thank you for the fine reporting. It was searing, so much so, that I was unable to watch it. But there is hope. We can change the situation. Those who commit this horrendous crime are a minority, but they become all powerful, because the majority of the people choose to remain silent. We can stop this horrible crime all over the world -we just need to wake up, and raise our collective voices against child sexual abuse/slavery. We have no choice here, we HAVE to do it. We owe it to our children all over the world.
Posted By Anonymous Sudha Pillai, Bangalore, India : 2:14 AM ET
The sad thing is the peacekeepers and aid workers deployed to tumultuous areas of the world sometimes take advantage of the existing slaves and commit the same or similar atrocities that the previous oppressors did. Case in point, UN peacekeepers in Africa using girls and women as sex slaves. The system perpetuates the abuse because they have no means for justice, no one to report the abuse to, and when they do, it falls on deaf ears.
Posted By Anonymous Fran Scottsdale, AZ : 2:19 AM ET
Visit (not on the list) to learn more and help.
Posted By Anonymous David, Slidell, LA : 2:21 AM ET
US Agency for International Development (USAID) Women In Development (WID), the agency that is responsible for addressing trafficking issues and women issues -- their budget had been recently cut. The department only has 6 personnel to handle these issues for the entire world. If we are serious about this, we should make sure such agencies are adequately funded.
Posted By Anonymous MM, Honolulu, Hawaii : 2:26 AM ET
My father currently lives in the Dominican Republic, and when i visit i see all these children and adults working in the sugar fields. Many times i visit the Hatian villages provided by the government when they take over thier local village and move them into basically prison complexes. We also must not forget prostitution and sex slavery is also very high in Dominican it is not only sugar cane slavery, many sick individuals move there and constantly take poor children to cabinos and often rape them for 100 peso. In the small town of Sosua 25% of the women have aids and i am glad these organizations are trying to something about it. But unfotunately the task is so vast and worldwide
Posted By Anonymous Sterling Hamilton, Calgary, Alberta, Canada : 2:28 AM ET
As an Asian, I feel sorry for the girls. The problem cannot be solved without the intervention of the government. What a shame when we live in the 21st century, civilization did not turn to another page.
Posted By Anonymous kimberly nguyen, garden grove, california : 2:38 AM ET
I am dominican; the "slavery" word does not apply to the sugar cane fields in the Dominican Republic. Explotation? maybe; what defines slavery? the income? the 3 or 5 dollars a day is able to buy food for a whole family in the DR, not here in USA due to an economic term called "purchasing power" that takes place.
As the article mentioned, they feel glad they had a job; why the DR is an economy of 15-20% unemployment rate.
Let's go further, who/what controls the sugar prices? I am telling you is not the sugar producers; dig dipper and you will find that the industrialized and developed countries do. They assign also how much they will buy from each country.
Posted By Anonymous Federico Read, East Providence, Rhode Island. : 2:41 AM ET
The following quote from CNN suggests there are at least 15,000 underage boys and girls in the sex industry in Cambodia. I had a math teacher who told me one way to check my work is to imagine if the answer is at all possible before doing math to check the answer. What do you think the chances are that there are actually 15,000 underage sex workers in Cambodia?

The precise scale of Cambodia's sex trade is difficult to quantify. International organizations -- such as UNICEF, ECPAT and Save the Children -- say that anywhere from from 50,000 to 100,000 women and children are involved. An estimated 30 percent of the sex workers in Phnom Penh are under the age of 18, according to the United Nations.
Posted By Anonymous Mary Higgins, Seattle, WA : 3:25 AM ET
I am a Georgia native and did not know how dire the situation is here in my own "backyard"! How has this been allowed to go on for so long? It's unreal.
Posted By Anonymous Jemaul, Savannah Georgia : 5:19 AM ET
thank you for doing this story. i never new this was going on but im sure going to work on stopping it.
Posted By Anonymous kris strege, volcano, calif : 6:34 AM ET
As Founder and Director of Ahava Kids, an international human rights organization rescuing children from slavery and trafficking, I want to thank you for your excellent report. I am so grateful to CNN for reporting on the issue of today's slavery. Few people realize that there are more slaves in the world today than at any point in human history, a point recently validated by the UN and The Vatican, and that trafficking in humans is the third largest enterprise for organized crime, just behind drugs and weapons. It is up to all of us to give a voice to the millions trapped in this nightmare.
Posted By Anonymous Raymond Bechard, Old Saybrook, Connecticut : 7:04 AM ET
There would not be any sex slavery if it wasn't for the customers.
Posted By Anonymous W.D.Russell, East Liverpool, Ohio : 8:17 AM ET
Another great organization seeking to put an end to night commuting and child soldiering in Uganda is Invisible Children. Please visit if you'd like more information about the organization.
Posted By Anonymous Meagan Dunn, San Diego, CA : 10:21 AM ET
Why is no one investigating the EPIDEMIC of these disgustingly warped MEN who are the perpetrators of such violence? We hear about the victims, but not the VICTIMIZERS.This epidemic of twisted, sick men who are willing to engage in sex with little children HAS TO BE STOPPED; WE HAVE TO FIGURE OUT WHERE THIS BEHAVIOR COMES FROM. Are these sickos born this way? Has society perpetrated this with all the tv and movie violence? Is it feeding this behavior? Is it a result of their own sexual abuse? WHAT ?????
It's heartbreaking and so, so scary for future generations. Keep up the phenomenal work that you do, Anderson.
Posted By Anonymous Sharon, Roebling, NJ : 10:39 AM ET
Peter in Huntington Beach said:Don't forget the slavery (of all kinds) that take place in prison. Some prisoners become literal slaves of others...

Jeff Mayhew in Brattleboro, VA said:
Actually, every amaerican is a slave. Income tax is forced labor. We all work about 4 months of the year just to keep the government from jailing us. Sounds like slavery to me

WOW! We're so fortunate these "great thinkers" have really put child rape, prostitution and slavery into prospective for America. Why this is unimportant at all in comparision to the "rights" of convicted murderers and enslavement of free American tax payers. Thanks, Jeff & Peter! What insight! What next? What about the rights of child molesters? You forgot them!
Posted By Anonymous Rebekah R. , Crosby, TX : 10:59 AM ET
It was very sobering to watch the report.Here we are, insulated by the comforts of life while so many others around the world suffer exploitation as young as 5 yrs old.I held my infant daughter very tight last night, thinking that would protect her from the predators that she will soon face. And some of you are right, if there were no customers or demand, there wouldn't be supply.
Posted By Anonymous Terri, Olathe-KS : 11:26 AM ET
I just can't believe that there are that many sick people out there. These are innocent children that these animals are preying on. I think we need to get rid of the animals.
Posted By Anonymous Lesley, Toronto, Ontario : 12:26 PM ET
Dear Mr. Cooper,
I want to thank you and CNN as a whole for running this special on sexual slavery. The issue of prostitution in the U.S. is cloaked by misconception and I am so gratefull to you for addressing it properly. Only when these realities are forced into the face of Americans will we be able to begin making a difference. Your show was a step in that direction, Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!
Angela Fairless
Posted By Anonymous Angela Fairless Seaside Oregon : 1:05 PM ET
Let the Cambodians "clean-up their own act". I'm sick of these bleeding hearts worrying about every other country BUT the U.S. Check out "slavery" in the United States prison system and DO something about that, you bunch of chickens!
Posted By Anonymous gene, Dallas, TX : 1:34 PM ET
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