Wednesday, February 29, 2012

U.S. Treasury Dept. Penalizes Japan’s Largest Organized-Crime Group

The Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on Japan’s biggest yakuza group, an organized-crime syndicate that operates with relative impunity there and whose far-ranging criminal activity has become a significant concern in Washington.

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In an announcement on Thursday, the department said it would freeze the American-based assets of the group, the Yamaguchi-gumi, and two of its leaders. It will also bar any transactions between Americans and members of the penalized crime syndicate. Yakuza have been tied todrug trafficking and other crimes in the United States, with particular prominence in Hawaii and California. The Treasury did not elaborate on the dollar value of United States-based accounts that might be frozen under the new sanctions.

In a statement, the Treasury said the group made “billions of dollars” every year around the world. Its criminal activity includes prostitution, money laundering, fraud and trafficking in humans, weapons and drugs.

The action “casts a spotlight on key members of criminal organizations that have engaged in a wide range of serious crimes,” David S. Cohen, under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.

“We will continue to work with our international partners to target those who deal in violence, narcotics, money laundering and the exploitation of women and children,” Mr. Cohen said.

The Treasury is using sanctions authority created by a 2011 executive order. In the order, President Obama said he had determined that criminal organizations — including the yakuza, the Camorra crime syndicate in Italy and Mexico’s Zetas drug cartel — “constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States.”

Yamaguchi-gumi; its reputed “godfather,” Kenichi Shinoda; and its “deputy godfather,” Kiyoshi Takayama, are the first to be penalized under the order.

The Treasury also announced sanctions against a major crime syndicate called the Brothers’ Circle, along with several of its top members. The Brothers’ Circle, formerly known as the Family of Eleven or the Twenty, is a multiethnic umbrella organization for criminal groups operating across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

The yakuza gangs, which boast about 80,000 members, have deep historical roots in Japan and have operated for more than a century. They recently have been tied to a wide range of businesses, including the nuclear industry and Olympus, the Japanese camera manufacturer mired in a major accounting scandal.

According to a 2009 report by Japan’s National Police Agency, the Yamaguchi-gumi had 19,000 members and 17,400 associates, making it the biggest yakuza group. Recently, Japanese authorities have been cracking down on the yakuza, with citizens becomingincreasingly intolerant of the criminal underworld. But local authorities have struggled to scrub the groups from industries where they hold considerable influence, like construction.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

To End Prostitution, Start With the Demand Side

To the Editor:

In “As Other Crimes Recede, Street Prostitution Keeps Its Wily Hold” (news article, Feb. 13), you report that New York City’s police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, is directing law enforcement to arrest those who buy prostituted human beings for sexual exploitation.

Commissioner Kelly, by adopting this human-rights, women’s-rights-based approach, joins the growing ranks of leaders in law enforcement who have made ending sex trafficking their priority.

For too long, prostitution laws have been enforced in a gender-discriminatory manner. Those being sold and arrested are overwhelmingly women and girls. Those who buy the prostituted, or sell them, are overwhelmingly male, and face far fewer, if any, legal consequences for their actions.

If we are to stand a chance at ending sex trafficking, we must deepen our understanding of the end point of sex trafficking, which is prostitution. Those of us who reject the notion that prostitution is sex work (when did human sexuality become work anyway?) and see it as an end result of some of the worst social conditions possible (sexual abuse in childhood, poverty, gender inequality, racism) must fashion remedies that address those conditions.

Rather than make social injustice more tolerable, we must work to end it — in our lifetime and forever.

Executive Director, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women
New York, Feb. 14, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Man Charged In Sex Slave Case

The trial for a southwest Missouri man accused of keeping a woman as a sex slave has been delayed by seven months. The Lebanon Daily Record reports that the trial for Ed Bagley Senior and his wife, Marilyn, had been scheduled to begin February 13th. But U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Larsen has ordered the trial to be rescheduled to September 17th. Prosecutors allege the couple groomed the woman to be a sex slave after she moved into their trailer in Lebanon while she was a teenager. The woman went to authorities only after going into cardiac arrest following a torture session.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Good info from another blog on what to do to combat child trafficking

Read more:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Florida Mom Accused Of Pimping Daughter For Drugs

Police arrested Tony Marcel Hammond, 23, after he allegedly had sex with a child in exchange for prescription pain killers Oxycodone and Percocet for her mother. The victim's mother, Debra Annmarie Blackmon, 25, reportedly made the arrangements and her daughter agreed to have sex with Hammond in December, according to the police report. … The report goes on to say Hammond gave the young girl marijuana to "help [the victim] complete the sex act." Afterwards, Hammond provided the drugs to her mother. Hammond has been charged with sex trafficking charges and procuring a person under 18 years old for prostitution. … Blackmon has been charged with sex trafficking of a minor by legal guardian and child neglect causing great bodily harm.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Attack on VAWA---seriously?

By Ian Millhiser on Feb 15, 2012 at 10:30 am
Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, and it’s been reauthorized without a hitch twice since then. Now that it’s up for reauthorization again, however, Senate Republicans have suddenly decided to use it as part of an anti-gay and anti-immigrant crusade. Every single Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against reauthorization, with Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) taking the lead against the bill:
The objections, led by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and a few conservative organizations, are not over the VAWA as a whole, but over a few new provisions in the reauthorization —specifically, protections for LGBT individuals, undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic abuse and the authority of Native American tribes to prosecute crimes.
The Leahy bill enumerates protections for LGBT victims of domestic violence, forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by VAWA grantees.
The VAWA reauthorization also expands the availability of visas for undocumented immigrants who have been victims of domestic violence and may be reluctant to come forward because of the risk of deportation. VAWA has always protected this group of individuals, but the reauthorization would raise the cap on visas for battered women and sexual assault victims from 10,000 to 15,000. The additional visas would come from recaptured visas in previous years that haven’t been utilized.
It is a mystery why Grassley or anyone else could think that battered gay men, lesbians or immigrants (or, for that matter, Native Americans) do not need the full protection of the law. Worse, Grassley’s tactic here does not simply deny protections to these individuals, he is literally holding a bill that protects all battered women hostage in order to score a few anti-gay and anti-immigrant points.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Human trafficking bill heads through Florida Legislature

A bill steadily moving through the Florida Legislature could make it easier to prosecute human trafficking crimes. The issue is an important one for Rep. Matt Gaetz, a co-sponsor of the bill, who said human trafficking is a big problem in Northwest Florida, particularly in the tourism industry. “It’s happening right under our noses and many people are not aware of it,” he said.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Massage Parlor Owners Charged With Human-Trafficking

The operators of four Rockville massage parlors are facing human-trafficking and prostitution-related charges. Montgomery County police said that investigators began probing the businesses in September and found that they were "havens" for human trafficking. Prostitution brothels were operating under the guise of being massage or acupressure parlors, according to police. Authorities charged 31-year-old Mauricio Alexa Garcia Guardia, operator of Executive Body Work at 966 Hungerford Drive; 48-year-old Howard Hao Wang, operator of Tropical Spa at 620 Hungerford Drive; 47-year-old Robert Carrasco, operator of Pink Spa at 932 Hungerford Drive; and 46-year-old Feng Liu, operator of Ya Ya Spa at 751 Rockville Pike. Guardia, Wang and Liu are charged with human trafficking; all four men are charged with conducting prostitution.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

More Florida News on the Sex Trafficking Front. Sigh.

Sex trafficker sentenced to 30 years in prison
A 35-year-old man from Tamarac was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for sex trafficking and producing child pornography, according to U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer.
Leighton Martin Curtis also was ordered to pay $54,500 restitution to the victim.
The trial evidence showed that in December 2009, Curtis recruited a 15-year-old runaway to work for him as a prostitute, going on "dates" within days. He also took sexually explicit photographs of her to be used in prostitution ads on web sites such as Craigslist and, according to court documents.
Curtis brought her to Broward from North Carolina onNew Year's Eve2009. She worked as a prostitute under Curtis for more than a year, four to five days per week, servicing five to seven customers per day, throughout Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, generating thousands of dollars weekly, according to trial testimony.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

For battered immigrant women, fear of deportation becomes abusers’ weapon, but 2 laws can overcome that

By Pamela Constable
Teresa Gomez, a Salvadoran woman in her 20s, and Margaret Ashong, a grandmother from Ghana, endured regular beatings, threats and insults by the fathers of their children. Like many battered immigrant women in the Washington area, they mostly suffered in silence, fearful that if they went to the police they could lose their right to remain in the United States and their source of economic support.
It was not until both women ended up in emergency rooms — Teresa with her face slashed and bloodied from a knife attack, Margaret bruised and traumatized from another beating — that they discovered a network of support that eventually helped them obtain legal immigration status as well as psychological and financial help.
“He treated me like a slave, and there was no one I could tell,” said Ashong, 62, who lives in Arlington County. “He told the police I was not his wife and that they should send me back to my country. But [the police] said to me, ‘Don’t weep, madam, this is not an immigration matter. It is a case of domestic violence. We will get help for you.’ ”
In the past decade, several new laws have allowed abused foreign-born women, including those who entered the United States illegally and those whose immigration status depends on their spouse, to obtain legal residency on their own.
Lawyers at two area nonprofit legal agencies, Ayuda in Takoma Park and the Tahirih Justice Center in Arlington County, said that in the past several years, they have helped hundreds of foreign-born women win the right to remain in the United States after they were able to prove to immigration authorities that they had been abused or assaulted by a boyfriend, husband, employer or acquaintance.
But, the lawyers said, a far larger number of abused immigrant women — especially those who entered illegally — never find out that they are entitled to such relief. Instead, they remain isolated and trapped in a terrible dilemma: afraid of men who subject them to emotional and physical harm, yet equally afraid of the consequences of turning them in.

“In many cases, the threat of deportation is part of the abuse,” said Paula Fitzgerald, a lawyer atAyuda, which means “help” in Spanish. When immigrant women from poor countries come to the United States to join husbands who are legal residents or citizens, she said, they often do not speak English or understand American laws. “The sponsor holds their legal status over their head and uses it to control them,” she said.
For victims who do come forward, there are two forms of relief that allow them to obtain legal status on their own. One is the Violence Against Women Act, enacted in 1994 and widely used in the past several years, which permits battered women to apply for work permits and later for legal residency. The other is the “ U visa,” in use since 2007, which allows victims of sexual assault and other crimes to win legal residency if they cooperate with police and the judicial system to help prosecute the offender.
Laura Cortez, 30, an illegal immigrant from Central America who lives in Alexandria, told police that she was molested by a man from her church who convinced her that she was possessed by demons and that he had to exorcise them. Law enforcement officials, eager to prosecute the man for other suspected offenses, supported her application for a U visa after she agreed to help them. She now has a work permit and within four years can become a permanent resident.
“What happened to me was very ugly, but it had a happy ending,” Cortez said. “I was scared I was going to be deported, but I had to do something. I was so sick and upset that I couldn’t sleep or eat. I helped the police uncover what was inside the tamale,” she said, using a Spanish metaphor. “Maybe that saved some other victims, too.”
An extra advantage of a U visa is that it entitles women to sponsor their children for immigration to the United States. That’s a strong inducement for them to cooperate with law enforcement authorities, especially for the Hispanic community, where thousands of women from Mexico and Central America migrate illegally to the United States to work, leaving their children behind for years in the care of relatives.
Yadira Gonzalez, 30, a dishwasher from Nicaragua, entered the United States illegally in 2007 and left two young children with her parents. In Northern Virginia, she became involved with a man, and they had a baby. The man grew increasingly violent, and she obtained a court protection order. Eventually, with her testimony, he was prosecuted and deported. As a reward for her cooperation, Gonzalez won the right not only to remain here, but also to send for her kids back home.
“The U visa was created strictly to benefit law enforcement. They were tired of undocumented people not cooperating against crime, of victims and witnesses being deported,” said Layli Miller-Muro, director of the Tahirih Justice Center. Even if the law may seem to generously reward illegal immigrants, she added, “it can work the other way. I have seen horrible cases of abuse, but the police didn’t want to pursue the case, so the woman didn’t get the visa.”
Sometimes, women who enter the United States illegally are fleeing domestic abuse in their home countries. In such cases, there is another potential source of legal relief in the American asylum system, which was established to provide a haven for foreigners who can show they have a “well-founded fear” of persecution or harm if forced to return home.
Although asylum is most often granted to individuals who have suffered for political, religious or social reasons, it has also been awarded to a handful of women who faced sexual or domestic abuse. The groundbreaking case was that of Fauziya Kasinga, a woman from Togo who was subjected to genital mutilation as part of a tribal ritual. She was granted asylum in 1996.
Since then, most immigration judges have found that being beaten in their home country is insufficient grounds for asylum, but women’s rights activists keep pushing to change this thinking.
“There has been this fear that if judges started granting asylum because of domestic violence, it would open up the floodgates,” said Morgan Wiebel, an attorney for a woman in Frederick who fled to the states from her abusive husband, a police officer in Honduras. She applied for asylum several years ago, but her case is still on appeal.
Even when battered immigrant women win full legal protection, painful memories can persist long after the abuse. Each of 10 women interviewed for this article wept repeatedly as they described the humiliation and helplessness they felt, even years later.
Ashong, an effusive woman who works as a live-in aide for an elderly invalid, burst into tears and clutched a tissue to her face. “What did I ever do wrong to him, that he should beat me like that?” she asked over and over. “I am happy now that I got my life back, but the pain is still there.”
Gomez, a petite woman of 24, uses a different last name in public but asked that it not be published. She said her entire life changed on April 3, 2007, when her estranged boyfriend dragged her into the kitchen and began to punch and stab her in a frenzied rage. Two days later, she awoke in a hospital room.
“I got up and went to the bathroom. When I saw my face in the mirror, it was the face of a monster. It wasn’t me at all,” she recounted, sobbing. Her former boyfriend was arrested and deported. He later died overseas.
But Gomez, who won full legal residency, said she still has nightmares that he will find her. “I am even afraid to close my eyes in the shower,” she said.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Canadian Company Swept Up in Suspected Plot to Smuggle a Qaddafi

The Canadian company SNC-Lavalin had paid more than $100,000 to a consultant charged in what the authorities call a plot to smuggle one of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s sons into Mexico.

OTTAWA — It began as a seemingly implausible tale of a consultant from small-town Canada charged in what the authorities call a plot to smuggle Saadi el-Qaddafi, a son of the former Libyan dictator, intoMexico.

Tim Wimborne/Reuters

There are charges of a plot to take Saadi el-Qaddafi to Mexico.

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But in the backdrop, questions have loomed about the role of a multibillion-dollar Canadian company that had extensive business dealings with the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and paid the consultant more than $100,000 to travel to Libya, despite her evident inexperience in the region.

The lingering questions jumped to the forefront on Thursday when the company, SNC-Lavalin, announced that it had fired two senior executives connected to the accused consultant, suggesting that they had run afoul of its “code of ethics and business conduct.”

SNC-Lavalin, a Canadian engineering and construction giant, had significant business connections with the Qaddafi government, and with Saadi el-Qaddafi in particular. During last year’s turmoil in Libya, about 1,000 foreigners were working for SNC-Lavalin inside the country. Leslie Quinton, a spokeswoman for the company, confirmed that its projects included the construction of the “Judicial City” prison in collaboration with the Libyan Engineering Corps led by Mr. Qaddafi.

Last year, SNC-Lavalin also agreed to pay the jailed consultant, Cynthia Vanier, more than $100,000 to travel to Libya, Ms. Quinton said, in order to act “as a third-party adviser, to counsel on how to resume our operations in Libya, especially on issues regarding the safety and security of our personnel.”

While the company has consistently denied any involvement in “an attempt at an extraction mission,” exactly how or why it became involved with Ms. Vanier, who was charged last week by the Mexican authorities in connection with the supposed plot, remains unclear. Little in Ms. Vanier’s background made her an obvious candidate for assessing the situation in Libya on behalf of a corporation with long experience of its own in that region.

Through a small consulting firm she ran with her husband, Pierre, and one employee in Mount Forest, Ontario, Ms. Vanier mainly acted as a mediator in disputes involving indigenous groups in Canada. Her résumé does not indicate that she has any experience in Libya or an educational background related to the region.

Nor did the company specifically explain in a brief statement released on Thursday night why it had fired the two executives, Riadh Ben Aïssa, a Tunisian-born Canadian who was executive vice president of the construction and infrastructure division, and Stéphane Roy, the vice president of finance for that unit.

Adding to the mystery, Mr. Ben Aïssa said in a statement that he would sue the company for suggesting that he was fired for ethical violations, but his spokesman would not explain why he left the company, although he said that the departure was voluntary.

Within SNC-Lavalin, documents show that Mr. Roy was Ms. Vanier’s contact. After traveling to Libya by private jet, Ms. Vanier produced a five-page report highly critical of the NATO-led bombing campaign in support of Libyan rebels.

Mr. Roy praised the report as “eye-opening” in a letter to her dated Aug. 4, 2011. He added: “Hopefully, as a neutral third party, your findings will be able to shed the truth on the real events happening on the ground.”

Last December, Ms. Quinton, the SNC-Lavalin spokeswoman, said in an e-mail that the report marked the end of the company’s involvement with Ms. Vanier. Last week, she changed the story, indicating that Mr. Roy continued to work with Ms. Vanier until her arrest in November.

Gary P. Peters, who provided security for Ms. Vanier’s trip to Libya, said that the company sent him to Tunis at its expense in September. While there, he said, he joined Mr. Ben Aïssa and Mr. Roy, the two executives, at an SNC-Lavalin office for a teleconference call with Mr. Qaddafi. The company acknowledged that a meeting with Mr. Peters took place, yet refused to say who attended, arguing that it “did not result in any contract or business arrangement.”

But after that meeting, Mr. Peters said, he then traveled to Libya and led a group that escorted Mr. Qaddafi to the border with Niger, where he remains.

Paul Copeland, Ms. Vanier’s Canadian lawyer, said that border officials twice conducted unusually comprehensive searches of jets that Ms. Vanier used to travel to and from Mexico, where she and her husband own a home.

On Nov. 10, the Mexican police swept in and arrested Ms. Vanier in Mexico City. The next day, Mr. Roy arrived in Mexico expecting to meet Ms. Vanier to “discuss potential water treatment projects,” SNC-Lavalin later said in an e-mail. The company said that Mr. Roy was present when an associate of Ms. Vanier’s was arrested. It declined to explain why Mr. Roy would be conducting such a trip. It said last week that he was not detained by the Mexican authorities and, to its knowledge, is not the subject of any investigation.

Mexican officials claim that Ms. Vanier was carrying forged documents at the time of her arrest and had negotiated a property purchase that was being made on Mr. Qaddafi’s behalf.

Ms. Vanier and Gabriela Dávila Huerta, a friend and associate of Ms. Vanier, have been charged with organized crime, attempted human trafficking and falsifying documents. A Danish citizen, Pierre Christian Flensborg, and a Mexican, José Luis Kennedy, had received the same charges, but a judge dismissed the organized crime and document falsification ones this week. Mr. Flensborg was arrested with Ms. Davila as they left a hotel in Mexico City with Mr. Roy on Nov. 11.

Ms. Vanier’s parents said that the fake documents were planted in a wallet that she received as a gift, and that the real estate dealings were nothing more than an attempt by Ms. Vanier and her husband to trade up to a better vacation home.

But John MacDonald, her father, acknowledged that they, too, were confused by the chain of events that have left their daughter in a Mexican jail for months.

Ian Austen reported from Ottawa, and Elisabeth Malkin from Mexico City.

Friday, February 10, 2012

More News on the Legislative Fight Against Trafficking in Florida

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi Advocates Zero Tolerance for Human Trafficking

2:37 PM, Feb 8, 2012 | comments
Fla. Attorney General Pam Bondi
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Attorney General Pam Bondi advocated for tougher legislation for human trafficking in the state capitol today.

Bondi is voicing support for Senate Bill 1880 and House Bill 7049. If approved, both would strengthen existing laws against human trafficking. According to the Attorney General's office, human trafficking is a 32-billion bollar industry.

Senator Anitere Flores (R-Miami) and Representative William Snyder (R-Stuart) are the bills' sponsors. Both joined Bondi today asking for the increased penalties.

If passed, the bills would combine Florida's three existing human trafficking statutes into one statute. The Attorney General's office says this would be more user-friendly for law enforcement.

The legislation would increase penalties for trafficking to be consistent with federal human trafficking laws.

Law enforcement agencies would be able to request warrants to "intercept oral and electronic communications" related to human trafficking investigations.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Trafficking, as told from Dartmouth

Local human trafficking persists in Upper Valley

By Lindsay Ellis, The Dartmouth Staff

Published on Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sex trafficking in the Upper Valley primarily victimizes vulnerable, female adolescents, Abby Tassel, WISE assistant director and former College Sexual Abuse Awareness Program coordinator, said in a Monday discussion — held in Fahey-McLane hall in front of about 20 students — coordinated by the Modern Abolition Initiative. Many are unaware that sex trafficking exists even in the Upper Valley, according to Peggy O’Neil, executive director of WISE.

Trafficking, which Tassel called “modern-day slavery,” often stems from domestic and sexual violence, with a trafficker posing as the victim’s boyfriend or partner.

“It’s common for the man to meet the victim and say, ‘I’m going to take care of you; you’re going to be my girlfriend,’ and then enslave her,” she said.

Although exact numbers regarding instances of trafficking are “hard to know,” Tassel said she has seen several cases while working at WISE, a designated support center for issues related to stalking and domestic and sexual violence. WISE, located in Lebanon, works to offer support and raise awareness for victims of sex trafficking, according to O’Neil.

Sex trafficking occurs when a victim of sexual exploitation is a minor or if force, fraud or coercion is involved, Tassel said.

Coercion can include threats to a victim’s family or taking his or her money away, she said. Tassel said a woman with whom she previously worked thought giving away her money seemed natural because she assumed that her trafficker had invested it or used it to pay for her lodging, Tassel said.

“It became clear that she would never see any of that money, and if she didn’t do a number of tricks in a particular night, he would beat her,” she said.

Trafficked individuals are not solely poverty-stricken, desperate individuals — they can also be students or come from “well-to-do” families, Tassel said.

“It’s quite amazing how sophisticated the manipulation can be,” she said. “Once someone is in the grips of this perpetration, it’s hard to escape.”

The average age of female victims is 12 to 14 years old, while male victims are typically 11 to 13 years old, according to Tassel. The average prostitute sees 10 men per day, but the average sex trafficking victim sees 20 to 35 men per day. Upper Valley officials have seen more street prostitution than sex trafficking, but truck stops throughout New Hampshire are “good places” for sex traffickers, she said.

“In a place like the Upper Valley, it would be easy to say it’s hard to hide a trafficking operation, but I’m always amazed about the reality of what happens here,” Tassel said.

Tassel said one woman she worked with had been trafficked as a girl, despite coming from a well-to-do family, and was sold by her parents to professors and other Upper Valley residents. Another woman Tassel worked with said her trafficker required her to make between $500 and $1,500 per day, Tassel said.

“She was exhausted,” Tassel said. “The level of violence is unimaginable. He knew where she lived and would come and make her go to work.”

Media coverage of prostitution and trafficking have been “aggravating” in their inaccuracies, Tassel said. She referred to the film “Pretty Woman” (1990), in which a wealthy businessman hires a Hollywood prostitute and eventually falls in love with her as an example of the “ridiculous” depiction of prostitution.

“In ‘Pretty Woman,’ it’s like, ‘This is so fun — it would be great to meet this rich guy,’“ Tassel said. “Prostitution is unbelievably horrible, demeaning, dangerous and violent. Women I’ve worked with who have been prostituted — they are being beaten and raped on a regular basis.”

A federal law was passed in 2000 to forbid sex trafficking, and states have recently passed supplemental laws, Tassel said. New Hampshire passed state legislation forbidding “the trafficking in persons for the purposes of sexual or labor exploitation” in 2009, according to a Human Trafficking Data Collection and Reporting project published by Northeastern University.

Although Tassel praised anti-trafficking legislation, the cycle of dependency continues, she said. Trafficked women are “the ones who get arrested” on charges of prostitution, and in many cases, the trafficker bails out the victim, who then feels obligated to continue to work for him, she said. If a prostitute is not paid or suffers abuse at the hands of a client, she may not feel safe reporting her abuse to the police.

“If someone is doing sex work, they don’t feel like they can go to law enforcement to report because they’re already doing something against the law,” Tassel said.

The existence of trafficking in the Upper Valley surprised Josef Linnhoff, an exchange student from the University of Edinburgh who attended the discussion.

“I imagined it would be a problem in New York or Boston,” Linnhoff said. “It’s so rural here.”

Tassel said in an interview following the lecture that she became aware of human trafficking in the Upper Valley in the fall of 2006. A couple from Litchfield, N.H. traveled to Jamaica and returned with several men who had been promised jobs at a log removal company, Tassel said. Upon their return to New Hampshire, the couple refused to pay the men and took away their legal documents. The U.S. Attorney General who prosecuted the case was present at a training session Tassel attended, she said.

“I realized I was seeing trafficking cases and not thinking of them as trafficking,” Tassel, who has been working at WISE since 2004, said. “There is a whole other level of criminal justice intervention I wasn’t thinking about before.”

Tassel served as the Sexual Abuse Awareness Program coordinator at the College until she resigned in April 2005, largely because she was critized for being too “student-focused,” she said at the time.

Sex trafficking often flies under the radar, much like other issues that WISE addresses, O’Neil said.

“By raising awareness and talking about it, we hope to be providing more information about the problem,” she said. “If people think someone is being trafficked, they know how to respond to that.”

The Modern Abolition Initiative, which hosted the discussion, works to raise such awareness, Yesuto Shaw ’15, who planned the event, said. MAI will screen a movie called “Sex + Money,” about domestic sex trafficking, on Feb. 24 to continue to address the issue, according to Shaw. In the future, the organization will raise funds for advocacy groups, he said.

MAI, founded last spring by Liz King ’13, Ify Achebe ’13 and Gabby Mezochow ’13, facilitates discussion that aims to mobilize Dartmouth students to combat modern-day slavery, King said in an email to The Dartmouth.