Our Troubled Youth: Children Used as Soldiers in Somalia

When you started your day today, you probably groaned at the sound of your alarm clock as it went off next to your bed. You look over and sigh, knowing that you have about five classes to get to today, and your first one starts in about an hour. You hit the snooze button, rest for a few more minutes, before finally getting up and going to your class. You get to your class, you sit down, and open your laptop and get ready to take notes – or browse amazon for a new pair of shoes. You feel comfortable, listening to the words of your professor, knowing that you will be leaving this classroom in about fifty-five minutes. You know that if anything crazy were to happen on campus, the government would be there to step in and mediate the situation. Afterall, the police are only a few minutes away.

However, this picture looks a bit different in the country of Somalia, as children get ready to go to school they question if today is going to be the day the government’s Army or worse, the terrorist organization Al-shabaab, will come into their classroom and take them away from their friends and families in order to fight in the ongoing conflict. No child is safe, and if the teacher resists, they will be shot down in front of their students  to make them an example of what happens when you do not obey the ones with guns.1 This is the reality in Somalia, and several other nations around the world – Predominately in Africa2 – In which children are Recruited into being Child Soldiers by means of force, coercion, abduction, and threat to their families in order to Fight and Die in the ongoing conflicts in their nation.

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Contextualizing Forced Labor in the Strawberry Industry

Strawberries are considered the staple fruit of the summer. One main pillar in strawberry production is finding a way to supply these fruits year-round. A country that can do that, has gained a major foothold in the strawberry business. With the demand of strawberries increasing every year, farmers all over the world are looking for cheaper ways to produce their fruit. In this post, we are going to look at Argentina and California; locations that benefit from unfair labor practices in order to decrease their costs of production. We are going to identify the demand for these labors, the conditions in which these workers are subjected to, and lastly we are going to dive into some of the movements towards eliminating child labor in this industry and what can be done to improve them.

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Migrant Worker Exploitation at Case Farms Chicken Plant

Migrant Worker Exploitation

The exploitation of migrant workers is a problem in places all across the United States. One area where exploitation and abuse is extremely widespread is in the agricultural industry. In an article published in The Gaurdian, entitled “Field work’s dirty secret: agribusiness exploitation of undocumented labor”, author Sadhbh Walshe details the harsh and oftentimes illegal treatment of agricultural workers in the United States. As Walshe explains, “Most farm work in America is performed by immigrants, most of whom are undocumented and therefore exploitable”. The work performed by these immigrant workers oftentimes takes place under deplorable conditions. Walshe writes,

“When you consider what these jobs entail – hours of backbreaking work in terrible and often dangerous conditions, subsistence wages with little or no time off, and none of the protections or perks that most of us enjoy (like paid sick days, for instance) – it’s hard to see why anyone with other options would subject themselves to a life that is barely a step above slavery”.

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The Comfort Women of WW2

Human trafficking can be manifested in many ways, from sexual exploitation and forced labor, to organ harvesting as well as others. Here I will focus on the comfort women from World War Two. Women who were trafficked to being sexual slaves for the Japanese military, organized by the Japanese Government. I will give a brief history of how comfort stations came to be. What happened to the women, for them to have gotten trafficked, and for them once they were sexual slaves. What has the government done, and why is it important to write about it now. Continue reading

Human Trafficking in Context: Coffee Production


A Gallup poll conducted in 2012 reported just under a third of the United States population drink at least one cup of coffee on an average day, while regular coffee drinkers reported drinking just under three cups of coffee on an average day. Looking back, these numbers have changed negligibly from 1999 to 2012. About a quarter of the people polled considered themselves to be addicted to coffee, but only about a tenth of those polled reported wanting to cut back on their coffee consumption.

From these statistics, it is clear coffee is a major part of US culture, but like many other commodities Americans consume, we do not consider where the coffee we drink daily comes from. Some of the countries that produce the coffee we consume regularly include: Colombia, Brazil, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Yemen, Indonesia, Vietnam, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and within the US, Hawaii. Continue reading

Human Trafficking and Forced Labor in the Context of the Olympics and Major Sporting Events

In this blog post, I want to discuss human trafficking, specifically labor trafficking, in the context of mega sporting events and especially the Olympics. International sporting events such as the Olympics and the World Cup require a lot construction of buildings and stadiums in relatively short amounts of time. For example, when a city hosts the Olympic Games, an entire village is created for spectators and athletes to enjoy their time there. These projects requires hours upon hours of work, and many workers. Because of the heightened need for workers in a short time frame, labor trafficking has become a major avenue for getting these workers. Unfortunately, this often gets overlooked by the focus on sex trafficking. We have heard countless stories and seen articles about how things like the Super Bowl and the Arnold Classic create a high demand for sex trafficking, and while this may be true, the reality is that labor trafficking is also highly prevalent in these types of situations and is most often not talked about. It is a problem that must no longer go on hiding underneath the attention of sex trafficking.

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Failed by the Government: Guatemalan Minors Placed into Custody of Traffickers

In December 2014, authorities found ten Guatemalan migrants, eight of whom were minors, living in dilapidated, unsanitary trailers in Marion, Ohio.1 The children had been smuggled into the United States, some of them lured by the promise of education.2 However, after entering into US custody, the victims soon found themselves living in squalor and working in forced-labor conditions at Trillium Farms, one of the United States’ largest egg producers.2

The victims were forced to live in substandard trailers, “in order to keep the victims under the Defendants’ control, to isolate them from others, and to force them to pay more money… in the form of rent, in addition to their smuggling debts,” which, for some of the victims, were secured by the retention of deeds to their parents’ properties in Guatemala.2 Threatened with violence, including harm to their families, the victims were forced to perform physically-demanding labor for twelve hours per day, six or seven days a week.2 They were made to surrender their paychecks, receiving only small amounts of money for food and other needs.2 According to the federal criminal indictment, “the Defendants used a combination of threats, humiliation, deprivation, financial coercion, debt manipulation, and monitoring to establish a pattern of domination and control over the victims, to create a climate of a fear and helplessness that would compel their compliance with the conspirators’ orders, and to isolate them from anyone who might intervene to protect them from the conspirators and expose the conspirators’ unlawful acts.”2

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