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E. Benjamin Skinner
For Bill Clinton, it was a characteristically unscripted moment during an uncharacteristically low-profile press conference.
On June 15, Clinton sat next to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and decried the plight of child domestic slaves in Haiti, a country to which the former president had just agreed to serve as UN Special Envoy.
Known as restavèks, a Creole euphemism meaning “stay-withs,” the children are lured from desperately impoverished rural parents with the promise of a better life. Instead, most endure unpaid household labor, compelled through unchecked violence. UN bureaucrats typically tiptoe around words like “slavery,” but Clinton didn’t hold back: “I’m sad to say we’ve even had examples of restavèk children that have been found in Haitian communities in the United States.”
Estimates for the total number of restavèks range around 300,000: a staggering demographic, but just a sliver of those forced to work under threat of violence worldwide. The global slave population may reach 27 million. The vast majority labor in some form of hereditary debt bondage on the Asian subcontinent; criminals traffic hundreds of thousands across international borders annually. The Justice Department estimates that, on average, a person becomes a slave on U.S. soil every half hour.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/13/art.haiti.street.jpg caption="A 2006 picture of poor housing conditions in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere."]
Four years ago, and less than five hours from the UN conference room where Clinton and Ban sat, I haggled with a trafficker to buy one of those slaves, a 12-year-old girl. In broad daylight on a street in Port-au-Prince, the trafficker leaned in: “This is a rather delicate question. Is this someone you want as just a worker? Or also someone who will be a ‘partner.’ You understand what I mean? Or is it someone you just really want to work?” The negotiated price for this domestic and sexual slave: $50.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/24/art.rose.mapendo.babies.jpg caption="Rose and her twins in Congo in 2000."]
My name is Rose Mapendo, and I am the Ambassador to Mapendo International. We work to rescue and protect at risk refugees who have fallen through the cracks of humanitarian assistance in Africa.
I am from the Democratic Republic of Congo. When war broke out in 1998, my family and I were arrested and forced into a prison camp because of our Tutsi ethnicity. As my seven children and I huddled together, my husband – their father – was tortured and executed within earshot. Soldiers killed our friends and relatives, while many more died of starvation and disease. Months later, I gave birth to twin boys on the concrete floor of my cell. I used a stick to the cut the umbilical cord, and a piece of my hair to tie it off.
During this time I was so angry at God. I was resentful towards God. I was so angry because they had killed so many of my friends and family. I was so angry because they had raped so many of my friends. I thought I was going to be killed. I decided I did not want to die angry. I forgave my captors. I forgave all the soldiers who were in charge of killing. I named my twins after the camp commanders who were in charge of executing my husband. I did this because I hoped that my children would survive and I wanted to show the commanders that I forgave them and that I was not their enemy. I wanted to show them that I loved them. That moment when I forgave, from my deepest heart, was the moment that I survived.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/24/art.vert.rose.mapendo.family.jpg caption="Rose and her family in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2006." width=292 height=320]
Tonight there are disturbing new details in the death of a Kentucky census worker who was found tied to a tree with a rope around his neck. Plus, Anderson's interview with former Pres. Bill Clinton covering everything from Iran's nuclear ambitions, the war in Afghanistan and why he now says he was wrong about same-sex-marriage.
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Program Note: Tune in tonight for Anderson's interview with Bill Clinton on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
Photos by Chuck Hadad
Former President Clinton took a break from his annual Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York City to sit down with Anderson Cooper. Watch the interview tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/09/25/iran.nuclear/art.ahmadinejad.afp.gi.jpg caption= "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says President Obama's accusations are 'baseless.'."]
Pres. Obama has put Iran "on notice." Mr. Obama wants Iran to come clean about its nuclear activities after it acknowledged the existence of an underground uranium enrichment facility near the city of Qom. It's Iran's second nuclear site. We're digging deeper on the confession.
But, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted tonight on Larry King Live that his country had done nothing wrong and that the plant wasn't a secret. We'll have all the angles.
Plus, we have breaking developments in the mysterious death of a Census worker in Kentucky. There are new reports on the condition of the man's body when he was discovered. Was it murder or suicide? That's what investigators are trying to determine.
And, don't miss Anderson's interview with former President Bill Clinton. They covered everything from Iran to the war in Afghanistan and same-sex marriage.
Join us for these stories and more starting at 10pm ET. See you then!
Program Note: Tune in tonight for more of Anderson’s interview with Former President Bill Clinton. AC360° 10 p.m. ET.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/09/21/politicians.sex.scandals/art.billclinton.gi.jpg caption="Former President Bill Clinton."]
Anderson Cooper | BIO
Anderson Cooper: You are focusing this year on women and girls and you are saying it’s not only a social issues but it’s also a business issue.
Bill Clinton: Absolutely, if you look in developing countries, there is a huge disconnect between work women do and the money they earn and the wealth they have. In general, women do two thirds of the work, earn ten percent of the income and own one percent of the property.
Bill Clinton: The more you put the girls of the world in school and give the young women access to the labor market, and then involve them in the business and political life of the country, the more stable the society is going to be, the more prosperous the society is going to be. And the less human trafficking you are going to have. So what we are trying to do is to address these issues in a way that people can see everyone benefits.
Bill Clinton: Last night, the president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, talked about how in the last ten years after the genocide, fourteen or fifteen years now but in the last ten years they have almost quadrupled their per capita income.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/africa/09/25/gadhafi.meeting/art.gadhafi.libyatv.jpg caption=" Lisa Gibson, who met with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, called herself an ambassador of reconciliation. "]
Lisa Gibson - who lost her brother in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing - sat down the other day with the man many blame for the notorious attack: Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
"I welcomed him to America," Gibson told CNN.
The 39-year-old Colorado Springs lawyer said she and another relative of a Lockerbie victim went to see the controversial figure in New York on Wednesday, the same day he delivered a rambling speech to the U.N. General Assembly.
Calling herself an "ambassador of reconciliation," she views the encounter as the latest step in a journey to build bridges between Libyans and Americans - a mission energized by her strong Christian faith.
"I wanted him to know there were some people out there who've lost loved ones who have a different vision and different heart," she said. "He warmly received us."
Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture – and you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
Former President Bill Clinton appears with actor Brad Pitt at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) September 24, 2009 in New York City.
Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.
UPDATE BEAT 360º WINNERS
"Brad Pitt Rejects Former President's Suggestion For Joint Appearance On Popular Program 'Wife Swap'"
Richard H., New York City
"To help the Clinton Global Initiative reach its goals, Brad Pitt pledges to adopt an additional 20,000 children."