Foreign Policy Blogs

Follow-up to 'slavery in America'

Hopefully many of you where able to catch the powerful and shocking, first part of 'slaves in America’ with Charles Gibson to follow the the story of Evelyn Chumbow, from Cameroon, a former slave, held captive in Maryland. Chumbow, was brought to the US at 11, with dreams of an education and new life in a land of prosperity.

“What I would say to the American people is that they have to realize that this happens all over the country, in the backs of restaurants, in the fields in Florida, in the timber industry in the north of New York. There's nowhere in America that it doesn't happen,” said Melanie Orhant, Chumbow's attorney. Ms. Orhant is also the managing attorney for the Break the Chain Campaign, an organization dedicated to helping survivors of trafficking. (Beatings, Isolation and Fear: The Life of a Slave in the U.S.)

You can find more victims stories on Polaris Project's website, who has a collection of hundreds of victims testimonies from more than 50 countries. You will find haunting stories from victims like Rosa:

“When I was fourteen, a man came to my parents’ house in Veracruz, Mexico and asked me if I was interested in making money in the United States. …He said I would be in good hands, and would meet many other Mexican girls who had taken advantage of this great opportunity…the men told me that my employment would consist of having sex with men for money. I had never had sex before… Because I was a virgin, the men decided to initiate me by raping me again and again…I couldn't do anything to stop it. I wasn't allowed to go outside without a guard…”

While victims stories are frightening and deplorable, the most frightening aspect of trafficking is that it is at an all time high, and no country or city is immune from its effects. The United States has one of the highest ratings as a destination country for human trafficking victims, though we issue the Trafficking in Persons Report yearly, we are failing to secure the problem in our own country.

Destination Countries of Trafficking Victims


Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). 2006. Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns, p. 39.

Source countries and routes of human trafficking


Victims of trafficking in the United States are lucky in one sense, as we are a country that dose not just deport victims once found, where as many countries lack the laws and infrastructure to see victims as anything more thank prostitutes and illegal immigrants. Therefore many victims of trafficking and slavery are simply jailed and deported to their home countries. This not only re-victimizes, but also places these vulnerable woman and children right back into the hands of those who trafficked them. Protect Act, which focuses American sex tourists and foreign nationals that traffic children into the US. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 , which was reauthorized in 2005, includes provisions targeting demand for trafficking victims, and issuing more protective T-Visas to victims. The Form I-914, which is a victim self application, that serves to give temporary benefits to illegals who have been victims of trafficking. The form also give benefits to their immediate family if applicable. If you are a victim of trafficking, or know someone who is, you can find more information on U and T visas for victims of trafficking on the National Immigration Law Center and

Working to prevent trafficking worldwide, Shared Hope International, has had great strides in pushing forward legal and political reform against trafficking, as well as successfully rehabilitating victims. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has a a number of programs for victims and resources, including how to identify a victim of trafficking. You can also see The Salvation Army – Emergency Response to Suspected Trafficking Cases for information on identifying victims, and finding support services.

Please see the previous post for more information and resource links.



Cassandra Clifford

Cassandra Clifford is the Founder and Executive Director of Bridge to Freedom Foundation, which works to enhance and improve the services and opportunities available to survivors of modern slavery. She holds an M.A., International Relations from Dublin City University in Ireland, as well as a B.A., Marketing and A.S., Fashion Merchandise/Marketing from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Cassandra has previously worked in both the corporate and charity sector for various industries and causes, including; Child Trafficking, Learning Disabilities, Publishing, Marketing, Public Relations and Fashion. Currently Cassandra is conducting independent research on the use of rape as a weapon of war, as well as America’s Pimp Culture and its Impact on Modern Slavery. In addition to her many purists Cassandra is also working to develop a series of children’s books.

Cassandra currently resides in the Washington, D.C. metro area, where she also writes for the Examiner, as the DC Human Rights Examiner, and serves as an active leadership member of DC Stop Modern Slavery.

Areas of Focus:
Children's Rights; Human Rights; Conflict