Friday, November 30, 2012

ICE Joins The Good Fight

ICE launches radio PSA outreach campaign to combat human trafficking

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sent this bulletin at 11/14/2012 03:43 PM EST
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WASHINGTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) today announced the start of a national radio public service announcement (PSA) campaign to generate awareness about human trafficking.

The PSA will air today through Saturday on 24 English and 19 Spanish language radio stations in the following cities: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, El Paso, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Saint Paul, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Juan, Seattle, Tampa and Washington.

ICE's Hidden In Plain Sight campaign is part of the Department of Homeland Security's Blue Campaign and its goal is to alert the public about the existence of human trafficking in communities nationwide and prompt a call to action for individuals who encounter possible victims. Additional information on human trafficking is available here.

ICE has focused its efforts to educate the public about the plight of human trafficking victims. For this outreach effort the agency is turning to radio stations for assistance in generating awareness about human trafficking in the United States as well as for everyone to look for signs of this crime and report possible trafficking situations to safeguard victims.

If anyone knows or suspects someone is being held against their will, ICE strongly urges them to contact the ICE tip line at             1-866-DHS-2-ICE      . Individuals can also view the television PSA by clicking here.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

No Victim? Don’t Give Up

No Victim?  Don’t Give Up
Creative Strategies in Prosecuting Human Trafficking Cases Using Forfeiture by Wrongdoing and Other Evidence-Based Techniques
Jennifer Gentile Long, JD and Teresa Garvey, JD

The challenges presented in the course of investigating and prosecuting human trafficking cases can be daunting. Among the most common and difficult of these obstacles is the inability or unwillingness of victims to participate in the process. This reluctance may be based upon a variety of factors, including the victims’ fear, shame, distrust of law enforcement, and a real — or perceived — lack of alternatives to trafficking as a way of life. Sometimes the unwillingness of victims to participate arises from their relationships with their traffickers, who may exploit love and intimate relationships to recruit their victims. The undercurrents in such cases involve many of the same dynamics prevalent in dating, intimate partner, or sexual violence as well as child abuse. Also present, however, is the traffickers’ significant financial interest in the victims, as well as the traffickers’ increased exposure to state and federal criminal charges if detected. Accordingly, trafficking victims face enormous pressure not to engage the criminal justice system and serious negative consequences if they do choose to seek help.

Click here to read more.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Addressing Modern Slavery in the ASEAN Region

Addressing Modern Slavery in the ASEAN Region

Fact Sheet
Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
November 20, 2012

With its partners at home and around the world, the United States is committed to enhancing efforts to end human trafficking, a crime President Obama has called a “debasement of our common humanity…which must be called by its true name—modern slavery.”
Together with the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and in partnership with civil society, the United States looks forward to enhancing regional efforts to protect and rehabilitate trafficking survivors, bring traffickers to justice, and raise awareness so that trafficking can be stopped before it starts.
During the ASEAN-U.S. Leaders’ Meeting, held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on November 19, 2012, President Obama and the 10 ASEAN heads of state agreed to improve cooperative efforts to tackle modern slavery, including the forced labor and sex trafficking of women, men, and children. The United States agreed to work with ASEAN members to harmonize legal frameworks in defining and prohibiting human trafficking, increase cross-border joint investigation, and build capacity for a standardized response to trafficking victims’ needs. To advance these objectives, the United States pledged $500,000 in technical assistance and training for ASEAN and its member states.
This new commitment complements these existing U.S. Government programs in the region:
In Cambodia, the United States works with the Royal Government of Cambodia and civil society to provide psychological support and other services to address trauma and other mental health needs of victims of sex and labor trafficking. Assistance also provides economic support to trafficking victims through training and job placement.
In the Philippines, the United States helps build the capacity of frontline service providers and funds victim support activities, which makes prosecution efforts more effective and increases conviction rates. The programs support awareness campaigns as well as comprehensive and integrated protective services to trafficking victims to ensure they gain new life skills and reduce their vulnerability to re-trafficking. In addition, the Partnership for Growth between the Philippines and the U.S. will promote inclusive growth that is focused on generating meaningful employment and income opportunities for the traditionally neglected segments of the population—those most vulnerable to human trafficking.
In Vietnam, U.S.-funded efforts have led to valuable research on victim protection and prosecution procedures, and key pilot projects have improved shelter conditions and services provided to victims.
In an anti-trafficking prevention effort across the region, USAID funds MTV-EXIT (End Exploitation and Trafficking), a global multimedia campaign. In Southeast Asia, the program raises awareness of trafficking among youth and vulnerable populations to prevent human trafficking in Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, and will open in Burma in December through a public concert held in Rangoon’s People’s Square. Since 2006, MTV EXIT has produced 30 major concert events, 76 television and online programs, and dozens of outreach activities and has engaged over 700,000 regional youth. Beginning in late November, ASEAN and MTV Exit will host a Youth Session to provide training in social media to combat TIP and build regional networks to further enhance awareness. Read more at
BURMA: This September, President Obama made a public commitment to enhancing the United States’ partnership with Burma on trafficking in persons, as part of our continued support for Burma’s ongoing reforms.
“Last week I was proud to welcome to the Oval Office not only a great champion of democracy but a fierce advocate against the use of forced labor and child soldiers—Aung San Suu Kyi. And as part of our engagement, we’ll encourage Burma to keep taking steps to reform—because nations must speak with one voice: Our people and our children are not for sale.”
To honor this commitment, and in light of the progress made by the Government of Burma on combating trafficking in persons over the last two years, this week the Governments of the United States and Burma announced a new joint plan to counter trafficking in persons, which will include the establishment of a formal, senior-level dialogue. The United States is committed to enhancing Burma’s progress through the sharing of technical knowledge and best practices, heralding a new era of U.S.-Burma cooperation.
Areas of cooperation under the joint action plan include:
Identifying trafficking offenses;
Investigating and prosecuting trafficking offenders;
Providing victims with access to services in line with existing international guidelines; and
Preventing Burmese citizens from being subjected to sex trafficking or forced labor either within the country’s borders or abroad.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

News from the Department of Justice

Alex Campbell, 45, of Glenview, Ill., a former northwest suburban massage parlor owner was sentenced today to life in federal prison for various crimes including sex-trafficking, forced labor, harboring illegal aliens, confiscating passports to further forced labor and extortion involving four foreign women whom he mentally and physically abused while forcing them to work for him, the Justice Department announced today. The defendant, who operated the Day and Night Spa on Northwest Highway in Mt. Prospect, Ill., used violence and threats of violence to force three women from the Ukraine and one from Belarus to work for him without pay and, at times, little to no subsistence between July 2008 and January 2010.

Campbell, also known as “Dave” and “Daddy” and who called himself “Cowboy,” was also ordered to pay approximately $124,000 restitution by U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman. There is no parole in the federal prison system.

Campbell was convicted at trial in January of this year of three counts each of forced labor, harboring illegal aliens for financial gain and confiscating passports and other immigration documents to force the victims to work and one count each of sex trafficking by force, and extortion. He faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum of life on the sex-trafficking count alone, and the judge also imposed maximum prison terms ranging from five to 20 years on each of the remaining counts, to run concurrent with the life sentence.

“Alex Campbell abused women by violently coercing them into labor and commercial sex. By working together with law enforcement and community groups, those women were able to testify about that abuse,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Today’s sentence is a victory not only for the Department and the Cook County Human Trafficking Task Force, but also for those women who so bravely came forward and told the truth about their exploitation.”

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cellphones Reshape Prostitution in India, and Complicate Efforts to Prevent AIDS

Cellphones Reshape Prostitution in India, and Complicate Efforts to Prevent AIDS

Kuni Takahashi for The New York Times
Sex workers in Mumbai’s long-established red-light district, where brothels are dwindling.
Published: November 24, 2012

MUMBAI, India — Millions once bought sex in the narrow alleys of Kamathipura, a vast red-light district here. But prostitutes with inexpensive mobile phones are luring customers elsewhere, and that is endangering the astonishing progress India has made against AIDS.

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Kuni Takahashi for The New York Times
Champa, at right, a brothel owner in Mumbai, has seen her profits decline as cellphones have made prostitutes more independent.
Indeed, the recent closings of hundreds of ancient brothels, while something of an economic victory for prostitutes, may one day cost them, and many others, their lives.

“The place where sex happens turns out to be an important H.I.V. prevention point,” said Saggurti Niranjan, program associate of the Population Council. “And when we don’t know where that is, we can’t help stop the transmission.”

Cellphones, those tiny gateways to modernity, have recently allowed prostitutes to shed the shackles of brothel madams and strike out on their own. But that independence has made prostitutes far harder for government and safe-sex counselors to trace. And without the advice and free condoms those counselors provide, prostitutes and their customers are returning to dangerous ways.

Studies show that prostitutes who rely on cellphones are more susceptible to H.I.V. because they are far less likely than their brothel-based peers to require their clients to wear condoms.

In interviews, prostitutes said they had surrendered some control in the bedroom in exchange for far more control over their incomes.

“Now, I get the full cash in my hand before we start,” said Neelan, a prostitute with four children whose side business in sex work is unknown to her husband and neighbors. (Neelan is a professional name, not her real one.)

“Earlier, if the customer got scared and didn’t go all the way, the madam might not charge the full amount,” she explained. “But if they back out now, I say that I have removed all my clothes and am going to keep the money.”

India has been the world’s most surprising AIDS success story. Though infections did not appear in India until 1986, many predicted the nation would soon become the epidemic’s focal point. In 2002, the C.I.A.’s National Intelligence Council predicted that India would have as many as 25 million AIDS cases by 2010. Instead, India now has about 1.5 million.

An important reason the disease never took extensive hold in India is that most women here have fewer sexual partners than in many other developing countries. Just as important was an intensive effort underwritten by the World Bank and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to target high-risk groups like prostitutes, gay men and intravenous drug users.

But the Gates Foundation is now largely ending its oversight and support for AIDS prevention in India, just as efforts directed at prostitutes are becoming much more difficult. Experts say it is too early to identify how much H.I.V. infections might rise.

“Nowadays, the mobility of sex workers is huge, and contacting them is very difficult,” said Ashok Alexander, the former director in India of the Gates Foundation. “It’s a totally different challenge, and the strategies will also have to change.”

An example of the strategies that had been working can be found in Delhi’s red-light district on Garstin Bastion Road near the old Delhi railway station, where brothels have thrived since the 16th century. A walk through dark alleys, past blind beggars and up narrow, steep and deeply worn stone staircases brings customers into brightly lighted rooms teeming with scores of women brushing each other’s hair, trying on new dresses, eating snacks, performing the latest Bollywood dances, tending small children and disappearing into tiny bedrooms with nervous men who come out moments later buttoning their trousers.

A 2009 government survey found 2,000 prostitutes at Garstin Bastion (also known as G. B.) Road who served about 8,000 men a day. The government estimated that if it could deliver as many as 320,000 free condoms each month and train dozens of prostitutes to counsel safe-sex practices to their peers, AIDS infections could be significantly reduced. Instead of broadcasting safe-sex messages across the country — an expensive and inefficient strategy commonly employed in much of the world — it encircled Garstin Bastion with a firebreak of posters with messages like “Don’t take a risk, use a condom” and “When a condom is in, risk is out.”

Surprising many international AIDS experts, these and related tactics worked. Studies showed that condom use among clients of prostitutes soared.

“To the credit of the Indian strategists, their focus on these high-risk groups paid off,” said Dr. Peter Piot, the former executive director of U.N.AIDS and now director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. A number of other countries, following India’s example, have achieved impressive results over the past decade as well, according to the latest United Nations report, which was released last week.

But now that mobile phones are untethering prostitution from brothels, those targeted measures are threatened. At the same time, the advent of cellphones seems to be expanding the sex marketplace — luring more women into part-time sex work and persuading more men to pay for sex. Cellphone-based massage and escort services are mushrooming across India.

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“There may now be clients who may not have otherwise availed themselves of the services but do so now because it is easier and more private,” said Suneeta Krishnan, a senior epidemiologist with Research Triangle Institute of North Carolina.

The changes have led to a steep drop in business on Delhi’s Garstin Bastion Road and have nearly destroyed Mumbai’s Kamathipura district, where brothels had thrived since the 18th century.

Champa, a wrinkled madam with silver toe rings, bangles on her wrists and henna-dyed hair, has for 50 years owned a brothel in a narrow lane here. But like many other industries where information technology has undermined the role of middlemen between buyers and sellers, Champa’s business is withering.

“It’s the end of Kamathipura,” Champa said with a resigned wave as she squatted on the floor of her entryway.

She once had as many as 20 prostitutes living in her nine-bedroom brothel; she now has three, she said. Worse, at least from her point of view, the women working for her collect their own fees and offer her just $2 a day to rent one of her tiny bedrooms. As recently as five years ago, Champa — she has just one name — collected $2 for every client served.

As Champa spoke, several garishly dressed young women walked through the brothel’s tiny foyer to sweep and water the hard dirt floor just outside. The lane was teeming with laborers, uniformed schoolchildren, and veiled matrons. The prostitutes soon settled onto benches and teased the men getting haircuts at a nearby outdoor barbershop.

There were once 75 brothels on this lane; now there are eight. Kamathipura had as many as 50,000 prostitutes in the 1990s but now has fewer than 5,000, according to city officials and nongovernmental organizations.

Kamathipura’s destruction is partly a tale of urban renewal. India’s rapid development has turned former slums into sought-after addresses, and rising land values led many brothel owners to sell out.

But just as important has been the spread of cellphones into the hands of nearly three out of four Indians. Five years ago, cellphones were still a middle-class accouterment. Fierce competition led prices to plunge, and now even trash pickers and rickshaw drivers answer pocket phones.

But not all has changed. Vicious madams still exist, human trafficking is still rampant, village girls are still duped into the trade, and some brothels still thrive. Most prostitutes are illiterate, come from lower castes and are poor. But cellphones have given them a measure of power they did not have before.

“I’m happy that mobile phones are so popular and that I have this opportunity,” said Kushi, a mother who got into secret, part-time prostitution after she left her abusive and alcoholic husband. (Kushi is her work name.) She has three to four clients a week and charges each about $20, she said, compared with a typical price of $4 in cheap brothels.

“Cellphones allow the women to keep much more of their money,” Mr. Niranjan of the Population Council said. “But they make H.I.V. prevention programs more challenging.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

More to Be Grateful For in Greece Today

Romanian human trafficking ring dismantled in Greece
By Katerina Nikolas
Nov 20, 2012 - 22 hours ago in World

A Romanian human trafficking ring has been dismantled by Greek police. Ten Romanian citizens, including two minors, were released from squalid living conditions. They had been forced to work 12 hour days with no wages.
Greek police in Argolis, Athens, arrested four Romanians, two men and two women, and are searching for another Romanian and two Turks that were running an organized human trafficking ring. Those arrested held the identity cards of 31 Romanians, five passports, a shotgun and over €10,000.
The Star reported the traffickers lured their Romanian compatriots to Greece with the promise of agricultural work, promising they would receive free accommodation and wages of €25 per day. The Department for Combating Human Trafficking reported those trafficked received no wages and were housed in squalid conditions in a stable, for which each person was charged €50 per month.
According to Ta Nea the Greek operation to break the trafficking ring was instigated after reports of 41 Romanians being smuggled into Greece via a Turkish tourist bus appeared.
The 10 victims were in a bad physical and psychological condition. They are now under the protection of the Greek police and the Department of Organized Crime and Human Trafficking. reports Romania is a source of human trafficking "for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor."

Read more:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Australia's Female Prime Minister Promises $50 Million to Fight Against Trafficking

Gillard wants South China Sea code of conduct
PM By political correspondent Louise Yaxley in Phnom Penh
Updated 1 hour 12 minutes ago

VIDEO: Gillard backs Asian free-trade zone (7pm TV News ACT)
RELATED STORY: Gillard, Obama attend Cambodian trade summitRELATED STORY: Obama praises 'first steps' during Burma visit
MAP: Cambodia
Prime Minister Julia Gillard says Australia wants to see a code of conduct for resolving disputes over the South China Sea.

Territorial disputes over the South China Sea have overshadowed the East Asia Summit in Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh, where Ms Gillard is meeting regional leaders.

She has already spoken to Japan's prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, and China's leader, Wen Jiabao.

China has been reluctant to commit to starting formal talks on a legally binding code of conduct over the sea.

Ms Gillard says Australia does not take sides in the territorial disputes but argues they have to be resolved peacefully.

"We believe it is in everybody's interest that issues in the South China Sea are managed in a peaceful way in accordance with international law; that's Australia's perspective," she said.

"We do believe that a code of conduct would assist with making sure that any issues in the South China Sea, any conduct there, could be managed in accordance with the code, that is, that the rules and manner of responses would be predictable and knowable.

"That's Australia's position. It's been one of long standing and it's one we'll continue to argue for."

Ms Gillard says it is important to Australia that the issue is resolved.

"We are talking about an area of the world that our shipping needs to go through to take our goods to the world," she said.

During her meeting with Mr Wen, Ms Gillard presented the Chinese leader with a photo of former Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam meeting China's chairman Mao Zedong in 1973.

The gift, signed by Mr Whitlam, is to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two nations.

It is likely to be the last meeting between Ms Gillard and Mr Wen before China's new administration comes in next year.

Free trade

AUDIO: Listen to Louise Yaxley's report (PM)
Ms Gillard also says Australia will take any opportunity to push for free trade in the region.

United States president Barack Obama this morning launched the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which involves Canada, Mexico as well as countries on the western side of the Pacific.

Ms Gillard says Mr Obama is being ambitious about its scope and he wants the deal in place by October next year.

Trade Minister Craig Emerson, who is also in Phnom Penh, said Mr Obama seemed set to use his second term in office to push for the deal.

"The president of the United States was very enthusiastic and highly ambitious for the Trans-Pacific Partnership," he said.

"As a second-term president of the United States, it is clear that he wants to get this deal done and, indeed, he wants it to be a high-quality, truly liberalising agreement.

"The importance of that is that it creates more jobs and better jobs in the region and beyond."

Australia is also involved in another push to remove regional trade barriers.

Ms Gillard says Australia is keen to be a part of any group that can reduce tariffs and smash trade barriers.

"It makes sense to be involved in both and to be maximising our efforts in both," she said.

During a speech at the summit, Ms Gillard promised $1 million for more work to combat malaria in the region.

She also emphasised that Australia had recently promised $100 million over four years to help cut death rates.

The leaders at the summit will make a declaration committing to a regional response to the growing threat of drug-resistant malaria.

Ms Gillard says Australia is supporting a regional alliance to fight the problem.

"Malaria is a disease which disproportionately affects the poor," she said.

"In fact, in 2010 it was estimated 42,000 people in our region of the world died from malaria. Disturbingly, we are seeing the emergence of drug-resistant strains of malaria."

Ms Gillard has also promised $50 million to crack down on human trafficking.

The money will go towards helping investigators and prosecutors catch people who are exploiting others and force them into work or prostitution.

Cambodia is one of seven South East Asian nations to benefit from the funding.

"Trafficking in persons is a dreadful evil where people are forced into exploitative labour situations, and tragically, young people in particular are forced into prostitution," Ms Gillard said.

"The program I am announcing today will enable us to work with a number of our neighbours to reduce trafficking in people."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Trafficking Victory in Thailand

Human trafficking gang, luring Myanmar women, arrested
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BANGKOK, Nov 19 – The Thai authorities today announced the arrest of a human trafficking gang luring Myanmar women into prostitution.

Anti-Human Trafficking Division Commandant Pol Maj-Gen Chavalit Sawaengpud said at a press conference that four persons, two from Myanmar and two Thais, lured three Myanmar women aged 15-19 into prostitution.

The victims were told they were being brought to work at a sewing factory in outer Bangkok but instead they were forced for prostitution in a massage parlour in the capital's Rama IX area. The gang forced the victims' families to pay Bt50,000 each as ‘ransom insurance’.

In a related case, a 32-year-old Thai woman was apprehended as a member of an international human trafficking gang.  

She lured other Thai females to work in Oman, telling them they would work as Thai massage therapists earning Bt100,000/month. A Thai massage business there was opened only as a front.

Gen Chavalit said Thailand will cooperate with the Omani authorities in order to arrest the ringleader and others still at large.  

Meanwhile, the Anti-Human Trafficking Division cooperated with the Pavena Foundation for Children and Women helping five Thai women lured to Indonesia by a Singaporean who promised massage therapist jobs to them.

The victims were forced to pay the man luring them Bt70,000 each and secretly tried to contact their families until they received help.

The Thai courts issued an arrest warrant for the Singaporean suspected to have already fled Thailand. (MCOT online news)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Panel: Atlanta ‘hub’ of human trafficking
Panel: Atlanta ‘hub’ of human trafficking
by Caroline Young
November 14, 2012 02:15 PM | 1026 views | 0  | 6  |  |
One may hear the words “human trafficking” and believe it only happens somewhere far from home.

“This is an issue that knows no boundaries. It doesn’t matter where you live, what you look like, your background,” said Nekia Hackworth, assistant U.S. attorney for Georgia’s northern district.

Human traffickers run rampant throughout all areas of Atlanta, according to a panel of six who spoke Tuesday for Say-So, a conversational salon, at The Link Counseling Center’s National Resource Center in Sandy Springs.

“I had a 15-year-old girl that lived in Sandy Springs,” said Richard Randolph, investigator with the Fulton County District Attorney’s office. “This young lady skipped school and rode the MARTA train with her friends. She was picked up by a 42-year-old man that had a nice [car] with some rims. He said he wanted to take her on a date.”

Randolph said the man changed the girls’ identity by giving her a new birth certificate and Social Security card, and told her to remember everything.

“He got her an I.D. at the department of motor vehicles. … He recruited her and got a hotel in her name and forced her to have unprotected sex,” Randolph said.

Although the girl ended up getting herself out of the situation safely, it is more common for girls to get sucked into lives of prostitution, and the average age range is 12 to 14, according to Camilla Wright, head of the human trafficking unit for the Fulton County District Attorney’s office.

“Atlanta is one of the hubs for trafficking in the U.S. … Within the first 48 hours, one third of runaways encounter a trafficker,” Wright said. “These girls tell me time after time, they left home because something bad happened. They have to eat and need somewhere to stay. Whether they offer it as a father or a boyfriend, [traffickers] say they’ll take care of them.”

Human trafficking is the third largest moneymaking business in the U.S., according to Jennifer Swain, program manager of STOP CSEC [Commercially Sexually Exploited Children].

“It makes more money than McDonald’s, Google and Walmart together,” Swain said. “7,200 men purchase sex with adolescent girls in Georgia each month.”

As a result of sexually transmitted diseases and violence, most victims do not make it to their 30s, said Dalia Racine, assistant district attorney at the DeKalb County District Attorney’s office.

“These girls and boys need such intensive services because their minds have been completely warped as to their self-value,” said Racine, who works in the Crimes Against Children Unit. “They only think their bodies are something to make money from and they have no other value than that.”

And Wright said most of metro Atlanta’s district attorney’s offices have sex crime units, and penalties to traffickers have been increased recently.She also said the caseload has increased by four times within the last year.

“It’s not that trafficking has increased but awareness has increased,” Wright said. “We are seeing a lot more cases and a lot more people being prosecuted.”

Additionally, Hackworth said exploitation occurs online often on, and right under the public’s nose. People can help by being the eyes and ears, and becoming more educated on the issue.

“If you see a very young girl with a way older guy, and she’s wearing short shorts and a tank top in cold weather, … you call 911 [or (404) 577-TIPS],” said Hackworth. “It’s a small thing that you can do that might potentially save a young girl’s life. If things don’t look quite right, it may not be right.”

Read more: - Panel Atlanta ‘hub’ of human trafficking

Thursday, November 15, 2012

TedEx Talk on Human Trafficking

Matt Friedman reflects upon the breadth and range of human slavery in the world today and how we can all play our part in helping to address this global problem.  Worth the watch.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Billionaire Takes on the Scourge of Human Trafficking

Inside eBay Billionaire Pierre Omidyar's Battle To End Human Trafficking
This story appears in the November 19, 2012 issue of Forbes.

Pierre Omidyar (Photo: Michelle Clement) is behind a $115 million push to end trafficking. Click for more photos.

Pierre Omidyar looked out over Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley this past February, scanning the horizon with his camera in hand. All the billionaire eBay founder could see for miles were huge, belching chimneys taller than houses and mountains of red bricks drying in the winter sun. Kids of 12 or 13 lugged bricks on their backs to and from these ovens, 80 pounds at a time. Ninety percent of the workers here in Bhaktapur, the heart of Nepal’s brick sector, are slaves. Day after day they incur more debt to the traffickers who found them these jobs and hovels to live in nearby.

As Omidyar walked around snapping photos, he grew more certain that he wasn’t seeing the whole picture. “They don’t let people like us visit the bad kilns,” he says. “I extrapolated. If this is one of the good ones, what does a bad one look like?”

How Pierre And Pam Omidyar Invest Their eBay Billions With Impact
Clare O'Connor
Forbes Staff
9 images
Photos: Inside Pierre Omidyar's Battle To End Human Trafficking
It’s a question he’s trying to make permanently moot. Omidyar and his wife, Pam, are taking their considerable fortune and business acumen and deploying them in an ambitious effort to end modern-day slavery. Nepal, they’ve decided, will be their case study; success would have global ramifications.

This means creating Omidyar-funded options so that Bhaktapur’s children won’t feel compelled to sign the human traffickers’ bogus, exploitative contracts. First up: a $600,000 grant that will pay for 2,500 working kids to leave the dangerous, dirty Nepalese kilns and go to school. Next the Omidyars plan to pay for entrepreneurship and money management training to help 4,000 more brick workers escape slavery.

In the past four years the Omidyars have become the single biggest private donors to the fight against the pernicious but lucrative human trafficking industry. They’ve invested $115 million to date in their Humanity United foundation, which funds 85 antislavery nonprofits as well as on-the-ground projects in five countries, including this first one in Nepal. They’ve pledged to spend another $50 million by 2016.

They’re up against increasingly sophisticated sex and labor trafficking rings, many backed by organized crime, in a business that generates $32 billion in worldwide revenues a year, according to the UN. But the Omidyars have recruited powerful partners that stand the best chance to date to win the battle.

When eBay went public in 1998, Pierre Omidyar “skipped ‘regular rich’ and went straight to ‘ridiculous rich,’ ” he says. He and Pam, a molecular scientist and his college sweetheart from Tufts, decided immediately that they’d give the vast majority of their wealth away within their lifetimes (they’ve since signed the Giving Pledge). Both just 31 then and worth more than $7 billion, it was a serious, overwhelming proposition. It took a few early years of earnest, scattershot check-writing across a handful of charities before they focused on trafficking as a target.

Humanity United was Pam’s idea. While Pierre expanded his auction site into a multibillion-dollar public company, she spent her days holed up in a UC Santa Cruz biology lab doing pharmaceutical research for her master’s degree, rarely surfacing to read the news. “I insulated myself against world events,” she says. During a stay in Pierre’s birth city of Paris in the early 2000s, she had time to flip through a National Geographic and landed on a piece about Darfur, at the time descending into civil war. She was horrified at the stories of Sudanese child soldiers and trafficked refugees. She did some digging but couldn’t find much coverage of modern-day slavery in the press or any evidence of attention from rich philanthropists.

Pam and Pierre Omidyar (Photo: Michele Clement)

Pam decided the couple’s donations to charities like Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam, however generous, were no longer cutting it. Pierre was immediately on board. Sudan would join Nepal on the list of countries they eventually chose to focus their cash on first, along with Congo, Liberia and the U.S., where more than 40,000 women, men and kids are being held as sex slaves, unpaid domestic workers or forced field hands at any given time.

The Omidyars decided they wouldn’t start from scratch unless they absolutely had to. In the U.S. they found a smattering of disparate antislavery NGOs, most of them small and working in isolation. In Florida evangelicals from the faith-based International Justice Mission were trying to free Mexican tomato pickers from forced labor with a group called the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. In California social workers from the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking were working to free women trapped in domestic servitude in Los Angeles, as well as monitoring a growing problem of unpaid farm laborers upstate. Both groups were lobbying for the same antitrafficking legislation with little funding and no cooperation.

Pierre, Pam and their team at Humanity United found the best of these U.S. antislavery nonprofits, grouped them under one umbrella–the Alliance to End Slavery & Trafficking–and invested $8 million across all 12 of them. They didn’t meddle much, trusting that the new group would know best how to make a joint case to Congress to pass a raft of laws.

It’s the same tenet Pierre remembers invoking as a twentysomething computer programmer: Give someone the right tools and the benefit of the doubt, and they’ll rarely screw you. (It was, he recalls, rather tougher to convince the jaded tech press that his new auction platform wouldn’t be overrun with cheaters and counterfeiters.) “In the early days of eBay I articulated for the very first time this belief that people are basically good,” he says. “Ebay’s success as a company depends on the success of the community of sellers.”

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The Omidyars’ $165 million pledge to Humanity United is just part of the $1.25 billion they’ve given away to date to philanthropic causes–both nonprofit grants and for-profit investments, mostly in companies that would be considered early stage by Silicon Valley standards. The Omidyar Network’s for-profit portfolio spreads $100 million across 28 microfinance operations as well as smaller injections of capital into startups in developing countries: a mobile payment firm in Zambia and a solar lighting venture on the Indian subcontinent, for example. “For some reason people think that doing good is giving money away and business is just business,” says Matt Bannick, who runs the Omidyar Network. “It’s an artificial bifurcation. Businesses can have a social impact. People are earning their livelihoods on eBay.”

So far the slavery alliance hasn’t let the Omidyars down. A year after Humanity United’s grant kicked in, the combined advocacy efforts of these ex-slaves, social workers, lawyers and churches secured 90% of the amendments they’d requested to the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, which helps rescued slaves secure visas and protect themselves from retribution from their traffickers. In 2010 the group lobbied for, and won, a landmark $12 million increase in U.S. federal antitrafficking funds.

To antislavery experts, having the Omidyars’ names attached to the cause has helped legitimize it. “These small NGOs are now part of a whole,” says Kevin Bales, who in 1999 published Disposable People , considered a seminal work on modern slavery (and the first book Pam looked for after reading National Geographic ). “They’re not just going cap in hand to senators. If you want a politician to show up for anything, put a billionaire’s name on it.”

The Omidyars’ investment in the alliance also pays for ex-slaves to train as advocates, meeting regularly with politicians to put a clearer face on the misunderstood business of trafficking. FORBES met a member of this national Survivors’ Caucus, Ima Matul, in a former convent in a grubby part of Los Angeles. It’s been converted into a comfortable shelter run by the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking, one of the 12 U.S. antitrafficking groups funded by the Omidyars. She’s one of 550 slaves from 58 countries the Coalition has helped rescue.

Indonesian, petite and dressed in corporate casual, Matul perches on a leather sofa in the home’s large living room. Along one wall is a row of desktop computers where Ethiopian residents often watch soaps from their home country on YouTube. In a sunny back garden vines half-obscure a stone grotto containing a shrine to the Virgin Mary, a relic from the home’s convent days. The shelter is ten minutes from West Hollywood, where Matul spent three years as a teenaged domestic slave.

She’d already escaped an abusive arranged marriage at age 16 by the time she arrived in L.A. from the East Javanese city of Malang. Her traffickers, an Indonesian couple expecting baby number two, reeled off a list of expectations as soon as she arrived in their handsome home. She’d be a cook, cleaner, housekeeper, nanny, and gardener, all for a promised salary of $150 a month, which never materialized. She was beaten daily. If the wife found a patch of rogue dirt or dust in the house, she’d smear it across Matul’s face. Unable to speak English, she felt trapped and was repeatedly warned she’d be jailed if she tried to escape, a common tactic traffickers use to control young, naive victims.

When Matul was finally able to run away with the help of a nanny working next door, CAST gave her shelter, helped her train for a job in a law firm and then hired her to teach fellow survivors to lobby legislators. Last year Matul testified before Congress as part of a push to see the Trafficking Victims Protection Act reauthorized. Right now it remains stalled in the House; it’ll be up for discussion in the first session following the presidential election. Among other measures it would make it easier for courts to prosecute traffickers. Matul knows firsthand how important the bill is because the woman who held her captive never spent a day in jail.

Humanity United’s latest milestone has been rather more public than the passage of biennial bills or the funding of Nepalese schools. In a speech at September’s annual Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York, President Obama announced a partnership between Humanity United and the White House, backed by $6 million from sponsors including Goldman Sachs in its first big donation to anything slavery-related. “We’re going after the traffickers,” said Obama to a mixture of applause and stunned faces.

The President reeled off new initiatives, all of which will serve to boost Humanity United’s work at the federal level. There’ll be training to help police, Amtrak ticket-takers, teachers and others likely to encounter slaves to better identify them as victims rather than prostitutes or runaways. Tech and Internet companies will be offered incentives to help make the Web safer rather than a tool for traffickers to recruit or sell their wares. There’ll be simpler visa procedures for victims, he said. And, crucially, his administration would be helping take forced labor out of the business supply chain, starting with U.S. government contractors.

“The idea that there are exploitative labor practices that pollute the supply chain, more people are aware of now,” says Pierre, noting also the recent flurry of media attention on Chinese iPhone manufacturer Foxconn. “They are starting to think about, do I want to have a piece of equipment that’s made by people in these horrible working conditions? Sweatshops, basically.”

He had to miss Obama’s announcement, which coincided with an eBay board meeting (it still pays the bills, after all). Pam, however, was in the audience blinking back tears. “It was the longest speech on the topic of slavery since Lincoln was in office,” she says. Not far from Pam sat Ima Matul. Before the address the President had sought out the Humanity United delegation and greeted Matul in her native tongue, the Indonesian language Bahasa. Toward the end of his speech President Obama asked that she stand and be recognized for her work.

Pierre has taken a leadership role among Giving Pledge members and fellow billionaires , teaching how to use entrepreneurial skills to tackle the world’s problems. Former eBay colleague Jeff Skoll and Google cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page have both backed antislavery initiatives through their respective foundations after consulting with Humanity United.

Overseas, Australian mining billionaire Andrew Forrest has been working toward eradicating trafficking in his own hemisphere. He was moved to found the Perth-based nonprofit Walk Free after a close encounter with slavery. His teenage daughter had been volunteering at an orphanage when it emerged the youngsters weren’t being cared for but rather groomed for sex work.

“‘Value add’ is a horrific term when applied to children,” says Forrest, Australia’s third-richest person. “We had a catatonic reaction to it.” He talks regularly with Humanity United executives to ensure the two groups are working in tandem as much as possible. Like Pierre, Forrest is now a full-time philanthropist; he stepped down as CEO of his Fortescue Metals Group to focus on giving his money away. He also shares the Omidyars’ hope that other NGOs, governments and wealthy individuals will start devoting attention and much-needed funds on ridding slavery from the business supply chain, where it remains prevalent. Big-box store chains are especially susceptible to relying on cheap or forced labor in developing countries, often unaware. “It’s the dark side of globalization,” Forrest says.

For Pierre’s part, he’s encouraged by his February visit to Nepal. He stood in the hallway of a brick kiln school funded by Humanity United money, observing from a distance and taking the occasional photo for his amateur portfolio. Pam sat on the floor of the classroom, joining in the lesson. “I would’ve expected, oh, these are terrible victims, and they’re being beaten every day so they’re kind of downcast, like you might see in the movies, walking around with hunched shoulders,” Pierre says. “They’re regular little kids, and the ones who are in school are raising their hands.”

Inside eBay Billionaire Pierre Omidyar's Battle To End Human Trafficking
Michelle Clement
Pierre Omidyar
The eBay billionaire and his wife Pam are the biggest single donors to the fight against trafficking.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

For The Love of Gandhi

Human Trafficking is Violence Against Humanity
May 24, 2011 By Lynnea Bylund Leave a Comment
Fourteen-year old Gudiya Putul is not in Kingston, Jamaica attending the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC), but her name and history were brought to the attention of some IEPC participants Saturday during a workshop about economic injustice and human trafficking.
Source: Ekklesia
Putul (not her real name) is originally from a village in West Bengal, India. Her bad days began when her father died two years ago.  Her mother remarried a man who was an alcoholic. Putul and her mother moved to her stepfather’s village. Her stepfather’s drunken brawls often ended in the sound of him beating Putul and her mother.
Putul’s dream of studying was shattered before she realised what was done to her. She was rescued from the misery of life by a “sympathetic aunt” from the neighbourhood. The promises of a better life took her to Sonagachi – a city known for flesh trade in West Bengal.
Then one day her bedroom door was opened around midnight and an old man came into the room and physically tortured her because she refused to surrender to him.
The story of Putul was told by Sanjana Das, of the Church of North India who was one of the organisers of an IEPC workshop called “Combating Human Trafficking: Churches’ Role in Tackling Emerging Vulnerabilities”.
It would be easiest to deal with Putul as a statistic, that she is one among thousands of unnamed children in India who are forced into prostitution. But she is not a statistic. And like the rest of the children whose childhoods are denied, she is a human being in need of love, a home, an education and justice.
Despite this, an increasingly growing number of young girls, mostly children, are added to the flesh trade and forcibly migrated from rural to urban areas. The figure of minor prostitutes in Delhi is as high as 30,000 – 50,000, according to a report of the National Commission for Women in India.
Human trafficking is not an isolated issue and is not limited to the sex trade. It is the consequence of poverty and discrimination against the powerless. The strong prey on the weak. It is part of the violence of a global economic system which dehumanises people while maximising profit.
Sanjana Das estimates that 80 per cent of trafficking worldwide is happening across international boarders. Usually, people from poor countries are being submitted to modern forms of slavery in rich countries.
The UN defined human trafficking as “a crime against humanity” that involves “an act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harbouring or receiving a person through a use of force, coercion or other means, for the purpose of exploiting them.”
The cooperation with partners such as UN Women in combating human trafficking in India has led the Church of North India to become a strong actor in the advocacy for more effective children-friendly legal systems.
Human trafficking is organised crime. The children and young adults taken from their homes are submitted to sexual exploitation, forced labour, forced marriage, made to fight as child soldiers or serve as forced donors to organ trafficking. And this is not happening in India alone. Participants of the IEPC workshop shared examples of advocacy networks in the United States and Latin America as well.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Travel Industry Takes On Human Trafficking

The Travel Industry Takes On Human Trafficking

Hospitality workers are learning how to spot trafficking incidents.
Published: November 8, 2012

THE travel industry — long an unwitting participant in human trafficking at hotels and on airplanes, trains and buses — lately has been increasing efforts to combat the problem, working with private advocacy groups and the federal government in long-term, coordinated initiatives that go beyond its normal philanthropic activities.

“People don’t realize how prevalent it is,” Sam Gilliland, chief executive of the travel technology company Sabre Holdings, said of the trafficking problem. “It is not restricted to certain areas in the world. It’s everywhere.”

He called human trafficking a $32 billion-a-year business, but the Polaris Project, an advocacy group, thinks it is higher. The group said that an estimated 21 to 27 million people globally are held as virtual slaves.

At a news conference in September, Mr. Gilliland announced Sabre’s “Passport to Freedom” initiative, which will train its 10,000 employees in 60 countries how to identify and report potential trafficking incidents. Jada Pinkett Smith, an actress and anti-human trafficking activist, was one of the speakers. Sabre, which owns Travelocity, plans to expand its outreach to businesses, travel agents and travelers who use its software and will eventually include informational links in all itineraries to raise awareness of the largely hidden problem.

In October, the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation and Amtrak also announced stepped-up efforts against trafficking. Through a partnership, the Department of Transportation is in the process of training more than 55,000 employees and Amtrak plans to train some 20,000 employees to counter the problem.

“Everyone has a role to play in putting a stop to human trafficking,” Ray LaHood, the transportation secretary, said in an e-mail, “and at D.O.T., we’re doing our part by making sure that no form of transportation is used to move people against their will. By working with partners in the transportation and travel industry, we can help train even more people to identify the signs, speak up — and possibly save a life.”

Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary, likened the initiative to the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign to combat terrorism. “We can’t do it alone,” she said.

The United States travel industry’s commitment to fight trafficking has gathered momentum since 2004, when Ecpat USA, or End Child Prostitution and Trafficking, introduced the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, a voluntary set of guidelines for the travel and tourism industry.

Carlson became the first United States-based global travel and hospitality company to join in 2004, and since then the Wyndham Worldwide Corporation, Delta Air Lines, Accor hotels, Hilton Worldwide, the Real Hospitality Group and Sabre have signed.

Large travel companies have a long tradition of philanthropic involvement, from raising money to cure cancer to flying in food and supplies and providing low- or no-cost flights and hotel rooms for relief workers after disasters like Katrina or the tsunami in Japan. But the scope of this initiative is somewhat unusual, said Henry H. Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and co-founder of the Atmosphere Research Group, a market research company.

“Rarely do you see companies participate in a coordinated effort like this,” he said. “Travel businesses are becoming aware that they can’t be complacent, and their employees want the companies to be on the right side of issues such as this.”

Marilyn Carlson Nelson, chairman of Carlson, said, “The travel and hospitality industry is in a unique position to address this problem.” The company, whose brands include Radisson, Country Inns and Suites and T.G.I. Friday’s, says its more than 80,000 hotel employees in 81 countries receive required training to deter trafficking of children. Front desk employees, for example, are encouraged to look for visual clues like signs of abuse or fear among potential victims; young people made up to look older; and clients who pay with cash, are reluctant to provide identification or have no luggage.

Brenda Schultz, who oversees Carlson’s hotel training program, said “Some girls are tattooed with things like ‘Daddy’s girl.’ ”

Housekeeping staff might be alerted to criminal activity if there are an unusually large number of electronic devices in guest rooms, or many condoms in the wastebasket, she said.

“There is no one way that it happens,” said Sandi D. Mitchell, a Sabre manager who oversees employee training to counter trafficking. “Some are abducted, some are wooed, some believe they are coming to America for a better life,” but then become indentured servants or victims of forced labor. Trafficking victims can be hidden from hotel management through third-party suppliers of janitorial, housekeeping, landscaping or other services.

Petra Hensley, a survivor of trafficking, helped train Sabre employees by pointing out red flags — for example, an older man traveling with a young girl who does not appear to be his daughter and the two carry passports from different countries. “Ask the girl where she is going,” she said. “If she is reluctant to answer, something is not right. It’s about questions. It’s about body language.”

“People on airplanes don’t think of it as a danger zone, but trafficking can occur just about anywhere,” said Ms. Hensley, now 35, who was abducted, raped and sold for sex at the age of 16 in her native Czech Republic; she now does advocacy work through the Sojka Foundation, which she founded.

Nancy Rivard, president of Airline Ambassadors, recounted an incident about a month ago on a major airline. A flight attendant noticed something odd: a young American girl, who said she had never flown before, traveling by herself in first class from Chicago to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The girl said the seat was a gift from a man she “met” online.

The attendant checked the records, and learned that someone with an unusual e-mail address bought the ticket, but she did not know what to do. A few days later, the attendant contacted Ms. Rivard. Ms. Rivard, also a flight attendant, recounted the attendant saying, “ ‘I can’t sleep at night because I am so worried about the girl.’ She went to the airline for help, but no one knew what to do. Stories like that are not uncommon.”

“Currently, no U.S. airline mentions human trafficking in training, as far as I know,” she said, because airlines do not want to be associated with something that may reflect poorly on their brand.

But Ms. Rivard, whose group provides training to airline personnel on a voluntary basis, said she recently learned that at least three major American airlines plan to begin training next year.

Ms. Rivard contacted Homeland Security and the trafficker and girl were located and she was taken to safety.

“Every day I talk to airline attendants who say, ‘There was a girl on my flight who didn’t look normal,’ “ she said. “It’s growing everywhere.”

Stephen Barth, a lawyer and professor of hospitality law at the University of Houston, said he believed that among the travel industry’s major brands, awareness of the problem had become widespread. “The goal now is to create more awareness among the 50,000 independent hotels scattered all over the U.S. and around the world,” he said.

But challenges remain, particularly among cheaper properties. “Franchisers don’t actually operate the franchised hotels,” which can result in variable compliance, he said. And at some properties, both franchised and independent, security might consist of only one person at the front desk.

Michelle Guelbart, private sector project coordinator for Ecpat USA, said the public should get involved too. Not long ago, she said, the Sisters of Saint Joseph, a religious order, contacted a hotel in St. Louis and asked if it had a policy against human trafficking. “The hotel did not,” Ms. Guelbart recalled, “but put one in place.”

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Because I Don't Bring You Nearly Enough News From Central Oklahoma

Central Oklahoma Salvation Army engages in war on human trafficking
Oklahoma City , OK|Sex-Trafficking Minors|Thursday, November 8, 2012Add Comment

It will take more than law enforcement and money to combat human trafficking in Oklahoma, said Maj. Francina Proctor, associate area commander of the Central Oklahoma Salvation Army Area Command, who spoke to an Oklahoma City women's networking group on Wednesday.

The trafficking of humans in and through Oklahoma — for both sexual and labor purposes — can only be defeated with public awareness and a concerted effort by the community as a whole, Proctor told about two dozen women with OKC Happy Hour at Bricktown Brewery.

Proctor, guest speaker for the group's fall luncheon, used the podium to call for more support in combating a growing local problem.

“Sometimes it's not very comfortable for a city or area to say there is a problem, (but) there is more attention to it now, which is what we want,” she said. “It's not just in somebody else's backyard. It can be your neighbors, too.”

Proctor said there are an estimated 14 “pockets” of girls and women being used locally for sexual purposes, and identified several high profile cases in recent years, including that of Carina Saunders, a 19-year-old Mustang woman. Saunders was found in October 2011 dismembered in a duffel bag near a Bethany grocery store.

Authorities believe Saunders was tortured and killed to warn victims of sexual trafficking to cooperate.

Proctor said girls as young as 12 and 13 are groomed to be prostituted, and that the Internet and social networking makes it easier for predators to “charm” their victims.

Sexual trafficking, she said, is rarely a case of kidnapping. Its victims are vulnerable because they often come from poverty or from homes of abuse.

“Many people who take advantage of these kids are opportunists,” she said.

“Men charm these young girls who you know already have self esteem issues growing up by acting as their boyfriend, by providing riches. He breaks her down, he builds her up.”

She lauded Oklahoma lawmakers for approving legislation in 2008 that makes it easier for law enforcement to fight human trafficking.

A new law went into effect Nov. 1 that creates a human trafficking division within Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control.

Mark Woodward, spokesman for the bureau, said the new division makes sense logistically.

Federal agents in Oklahoma have made more than 70 arrests from prostitution stings since June, including four underage girls. And of 150 prostitution-related arrests made by Oklahoma City police in 2011, 127 were trafficking based. But the bureau's new trafficking division will be the first of its kind at the state level.

“We've been running into investigations off and on for years where it has a human trafficking nexus, but we don't have statutory authority to investigate those,” Woodward said. “Drug traffickers are also trafficking humans, weapons — anything for money.”

Sometimes drug cartels will traffic local girls and women, but often they will bring immigrants from Mexico or elsewhere to Oklahoma to be prostituted, Proctor said.

It's a trade involving as much as 30 million women and children worldwide, and traffickers can fetch as much as $23,000 per human per year, she said.

“I want to see people get angry about it. I want to see people angry about child pornography,” she said.

Salvation Army aids fight

The Salvation Army has partnered with law enforcement and several other organizations — notably Oklahomans Against Trafficking Humans — to bring attention to the problem.

A new series of public service announcements are set to roll out soon, but what's really needed are more advocates, she said.

There are only four centers nationwide equipped to take in and treat child trafficking victims, she said. Local law enforcement does not have the resources to care for these girls, she said, and many of them end up in jail or back out on the streets.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

California boosts penalties for human trafficking

California boosts penalties for human trafficking
LOS ANGELES, California|Sex-Trafficking|Wednesday, November 7, 2012Add Comment

California will toughen its penalties for human trafficking and its monitoring of sex offenders under an initiative approved Tuesday.

Prison sentences for human trafficking will more than double under Proposition 35, which imposes life sentences for the sex-trafficking of children. It also requires sex offenders to provide email addresses and other Internet identifiers to law enforcement.

The initiative was mainly funded by former Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly, who lost a bid for state attorney general in 2010.

It was supported by many law enforcement groups, although its opponents say it is written too broadly.

Its definition of human trafficking includes distributing obscene materials depicting children. Prosecutors would no longer have to prove force was used in cases involving minors.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Texas Injustice

A Texas Injustice
Published: November 5, 2012

Which is more unbelievable: that a state trooper in Texas decided to stop a fleeing pickup by shooting at it from a helicopter, even though the truck was crammed with people, or that nothing in the official policies of the trooper’s employer, the Texas Department of Public Safety, forbids such lethal recklessness?

Outrage in Texas After Airborne Police Sharpshooter Kills 2 (November 5, 2012)

Both statements are true, and two men are dead as a result. The shootings happened on Oct. 25 near rural La Joya, which is close to the border with Mexico. The trooper allegedly thought the truck was running drugs. It was carrying immigrant Guatemalans, including the two young men — Jose Leonardo Coj Cumar, 32, and Marcos Antonio Castro Estrada, 29, who were hiding with several others under a blanket in the bed of the truck. The director of the Guatemalan Consulate in nearby McAllen, Alba Caceres, said Mr. Coj had entered the country to earn money to pay for surgery for his 11-year-old son.

As appalling as the shootings were, a state representative who leads the committee overseeing the Department of Public Safety insisted they were no big deal and not worth a hearing or policy review. “It’s unfortunate some people died,” the lawmaker, Sid Miller, told The Associated Press, “but I guess the lesson is: don’t be running from the law. So there will be no hearing.”

Thankfully, others disagree. The prosecutor in Hidalgo County said he would seek a grand jury investigation. State officials are conducting inquiries and have asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to do the same. And some state lawmakers want to rethink the agency’s insanely permissive shooting-at-vehicles policy, bringing it into line with other states and the federal Border Patrol, which have stricter limits on when — and at what — officers can shoot. Abolishing the policy is the least that should emerge from this outrage. As State Representative Lon Burnam said, “Neither human trafficking nor drug trafficking deserves the death penalty without a trial.”

Monday, November 5, 2012

Music Video to Raise Awareness About Human Trafficking

Simple Plan and MTV EXIT Release Unique Music Video to Raise Awareness of Human Trafficking

Today, MTV EXIT (End Exploitation and Trafficking) and Canadian rock band Simple Plan, in partnership with USAID and Walk Free, announce the exclusive premiere of a music video that dramatically highlights the dangers and impact of human trafficking. The video will be broadcast on Friday, 2 November across MTV SEA, MTV Japan, MTV Korea, MTV Taiwan and MTV Vietnam on-air and online at

Produced for the track “This Song Saved My Life” from the album “Get Your Heart On!,” the powerful lyrics were crowdsourced from Simple Plan’s fans on Twitter with a handful of fans invited into the recording studio to contribute vocals on this ground-breaking collaboration. Following the exclusive premiere on MTV ASIA, the “This Song Saved My Life” video will be released globally across all of MTV’s platforms in 168 countries, which reach more than half a billion households worldwide.

The Simple Plan music video represents an innovative and creative way to fuse musical content with MTV’s pro-social messaging. ‘Freedom comes from knowledge,’ is the powerful message of the gripping four-minute video that takes viewers inside the emotionally charged story of young people trapped and forced to work in a textile factory set in Asia. The young victims suffer abuse among horrendous conditions. Seemingly, all hope is lost until one of the workers hatches a plan that ultimately brings freedom for all the young workers in the factory and justice to the factory operators.

The Simple Plan music video is the fourth in a series of award-winning collaborations to amplify the dangers and impact of human trafficking that launched in 2008 with Radiohead for the track “All I Need,” followed by a video with The Killers in 2009 by David Slade (Twilight: Eclipse) for the song “Goodnight, Travel Well,” and the 2010 “MK Ultra” video with Muse.

“We are very proud to team up with MTV EXIT in their ongoing campaign to end human trafficking and exploitation. Helping out young people in need is the central mission of our own charitable efforts with the Simple Plan Foundation and this collaboration with MTV EXIT gives us a chance to get involved and try to make a difference,” said Simple Plan.

“Last May, we had the privilege to travel with the MTV EXIT team to Sapa, Vietnam to shoot a documentary on victims of human trafficking and got to witness first-hand the absolutely devastating impact these horrible crimes can have on young people. We hope that, together with our fans, we can help bring awareness about this difficult situation and that this music video can help MTV EXIT and other great organizations working in the region to empower young people with knowledge,” said Simple Plan.

The “This Song Saved My Life” video was conceived by and produced with the generous in-kind support from 18 Feet & Rising Sydney and Curious Film. The strong images provide dramatic insight into the realities of trafficking, in particular the trafficking of children into forced labour while presenting a message to viewers about how people can help to end exploitation and trafficking.

For more details about human trafficking and exploitation in Asia visit and follow MTV EXIT on social media platforms: Twitter @mtvexit and

Thursday, November 1, 2012

How Can Modern Day Slavery Still Exist? Read On
WORLD -- October 31, 2012 at 2:30 PM EDT
How Can Human Trafficking Still Exist? Answers to Viewers' Questions

Screen shot from the NewsHour report on human trafficking in the Philippines.

After a report aired on the NewsHour about what's being done to counter human trafficking in the Philippines, we invited you the viewers to send us your questions about the problem in the United States and abroad.

Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro and Beth Klein, a Colorado lawyer who helps victims of human trafficking, answered your questions (edited for clarity):

Question 1

Twitter user Civilized Civilized asked a question that's probably on a lot of people's minds:

 Civilized Civilized@CCivilized
@NewsHourWorld #traffickingAC How in the world can human trafficking happen in the 21st century?
17 Oct 12 ReplyRetweetFavorite
Fred de Sam Lazaro: For the very same reason that drug mafias still exist, despite massive law enforcement efforts. Human trafficking is a highly sophisticated, organized crime and it is very lucrative. Seasoned traffickers dangle the only shred of hope that many people, living in desperate poverty, will cling to, even if it is a false hope. The U.S. Department of State, marking the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation in 2012 in its latest Trafficking in Persons, or TIP, report, notes that 27 million people across the world, including the United States, are victims of human trafficking. (You can view the report here.)

Beth Klein: The answer is simple -- because greed has not been eradicated, and the destruction of economies in war and the displacement of people is at a high level. In the United States, sex slavery exists because we have ignored how prostitution works, and most people have no idea that the average age of entry into prostitution is between 12 and 14.

Question 2

Twitter user El Melech Voed noted that the way to halt trafficking is to stop "buying the products": How much attention is given to halting trafficking at the source, not just helping the victims?


@NewsHour 21 Oct 12
Questions about human trafficking? Tweet them to @NewsHourWorld #traffickingAC
 El Melech Voed@ELMelechVoed
@NewsHour @NewsHourWorld Answer to human trafficking is do NOT buy the products!
21 Oct 12 ReplyRetweetFavorite
Fred de Sam Lazaro: I think most experts agree that a three-pronged approach is needed. The State Department calls it 3P: prevention, prosecution and protection, all closely linked. Take people apprehended in sting or rescue operations as we saw in our story from Manila. Trafficked people often do not understand that what happened to them is a crime. They themselves are in crisis at various levels. They are often arrested along with their traffickers on prostitution or illegal immigration charges. Often, through corruption the latter will spend less time in jail.

It takes laws that view trafficked people as victims and trained law enforcement officers who allow those victims time and resources to recover from their trauma, and assure them of protection from their traffickers. Only then can crucial evidence be gathered and used against the traffickers. Even then the judicial process can be complex and inadequate.

On the forced labor front, there is a growing awareness and sensitivity in the corporate world, for which a lot of credit goes to non-government sector. NGOs have drawn attention to the problem of involuntary servitude in the supply chains that convey all manner of material goods to the kitchens and closets of the rich world. Several large corporations, particularly in the image-sensitive garment sector, have pledged to address the issue in their supply chain.

Beth Klein: I have been on the cutting edge of demand-side legislation and awareness in the United States. My state, Colorado, was the first to enact statewide demand-side policies, and the fine for solicitation is up to $5,000. This money goes to a state fund, and grants to law enforcement and rescue operations can be made from that fund. Texas followed our lead.

The awareness that addressing and charging the buyers with crimes that carry penalties serious enough is growing. The concept that fines from buyers can and should be used to help police and victims is also growing.

Question 3

A survivor who took part in Visayan Forum Foundation's program in the Philippines.

Another viewer asked, "What should I do if I suspect my neighbor is trafficking in baby boys?"

Fred de Sam Lazaro: Here's what the FBI suggests: "You can report trafficking crimes and get help by calling the Department of Justice Trafficking in Persons and Worker Exploitation Task Force Complaint Line at             1-888-428-7581       (voice and TTY). New laws provide options for trafficking victims regardless of immigration status. Operators have access to interpreters and can talk with callers in their own language. The service is offered on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. After hours, information is available on tape in English, Spanish, Russian and Mandarin."

Another option is the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at:             888-373-7888       or the Polaris Project, an international organization fighting human trafficking. Another resource I came across from just cursory checks is Trucking Against Human Trafficking, which was featured in this recent NPR report.

Beth Klein: This type of statement cannot be ignored. The FBI Innocence Lost Project should be contacted wherever you are.

Question 4

What question(s) do you get asked the most about human trafficking?

Fred de Sam Lazaro: Many people are concerned because they associate human trafficking with prostitution and the victimization of young people in general, carpet weaving, for example. And they have a sense that corporate social responsibility programs are somehow dealing with the problem. Many people are surprised at the sheer number of adults who are enslaved in various aspects of the modern global economy.

Beth Klein: The question that I get asked the most is "what can I do?" I like to counsel people one-on-one to help them find the best path for them. There are not enough pages to describe all of the organizations with whom to work or all of the things you can do.

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