Raising awareness for human trafficking

The Marquette Branch of the American Association of University of Women hosted a meeting to raise awareness about human trafficking Thursday night.

There have been reports of human trafficking in the Upper Peninsula, including Ironwood.  One of the reason the U.P. has seen reports is because it’s so isolated.

Michigan as a whole is one of the top five states in the country where trafficking is exploding.  Michigan borders Canada and has a large tourism industry, two factors that increase the abundance of human trafficking.

“Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery,” Sexual Assault Advocate at the Women’s Center Kelly Laakso said.  “We tell people that slavery never really ended with the Emancipation Proclamation, it really just transformed itself moving on into today.”

“Human trafficking is basically someone–a trafficker–exploiting somebody else–the victim– for some sort of service or some sort of benefit.  Whether that’s labor trafficking or as popular culture would have popularized it, sex trafficking,” Youth Advocate for Harbor House Amy Kordus said.

One of the first steps to prevent human trafficking is to learn to identify the victim.

“Looking for (for example) if someone doesn’t have access to their identification, if they don’t have possessions that are in their control, if they’re accompanied by somebody who insists on telling a story all the time, if they’re telling you a story all the time that they’re a student or that they’re here on a visa or a tourist and there’s a lot of inconsistencies in their stories,” Kordus said.

“If you’re falling under the myths and misconceptions that it’s not here, then we don’t know to look for the victims of trafficking,” Laakso said.  “And really, stopping human trafficking starts with victim identification.”

“A lot times, these crimes are happening behind more obvious crimes you might think about,” Kordus said.  “If there’s a situation with zone ordinance or kidnapping or all sorts of criminal charges that people are more familiar with, there could be elements of human trafficking.”

“If there’s more of an awareness in the community we can push behind and look behind those crimes to look and see what’s happening.”

Kordus and Laakso say if people see anything suspicious or think they see a victim of human trafficking, people should call their local law enforcement agency.

For more information on human trafficking awareness, visit the Women’s Center website, or the Office of the Administration for Children & Families website.

http://youtube/R8dAx0mfiqs

 

source: http://abc10up.com/raising-awareness-human-trafficking/

The Marquette Branch of the American Association of University of Women hosted a meeting to raise awareness about human trafficking Thursday night.

There have been reports of human trafficking in the Upper Peninsula, including Ironwood.  One of the reason the U.P. has seen reports is because it’s so isolated.

Michigan as a whole is one of the top five states in the country where trafficking is exploding.  Michigan borders Canada and has a large tourism industry, two factors that increase the abundance of human trafficking.

“Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery,” Sexual Assault Advocate at the Women’s Center Kelly Laakso said.  “We tell people that slavery never really ended with the Emancipation Proclamation, it really just transformed itself moving on into today.”

“Human trafficking is basically someone–a trafficker–exploiting somebody else–the victim– for some sort of service or some sort of benefit.  Whether that’s labor trafficking or as popular culture would have popularized it, sex trafficking,” Youth Advocate for Harbor House Amy Kordus said.

One of the first steps to prevent human trafficking is to learn to identify the victim.

“Looking for (for example) if someone doesn’t have access to their identification, if they don’t have possessions that are in their control, if they’re accompanied by somebody who insists on telling a story all the time, if they’re telling you a story all the time that they’re a student or that they’re here on a visa or a tourist and there’s a lot of inconsistencies in their stories,” Kordus said.

“If you’re falling under the myths and misconceptions that it’s not here, then we don’t know to look for the victims of trafficking,” Laakso said.  “And really, stopping human trafficking starts with victim identification.”

“A lot times, these crimes are happening behind more obvious crimes you might think about,” Kordus said.  “If there’s a situation with zone ordinance or kidnapping or all sorts of criminal charges that people are more familiar with, there could be elements of human trafficking.”

“If there’s more of an awareness in the community we can push behind and look behind those crimes to look and see what’s happening.”

Kordus and Laakso say if people see anything suspicious or think they see a victim of human trafficking, people should call their local law enforcement agency.

For more information on human trafficking awareness, visit the Women’s Center website, or the Office of the Administration for Children & Families website

Lake County commissioners expressed support for a local task force fighting human trafficking in the area at Tuesday’s county board meeting.

The task force was started to raise awareness of human and sex trafficking in the area, and its members approached Commissioner Brad Jones to ask if the county would be willing to commit funds toward a billboard. The advertisement would aim to raise awareness of trafficking and point victims toward helpful resources, Jones said.

“These things have happened in our area. It’s frightening. I think it behooves us to do what we can to help these organizations out,” Commissioner Rich Sve said.

Sve said they would ask a representative from the task force to come to a future board meeting to explain the billboard and its purpose in more depth.

Two Harbors Public Library director Michele Monson appeared before the board to ask for support for more library renovations. Recently, with county support, carpet was replaced in the building and Monson said she hoped the board would help with a project to install a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. She said the current system is outdated.

“It looks like something out of a 1950s movie,” Monson said.

Jones said the outdated system has been a nagging problem, as parts become impossible to find and repairs become more difficult to make.

“It has been an ongoing struggle for several years,” he said.

The board agreed they would consider the requests in upcoming budget talks.

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– See more at: http://www.twoharborsmn.com/event/article/id/25542/#sthash.SfKBK711.dpuf

Lake County commissioners expressed support for a local task force fighting human trafficking in the area at Tuesday’s county board meeting.

The task force was started to raise awareness of human and sex trafficking in the area, and its members approached Commissioner Brad Jones to ask if the county would be willing to commit funds toward a billboard. The advertisement would aim to raise awareness of trafficking and point victims toward helpful resources, Jones said.

“These things have happened in our area. It’s frightening. I think it behooves us to do what we can to help these organizations out,” Commissioner Rich Sve said.

Sve said they would ask a representative from the task force to come to a future board meeting to explain the billboard and its purpose in more depth.

Two Harbors Public Library director Michele Monson appeared before the board to ask for support for more library renovations. Recently, with county support, carpet was replaced in the building and Monson said she hoped the board would help with a project to install a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. She said the current system is outdated.

“It looks like something out of a 1950s movie,” Monson said.

Jones said the outdated system has been a nagging problem, as parts become impossible to find and repairs become more difficult to make.

“It has been an ongoing struggle for several years,” he said.

The board agreed they would consider the requests in upcoming budget talks.

Tags:

– See more at: http://www.twoharborsmn.com/event/article/id/25542/#sthash.SfKBK711.dpuf

GEMS combats sex trafficking

Rachel Lloyd, founder of GEMS

Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS) is the nation’s largest organization empowering girls and young women, ages 12-21, who have experienced sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking. GEMS helps these young women exit the commercial sex industry and develop to their full potential. GEMS is committed to ending commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking of children by changing individual lives, transforming public perception, and revolutionizing the systems and policies that impact sexually exploited youth. GEMS’ vision is to end the commercial exploitation and trafficking of children. We believe that all young women have great beauty and worth, and the potential for future success. The voices and experiences of youth survivors are integral to the development and implementation of all GEMS’ programming.

History
I came to the U.S in 1997, a survivor of commercial sexual exploitation as a teen and began missionary work with adult women exiting prostitution. While working with adult women in correctional facilities and on the streets, I observed the overwhelming need for services for young women at risk for sexual exploitation who were being ignored by traditional social service agencies. It became clear that specialized services were essential for this disenfranchised population.

From a one-woman kitchen table project, GEMS has grown to a nationally recognized and acclaimed organization and now is one of the largest providers of services to commercially sexually exploited and domestically trafficked youth in the US. GEMS advocates at the local, state and national level to promote policies that support young women who have been commercially sexually exploited and domestically trafficked.

Services

GEMS supports and empowers young women and girls who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and provides a continuum of services including:

• Street Outreach
• Court Advocacy and Alternatives to Incarceration Program
• Comprehensive Case Management
• Individual Counseling
• Education, Recreational and Therapeutic Groups
• Youth Employment and Leadership Training
• Transitional & Crisis Housing
• Referral Services

At GEMS, we use a holistic trauma-informed treatment model in our programs to address girls and young women’s complex needs throughout their transition and development. We believe that all young women have great beauty, worth and the potential for future success. The voices and experiences of youth survivors are integral to the development and implementation of all GEMS programming.

Rachel Lloyd, GEMS founder and executive director is a nationally recognized expert on the issue of child sex trafficking in America, and played a key role in the successful passage of New York State’s groundbreaking Safe Harbor Act for Sexually Exploited Youth, the first law in the country to end the prosecution of child victims of sex trafficking. Her trailblazing advocacy is the subject of the critically acclaimed Showtime documentary “Very Young Girls”, the upcoming memoir “Acceptable Victims” (Harper Collins), and a feature film currently in development at Participant Productions and Lifetime Networks.

source: http://www.thedailytell.com/2010/01/gems-combats-sex-trafficking/

Government action on human trafficking demanded

A LOCAL TD recently sought assistance from Minister for Justice, Dermot Ahern, in dealing with a human trafficking case in North Dublin.
Dublin North East Tommy Broughan (Lab) told Northside People the case involved a woman trafficked into domestic labour for seven days a week.
“The work was commencing at 6.30am for six of those days until 11pm at night for e120 per week,” said Deputy Broughan who was shocked by the case presented to him.
Disturbing new figures have revealed that 97 per cent of the 1,000 women involved in indoor prostitution in Ireland at any given time are migrants.
Deputy Broughan said that even one woman trafficked for sexual exploitation into this country was one case too many.
He has called for immediate action following the publication of the Immigrant Council of Ireland 2009 report that highlighted the problem.
“Ireland is not immune from this racketeering in human beings,” Deputy Broughan stated.
“Those trafficked are mainly young vulnerable women fleeing poverty in their own countries of origin or deceived into seeking a better life on the false undertakings of the criminal networks involved in trafficking.
“We know that sex trafficking, which involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to transport an unwilling victim into sexual exploitation is a lucrative racket dominated by international crime networks.”
Denise Charlton, chief executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI), believes the most effective way to combat sex trafficking, and to end the exploitation of migrant women is for Ireland to adopt legislation similar to Sweden, Norway and Iceland.
The ICI welcomed a Fine Gael motion in the Dail last week urging members to take stock of the reality of this crime in Ireland where a minimum of 102 women and girls have been clearly identified in a recent report as sex trafficked in 2007 and 2008.
Eleven of those trafficked were children when they arrived in Ireland and none knew they were destined for the Irish sex trade.
“According to Fine Gael, the Government needs to respond to this crime by treating those who experience it as victims and not as illegal immigrants,” Ms Charlton said.
“A strong recommendation has been proposed to end the policy of placing victims of human trafficking in asylum centres and introduce safe accommodation, support and protection services.
“The ICI has been lobbying for protection for victims of trafficking as this legislation has been debated through the house and would echo this recommendation.”
Ms Charlton added that the ICI was encouraged by the introduction of this motion and hopes that these issues will now be addressed.

source: http://www.dublinpeople.com/content/view/2646/57/

Published in: on November 27, 2009 at 7:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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Suffer the Children

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The iPhone Sex Offender locator: considered harmful

On the California Megan’s Law Web site, which maintains a publicly accessible database on our state’s registered sex offenders — where they live, what they look like, what they were convicted for — the word “masturbate” is spelled incorrectly. On the page that lists the extensive catalog of penal codes detailing offenses for which one would have to register and give up personal privacy for all the world to see, offense 311.3(b)(3) is, in fact, “Sexual exploitation: masterbation.”

I highly recommend that if you’re hauled downtown and readied for conviction under 311.3(b)(3) that you bring a dictionary. Then you can pull it out (the dictionary) and say, “But no, Your Honor. I was engaged in masturbation.”

Hey, at least they spelled “penal” correctly.

If it seems like I’m making light of a serious situation, it’s just my hysteria seeping out about how absolutely broken our system is around dealing with sex crimes. I mean specifically predatory, violent, awful, and non-consensual sex crimes — the kind that should be illegal, which are illegal and punishable. However, take a trip down Megan’s List and you’ll never run Bay To Breakers again when you see 314.1 — “Indecent exposure.” Granted, take a closer reading of Section 314.1 and you’ll see it expressly “prohibits conduct that is intended to direct public attention to his or her genitals for purposes of sexual arousal, gratification, or affront where there are other persons present to be offended or annoyed.” (Citation: In re Smith (1972) 7 Cal.3d 362, 366. PDF) Simple nudity such as sunbathing or skinny dipping is not prohibited under 314.1. But annoy someone with your exposed penal code… and anyone busted for it must register as a sex offender for the rest of his or her life.

It’s no wonder that while I was researching the popular, then pulled, then replaced in a limited edition “Offender Locator iPhone App” I was aghast at which non-violent offenses might land someone’s private information on the registry. I remarked about this and got a response on my Facebook page from a woman who works in the East Bay saying, “don’t get me started…I work with sex offenders, some of whose “offenses” that they now have to register for are ridiculous.”

In case you’re wondering, I tested the application (no, not on my precious N97 — I am not of the Cult of iPhone) until it kicked me out for making too many searches. I’ll put that on my resume. Enter an address or let it use your geo-location, and it gives you a map of offenders’ home addresses. I searched my neighborhood — the Castro — and I searched SF City Jail (850 Bryant) and I searched the Marina Safeway, because, well, it seemed a good place to look.

Disturbingly, the brief search icons of three menacing-looking men’s faces are all ambiguously nonwhite. Just sayin’. I also got addresses and pictures and phone numbers for lots and lots of guys — right there and ripe for accessible harassment.

As The Economist put it in Sex laws: Unjust and ineffective, “The registry is a gold mine for lazy journalists.” It’s also an unofficial hit list. “Publicising sex offenders’ addresses makes them vulnerable to vigilantism. In April 2006, for example, a vigilante shot and killed two sex offenders in Maine after finding their addresses on the registry. One of the victims had been convicted of having consensual sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend when he was 19. In Washington state in 2005 a man posed as an FBI agent to enter the home of two sex offenders, warning them that they were on a ‘hit list’ on the internet. Then he killed them. Murders of sex offenders are rare, but harassment is common. Most of the offenders interviewed for this article said they had experienced it.”

The article is a must-read, and goes in depth into one of the most glaring errors in the system, Wendy Whitaker, who lives as a registered sex offender for a sex act she did as a teen (with another teen), charged under a law that no longer exists. In Kids Charged for Child Porn: When Teens Make Their Own Porn, Who’s Being Exploited? we learned about at least five more teenagers in various states who have been arrested and are currently charged for trafficking in child porn for texting naked pictures of themselves — to each other. In Crazyland, USA, your kids are sex offenders and will end up on an iPhone app.

As offenders, they will have no privacy, live in constant harassment, and laws like Megan’s will make them live under bridges. This punishment is how you damage an (allegedly) already damaged human being to the point of no return. But aren’t all legally bona fide sex offenders hateful and deserving of everything evil? Hate is easy currency to trade on, as you likely see in the comments of this column every week.

Yes, the information on the Offender Locator iPhone App is public, as they claim to get their data from those carefully spell-checked online government databases — just as anyone convicted of a crime is public record. It doesn’t help though that app creator, TheVision2020, uses negative marketing scare tactics on their home page to sell their product — spuriously stating, “Typical child sex offenders molest an average of 117 children.” Says who?

Is this company, ThinAir Wireless (aka TheVision2020.com) violating anything in providing, or profiting, off of this information? (If for profit, it’ll likely be back and ad-supported, just like the free version I rode hard and put away wet — which creepily had Harry Potter game ads across the top.) Who does this app actually help? It’s not my question to answer, but we all need to ask whether or not the sex offender laws (which vary from state to state) are helping the people who desperately need help.

In From sexual trauma to healing sex, we heard from the other side of the sexual abuse coin: the survivor. Author Staci Haines opens up about sexual healing after incest, rape, or abuse and her experience teaches us about the predators and the offenders we’re too freaked out to even look at. Haines tells us, “The statistics of people who have experienced sexual abuse, from incest to adult rape, are shocking. One in three girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before their 18th birthday. These statistics cross class and cultural differences; there is not one group who sexually abuses while others do not. Most sexually abused children know their perpetrator (60-80 percent).” And as Haines knows all too well from her work at Generation Five, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, 93% of children who are victims of sexual abuse are victimized by family members or acquaintances.

No wonder that despite there being 63,000 sex offenders registered in California (population: 36,756,666) the Offender Locator found so many, seemingly so close by. In a generation, the little map pins might just point right into your own house.

So until sex offender laws make sense, and having access to the resulting information in your pocket actually helps people, please try to keep your penal code in your pants.

source: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2009/08/13/violetblue0813.DTL#ixzz0OLWvvUPx

Published in: on August 16, 2009 at 8:54 am  Leave a Comment  
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