Thursday, January 31, 2013

European police arrest 103 in suspected human trafficking ring

European police arrest 103 in suspected human trafficking ring
By Ed Payne, CNN
updated 10:51 AM EST, Thu January 31, 2013

103 arrested in Europe trafficking sting

Human trafficking generates an estimated $32 billion a year
Police in Europe arrest 103 people in 10 countries
Most of those smuggled were recruited from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria and Turkey
Many of the migrants come into the EU through Turkey and the Western Balkans
(CNN) -- Officials are calling it one of the largest operations against human traffickers in Europe.
Police in Europe arrested 103 people in 10 countries this week, all accused of smuggling in people on boats, freight trains and small hidden compartments in the floors of buses and trucks.
The massive operation spanned a host of European nations and deployed more than 1,200 police officers.
The operation descended on homes and properties across Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Slovak Republic, Turkey and Kosovo region in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Related operations took place in Switzerland and Austria.
Mexican cult accused of forced labor
Their search yielded 176,500 euros (about $240,000) in cash, plus a collection of mobile phones, laptops, bank statements and a semiautomatic rifle with a large amount of ammunition.
"All arrested persons are suspected of being involved in the clandestine smuggling of a large number of irregular migrants into and within the European Union mainly via Turkey and the Western Balkan region," a Europol statement said. Europol is the European Union's law enforcement agency,
Most of those being smuggled were recruited from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria and Turkey by the criminal ring targeted in these raids.
Human trafficking is a global multibillion dollar business, only ranking behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. It is believed to generate profits of an estimated $32 billion, according to a 2005 report from the International Labour Organization. Half of those profits come from industrialized nations.
CNN Freedom Project: Ending modern-day slavery

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How do you know when someone is being trafficked?

Are you or someone you know being trafficked? Is human trafficking happening in your community? Is the situation you may have encountered actually human trafficking?

The following is a list of potential red flags and indicators of human trafficking to help you recognize the signs.

If you see any of these red flags, contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at             1-888-3737-888       to report the situation. Click here to learn more about reporting potential human trafficking situations. This list is not exhaustive and represents only a selection of possible indicators. Also, the red flags in this list may not be present in all trafficking cases and are not cumulative.

Common Work and Living Conditions: The Individual(s) in Question
Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
Is under 18 and is providing commercial sex acts
Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp / manager
Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work
Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work
High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)
Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior
Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid
Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement
Avoids eye contact
Poor Physical Health
Lacks health care
Appears malnourished
Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture
Lack of Control
Has few or no personal possessions
Is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account
Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport)
Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)
Claims of just visiting and inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address
Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or do not know what city he/she is in
Loss of sense of time
Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story
To request assessment tools and for more information about reporting trafficking click here. For resource packs on human trafficking and how to recognize the signs click here.

We encourage community members to "look beneath the surface" in all situations they encounter and to be vigilant for potential instances of human trafficking.

Knowing the red flags and indicators of human trafficking is a key step in identifying more victims.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Human Rights and Corporations: Investigating Human Trafficking in the Global Labor Supply Chain

Conference Dates:
Feb. 9-10, 2013

As part of the 2013 Social Enterprise Conference, presented by students of Harvard BusinessSchool and HarvardKennedy School, there will be a special panel:
Human Rights and Corporations:
Investigating Human Trafficking in the Global Labor Supply Chain

Sunday, February 10, 2013
HarvardBusiness School
11:15 AM- 12:30 PM
(Room TBD)


Sandra J. Sucher
Professor of Management Practice
HarvardBusiness School

Carol Smolenski
Executive Director, ECPAT-USA

Letty Ashworth
General Manager for Global Diversity, Delta Air Lines

Shawn MacDonald
Director of Programs and Research, Verité

Closing Remarks by:

AlisonKiehl Friedman
Deputy Director, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Department of State

PANEL: HUMAN RIGHTS AND CORPORATIONS: Investigating Human Trafficking in the Global Labor Supply Chain

Where & When
Date: Feb. 10, 2013
Time: 11:15 am - 12:30 pm
Location: HarvardBusiness School (room TBD)

 The rapid globalization of the world economy has given rise to a complex web of labor supply. This panel will start with a general discussion of a corporation's role in monitoring human rights, followed by a detailed discussion of the issue of human trafficking in industries. Panelists and attendees will discuss topics such as a corporation's level of responsibility in monitoring its supply chain; how does a multi-national corporation effectively address human rights issues due to conflicting definitions; and recent examples of promising practices in tackling human trafficking and labor abuse.

Please note you must register for the entire day to attend the panel. SUNDAY TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE.
Thank you!


CarrCenter for Human Rights Policy, Harvard University
79 John F. Kennedy St., #14
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
(617) 495-5819

Please visit the Social Enterprise Conference website for any changes to the schedule:
Conference Website
For more information, please contact Christina Bain, Director of the Carr Center's Program on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery:
Phone: 617.496.9308

Monday, January 28, 2013

Exposing Human Trafficking Through Fiction

The Twelve SEALs

Check out this book by Roger Grubbs that deals with the topic of human trafficking:

Trouble is brewing in LA, and a former Navy officer needs the help of her buddies. The ‘hammer’ (Chelsea Steele) has her back against the wall. Her sister Vanessa has been kidnapped, and no one will help find her. She calls on her best friend, ‘the ghost’ (Bart Nelson), for support.

Bart, Chelsea, and four other members of their team walked away from the Navy SEALs, being disgruntled after losing six comrades in an extraction gone bad. They are convinced something is rotten from the inside out. Nevertheless, this team left the force with something very valuable – something money cannot buy. Now they need to use those tools to help a friend.

Chelsea is a SEAL, too, unofficially of course. No woman is allowed to become a member of this elite group of Special Forces. She came through the back door as a demolition expert and is known as ‘the hammer’. There is a reason for that name just as there is a story behind ‘the ghost’.

Soon these six Navy SEALs uncover more than they could have ever imagined. Human trafficking is at the root of the abduction. It’s a big, bad, dangerous business, spanning the entire globe – orchestrated by high ranking officials and backed with hordes of money. But, they have now been put on notice. Someone is coming for them. Yet they issue their own edict: if ‘the hammer’ doesn’t get you, ‘the ghost’ will.

Thursday, January 24, 2013




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THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, January 23, 2013..........Two state agency heads Wednesday warned a Senate panel that pimps and third-party labor contractors are targeting young people in the state foster care system.

Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins and Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters told the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee that a new law is helping more victims of forced labor and prostitution, but that much work remains to be done.

Wilkins said the Safe Harbor Act, which went into effect Jan. 1, helps child victims of trafficking by providing sanctuary and services instead of treating them as criminals. In the past, he said, victims – especially those from other countries – were placed in the juvenile justice system instead of receiving care for what they had endured.

He also said pimps have been targeting young people in state foster care.

"What has been shocking to me, more than anything," Wilkins said, "is the volume of particularly prostitution, where organized crime is, in essence, actively recruiting our kids to get into this business."

Wilkins said the youngsters were approached based on their vulnerabilities.

"Does it seem to be that the big lure is a supply of drugs?" Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, asked him. "Or is it money? Or something else?"

"I would say the biggest lure is love," Wilkins replied. "These guys basically say, 'I'm here for you. I'm going to be your protector, I'm going to be your support function.' And sure, they shower 'em with gifts and drugs and parties and limousines…and then the next thing you know, they ask 'em to take the next step, and then they're caught."

"It's not love," said Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood and the committee chair. "It's really slavery at the end of the day."

DJJ's Walters agreed that victims are approached based on vulnerability. She said Barbara Palmer, director of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, had asked her to tell the panel that children with disabilities "are six times more likely to be trafficked than a person who does not have disabilities."

"These people are preying on the most vulnerable children that we have in the state of Florida," Walters said.

Since 2010, DCF has investigated 1,266 cases of alleged human trafficking involving children; of those, 717 were already in the DJJ system.

In 2011, about 200 trafficked minors received services through DCF and its community partners. Currently DCF is caring for about 100 child trafficking victims and has established three safe houses, with more to come.

Robin Hassler Thompson, a senior policy analyst at Florida State University's Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, said the state can respond without a new burst of spending, by adding human trafficking to other professional training, such as domestic violence training for physicians.

"There are ways within existing agency budgets, within training budgets, within collaborations with the private sector, to develop the training and awareness tools that are important to getting the word out about this issue," she said.

For instance, said Hassler Thompson, Texas includes a national hotline number on signs required in bars and restaurants by state alcohol regulators.

"And guess who gets the most calls to the national hotline on trafficking? They all come from Texas, because the awareness is right there," she said.

Hassler Thompson said training enables ordinary people to pick up on signs they might otherwise have missed, such as a child forced to shower outside who turns out to be a house slave.

"What service providers and law enforcement have told us time and time again is, it's the Good Samaritan who 'sees something funny' " who reports possible trafficking, she said.

Hassler Thompson said that by including the national hotline number for human trafficking – 888-373-7888 – on other materials, the state can offer help to more victims at highway rest stops and in bars and restaurants.

"We haven't seen the number anywhere in Florida," said Sobel.

"There you go," Hassler Thompson replied.


Independent and Indispensable

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Georgia: 12 Are Charged in 4-State Sex Ring

Georgia: 12 Are Charged in 4-State Sex Ring
Published: January 17, 2013

Prosecutors charged 12 people on Thursday with running a sex trafficking and prostitution ring across four Southern states. Authorities say the suspects lured female immigrants to the United States and then threatened them with deportation unless they became prostitutes. The operation spanned Georgia, Florida and North and South Carolina, said Edward J. Tarver, the United States attorney in Savannah. Federal agents on Wednesday rescued 11 women who were victims of the operation.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

More training to identify and support victims of human trafficking

More training to identify and support victims of human trafficking

Monday, 21 Jan 2013

GPs, midwives, youth workers and social workers are among those professionals who will soon benefit from training to identify and help victims of human trafficking, the Home Office announced today.

Training will be rolled out to frontline professionals in major towns and cities across the UK.

The aim is to improve awareness and understanding of trafficking, aid the identification of potential child and adult victims and give information on practical support available including independent legal advice, counselling and help to return to their community / country of origin.

Experienced anti-trafficking practitioners will also provide information on referring suspected victims to support agencies including the UK's victim identification and support system (the National Referral Mechanism).

Human trafficking

Immigration minister Mark Harper said: 'Human trafficking is an appalling crime and one which the government is committed to tackling.

'We have already made significant progress in the fight against trafficking with more work than ever before to prosecute criminals and stop organised gangs in their tracks.

'But we are not complacent and training for frontline professionals is vital in order to identify and protect those at risk of harm.

'From next year the National Crime Agency will improve our ability to identify and combat human trafficking activity as it emerges.'

Training charities

Training will be delivered by five charities - the National Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), Stop the Traffik, Eaves, Thames Reach and the Counter Trafficking Bureau - who have been given grant funding from the Home Office to work with professionals who are most likely to encounter victims in their day to day work.

Formal training programmes and workshops will be integrated into professional development modules and delivered in Cardiff, Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds, Brighton and London.

Students completing social work degrees at universities will be given training as part of their course. Community groups and volunteers will also benefit from awareness sessions and strengthened relationships with the police and local trafficking resources.


John Cameron, Head of the NSPCC's helpline, said: 'Trafficking is one the great scourges of child abuse so we must do everything possible to stamp it out.

'This funding will help us train professionals who form the crucial first line of defence against this dreadful crime that blights the lives of many children.

'It's an extremely positive and welcome move by the government which will help strengthen child protection and bolster the battle against trafficking.'

The training is part of the government's strategy to support victims who are lured to the UK by gangs and then exploited for sex, labour and domestic slavery.

The government is also co-ordinating action between the UK and countries including China, Nigeria, Vietnam, Slovakia and Romania which house organised trafficking gangs that now pose the greatest threat to the UK. Action includes:

intelligence sharing with overseas police forces
lobbying governments to ratify the UN convention against transnational, organised crime
raising awareness about trafficking through local media in source countries

Friday, January 18, 2013

Could Congressional Indifference Kill the 'Most Important Anti-Trafficking Law Ever Passed'?

Greg AsbedCo-founder of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers

Could Congressional Indifference Kill the 'Most Important Anti-Trafficking Law Ever Passed'?
Posted: 01/17/2013 10:34 am

Twenty years ago, Laura Germino and I left the dusty streets of Immokalee, Florida, and headed north, bound for the Justice Department in Washington, DC. We carried with us a binder full of evidence from our investigation into a brutal modern-day slavery ring that was holding tomato pickers captive in Florida and South Carolina -- evidence of homicide, of brutal public beatings, of systemic sexual assault.

We assumed our carefully compiled files would spark a DOJ investigation and, ultimately, a prosecution of the farm bosses behind those unconscionable abuses. But instead, following a short meeting with attorneys from the Civil Rights Division, we found ourselves right back on the street, asking each other what had just happened. The DOJ lawyers had told us in no uncertain terms that there was nothing they could do. Our clear and compelling evidence of an ongoing slavery ring was met with what can only be described as astounding indifference by those government officials charged with addressing the problem.

Much has changed for the better since that encounter, but, disconcertingly, the battle to rid this country of forced labor and human trafficking is once again threatened with a monumental setback at the hands of governmental indifference.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) sparks unprecedented progress in the fight against modern-day slavery. After the Justice Department sent us packing, it took five more years of hard work -- both by those of us at the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and by a new team of DOJ attorneys who reopened the file and took on a complicated prosecution -- before Miguel Flores and Sebastian Gomez, the farm bosses behind the slavery operation we had uncovered, were ultimately sentenced to 15 years each in federal prison on slavery, extortion, and firearms charges. US v. Flores was a landmark case in that it brought to light the problem of modern-day slavery in the U.S., which had been largely invisible for decades, prompting then Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Deval Patrick to say, "Today's case shows that slavery is not a thing of the past. No person should be denied the right to freedom, and we will continue to prosecute these cases for as long as necessary."

But despite the positive outcome, no one would look back today at the pace of the Flores prosecution and call it a success. In the five long years between discovering the operation and sentencing the perpetrators, countless victims continued to suffer abuse. For those workers, justice delayed was indeed justice denied.

That was soon to change, however, with the enactment of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) in 2000. Since the conclusion of US v. Flores in 1997, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) has worked with the Justice Department on six more successful forced labor prosecutions, the most recent of which, US v. Navarrete, resulted in lengthy sentences for two more farm bosses on charges of conspiracy, holding workers in involuntary servitude, and peonage. While the Flores and Navarette cases were in many ways similar, the tools available to prosecute them were decidedly not, thanks to the TVPA. In the 12 years between those cases, the ability to combat modern-day slavery had undergone a sea change. The Navarrete case took less than a year from its discovery to sentencing. In just over a decade, the work of investigating and trying a complex slavery prosecution had grown far more efficient, sparing thousands of workers across the country untold suffering at the hands of their employers.

Break the Chains, the widely-respected anti-trafficking organization based in Washington, has called the TVPA "arguably the most important anti-trafficking law ever passed." The TVPA penalizes modern-day forms of slavery, updating the anti-peonage laws passed during Civil War Reconstruction to fit the forced labor and human trafficking still occurring in the homes, brothels, and workplaces of the 21st century. It provides desperately-needed emergency services and protections to victims of these crimes, empowering them to do their part in bringing abusive bosses to justice. And it both enables and requires numerous federal agencies to attack this egregious human rights abuse, creating a mandate that didn't exist when Laura and I innocently knocked on DOJ's door 20 years ago.

Today the TVPA, and the progress it made possible, is in danger. Yet today the TVPA languishes in a state of limbo, unfunded, its reauthorization in doubt. It seems impossible, but as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the "most important anti-trafficking law ever passed" may well be allowed to expire. Once again, government indifference threatens the effort to address modern-day slavery.

The stakes could not be higher. In the words of Susan French, a former federal prosecutor with an unrivaled track record of successful slavery prosecutions, "If we as a nation are serious that slavery in all its forms is morally and legally wrong, then we must bring justice to trafficking victims, provide for their essential needs, and attempt to make them whole. Without the TVPRA extension, victims will not be able or available to participate in the judicial process. Traffickers will go unpunished and victims will not receive justice or restoration."

The CIW's Laura Germino, who in 2010 became the first domestic recipient of the State Department's Trafficking in Persons Hero Award for her contributions to the fight against modern-day slavery in our own country, agrees, adding, "It seems the height of dysfunction to allow the law, in this year of commemoration of our country's enduring fight to end slavery, to expire. Modern-day slavery is prosecutable and preventable, and it is outrageous to allow more people to suffer when the solution is proven, workable, and has a steady and long tradition of bipartisan support."

The TVPA simply works. Congressional indifference threatens the existence of the TVPA, a seminal act of national vision that is fundamental to the cause of human rights and the eventual eradication of modern-day slavery. Such indifference will, with certainty, encourage those who would enslave others and result in an increase in forced labor. We as a nation cannot allow this to happen.

The TVPA works to fight modern-day slavery and must be re-authorized. There is simply no justification for returning to the dark days when forced labor went mostly unrevealed, and vulnerable workers were forced to suffer in silence at the hands of their employers.

Follow Greg Asbed on Twitter:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

We Should All Be Listening More to Katie Couric

JANUARY 14, 2013

Take Action: Ways to Stop Human Trafficking

Do your part.
Want to end human and sex trafficking but not sure where to start? The Department of State compiled this list of 20 ways for you to get involved.

1. Learn the red flags that may indicate human trafficking and ask follow up questions so that you can help identify a potential trafficking victim. Human trafficking awareness training is available for individuals, businesses, first responders, law enforcement, and federal employees.

2. In the United States, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at             1-888-373-7888       (24/7) to get help and connect with a service provider in your area, report a tip with information on potential human trafficking activity; or learn more by requesting training, technical assistance, or resources. Call federal law enforcement directly to report suspicious activity and get help from the Department of Homeland Security at             1-866-347-2423       (24/7), or submit a tip online at, or from the U.S. Department of Justice at             1-888-428-7581       from 9:00am to 5:00pm (EST). Victims, including undocumented individuals, are eligible for services and immigration assistance.

3. Be a conscientious consumer. Discover your Slavery Footprint, and check out the Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor. Encourage companies, including your own, to take steps to investigate and eliminate slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains and to publish the information for consumer awareness.

4. Incorporate human trafficking information into your professional associations’ conferences, trainings, manuals, and other materials as relevant [example].

5. Join or start a grassroots anti-trafficking coalition.

6. Meet with and/or write to your local, state, and federal government representatives to let them know that you care about combating human trafficking in your community, and ask what they are doing to address human trafficking in your area.

7. Distribute public awareness materials available from the Department of Health and Human Services or Department of Homeland Security.

8. Volunteer to do victim outreach or offer your professional services to a local anti-trafficking organization.

9. Donate funds or needed items to an anti-trafficking organization in your area.

10. Organize a fundraiser and donate the proceeds to an anti-trafficking organization.

11. Host an awareness event to watch and discuss a recent human trafficking documentary. On a larger scale, host a human trafficking film festival.

12. Encourage your local schools to partner with students and include the issue of modern day slavery in their curriculum. As a parent, educator, or school administrator, be aware of how traffickers target school-aged children.

13. Set up a Google alert to receive current human trafficking news.

14. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper about human trafficking in your community.

15. Start or sign a human trafficking petition.

16. Businesses: Provide internships, job skills training, and/or jobs to trafficking survivors. Consumers: Purchase items made by trafficking survivors such as from Jewel Girls or Made by Survivors.

17. Students: Take action on your campus. Join or establish a university or secondary school club to raise awareness about human trafficking and initiate action throughout your local community. Consider doing one of your research papers on a topic concerning human trafficking. Professors: Request that human trafficking be an issue included in university curriculum. Increase scholarship about human trafficking by publishing an article, teaching a class, or hosting a symposium.

18. Law Enforcement Officials: Join or start a local human trafficking task force.

19. Mental Health or Medical Providers: Extend low-cost or free services to human trafficking victims assisted by nearby anti-trafficking organizations. Train your staff on how to identify the indicators of human trafficking and assist victims.

20. Attorneys: Look for signs of human trafficking among your clients. Offer pro-bono services to trafficking victims or anti-trafficking organizations. Learn about and offer to human trafficking victims the legal benefits for which they are eligible. Assist anti-trafficking NGOs with capacity building and legal work.

What will you do to end human trafficking?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A preview for January 22...coming soon

January 22, 2013—Join an Online Discussion
Providing Services to Runaway Youth and Victims of Human Trafficking

On January 22, 2013, at 12 p.m. (eastern time), in commemoration of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), in collaboration with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, will present a Web Forum discussion with Fiona Mason and Danny Stewart on best practices for providing services to runaway youth and victims of human trafficking. Ms. Mason is the Supervising Social Worker for Safe Horizon's Anti-Trafficking Program, where she oversees the client services program. She also serves as the Regional Coordinator for the Northern Tier Anti-Trafficking Consortium. Ms. Mason has worked in the social services field for 10 years. Prior to joining Safe Horizon, she worked with the homeless population on the streets of New York, and as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco. Ms. Mason is a member of the Freedom Network (USA) and the New York Anti-Trafficking Network.
Mr. Stewart is the Director of Operations for Safe Horizon’s Streetwork Project, which provides services to homeless and street-involved youth and young adults. His duties include providing administrative oversight of federal, state, city, and foundation grants for drop-in center programs for homeless youth. Mr. Stewart also is responsible for developing, coordinating, and implementing quality assurance and improvement activities; managing all evaluation projects; and facilitating monthly committee meetings.

Visit the OVC Web Forum now at to submit questions for Ms. Mason and Mr. Stewart and return on January 22 at 12 p.m. (eastern time) for the live discussion. Go to for instructions on how to participate.

OVC's Web Forum allows participants to tap into a national network of people with various backgrounds who all face similar challenges and experiences. It is the perfect place for crime victim service providers and allied professionals to gain peer insight and support related to best practices in victim services. Please be reminded that the Web Forum is a public domain and personal or case information should not be shared.
OVC shares your mission and has a wide range of resources to help you accomplish it. Visit the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) online at to register for services or to find out more.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month

January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month!
Show your support and join our End Trafficking team to take action. Here’s how:
1. Watch and share our brand new PSA on human trafficking, featuring Rizzoli and Isles star Angie Harmon.
2. Stay tuned for an exclusive opportunity to hang out with End Trafficking and The Polaris Project on Google +.
3. Organize a fundraiser for UNICEF’s Child Protection work – download the Fundraising Toolkit here.
4. Host a screening of Not My Life, a powerful documentary on human trafficking.
5. Take the Slavery Footprint Challenge and discover how the work of exploited people touches your daily life.
Stay connected to the End Trafficking Project by following the campaign on Twitter: @EndTraffick and by joining the effort on the Action Center.
Contact End Trafficking at: or visit for more information.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Is Delhi So Different From Steubenville?

Is Delhi So Different From Steubenville?
Published: January 12, 2013

IN India, a 23-year-old student takes a bus home from a movie and is gang-raped and assaulted so viciously that she dies two weeks later.
Enlarge This Image

Damon Winter/The New York Times
Nicholas D. Kristof
On the Ground

Room for Debate: Power for the Women of India (January 9, 2013)
In Liberia, in West Africa, an aid group called More Than Me rescues a 10-year-old orphan who has been trading oral sex for clean water to survive.

In Steubenville, Ohio, high school football players are accused of repeatedly raping an unconscious 16-year-old girl who was either drunk or rendered helpless by a date-rape drug and was apparently lugged like a sack of potatoes from party to party.

And in Washington, our members of Congress show their concern for sexual violence by failing to renew the Violence Against Women Act, a landmark law first passed in 1994 that has now expired.

Gender violence is one of the world’s most common human rights abuses. Women worldwide ages 15 through 44 are more likely to die or be maimed because of male violence than because of cancer, malaria, war and traffic accidents combined. The World Health Organization has found that domestic and sexual violence affects 30 to 60 percent of women in most countries.

In some places, rape is endemic: in South Africa, a survey found that 37 percent of men reported that they had raped a woman. In others, rape is institutionalized as sex trafficking. Everywhere, rape often puts the victim on trial: in one poll, 68 percent of Indian judges said that “provocative attire” amounts to “an invitation to rape.”

Americans watched the events after the Delhi gang rape with a whiff of condescension at the barbarity there, but domestic violence and sex trafficking remain a vast problem across the United States.

One obstacle is that violence against women tends to be invisible and thus not a priority. In Delhi, of 635 rape cases reported in the first 11 months of last year, only one ended in conviction. That creates an incentive for rapists to continue to rape, but in any case that reported number of rapes is delusional. They don’t include the systematized rape of sex trafficking. India has, by my reckoning, more women and girls trafficked into modern slavery than any country in the world. (China has more prostitutes, but they are more likely to sell sex by choice.)

On my last trip to India, I tagged along on a raid on a brothel in Kolkata, organized by the International Justice Mission. In my column at the time, I focused on a 15-year-old and a 10-year-old imprisoned in the brothel, and mentioned a 17-year-old only in passing because I didn’t know her story.

My assistant at The Times, Natalie Kitroeff, recently visited India and tracked down that young woman. It turns out that she had been trafficked as well — she was apparently drugged at a teahouse and woke up in the brothel. She said she was then forced to have sex with customers and beaten when she protested. She was never allowed outside and was never paid. What do you call what happened to those girls but slavery?

Yet prosecutors and the police often shrug — or worse. Dr. Shershah Syed, a former president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Pakistan, once told me: “When I treat a rape victim, I always advise her not to go to the police. Because if she does, the police might just rape her again.”

In the United States, the case in Steubenville has become controversial partly because of the brutishness that the young men have been accused of, but also because of concerns that the authorities protected the football team. Some people in both Delhi and Steubenville rushed to blame the victim, suggesting that she was at fault for taking a bus or going to a party. They need to think: What if that were me?

The United States could help change the way the world confronts these issues. On a remote crossing of the Nepal-India border, I once met an Indian police officer who said, a bit forlornly, that he was stationed there to look for terrorists and pirated movies. He wasn’t finding any, but India posted him there to show that it was serious about American concerns regarding terrorism and intellectual property. Meanwhile, that officer ignored the steady flow of teenage Nepali girls crossing in front of him on their way to Indian brothels, because modern slavery was not perceived as an American priority.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has done a superb job trying to put these issues on the global agenda, and I hope President Obama and Senator John Kerry will continue her efforts. But Congress has been pathetic. Not only did it fail to renew the Violence Against Women Act, but it has also stalled on the global version, the International Violence Against Women Act, which would name and shame foreign countries that tolerate gender violence.

Congress even failed to renew the landmark legislation against human trafficking, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The obstacles were different in each case, but involved political polarization and paralysis. Can members of Congress not muster a stand on modern slavery?

(Hmm. I now understand better the results of a new survey from Public Policy Polling showing that Congress, with 9 percent approval, is less popular than cockroaches, traffic jams, lice or Genghis Khan.)

Skeptics fret that sexual violence is ingrained into us, making the problem hopeless. But just look at modern American history, for the rising status of women has led to substantial drops in rates of reported rape and domestic violence. Few people realize it, but Justice Department statistics suggest that the incidence of rape has fallen by three-quarters over the last four decades.

Likewise, the rate at which American women are assaulted by their domestic partners has fallen by more than half in the last two decades. That reflects a revolution in attitudes. Steven Pinker, in his book “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” notes that only half of Americans polled in 1987 said that it was always wrong for a man to beat his wife with a belt or a stick; a decade later, 86 percent said it was always wrong.

But the progress worldwide is far too slow. Let’s hope that India makes such violence a national priority. And maybe the rest of the world, especially our backward Congress, will appreciate that the problem isn’t just India’s but also our own.

I invite you to comment on this column on my blog, On the Ground. Please also join me on Facebook and Google+, watch my YouTube videos and follow me on Twitter.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Tallahassee middle school students taking a stand on human trafficking

Raa students draft human trafficking legislation (with video)
Human trafficking prevention focus of project
12:39 AM, Jan 10, 2013   |   Comments

Raa Middle School teacher Tim Girard
Written by
Arek Sarkissian II
Florida Capital Bureau

State Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, gives Raa Middle School students advice on how to craft a bill about human trafficking that will go before the Legislature in this year's session. / Arek Sarkissian II/Democrat

Raa Middle School student Hannah Wong said she had only heard about human trafficking when the topic was brought up this year in her seventh grade civics class.

Wong said she then learned Florida was the third highest for human trafficking cases in the country, with a case prosecuted in north Tallahassee only five years ago.

“At first I was scared because human trafficking is really local,” Wong said. “My immediate reaction was that I wanted to protect people just like me.”

Wong said her class put their studies in human trafficking to good use in a project to craft a bill for the Legislature. It will be shepherded by state Rep. Alan Williams. He told the class on Wednesday morning their work proves that some of the best ideas for laws come from the community.

“I’ll tell you this: the Legislature is not the best place to get ideas for bills,” said Williams, a Democrat from Tallahassee. “It’s when we hear about issues from the community — from all of you — that they matter the most.”

Williams first contacted Raa Middle School Civics Teacher Tim Girard in August about working with his students to come up with a bill in a program he titled Bridging the Gap: Youth and Politics, similar to what’s been called There Ought to Be a Law in the past.

The Legislature has passed several anti-trafficking bills in recent years, including 2012 when a proposal to place human-trafficking violations within the jurisdiction of the Office of Statewide Prosecution was signed into law.

A Statewide Task Force on Human Trafficking, created in 2009, produced a report on the extent of the problem. Exact numbers are hard to come by, but the Florida State University Center for the Advancement of Human Rights says the state is the third most-popular American destination for human traffickers, mostly in agriculture labor, but also sex trafficking.

Girard said his students started researching human trafficking nine weeks ago and will present their work before a panel of educators and former lawmakers on Monday, during Human Trafficking Awareness Month, as a contender for presentation as a bill in this year’s regular session.

“Really, it’s about researching and putting together their ideas,” Girard said.

Williams learned from the students that companies failing to implement safeguards preventing human trafficking should face government sanctions and increased security measures could help stop the crime. They also learned that those ideas cost money, potentially prohibiting the bill from becoming law.

“Right, but even if something doesn’t pass here, other states may hear about it and then they pass it,” Williams said. “So, it may not have been here, but you’re still helping out.”

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sign this petition to end trafficking, please!


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Human Trafficking in Ohio

By: Nick George, The Columbus Foundation

In Ohio, 1,000 American-born children are forced into the sex trade each year. Do not be fooled into thinking this is like the movie Taken. Human trafficking is a $32 billion industry worldwide and is the largest growing criminal activity in the world. Columbus’ Theresa Flores is a survivor, author, social worker, and advocate working to put an end to this horrific criminal industry.

Theresa Flores tells her story to Columbus Foundation donors during a recent Your Philanthropy event at the Foundation.

“This is not a sex issue. This is a economic issue,” Flores said.

Listening to Flores story will make you cry and hearing the statistics will shock you. During high school in an upper-middle class suburb of Detroit, she was drugged, raped, and tortured over the course of two years. She was kept in bondage and forced to pay back an impossible debt.

Flores tells her story as a 2011 TEDxColumbus speaker:

“Nobody had any idea this could be happening to a kid like me. Who would have ever thought? And I wasn’t telling because they threatened to kill my brothers,” Flores said.

Flores’ bravery and willingness to tell her story is truly remarkable. It gives light to a subject and industry that thrives by remaining in the dark.

“I was able to escape. Most don’t,” Flores said.

Flores was appointed to the Ohio Attorney General’s commission on the study of human trafficking in 2009. She received the Courage Award from Governor Kasich for her efforts to end human trafficking. She has told her story on Nightline, America’s Most Wanted, The Today Show, and MSNBC. Now a social worker, she has published two books, The Sacred Bath and The Slave Across the Street and runs her outreach program, S.O.A.P. through the Columbus nonprofit Doma International.

Learn about S.O.A.P in this brief video:

“This is an issue we need to stop being quiet about. For 20 years I thought I was the only one, but there are a lot of Theresas out there,” Flores said.

The size of this industry and its’ dynamics are likely to surprise you.

“We believe Ohio is the fifth leading state for human trafficking.”

“Thirteen is the average age of children forced into the sex trade in the United States.”

“100,000 American youth are being trafficked right now in the U.S.”

“350,000 American kids are at risk of being sexually exploited.”

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Monday, January 7, 2013

Assisting Trafficking Victims Information Packet

Please check out this great new resource for working with victims of trafficking:

This information packet describes practices used in cases of human trafficking, how they relate to sexual violence, and how to assist and advocate for victims of human trafficking. There are 6 resources in this information packet.

The packet includes: an Annotated Bibliography, a Technical Assistance Bulletin, an Overview, a Guide for Advocates, a Research Brief, and a Resource List.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Japan Can Champion Women’s Rights

Japan Can Champion Women’s Rights
Published: January 1, 2013

“THEY started to drag us away, one by one. ... I hid under the table, but was soon found. ... The Japanese officer ... took his sword out of its scabbard and pointed it at me, threatening me with it, that he would kill me if I did not give in to him. I curled myself into a corner, like a hunted animal that could not escape.”

Japan Hints It May Revise an Apology on Sex Slaves (December 28, 2012)
Thus, Jan Ruff O’Herne, a Dutch woman born in Java in 1923, recounted the abuse she suffered at the hands of the Japanese military as a World War II “comfort woman,” or sexual slave, at a 2007 U.S. House subcommittee hearing.

This was only the first of the rapes that she would endure every day and night for months after she had been “forcibly seized” from a Japanese civilian internment camp at age 19 and brought to a brothel for Japanese servicemen. O’Herne was one of up to 200,000 mostly Korean, but also Chinese, Dutch, Japanese, Filipino, Indonesian and other women coerced into sexual servitude by the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces.

In 1993, after decades of official denials, Yohei Kono, the chief cabinet secretary, issued a formal admission and apology to the women following an extensive government study. Many conservatives in Japan have never accepted the so-called Kono Statement, most notably Shinzo Abe, the new prime minister. On Thursday, the new chief cabinet secretary of the Abe government, Yoshihide Suga, said that historians and other experts should re-examine the Kono Statement. Knowing the shaky ground on which the apology stands amid longstanding conservative calls to rescind or revise it, what many comfort women have sought is an official Japanese government apology (a cabinet decision) and state compensation. This seems as far from becoming reality as it has in the last two decades.

This type of revisionist atmosphere has become a significant obstacle to smooth relations between Japan and its neighbors. It is also of profound concern to the United States, two of whose most important allies in the region are Japan and South Korea, which are at odds over the comfort women issue.

But this is not only a matter of Japan’s foreign relations, U.S. strategic interests, or history. Its global import is inextricably tied to the real-life circumstances of women and girls in conflict-ridden zones and other unsafe situations throughout the world today.

When the U.S. House passed a resolution in 2007 calling on Japan to acknowledge and apologize for the “coercion of young women into sexual slavery” during the 1930s and 1940s, the comfort women issue was immediately reframed as one of women’s rights and human rights. Since then, the comfort women issue has gained wide support nationally and internationally because of the plight of women and girls caught up in the brutal business of human trafficking. The United Nations reports that there are 2.4 million current victims of human trafficking, 80 percent of whom are being used as sexual slaves. Sexual violence (defined by the U.N. as including rape and forced prostitution) also continues to be part of the reality of armed conflict, as we have seen in Bosnia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Libya.

This is not a history issue, nor solely a Japan-South Korea issue. It is a human rights and women’s rights issue.

Last month, Japanese voters put the Liberal Democratic Party back in power. One of the characteristics that Japanese citizens clearly thirst for in the new government is leadership. Thus far, Abe has chosen to display his leadership qualities, in part, by emphasizing historical revisionism. This will probably not take him very far, as evidenced by his previous short-lived stint as prime minister in 2006-2007. During that one-year term, Abe challenged claims that women had been coerced into becoming comfort women but later apologized to the women “as prime minister” and ultimately stood by the Kono Statement.

Given the mood of the Japanese public, it is unlikely that there will be much movement on the comfort women issue by this government. Still, an opportunity exists to transform the debate, to instill national pride in the country’s young people by making Japan a protector of human rights and a defender of the disempowered on the global stage, and to take concrete steps so that problems of sexual servitude and rape in war actually do become issues of history.

Mary M. McCarthy is an assistant professor of politics and international relations at Drake University and a Mansfield Foundation U.S.-Japan Network for the Future Scholar.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

How Many Slaves Work for You?

How Many Slaves Work for You?
Published: December 31, 2012

THE Emancipation Proclamation, signed 150 years ago today, was a revolutionary achievement, and widely recognized as such at the time. Abraham Lincoln himself declared, “If my name goes into history it will be for this act, and my whole soul is in it.”

On New Year’s Eve, 1862, “watch-night” services in auditoriums, churches, camps and cabins united thousands, free as well as enslaved, who sang, prayed and counted down to midnight. At a gathering of runaway slaves in Washington, a man named Thornton wept: “Tomorrow my child is to be sold never more.”

The Day of Jubilee, as Jan. 1, 1863 was called, arrived at last and celebrations of deliverance and freedom commenced. “We are all liberated by this proclamation,” Frederick Douglass observed. “The white man is liberated, the black man is liberated.” The Fourth of July “was great,” he proclaimed, “but the First of January, when we consider it in all its relations and bearings, even greater.”

Yet the day never took hold as Emancipation Day, an occasion to commemorate freedom for all Americans. Nearly three years would pass before the ratification of the 13th Amendment officially abolished slavery. All too quickly, the joy of emancipation succumbed to the reality of a circumscribed freedom in which blacks found themselves the victims of economic injustice and racial discrimination.

Settling on a single day to celebrate emancipation was further complicated by the variety of dates on which actual freedom, or word of it, came to the slaves: for example, slavery ended on April 16, 1862 in Washington, but it didn’t come to Virginia until April 3, 1865; word of the war’s end and emancipation didn’t reach Texas until June 19, 1865, a day celebrated as “Juneteenth.” Some areas marked Feb. 1, 1865, when Lincoln signed the joint resolution approving the 13th Amendment. As a result, local traditions took the place of a nationwide anniversary.

But those local traditions don’t preclude a national observation. Indeed, today’s sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation provides an opportunity to observe Jan. 1 as a day of emancipation and to rededicate ourselves to freedom. In 1963, standing before the Lincoln Memorial, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. labeled the Proclamation a “beacon light of hope” to African-Americans and used the centennial to call for a renewed commitment to civil rights in America. Fifty years later, we might consider what a new Emancipation Proclamation would look like, one written for our times.

It would, above all, focus American and international attention on the millions of people still held in servitude. In September, the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation, an organization devoted to securing personal freedom and rights for all individuals, began a project called 100 Days to Freedom. Students in schools across the country were invited to craft a New Proclamation of Freedom, which the foundation hopes will be signed by President Obama on Jan. 11, which is recognized worldwide as Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

In the United States, thousands are held against their will; minors, especially, are the victims of ruthless exploitation. While other countries are worse offenders, the United States, according to State Department reports, serves as both a source and a destination for the trafficking of children.

In a speech delivered in September at the Clinton Global Initiative, President Obama declared that the time had come to call human trafficking by its rightful name: modern slavery. “The bitter truth is that trafficking also goes on right here, in the United States,” he declared. “It’s the migrant worker unable to pay off the debt to his trafficker. The man, lured here with the promise of a job, his documents then taken, and forced to work endless hours in a kitchen. The teenage girl, beaten, forced to walk the streets. This should not be happening in the United States of America.”

That same month the president signed an executive order that stated the United States would “lead by example” and take steps to ensure that federal contracts are not awarded to companies or nations implicated in trafficking. “We’re making clear that American tax dollars must never, ever be used to support the trafficking of human beings,” he said.

Still, the invisibility of modern slavery makes it all the more pernicious and difficult to eradicate. The organization Slavery Footprint asks on its Web site, “How many slaves work for you?” A survey poses a series of seemingly innocuous questions such as what do you eat, what do you wear, what medicine do you take, and what electronics do you use? Upon completion, a number is revealed: I discovered that 60 slaves work for me — cutting the tropical wood for my furniture, harvesting the Central Asian cotton in my shirts or mining the African precious metals used in my electronics.

One way to reduce our complicity and attack human trafficking is to participate in Made in a Free World, a platform started by Slavery Footprint to show companies how to eliminate forced labor from their supply chains. A smartphone app also allows consumers to identify items made by forced labor and send letters to the manufacturers, demanding that they investigate the origins of the raw materials used in their products.

At his speech condemning human trafficking, President Obama referred to Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation as having “brought a new day — that ‘all persons held as slaves’ would thenceforth be forever free. We wrote that promise into our Constitution. We spent decades struggling to make it real.”

Today we should celebrate the extraordinary moment in the nation’s history when slavery yielded to freedom. But the work must continue. For those who insist they would have been abolitionists during the Civil War, now is the chance to become one.

Louis P. Masur is a professor of American studies and history at Rutgers University and the author of “Lincoln’s Hundred Days: The Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union.”