Letters PASS or fail

Tracy Ryan’s stats [“Red light,” 2/10] from the Hawaii Ant-Trafficking Task Force are wrong because the task force’s findings were wrong. In 2008, there were 300 children in Honolulu (just Honolulu) at high risk for sex trafficking.

Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery (PASS) itself has more than 13 survivor clients from 2009, two of whom are minors.

When the 2009 stats from the Honolulu Police Department come out you will see at least 100 foreign victims (labor and sex). I hope you do a follow up. Ryan has been allowed to misinform the public for too long and you are the only paper now allowing her to continue.

Kathryn Xian

source: http://honoluluweekly.com/letters/2010/02/pass-or-fail/


Officials: Curb Prostitution Locally, Internationally

Sacramento County No. 2 In Nation For Sex Trafficking

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. —Sacramento County finds itself near the very top of a very dubious list: it’s No. 2 in the nation when it comes to sex trafficking.Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, met with the Mexican ambassador to the United States and the Truckee police chief to talk about prostitution involving children during a forum at Rancho Cordova City Hall Wednesday. Dave Meadows, Senior Special Agent of Immigration and Customs Enforcement from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness were also in attendance.They reported that human trafficking is one of the top organized crime moneymakers on the Mexican border.Local law officers believe that people in the area are unaware of the problem.”But when we hear that it’s in our back yard, it’s kind of paralyzing and we don’t want to believe it.” Child victim’s advocate Jenny Williamson said. “But it’s very, very real and Sacramento has a huge problem,”Lungren indicated Wednesday that he wants to establish something like an international Megan’s Law, so that sex offenders can be tracked to other countries in case they are following children with the intent of prostitution.Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan said during the forum that flight attendants in Mexico are being trained to spot potential victims who are traveling alone so that they can be rescued once the plane lands.The Megan’s Law Web site lists the names of registered sex offenders in the state.

source: http://www.kcra.com/news/22593008/detail.html

Sex Trafficking: Local Woman Shares Story

Human Trafficking Bill Debated In Annapolis

It’s not uncommon to see prostitutes working in some Baltimore neighborhoods. But what you don’t see is the person using threats of violence or worse, to keep that woman out on the streets.

Human trafficking is not a felony in Maryland, unless the person being forced to have sex is a minor. Now there’s a new push in Annapolis to strengthen the state’s laws against people who force women to sell sex.

We spoke with a woman who wanted to make it clear that the real victims of human trafficking, are the prostitutes themselves. Angela Jackson worked as a prostitute in Baltimore City for more than a decade.

‘My dad started touching me when I was five,’ she said. ‘And you know, back then they taught you whatever happened in the house stayed in the house.’

She ran away from home at the age of 15. By 20, she was HIV positive, and addicted to heroin. That’s when she started selling her body on the streets of Baltimore. ‘I got into a relationship where the guy, I thought he loved me,’ she said. ‘He only loved me enough for what I could produce and that was more drugs. Which meant that he would put me out there and I didn’t want to be out there.’

But she kept going out there. Very often she says, there were as many as 30 ‘tricks’ a day, for years. ‘Whoever he suggested, I went with. And if I didn’t want to go with them, then I had to do it or suffer the consequences,’ she said.

The so-called boyfriend never suffered any consequences in state courts. If he had been charged with trafficking, which he wasn’t, it would have been a misdemeanor. Bills being debated in Annapolis could change that — advocates for women who work the streets say even they don’t know how big the problem is. ‘By nature of the crime a person might be hidden inside a home in domestic servitude. Or in a brothel having no idea where they can turn to to escape a situation,’ said Karen Stauss of the Polaris Project, which advocates for victims of human trafficking.

Angela Jackson is now married, living with her husband and two daughters in West Baltimore. She’s been off drugs for almost 13 years, and she’s controlling her HIV with medication. She isn’t sure that what’s going on in Annapolis will help with what’s going on on the streets of Baltimore — but at least she says, it’s a start. ‘Are they actually going to fight for us? You know what I mean? Who’s going to actually stand up and fight for us if they already figure it’s a losing battle. (They say) this is a prostitute she’s got a charge record, prostitution up the ying-yang. They don’t understand they don’t understand,’ she said.

Jackson had an older daughter, who was the victim of a murder in Baltimore back in 2008. She says she has always been open with her children about her past — she’s hoping they’ll avoid falling into the lifestyle she did.

Related Links

source: http://www.abc2news.com/news/local/story/Sex-Trafficking-Local-Woman-Shares-Story/vD-tAIayrk-tGN5lP9NoYw.cspx

The Results are In: Sex Trafficking at the Superbowl

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the incredible outreach efforts which took place in Miami to find child trafficking victims who were brought in and sold for sex during the Superbowl. This week, I checked in with Brad Dennis, Director of Search Operations for the KlaasKids Foundation, to see what the outreach team he was leading found. And the results are in! So far, their efforts have led to at least one arrest of a Hawaiian man who was importing kids to be sold in prostitution during the Superbowl. But more importantly, they may have prevented more children from being recruited by pimps.

The over 160 outreach workers who participated in the effort came away with little doubt that children were being sold for sex during the Superbowl. Throughout the four days of outreach, 23 direct contacts were made with potential commercial sexual exploitation victims. Local law enforcement personnel commented about the increase in numbers of potential victims, more than would usually be found in Miami at that time. There was also a significant increase in online advertisements such as Backpage.com and Craigslist.org. With all signs pointing to sex trafficking of children, the outreach team were able to find and pass on nine leads on potential child trafficking situations to law enforcement, for follow-up after the big game.

The greatest successes of the outreach, however, were the direct interventions and increased awareness of the issue. Six missing children were recovered during the outreach sweeps. Workers also directly intervened in four potentially dangerous situations, removing five girls from potential recruitment or exploitation by pimps. The other success story was the increase in awareness of child sex trafficking for local groups, law enforcement, faith-based organizations and through the media. If Miami during the Superbowl seemed like fruitful hunting ground for pimps looking to sell children into prostitution, they soon found out they were very wrong.


Breakdown Of Rule Of Law Puts Haiti’s Vulnerable Children At Increased Risk For Human Trafficking

International NGO raises concern about security of tens of thousands of orphaned children

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As chaos continues to build in the wake of the January 12 earthquake in Haiti, global concern for the welfare of the country’s children – particularly those who have lost parents in this catastrophe – also grows. Aid groups now report that tens of thousands of children have been orphaned by the quake.

Even before Haiti’s magnitude-7.0 earthquake, the country – one of the world’s poorest – struggled to provide for and protect its children. According to the United Nations’ Children’s Fund, 380,000 children were living in group homes or orphanages. This group, and countless other children living in desperate poverty across the country, is particularly vulnerable to the global crime of human trafficking.

“Natural disasters increase individual vulnerability and break down rule of law, key factors exploited by human traffickers,” explains Gary Haugen, president and CEO of International Justice Mission (IJM), a human rights agency that brings immediate relief to victims of human trafficking, modern-day slavery and other forms of violent oppression. “Unfortunately in such situations, children are the most vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. I’ve seen this in my work around the world with IJM. The situation in Haiti is ripe for a tragic acceleration in the trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable children, and the world must stand vigilant against it,” Haugen said.

Rule of law – security and stability – must be the order of the day.

Haugen sees the crucial need for nearby countries, including the United States, to support a temporary civilian police force to control looting, trafficking, rape, and the abduction of vulnerable Haitian children. Serious attention should be paid to temporary shelters where orphaned children are gathered to prevent encroachment by traffickers, pimps, and abusers; while immediate efforts must be made to secure Haiti’s borders so that traffickers are not permitted to abduct children from the country. Haugen says, “Rule of law – security and stability – must be the order of the day.”

Already a quarter-million Haitian children are reported trafficked within the country each year – sold into sexual exploitation or domestic servitude. Even before this natural disaster, Haiti’s justice system lacked the capacity to provide meaningful protection from traffickers for vulnerable children; the U.S. State Department’s 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report pointed to the nation’s “limited resources, an untrained and poorly equipped police force, entrenched government corruption, and perennially weak government institutions” as woefully ineffective in combating trafficking in the nation.

Global Trafficking Epidemic

Human trafficking – according to the U.S. State Department, the second-largest and fastest-growing criminal industry in the world – thrives in a breakdown of government and law enforcement. While the critical situation in Haiti is a sobering reminder of the centrality of effective rule of law for protecting the most vulnerable from violent abuse, according to the U.N.’s Commission on Global Empowerment of the poor, four billion people today – 60% of the world’s population – are excluded from the protection of rule of law around the globe.

“At IJM, we believe the best way to protect the world’s poor and vulnerable from acts of human trafficking and violent oppression is functioning public justice systems – dependable law enforcement and working courts. The global community must commit not only to bringing relief and rescue to Haitians in the immediate aftermath of this terrible tragedy, but to standing with this nation long-term, as it rebuilds – and in many ways, creates anew – a justice system that will function to protect its children from human trafficking and other forms of violence,” said Holly Burkhalter, IJM’s Vice President of Government Relations.

The knowledge gained through more than a decade of individual casework performed on the frontlines of the battle against human trafficking informs our work and methodology; at IJM, we aim to apply and share that knowledge with policy makers and shapers, NGOs and faith-based organizations working on the ground in areas of great need and potential dangers – like Haiti and around the globe.


Six Trafficking Victims Rescued In Philippines Operation

MANILA, THE PHILIPPINES – It was a busy Saturday night when officers from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and investigators from IJM Manila entered a bustling village in Laoag City, population center about 480 kilometers north of IJM’s Manila field office. The team made their way up and down the bar-lined streets, the hour nearing midnight as they arrived at their final destination – a disco bar, serving as a front for prostitution.

IJM had begun its investigation on the case just days before, after receiving a desperate plea for help from a couple on behalf of their teenage daughter. Their daughter had been lured to Laoag City with an offer of work in a canteen, but she was instead entrapped by traffickers at the bar. The family was familiar to IJM staff – their daughter had already been served by IJM’s Manila team. Having witnessed firsthand IJM Manila’s dedication to their clients, her parents once again trusted the staff to bring their daughter to safety.

Arriving at the bar, the IJM team and local authorities prepared to bring rescue to this girl, and several other trafficking victims they expected to find with her. The signal was given, the operation moved forward – and on December 12, 2009, six trafficking victims were rescued from the bar, while three bar employees were placed under arrest for their roles in the crimes.

It was very clear to me that we needed to get to where this young girl was and do everything within our power to rescue her.
— Carmela Andal-Castro
IJM Manila Director

“We lost no time in mobilizing our team,” explained IJM Manila Director Mia Andal-Castro. “I knew that the [bar’s location] was way beyond our target area. However, it was very clear to me that we needed to get to where this young girl was and do everything within our power to rescue her. Having been a client of ours in our sexual abuse program, it was heartbreaking to know that she had fallen prey to the deceitful means of traffickers in her community.”

The State Prosecutor will now press formal charges against those arrested for violations of anti-trafficking laws and the prostitution of minors. IJM lawyers will embark on the challenging road of processing the case and assisting with the prosecution of the accused perpetrators despite their physical distance from the crime scene.

The girl for whom the operation was conducted has been reunited with her parents and is undergoing counseling at an aftercare home with the help of her IJM social worker. The other rescued minors remain in Laoag in the safety and care of an aftercare home in that area.

source: http://www.ijm.org/newsfromthefield/sixtraffickingvictimsrescuedinphilippinesoperation

Price is Wrong: Guess the rate for sex with a child, win a Foreman grill

How much for that child in the back room? UTSA students play along.

What’s the going rate for a Egyptian prostitute? How much do families in India earn from selling their daughters into brothels? How much do sex tourists people pay to sleep with children slaves in Thailand?

Know the right answer and you could win a digital camera or George Foreman grill.

Tacky? Absolutely. But the game-show shtick can also apparently boost participation at anti-human-trafficking events 200 percent. (Listen in, by clicking ‘play’ below.)

The Denman Room of UTSA’s University Center on Tuesday night is nearly full; the audience is enthusiastically engaged, equally willing to wager on the price for illicit sex as for a board game.

Is this kind of attendance usual for an InterVarsity event?

“That’s not regular for hardly anything you do at UTSA,” says Ana Graves, InterVarsity’s campus minister.

The first year Graves tried to bring the grim reality of sex trafficking to UTSA students she could only draw 40 students from the 29,000 attending the school’s two campuses. Then she stumbled on the game-show formula, a student crafted the script, and they’ve witnessed a dramatic response.

Year two brought in 200 students. This year was just shy of that, at about 180.

Graves partnered with other campus groups and used various forms of outreach to promote the event and its message.

The also screened a video produced by International Justice Mission about trafficking to several audiences, Graves said. “We actually probably educated more people than came last night,” she said the following morning.

“Any way we can get education out, we want to get it out,” she said. “And more came than if you just say, ‘We’re going to talk about human trafficking!’”

But there is a fine line between education and the continued dehumanization of others through humor. After another of Baptist Student Ministries’ Emmanuel Roldan’s calls for estimates about the price of a human life in yet another distant nation, one attendee hollers out not a monetary figure but “a banana.”

And yet, just as things begin to slip into a deeper state of silliness, two investigators from the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office crash the party to explain the horrors of trafficking as they exist here in San Antonio.

“When you talk to a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old and they’re telling you what animals out there did to them for money. I can’t explain it to you. But I’m going to give you a hint,” said Bexar County Sgt. Jerry Garza (left), squared off with the room.

Imagine yourself are a child in a tiny room, he tells the group, a you’re listening to man outside a curtain talking about you and talking about money.

On the other side, you hear “somebody screaming and crying for help, saying, ‘Please don’t do that to me! Why are you doing this to me?!” he continues.

“On the nightstand is a tube of KY, a box of condoms, a timer, and a little box of paper towels. And as you’re sit there listening to what’s happening behind you, that curtain opens up. And that animal walks in there with you. And for 20 minutes you belong to him. He will do anything and everything to you he wants, because he paid for you,” he says.

“If that doesn’t get to your head, think about your siblings. Think about your little brother or little sister, who the day before was riding their bicycle in front of your house. Now they’re in that room and for 20 minutes they belong to someone else.”

Smiles across the room retract.

“For you, 20 minutes is a walk downstairs to get something to eat and go to class,” he says. “For those kids it’s a lifetime. The 20-minute timer stops and the next hand comes through the curtain and it starts all over again.”

“Now imagine that 12-year-old tell you to your face. And knowing that there are thousands, thousands more out there, and you only have one. That’s 20 minutes.”

Garza and Investigator Renee Ochoa are the only two law enforcement officers dedicated strictly to sex trafficking in South Texas. And while the two get calls from across the region, the need in San Antonio alone is beyond their capacity to handle.

For her part, Graves said she will continue to advocate on behalf of the victims of trafficking.

“We’re about empowering the future leaders of our world. That’s what college students are. So, if we can get people to know about this, they’re gonna start fighting it,” she said.

So expect uncomfortable gimmicks to continue, and through them, hopefully, a mobilized anti-slavery movement.

And, yes, guess the price right and you could be competing for the change to win a George Foreman Grill, a digital camera, or an Apples to Apples board game.

InterVarsity encourages people to become “modern-day abolitionists” by networking with Embassy of Hope Center in San Antonio, the Not For Sale campaign, and Free the Slaves.

source: http://www.sacurrent.com/blog/queblog.asp?perm=70157

Published in: on February 12, 2010 at 8:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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California Senate to Traffickers: Get Out of Our Supply Chain

The lack of watchdogging product supply chains for human trafficking has long been a bane to anti-traffickers. Even if the shirt you just bought wasn’t sewn in a sweatshop, slaves still could have picked the cotton that it was made from. (Why does that sound so familiar, U.S. History? Will we never learn?) With no one regulating the supply chain, it’s virtually impossible to ensure any item is completely slave-free.

Most people are content to let businesses regulate themselves, i.e. they turn a blind eye. The particularly ardent shopper might go so far as to buy only from small, relationship-based companies who oversee their product from conception to retail. But, let’s face it, big business isn’t known for its ethics and I seriously doubt you and I can completely avoid big business. That’s why it’s called “big.” It’s everywhere.

As of January 29th, California has officially had enough. Big business beware. Traffickers, take note. The State Senate passed SB 657. Among other things, the bill requires any retailer or manufacturer operating in the state to comply with federal and state laws regarding trafficking and to seek the eradication of slavery from its supply chain. Companies have to come up with policies reflecting this compliance, actually carry out the policies, and make them available to consumers upon request.

According to the Senate’s bill analysis, the policy companies enact has to require the company and all its suppliers to follow anti-trafficking laws in their respective countries and if they encounter slavery in the supply chain, they will “seek eradication rather than ceasing business in that area.”

The eradication bit is key because it means that businesses that want to operate in California actually have to do something about slavery when they find it. They can’t just sweep it under the rug and run. And this is what will make all the difference. Once other countries realize the deep pockets of the U.S. are no longer open to slave labor, they’ll have to change problems in their operations or become obsolete.

The bill, sponsored by Senate Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, was co-sponsored by CAST and the Alliance to Stop Slavery and End Trafficking, both of whom contributed information that made the bill possible. With California being the 10th largest economy in the world, CAST sees this as a direct blow to traffickers everywhere. Not to mention that the state is also home to Hollywood, and a proven trendsetter in everything from fashion and entertainment to politics and humanitarian efforts. This could be big, people, maybe even bigger than big business.

The bill needs to get through the State Assembly next, however, so if you’re a California resident who wants to see this bill become law, please e-mail your assembly representative today. Tell traffickers to get out of our supply chain or end up in some chains of their own.

source: http://humantrafficking.change.org/blog/view/california_senate_to_traffickers_get_out_of_our_supply_chain

The New Hotbed of Human Trafficking Is … Ohio

Those of you who thought Ohio was all about rock n’ roll, amazing chili, and a seriously unhealthy football obsession may want to think again. A new report conducted by the Trafficking in Persons Study Commission found that 1800 people are trafficked in Ohio every year. This includes 800 immigrants who are exploited in commercial sex and factory work, as well as about 1000 American-born children who are forced into prostitution. Who would have thought that Ohio would be such a hotebed of human trafficking?

But why Ohio, whose largest city, Columbus, is dwarfed by neighboring Chicago? How can a place that sounds and appears so wholesome be responsible for forcing a thousand children into sexual slavery each year? The report cites weak laws on human trafficking, a growing demand for cheap labor, and Ohio’s proximity to the Canadian border as the key reasons modern-day slavery thrives in the state. I’m going to take a metaphorical highlighter to that word “demand,” because that is the key to the human trafficking crisis.

Like many other places in the U.S., Ohio has a growing immigrant population, including those who have migrated legally, illegally but voluntarily, and involuntarily. Undocumented migrants are at increased risk for trafficking and exploitation, and in Ohio about 800 of them were found exploited in factories, agriculture, constriction sites, and brothels. Often, migrants are trafficked by high organized criminal networks who transport the victims into and around the U.S. They are the criminals, but it’s the demand for cheap goods and food and for commercial sex that create an industry for trafficked immigrant workers.


Sex Trafficking High Around U.S. Military Bases Abroad

Serving in the United States military is about honor, dignity, and strength. So it makes sense that the U.S. military would make visiting brothels and having sex with women and kids forced into a prostitution a big no-no for American soldiers, right? On paper, establishments that sell sex are off-limits for men (and women) in uniform. But in practice, sex trafficking flourishes near U.S. military bases. Should U.S. soldiers be abusing people in another country while protecting people in this one?

Of all the countries where an American military presence attracts prostitution, both voluntary and forced, South Korea may feel the effects most acutely. U.S. troops have been stationed in South Korea since 1945, and the brothels around the U.S. military bases have been there just as long. In 2004, the Pentagon drafted a policy to reduce the sex trafficking growing wherever American soldiers, sailors, and airmen were stationed, with specific attention to South Korea. Under that policy, military personnel caught visiting a brothel or “massage parlour” could be subject to court martial. However, there is very little information available about how often that sanction is enforced.

There is evidence, however, that the policy has not worked in reducing demand for prostitution, evidenced by the continuing high levels of prostitution and human trafficking near U.S. military bases. The U.S. military has finally begun to make some clubs and bars known to traffic women or sell children off-limits to service members, but one report indicates that only 4 out of 25 such places in the area have been listed as off-limits. The South Korean government, too, has been cracking down on sex trafficking in the past few years. However, the areas surrounding the U.S. military base have been exempted from the crackdown by the Korean government. So brothels around U.S. military bases are falling through the cracks of both U.S. government and Korean government policy.