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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Invisible Chains: Sex, Work and Slavery

Aired February 16, 2007 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Nicholas Kristof has been covering sexual slavery in Asia for years, using his column at "The New York Times" to try to put faces on this horrible truth. He recently returned to Cambodia.
Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, "NEW YORK TIMES" COLUMNIST: We're about to go look up Stre-Mam (ph), who is a young woman who we met here four years ago now.

And, at that time, we bought her freedom from the brothel, took her to her hometown. And I'm really looking forward to seeing her. But I'm -- I'm always afraid I'm going to come back some time, and she's going to have just vanished, with AIDS or something.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So many vanish from AIDS.

We will have much more of Nicholas Kristof's trip ahead this hour.

Plus, what's being done to stop slavery around the world and to heal the wounds of victims, including former child soldiers enslaved in Africa?

Listen to what some in Uganda have survived.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FLORENCE LAKOR, WORLD VISION, UGANDA: Their stories are really horrible. We have had cases of children who were ordered to -- to -- to cook a human being, said to cut the body into pieces and cook it up. Then, they mobilize the village to come and eat the -- the -- the cooked body.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We don't take sides on 360, but, on this issue, there are no moral grays. The children and adults you will meet tonight are sons and daughters, mothers and sisters, often sold off by others, exploited in plain sight.

It's, frankly, incomprehensible that slavery exists in America in the 21st century. But it does. It thrives, in part in the world of prostitution, where young girls and boys are exploited every day. In fact, the FBI has flagged 14 U.S. cities where children are most at risk.

One is Atlanta, where we sent CNN's Randi Kaye.

(BEGIN GRAPHIC)

Human trafficking generates $9.5 billion in revenue each year.

(END GRAPHIC)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here in Atlanta, sex sells, in the sex shops, strip clubs, and on the street.

But, beneath it all, there is an underground world of child prostitution, a multibillion-dollar business worldwide -- sex slaves, girls as young as 9, paraded on the streets for money, sold from pimp to pimp, locked inside seedy motel rooms to do the unthinkable.

(on camera): How bad is it for them?

LAKENDRA BAKER, AT-RISK YOUTH COUNSELOR: Some of the girls...

KAYE: Don't hold back.

BAKER: Yes.

Some of the girls have reported that they have had to sleep with 40 or more men through the course of a night. We call them Johns, but they're really rapists.

KAYE (voice-over): Atlanta is ground zero for child prostitution. Nobody knows how many underage girls are on the streets, but child advocates say, it probably runs into hundreds, in both poor and wealthy parts of the city.

Raids like this one have only made a small dent in this thriving industry. Pimps are taken to jail. Girls are freed, but quickly replaced.

The Fulton County DA's office told us -- quote -- "From a law enforcement perspective, we need to be much more organized, and we need many more resources to adequately combat the plague of child prostitution."

(on camera): Why the interest in such young girls? Experts say, the Johns like them because they think they're cleaner than girls who have been on the street for a while. The pimps apparently prefer them because they can control them. They're impressionable and easily manipulated.

(voice-over): Shantique Wallace was just 12 when she walked the streets of Atlanta. Her pimp, known on the street as "Batman," was willing to take as little as 10 bucks from anyone who wanted to have sex with her. Batman made Shantique have sex with another pimp.

(on camera): Take me back to that night when he forced you to have sex with him.

SHANTIQUE WALLACE, FORMER SEX SLAVE VICTIM: And they told me, if you don't sleep with him, you're going to die.

KAYE: Did you truly believe your life was on the line?

WALLACE: Yes. Up to this day, I still do. I still do.

KAYE (voice-over): Shantique says, she was held prisoner, kept tied, spread-eagle, to bedposts for two weeks in the house her pimp shared with his family. She says, sometimes, he forgot to feed her. All he wanted was to sell her.

WALLACE: People would come in while I was tied down, look at me, leave out.

KAYE: Turns out, Shantique was being held just two miles away from home. Her aunt eventually found her.

Other girls remain enslaved on the street for years. The pimps themselves are often drug dealers looking to make an extra buck.

BAKER: Some are drug dealers, and some are in the business of sex, because you can only sell a dime bag one time. But you can sell a 10-year-old girl over and over again.

KAYE: They use people they call scouts to lure young girls in. And they know which girls will bite. Pimps canvass bus stops for runaways, the most vulnerable.

The problem of child exploitation is so enormous here, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin released this public service announcement targeting Johns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT)

SHIRLEY FRANKLIN, MAYOR OF ATLANTA: Dear John, you have been abusing our kids, prostituting them, and throwing them onto the street.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAYE: In Georgia, pimping minors only became a felony in 2001. It was a misdemeanor before then. But convictions still don't come easy.

Shantique testified against both her pimps. One cut a deal and walked free. The big fish, Batman, real name Andrew Moore, got 40 years.

Seven years after her ordeal, Shantique is a freshman in college. She struggles with dating, but her grades are good. In her free time, she counsels young girls, hoping to teach them, in life, they have a choice, and child prostitution isn't one of them.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: It is hard to believe.

If you're wondering how this could possibly be happening right here in the United States in 2007, well, frankly, so are we.

Rachel Lloyd knows how hard it is to break the invisible chains of this slavery. She was a prostitute for two years, was almost murdered by her pimp. Today, she runs a group that helps victims of sexual exploitation called GEMS, Girls Education and Mentoring Service.

She joins me now.

Rachel, thanks for being with us.

RACHEL LLOYD, FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GIRLS EDUCATION AND MENTORING SERVICE: Hi. Thanks.

COOPER: So, it's not surprising to you to see a 13-year-old girl out on the streets of New York or another city in the United States?

LLOYD: No. I mean, sadly, it's not. It should be, but it's -- but it's not.

I mean, each year, we serve about 200 girls, ages 12 to 21. Again, even our older girls, who are considered by most people as adult prostitutes, are -- are girls who were trafficked into the industry as teenagers.

COOPER: And you have found that these girls are actually moved around from city to city?

LLOYD: Yes.

There's a -- you know, various pipelines throughout the U.S., East Coast, West Coast, across the states, where pimps traffic girls back and forth, depending on the weather, depending on sports conventions, entertainment events, when they know there are going to be a lot of men there to buy children.

COOPER: So, if -- if the Super Bowl is in town or something...

LLOYD: Exactly.

COOPER: ... they will actually move girls to be there for...

LLOYD: Yes.

COOPER: ... the demand?

LLOYD: Exactly. COOPER: How is it that these girls -- I mean, how does a 13- year-old get involved in this in the first place?

LLOYD: Seventy to 80 percent of sexually exploited youth were sexually abused as children, and often are just very vulnerable to the lure of sexual predators, of pimps.

And, at 13 years old, I mean, for -- you know, I think, sometimes, we think it's so hard to understand. But, for people who can remember what -- remember what it was like to be 13 and be in love, and, you know, especially if he was an older man, that's very exciting, as a 13-year-old girl. He takes you out to dinner. He gets your nails done. He gets you -- gets you a pair of sneakers. He takes you on a road trip.

It's not until the violence starts, the abuse starts, you start being sold, that you understand that you are ultimately his slave.

COOPER: And -- and how -- I mean, you work with these girls on the streets of New York. How tough does it get for them? What is life like for them?

LLOYD: I mean, it is really hard out here for a 13-year-old girl who is being sold night after night after night. The girls have experienced multiple kidnappings, both by other pimps and by the Johns.

And, I agree, we need to think of another word than that, because a -- a 13-year-old doesn't have a John. He's a sexual predator. He is a child molester.

COOPER: A lot of people watching this would say, well, look, someone walking the streets is -- is choosing to do it. They are not a -- they are not a slave.

LLOYD: Yes. And, I mean, and we -- we have that discussion -- debate, rather, oftentimes with law enforcement, with judges, with prosecutors, who see these girls as criminals, who believe that they should be locked up, they should be arrested. And they frequently are arrested.

In New York state, kids under the age of 17 can't legally consent to sex, and, yet, somehow, if money is exchanged, they're the person who's going to jail. And, obviously, we don't see the adult men going to jail. And this is what we really need to look at. This is adult men who buy and sell children.

COOPER: What should people who are watching this now who want to help, what can they do? What -- what can anyone do?

LLOYD: I mean, I -- I think, one, we need to change the conversation in this country about this issue, right? We need to start with the language that we use, and the fact that we...

COOPER: They're not Johns. They're -- they're sexual predators. LLOYD: They're not child prostitutes, or teen prostitutes, or bad girls, or hookers. They are sexually exploited children and youth.

We need to look at them as victims. We need to treat them the same way that we look at children from India or Pakistan or the Philippines or the Ukraine.

I mean, we can be very sympathetic when it comes to trafficking victims from other places. And, yet, when it comes to U.S. youth, who may be poor, who may be youth of color, who may not be youth who fit in a very neat little victim box, we say, well, no, they're bad kids. They must like having sex. They like being out there. They could leave any time they choose.

And that's just not the reality of what we're talking about. So, we need to change our perceptions. We need to stop glorifying pimp culture. These are men who are incredibly brutal and violent, and dispose of girls like -- like they're trash.

So, I -- I think that's one of the first things. I think people can reach out and find out, you know, where in their neighborhoods they can volunteer. And people can get involved in this issue. And I think, as -- if we can make a collective decision, as a society, to stand against this -- we have -- we have done it with domestic violence.

We changed the language around it. We haven't ended domestic violence, but we have changed the societal perception of what that is. And we have provided services for victims.

I believe that we can do this with sexual exploitation and trafficking. But we really have to make a commitment to do it.

COOPER: Rachel, thanks.

LLOYD: Thanks.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Rachel Lloyd is on a mission.

Just ahead, another woman's mission to save young girls from the hell that she endured.

Plus, children bought and sold. We're going to take you to the brothels of Cambodia with "The New York Times" Pulitzer Prize Winning Columnist Nicholas Kristof.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER (voice-over): Children robbed of their futures.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... need to see how many girls there are who get no education and just can't stand up to the brothels, to the traffickers, to the mama sans and they just don't dare fight back. COOPER: Girls as young as 5 turned into sex slaves. Many die before they're 30.

"Invisible Chains: Sex, Work and Slavery," a special edition of 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The U.S. government started ranking countries six years ago on their efforts to stop human trafficking and slavery.

Cambodia has long had one of the worst reputations for sexual slavery. Recently it's begun to make efforts to crack down, but the problem is still immense. "New York Times" Pulitzer Prize Winning Columnist Nicholas Kristof has written extensively about the victims, young girls primarily, some incredibly, as young as 5.

He recently returned to Cambodia to track down one girl in particular. Here's her story.

(BEGIN GRAPHIC)

Each year, more than a million children are exploited in the global commercial sex trade.

(END GRAPHIC)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): Though he's been visiting Cambodia to witness and to write about sex slavery there over the past 10 years, each new visit seems even more disturbing for "New York Times" Columnist Nicholas Kristof.

KRISTOF: I'm in the room of a large brothel and guesthouse. It's said to be, you know, one of the wildest ones with the youngest girls and where virgins are sold and this kind of thing. And the reason it can get away with all that is the owner is the head of the criminal division of the local police.

COOPER: Kristof was so affected by his visit here three years ago that he paid $350 to buy two teenage prostitutes so he could set them free.

For this woman, Stre-Mam (ph), he paid $203. That meant she'd be free from a life of $3 a session sex.

Kristof found Stre-Mam (ph) was kidnapped for prostitution when she was just 14. She met a woman at a bus station who talked with her, kidnapped her and then sold her virginity to a Cambodian brothel.

In December Kristof went back to check on her.

KRISTOF: We're about to go look up Stre-Mam (ph), who's a young woman we met here four years ago now. And at that time we bought her freedom from the brothel, took her to her hometown. COOPER: Prostitution is illegal in Cambodia, but it operates in the open here.

KRISTOF: We stopped in a little town of Sisifund (ph) and walked down their red light district, getting mauled by some of the young women there who are very aggressive. The other red light districts have been clamped down on a little bit; not Sisifund (ph).

What's your name?

COOPER: Sex here can cost $1 to $25. But young girls, some only 12 or 10 or even younger, are highly prized for their virginity.

Incredible as it seems, Kristof found that some men with AIDS actually believe sex with a virgin can cure them. Some will pay $500 to $800 to have sex with them, sometimes taking them for a week.

So brothels will pay traffickers several hundred dollars for a virgin. The money is so good and some families so poor that they'll sell their own daughters.

KRISTOF: Running back to the brothel from what...

COOPER: Kristof doesn't know how much her kidnapper got for Stre-Mam (ph). He just wants to see how she's doing since he freed her.

KRISTOF: I'm really looking forward to seeing her, but I'm always afraid I'm going to come back sometime, and she's going to have just vanished with AIDS or something.

COOPER: Brothels are concentrated in Cambodia's big cities, but on the way to finding Stre-Mam (ph), Kristof stopped at a remote village, where he met another teenage girl who had been hunted down for her young body.

KRISTOF: Today we drove out southeast from Batabong to find a trafficking victim we had heard about. We drove about an hour, a little more than that, along a little river. And there squashed between a rice paddy and the river was a little tiny village, and there a young woman came to us by boat to meet us there. Her name was Kahan (ph).

COOPER: Kahan (ph) says a woman she thought was her friend gave her ice cream, but it was laced with drugs to incapacitate her so she could be kidnapped and sold. Police found her first and she was saved, but Kahan (ph) was left partially paralyzed by the drugs in the ice cream.

KRISTOF: The drugs had had a lasting effect on her, and so she was left mute for months and months. Even now more than a year later she's only beginning to get her speech back, and the family has been largely bankrupted by trying to treat that disorder.

COOPER: Kristof continued his journey through Cambodia and eventually found Stre-Mam (ph). KRISTOF: How are you?

COOPER: He found her not at home, but right back where he'd rescued her. Stre-Mam (ph) had become addicted to methamphetamine in the brothel and gave up her freedom because she couldn't live without the drug. It's common here, Kristof found, brothels giving drugs to girls to keep them enslaved.

KRISTOF: Oh, you look good, though.

COOPER: Stre-Mam (ph) said she was embarrassed that Kristof found her back here and insisted she had given up prostitution. But, of course, Kristof finds that's a lie. In the middle of their reunion, a regular customer arrives and she has to leave to take care of business.

KRISTOF: Boy, it just, you know, you travel to these little villages and you just see how difficult it is, how many girls there are who get no education and just can't stand up to the brothels, to the traffickers, to the mama sans (ph). They get sold to a brothel and then they just don't dare to fight back. They don't dare run away. They don't know what to do.

And they've been taught, you know, to accept their lot in life, and so they do. And that is going to take a long time to change, I'm afraid.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Stre-Mam (ph) is just one face, one story. There are more than 1 million kids around the world facing what she does every day.

Sadly, the odds of breaking the cycle of sexual slavery are slim at best.

I talk to Nick Kristof about that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: So what happens now to Stre-Mam (ph)?

KRISTOF: I'm afraid she's going to end up remaining in the brothel and will probably end up dying there of AIDS.

She keeps talking -- every time I visited her she talks about how she's going to leave, how she's going to go back to her family, but she knows that it's an illusion. She's addicted to meth. A lot of the brothels give the girls meth precisely to create an addiction.

COOPER: One of the lines that you wrote, which so struck me in one of your articles was that the difference between 19th century slavery and 21st century slavery is that slaves today die...

KRISTOF: They're all dead of AIDS by the time they're in their 20s. And otherwise, in terms of being physically locked up and being completely at the mercy of a slave owner, to the point that this -- these slave owners, these brothel owners, can and do so much, kill the girls. You know, in that respect, it's very much the same.

COOPER: It's got to be sad for you to see this girl, Stre-Mam (ph), there because you know, you bought her her freedom.

KRISTOF: And it -- I can't -- you know, when I went back to her village with her and we met her parents, it was really just so happy. Her parents had thought she was dead, and there she was. And it was just so exciting to think she was going to start over. She was so happy. And, you know, then after a few days she ran back to the brothel.

COOPER: A few days, that's all it was?

KRISTOF: It was a few days. It was really when that meth addiction became just too strong, just overwhelmed her. And then two times after that she tried to leave, and she just couldn't.

COOPER: There's also this bond between her and the brothel owner or the mama san (ph) who runs the brothel, I guess, not the owner necessarily.

KRISTOF: It is, actually, the owner in that case, and that brothel owner is, I find, just one of the most fascinating people there. I've spent hours and hours in that brothel, and she has a real bond with Stre-Mam (ph) and at times she really helps her and helps other girls.

On the other hand on my last visit it turned out that there was one recent girl who had been to the brothel, and the brothel owner locked up this girl, sold her virginity, beat her when she resisted. And you know, she rips off, she cheats all these girls. They're ATMs for the brothel.

COOPER: What's so mind boggling about this, too, is that you can't necessarily go to the authorities. I mean, I guess on some level you can, but in the case of one of these brothels, though, there's the police officer who's running it.

KRISTOF: Exactly. In fact, the -- on this visit, I stayed at a brothel/guesthouse in Poipet, and it had underage girls, manifestly underage girls. And it was rumored to have, you know, young virgins locked up inside the brothel. And the reason it could get away with that was precisely because it was owned by the head of the criminal division of the local police.

COOPER: So is anyone serious about cracking down on it inside Cambodia?

KRISTOF: There have been some efforts to crack down, really because of U.S. diplomatic pressure, and the U.S. has been pretty good about adding to that pressure. So the upshot is that if you don't pay bribes to the police, and if you don't have connections and if you have underage girls, then you are indeed at risk of being cracked down on. But if you are the police yourselves, for example, you can get away with literally murder.

COOPER: And you've seen some change in the many years that you've been going to Cambodia and reporting on this story? I mean, you've seen...

KRISTOF: Yes.

COOPER: Does it get harder to find younger girls?

KRISTOF: When I first went to Cambodia, there were virgins, you know, 11-year-old virgins being openly sold in storefronts. And that is no longer the case now. Today, you have somewhat older girls. They are, you know, more likely to be 16-year-olds, 17-year-olds and up. They're more likely to be allowed to use condoms, so they're somewhat less likely to die of AIDS quite so soon.

But, so there have been, you know, some improvements at the margins. But ultimately, the story is still one of a modern form of slavery.

COOPER: I remember in Thailand hearing that there was a tradition for Thai businessmen who go to a town, that you sort of feel like you haven't visited the town until you have sex with a girl from that -- from that location.

KRISTOF: Yes. And one of the traditions which makes it hardest to stop is this notion that if somebody has AIDS and if they sleep with a virgin girl, then they are going to cure themselves of AIDS. And so it creates this market for young virgin girls who then are exposed to AIDS, end up dying of it themselves.

COOPER: So what can be done? I mean, is there -- is there a solution?

KRISTOF: Yes, there is. And it's pretty clear that just -- that rehabilitating the girls after they've been sold to the brothels is really hard. And that prevention is -- is where you have to devote the resources.

COOPER: So international pressure is key?

KRISTOF: International pressure really makes a difference. And the State Department has been applying more pressure and that has been reasonably effective in some countries. But we have to do a lot more of that. And we have to make the issue higher on the agenda.

COOPER: What is it like being there? I mean, what is it like being in these brothels and seeing this? I mean, you keep going back to it. You've seen it over the years.

KRISTOF: One of the things that I think surprises Americans when you go there is that, in a way, they almost seem kind of family-style operations. You have the brothel owner who is typically a woman, and her kids are often running around. And the girls are sort of playing with the kids and, you know, and everybody is dressed nicely and speaking politely.

But then when a girl tries to run away, then she is brought back and she's beaten up. And at times she is physically locked up in a room or chained to a bed.

COOPER: And within Cambodia, is it -- is it just sort of accepted?

KRISTOF: It's largely accepted. And that is a big part of the problem, and the same is true of India, which is again just a horrendous problem.

And one of the things that I think we can do in the U.S. is to help Cambodian leaders and Indian leaders and those in other countries, Malaysia, which has a huge problem and make them begin to think about it, put it on their agenda.

COOPER: Do you get a good response? I mean do people care -- I always found people care once they know about a situation?

KRISTOF: Yes, I don't think that a lot of people care about, you know, up to 10 million children being locked up in brothels around the world. But they can really care about Stre-Mam (ph) or about...

COOPER: Because 10 million is just too big a figure. It doesn't mean anything.

KRISTOF: It's a number. It's not -- it's not somebody you can empathize with. But when you describe a real individual, that people can imagine as their daughter or their sister, then they do begin to care.

COOPER: Nick Kristof, thanks.

KRISTOF: Hey, my pleasure.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: You can read Nick Kristof's column in "The New York Times" on Sundays and Tuesdays. And all of his video from his trip to Cambodia is available on "The New York Times" web site. You'll find that at NYTimes.com.

Just ahead, saving Cambodian girls. Others rescued her. Now she is doing the same. One woman's mission to free child sex slaves on this special edition of 360, "Invisible Chains: Sex, Work and Slavery."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SOMALY MAM, FORMER PROSTITUTE: Poor women, they have been raped. They have been, you know by 10, eight men, 20, 25, they have been raped.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Right now, tonight, more than a million kids around the globe are forced to work as sex slaves. They're sold into prostitution often by their own families.

In Cambodia, as you've seen, it happens all the time, and a lot of the victims die young of AIDS.

Remarkably, thousands have managed to escape their invisible chains because of one woman's efforts.

Here's CNN's Dan Rivers.

(BEGIN GRAPHIC)

12.3 million people worldwide are estimated to be enslaved.

(END GRAPHIC)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here in Phnom Penh, brothels are everywhere. The U.N. says 55,000 prostitutes work here. A third of them are underage girls. Some are barely even old enough for school.

Many bars put on chorus lines of underage girls for sale. They might seem cheerful, but this is a violent dangerous netherworld where rape, beatings and even murder are common.

Kar (ph) knows the dangers too well. She's just arrived at a women's refuge after an awful night on the streets.

She tells me that last night a client paid her $10 for sex, but then five other men arrived and brutally gang-raped her. The last man was drunk and smashed her in the eye.

Her arms are marked from where she's repeatedly cut them, self- mutilation carried out when she was addicted to methamphetamine, a habit she kicked after an agonizing battle.

The refuge also has a clinic where Kar (ph) gets treatment for her eye. But that's the least of her problems. She told us, almost as an after thought, that she also is HIV positive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They sell her...

RIVERS: The clinic and the refuge are run by Mam Somaly, herself a former prostitute.

MAM: Poor women, they have been raped. They have been -- you know, by 10, eight men, 20, 25. They have been gang-raped. They hit them. They receive a lot of violence. That's why I'm here.

RIVERS: But Somaly has turned her life around, taking her campaign to end this modern day slavery as far as she can, despite almost no help from the Cambodian government.

And it's not just adults that benefit. She's rescued a total of 55 children from brothels in Cambodia, bringing them to this refuge. Most aren't even teenagers yet. Taking them off the streets and offering them a new home in the countryside where they get a chance to learn new skills and find a new life.

MAM: A lot of them when they arrive first, have psychological problem, very big problems. And then they never have love by the people, by the parents, even by the parents.

RIVERS: Every single child you see here was rescued from a brothel.

(on camera): What's horrifying is that many of these children were sold into the sex trade by their own parents for as little as 10 U.S. dollars, and some of them were only 5 years old.

(voice-over): Like Shray (ph), rescued from a brothel at the age when most children haven't even begun school, and like so many other children here, Shray (ph) is HIV positive. These children may be free, but they've lost any chance of living a normal healthy life.

Dan Rivers, CNN, Kampong Cham, Cambodia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: One woman's mission in Cambodia.

In Africa, others are trying to help enslaved child soldiers recover from trauma so severe it is almost incomparable.

Plus, another form of slavery right here in America.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER (voice-over): Hired help, or are they paid at all? Could slavery be as close as the house next door?

NENA RUIZ, TRAFFICKING VICTIM: I started to work at 5:30 then -- at 10 at night.

DAN STORMER, RUIZ'S ATTORNEY: Slavery is alive and well. Trafficking of slaves is alive and well.

COOPER: "Invisible Chains: Sex, Work and Slavery," a special edition of 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The U.S. State Department estimates that more than 17,000 people are trafficked into America every year. Many end up as sex slaves, but others are enslaved by their employers. They're forced to work under deplorable conditions for virtually no money at all.

It is a crime hiding in plain suit and rarely prosecuted, as close as your local restaurant or maybe even your neighbor's kitchen.

Here's CNN's Thelma Gutierrez.

(BEGIN GRAPHIC)

The world's largest employment category for children under 16 is domestic work in the homes of others.

(END GRAPHIC)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From New York to Los Angeles, a secret labor force is hard at work in the fields, garment shops, restaurants, even in some homes. We're not just talking about undocumented workers.

DAN STORMER, RUIZ'S ATTORNEY: Slavery is alive and well. Trafficking of slaves is alive and well.

GUTIERREZ: We're talking about modern-day slaves living and working in this country without pay and against their will.

Fifty-year-old Thonglim Kamphiranon is a mother of two from Thailand.

THONGLIM KAMPHIRANON, TRAFFICKING VICTIM: I was a slave to my traffickers.

GUTIERREZ: Nena Ruiz is a mother of three from a small village in the Philippines. Like so many others who live in poverty, they were easy targets for traffickers looking for slave labor.

KAMPHIRANON: My family is poor, right? I want to make money.

GUTIERREZ: Thonglim dreamed of educating her children. When she was offered a job in a Los Angeles restaurant, she jumped at the chance.

It was this woman, Supa Won Virapol (ph), who brought Thonglim to California, taking her passport and forcing her to work 18-hour days, 7 days a week.

She says Supa Won (ph) forced her and seven other Thai women to serve meals on their hands and knees as a sign of submission. If she complained, she was threatened.

KAMPHIRANON: If I run away and tell police, my family will suffer.

GUTIERREZ: After seven years, Thonglim escaped and federal agents began to investigate.

Nena Ruiz was a teacher in the Philippines. She thought she was coming to Los Angeles to care for an elderly woman. Instead, she says, she ended up working in the home of then Sony Executive Jud Jackson (ph) and his wife, Beth, whom she was to address as Sir Jud (ph) and Ma'am Beth.

NENA RUIZ, TRAFFICKING VICTIM: I started the work at 5:30, then end at 10:00 at night.

GUTIERREZ: Nena had strict rules to follow, which included the meticulous care of the couple's two dogs.

RUIZ: I had to brush the dog's teeth, clean their ears, and even give them vitamins everyday. But I was forced to sleep on a dog bed.

GUTIERREZ: A dog bed on the floor of this dining room. She says she was charged room and board and claims on several occasions she was hit.

RUIZ: You didn't follow my instructions. I follow my instructions, ma'am. But she just used her closed fist and bump my mouth.

GUTIERREZ: A neighbor finally called police. No criminal charges were filed against the Jacksons, but Attorney Dan Stormer filed a civil lawsuit against them.

STORMER: The Jacksons' own stature was in the community. I mean, this is a man who is vice president of corporate legal affairs for Sony.

The jury found under the laws of this country that she had been held, falsely imprisoned, held as a slave, had her rights violated.

GUTIERREZ: Neither of the Jacksons agreed to be interviewed for this story. Their attorney, Jack Daniels, says his clients never abused Nena.

JACK DANIELS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: She certainly wasn't an indentured servant. She had free access to leave any time she wanted to. All she had to do was walk out the front gate and turn a knob.

GUTIERREZ: Nena says she couldn't escape, the Jacksons had taken her passport.

The couple has recently been indicted on federal charges of conspiracy to engage in human trafficking. Their criminal attorney would not comment on the indictment.

As for Thonglim, her convicted trafficker served eight years in a federal prison. She's been deported to Thailand.

Thonglim now has a real restaurant job. And her dream of being able to educate her daughter has finally come true.

KAMPHIRANON: I love America.

GUTIERREZ: A happy ending most people trafficked into the country will never experience.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Los Angeles. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And that is happening right now, in 2007.

Just ahead, half way around the world from Los Angeles, children living a nightmare that may haunt them forever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER (voice-over): Kidnapped by a ruthless army, gang-raped and tortured.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I try to forget what happened to me, what those animals turned me into, but I can't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Just one of thousands of children turned into sex slaves and killing machines. Next, on this special edition of 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: You're watching a special edition of 360, "Invisible Chains: Sex, Work and Slavery."

(On camera): Our next stop, Uganda, one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a child. Thousands of boys and girls there have ended up as sex slaves and child soldiers. It is a hell that's almost impossible to comprehend and even harder to recover from.

Here's CNN's Jeff Koinange.

(BEGIN GRAPHIC)

More than 300,000 children are exploited in over 30 armed conflicts worldwide.

(END GRAPHIC)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Take a good look at these young men and women. Only a few months before we met them, these teenagers had all been slaves, kidnapped from their villages in northern Uganda by a rebel army that calls itself the Lord's Resistance Army, or LRA.

Its specialty is enslavement, forcing victims to become child soldiers and sex slaves.

The LRA is led by this man, Joseph Kony, who claims to base his principles on the Ten Commandments. Kony's M.O. is to invade villages and kidnap children, brainwashing them and turning them into merciless killers. He's struck so much fear across northern Uganda, parents now insist on sending their children away each evening from their villages to the safety of the bigger cities. And around here, they are simply known as night commuters.

But after more than 20 years in hiding, Kony recently emerged, saying he's tired of running.

The Ugandan government calls the LRA terrorists. They call Kony a murderer and a madman.

The international criminal court calls Kony a war criminal. And it wants him to stand trial for crimes against humanity.

But Kony wants full immunity in exchange for a promise to end his decades-long fight against the Ugandan government.

Many of these teens do not want to see him pardoned after what they've been forced to see and do -- forced to murder, maim and torture their enemies, as well as suspected traitors among them. They all bear the physical and deep mental scars of war.

And as horrible as this may sound, those who escaped Kony and made it here to a rehabilitation center run by the U.S. nongovernmental organization World Vision, they are the lucky ones.

Among them, 19-year-old Alice Abalo and her 4-year-old daughter, Nancy, a product of mass rape by Kony and his men. Alice admits she killed for the LRA and that she was a sex slave, her body a constant reminder of her traumatic past. Two bullet wounds in her leg, shrapnel scars in her chest.

But what Alice saw and did as a child soldier are seared in her mind.

ALICE ABALO, FORMER SEX SLAVE (through translator): One day the group we were in had just killed about six people and proceeded to decapitate them. Then I was asked to light a wood fire using the victims' heads as support, the same way one would use three stones. I still have nightmares of their burning hair and brains oozing out of the burning heads. I've never been so scared in my life.

KOINANGE: And yet her life grew only worse. For eight years, Alice and other girls were literally passed from one rebel to another, much the same way one would pass down an old pair of shoes.

ABALO (through translator): I try to forget what happened to me, what those animals turned me into, but I can't. Sometimes when I'm sleeping, I dream that I'm being raped and strangled and I wake up screaming and gasping for air.

KOINANGE: Florence Lakor's daughter was abducted by the LRA when she was 8 years old. She had almost given up until she escaped. And now 17, she showed up at this rehabilitation center.

Florence now counsels former sex slaves and child soldiers like Alice Abalo, but admits it's difficult, especially after hearing their shocking stories.

FLORENCE LAKOR, WORKD VISION, UGANDA: Their stories are really horrible. We have had cases of children who were ordered to cook a human being. Said to cut the body into pieces and cook it up. Then they mobilize the village to come and eat the cooked body.

KOINANGE: Alice's rehabilitation into a life that's as close to normal as possible will no doubt take months, perhaps years. But she's taking the first steps, determined to, in her words, become a human being again.

ABALO (through translator): I just want to get my life back. That's all I'm asking.

KOINANGE: But years of enslavement have all but reduced Alice to a shy, reclusive and very scared individual. And even the best therapy in the world will be hard pressed to put this former sex slave's life back together again.

Jeff Koinange, CNN, Gulu in northern Uganda.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Hmm. There are so many like her.

Just ahead, one of the hardest jobs in the world. The backbreaking work for just dollars a day. Accusations of slave labor in the Dominican Republic.

You're watching a special edition of 360, "Invisible Chains: Sex, Work and Slavery."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: You're watching a special edition of 360, "Invisible Chains: Sex, Work and Slavery."

Our next stop is the sugar cane fields of the Dominical Republic. It is backbreaking work, just dollars a day. It's the kind of work that ages grown men. The question is, how many of the workers are children?

Here's CNN's Joe Johns.

(BEGIN GRAPHIC)

Each year as many as 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders.

(END GRAPHIC)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's very early in the Dominican Republic. There in the predawn shadows, you see men with machetes and water jugs. They're going to work at one of the hardest jobs in the world. They cut sugar cane the same way it's cut in other parts of the Caribbean. It looks like a scene from slavery in the United States more than 140 years ago. The overseers on horseback. Some are armed. The cane piled high. Much of the sugar ultimately shipped to the United States.

What we found here was not slavery. Instead, we found people who are enslaved by their circumstances. Most are Haitians who have crossed the border into the Dominican Republic to work.

They have no rights. They live in squalor. Many earn just enough to eat if they're lucky.

Look at this. It's a called a bate, a shanty settlement.

Hard to believe, but this man is only in his 50s. He worked in the cane fields for nearly 40 years. His shack is filthy. He hasn't eaten in four days. With no work in Haiti, he came here as a teenager and now he's sick and alone, on crutches and living on handouts from people who can't afford to give them.

We found this man cutting cane on a Sunday. With five children back in Haiti to feed, he works seven days a week.

We also met children. They tell us they started in the cane fields at age 7. For less than a penny an hour, they plant rows of cane shoots 100 yards long. They were happy to have the work.

How much do you get paid?

Three pesos.

How long does it take to do that work?

In a day, a fast cane cutter like this man can cut up to two tons, earning up to 250 pesos. That's about $8. But because they're paid by the ton, the old or slow can starve.

So why do they come here? Simple. For all the hardship, it's still better than Haiti, where the minimum daily wage for agricultural workers is about $3. And unemployment is well above 50 percent.

Many of the vast cane fields here are owned by the wealthy Vicini family.

On our visit, a U.S. Congressional delegation, worried about human rights, also arrived. So the Vicinis opened up. For us, it was an opportunity for keeping them honest.

(on camera): The conditions are very tough, though, because this is the lowest rung of the economic ladder, is it not, for the people who work in the fields?

FELIPE VICINI, VICINI GROUP: I wouldn't say that.

JOHNS: No? They don't make much money, though?

VICINI: They make -- they make 150 pesos -- 105 pesos a month -- I mean per ton. Let -- can I...

JOHNS: When we put the question of slave labor directly to one of the Vicini's top lieutenants, he laughed it off.

CAMPOS DE MOYA, VICINI SPOKESMAN: Joe, it is a ridiculous question.

JOHNS (voice-over): He told us to ask the people themselves. So we did.

(On camera): Is this like slavery?

Human rights advocates introduced us to workers who gave us the unofficial version.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said, yes, it's worse than slavery.

JOHNS (voice-over): And if this shocks you, perhaps the biggest shock of all is that it's much better now than in the recent past. And yet, it could still get worse.

The company is moving to replace the oxen and the children and the strong men with machines. So as awful as this may be, the people here say at least now they have jobs that at least pay a little.

Joe Johns, CNN, the Dominican Republic.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: The invisible chains of slavery are vast. But there are people working around the world to break them. Here's how you can help. You can go to our blog, CNN.com/360blog, for a list of organizations including some we mentioned in this special hour.

Thanks for watching. I'm Anderson Cooper.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com

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