Free the Slaves liberates slaves and changes the conditions that allow slavery to persist.
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Debt-Free Weddings Preventing a Major Cause of Slavery

Helping newlyweds and their parents reduce wedding costs has become the newest frontier in fighting slavery. Indian weddings are large, loud, colorful, and can last for days. The expense is how marriage ceremonies can lead to slavery. Loans to cover the cost come with impossibly high interest rates, causing many families to fall into bondage to “work-off” the debt.

Earlier this year a federation of quarry miners and our front-line partner organization PGS pilot-tested a simple and elegant innovation: a group wedding. Five couples were married at the same time so their families could share the financial burden. The newlyweds were delighted.

“I was so happy. I never dreamed of having a cheerful husband, wearing a bride’s dress and going to a beauty parlor to prepare. I am happy that without any burden on my parents of taking any debt I was able to get this. I wish every girl fulfills her dream,” said Ranjana. “I am happy to give time to my wife, which I would have given to a contractor to repay a debt. I wanted to enjoy my married life, and I am doing so.

Thanks to the federation and PGS for coming up with such a great idea,” said Sharda. Learn more about our work in India on the FTS website India page.

Congo Program Successfully Fighting Slavery

An independent evaluation of our program in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) says Free the Slaves and our front-line partner organizations are effectively mobilizing communities to confront and overcome slavery at its source.
For the past two years, FTS has conducted an intensive community-oriented program in 15 mining communities in the eastern DRC. It was designed to increase awareness of slavery and community resistance to trafficking, train government officials and cultural leaders on actions they can take to help, and establish a coalition of Congolese civil society organizations dedicated to ending slavery.
An evaluation team says this strategy has worked. “The project has succeeded in its goal to increase community-led resistance to slavery,” they wrote. “The project has been successful in changing people’s practices towards slavery: more people now take action. It is also clear that parents know that their children should not work in mining sites or carry heavy loads and should be enrolled at school. Moreover, the involvement of partners, Congolese civil society organizations and community vigilance committees resulted in a strong commitment towards anti-slavery in the province.”
Learn more about out Congo program, and see videos of our teams at work, on the FTS website Congo webpage.
Justice Triumphs! Human Traffickers Put Behind Bars

One of the toughest challenges in fighting modern slavery is holding traffickers accountable for their crimes. But after a three-year struggle, lawyers with the Free the Slaves front-line partner group TSN have ensured that four traffickers will go to jail and their victim will receive restitution.

The case involves a 14-year-old girl who was kidnapped and enslaved as a domestic servant in northern India. Her father approached police, but they did not pay attention until he reached out to TSN attorneys, who were able to set the wheels of justice in motion. Police rescued the girl and arrested the traffickers. They received prison sentences ranging from 7 to 10 years and fines totaling $4,300. The victim will receive 60 percent of the fines. She received counseling and medical treatment, along with catch-up school classes and training in handicrafts at the Punarnawa Ashram, supported by Free the Slaves.
“The case is significant,” says TSN. “If we get a conviction, it gives a message to society that trafficking should not be done and one should not be involved in such heinous crimes.” See slavery survivors speak in their own words, and see an actual rescue caught on videotape on our India webpage.

Pictured above: TSN Senior Advocate and Legal Project Manager Kanhaiya Singh, and TSN District Lawyer for Purnea, Advocate Kiran Kumari.
Looking Good, Doing Good. 
Fashion Campaign Thank You

Thanks to FTS supporters who made conscious decisions to shop from 12 ethical fashion brands during our special campaign in July! These brands, based and working in countries all over the world, all take stands against trafficking and slavery through ethical production practices. In July, they took their commitment one step further. Each brand pledged to donate a percentage of their profits to Free the Slaves.

We want to take a moment to honor and thank each of these brands for their generosity: Bravelets, The Brave Collection, Elegantees, Malia Designs, Mata Traders, Modify Watches, My Sister, Passion Lilie, Purpose Jewelry, Sari Bari, Senhoa, and Starfish Project. We are grateful for all of their support and look forward to working together again in the future.

Author Anna Lappe famously wrote, “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” Thank you for investing in a world free from slavery. Visit the Free the Slaves online store throughout the year for other products that support our front-line anti-slavery work in trafficking hot spots worldwide. 
2016 Freedom Award Focuses on India and Nepal

Free the Slaves periodically honors survivors, activists and organizations that demonstrate outstanding courage, innovation and dedication in the fight to end slavery. The Freedom Awards celebrate anti-slavery heroes and innovators from around the globe by showcasing what some of the best anti-slavery work in the world looks like—and by supporting that work financially. Nominations are now open for the 2016 award, a $10,000 prize to an organization registered India or Nepal that is implementing an innovative scalable approach to ending bonded labor. Nomination details and forms can be downloaded here.
Freedom Award winners are setting the standard for successful, sustainable anti-slavery initiatives. Since the program began in 2008, 13 awards have been presented to winners from 12 countries. To see previous winners, visit our Freedom Awards webpage.

“The Freedom Awards combine the best of two world-changing forces: the power of noble purpose to inspire lives of great significance and the enhancement and expansion of individual freedom,” says Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

Copyright © 2016 Free the Slaves, All rights reserved.

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