My Dangerous Loverboy: Pop Music to Warn Girls About Pimps

Pop quiz: Is “My Dangerous Loverboy” a.) the most recent book in the Twilight series, b.) the horse that won the Kentucky Derby in 2007, or c.) the name of a new campaign which seeks to warn teen girls about the dangers of boyfriend-turned-pimps, also known as “loverboys.” If you picked c.), then either you’ve got it figured out or you read the title of this post. Either way, bravo. But “My Dangerous Loverboy” goes beyond those drugs-are-bad, Katie-eat-something awareness campaigns of yesterday. It uses a spicy combination of pop music, interactive web portals, and video contact to teach teen girls that a true Prince Charming will never try and turn them into a prostitute.

What is a loverboy? The term was originally coined in the Netherlands, to refer to young pimps who lured teen girls into the commercial sex industry by first pretending to be their boyfriends. However, a “loverboy,” at least in abolitionist lingo, has come to mean any guy who puts up the front of a relationship with a girl to lure her into prostitution. Loverboys target girls who will be receptive to their advances — who have low self-esteem, unstable home lives, lack of parental support, etc. At first, the loverboy is all gifts and romance. He bombards the girls with “I love yous” and gifts and meals out. And once she has totally fallen for him, he begins to ask for something in return. Some loverboys reach a point where they become physically abusive, and control the girl and force her into the sex industry physically. But many simply frame the act of prostitution as part of their love, with lines like “I’ve done so much for you, can’t you do this for me?” or “We’ve run out of money and I need you to do this for us.” Loverboys may promise their victims a life of luxury, marriage, children, and happiness, once the “temporary” need for prostitution is over. But those promises are never fulfilled.

Here’s the music video for “My Dangerous Loverboy”:


Jessica’s Law dilemma: Homeless sex offenders

The number of convicted sex offenders living on the streets is soaring across the state, according to new figures released to the ABC7 I-Team. It is an unintended consequence of Jessica’s Law (Prop 83), passed overwhelmingly by voters a few years ago.

The California Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling next week whether Jessica’s Law is so broad and intrusive, that it violates the constitutional rights of convicted sex offenders. But, even more important, the measure meant to protect children could actually be putting us all at risk.

In the city and county of San Francisco, the state’s website lists 167 convicted sex offenders as transient or homeless.

“We are actually walking time bombs out here because we are suffering from sleep deprivation,” said a paroled sex offender who wished to remain anonymous.

Some of them choose to be homeless, but the 45 sex offenders released from prison to San Francisco after Jessica’s Law took effect, are forced to serve their three-year parole living on the streets.

“You’re telling them to go out there and live out there and you don’t know what he could be conspiring to do,” he said. “He sees your movements all day long, he’s watching.”

Under Jessica’s Law, a paroled sex offender can’t take up residence within 2,000 feet of a school or park. Checking the map at the parole office in San Francisco, that leaves very few places for sex offenders to live.

The I-Team spoke with San Francisco parole supervisor Armel Farnsworth.

Noyes: The high rent district, the parking lot of the ball park?

Farnsworth: Yes.

Noyes: The toxic waste dump at Hunter’s Point?

Farnsworth: Yes.

Noyes: Or out on the golf course?

Farnsworth: The golf course at the Olympic Country Club, yes.

“People should know that what they voted for and what they’re getting are total opposites,” said a paroled sex offender who showed us his parole paperwork that says “he must maintain a transient status” and “cannot stay at any shelter bed or residential housing” because of Jessica’s Law.

He says the measure is not doing what voters expected — it is not keeping sex offenders away from parks or schools.

Asked if there any restrictions against him as a transient going to a park or going to within 2000 feet of a school, he said, “No, there isn’t. You can in fact go from park to park all day long, spending two hours in each of them.”

The state’s Sex Offender Management Board says the housing restrictions under Jessica’s Law are not supported by research. The board gave the I-Team an advanced copy of its new report to the Legislature that says, “There is almost no correlation between sex offenders living near restricted areas” such as schools and parks “and where they commit their offenses.”

The report also concludes it is not strangers who pose the biggest threat — “far more Californians will be sexually victimized in their own homes by acquaintances or family members.”

“The state is better served when you figure out where sex offenders should live, not where they shouldn’t,” said Suzanne Brown-McBride, executive director of the Sex Offender Management Board.

Brown-McBride tells the I-Team no one expected the number of homeless sex offenders to increase so dramatically under Jessica’s Law. “The rates honestly have skyrocketed. We went from several hundred offenders being transient in the state of California to now well over 5,000.”

That poses a serious challenge for the parole agents who have to keep track of sex offenders.

“We would prefer they weren’t transient, so it’s easier to supervise an individual that has stable housing,” said West Bay District parole administrator Matthew Goughnour.

San Francisco’s parole agents have had to give up on home visits for paroled sex offenders and rely on GPS tracking. But it is expensive. The State Department of Corrections spent $65 million on GPS last year, but stopped paying for short-term housing for sex offenders, stopped paying for community-based treatment, and stopped much of the re-entry counseling for sex offenders.

“A sex offender who is successful is one who doesn’t reoffend, and if we’re doing things to undermine their possibility of being in the community without reoffense, then we’re making a mistake,” said Brown-McBride.

The author of Jessica’s Law, State Sen. George Runner, says he is open to communities loosening the restriction against sex offenders living within 2,000 feet of a park or school.

“If the city of San Francisco felt like 500 feet was a better number, we certainly don’t have any issue with that,” said Runner. “Our issue has been pretty simple, we just don’t think that a person who has molested a child should live across the street from a school.”

The California Supreme Court could do away with the residency restriction altogether. The key issues: the law also applies to parolees who have not committed crimes against children, and it sometimes applies to those who committed sex crimes long ago.

We spoke to a man who served time for rape in the 1980s; he was paroled last year after a stolen property conviction, yet Jessica’s Law kicked in.

“Upon my release from the state prison, I was informed that I could not maintain any family relationships with my wife, my brother, my niece and nephews and I could not reside in any dwelling,” he said.

“It makes them feel they have no future,” said registered sex offender Jake Goldenflame who is now an author and advocate pushing for additional counseling for parolees. He also runs a website offering advice for convicted sex offenders about following the law.

Noyes: In your opinion, is the public safer because of Jessica’s Law?

Goldenflame: No, no, the public and its children are in greater danger. And I think that it’s virtually a miracle something hasn’t happened yet.

Noyes: Do these restrictions make a parolee for a sex offense more likely to reoffend, do you think?

Goldenflame: Absolutely, because the offenders are constantly under stress, they’re not in treatment, and they’re constantly roaming through the city.

In addition to the housing restrictions and GPS, Jessica’s Law also brought tougher sentencing guidelines and longer prison terms for sex offenders. We’ll have more on this story when the California Supreme Court issues its ruling next week.

To learn more about the background of the sex offenders profiled in this report, and the challenges they face in keeping out of trouble, read the I-Team Blog.


Published in: on January 31, 2010 at 10:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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Pledge to Learn More About Human Trafficking


To combat human trafficking, it will take a community of educated citizens, concentrated prevention efforts, strong and implemental laws, increased national and international cooperation, and a human rights centered approach to assisting victims of this horrible crime.

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. Victims of human trafficking are young children, teenagers, men and women.

Approximately 600,000 to 800,000 victims annually are trafficked across international borders worldwide. Victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion, for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor.

After drug dealing, trafficking of humans is tied with arms dealing as the second largest criminal industry in the world, and is the fastest growing.

Many victims of human trafficking are forced to work in prostitution or the sex entertainment industry. But trafficking also occurs in forms of labor exploitation, such as domestic servitude, restaurant work, janitorial work, sweatshop factory work and migrant agricultural work.

Traffickers use various techniques to instill fear in victims and to keep them enslaved. Some traffickers keep their victims under lock and key. However, the more frequent practice is to use less obvious techniques including:

Debt bondage – financial obligations, honor-bound to satisfy debt;

Isolation from the public – limiting contact with outsiders and making sure that any contact is monitored or superficial in nature;

Isolation from family members and members of their ethnic and religious community;

Confiscation of passports, visas and/or identification documents;

Use or threat of violence toward victims and/or families of victims;

The threat of shaming victims by exposing circumstances to family;

Telling victims they will be imprisoned or deported for immigration violations if they contact authorities;

Control of the victims’ money, e.g., holding their money for “safe-keeping”

In October 2000, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) made human trafficking a Federal crime. It was enacted to prevent human trafficking overseas, to protect victims and help them rebuild their lives in the U.S., and to prosecute traffickers of humans under Federal penalties. Prior to 2000, no comprehensive Federal law existed to protect victims of trafficking or to prosecute their traffickers.

What We Do

Victim Identification and Public Awareness

Rescue and Restore Campaign

Anti-Trafficking in Persons (ATIP) leads the Health and Human Services (HHS) Rescue and Restore Victims of Human Trafficking public awareness campaign, which established Rescue and Restore coalitions in 24 cities, regions and States. These community action groups are comprised of NGO leaders, academics, students, law enforcement agents, and other key stakeholders who are committed to addressing the problem of human trafficking in their own communities.

Rescue and Restore Regional Program

The Rescue and Restore Regional Program serves as the focal point for regional public awareness campaign activities and intensification of local outreach to identify victims of human trafficking.

Each Rescue and Restore Regional partner oversees and builds the capacity of a local anti-trafficking network, sub-awarding 60 percent of grant funds to grassroots organizations that identify and work with victims.

By acting as a focal point for regional anti-trafficking efforts, Rescue and Restore Regional partners encourage a cohesive and collaborative approach in the fight against modern-day slavery.

Street Outreach Grants

ATIP funds Street Outreach grants to support the identification of human trafficking victims among other vulnerable populations that the grantee organizations are already serving. These populations include homeless and at-risk youth, women and girls exploited through commercial sex, and migrant farm workers.

Assistance for Victims of Human Trafficking

Certifications and Eligibility Letters

HHS is the sole Federal agency authorized to certify adult foreign victims of human trafficking. Similarly, it is the sole Federal agency authorized to provide Eligibility Letters to minor foreign victims of human trafficking

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within HHS issues all Certifications and Eligibility Letters. Certification grants adult foreign victims of human trafficking access to Federal benefits and services to the same extent as refugees.

Likewise, Eligibility Letters grant minor foreign victims of trafficking access to Federal benefits and services to the same extent as refugees, including placement in the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors program, which provides specialized, culturally appropriate foster care or other licensed care settings, according to children’s individual needs.

Trafficking victims who are U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) do not need Certification or Letters of Eligibility to be eligible for similar benefits and services.

Per Capita Services Contract

ATIP funds comprehensive support services to victims of human trafficking through a per capita services contract designed to centralize services while maintaining a high level of care for victims of human trafficking. The contract is designed to provide “anytime, anywhere” case management to assist a victim of trafficking to become certified, and to provide other short-term necessary services after Certification, through a network of nongovernmental service organization subcontractors in over 100 locations throughout the country.

Working in concert with the HHS Rescue & Restore public awareness campaign, per capita subcontractors are reimbursed for each human trafficking victim served under their case management. This per capita system ensures the provision of efficient, high-quality services to victims of human trafficking. It also streamlines support services in order to help victims of human trafficking gain timely access to shelter, legal assistance, job training and health care, enabling them to establish lives free of violence and exploitation.

National Human Trafficking Resource Center

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) is a national, toll-free hotline for the human trafficking field in the United States and is reached by calling 1-888-3737-888 or emailing

The NHTRC operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. The NHTRC works to improve the national response to protect victims of human trafficking in the U.S. by providing callers with a range of comprehensive services, including crisis intervention, urgent and non-urgent referrals, tip reporting, and comprehensive anti-trafficking resources and technical assistance for the anti-trafficking field and those who wish to get involved.

The NHTRC is able to connect community members with additional tools to raise awareness and combat human trafficking in their local areas, as well as guide service providers and law enforcement personnel in their work with potential trafficking victims.

To perform these functions, the NHTRC maintains a national database of organizations and individuals working in the anti-trafficking field, as well as a library of available anti-trafficking resources and materials.

  1. This is an ongoing pledge that should be fulfilled as often as possible.


Local Girl Goes Missing In Cancun

Family Fears She Was Lured By Man

CANCUN, Mexico — A 16-year-old Macomb Township teen went missing while vacationing with her grandmother and great grandmother in Cancun, Mexico.Family members said they checked into Great Parnasus Hotel last Saturday and Amy Vargas disappeared on Thursday shortly after she spoke to her mother by phone.”She said, ‘I’m with grandma. I’m fine. I love you and I’ll see you soon,'” said Vargas’ mother D’An Simmons.Vargas’ grandmother said while they were at the pool, Vargas asked to use the restroom and never returned.Authorities want to talk to a resort employee who they believe left the property with the girl and two other men.Simmons said she is convinced her daughter did not go willingly.

Local Girl Goes Missing In Cancun

“She would have called me, she would have called my mom or maybe even her friends,” she said.Vargas attended Dakota High School in Macomb. Family said she has many friends but does not know anyone in Cancun.Investigators who tried to track Vargas through her cell phone said it appears the phone was turned off shortly after she disappeared.


Published in: on January 31, 2010 at 7:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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Lindsay Lohan Trafficking Documentary Teaser Leaked, Activists Cringe

Merely a month after Lindsay Lohan spent a life-changing three hours with some human trafficking survivors in India, a teaser for the documentary she filmed while there has leaked. The good news is that, based on the teaser, Lohan’s documentary looks more sophisticated and enjoyable than the straight-to-video 2004 flop Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2. The bad news is that getting one of those babies to replace Lohan for commentary might have been a good move for the BBC. (The teaser is after the jump.

Lohan’s trip to India to film this documentary was exceeding arduous, and included such physically and spiritually challenging activities as wearing a traditional bindi, showering small children with gifts, and traveling with her friend and personal stylist. After all, that Indian heat and humidity can wreak havoc on your hair, whether you’re recovering from a life of slavery or trying to fight your image as a substanceless, pantieless bimbo.

But despite the necessary fashion pit stops, Lohan did claim to have “saved” 40 children on the first day of her visit, marking a new world record in either philanthropy or narcissism.

From the leaked clip, it’s obvious that Lohan has done extensive research into human trafficking, and offers unique and substantive insights, like, “… the parents aren’t necessarily in the wrong, the children are obviously not in the wrong.” Then she pauses, either for dramatic affect or to answer the question she’s just asked herself. “The traffickers are the ones in the wrong because they know what they’re doing,” she concludes triumphantly. What an insight, Lindsay! Based on that statement, it sounds like you’ve done years of research into this issue, and not just spent a few hours at one shelter playing dress-up. But Lohan doesn’t stop there. She also interviews actual human traffickers, asking hard-hitting questions like whether or not the children they sell for sex are attractive children. Ouch! You show those criminals who’s boss.


Superbowl Sponsor’s Foul Play in Liberia

The countdown has begun for Superbowl XLIV! Next Sunday, the New Orleans Saints will play the Indianapolis Colts in the biggest football game of the year. But the Indianapolis-based company that will sponsor the Halftime show for the third year in a row stands accused of some less-than-Saintly behavior.

Bridgestone/Firestone is the largest tire company in the world and it is throwing down millions of dollars once again to be the title sponsor of the Halftime show. Most people don’t know that for over 84 years, the company has exploited workers and the environment on its massive rubber plantation in Liberia.

Most workers on the plantation are “rubber tappers” whose daily work includes dumping small cups of raw latex into buckets that weigh 75 pounds each and then carrying two of those buckets on each end of a stick on their backs for miles. Imagine doing that kind of work all day for years on end. Workers are subjected to extremely high production quotas or else they won’t be given their meager wages. As a result, they have had to bring their children or wives to work with them in order to complete one person’s quota. The physically demanding work and high production quotas combined with low pay and the lack of access many children on the plantation have to education has led to a range of labor rights abuses.


Published in: on January 30, 2010 at 6:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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Freedom for the Weekend: Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking

Well, it’s Friday afternoon, and that means the weekend is almost here!  W00t! Perhaps you’re reading this blog because you’re bored at work or school and you’re thinking about what you want to do this weekend. How about spending part of your weekend fighting slavery? Each week I’ll profile a different anti-trafficking nonprofit who you can connect with to help free slaves and prevent slavery around the world. So, spend a couple hours this weekend getting to know this nonprofit through their website, and then get involved!

This Week’s Profile: Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking (FCAHT)

The Bottom Line: FCAHT works to improve and provide outreach and services to victims of human trafficking throughout the state of Florida, developing support programs, networking, coalition building, training, service delivery and referrals to victims in need.

What They Do: They provide training and information about how to better find trafficking victims and arrest traffickers to law enforcement and other audiences across Florida and around the country. They also work with other agencies and organizations in Florida to help prevent human trafficking.

What Can I Do?: They have lots of ideas for how you can get involved with FCAHT as a coalition. You can also get involved with one of their many community partner organizations, all of whom work to end human trafficking in Florida.

Why They Rock: FCAHT has been nationally and internationally recognized for being a well-oiled machine that brings together government agencies, NGOs, law enforcement, social service providers, and other players to provide a holistic approach to combating human trafficking.

So now that you’ve got some basic information on FCAHT, visit their website this weekend and get involved.  And on Monday morning when everyone else is talking about sleeping in and watching TV over the weekend, you can say, “What did I do this weekend?  Oh, just the usual — abolition of slavery.”

Do you have a favorite nonprofit you’d like to see featured here?  If so, let me know!


Japanese “Junior Idols”: Child Porn in Disguise

Lately, Japanese police are playing the incredibly squicky game “Is It Child Pornography.” Here’s how you play: you find a DVD marketed to adult men, and on the cover is a 10-year-old girl in a string bikini, posing with her legs splayed and the most come-hither look in her eye a kid of that age can muster. The DVD consists of videos of pre-pubescent and young teen girls having pillow fights, eating lollipops, and doing other activities in minimal clothing. Yet no one is naked, and no actual sex acts are happening. So is the DVD child pornography? Yes.

DVDs like the one described here are generally referred to as “junior idol” films, and according to Japanese law, they aren’t child pornography because the kids in them are not nude. But the Tokyo police department is still worried, because the age of the children in “junior idol” photos and videos is steadily decreasing. Now, children as young as five are showing up regularly, wearing tiny bathing suits and bending over for the camera. And while only G-rated body parts are actually shown, the way the children are instructed to stand and look into the camera is overtly sexual most of the time.

Child advocates in Japan have called for a need to regulate these publications and create mechanisms to prevent parents from exploiting their kids in this way. Many argue that while a number of the children in “junior idol” videos are too young to realize what’s happening, once they grow up enough to understand that images of them were used without their knowledge in publications meant to arouse, they might be traumatized. “Junior idols” might not be child porn to the law, they argue, but it sure is child porn to the victimized children.


Haitian ‘Orphans’ at risk for trafficking

Before the quake, nearly a quarter of a million children were traded by their parents in exchange for school tuition, while a further third of a million were simply discarded and lived in orphanages. Now, experts fear, they may be sold by the thousands.
As the desperation for food and water in Haiti goes into free fall, experts warn that children may be sold or exchanged for goods. Footage from the BBC illustrates just how the situation is deteriorating. Western governments moved this week to gear up adoptions that were in process prior to January 12. Soon to be adopted children were air-lifted to the Netherlands, France, Canada, and other points north and in Europe.
US Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, has stated that Haitian children will be allowed into the US for medical attention under a fast track visa process. The arch-diocese of Miami has proposed a 1960’s-style airlift of orphans, to be connected with the large Haitian community in that city.
But in the rush to move children from Haiti into homes abroad, children’s rights organizations like the Joint Council on International Children’s Services, warn this could lead to a surge in trafficking. Paper work and documents for orphans were lost in the quake, and in a country where children were being sold for school tuition even before the disaster, they warn that documents will be forged or waived and transform expedited visas into yet another venue for the sale of children by their parents.


Professor helps pass sex trafficking bills

University of Rhode Island women’s studies Professor Donna Hughes has researched and documented the trafficking of women and children internationally for the past 25 years.

Hughes discovered her passion for the topic while studying for her graduate degree from Pennsylvania State University.

“I think it’s important to be an advocate for women’s rights [and] to generate knowledge that can be used to further freedom in the world,” Hughes said. “I try to convey that in my teaching.”

Hughes said people typically start at the “grassroots” of the issue and work their way up to the state, national and international levels. She, however, started working immediately on the subject on an international level.

Post graduation, she worked with The Coalition Against Trafficking and Women, an organization that focuses on creating change internationally by means of conducting and supporting anti-trafficking projects.

“Sex-trafficking is nothing but serial rape,” Hughes said.

Her focus was on Southeast Asian women, and she worked with the organization for 10 years.

She also conducted research projects about women in Ukraine, Russia and Korea, where she worked with other academic researchers.

“My goal was to document the problem,” she said.

Hughes set up interviews with women from these countries, which helped her learn more about the issue. She was given grants to continue this research and her work was eventually sent to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Hughes also documented two reports for the Council of Europe (Eastern and Western), where she found places on the Internet in which women were being advertised and recruited by men.

From her work on educating people about sex trafficking through the Internet, she was invited to Hilary Clinton’s speech about the topic just last week.

Hughes has written documents on trafficking of women in the U.S. as well, and is also an advisor on the topic.

Although much of her work has been focused on the national and international levels, she recently supervised a URI undergraduate with her honors thesis regarding sex trafficking in Rhode Island. Melanie Shapiro graduated from URI last May, and she provided testimony to the Rhode Island General Assembly.

Hughes said Shapiro focused on Asian massage parlors in her research.

She said the goal was to pass a new human trafficking law.

“[There was] no law concerning prostitution behind closed doors,” Hughes said.

Three bills were passed in October with supporting evidence from Shapiro and Hughes’ testimony and research. The bills criminalize prostitution in the state wherever it takes place, and protects minors from being forced into labor and sex trafficking.

Hughes has been teaching at URI since 1996, and taught women’s studies at the University of Bradford in England for two years prior.

“It was a very interesting experience,” Hughes said.

While in England she witnessed women being abused. Many of her students were forced into arranged marriages and battered by family members. They tried to stay in college as long as possible to keep them from the arranged marriages, Hughes added.

Women in England were forced to go to Pakistan for arranged marriages at age 14 and 16. She said one woman was killed for refusing.

Hughes has experienced sex trafficking throughout the world, and she is focused on the freedom of the Internet. China in particular has a firewall, in other words, their Internet is blocked from interacting with other countries.

“We need internet freedom to communicate,” Hughes said. “The only way people can learn about trafficking is if they communicate with other people.”