Sex Traffic Victim: ‘I Was A Slave’

Those who support an effort to toughen laws on human sex trafficking are making a final push to get the governor to sign a bill sitting on her desk.

 “Robyn,” which is not her real name, said she was treated like a slave.

 “My life was at risk every night. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I had to see a gun at night when I got back to the place I was staying,” she said, trying to hold back tears.

 Robyn, 19, said she was forced into prostitution for three months last year by a 38-year-old man she met online.

 “I felt safe at the time and then one day everything changed. He turned on me. I mean, he changed into a monster,” she said.

 Robyn said she took in between $500 and $1,000 a night working mostly on Chinatown’s streets, but the money was collected by her pimp.

 She said the bill now before the governor would help other women on the street like her by making sex trafficking a felony.

 The city prosecutor’s office supports making sex trafficking a felony, but opposes the bill.

 “It’s going to overlap with our existing statutes. It makes things more complicated, not easier,” said Dennis Dunn, deputy prosecutor.

 Prosecutors said numerous technical aspects of the bill would make it difficult to convict a sex trafficker.

 “I think it’s difficult because part of what needs to be done has nothing to do with legislation. It’s a matter of educating both law enforcement and the public to be aware,” said Dunn.

 Robyn said human sex trafficking is a bigger problem than most people realize.

 “I don’t think people want to know there’s people out there. Young women out there that are still in my position and they need help,” she said.

 Robyn said she’s trying to find a job and wants to go back to school, but she’s still fearful her former pimp will find her.

 Gov. Linda Lingle has until July 6 to sign the bill into law. Supporters of the measure vow to raise the issue again next legislative session if the governor vetoes the bill. Those who support an effort to toughen laws on human sex trafficking are making a final push to get the governor to sign a bill sitting on her desk.

“Robyn,” which is not her real name, said she was treated like a slave.

“My life was at risk every night. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I had to see a gun at night when I got back to the place I was staying,” she said, trying to hold back tears.

Robyn, 19, said she was forced into prostitution for three months last year by a 38-year-old man she met online.

“I felt safe at the time and then one day everything changed. He turned on me. I mean, he changed into a monster,” she said.

Robyn said she took in between $500 and $1,000 a night working mostly on Chinatown’s streets, but the money was collected by her pimp.

She said the bill now before the governor would help other women on the street like her by making sex trafficking a felony.

The city prosecutor’s office supports making sex trafficking a felony, but opposes the bill.

“It’s going to overlap with our existing statutes. It makes things more complicated, not easier,” said Dennis Dunn, deputy prosecutor.

Prosecutors said numerous technical aspects of the bill would make it difficult to convict a sex trafficker.

“I think it’s difficult because part of what needs to be done has nothing to do with legislation. It’s a matter of educating both law enforcement and the public to be aware,” said Dunn.

Robyn said human sex trafficking is a bigger problem than most people realize.

“I don’t think people want to know there’s people out there. Young women out there that are still in my position and they need help,” she said.

Robyn said she’s trying to find a job and wants to go back to school, but she’s still fearful her former pimp will find her.

Gov. Linda Lingle has until July 6 to sign the bill into law. Supporters of the measure vow to raise the issue again next legislative session if the governor vetoes the bill.

source: http://www.kitv.com/news/23715987/detail.html

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Flyleaf Allies With World Vision to Stop Human Trafficking

Texas based rock band Flyleaf is partnering with World Vision in a campaign to stop human sex trafficking, and is offering a free download of their song inspired by the fight against trafficking. Human trafficking is “essentially a modern day slave trade,” where people, often children, are kidnapped and exploited to be soldiers, labor slaves or sex slaves. World Vision estimates that there are as many as 27 million people worldwide caught enslaved through human trafficking. More than half of these victims are women and children.

World Vision published a document with “10 Things You Need to Know About Human Trafficking” that offers information and dispels myths about human trafficking as well as things people and governments can do to stop it. Facts from the document include “girls are trafficked into many industries besides brothels,” “adoption is still a trafficking risk,” and “boys and men are trafficked too.”

Lead singer Lacey Mosley had this to say in a release discussing the band’s interest in the cause and the inspiration behind the free track.

When we were recording the song ‘Set Apart This Dream’ for our new CD, ‘Memento Mori,’ I was thinking about the innocence that is so easily and often stolen from so many kids.  Today, there are 2 million children around the world who are victims of sex slavery.  We named this tour Unite and Fight sometimes we have to fight violence with peace and that takes unity.  We have to fight thieves who steal children and sell them with generosity.  This also takes unity.  It’s our way of bringing a bit of attention to a grave matter.  All of us who are in a safer place have the ability to help lift some of the burden of such a heavy and disgusting injustice.”

You can download the track here and learn more about the World Vision’s work to stop human trafficking and how to help at their website.

source: http://www.globalshift.org/2010/05/flyleaf-allies-with-world-vision-to-stop-human-trafficking/

Natalee Holloway case highlights student safety

Even after five years of enquiry, the mystery behind the disappearance of high school graduate Natalee Holloway refuse to get solved. It was on a senior class trip when the incident happened and had grabbed the headlines for a quite long time, giving inspiration to several books, movies, and heavy media coverage.

The sad fate of her daughter has persuaded Natalee’s mother Beth Holloway to announce the opening of the Natalee Holloway Resource Center, a nonprofit to assist families on missing relatives. The center will be based at the National Museum of Crime & Punishment on Seventh Street NW in Washington DC. The museum features Holloway’s disappearance in its “Cold Case” exhibit.

When the efforts of finding her daughter turned fruitless, Beth Holloway finally decided to start of the non profit oraganisation aimed at preventing as many missing cases, providing the families with support and reducing the setbacks she once experienced. According to a museum statement, the center plans to give family members a plan, contact information, a media liaison and other services. In addition, guidelines for travel safety, including a national network of college volunteers to promote safe travel program to high school and college students are also on the anvil.

source:http://www.headlinerwatch.com/1345/natalee-holloway-case-highlights-student-safety.htm

Campaign to end human trafficking

Mayor Mike Bloomberg launched a campaign last week against human trafficking, with posters and a new website to educate the public about modern-day slavery.
   “This new public education campaign will play a critical role in raising awareness of the impact of this horrible crime, encouraging New Yorkers to report it and most importantly letting victims know that help is available,” Bloomberg said. “Working together, let’s call an end to human trafficking.”

Human trafficking is described as the recruiting, transporting, selling or buying of people for the purpose of various forms of sexual or labor exploitation.
   The city will display posters in the five boroughs on bus shelters through June 13. A new anti-trafficking website can be found at nyc.gov to provide more information.
   Deputy Mayor Carol Robles-Roman said human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world, but that the average person doesn’t know how to recognize this form of servitude.
   Although human trafficking can be difficult to recognize because it is often kept out of sight, some examples are prostitutes, domestic workers, factory workers, landscapers, restaurant workers and those working in nail salons or janitorial jobs. Victims can be American-born or immigrants.
   The city says if you are a victim or want to report criminal activity, call 911. For information or to help, call 311.
   Bill Livermore, executive director of the Somaly Mam Foundation and a member of the city Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, said the practice is a multi-billion-dollar criminal enterprise nationwide, involving men, women and children. “Public education is part of a comprehensive strategy to eradicate human trafficking,” Livermore said.
   His nonprofit group is committed to ending slavery in North America and around the world.
   Karen Siegel, a psychologist, presented a stunning display of statistics on sexual exploitation of women during a forum on sex trafficking sponsored by the Center for the Women of New York at Borough Hall in March. “Labor and sex trafficking are the second largest and fastest growing crime in the world,” Siegel said. “It soon will top drug trafficking.”
   The mayor’s office utilized research available on its website from the Human Trafficking Resource Center, a nonprofit organization in Washington, DC, which operates a 24-hour hotline and disseminates information to the public. The hot-line averages 800 calls a month. “Awareness is increasing and more people are reporting sex trafficking,” said Andrea Austin, a spokeswoman for the group.
   The U.S. Department of State estimates 600,000 to 800,000 victims annually are trafficked across borders worldwide. Many taken to the United States do not speak English and are unable to communicate with people who could help them.
   According to the Human Trafficking Resource Center, traffickers use force, fraud and coercion to control the victims. Force can involve rape, beatings and confinement. Fraud involves false advertising for jobs in other countries that turn out to be prostitution, and coercion involves threats to people or their loved ones, taking their passports and making them become in debt to the traffickers.
   In Queens, Asian women are especially lured here with the promise of a job or a better way of life. Instead, they end up enslaved, owing their traffickers money, without documentation and kept as prostitutes in brothels, illegal massage parlors or on the street.
   Human rights groups in Queens applauded the mayor’s campaign, saying that human trafficking has gone on for too long.
   Susan Jung, founder of River in the Desert Advocacy Center in Flushing, said the initiative is a good beginning. “The public must be made aware of it,” Jung said. “It’s been going on for years, but is just now getting publicized.”
   Her group was organized in 2002 and fights domestic violence as well as human trafficking. Jeng noted that many of the traffickers are the victims’ husbands or mothers. “We call them snake heads in Chinese,” she said, “because they are so awful.”
   Jung wants to build a safe haven for victims in Flushing. “Walking down the street in Flushing, you never know who is affected by human trafficking,” she added.
   Ann Jawin, founder and chairwoman of the Center for the Women of New York, was elated about the mayor’s campaign. “That’s wonderful,” Jawin said. “It comes at a good time.”
   Since February, Jawin’s group has been waging its own battle against sex trafficking by asking Queens newspaper owners to pledge not to accept ads for services that are clearly a front for prostitution.
   So far, only Queens Chronicle Publisher Mark Weidler has signed, earning him a Good Guys award from the CWNY on Saturday. He says the Chronicle does not run such ads and will not in the future.
   Jawin is continuing to reach out to other Queens papers and if they don’t respond positively, she has vowed to get businesses and libraries to stop distributing them.

source:http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=20432189&BRD=2731&PAG=461&dept_id=574902&rfi=8

Will Abercrombie & Fitch Shareholders Do the Right Thing?

Abercrombie & Fitch’s advertising has been raising eyebrows for years. Their glossy spreads in magazines usually feature muscular, tanned men and women playing sports and enjoying the good life, often while wearing a surprisingly small amount of clothes for a clothing advertisement.

But behind the pretty pictures lie many questions about the conditions under which Abercrombie’s clothes are produced. Unlike a large number of major companies, A&F does not have a vendor code of conduct to ensure that its suppliers respect workers and the company does not publicly report on its labor practices globally.  Shareholders at the upcoming A&F shareholder meeting on June 9, 2010 will be requesting that the company implement all of these missing elements.

The vacuum of labor rights protections has led to some specific problems for A&F in the past. For example, in 2002, the company settled a lawsuit with workers in Northern Mariana Islands who claimed to have been exploited by an A&F supplier.

More recently, readers of this blog may remember that A&F is one of the few clothing companies that has refused to speak out against forced child labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry. In Uzbekistan, the government removes thousands of children from their schools every harvest season and forces them to pick cotton to enrich the ruling regime. The egregious abuses of children in the production of Uzbek cotton have led a large number of the biggest global clothing brands to speak out publicly and to commit to eliminating cotton from Uzbekistan in their supply chains until they can be assured that the government ends the forced labor of children.

Local Authorities Deal With Sex Trafficking

SIOUX FALLS, SD – Sex trafficking isn’t just seen by advocates; law enforcement in KELOLAND deal with a handful of cases each year. It’s a problem around the world, and most often involves women and young girls.

“When it happens, and it’s happened in South Dakota, it’s heartbreaking to read the reports,” Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead said. “It’s heartbreaking to learn about the victims in these cases.”

Milstead says people often confuse trafficking with prostitution. Both cases involve sex for money; the difference is trafficking victims work because they’re forced to. Some are a long way from home.

“They’re under threat.  They’re under coercion.  They’re being trafficked as a child or they’re dependent on the person because of the fact that they’re a child,” Milstead said.

But it’s not always involving people from out of state. Milstead says both perpetrators and victims are sometimes people who live in this area.

“Sometimes they’ll be runaways or people with a troubled home.  Sometimes they’re throw-aways, meaning, ‘Go ahead and move out.  I know you’re 15 but go ahead and go,’” Milstead said. “They’re looking for a place to live.  They find someone to provide shelter, food, companionship, and soon they’re used for a business.”

From finding victims to recruiting customers, the internet has helped the problem multiply.

“It’s a challenge for law enforcement,” Milstead said. “That technology spike, and it’s going to continue, makes it very easy for people to prey on victims.”

Milstead’s advice is to let your kids know of the danger and help them be safe online.

Milstead says because sex trafficking often crosses state lines, offenders can be charged with federal crimes.

source:http://www.keloland.com/News/NewsDetail6371.cfm?Id=100565

Stop Child Trafficking Now Launches 35 Walks Worldwide To Fight Child Trafficking

An International movement to bring awareness and raise funds for the global epidemic of child sex trafficking is spreading across the world. On October 2nd and 3rd, 2010 thousands will join together in 35 cities and on four continents in an international walk campaign to bring attention to the issue of child slavery.

Online PR News – 26-May-2010 – NEW YORK, NY — Thirty-five walks around the world are planned for October 2nd and 3rd, 2010 to raise awareness and support the fight against child trafficking. Thousands will take part in Stop Child Trafficking Now Walks located in the United States, as well as Australia, Canada and Europe.

The 2nd Annual SCTNow National Walk Campaign is a volunteer campaign that the US State Department calls ‘historic’. In just two years, SCTNow has grown from a national campaign to an international one and reached thousands with the truth of child trafficking.

“When my husband Ron and I founded this organization, our hope was to see an end to child slavery around the world in our lifetime. The expansion of our walks to 35 cities on 4 continents is a step closer in meeting that goal. We encourage everyone to stand up for the rights of children that are being violated through child sexual slavery by taking part in one of these walks,” said Lynette Lewis, Co-Founder of SCTNow.org (http://www.sctnow.org/).

Child slavery is a growing issue throughout the world. UNICEF estimates that 2.5 million children, the majority of which are girls, are sexually exploited in the multibillion dollar commercial sex industry. According to the US State Department, an effective campaign must also attack the demand for child slavery. In addition to raising awareness, SCTNow is working to bring an end to child trafficking by going after the predators that are fueling the child sex industry.

A special walk is being held in Fayetteville, NC – in honor of 5-year-old Shaniya Davis. Her mother is accused of trafficking her own child in order to settle a drug debt. The five-year-old girl was found dead just off Interstate 87 in a wooded area. She was last seen alive at a motel with a man that is currently charged with kidnapping. Shaniya’s memory is being honored through the Stop Child Trafficking Now Fayetteville, NC Walk.

Everyone is encouraged to take part in the SCTNow International Walk Campaign. A complete list of participating cities can be found by visiting the website at sctnow.org. For more information about starting a walk in your community or volunteering, please email info@sctnow.org. Join SCTNow in the fight to stop child trafficking throughout the world.

About SCTNow:
Stop Child Trafficking Now (SCTNow), is an organization that has chosen to fund a new, bold approach that addresses the demand side of child trafficking. With the support raised through the walks, SCTNow will deploy Special Operative Teams, teams trained to identify and gather evidence against child predators, resulting in prosecutions.

SOURCE:http://www.onlineprnews.com/news/37925-1274900134-stop-child-trafficking-now-launches-35-walks-worldwide-to-fight-child-trafficking.html

Feds Bust Largest Child Porn Ring Ever

Yesterday, U.S. federal agents broke open what is being called the largest and one of the most complex international child pornography rings ever built. Over 1000 people traded over 1 million sexual images of children through a social networking website for pedophiles. It’s a huge victory for the feds and the thousands of children who were being constantly exploited in those images, but it’s also an indication of just how serious the problem of child pornography is.

The ring was centered around a secure, password-protected website, which members had to sign up and pay to access. There, they could access sexual images of children, talk to each other about fantasies and children they had molested, and share tips on how to find child pornography and avoid getting caught by the police. But the website was more complex than just that; it created a hierarchy among its members. Only the top, most trusted members had access to the full collection of images — over one million. The images were organized in a multi-layered file system, so users could search of browse by gender, age, or sex acts depicted.

So far, at least 26 of the members have been arrested, and 16 of the victims have been identified. But investigators certainly have a lot of work ahead of them, to find both the perpetrators and victims of this international operation. The alleged ringleader of this enterprise is Delwin Savigar, who is currently serving a 14-year prison term in the U.K. for sexually assaulting three little girls. But he is only one of many. There were over 1000 members of this website at its peak, and around 500 when it was broken open.

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How to Fight Human Trafficking in a Disaster Zone

When disasters strike, they often bring out the best in people. Neighbors help neighbors, people from far away send money, and everyone comes together to overcome the disaster. But sadly, disasters can bring out the worst as well, in the form of exploitation and human trafficking. That’s one of the reasons the State Department recently held a web chat to discuss how we fight human trafficking in the wake of a natural disaster. Here are some of the highlights.

We’ve known for a long time that an increase in human trafficking often comes in the wake of a natural disaster, but it usually takes a few months to manifest. So incorporating human trafficking prevention into disaster contingency planning may not appear to be as urgent as other, more immediate needs. But planning ahead for human trafficking is the first step in preventing the sort of exploitation that can follow major disasters.

Another key issue is ensuring that all the people working on trafficking in the country agree on what human trafficking means. For example, in Haiti local anti-trafficking efforts before the earthquake were often focused primarily on restaveks and other forms of domestic trafficking. After the quake, new NGOs and individuals brought different assumptions about what trafficking meant, causing a lot of confusion. At the end of the day, human trafficking is about exploitation, not movement across international borders.

Another key to addressing human trafficking in a disaster areas is involving the right people, especially local governments and stakeholder groups. International organizations need the support of local government departments that may deal with trafficked persons, like child protective services, local law enforcement, and the court system. While these institutions may need emergency assistance in the wake of a disaster, it’s important that they remain effective institutions in the long run, to continue to support non-emergency anti-trafficking work. Similarly, local NGOs and other civil society actors are crucial to success, and can help international and foreign organizations work in a culturally-appropriate context.

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The Lipstick Portraits: Two Sides of Beauty

In a brightly lit gallery on the corner of West and Charles Streets in New York City, a small yet extremely powerful photo exhibit on beauty, sexuality, and sex trafficking was on display. In collaboration with the Somaly Mam Foundation, photographer Michael Angelo created a masterpiece: The Lipstick Portraits.  Portraits of women and men, drag queens and transvestites, lined the gallery’s tall white-washed walls. Each photo unique, each with its own story. But they all have one thing in common: their subjects arrayed in bright red lipstick, a universal symbol of feminine beauty, but a growing symbol of the oppression faced by victims of sex trafficking around the world.

The first photograph on the wall was a striking image of Susan Sarandon. In her interview — from a packet available to all visitors — Sarandon describes freedom in these words: “When you exercise those choices,” she says, referring to the choice to ask questions and be seen how you want to be seen, “you exercise tremendous freedom.” These are freedoms that we possess, but children forced into prostitution do not. As Lady Bunny, a glamorous drag queen and the subject of one of Michael Angelo’s engrossing photos, so succinctly put it: “I choose to apply lipstick and the underage girls forced into prostitution don’t.” We are free to wear makeup, dress how we please, and to speak our minds. In the context of this exhibit, we are free to look beautiful.

And that begs the question of what exactly is “beauty”? The notion of “beauty” has a unique meaning for each one of us, and we express it in different ways. Most importantly, we have the freedom to decide what makes us beautiful, and to want to be beautiful, and thus the freedom to be desired.  But this exhibit shows us that being desired is not always good. For young sex workers, it’s horrific; in their world, desirability means exploitation, abuse, and enslavement.

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