‘I slept on the floor in a flat near Harrods’: stories of modern slavery

When Elvira arrived at Heathrow in 2014, she thought she had escaped the abuse she’d faced as a domestic worker in Qatar. Yet the exploitation the Filipino woman was about to suffer would surpass anything she experienced in the Middle East. The 50-year-old was taken to a luxury flat in Kensington, where her boss, the sister of her “madam” in Qatar, made her work 20 hours a day, allowing her only one piece of bread and no wages. She was trapped in a life of servitude, while metres away central London bustled with shoppers.

More than 200 years since it was abolished, slavery is thriving. The UN’s International Labour Organisation estimates that 21 million people around the world are trapped in some form of modern slavery. In many cases, the physical shackles of the past have been replaced by less visible but equally effective forms of coercion and control: a worker on a factory line crippled by recruitment debts he or she cannot pay back; a man on a construction site in a foreign country without his passport or wages; a woman selling drugs on a roadside threatened with beatings and rape if she doesn’t earn enough. Dig deep into the supply chain of the world’s major commodities, and you’ll find instances of slavery. From the food we eat to the phones we use and the clothes we wear, its influence is pervasive.

Record numbers of people are fleeing violence and poverty, and traffickers are ready to exploit them. The International Office for Migration believes 70% of migrants arriving in Europe by boat have been victims of human trafficking, organ trafficking or exploitation. In the UK, the government estimates there are 13,000 people trapped in slavery, working in hotels, care homes, nail bars and car washes, or locked in private houses that have been turned into brothels.

“As a business model, slavery is a no-brainer,” says Siddharth Kara, an economist and director of human trafficking and modern slavery at Harvard’s Kennedy school of government. “It’s a low-cost, low-risk business that generates huge profits. To be two or three centuries on from the first efforts to eradicate slavery and still to have it permeating every corner of our economy is a damning indictment of our failure to tackle this highly lucrative criminal industry.”

In London, Elvira managed to make a bold escape, waiting until her “employer” was taking a nap before running to a nearby church for sanctuary. She is still waiting for justice. Much exploitation goes unpunished and unrecognised: data from the US State Department shows that in 2016 there were only 9,071 convictions globally for forced labour and trafficking offences.
To get a picture of what slavery looks like today, we talked to people all over the world who have experienced it first-hand. Their stories, which show how quickly one can become trapped and exploited, give an insight one of the biggest human rights challenges of our time.

Elvira, 50, Philippines

Portrait of former domestic slave Elvira

[Source”timesofindia”]

I Have Anxiety, and This Household Activity Has Helped Me SO Much

“Clean house, clear head” rings so very true with me. As someone who is at a constant war with their anxiety, I’m always seeking healthy, straightforward ways to face my mental health head-on. My whole life, I’ve been what people jokingly called a “neat freak,” a trait that I got honestly from my mom. I’m the person people roll their eyes at when I genuinely say that I like to clean. Still, I never realized the value of cleaning beyond a spotless home until I skipped my Saturday morning ritual after a long week and discovered how off-balance I felt.

If you suffer from extreme anxiety, you know the feeling of panic that comes over you when things just don’t feel right and you don’t know how to fix them. It’s easy for your whole world to feel off-kilter if just one element of it is disrupted, but cleaning your home can actually help your mental state right itself and restore balance. When I clean my house from top to bottom, I go into a quiet (and private) zone where I let all of my anxieties take the back seat to the task at hand. It’s restorative for me, and best of all, I’m left with a sparkling house when all is said and done. Here’s how cleaning can help your anxiety.

Cleaning is like meditation.

Nothing helps clear my head of all my frantic thoughts more than putting on music to block everything out and allowing myself to get into the complete cleaning zone. By concentrating on a simple task, I’m able to drown out anxiety by doing something productive and basic. If you’re able to focus on your task and force all other negative thoughts out, cleaning can truly have a similar effect for some that meditation does.

It sets you up for a better day or week.

Coming home from a stressful day of work to house full of clutter, dirty dishes, and cat hair forming Texas-sized tumbleweeds of hair can cause me to feel like I may unravel completely. My home is my sanctuary and safe zone, so when I return to find it clean and clutter-free, my mind is more at peace. Spending time over the weekend to give your home a deep-clean can have a major effect on your anxiety, because it takes away a potential element of stress that may be the final straw on a particularly anxiety-ridden day.

It keeps you active.

Although exercise can help anxiety, it’s not always for everyone. Unfortunately for me, the more anxious I am, the less prone I’ll be to exercise, which can be a vicious cycle. However, cleaning your home is a way to do light exercise, keep your heart rate up, and allow your body to release endorphins, all without having to step foot in a gym.

It yields tangible results.

Anxiety can cause you to be completely overwhelmed. There are times when I feel like there is so much to do, I end up getting stuck on how to start, and I get even less done because of my inability to get past feeling like I’m drowning in unfinished tasks. Cleaning is a simple to solution to this problem. In scrubbing down the bathroom sink or vacuuming the floor, you’re able to see tangible results. The manifestation of your hard work is right before your eyes, and this physical evidence of your efforts can be an extreme comfort for an anxious mind.

[source:-popsugar]

Sharp is bringing a ninja-fridge to Europe, and I am so jealous

Image result for Sharp is bringing a ninja-fridge to Europe, and I am so jealous

People often ask me if it’s boring writing about refrigerators. I think it’s a silly question. After all, pretty much everybody has a fridge and uses it every day — how many other product categories on CNET can claim that? I get to write about tech that’s relevant for everybody.

But, I will confess that I do get bored with seeing the same old features and the same old designs trotted out with fresh coats of polish year after year. I like seeing new features, new designs — the stuff that I didn’t know I wanted in my own kitchen instead of the stuff I already know I don’t.

That’s why the new Sharp Karakuri fridge/freezer caught my eye. It’s a European fridge that doesn’t look anything like most of the fridges I write about, thanks to a nifty, asymmetrical design and a hidden water dispenser that spins into view whenever it senses you reaching for it.

Sharp claims that the revolving water dispenser design was inspired by the “Karakuri” doors ninjas allegedly used to conceal themselves, according to this very academic source.

Historical accuracy aside, it’s patently pretty cool as far as refrigerator PR pitches go. And it’s not just a gimmick — hiding the water dispenser makes for a clean, seamless design, and one that protects it from dust and allergens.

On top of that, the Karakuri fridge offers the ability to customize the size of your ice cubes, and promises to make that ice up to 45 minutes faster than the competition. There’s also an “Express Cooling” mode that claims it can chill a drink down from room temperature in 30 minutes or less.

Size-wise, the refrigerator’s 758 liters (roughly 27 cubic feet) offers plenty of storage space even when compared with American fridges, which tend to be a lot bigger than European models.

Sharp tells us that the Karakuri fridge will make its debut in the final months of 2017 at an asking price somewhere around €3,700 — or about £3,230, AU$5,250, or just a little under $4,000 in the US, converted roughly. All in all, it’s a fridge that looks and sounds like something I’d want to consider for my own kitchen — a shame, given that it’ll only be sold across the pond.

Pay attention, US manufacturers

The Karakuri fridge is a stark difference from the “me-too-ism” that runs rampant in American appliance design. Samsung has a smart fridge with a big ol’ touchscreen on it? Oh great, now LG has one, too. People seem to like door-in-a-door fridges? Oh great, now Whirlpool and GE are jumping in with copycat models of their own. See-through doors were all the rage at CES? Oh great, now Frigidaire has a see-through fridge, too.

At times, US manufacturers seem to spend more creative capital on coming up with unique-sounding names for copycat features than they do on the actual features themselves. Just consider Whirlpool’s “Infinity Shelves” (sliding shelves) or Samsung’s “CoolSelect Pantry” (drawer). At least GE was honest enough to call its clone of the LG Door-in-Door fridge the GE Door-in-Door fridge (though, given that LG has “Door-in-Door” trademarked, I have to believe the moniker won’t stick).

And sure, it’s hard to fault major manufacturers for playing it safe. After all, no one wants to miss out on the next big market mover, that new feature or style that makes everything else look obsolete and compels people to upgrade. It happened with French door refrigerators nearly 20 years ago, and with most of those models starting to get pretty long in the tooth, a lot of experts think the time is ripe for it to happen again.

Still, it won’t happen without innovation, or without risk. It’s why I tend to give manufacturers a little bit of leeway when they go out on a limb and try something different — that’s the only way we’ll ever find the appliances we didn’t know we wanted. So, to that end, good on Sharp for making a weird-looking fridge with unique features.

 

 
[Source:- CNET]