Modern Slavery in Europe

Human trafficking is the 21st century’s modern form of slavery, and it concerns the entire European Union. Trafficking in human beings is an extremely profitable business for organized crime and can take different forms of exploitation; from sexual exploitation and illegal adoption to forced labor, domestic work, illegal trade in human organs and begging. Human trafficking can target men and women as well as girls and boys of different nationalities, relying on threats, fraud, deception, and different forms of coercion and abduction.


The question to address is how to overcome this dramatic phenomenon and what measures to take to diminish the number of victims in the EU in general, but particularly in the Eastern Partnership countries.


Very often the root of this phenomenon lies in economic disparity, lack of opportunities and employment, poverty, gender inequality and discrimination. Today, unemployment particularly affects women who, striving to survive in their home countries, take up and leave their homes in search for work and a better life elsewhere. Their helplessness can be exploited by traffickers looking to sell cheap labor abroad.


Lithuania has become the most important country for transit between Eastern and Central Europe, as well as a destination country for women and girls subjected to human trafficking. Lithuanian women are victims of sex trafficking in Germany, the Netherlands, Greece, Sweden, Finland and Norway. Women from Eastern bloc countries are transported from these countries through Lithuania to Western Europe, with about 12 percent of them remaining and working as prostitutes in Lithuania. Once they are entangled in the prostitution business in Lithuania, they suffer from discriminations and sexual exploitation before perhaps being trafficked onwards to Western Europe.


Lithuania is trying to combat all forms of human trafficking and to protect the rights of victims. The government has strengthened anti-trafficking laws, but large challenges still remain.


Anti-trafficking activities undertaken in cooperation with the Eastern Partnership countries can help to build networks between Lithuania and other countries in the battle against human trafficking. In November, the Eastern Partnership summit will take place in Vilnius. The countries involved have placed their hopes for commercial integration into the European family on this meeting. However, factors like deficiencies in human rights, the rule of law, the fight against corruption and human trafficking are getting in the way of Eastern Partnership countries’ integration into Europe.


To overcome these shortcomings, we need to boost coordinated actions against human trafficking between European Parliament member states and Eastern Partnership countries to cooperate effectively with each other across borders.


In Lithuania and other EU member states, as well as in Eastern Partnership countries, the main effort has to go towards raising the population’s awareness and making the profile of the trafficking problem clear and understood. These public awareness actions should target potential adult victims of trafficking and in schools and universities, where they can take different forms like seminars, public lectures and other anti-trafficking events.  My country is undertaking such a public awareness action by filming a movie about a Lithuanian girl who becomes a victim of human trafficking, which will hopefully contribute to understanding the trends of human trafficking both inside and outside a country.


Legislation against human trafficking is an effective legal instrument but further coordinated actions among member states and non-EU countries to address the issue must be taken in order to put these legal instruments into practice. These coordinated actions can include the establishment of partnerships and training among government agencies and groups both inside and outside the EU.


Despite the implementation of different legislation targeting human trafficking, the working methods of human trafficking can change and can adapt to these legal frameworks and provisions. But a better understanding of the human trafficking phenomena and an effective reaction from citizens can help to diminish its flow. Identifying the extent of the problem in the EU as well as outside can be the key to stemming the increased levels of human trafficking. In Lithuania, Europe and outside the EU it is time for everyone of us to act on each level — local, national and European — in order to eradicate the slavery of the 21st century: human trafficking.


Published in: on October 10, 2013 at 10:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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One Woman’s Tale Of Surviving Sex Trafficking

When we hear “victim,” we may think of victims of violent crime, domestic violence, child abuse, rape. Victims of sex trafficking and exploitation often suffer all those tragedies combined.

Sex trafficking is a subset of the larger problem of human trafficking, which President Obama spoke out against during the Clinton Global Health Initiative in September:

It ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity.  It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric.  It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets.  It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime.  I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name — modern slavery.

Asia Graves, a victim of underage sex exploitation who was trafficked from Boston up and down the east coast, chose to speak out as well.  In 2010, she testified against her pimps, landing six men in jail. She now works as a case manager for FAIR Girls, which works against the exploitation of women.

Since 2010, Massachusetts has made strides to deal with human trafficking. In 2011, the state passed its first human trafficking bill, which went into effect in in February. In August, the Polaris Project, which rates all states on their laws combating human trafficking, named the Bay State the “Most Improved in 2012.”

When it comes to sex trafficking and exploitation, Suffolk County has been leading the state in its efforts to provide services for victims since 2005. One organization, My Life My Choice, focuses on adolescent girls vulnerable to exploitation. The co-founder and director, Lisa Goldblatt-Grace, joins us today to talk about what’s being done across Eastern Massachusetts to address the growing problem of underage sex trafficking.

Despite public and private efforts, Graves says there’s still much more to be done, and she too joins Radio Boston to share her harrowing tale from victim to survivor.





Published in: on December 2, 2012 at 3:12 am  Comments (2)  
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Elizabeth Smart’s Testimony Inspires Communities to Fight Fear

When Elizabeth Smart testified last week against her captor, she had a lot to say about the details of her 9-month ordeal, but not so much about why she never tried to escape. As discusses, Elizabeth likely stayed put due to pure fear — an act of self-preservation common to those victimized by sex trafficking and other predatory crimes. Inspired by stories like Elizabeth’s, the Not One More Child movement seeks to protect kids from ever having to experience that fear.

At the age of 14, Elizabeth was stolen from her home and forced to play the role of one of Brian David Williams’ “celestial wives,” a term that, for the victim, was nowhere near as mystical as it sounded. She was tied to a tree for a month and raped every day, her will weakened by physical force, alcohol and verbal abuse. And she was kept well-hidden, sequestered from the outside world and well-disguised when out in public. Young, impressionable and lacking the resources necessary for escape, Elizabeth was easily kept captive with not only the abuse she endured, but the simplest, most hard-hitting, easiest-to-believe threat: If she ran, Williams would kill her family.

Tactically speaking, predators like sex traffickers are Brian David Williams’ second cousins. Where Williams sought God’s glory (or whatever other motive existed in his deranged mind) through control of his victim, pimps seek profit.  But their means are quite similar. Sex trafficking victims are raped daily by their clients, and their wills are also weakened by drugs, beatings, verbal thrashings, isolation and meaningful threats. Individuals forced into prostitution often remain quiet and do not attempt escape for the same, simple reason as Elizabeth Smart: fear.


Ask Gov. Schwarzenegger to Release Human Trafficking Victim Sara Kruzan with Time Served

Sixteen-year-old human trafficking victim Sara Kruzan was sentenced to life in prison without parole when, in a desperate act to escape captivity, she shot her pimp. When Sara met G.G., the 31-year-old man who would become her pimp, she was only 11. G.G. groomed Sara two years before he raped her.  By then, his control was complete and he forced her into prostitution.  Sara and the other girls who G.G. exploited were out on the streets from 6pm to 6am, every night.  Twelve hours a night, seven days a week, for three years, Sara was raped by strangers so G.G. could profit.  After three years, she snapped, and she killed him.

Now 32, Sara has spent half her life in prison as a model prisoner, and has asked Gov. Schwarzenegger for clemency. Sara was arrested and tried in 1994, before anyone was using the term “human trafficking” and when the country was still struggling to understand issues like domestic violence and pimp control that give one person coercive control over another. So there was no expert witness at Sara’s trial to explain how her years of repeated rape, trauma, and abuse had affected her actions. There was no expert to tell the jury that with counseling, support, and care, Sara could heal from her traumatic past and grow to be a strong and moral woman.

Sara’s clemency plea has been submitted to Gov. Schwarzenegger, and the decision of whether or not to release her with time served rests solely with him. Sara Kruzan deserves hope.  She deserves hope that she didn’t survive being raped and sold for three years for nothing.  She deserves hope that the darkest chapter of her life has passed, and a horizon lies ahead.  She deserves hope that she can change, grow, and flourish as a woman. But in life without parole, there is no hope.

Tell Gov. Schwarzenegger that human trafficking victims deserve support and care, not prison. Ask him to release Sara with time served.


Published in: on October 29, 2010 at 6:41 am  Comments (1)  
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World’s Creepiest Fairytale Tells Story of Child Sexual Exploitation

Can a fairytale capture the disturbing nature of the growing trend of child sex trafficking in America? The new film The Candy Shop, a fairytale-style parable about child sexual exploitation sure does. And it’s part of a growing movement to bring awareness to the issue in Atlanta, a city some are calling the child sex trafficking capitol of America.

The Candy Shop, a film by Whitestone Motion Pictures, is scheduled for release next month. Based on the trailer, it promises to be one of the creepiest films about child sex trafficking ever made. And that’s saying something.  Is it possible to pack all the emotional wallop of the child sex trafficking epidemic into a film done in the style of a fairytale? When your villain looks like a heroine-addicted, pedophile version of Willy Wonka, little girls are turned into candy by a steampunk-esque machine, and crowds of passersby are blind to the evil goings-on at the local candy store, then yes. Yes, it is possible to make a film that captures the inherent discomfort and creepiness of child sex trafficking. Check out the trailer for yourself, with more after the jump.

The Candy Shop takes place in a through-the-looking glass Atlanta, where a candy store is turning children into candy for chubby, sweaty male customers. In the real Atlanta, over 500 children a  month are sold for sex. Many estimates put it as one of the top cities in the country for child sex trafficking. The film is part of a city-wide campaign with anti-trafficking organizations Doorpost, 12Stone Church and StreetGrace, and 100% of the profits will go to support anti-trafficking programs in Atlanta. But the truly frightening part of The Candy Shop is that it could be set in any city, because child sex trafficking happens everywhere.

Yet despite the estimated 250,000 American children who are victims of human trafficking, there are less than 100 shelter beds in the country for them. That’s not even enough space for all the children victimized in Atlanta. You can ask Congress to fund the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act, which will provide critical services for sex trafficking survivors. Also, check out Street Grace for more information on how to get involved in ending human trafficking in Atlanta.


High School Cheerleader Kicked Off Squad for Refusal to Cheer for Her Rapist

Rah, rah, sis boom bah: Silsbee High School in Texas wants their cheerleaders smiling, energetic, and willing to cheer for their rapists by name. Go team!

H.S., a Silsbee student, reported being raped in 2008 by Rakheem Bolton, a fellow student and athletic star, with the help of two of his friends. In the end, Bolton recently ended up getting off without serving any jail time by pleading guilty to a lesser assault charge, spending two years on probation, doing community service, paying a fine, and attending anger management courses. Hardly seems like an adequate punishment, but it’s unfortunately not uncommon for attackers to bargain down their charges. What really gets the blood boiling is how the students’ high school treated the victim when the rape charge was levied.

Bolton was set to be on the school’s varsity basketball team, and they couldn’t risk losing by barring him from playing for a silly thing like a rape charge. That could impact their chances at winning. Who cares about the traumatic impact it would have an a cheerleader who needed to vocally support a team including her rapist?

But H.S. fulfilled her role as a cheerleader, participating in all the cheers for the team as a group. She simply refused to shout the first name of the man who assaulted her when he stood up alone to make free throws. It seems like she was being more than accommodating, when an student athlete facing trial on rape charges most likely should have been suspended from the team, even if his presence wasn’t a source of immediate distress to his victim in her position as cheerleader. In a display of extreme disrespect for a rape survivor and disregard for her well-being, school officials insisted that H.S. had to scream “Rakheem” with the rest of the cheerleaders, or she’d be kicked off the squad.


Published in: on October 25, 2010 at 3:14 pm  Comments (2)  
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The Sex Tourist Next Door

This week, the founder of a prominent Haitian children’s charity admitted to using the promise of food, shelter, and clean clothes to lure in homeless Haitian boys for sex. But this story is just one of many involving American citizens traveling to developing countries to victimize children. It’s called child sex tourism, and it’s a form of human trafficking happening next door.

Doug Perlitz founded Project Pierre Toussaint in Northern Haiti years before the earthquake put the country in the headlines. It provided homeless boys a place to sleep, food, an education, and other services. But it also provided Perlitz a steady stream of children to rape. This past week, he pled guilty to giving food, shelter, and toys to eight young Haitian boys in exchange for sex. However, some Haitian sources indicate the actual number of children who have been identified as Perlitz’s victims is much higher, around 30. The child sex tourism scheme went on for years, mostly because local staff members were too afraid of Perlitz and losing their jobs to speak up. Perlitz even used his clout in the community with religious leaders to help him conceal his abuse. And when boys from his shelter showed up at the hospital with rectal bleeding, they were diagnosed with typhoid and sent back to Perlitz.

But Perlitz isn’t the only one. Last year Connecticut-native Edgardo Sensei was indicted for taking multiple child pornography road trips through Nicaragua preying on young girls. He bribed a working mother with money, jewelry, and perfume to let him film himself having sex with her four-year-old daughter and forced another six-year-old girl to make similar films with a sadomasochistic twist. And previous to that, Florida resident Kent Frank was convicted of traveling to Cambodia several times to have sex with underage girls and photograph them for profit. The list of heinous deeds and the American men who commit them overseas goes on from there.


When Diplomats Can Get Away With Slavery

Diplomats are one of the few groups who can consistently get away with enslaving other people. Why? Diplomatic immunity — an agreement between countries which guarantees diplomats can’t be prosecuted under one another’s laws. It’s a great policy when a civil war breaks out, but not such a great one when a diplomat is involved in human trafficking. And diplomats participating in human trafficking is surprisingly common.

There have been at least a dozen cases in the U.S. of diplomatic envoys enslaving servants in their homes. Often, these servants are brought over from the home country to work in the diplomat’s residence or embassy. But when the workers arrive, their passports and freedom are taken away. Workers in these cases have been paid from well under minimum wage to nothing, and many have been subjected to physical and sexual abuse. When the abuse is finally discovered, law enforcement can more the victim to safety. But it’s very difficult to actually bring the diplomatic perpetrator to justice because of diplomatic immunity. Sometimes, the diplomats are extradited to their home country, where money changes hands and the trafficking charges conveniently disappear.

The U.K., too, has been struggling with crimes perpetrated by diplomats. A Saudi envoy to Britain was recently accused of human trafficking and molesting an 11-year-old girl, and a delegate from Sierra Leone was also allegedly trafficking persons from his home country. And despite these and other serious allegations, Britain is barely able to enforce drunk driving fines against diplomats, much less prosecute them for human trafficking. And the new run on trafficking has caused some MPs to call for a renegotiation of diplomatic immunity.

Diplomatic immunity wasn’t created to let people off the hook for real and serious crimes, it was to prevent diplomats from being arrested on trumped up charges when relations between two nations soured. Since human trafficking is not an uncommon crime for diplomats to engage in, there needs to be an exception for diplomats and envoys who enslave people in their homes or in other ways. Because as long as diplomats are free from the threat of prosecution, they’ll continue to traffic workers into their host countries.


Why Wouldn’t Deland Police Protect Her? WHY?

Pictured is Natasha Hall baby sister.  Pictured below is a young teen who called for help on several occasions from the Deland, FL police department. She was told to stop calling or they would put her in jail. The last time she called was the day her ex-boyfriend killed her and then himself. How tragic and senseless this could have been avoided if only the police paid attention to the signs. Below is the full story:

Daughter Was Killed By Ex-Boyfriend In Murder-Suicide    

  Two teenagers are dead, and detectives in DeLand believe it may have been a murder-suicide.  Police first got the call around 10:30 p.m. Friday on the 500 block of West May Street.

When officers arrived at the home, they found Daniel Clayton Kufner, 19, and Natasha La’May Hall, 17, dead on the front porch of Hall’s home.  Investigators said both were shot with a small revolver that was found near the bodies.
Police said Kufner and Hall had been dating, and investigators believed Kufner may have been pulled the trigger.  Hall’s father said his daughter was murdered.
During a vigil Saturday night, Hall’s father said she recently broke up with Kufner, and began dating another man.  The father said Kufner broke into their house Friday night, found the new boyfriend’s number on their caller ID and harassed him.
When Hall came home with her friend, Michelle Karpowicz, to change her clothes, Hall’s father said Kufer came from the side of the house and shot her in the head.  Karpowicz said Kufner was muttering, then shot Hall in the chest.
Karpowicz says Kufner took a shot at her, before turning the gun on himself.  Hall’s friends were obviously stunned, and tried to cope with the tragedy.  “This was a shock,” said Travis Graham, a friend of Hall’s. “I just saw her Thursday, said hello, and she was so happy. Didn’t come to school Friday. Just found out today that she died.”

Hall’s mother told the Daytona Beach News Journal that Kufner would not take no for an answer, and refused to accept that Natasha had broken up with him three months ago.  The mother claimed Kufner physically abused Hall, and her family tried to press charges twice.  

Most RecentMost Recommended Comments (5)

recommend This comment thread is now closed


  • flight737

    flagged this story as Good Stuffat 13:36 on May 15th, 2008  

    CJaye, I like this story. It’s good stuff

  • CJaye

    at 07:05 on May 17th, 2008  

    Thank you, I know the story is a couple of months old.  I’ve come to know the mother of Natasha and this is an awful story of teen dating violence.  Not only that how the Deland Florida Police Department handled the situtation.  This could of all be prevented if handled propertly and not treated like they were being bothered by the family each time they called for help.  I wonder if Officer McNeil is still on the depeartment or is she telling other young teens “if they call the police again she throw them in jail”.  I was under the impression the police were to “PROTECT & SERVE”  Thank God I live where I know if I call the police they will come without threats.
  • CJaye

    at 07:38 on September 26th, 2009 


    Yesterday Ms. Hall  got a call from a teen dealing with teen dating violence in DeLand Florida. I wont get into details. She went to the court house they told her she needed to go to the DeLand P.D. Ms. Hall  told her they are right she needs to go the DeLand P.D press charges on her boyfriend for stalking. The DeLand P.D told her there is nothing they can do for her.  Does any of this sound like another case just recently? The teen was crying felt no one was helping her. Then she told them she talked with Natasha Hall’s mother. Then all of a sudden they changed their minds pressed charges on him went and arrested him. Will DeLand P.D ever learn?  Her life was in danger and DeLand P.D still doing nothing.  Does it take two more teens dying for the police there to realize these teens need help to protect themselfs from this kind of violence. Ms. Hall has a group meeting with the Domestic Abuse Council this month, I hope together they can make changes.

    Albert Milliron

  • Albert Milliron

    flagged this story as Good Stuffat 07:45 on September 26th, 2008  

    CJaye, I like this story. It’s good stuff.  I have had the problem with empty fields, I seem to do better with Firefox browser.  

  • CJaye

    at 09:38 on September 26th, 2008  

    Thank you for the info and the flag 

    This story was created over 3 months ago, the comment thread is now closed.

    Natasha Hall, 17, was interested in journalism. Though because of a violent ex-boyfriend Daniel Clayton Kufner and what can only be described as disgusting police misconduct, she’ll never have the opportunity to write.The DeLand police chief,the individual responding officers,and the police department and the city of DeLand,FL need to be investigated for their responsibility in contributing to the murder of Natasha Hall. They need to be held accountable for their actions. Remember Natasha Hall!
    Published in: on June 30, 2010 at 7:31 am  Comments (1)  
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    Iraqi Child Sex Slave? Welcome to Prison!

    Iraqi prisons are filled with young girls. Some of them were jailed for having relatives with ties to terrorist groups. Others have been charged with crimes ranging from petty to serious. But among the population of Iraqi girls in prison are victims of child sex trafficking, sold into prostitution against their will. In Iraq, imprisoning victims too often passes for justice.

    One of those girls is 15-year-old Zenia. Two years ago, her father took her to Syria to visit her grandfather. But when they arrived, Zenia learned that this was no average family trip. Her family had brought her to Syria to sell her to a sex trafficker, who took her from Syria to the United Arab Emirates. There, Zenia was forced into prostitution.

    Distraught and desperately looking for a way to escape, Zenia fled her captors and contacted the police in the UAE. Sure, prostitution is illegal in both the UAE and Iraq, but Zenia was just a child forced into it against her will. Surely the police would understand?

    They didn’t. Zenia was unceremoniously deported to Baghdad. And when she arrived, her reward for summoning the courage to escape slavery, to protect herself from abuse, and notify the police about criminal activity, was rewarded with a two year prison sentence. Apparently, in Iraq, this passes for justice.