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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Connector of the Day: Emma Thompson

September 18th, 2009
10:47 PM ET

Thursday's Connector of the Day is Emma Thompson: She is the multi-award winning actress whose work off the screen is as prolific as it is on. [cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/18/art.thompson.jpg caption="Emma Thompson is raising awareness about human trafficking."]

Familiar to millions of fans throughout the world for anything from period classics ("Sense and Sensibility"), comedies ("Love Actually") and children’s favorites ("Harry Potter," "Nanny McPhee"), she has always been heavily involved in humanitarian work.

Thompson has concentrated her attention on the plight of children, campaigning with compassion and fervour to bring the issue of child trafficikng to the fore. An international superstar who appears to have a heart of gold, what better character to have to be our Connector of the Day.

soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Jimmy

    Little does the U.S. know it has human trafficking in a small city like Dublin, Georgia. Yet nothing is done by U.S. authorities, in regards to Vietnamese being trafficked by "fellow" Vietnamese. I wonder if Ms Thompson has ever faced similar situation – even in the USA?

    September 19, 2009 at 9:30 am | Reply
  2. Mark Bangsboll

    Even more horrific than your story of human trafficing is the kidnapping and selling of children for body parts. This has received little attention but is common in such countries as Afghanistan and Pakistan. The son of one of my Afghan officers was kidnapped along with 20 other young boys and taken to Pakistan where they were to be used to provide kidneys, livers etcs....He was fortunated enough to escape and tell the story...

    September 19, 2009 at 9:37 am | Reply
  3. Peter Illig

    Dear Emma, We at Franciscans International, the worlds largest faith-based NGO with UN status and advocating on human rights, have been asked by our friend Ms Gulnara Shahinian, the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, to raise the profile of this issue. We very much would like you to co-chair a roundtable at our Geneva office with Ms. Shahinian. Thank you for your kind consideration, and kudos on your excellent work and leadership. Peter Illig, Development Director, FI-Geneva.

    September 19, 2009 at 10:47 am | Reply
  4. Alice Kang


    I am extremely interested in volunteering my services to help in human trafficking prevention and advocacy. Having lived in Asia and now London, I have seen how trafficking manifests itself in the tourism industry and in small, poor communities.

    Do you have any suggestions on how one can get more involved? There seem to be many small, disparate organizations out there but it's hard to tell which ones are effective or well sponsored. Any suggestions would be most welcome. I feel it's a humanitarian issue that really needs more support and action.


    September 19, 2009 at 11:16 am | Reply
  5. Lita Robey

    I lived in Fort Worth, Texas and was so surprised when there was a raid of 7 houses in my neighborhood (middle to up class) historical area. One of these houses was right next door to me, 3 young girls from South America lived there, very quiet and I never really noticed anything unusual.

    September 19, 2009 at 11:52 am | Reply
  6. Japhet Ejueyitsi

    hello Emma Thompson,
    i lie the work you rae doing, keep it up.
    i am writing from nigeria..
    nigeria to the best of my knowlegde is the wost country in the world in human trafficking.

    September 19, 2009 at 12:06 pm | Reply
  7. Hartmut Weiss

    We are looking at assisting in the re-integration process of victims of human trafficking through establishing a high quality garment manufacturing business in South Africa. Initial employment would be 100 victims. Would the integration into a productive work process with support structures in place be an effective tool to restore the dignity and self-respect of victims? Would the 'density' of victims in one workplace be detrimental or supportive in the healing process? Thank you.

    September 19, 2009 at 12:36 pm | Reply
  8. Hannah

    I've been a fan for 20 years. Do you have any film projects in the works that could bring attention to human trafficking?

    September 19, 2009 at 2:00 pm | Reply
  9. Ulla M. Brown

    I am very interested in volunteering my services regarding Human Trafficking.
    I have lived all over the world, also in Asia and am now in London.
    I am passionate about HT, and like very much to get involved.
    Maybe I will hear from you, get a contact or ...and go form there, thanks, Ulla B.

    September 19, 2009 at 2:12 pm | Reply
  10. James Derrick

    Thank you for standing up and raising awareness about human trafficking and the inherent horrors therein. To everyone: let us challenge ourselves to do even one thing for the good of humanity and to support the safety and well-being of others.

    September 19, 2009 at 3:09 pm | Reply
  11. Marjolein

    Hello Emma!

    Thank you for shining a light on this horrible and cruel reality.
    I was wondering what exactly is being done to help the women and girls who were the victims of these traffickers in terms of continued support and guidance. Are their specialized shelters to protect them in their countries?

    Thank you in advance for your answer!

    St.Germain-en-Laye, FRANCE

    September 19, 2009 at 3:18 pm | Reply
  12. Kimberly


    There are several organizations you can connect with that are on the front lines of combatting human trafficking and modern day slavery. One in which I would strongly recommend is the International Justice Mission (www.ijm.org). They are based out of Washington, D.C. but have offices in London and across the globe. They are currently in a huge awareness campaign with the release of a 31 minute documentary on the issue called, "At the End of Slavery". You can learn more at their site about this film and specific ways to get involved.


    September 19, 2009 at 4:22 pm | Reply
  13. lou from paris

    Dear Emma, i think it is very noble that you are pursuing this. Do you think your work has paid off? have you noticed a difference?

    September 19, 2009 at 5:16 pm | Reply
  14. peter

    Hello Emma, one is at loss for for words,in thanking you for bringing this deplorable practice of human trafficking by so called "human beings".Mankind's insensetivity, to other human beings suffering, is always astounding. The world is now over run with Hitler type mind sets.I would suggest that the world seriously finds a way, to technologicly chip every one of us, particularly the more vulnerable woman and children. Please keep up the good work Emma and all of us here look forward to a coordinated world wide movement and effort to eradicte this "INHUMANE PRACTICE". Peter Mills

    September 19, 2009 at 5:46 pm | Reply
  15. Rachel Wyatt

    It seems the horrible purposes that the victims serve could be performed by anyone from a vulnerable background in any country. So, my question is, where is the need, or profit, in trafficking over such distances? What is the source of demand?
    Thanks for your time and effort with this project.

    September 19, 2009 at 6:17 pm | Reply
  16. Kay Z

    Thank you so much for your efforts to bring attention to the issue of human trafficking. I live in Istanbul, Turkey, and be interested to know what organizations are addressing this issue in the Middle East. I do believe when individuals and organizations network together a difference can be made!
    Kay Z

    September 19, 2009 at 6:20 pm | Reply
  17. Doug

    I wonder if you have explored the soft acceptance of human trafficking for prostitution and "entertainment" by some of the world's largest economies. I witnessed this wholesale while stationed with the US military in S. Korea. While the official stance is condemnation, most major governments turn a blind eye.

    September 19, 2009 at 6:37 pm | Reply
  18. Roel


    do you think it is best to attack the problem at the supply part (the greedy human traficckers that bring the modern-slaves half way across the worl to our doorstep) or do you think it is best to attack the demand part (the greedy rich people that want to have gardeners for 4$ an hour and house servants for 2$ + food) ?

    September 19, 2009 at 6:58 pm | Reply
  19. Mordecai

    It's so sad to hear that the world has come to this! How am I able to volunteer my services to help stop these horrific crimes. I hope to hear from someone soon.

    Take care,


    September 19, 2009 at 8:46 pm | Reply
  20. guerro

    How might I contact Emma concerning a film about this topic, and a real concern about a young celebrity?


    September 19, 2009 at 9:48 pm | Reply
  21. Karen A

    Hi Emma,

    Is there something that the average person could do to help in this crusade or is awareness of the situation the focus at this point?

    September 20, 2009 at 3:03 am | Reply
  22. Gaurav Karunakar

    Dear Emma,

    India is one of the places where human trafficking is at its worst. Fair skinned girls from the North-east are the main targets. They are sold by their families or are lured by promises of job, etc and find themselves in the brothels of Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi and even Chennai. Sometimes the police are in collution with these traffickers. Politicians also are believed to be involved. I request you to send one o two reporters to India to go deep into the matter.


    September 20, 2009 at 3:37 am | Reply
  23. David Walker

    Taking up Rachel Wyatt's point, as ever, more funding for grassroots education of poor women and girls in these countries can help protect them. Poor girls in the USA are likely to know where to turn for help. Also continuing support for locally based grassroots self-help projects by women for women. And I'm sure more can be done, even by individual tourists and the CNN to offset the prevailing image in many countries of the developed world as one in which the streets are paved with gold and everyone is rich. So, perhaps simpler lifestyles for some celebrities and tourists alike, and try more to meet people, not just see the sights, it's fun. Perhaps also we could do with a Slumdog Millionaire for the West.

    It is wonderful to see celebrities like Emma doing what they are doing.Long may it continue.

    September 20, 2009 at 5:13 am | Reply
  24. Amy

    This is news? There is no information about what Miss Thompson has researched or learned about this terrible issue. You have a pretty picture of her face posted and virtually no details.How is she going to get her message out like this????

    September 20, 2009 at 5:33 am | Reply
  25. victor

    Congratulations Ms. Thompson for a job well done. We the little people need your voice in striking down human trafficking in the modern world.Where ver one is in this world, greed still plays a factor in life.

    September 20, 2009 at 7:52 am | Reply
  26. jimmy

    If you really want to DO something to stop this you would do something extreme and drastic to get attention - ie, quit making movies and such and spend 60, 70 hours a week on this. Most of the world could only dream of an opportunity to make such a difference. You don't need to work at a paying job anymore; and if you say that staying high-profile will make 10 hours of your work in this area multiply to 10 times that, simply because you get headlines, I call BS. Go out and really do something. I know a few people in the US who have sold people down in Mexico. Hell, I have sold a few myself, when a man or woman came over for a hit of heroin and passed out on my floor. I feel like I might as well get a kidney out of it, for my trouble. I really do. They are "normal" people with mortgages and good jobs. And what you are doing doesn't do shit about the relatively low-key, less talked about and less known one, two or three off type situations like the ones I am familiar with. I want to cut your feet off and make cow hoof soup.

    September 20, 2009 at 8:03 am | Reply
  27. hill roberts

    Hello Emma,
    Greetings from Spain.
    Thank you for your involvement in this important issue that has the world spinning on its head. Indeed, the crux of the problem lies in the greed and corruption of those countries playing hide and seek and turning a blind eye. Here in Spain, there are now too many Africans from Senegal, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Ghana living in inhumane conditions and some die during the terrible ordeal they go through just crossing thousands of miles on foot from Libya.
    The people who are trafficked, called "wetbacks" because majority of them cross seas and sometimes never get the chance to reach the shores...sad that these traffickers have not been thoroughly investigated and arrested. Could it be that they are actually supported by those governments who couldn't care less about their citizens? These guys should be caught, put on trial, thrown in prison. Human trafficking is modern-day holocaust. The UN must try harder to stop this dreaded perennial problem.

    September 20, 2009 at 9:12 am | Reply
  28. Catherine

    Dear Emma,
    Thank you for giving your energy to this burning cause. Very little, too little is being done. Please continue.

    September 20, 2009 at 10:45 am | Reply
  29. Tom

    Emma, I have been in the U.S. Navy for almost 30 years and have traveled to many places other westerners will never see. I have seen young women killed becuase they would not please their middle eastern or western customer to the satisfaction of the customer or would refuse to go with a customer.

    The only thing I have seen in my time is the laws of the U.S. against human trafficking that have followed us overseas. We prosecute americans for this...however as the other military guy above stated, other countries turn a blind eye to HT. The only way to stop human trafficking is to get rid of demand and that will not happen until every country on this planet stands up collectively against it. Supply is there because of the demand. I have seen it in many countries and I still see it... It is only gettin worse. I could give you many exact locations to look with exact details. Tom

    September 20, 2009 at 10:49 am | Reply
  30. Erik

    For anybody actually interested in the truth about this subject, I highly recommend "Sex at the Margins" by Laura María Agustín.


    September 20, 2009 at 12:18 pm | Reply
  31. Adam

    How much of this modern day slave trade is organized by mafia or snakeheads? How much is unorganized, one-man or family operations?

    September 20, 2009 at 12:40 pm | Reply
  32. Kathy in the Middle East

    I thought I was a fan of yours BEFORE this article, Ms. Thompson, but I am a fervent, die-hard fan NOW.

    The U.N. esimates that India alone has 65 million children as slaves - over half of them in the sex trade. But as other writers have commented, it's happening next door in the U.S. as well.

    THANK YOU for raising our awareness. Carry on.....

    September 20, 2009 at 12:57 pm | Reply
  33. Sebasten Raffal

    I'm very impressed by your serious work that too by such a wonderful actress. Keep up the good work and keep us all posted.

    September 20, 2009 at 3:05 pm | Reply
  34. Steve

    Child slavery in the garment industry. Every time you buy a garment made in China or India, even famous name brands, you are running a risk of that garment having been produced by a child slave.

    We can all do our part and be more responsible consumers and choose products more carefully. Boycott products you know to have been made at the cost of human slavery.

    September 20, 2009 at 3:49 pm | Reply
  35. Desiree Abraham

    Dear Miss Thompson,

    I sincerely and enthusiastically applaud your efforts to bring this unbelievably heinous practice to the forefront of mainstream public. When exposing this seedy underworld, I am sure you understand that you may pay a price for there are forces which do not want the profits or pleasures to stop.

    Please, is there anyway that a common person like myself can help you help these helpless children? We raise awareness for breast cancer and AIDS, but where is the grassroots effort to stop this sexual deviancy which destroys the next generation and warps future generations to come? My contact address is with CNN and CNN has my permission for you to contact me when the time is right to move your expose into a grassroots action. I am here in the queue ready to volunteer!

    September 20, 2009 at 4:26 pm | Reply
  36. Brad McElya

    I am currently living in India. Discrimination against the girl child is rampant. From female feticide to female infanticide to sex trafficking, millions of girls are discriminated against. We are starting an organization to address the discrimination against the girl child. Raising awareness about the millions of girls forced into sex trafficking is one of ways to help the cause.

    Thank you for your efforts.
    The Rhema Project

    September 20, 2009 at 5:28 pm | Reply
  37. Laura from Ireland

    Hi Emma,
    Why, out of all the causes you could choose from to lend a helping hand to, did you choose this cause?

    September 20, 2009 at 5:34 pm | Reply
  38. lobsang palden

    Thank you for saving inocent women and children.god bless you and god bless earth..

    September 20, 2009 at 10:24 pm | Reply
  39. Tina

    Dear Emma,
    Will images of the art be available online. As an artist who is passionate about the power of the arts to raise awareness and change thinking I am very interested in this project.
    peace be with you,

    September 21, 2009 at 2:12 am | Reply
  40. Suzanne

    Thank you Emma,

    Bring Hollywood along and Make a Big Movie and Make a Big Stink about this Horrific Horrific crime against humanity. God Bless You and your heart.

    Leaders of the World need to pay attention to these things happening in their countries. Each and all should help......

    take care from Suzanne in Canada

    September 21, 2009 at 3:50 am | Reply
  41. Anatole B

    Hello Emma ,

    I wish to bring to your attention, the catastrophic situation regarding human trafficking in the meditterenean . Human trafickers crossing the Libyan dessert ,(alot of them die in the desert) , finally they make there trip to cross to southern Italy .Due to bad weather conditions , many of these don't make it and they die at sea, others make it to nearby islands such as Malta or Lampedusa. This has been going on for too long now and the sadest part is that the EU failed to grip this situation and is not making enough to turn around this situation. In fact in the recent manifesto of Manueal Barroso , there was little mention about this , which is in the opinion of many a fiasco. After this Mr Barroso was lucky to retain his seat during last weeks EU elections .
    Ms Thompson , I wish you all the luck in your new venture and by the way " Last chance Harvey " was excellent ... Very Good

    September 21, 2009 at 7:48 am | Reply
  42. Kim in Cape Town

    Dear Emma,

    You are an inspiration - and I really admire the work you are doing to shed light on an issue that must be revealed. I am a journalist living in Cape Town, South Africa, and recently met and interviewed a Congolese man who, while trying to escape the brutalities of war in his home country, became a victim of human trafficking (as a displaced person without any money or a passport, who understood only French, he was incredibly vulnerable). He was making his way to South Africa for a better life, when he was unwittingly transported across the Zimbabwe-South Africa border by a group of gangsters posing as taxi drivers. It was only when he arrived in Musina just outside Johannesburg, that his driver and co-horts held him hostage for 5 days while his cousin travelled to Jo'burg to organise ransom money. Luckily he was released unharmed... I learned that the trade in humans is far more commonplace than I had once thought.

    Thank you for your inspiration. Best wishes, Kim

    September 21, 2009 at 8:18 am | Reply
  43. Sabine

    Noble cause you are taking on Emma. I'm distraught when seeing/hearing how people can treat their fellow human beings. No respect for others. All that matters is money. We all know this is a worldwide problem, that powerful countries are supporting the practice. and that it will never entirely be eradiated. My question is, what do you do with your findings, what kind of actions are being taken, how supportive are the governments in helping fight this horrible mankind problem?
    Wish you the best and admire your courrage.

    September 21, 2009 at 8:34 am | Reply
  44. victoria -Belgium-Brussels

    Oh my Darling Emma,

    May God bless you, you are taking a very long jump on this issue, but are you sure those who are sitting in the corridors of power will listen to you ? haveing said that, do you actully think our politicians are ready to make a change, rather one would say they are the back bones of these trafickers. Besides, we must not forget those who are also petronising the trade as well as third-world-countries government who refuses to pay attention their citizens by do the right thing . Today, if a countries like Nigeria, Senegal, Liberia,Ghana etc decides to waste their youths due to greedies and mismanagements well it's apity because a whole generations is being wipe out.. well take care
    God bless you.

    September 21, 2009 at 11:51 am | Reply
  45. Bagheri

    Given the fact that human organ trafficking is becoming a world-wide problem in which organs, and organ providers ( donors?) cross the international borders for organ tarnsplantation, it is an urgent issue to discuss it when working on human trafficking too.
    This is what we are trying to address in the Asian Task Force on Organ Trafficking.

    September 22, 2009 at 9:39 am | Reply
  46. Teresa Meyer-Hoye, Switzerland

    I sit here in my nice house, in my nice country and cannot even come close to imagining what these victims of human trafficking endure.
    What can "we the people" do to make a difference?

    September 22, 2009 at 2:39 pm | Reply
  47. Kim in Cape Town

    Hi Bagheri, do you happen to know of a task force in southern Africa that does similiar work to the Asian Task Force on Organ Trafficking? Trade in organs in South Africa and neighbouring countries is an issue I would like to investigate for a potential feature article or documentary... Thank you, Kim

    September 22, 2009 at 3:52 pm | Reply
  48. Vicki

    Hi Becky, thanks for this program.
    Ms Thomposn, I live in Europe and I think I am aware of a situation that is human trafficing. To whom do I report the activity that I suspect? local, EU, maybe International body?
    Thank you. Vicki

    September 23, 2009 at 2:30 pm | Reply
  49. s.c.

    A great group that is really doing a lot of good with very little resources is The Grey Man. They go into underground brothels in Thailand and Laos and physically rescue the children. Go to http://www.thegreyman.org to learn more on how to help.
    And I agree, there is child trafficking in America and people are doing very little to stop it. Maybe someone can look at the Grey Man model and start something like that in the US.

    September 24, 2009 at 1:08 am | Reply
  50. Vanessa Tamara

    Dear Miss Thompson,

    I would first of all like to say that this issue of human trafficking has been a problem in the world for a while now and I am glad that You, with your status in the world can draw light and show to the world that this is indeed a problem because the only way we can "fix" it is by doing something about it. I was just wondering since I happen to have a project if there are any countries in particular that I might want to focus on when it comes to human trafficking?

    Kind regards,


    September 24, 2009 at 2:52 pm | Reply
  51. Akpene

    Hi Ms Thompson,
    Its very heart warming and gratifying to know that people like you are concerned about the issue. This is a real problem in African and Ghana for that matter. Now some Europeans are alleged to be in Ghana convincing the young girls to get pregnant they cater for the teenagers until they deliver and when the child is weaned they child is taken away.
    I think we can share ideas. Just let me know if you need some information about this and I would see what I can do.

    September 24, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Reply
  52. Adetola Omogbehin

    Hi Ms Thompson,
    Are you extending your activities to Africa also,espcially Nigeria?
    thank you

    September 24, 2009 at 4:39 pm | Reply
  53. Malena Lavado

    Dear Emma ... I am your fan .... I love your work... since the movie about Peter and his friends until Harry Potter ... from this part of the world I send you my respect and best wishes to you, your work, your family, your life ....

    Malena Lavado
    South America

    September 24, 2009 at 8:37 pm | Reply
  54. Bill Quinn

    If you want to end the demand side of the human trafficking, what is needed is to understand a couple things about men. First is that there
    is an increase in demand because less men are raised in a two parent home. Men that are raise by women are far more likely to want to pay for sex.
    Accept that this is the way the world is changing. The next thing to end the demand is to find a way to teach these guys how to attract and have
    desirable relations with women. This may sound absurd to a lady but
    it is the tool that will reduce the demand of paying for sex.
    Women in general simply do not know how to teach their boys to date ladies.

    September 28, 2009 at 1:00 pm | Reply
  55. msd

    This is not a troll, it is an honest enquiry and I hope it will not be deleted because it is critical.

    As a fan, I read with dismay Emma Thompson's name on the public petition supporting the immediate release of Roman Polanski. I find it difficult to reconcile her public focus on the "plight of children" with her equally public support of a man convicted of unlawful sex with a 13 year old girl, who then fled justice.

    No-one who has signed the petition has explained why they did so (or seems to have withdrawn their support) so I'm hoping that she didn't understand what she was supporting, or perhaps didn't think about the message it was sending to young women?


    October 11, 2009 at 12:15 pm | Reply
  56. Victorian -Belgium-Brussels

    Recently, we read in the Nigerian Daily News paper hundreds and thousand of Nigerians, deported from Libya, Vienna in Austia, it is despeakable an international disgrace to a country like Nigeria, it seems now that in all corners of Europe Nigerians are every where, Emma, how can you tackle a case like Nigeria ? One out of ten Nigerian mothers want their daughters to go to Europe, for a greener pasture how is it possible, that one particular state of Nigeria (Edo state) Benin-city mothers could endeavour to expose girls of fifteen years to a voodoo(juju-man) for a tribal auth before the Madame will send his boys for the kill, they don't even take into consideration the horror these girls through, in the deserts, Mediterranean sea, indecent assaults before getting to Madame in Italy, Spain and God knows where, on the process of crossing these girls were raped tortured and if some of them resist, their assaultant and decide to commit murder, it is not their fault, So Emma can you stop Benin-mothers not to sell their innocent daughters to Madame in Italy, Spain Belgium etc.
    God bless you.

    October 13, 2009 at 3:43 pm | Reply

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