Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Peters Talk Discusses Slavery

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Peters Talk Discusses Slavery

Article excerpt

Slavery has been an ongoing issue in all parts of the world for centuries. It is not something that ended with the Civil War.

Matt Friedman, chairman of the Mekong Club, an organization that fights the business of modern slavery in Hong Kong, will be at two local libraries to inform that slavery and human trafficking still exist - and exist in the United States.

Mr. Friedman, along with his son Brandon, will host "Breaking the Links: A Campaign against Human Trafficking" at 10 a.m. Aug. 2, at Peters Township Public Library.

At 2 p.m. the same day, the Friedmans will present the program again at Mt. Lebanon Public Library. The talks are sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh.

According to The Global Slavery Index, more than 29 million people are in modern slavery globally, about 76 percent of whom are in 10 countries: India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh. The agency estimates that there are about 60,000 slaves in the United States.

Steven Sokol, CEO of the council, said when he heard the Friedmans were on a speaking tour, he "wanted to help connect to talk about this very important global and local challenge. Human trafficking, which is often described as modern-day slavery, is a hidden criminal activity that happens in plain sight."

Mr. Friedman, who lives in Hong Kong, is originally from Newington, Conn. He has lived overseas since 1991, including Nepal, Bangladesh and Thailand.

"As a public health officer in Nepal working for the U.S. government, I came in contact with a lot of very young girls infected with HIV/AIDS - 12 to 15 years old," Mr. Friedman said. "When I went to explore the situation, I learned how they were tricked and deceived into the brothels of India."

Of those young girls, Mr. Friedman said the lucky ones made it back to Nepal after a few years, but "most others simply died in India." He said from the first time he met a victim, he "felt compelled to help."

"Slavery is alive and well. …

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