Plea change expected in Mo. case of couple accused in sex trafficking of woman’s daughter

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A man and woman accused of training the woman’s daughter to be a dominatrix were expected to change their innocent pleas at a federal court hearing Thursday.

Todd Barkau, of New York, and the girl’s mother pleaded not guilty last year to seven counts apiece. The U.S. attorney’s office in Kansas City says the case is the first in which a parent has been charged with the commercial sex trafficking of his or her own minor child.

Officials say Barkau and the woman — who isn’t being named to protect the identity of the daughter — lived in Blue Springs when Barkau began grooming the 12-year-old girl to become a sexual dominatrix.


Published in: on September 24, 2009 at 8:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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Task force to hold inaugural walk in San Marco

Crystal Freed
Crystal Freed

Goal is to raise awareness of human trafficking

A walk will take place Saturday to draw attention to the acts of human slavery that are still being suffered in the United States and abroad.

Currently, victims of human trafficking include 12.3 million adults and children involved in forced labor and sexual servitude, according to the United Nations International Labor Organization estimates. Children will be the focus of the Northeast Florida Human Trafficking Task Force’s “Stop Child Trafficking Now Walk” Saturday, but the goal is to put a spotlight on the growing business that is human trafficking.

“The task force brings together law enforcement and government agencies with private services, shelters and attorneys,” said Crystal Freed, co-chair of the task force and an attorney with The Freed Group. “It helps bring people with different skill sets together to help victims of human trafficking.”

The walk will start and end in San Marco Square, at San Marco Street and Atlantic Boulevard, with registration beginning at 7:30 a.m. and the walk scheduled to start shortly after at 8:15 a.m. Before the walk kicks off at 8:15 a.m., task force co-Chairs Freed and Lt. Mike Eason of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office will be joined at a press conference by a representative of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Mayor John Peyton’s Chief of Staff Adam Hollingsworth and former Jacksonville Jaguars Joel Smeenge and Todd Fordham.

Other walks are planned by other organizations in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Dallas.

“This problem is global, and the United States is not immune. It is estimated that up to 500,000 of U.S. citizen-children are trafficked,” said Freed. “In October 2008, Marvin Madkins was convicted in Jacksonville under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). It focuses on the 3-Ps — protection of the victim, prevention of the crime and, of course, prosecution of the criminal. Why did it take so long for this crime to be detected? The girls were so-called ‘throw away kids.’”

In March, a jury found Madkins guilty of two counts of sex trafficking of minors and one count of transporting minors across state lines for prostitution.

After the trial, U.S. Attorney Brian Albritton reported, “according to evidence presented at trial, Madkins recruited two minors from the state of Virginia to engage in prostitution in Virginia and Jacksonville, Florida, knowing that force, fraud, or coercion would be used to cause the minors to engage in commercial sex acts. Madkins promised the minors that if they would serve as prostitutes in Virginia for a short period of time, they and he would earn enough money to go to Florida for an extravagant vacation. Madkins also told the minors that, once in Florida, he would obtain cocaine, sell it, and use the proceeds from the drug sales to fund trips to Miami, Atlanta and New York.”

People interested in participating in the walk can register at To make a donation to “Stop Child Trafficking Now” go to:….

Major Forms of Trafficking in Persons

• Forced Labor

• Involuntary Domestic Servitude

• Sex Trafficking

• Child Sex Trafficking

• Bonded Labor

• Forced Child Labor

• Child Soldiers

• Debt Bondage Among Migrant Laborers


Published in: on September 24, 2009 at 7:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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Linda Smith has played a key role in the fight against human-trafficking, child exploitation

The Lower Columbia Community Action Program (CAP) could not have chosen a more appropriate guest speaker than Linda Smith for its “One Person Can Make A Difference” dinner and celebration next Month. The former Southwest Washington state legislator and congresswoman has made a considerable difference in the fight against human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children. The Vancouver-based nonprofit Shared Hope International she founded in 1999 has rescued many thousands of trafficked women and children worldwide.

At the Oct. 24 CAP dinner, Smith will talk about her new book, “Renting Lacy,” and a national report she recently presented to Congress. The report deals with the sexual exploitation of children in the United States, according to Daily News reporter Cheryll A. Borgaard. The bulk of the research, funded by a U.S. Department of Justice grant, was conducted in nine U.S. cities and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory. A private grant to Shared Hope International provided for additional research in Atlanta and Washington, D.C.

Despite a little more than a decade working with victims of human trafficking, Smith says she was “shocked” by what the investigation of sexual exploitation of children in U.S. cities revealed. “What we found is I can go to craigslist or a strip club or an adult shop anywhere and find a minor for sex,” Smith told Borgaard. “There’s no town, I don’t care where; if there’s buyers, there’s sellers. Pornography is driving the sex train for younger and younger girls.”

The study put the number of sexually exploited children in the United States at upwards of 100,000. That estimate, though surprising, is probably credible. The research in this report is extensive and persuasive. That would be typical of the work of Shared Hope International and its founder. The organization has become a leader in the battle against human trafficking worldwide due chiefly to Smith’s fierce dedication, strong work ethic and practiced political skills.

Smith earned a reputation for getting things done during 11 years representing the 18th Legislative District in the state House and four years representing the Third Congressional District in the U.S. House. She also earned a reputation for taking on causes she considered important without regard for party doctrine. Indeed, her support for federal campaign finance reform, which didn’t set well with many of her Republican colleagues, might have played a part in ending her political career. She left the House to run for one of Washington’s Senate seats in 1998, losing to Democrat Patty Murray.

The political defeat only served to redirect Smith’s focus and energies. Within the year, she founded Shared Hope International to help rescue girls as young as 7 from brothels in Mumbai, India. By 2000, the organization was operating six safe houses and a mobile clinic in Mumbai, and three safe houses in Nepal.

Shared Hope International has been particularly effective in combating human trafficking in part because the charity pretty much is the gold standard among nonprofits in this fight. It gets four stars from Charity Navigator’s Guide to Intelligent Giving, which is the Web site’s top rating for charities that outperform most others in their cause.

Smith has done a remarkable job for her chosen cause. She’s one person who is making a big difference in the world.


Published in: on September 23, 2009 at 9:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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Human Trafficking Awareness Week focuses on education

Paster John Battaglia speaks about being abolishers of modern day slavery Sunday at Christian Chapel Church. Battaglia's spoke in honor of Human Trafficking Awareness Week.
There are an estimated 12.3 million people in forced labor, bonded labor, forced child labor and sexual servitude at any given time, according to the U.S. State Department.

The Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition is aiming to raise awareness of human trafficking this week with events ranging from a meeting of Columbia business leaders to a dance marathon.

Human Trafficking Awareness Week is a succession of events geared toward reaching out to MU students and members of Columbia’s community. It started with a park outing Saturday and will end with a discussion of human trafficking Thursday at Carpe Diem.

Paul Schlup, a special investigator for the western Missouri human trafficking task force and CMSHTC member, said the task force has rescued more than 100 victims and handled 65 cases since 2006.

“The biggest thing we need assistance in is for people in the public to call information in,” Schlup said.

Mustard Seed Executive Director Jessica Canfield organized a Fair Trade Bazaar, saying the bazaar helps fight human trafficking by promoting fair trade rather than slave labor in countries affected by trafficking.

“I think the way (fair trade) aids human trafficking awareness is that if you give people a way to survive, they can avoid slavery,” Global Market Manager Ava Swofford said. “If they had a way to make a living, they wouldn’t have to sell their sons into slavery.”

Global Market is a fair trade store in the United Methodist Church.

The bazaar was a collaboration between Mustard Seed, First Christian Church and the United Methodist Church. The Fair Trade Store at First Christian Church contributed Mexican jewelry to the bazaar, and United Methodist Church’s Global Market featured crafts from Guatemala, Kenya and Peru.

“I really wanted to make the fair trade movement in Columbia something cooperative,” Canfield said.

The bazaar featured handcrafted products from countries heavily affected by human trafficking, including those made by sex trafficking survivors from India.

Recreate: Making Art at Douglass Park, another event Saturday, was designed to make children more aware of their own freedom, Rainbow House Shelter Director Kristi Turner said.

The event was a joint effort between Karis Community Church and Rainbow House, an emergency center in Columbia, Karis Church worship intern Bobby Schembre said.

The children participated in games and informational art projects, such as making bracelets in orange — the color of freedom — Turner said.

“Interns talked to kids a little bit about what human trafficking was and really emphasized freedom, and made it clear that they are free, while others are not,” she said.

To grab the attention of MU students, Stop Traffic Now arranged a Dance Marathon.

“We’re trying to do a lot more creative things to bring people in,” Stop Traffic Now Co-chairwoman Brittany Heenan. “We want people interested in coming out to events.”

The marathon took place from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday in the Underground Cafe. The event was held to raise awareness about human trafficking and also to recruit students for Stop Traffic Now, Heenan said.

Pop Fiction, a local band, started the night with a set including an original song about human trafficking, she said.

“It’s supposed to be a good time for a good cause,” junior Monica Chavez said.

Chavez performed at the marathon with the Hispanic American Leadership Organization’s dance team.

On Sunday, two events geared toward trafficking awareness were held at the Christian Chapel Church. Pastor John Battaglia is a member of Not For Sale, another anti-trafficking organization, church member Paul Meiners said.

There was a visiting musician who worked with Not For Sale and the pastor’s service Saturday morning included a sermon on human trafficking awareness, Meiners said.

“I think our church realizes the great need there is out there relative to human slavery,” he said. “Our church and our leadership has a passion to do what we can to bring awareness and to be a part of bringing an end to human trafficking.”

After the service, visitors could go to the Freedom Lounge next door to learn more information from representatives of the CMSHTC, Mustard Seed Fair Trade and Not For Sale.

“I learned how much of a problem it was,” said Jordan St. Omer, who attended the event.

Church member Willie Jones said he would become more involved with anti-trafficking efforts after attending the event.

“I just learned a lot more about how people are helpless to help themselves,” Jones said. “Our pastor has made it a really big effort of his. We support it 100 percent.”

In the evening, there was a meeting of the Underground Church Network, a collection of churches advocating modern-day abolition, according to Not For Sale’s Web site.

Missouri law enforcement is involved with human trafficking through its Human Trafficking Task Force, a coalition of officers from the FBI, Columbia Police Department, Missouri State Highway Patrol and other agencies.

The task force’s job is to determine the correctness of information about a human trafficking case and then perform a rescue and investigation, said Schlup, who founded the task force.

Stop Traffic Now is also hosting a movie night Wednesday in Memorial Union. They will show the documentary “Born into Brothels,” Heenan said.

“It’s basically a relaxing way for students to hear about (human trafficking) and talk about it,” she said.

Other events this week include discussions of human trafficking and a meeting between business leaders in downtown Columbia.

CMSHTC board member Elizabeth D’Agostino said the meeting would hopefully jumpstart a program called the Slave-Free Stores Campaign. The campaign, she said, would set goals for all the businesses including not having slaves working for them and not selling any products made by slaves.

“We want to hone the project into something the businesses will want to put their name on,” D’Agostino said.

On Thursday, CMSHTC will sponsor a presentation by Barbara Bogomolov, leader of the Refugee Health and Interpretive Services at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, according to CMSHTC’s Web site. The presentation is called “Working with Victims of Violence in Immigrant Communities — Linguistic and Cultural Issues,” the Web site stated. Carpe Diem, a meeting place in downtown Columbia, will host a discussion of human trafficking Thursday, as well.


Published in: on September 23, 2009 at 9:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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Smile, You’re on Hidden Camera

The ACORN videos and the future of investigative journalism

No one wants to see Sean Hannity or Michael Moore pursuing truth in crushed-velour ass pants, but thanks to the efforts of investigative pranksters James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles, such spectacles may be in the offing. Posing as the world’s least discreet international sex traffickers, the enterprising duo visited ACORN offices around the country and explained that they were interested in purchasing a house for themselves and some underage hookers from El Salvador. In at least five instances, ACORN employees responded in shockingly helpful fashion, offering advice on how to hide earnings on tax returns, claim their adolescent harem as dependents, and write off condoms as business expenses.

While it’s one thing to commit voter registration fraud, embezzle a million bucks, and commingle funds of legally separate affiliates, it’s another thing entirely to jeopardize the welfare of a dozen imaginary teen sex slaves. O’Keefe and Giles posted their first video on on September 10th, and within days, the Census Bureau cancelled a contract it had awarded ACORN to help out with the 2010 census, the House of Representatives had voted to cut off all funding to the organization, the 
Senate had voted to cut off funding as well, and ACORN itself had decided to stop taking new walk-in clients until it could review its operations. It’s hard out there for a community organizer!

For fake pimps and hos, however, the future looks as bright as Lil Wayne’s diamond-encrusted choppers. While news media outlets have been conducting hidden-camera stings since at least 1976, when 60 Minutes set up a fake health clinic in Chicago to lure medical lab personnel who’d be paying kickbacks to doctors for sending them patients who needed blood and urine tests, O’Keefe and Giles have shown what can happen when you go beyond the template established by Mike Wallace and company and also incorporate the tactics of original prankster Alan Funt, who, in 1947, pioneered the genre of surreptitiously documenting the targets of his practical jokes.

In the traditional approach to hidden-camera journalism, reporters attempt to obtain visual documentation of events that they know or strongly suspect are already occurring. For example, a TV news team gets a tip from an insider that local Jiffy Lubes are charging customers for services they don’t perform, then rigs a car with cameras to capture such deceptions on tape. With hidden-camera entertainment, however, producers simply invent unlikely scenarios designed to provoke dramatic responses, then turn the cameras on and wait for the fun to erupt.

This is what Giles and O’Keefe did. Indeed, while ACORN and its employees have been charged with numerous transgressions, attempting to turn fancy men and their frails into taxpayers on a path towards home ownership was not one of them. Instead, that idea sprung from the minds of the young filmmakers. “One day I was jogging after work and I saw an ACORN, and I was like, hmm, you know, I’ve never seen them before, I don’t like them,” Giles explained to Fox News’ Glenn Beck. “And I came up with the idea: What if a prostitute walked into ACORN, had no legal paperwork at all, and wanted a house to set up her business?” Echoing Giles at, O’Keefe explained how the duo upped the ante “by posing the most ridiculous criminal scenario [they] could think of.” Thus, Grandma’s fur coat, the funkadelic sunglasses, and the imaginary tween sex slaves.

The ACORN employees depicted in the videos took the bait, and voila, we now have a new template for 21st century news-gathering. O’Keefe and Giles produced a story that prompted government action, had every major news organization in the country playing catch-up, and may lead to the downfall of a nationwide organization that has been a political force for decades, all for a reported total cost of only $1300. At a time when newspapers can barely afford enough ink to give us our daily crossword puzzle fix, that may be a little steep for most dailies to invest in a single story–but for better funded operations and individuals like The O’Reilly Factor, Rush Limbaugh, The Daily Show, and any blogger who has a day job, there’s no longer room for excuses–why aren’t they out there breaking stories of similar magnitude?

Certainly there are countless organizations and programs worth investigating. Indeed, if after snaring only $53 million from the federal government since 1994, ACORN was somehow in line to get $8.5 trillion in stimulus money, as Sean Hannity recently insisted, then the Laura Bush Library Program, which has received more than $73 million in the last three years, must be eligible for $8.5 trillion-gazillion. Spend a few minutes perusing the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, and you can find hundreds of expensive government programs that attract little scrutiny. In May, the Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards compiled a sampling of them: Healthy marriage promotion gets $150 million a year. Community abstinence education gets $117 million. The Seniors Farmers Market program gets $22 million. Who exactly is getting all this money and what are they doing with it?

One imagines the rabbi in Washington, DC who’s been collecting nearly $500,000 a year from the federal government to promote marriage, even though he sometimes merely ends up telling Woody Allen jokes to empty rooms, is less inclined to help steer fake pimps and hos toward the path of home ownership. And the Illinois library that’s getting $420,000 to teach employees how to use Facebook, instant messaging, and Second Life may have little interest in giving tax advice to sex traffickers. But don’t you want to know for sure?

After all, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from 60 years of hidden-camera entertainment, it’s that corruption lurks everywhere. Parents who are willing to sign up their kids for a Lord of the Flies-style reality series, complete with rabid boars and countless other dangers? Yes, they exist. People who are willing to endorse a hamburger grill that just blew up in someone’s face, as long as they get $20 for doing so? They’re out there.

Of course, many states, including two in which O’Keefe and Giles taped their exchanges with ACORN employees, have laws against surreptiously recording in-person conversations in settings where there’s a reasonable expectation of privacy. News organizations, suspicious spouses, and voyeurs regularly break such laws, however, and in the wake of the ACORN tapes, no one seems too concerned about the privacy implications of the case. Perhaps as investigative pranking becomes more and more common, some pushback will occur as people decide their right to speak freely in private is more important than protecting make-believe sex slaves. Until then, every subsidized farmer who hires illegal aliens with government hand-outs and crisis pregnancy center staffer who gets underwritten by the Department of Health and Human Services to tell teen girls that abortion causes breast cancer should be on notice. That chatty pimp who keeps showing up at your place of business asking for advice on how to smuggle underage hookers into the country just may be Ashton Kutcher on the hunt for a Pulitzer.


Published in: on September 23, 2009 at 9:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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Canadian authorities fighting ‘global phenomenon’ of human trafficking

A young woman with Odenadi Seva Trust, an Indian group that rescues exploited women and girls, pastes an information sticker on the back of a motorcycle cab.
Human trafficking has only been in the Criminal Code since 2005, but experts say the crime has been in Canada for far longer.

This month, it surfaced again.

Police in Edmonton say they rescued three women who were being forced to eat, sleep and perform sex acts for money in the same room at a city spa. The incident prompted the first charges of human trafficking laid in Western Canada since the offence was added to the Criminal Code.

Law-enforcement agencies and government departments were in Calgary this weekend for a two-day workshop on how to identify and investigate human trafficking.

“Human trafficking is a global phenomenon and we’re no different,” Garry Drummond of the RCMP’s human-trafficking unit in Calgary said during conference, which was being held Friday and Saturday.

“If we have the ingredients for a crime, then we’ll have that crime.”

The ingredient – people – is subject to both supply and demand in Canada, as the recent investigation in Edmonton demonstrated.

Police allege a spa in west Edmonton was being used as a bawdy house where women were being forced or coerced into performing sex acts for money.

Two people have been charged with human trafficking. It’s alleged that three women, ranging in age from 21 to 41, were expected to perform sexual acts 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

A report by the U. S. State Department earlier this year identified Canada as a source, transit point and destination for men, women and children trafficked for the sex trade and forced labour.

Some of the Edmonton investigators involved in the bust earlier this month are in Calgary for the workshop.

“They said they wished they had (the training) three weeks earlier. It’s a complex crime and it’s designed by criminals to make it hard to prove,” Drummond said.

While human trafficking is often thought of as a crime that involves smuggling people across borders, that’s not always the case.

Police, as well as agencies that work with sexually abused clients, have found that it’s common for women in the sex trade to be forcibly moved between Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.

“It’s been a reality in the sex trade for a long, long time,” said Danielle Aubry, of Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse.

In Calgary, police convicted a man and woman of prostitution-related offences for using massage parlours as fronts for prostitution in 2003.

During the investigation that led to the convictions, the woman who ran the sex ring, Noi Saengchanh, offered to smuggle women into Canada from Asia on behalf of undercover officers who posed as potential business partners.

Police arrested Saengchanh and several accomplices before the plan was ever put in motion.

Saengchanh claimed she paid smugglers $35,000 to enter Canada illegally and worked as a prostitute for three months to repay the sum. She was deported to Thailand in 2005.


Published in: on September 23, 2009 at 9:08 am  Leave a Comment  
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Activist Somaly Mam stills ballroom with stories of human trafficking

Activist and author Somaly Mam signs a copy of her book for a student at UCF on Monday night.
In a room of nearly 200 chairs, there was not an empty seat. There were people standing, watching, all along the walls, trailing out the doors and into the halls, all gathered to hear the story of one woman.

In the UCF Student Union Cape Florida Ballroom Monday night, Somaly Mam, author of “The Road of Lost Innocence,” spoke to this crowd about her fight to end human trafficking in her country, Cambodia.

Like Mam, many Cambodian women and girls are sold as sex slaves to brothels because of the severe poverty in the country. When families need money they give up their girls, many still pre-pubescent, and some as young as 4 or 5 years old. She said these girls grow up without a sense of love or family.

“I don’t know my name, I don’t know my parents, I don’t know my age,” said Mam, who sat in a black office chair. Because of the sensitive nature of the subject discussed, rather than give Mam a podium to stand on, the room was set up for a quiet, intimate, studio-type conversation.

In Cambodia, Mam always dreamed of being part of a family, and thought she had found one when a man offered to be her grandfather when she was a young teen. Instead of love he physically and sexually abused her, and soon sold her to a brothel. Mam spoke about the dangers of living in the brothel and how difficult it was to escape. Some girls who tried to leave, including one of her friends, were murdered.

Girls who are raped in the brothels are rejected by their families and are made to believe that they caused the abuser to attack. Mam said that girls could not understand why anyone would leave the brothel.

“They ask why escape from the brothel? Who would love you, who would give you life? People don’t understand,” said Mam.

Mam was a rare case. After escaping the brothel, she helped found the Agir Pour les Femmes en Situation Précaire (AFESIP), which translated in English means “Acting for Women in Distressing Circumstances.” AFESIP is dedicated to stopping sex trafficking by setting up rehabilitation and reintegration centers in Cambodia. She later teamed with American human rights activists to establish the Somaly Mam Foundation, a charity that also works to combat trafficking.

Human trafficking is an acute problem worldwide. According to the U.S. State Department’s 2009 “Trafficking in Persons Report,” 1.39 million children and adults are victims of commercial sexual servitude, with 56 percent of these victims being women and girls. While trafficking occurs all over the world, it is a particularly bad problem in Southeast Asia, according to the report, especially in countries such as Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Bill Livermore, executive director of Somaly Mam Foundation, said it’s difficult fighting trafficking in a country like Cambodia because the citizens don’t see why the women should be helped.

“The biggest challenge is that we don’t empower women. Women are treated like a legal minority,” said Livermore. “If we can champion that, if we can move that benchmark up, it will have a dramatic impact on trafficking.”

Livermore said that the foundation has had significant help in raising money in areas of the U.S. where sex trafficking has become an issue.

“The most critical thing is to raise awareness about the issue,” said Livermore. “Governments will not change unless they are embarrassed into changing. If none of you gave us a penny but you committed to telling five of your friends [about what’s happening] that would make us even happier.”

Stephanie Nicholas, freshman and political science major, learned about human trafficking after reading Mam’s book. When she discovered Mam was coming to UCF to speak she said she had to go, and she even brought two friends along. After obtaining her law degree, Nicholas wants to do pro bono work with victims of trafficking.

“I want to hear her story, from her point of view,” said Nicholas, inspired by Mam’s experiences. “No matter where you come from and no matter what people do to you, you can still make something of your life.”


Published in: on September 23, 2009 at 7:06 am  Leave a Comment  
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More Children Held in Detention Centers

border crossing
The detention of immigrant children for federal investigation has led to confusion among consulates and human rights groups claiming that hundreds of children could be detained for months before reuniting with their families, reports La Opinión.

A new law designed to combat labor and sex trafficking, the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, H.R. 7311, requires that the case of every unaccompanied minor detained along the border be investigated before the child is repatriated. The law calls on investigators to research the reason for their entry into the country and the immigrant status of their parents.

But critics say its implementation could do more harm than good. In the past, when the Border Patrol detained a minor, they notified the consulate, which then located the minor’s family and reunited them. Now, the minor is delivered to the Department of Health and Human Services’ office and stays in a Division of Unaccompanied Children’s Services (DUCS) shelter until his or her parents are located. Federico Bass Villarreal, spokesperson for the Mexican Consulate in San Bernardino, said minors would no longer be handed over to consulates until their family was located. A process that used to take hours, he said, could now take months. According to the Department of Homeland Security, about 10 percent of the immigrants arrested crossing the border are minors.


Published in: on September 22, 2009 at 8:47 am  Comments (1)  
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Slavery’s New Face: Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls

Slavery is a harsh reality for millions of people the world over who find themselves trapped in an exploitative and abusive system, bought and sold like objects, and treated with no dignity or human decency.

How extensive is slavery’s reach? Human rights groups estimate that anywhere between 12.3 million and 27 million people are enslaved in forced or bonded labor, child labor, sexual servitude, and involuntary servitude at any given time.

Slavery exists in a variety of permutations, but all forms of slavery share some common characteristics: slaves are forced to work; are owned or controlled by an “employer”; are dehumanized and treated as commodities; and are physically constrained and unable to move.

One type of slavery and exploitation that continues to proliferate at an alarming rate—and that has a particular relevance to women and girls—is sex trafficking/slavery.

In 2007, Soroptimist launched a project to create awareness about this heinous practice with a special event on Sunday December 2, 2007, the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. In the United States, the program launched on Friday, January 11, 2008, the first National Day of Human Trafficking Awareness. On both days, club members placed sex slavery awareness cards in visible locations throughout their communities—police stations, women’s centers, hospitals, etc.

If you suspect an incident of trafficking in the United States, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s 24-hour toll-free hotline number at 888-3737-888. Callers can receive a number of services including crisis intervention, urgent and non-urgent referrals, tip reporting and comprehensive anti-trafficking resources. Visit Soroptimist’s Sex Trafficking FAQ and Stop Sex Trafficking sections for more information and to get involved in the fight against the sexual slavery of women and girls.


Human Sex Trafficking Happens in Rhode Island

Held in bondage against their own will. Trapped in a foreign country and forced to perform sexual acts for another person’s benefit. Modern day slavery? In Rhode Island, it’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and what happens behind closed doors, stays behind closed door.

Human trafficking, and it’s happening right here in Rhode Island.

Nearly 300 protesters gathered outside the State House Tuesday to ask legislators to strengthen laws cracking down on human trafficking. Rhode Island remains the only state that allows prostitution, as long as it happens indoors.

But what happens when vulnerable individuals are forced into the system? Many Rhode Islanders are saying this is one unique trait we shouldn’t be proud of.


Published in: on September 22, 2009 at 6:51 am  Leave a Comment