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Best of Freedom Project: Global Extent of Human Trafficking; A Sex Slave's Story; Slavery in Europe; Tackling the Traffickers; Rebuilding Lives

Aired December 26, 2013 - 15:30   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Tonight, we devote this special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD to CNN's Freedom Project, which shines a spotlight on the scourge modern-day slavery. In this program, we'll be reminding you of some of the most powerful stories from our coverage in 2013. First, though, a reminder of the global scale of human trafficking.


ANDERSON (voice-over): Child brides.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even in front of the police, my father said he would kill me if I don't go back.

ANDERSON: Bonded laborers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They hit me if I didn't work. The owner said we'll have to work as long as we live.

ANDERSON: Sex slaves.

CHONG KIM, FORMER SEX SLAVE: I was forced to watch a young child being raped and sodomized in front of me.

ANDERSON: All exploited and robbed of their free will. Sadly, in 2013, their stories are far more prevalent then you'd expect: 29.8 million. That's the staggering estimate of how many people around the world are living as modern-day slaves, according to Walk Free Foundation.

The number is cited in the foundation's Global Slavery Index which, for the first time, provides a map, country by country, of the depth and breadth of the scourge.

These ten countries account for 76 percent of the world's enslaved people: China, Russia, Nigeria, Pakistan, are all in there. But India, the world's second-most populous nation, has by far the highest number of slaves, estimated at between 13 million and 14.5 million people.

NICK GRONO, CEO, WALK FREE FOUNDATION: A lot of experts would say that's a conservative number. India has a massive problem with forced labor, bonded labor. There are whole communities that are forced to work on brick kilns or forced to work in stone quarries, kids who are working in -- carpet factories. So, it's a massive problem.

ANDERSON: But the index found that it is Mauritania, which was the last country to outlaw slavery in 1961, where the problem is most prevalent. With an estimated 1 in 5 citizens bonded to a master, tradition is proving hard to break.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Chains are for the slave who has just become a slave. But the multi-generational slave, he is a slave even in his own head.


ANDERSON: Although many of the world's slaves are in developing countries, trafficking can and is found right under our noses. At 19, American Chong Kim was forced into a life of sexual slavery and physical abuse. Her story has now been made into a film, "Eden," which shows the horror of trafficking in the midst of US society.

Now, I met Chong to hear her dramatic account, which began with a man that she trusted.


ANDERSON (voice-over): She thought he was her boyfriend.

SCOTT MECHLOWICZ AS JESSE, "EDEN": I'll be right back.

ANDERSON: But as recounted in "Eden," the film based on Chong Kim's book "Not in My Town," he was a recruiter for the sex slave trade.

KIM: I didn't really know how to put my thoughts together at that moment. You're just in shock. All I could think about is the time when he caressed my face, and said he loves me, and how much I believed in him. And then all of sudden it was a 180, and I'm thinking what happened? Where did it go wrong?


ANDERSON (on camera): You went through those initial days of captivity, and then you were taken to an environment where there were other girls.

KIM: Yes.

ANDERSON: And you were sex slaves.

KIM: Yes.

ANDERSON: And you were sold to the neighboring community as sex slaves.

KIM: Yes.

ANDERSON: Walk me through those days.

KIM: Each unit had about 20 to 25 girls in each unit. They were brought in from Europe, to Southeast Asia, India, Africa and then girls in the US would be traded off. So it was like a giant human factory.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today is going to be a good day. I can feel it.

BEAU BRIDGES AS BOB GAULT, "EDEN": Damn sure I don't have to explain to you the consequences if you cause trouble for me.


ANDERSON (voice-over): Early on in her capture, Chong did try to escape. In the film, she runs to a house, but in reality Chong fled to a much more public place.

MATT O'LEARY AS VAUGHAN, "EDEN": Stop, stop, stop. I've got it under control. She's an addict. She's very dangerous. You don't want to get mixed up in this, you might get hurt.

KIM: I went to a shopping mall. People were gathering their kids and pulling away. And I said, "Somebody help me, he's going to kill me! He's going to kill me!" People pulled way.

He walked in with a military uniform, grabbed me by the hair, yanked my head back. And I saw the security went like this. And as soon as he threw me in the car, he said, "You're nobody." And that proved it.

ANDERSON (on camera): How long did this go on?

KIM: 1995 through 1997. And I ranked up as a madam in 1996.

JAMIE CHUNG AS EDEN, "EDEN": I can help you.

O'LEARY AS VAUGHAN: You want to help me? You want to be a part of this?

KIM: That's when I started seeing the infrastructure of the organized crime. I started seeing how many corrupted politicians as well as very powerful people were also involved and fueling the fire as sex trade of children.

O'LEARY AS VAUGHAN: I'm asking if you're actually committed to this.

KIM: And I was like, well, who do I go to now?

CHUNG AS EDEN: What are you going to do, shoot her?


ANDERSON: How did you get out in the end?

KIM: I was in one of the casinos. And I saw the vent. And it made me flash back to my childhood watching a James Bond film, and I said can you really crawl through there? You know, that's what my thought was.

And there was a maintenance guy that would come. And I would play with the thermostat. And he would say why are you messing with the thermostat? And I said, how do you get out?

He was like, "Oh no, I can't tell."

And so basically I manipulated him by making him fall in love with me. I really took probably close to a couple of weeks. And he finally told me that if I go through I will end up in the laundry chute. To go through there, and then once I get there then I can go out.

ANDERSON: Are there many people who are still in the position that you were in back in the 90s?

KIM: Yes.

ANDERSON: How many do you think there are? Are we talking tens, hundreds, thousands?

KIM: More than a thousand, as far as victims. For madams it's a growing trend now. Women are taking over. They're getting tired of men controlling them, being pimps so they feel like, you know what? A woman can do a better job. A woman can use her feminine charm to get more girls.

There was a story in New Jersey about a 17-year-old girl who sold her little sister, 7 years old, to traffickers. And she made money off of her. We're having girls going into junior high schools and high schools pretending to be friends with these kids in school.

ANDERSON: Do you live in fear for your life?

KIM: I do. But at the same time, I cannot get rid of the faces of the girls I couldn't save. I cannot get rid of the screams. I was forced to watch a young child being raped and sodomized in front of me. And so, it's always in my mind. And so, I feel like when I speak, I'm bringing voices together.

If we are the voters, then start asking questions to the leaders. "What are you going to do about these brothels that are in our town?"

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It won't be too long now.


ANDERSON: After the break here on CONNECT THE WORLD, she could be the girl next-door. We meet another unlikely victim of human trafficking as we continue our special show devoted to CNN's Freedom Project.


ANDERSON: Welcome back. You're watching as special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD focusing on the stories of those trapped by modern-day slavery. The next young woman's tale begins in a way that many of us can relate to. Living in England, Sophie Hayes met a man, fell in love, and when he asked her to move to Italy with him, she followed her heart.

What Sophie didn't expect were the horrors that awaited her. I sat down to hear about her ordeal, which she covers in a new book. And because Sophie is still afraid for her life, we have concealed her identity.


SOPHIE HAYES, HUMAN TRAFFICKING SURVIVOR: "We sat inside a restaurant where we talked and laughed together, and the waiter smiled at me and called me 'La bella signorina.' Everything seemed perfect."

You're rooting for Kas during the book. The first few chapters, you're like, oh, just want another Kas. And he turns out to be awful.

"This is what you're here for. You're here to help me repay this debt. This is why I asked you to come here to Italy. It's a sacrifice anyone would be happy to make for someone they loved."

It's easy to picture him as someone who's a little bit slimy, a little bit creepy. But I think he's probably just a little bit of a ladies' man.

"I worked seven nights a week from 8:00 in the evening until 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning. I would have on average about 25 customers every night. The minimum was 18, and the most one night was 34, and it wasn't long before my spirit was crushed. I was so weary that nothing seemed to matter, and I didn't care if I was dead or alive."

It happens to anyone, and anyone could be Sophie.

ANDERSON: At one point, you write, "Men like Kas aren't pimps or drug dealers, and girls like me don't work on the streets." Human trafficking to many people is one thing. You've experienced something that was so unreal to you. Just describe the industry, as it were.

HAYES: So often, when we hear of human trafficking, we think about the types of girls that will work on the streets, and already we create a stereotype. And many people ask, why not run away?

What you don't see is what goes on behind closed doors. The violence and the names and the threats, and threats towards the family. They're all the things that people don't really connect with when they very first hear about what is human trafficking.

ANDERSON: Where there is a demand goes the supply. You were supplied by Kas because there was a demand for your services. Who are those clients?

HAYES: The men that came to me were, some of them my own age, some of them were in their 60s, in their 70s, some of them were doctors, lawyers. The worst were police.

ANDERSON: Has the man who trafficked you been punished?

HAYES: He was arrested not long after I left Italy, and I only managed to leave because I was so sick and so ill and my parents managed to bring me back -- and bring me back to the UK. He was wanted, he was a known drug dealer and probably had a lot of other outstanding convictions. So, I thought, he's in prison, then I'm safer to a degree.

But he was never actually prosecuted, and at the time, I was still too scared to prosecute, and I didn't know what to do and was told just walk away, go and rebuild your life and just try and build yourself back again.

ANDERSON: What's your best advice to a teenage girl who might get themselves into trouble at this point?

HAYES: With traffickers, they like to isolate their victims and gradually try and strip them of their own identities so that they do become distant from their friends, they do become distant from their families. And it's about them making sure that they keep on speaking to their friends and tell them if something is unusual with the person they're with.

ANDERSON: And for parents, advice?

HAYES: Parents need to understand what the issue is and that the attitude of "it won't happen to my daughter" -- or a son, actually, because this isn't gender specific -- because it does happen. It happened to me.

We teach our children about the risks of going away with strangers. Why not talk about the risks of potential traffickers?


ANDERSON: Well, however harrowing these stories, it is important that we hear from survivors like Sophie. Important for us in helping to understand that trafficking can affect anyone. But to truly tackle this horrific industry, authorities have to get to grips with the criminals behind it.

Now, I sat down with the head of London's human trafficking police unit, Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland, to find out more, and I began by asking him to describe the people committing what can only be described as these horrendous crimes.


KEVIN HYLAND, LONDON METROPOLITAN POLICE HUMAN TRAFFICKING UNIT: Well the sort of people we meet, they have no regard for human life because they are very happy to turn a human being into a commodity. To them, a human is a way of making money, and lots of it.

The cases that we see, say, from Nigeria, the horror stories that we see of children being picked up off the streets of Benin and places in Nigeria, subject to Juju and witchcraft, duped into coming to the UK with false documents and then sold into the sex trade or sold as domestics.

ANDERSON: And the perpetrators of these crimes, these crimes against humanity, can ofttimes be women.

HYLAND: They can often be women. We've convicted a number of cases of women. A case that we dealt with convicted this year, a Romanian gang where they brought in children, and specifically, one child who was a slave in the house, taken from her family when she was four, was in slavery until she was seven, when we rescued her.

But in the same household, they had men that they would send out to commit petty crime, and they would threaten them with violence and sexually assault them if they didn't do as they're told. That gang was headed by a woman.

ANDERSON: Just describe the industry to me and its links to others. My sense is that trafficking is hooked up with drugs, which is hooked up with arms. These are some of the biggest industries in the world, aren't they?

HYLAND: The real organized element of it, those that are moving people in bulk, we know are connected to other serious crime in the countries of origin, and we see cases where we've convicted people and the welfare amassed in other countries, for example, Thailand, where we work with the Thai authorities to strip someone of their assets, they're really significant assets.

ANDERSON: What are we talking about here? Millions of pounds?

HYLAND: We are talking about millions of pounds. If you look at -- you take the standing simple figures. We deal with women who are forced into prostitution.

Sex on the streets of London may be between 40 and 100 pounds. They may be forced to have sex with 50 or 60 people a week, easily. We have had cases where women have been forced to have over 30 a day. You've only got to work out the maths. If you've got 10 women working for you, you soon become a millionaire.


ANDERSON: Well, cruel and depraved business this is, indeed, isn't it? After the break, we'll find out what happens after victims are rescued from this trade in human life and how these scarves offer a key to their freedom.


ANDERSON: Welcome back to this special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD, dedicated to CNN's Freedom Project, our initiative to expose the horrors of modern-day slavery.

Now, as we heard earlier in the program, India has more slaves by far than any other country in the world, and many of these are young women and girls often forced into sexual and domestic servitude. Well, a few months ago, I met a woman who's devoted her life to helping these girls rebuild theirs.


ANDERSON (voice-over): A new clothing line arrives at Topshop, designed to make a fashion statement on the scourge of human trafficking. The label is Key to Freedom, and the scarves are handmade by women and girls rescued from the slave trade, now working with the women's Interlink Foundation in India.

ALOKA MITRA, FOUNDER, WOMEN'S INTERLINK FOUNDATION: I feel absolutely thrilled, and I feel thrilled for my girls, because when they see the pictures, they will be so, so energized and feeling so empowered.

ANDERSON: It's a deal brokered by Penny McIvor on behalf of Prince Andrew, Britain's Duke of York, after he saw the success of Aloka's work firsthand during a visit to Kolkata last year.

PENNY MCIVOR, MANAGING DIRECTOR, ASSOCIATED CLOTHING COMPANY: Aloka is truly inspirational in the model that she has set up in India, and her message can go to girls everywhere to be careful and wary, but also these wonderful girls are now all her children pretty much.

And she's trained them, she's rehabilitated them, she's put the little ones to school, she's trained the older ones to do block printing, like we've used here in tie-dye here. And she's -- by us buying them and selling them, we've given them such a new life, such a hope for a new life. It's women helping women.

ANDERSON: Topshop says all proceeds from the sale of the scarves will go back to the Foundation.

EMMA WISDEN, BUYING DIRECTOR, TOPSHOP: Topshop's a female brand, mostly run by women, and when we were approached, we immediately wanted to be able to support this charity and be able to help in terms of creating awareness and telling the story, really.

ANDERSON: The story of hope being hailed as a model that could help curb human trafficking.

ANDERSON (on camera): Tell me about the girls and the women who make these scarves.

MITRA: The girls who made these are the most vulnerable, the most victimized girls, in fact. Victims of domestic violence, victims of trafficking. Victims generally.

ANDERSON: If you had to just pinpoint one example of one young girl or woman who you have found and rescued, who you had engaged with, and who has gone on to lead a fruitful life, who would it be? Can you just -- describe a story for me?

MITRA: This girl who had been trafficked and re-trafficked. Then she managed to save up a little bit of money and ran away one day. And then she ended up back to her parents, who said that the traffickers are after us. We can't keep you safe.

So, she went to the police, who brought her to our home. And she finished her education, her class 10. After such a trauma, I couldn't believe that she could concentrate on her studies, and she learned some skills, and she met this young man, lovely young man, married him, and she has a baby who is around three years old now. And she's full of spunk.

And I have so many other such cases that I keep happy. There's so many. I can -- it's a huge book on the number of happy stories that we have.


ANDERSON: Well, Aloka Mitra, a truly inspirational woman ending the program for us on a hopeful note. Thanks to people like her, the lives of many men, women, and children have been turned around.

And we can all do our part to end modern-day slavery. To find out how, just head to CNN's Freedom Project website, it's

That is it for our special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD, but do remember, the fight against modern-day slavery is far from over. Good evening.