Thursday, February 28, 2013

Worth a Listen...

Human trafficking expert and Covenant House Toronto social worker Michele Anderson was on Newstalk 1010 with John Tory recently to discuss the City's new initiative to combat this horrific crime.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

At Trial, Officer’s Friend Recalls Abduction Threat

At Trial, Officer’s Friend Recalls Abduction Threat
Published: February 26, 2013

She had been friends with the New York police officer since their college days in Maryland, and they kept in touch mostly through text messages over the years. So when she was warned of his bizarre threat against her, she said, she immediately dismissed it.

The warning had arrived in a message via Facebook, and the woman, Kimberly Sauer, took it as a sure sign that the sender’s account had been compromised. The message came from the wife of the old friend, Gilberto Valle, and it suggested that he had designs on selling Ms. Sauer into “white slavery.”

Ms. Sauer, who testified on Tuesday on the second day of Officer Valle’s trial in Federal District Court in Manhattan, was one of five women who have now testified for the prosecution, which is trying to prove that the officer plotted to kidnap, rape, kill and cannibalize women. The officer’s lawyer has argued that he had merely fantasized carrying out such acts, engaging in deviant role-playing in Internet chat rooms with no intention of doing any harm. Charges against the officer include conspiracy to commit kidnapping.

Ms. Sauer, 29, testified that she took a screen shot of the Facebook message from the officer’s wife and sent it to him, with her own message and a joke. Had Officer Valle’s Facebook account been hacked, she asked, or was he actually trying to sell her into white slavery?

Not that I am aware of, Officer Valle responded, Ms. Sauer recalled.

But by day’s end, prosecutors had introduced testimony and other evidence that the government asserted were the officer’s actual plans for Ms. Sauer, which underscored the challenge that the defense faces in convincing jurors that the officer’s alleged conspiracy was all a fantasy.

Prosecutors have cited a brunch in Maryland, where Officer Valle, his wife and their baby traveled to visit Ms. Sauer, as an example of how he conducted surveillance on one of his intended victims. The defense has portrayed the brunch as an innocuous meeting between college friends.

On Tuesday, Corey Walsh, an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, testified that a search of personal computers Officer Valle used showed that he had created files on scores of potential victims like Ms. Sauer.

Officer Valle had also created a document he called “Abducting and Cooking Kimberly, a Blueprint,” evidence showed.

Although the document cited a Kimberly Shea, Agent Walsh said the woman was Ms. Sauer.

Officer Valle had listed Ms. Sauer’s ethnicity, age, weight, shoe and bra sizes, and noted that she had no tattoos and did not smoke or use drugs. It gave a target date for the abduction as Sept. 2, 2012.

“I will arrive at some point Sunday night at her home to kidnap her,” he wrote to a reputed co-conspirator in Britain. He also listed “materials needed,” including a car, chloroform, gloves, rope and duct tape to gag her with.

The government also introduced an exchange of electronic messages that it said Officer Valle had with the co-conspirator in Britain, who goes by screen names like Moody Blues.

“I’m having lunch with Kimberly on Sunday,” the officer wrote in July 2012.

The co-conspirator replied: “Be aware you will be a possible suspect when she goes missing. Get your alibi in early.”

Officer Valle wrote at one point: “I just enjoy the thought of making her suffer.”

His messages became even more explicit and disturbing as he proposed a way to kill victims in preparation for eating them. “I’ve been told that stringing the victim up by her feet and cutting her throat is another idea. Letting her bleed out then butcher her while she hangs.”

“I just can’t wait to get Kimberly cooking,” he said at one point.

The F.B.I. agent testified that Officer Valle had also exchanged messages about another woman, a college student who had graduated from his high school, Archbishop Molloy, in Queens, and who had played softball.

In one message, Officer Valle said he wanted to find a way to keep the woman unconscious. The co-conspirator suggested in a message that he knock her out with a baseball bat.

The student, Kristen Ponticelli, testified that she had never met or talked to Officer Valle. None of the women who prosecutors say the officer singled out were kidnapped or harmed.

At one point last year, Ms. Sauer said, Officer Valle wrote to her, asking for her address so that he could send her a police union card. “Just keep it hush-hush because I can’t give one to everyone,” Officer Valle wrote, adding that he could make no guarantees, but that the card was “like a free pass for a minor traffic violation.”

A prosecutor, Randall W. Jackson, told Judge Paul G. Gardephe out of the presence of the jury that the card was the kind of ploy Officer Valle used to gain addresses and other personal data from potential victims. He was also trying to establish “a relationship of trust with them,” Mr. Jackson added.

On cross-examination, Officer Valle’s lawyer, Julia L. Gatto, elicited testimony from Ms. Sauer and a third woman, whom he had known from high school, that Officer Valle had never been abusive to them. Ms. Sauer acknowledged that she knew Officer Valle as a nonviolent person. She also said she had not been upset to receive the union card, and had kept it in her wallet.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bras offer lifeline to rescued slaves

Bras offer lifeline to rescued slaves

Denver, Colorado (CNN) – Tashina was trafficked for sex when she was 15-years-old. Ofelia, when she was 12.
Tashina finds it helpful to talk about it. “We lived in darkness,” she said. For Ofelia, talking about the past is too painful. She just winds up crying.
But both women smile broadly as they talk about their future. A future filled with promise and hope, thanks to the kindness of a complete stranger half a world away from their home in Mozambique.
Kimba Langas is a college-educated, stay-at-home mom in suburban Denver, Colorado. She says she grew up in a middle class family with loving parents, never wanting for anything.
“I am fortunate,” Langas said. “I was born at the right time, in the right country, under the right circumstances, so I've had many privileges as a woman growing up in the United States. I've had just about every opportunity I could want.”
Her life could not be more different from those of Tashina and Ofelia. And yet, today these three women are connected in a most unusual way.
The story began when Langas got a call from Dave Terpstra, a former pastor at her church. He had just moved his wife and three children to Mozambique on a mission to help rehabilitate women who had been rescued from sex trafficking.

“The way people find themselves trafficked is normally out of desperation,” Terpstra said. “I think sometimes we have in our mind that somebody somewhere has a gun and they're stealing them away and selling them. But so often, people are taken advantage of simply because they're so vulnerable.”
Terpstra wanted to help them find jobs, a sustainable income that would make them less vulnerable and reduce their risk of being trafficked again.
He found his answer in the bustling used clothing markets of Mozambique.
They could sell bras, a luxury item that enables them to earn about three times the minimum wage.
Read how actress Mira Sorvino says everyone can play a role in fighting human trafficking
Together, Terpstra and Langas founded the charity Free the Girls. She collects donated bras in the United States and he delivers them to sex trafficking survivors to sell.
“Bras actually command the highest price per kilogram in the used clothing market over there,” Langas said. “And so for our girls, why not provide them inventory that they can not only make money off of, but make good money off of?”

They tested the program ahead of time and the girls were able to make three times the minimum wage selling the bras.
Langas created a Facebook page to ask people to send her their bras. She figured there were other women, like her, with a “bra graveyard.”
“I had probably five or six bras in the back of my drawer,” she said. “As women, we buy a bra, don't try it on, get it home, wear it once, it doesn't fit... so we all have these bras hanging around that we don't know what to do with.”
Her plea resonated with thousands of women across the U.S. and bras started pouring in. Her home was quickly overrun by boxes and bins of bras. She stored them in her basement and her garage. She stored some at her church.
Within just a few months, Langas had more than 20,000 bras – and a big problem. She could not afford the $6,500 it would cost to ship them all to Africa.
That’s when the story was featured on CNN, and everything changed.
“I got up early the next morning after the story aired and the first email that was waiting for me was from a man named Paul who has a shipping company in Chicago,” Kimba said. “He saw the story and reached out to offer us assistance with shipping the bras to Mozambique.”

Paul Jarzombek is director of operations at LR International. He says he was very moved by the story.
“I have a 12-year-old daughter myself and immediately that's what I thought of was my own daughter,” he said. “I was horrified, quite frankly, that these girls could be sold into this kind of slavery and probably like most Americans, sort of naive about the fact that these things happen so readily.”
His act of kindness led to another when a truck driver offered to put the bras in the back of his 18-wheeler and drive them from Denver to Chicago. Rick Youngquist had recently joined Truckers Against Trafficking, an organization that educates long-haul truck drivers about how to spot signs of human trafficking on the road.
“Now that I know what's going on out there, I can't just ignore it,” Youngquist said. “I mean, I think this human trafficking thing is just a horrendous thing.”
So Youngquist drove the bras, now totaling 34,000, to Chicago where Jarzombek loaded them into a shipping container and sent them on their way.
Langas cried as she watched his truck pull away. She thought about the thousands of women who helped make it happen.
“Sometimes we know why they were inspired to send to us and sometimes we don't,” she said. “So you can only imagine what compelled them to box up a bra and send it our way.”
She also thought about the young women on the other end, and the opportunity the bras represent for them.
Three months later, the bras arrived in Maputo, Mozambique's capital city.
A lifeline for Tashina and Ofelia - and a most unusual weapon in the war against modern-day slavery.
“I am happy, very happy, to know that I have a lot,” Tashina said, “a normal family. I am very happy.”
And she is quick to thank the people who made it possible.
"I just want to tell the people in America, they've given us the strength we needed. Thank you very much,” she said.
The success of this project has led Free the Girls to look outside Mozambique, even beyond Africa. They now have plans to start operations in El Salvador, Kenya, Mexico and Uganda later this year.
See how you could help
After this story was first published the Mozambique Embassy in the U.S. issued a statement which read: "We commend CNN International for raising awareness of this malaise which affects thousands of people and including our own Mozambican people.
"The Government of Mozambique is working in a comprehensive legislation and law enforcement, in accordance with international agreements and protocols, to prevent these actions to occur and bring to justice all perpetrators of these acts."

Monday, February 25, 2013

A message to teens: 10 tips for protection against traffickersr

WASHINGTON, DC, July 26, 2012 - This column is for the tweens and teens out there. Parents should show it to them. Print it out, stick it in their school books, or post it to their mirrors.
There are ways to protect yourself, or your child, from becoming a victim of a sex trafficker. Familiarize yourself with the following ten tips; share them with friends.
Parents, review these with your child and be aware so that if something changes in your teen’s life, you can catch your child before he or she becomes a statistic.
1.  Become media literate.  If you don’t know what “media literacy” means, I encourage you to research the topic. It is important that you understand how business enterprises are sending you distorted messages via the media in order to make a profit from selling you their products.
These messages include: You aren’t pretty unless you buy this, you aren’t cool unless you own this, being pretty or cool is more important than anything else, etc. Traffickers understand what popular culture is telling you; educate yourself in order to be armed against predators.  Start with Nicole Clark’s documentary, Cover Girl Culture, or Adriana Barbaro and Jeremy Earp’s documentary, Consuming Kids: the Commercialism of Childhood.
For more resources on media literacy, please visit my personal blog.
2.  Learn different coping skills.  Life in middle school is tough.  I know this because I was there; I struggled with the same issues as most teens today- bullying, teen pregnancy, poor self-image, etc.
It doesn’t have to feel so stressful all the time, though. I encourage you to explore ways to cope with stress. Coping strategies can include meditation, prayer, exercise, yoga, martial arts, writing, reading, music, sports, crafting, collecting, etc. Don’t be afraid to try new things, and please ask for help from teachers or family members if you need assistance with starting one of these activities.
A book that helped me with coping strategies was The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
3.  Stay involved in extracurricular activities. It is crucial to do well in school and to stay involved in extracurricular activities. Try out for different sports, clubs, or programs.
I promise that good grades and a busy schedule are the most effective ways to overcome middle school troubles and to graduate as quickly and successfully as possible.
Trust me on this- I tried running away from middle school. That route was worse than if I had just stuck things out at school.
4.  Don’t be afraid to try new things. If you have an aunt that offers to take you to the ballet, say yes!  If an uncle offers to take you to a sports game, take him up on it! Try new things! Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone or away from your friends.
I was very afraid to try new things without my friends- the result?  When my friends inevitably began to try new things without me, I felt very isolated and alone. This is part of the reason a trafficker was able to lure me away from home.
5.  Volunteer. Volunteering can help you keep things in focus while in middle and high school. There are many different ways to volunteer- from serving food at a soup kitchen to walking dogs at an animal shelter.
Check out or to find cool places to volunteer!  A healthy perspective on one’s own life will prevent attempted distortion by a stranger.
6.  Learn to say NO. Our society is saturated with images of sex, and most images of women in the media are sexualized. This teaches young girls that sex appeal equals value. This turns into a domino effect; over-sexualized girls are magnets for older, opportunistic boys or men who will push to have their expectations met.
Despite seeing and hearing about sex on a daily basis, please know that you have the right to say NO to anyone at any time, no matter what. Saying no does not make you less worthy in any way whatsoever.  YOU own your body.  NOBODY has the right to touch you- no matter what, no matter when, and no matter how far things have gone with a person in the past.
And, guys- it’s ok to wait to have sex. Despite what you see and hear on a daily basis from television and from peers, it’s cooler to wait. Respect yourself and your partner.
Traffickers look for teens who lack assertiveness. Stand up for yourself! Say NO!
7.  Ask questions about sex. Please know that positive sexual health is not accurately portrayed in movies, music lyrics, music videos, or magazines. These are often very negative and inaccurate depictions of romance and love.
Take your time. Rushing to have sex can have disastrous effects.
8.  Seek Counseling! It is not normal to feel overly sad, angry, hopeless, or empty.  Even though so many movie characters and musicians display this exact personality as being cool or normal, it is not ok for you to feel this way. You deserve to feel happy and safe.
Please confide in a teacher or family member if you are having these feelings.  Or, call the Boys Town National Hotline, a crisis hotline for both boys and girls, at             1-800-448-3000      .
9.  Understand how child trafficking works. Traffickers hang out in the same places you do: malls, skating rinks, bus stations, online, etc. Traffickers do not typically look like sketchy characters- they are often young and well-dressed.  Traffickers will offer to buy you trendy clothes, shoes, cars, or other expensive items.
Traffickers will ask for your phone number; they will ask to see or speak to you alone. Traffickers will tell you how pretty and mature you are, and they may mention knowing celebrities, exotic dancers, models, and porn stars. Traffickers will offer to help you make a lot of money or may offer to help you run away.
Know this- NO stranger (man or woman) has good intentions if they offer to help you run away. NO stranger (man or woman) has anything but personal gain in mind if they offer to help you make money. No matter how cool, how hip, or how fun and friendly they may seem- they mean to harm you.
Seek help from a trusted family member or teacher.
10.  Raise awareness! Start a school club to promote awareness for media literacy or human trafficking. You belong to the next generation of advocates who must stand up for your rights and the rights of others. Your voice can make a difference.
Believe in yourself and all that you can accomplish!
Holly Austin Smith is a survivor advocate, author, and speaker.  She invites you to join her on Facebook or Twitter and to follow her personal blog.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

From Barriers to Solutions: Investigating and Prosecuting Human Trafficking

From Barriers to Solutions: Investigating and Prosecuting Human Trafficking
Webinar | February 25, 2013 | 2:00-3:30PM EST
Human trafficking thrives in rural, suburban, and urban jurisdictions across the country because it is routinely undetected, overlooked or misidentified. The common misconception that “we don’t have human trafficking in our jurisdiction” leads many criminal justice system professionals to fail to recognize common indicators of human trafficking. Further, a lack of coordination between the criminal justice system and community-based programs results in a lack of victim identification and offender accountability. While our ability to identify offenders and victims has improved, there are still significant gaps in the justice system’s response to human trafficking.
In April 2012, researchers from the Urban Institute and Northeastern University released the report, “Identifying Challenges to Improve the Investigation and Prosecution of State and Local Human Trafficking Cases,” highlighting challenges to — and recommendations to improve —human trafficking investigations and prosecutions. The report addresses complex challenges in addition to offering numerous recommendations following an in-depth study that examined twelve jurisdictions across the United States. Click here to read the full report.

This webinar will highlight key findings from the report and offer solutions for overcoming some of the barriers enhancing victim identification and safety, and increasing offender accountability through the effective investigation and prosecution of human trafficking cases.
Allied justice system professionals including but not limited to prosecutors, law enforcement officers, community-based service providers, medical and mental health practitioners, probation and parole officers, judges, etc. are encouraged to attend.

Click here to register.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Man gets 30 years in prison for pimping runaway girls, ages 12 to 14

Man gets 30 years in prison for pimping runaway girls, ages 12 to 14

February 14, 2013|By Paula McMahon, Sun Sentinel
A man who prostituted runaway girls, ages 12 to 14, in Fort Lauderdale was sentenced to 30 years in prison Thursday for his crimes.

Federal prosecutors said Deangelo Jones, 20, pimped the girls – even forcing one of them to try to pick up customers at night on Sistrunk Boulevard – after he turned down an offer of honest work from his father.

Anti-human-trafficking efforts gain momentum

by Yamiche Alcindor, USA TODAY

Published: 02/16/2013 05:51pm

A growing wave of efforts to stop human trafficking has spread across the country as lawmakers and others look to combat the problem through law, policy, and grass-roots activism.

While approaches vary, advocates say more must be done to stop the crime, dubbed "modern day slavery" and defined by the U.S. State Department as the recruitment, transportation or harboring of people by means of deception or coercion. Victims, often mentally and physically abused, can be forced into prostitution, unfair working conditions, or other exploitative situations.

"Consciousness and outrage have reached a different level because of the perverseness but also the impact of human trafficking," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. "People understand that everyone has a responsibility to fight human trafficking and every individual can have an impact."

Cases of traffickers recruiting students at U.S. schools, selling sex online and in hotels, and operating slave entreprises alongside everyday life has led to increased awareness.

Two lawmakers in Maryland this month announced plans to toughen state laws on trafficking this year. In doing so, they joined a long list of people around the country working to make the crime in the United States a central topic of 2013.

Blumental and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, launched the U.S. Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking in November and sponsored a bill that later became law to prevent federal contracts from going to companies that benefit from forms of trafficking. The bill aims to hold contractors responsible by requiring them to notify the Inspector General if they receive "credible evidence" that a subcontractor has engaged in trafficking.

This week, Blumental and Portman also led a successful Senate vote to allow child victims of sex trafficking to receive help under the Violence Against Women Act. The House will now need to agree to that amendment.

Meanwhile, the bipartisan caucus will hold its first meeting this month. Blumenthal hopes the group will lead to more legislation, tougher enforcement of existing laws, and additional supportive services for victims.

The federal government hopes to become a model for change following announcements by President Obama last year about several new initiatives aimed at ending trafficking nationwide, Blumenthal said. The efforts include the first-ever assessment of the problem in this country and a $6 million grant to build solutions.

In Maryland, State Delegate Kathleen Dumais introduced a bill this month that would allow authorities to seize the assets of suspected traffickers and confiscate them if they are convicted. Delegate Susan Lee plans to introduce a bill that would increase the penalty for abducting someone under 16 for sexual exploitation from a misdemeanor to a felony.

Detective Thomas Stack of the Montgomery County police department says criminals are moving girls from states like California, Pennsylvania and New York into Maryland's massage parlors, brothels and hotels near Interstate 95, the Eastern Seaboard's busiest north-south corridor.

"Traffickers are no different than criminal enterprises and organized crime," he said, adding that last year authorities rescued 36 juveniles involved in prostitution. "They are making tremendous amounts of money and they get to keep it, even if we catch them and they are convicted."

Other initiatives aim to combat the problem.

The American Bar Association is training lawyers, judges, and other legal professionals to recognize signs that a defendant may be a trafficking victim and plans to encourage states to adopt uniform laws against the crime, said Laurel Bellows, the organization's president.

The group held a training in Chicago last year and will host training in San Diego and Washington this year. Several schools, including Georgetown University, the University of Kansas and the University of Southern California, hosted conferences last month on the subject, inviting experts and victims to speak.

Everyday citizens such as Erin Giles, editor of End Sex Trafficking, have helped publish books on the topic, while celebrities such as Jada Pinkett Smith, head of Don't Sell Bodies, have started organizations.

Longtime activists such as Andrea Powell, executive director of Fair Girls, a non-profit based in Washington, have redoubled their efforts by expanding operations and seeking more funding. For Powell, this year's focus will be on starting an office in Baltimore and getting specialized victim housing as well as passing laws that prohibit minors from being charged with prostitution, she said.

Copyright 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

United Nations highlights scale of human trafficking

United Nations highlights scale of human trafficking
Wednesday 13 February 2013 by Our Foreign Desk Printable  Email
The UN warned on Tuesday that it had found evidence of human trafficking in 118 countries and the victims, mostly women, were of 136 different nationalities.

A new UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report said that the millions of victims could be found working in the world's restaurants, fisheries, brothels, farms and homes.

It said that trafficking for sexual exploitation accounted for 58 per cent of all cases, while the share of forced labour cases had doubled over the past four years to 36 per cent.

"This global crime generates billions of dollars in profits for the traffickers," said UNODC executive director Yuri Fedotov.

The International Labour Organisation estimates that 20.9 million people are victims of forced labour globally, including victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation.

"While it is not known how many of these victims were trafficked, the estimate implies that there are millions of trafficking victims in the world," said Mr Fedotov.

Women and girls accounted for three-quarters of all trafficking victims. And the proportion of child victims rose from 20 per cent between 2003-6 to 27 per cent between 2007-10.

Other forms of trafficking remain relatively rare.

Trafficking for organs, though just 0.2 per cent of cases in 2010, was reported by 16 countries.

Trafficking for other purposes including begging, forced marriage, illegal adoption, participating in armed combat and crime accounted for 6 per cent.

The UNODC said progress had been made in fighting trafficking, with 134 countries and territories passing laws criminalising it, but there had been few convictions.

Of the 132 countries covered in the report, 16 per cent did not record a single conviction for human trafficking between 2007 and 2010.

Mr Fedotov said: "Trafficking requires a forceful response founded on assistance and protection for victims, rigorous enforcement by the justice system, a sound migration policy and firm regulation of labour markets."

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Federal legislation to assist victims of trafficking passes the senate again

Five Republicans Oppose Bipartisan Measure To Combat Human Trafficking

By Josh Israel on Feb 12, 2013 at 2:22 pm
As the Senate moves to a final vote on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), today 93 Senators endorsed an amendment to combat human trafficking. While opposing human trafficking is a fairly non-controversial subject, five far-right Republicans broke with the majority of their own caucus and opposed the bipartisan amendment.
The amendment, authored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT), strengthens VAWA by reauthorizing the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The measure helps law enforcement investigative human trafficking and supports international efforts to stop the practice. Leahy noted that on the anniversary of President Lincoln’s birth, “we continue to fight human trafficking, which can amount to modern day slavery,” making the amendment a fitting tribute. “The United States remains a beacon of hope for so many who face human rights abuses. We know that young women and girls – often just 11, 12, or 13 years old – are being bought and sold. We know that workers are being held and forced into labor against their will. People in this country and millions around the world are counting on us.”
The amendment was opposed by Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK), James Inhofe (R-OK), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Jeff Sessions (R-AL).
Lee also voted against even allowing the Senate to consider the Violence Against Women Act, based on his bizarre belief that the entire bill is unconstitutional.
Prior to his time in the Senate, Johnson famously opposed the bipartisan Wisconsin Child Victims Act, a bill to extend the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse crimes. His objection was that it would be bad for business if employers who help cover up the crime could be “severely damaged, possibly destroyed, in a legitimate desire for justice.”
Leahy said of the the Trafficking Victims Protection Act:
This measure strengthens criminal anti-trafficking statutes to ensure that law enforcement agencies have the tools they need to effectively combat all forms of trafficking. It ensures better coordination among federal agencies, between law enforcement and victim service providers, and with foreign countries to work on every facet of this complicated problem. It includes measures to encourage victims to come forward and report this terrible crime, which leads to more prosecutions and help for more victims. We have included accountability measures to ensure that Federal funds are used for their intended purposes, and we have streamlined programs to focus scarce resources on the approaches that have been the most successful. A Senator asserted yesterday that trafficking programs have been wasteful and duplicative. In fact, the programs supported by this amendment have been carefully tracked and shown to be effective. Nonetheless, the amendment reduces authorization levels by almost a third from the levels in the last reauthorization because we are determined to ensure efficiency and respond to concerns. We have made similar efforts to streamline VAWA.
The offices of the five Senators were not immediately available to respond to questions about their rationales for opposing the amendment.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Flying the Friendly Skies

One area where flight attendants can make an impact is in the prevention of human trafficking. Flight crews are skilled observers and well-positioned in the cabin; they can be front-line allies in this fight.
Earlier today, the Association of Flight Attendants passed a resolution to actively educate flight attendants on ways to end human trafficking and to seek the addition of industry-wide training that "helps identify, report, and stop human trafficking in its tracks."
President Obama has made ending human trafficking a priority for his Administration, and this morning I thanked America's flight attendants for joining us in this effort.
You can read more about flight attendants and the fight to end human trafficking on my Fast Lane blog

Monday, February 11, 2013

This Analytics Company Wants To Help Put An End To Human Trafficking

he Weekly Good: This Analytics Company Wants To Help Put An End To Human Trafficking
DREW OLANOFFposted yesterday0 Comments
Editor’s Note: This is a weekly series. If your company is doing something amazing to help a charitable cause or doing some good in your community, please reach out.

Random acts of kindness and good come from many different sources, some of them being from the last place you thought you’d find it. One such source is a New York City based analytics company called SumAll. What business have trying to put an end to human trafficking? I wasn’t sure, but it’s quite clear that the team has decided to make it its business. That’s exactly how good things get done though, when good people decide to make it so.

Their product brings all of your data together to figure out how much you’re spending and making through services like AWS, PayPal and eBay. It then mashes up your costs and sales with social data from services like Twitter and Instagram to bust down silo walls so you can see everything in one place. That approach and passion easily translates into the non-profit venture

I”ve witnessed companies attempt to take some parts of their technology or product and make it available to other non-profits, but it seemed force. That is not the case with SumAll. Here’s their approach: is a non-profit organization dedicated to doing social good by analyzing data. One of the biggest challenges facing charities and non-profits is the lack of resources and data analytics at their disposal. By providing better analytics, we can gauge the success and impact of a social effort and how to improve. Our goal is for charitable organizations to reach more people and to be more effective in the way they do it.

If non-profits knew how successful their fundraising campaigns were, or not, they could use their resources in a better way the next time. There’s nothing worse than watching a charity churn and burn, only to fall flat on its face without ever realizing their original core mission. That’s where SumAll steps in.

Next week, SumAll will be releasing some analytics that focus on different types of current slave labor: a comparison of 1860s slavery vs. 2012 slavery; a comparison of slavery in different countries; and other human trafficking topics. The information will fittingly become available on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12th. Even though the 13th Amendment abolished human trafficking and slavery, it is still very much an issue all over the world. It’s a dark underbelly of society that nobody wants to talk about, and so it’s difficult to make inroads on eradicating it once and for all.

SumAll raised its Series A funding last November and grabbed $500,000 in extra funding for its non-profit arm, which is a really great approach for any company that is passionate about helping the people around them. When you have core values built into your company culture, you have more in common with your colleagues than just putting in long hours and nightly visits to the local bar to unwind.

This is the type of company that investors get excited about and want to fund.

The company believes that it can crunch all of the information that is out there, be it numbers or social discussions, and put it into formats that can help society understand the issues at hand a bit better, as well as push non-profits to be more efficient in how it handles its time and funds.

Raising money is wonderful, and potentially selling to a larger company could be a huge dream for the whole team, but when you can make a real impact in society by educating people and changing minds of non-believers who are sticking their heads in the sand on a topic, you’ve just effectively changed the world for the better.

Can data make the difference? The whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.

For more information about what you can do to help put an end to human trafficking, visit and educate yourself and others.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Human Trafficking Talk By ABA President


Orlando, FL...The Orange County Bar Association (OCBA) in Orlando, Florida, hosted American Bar Association (ABA) president Laurel Bellows, Esq. at its January luncheon.  Bellows spoke to a group of 350 attorneys, judges and city and county officials.

Bellows is passionate about raising awareness about human trafficking and eliminating what she terms "modern day human slavery." Under her direction, the ABA established the Task Force on Human Trafficking, which has researched the issue and developed recommendations about how to mobilize the legal profession to combat human trafficking through public awareness, advocacy, training and education.

"No less than 100,000 U.S. citizens are coerced and held by force in the labor market or are sexually exploited, and they do not speak up because of the fear of reprisals," said Bellows.  "Human slavery is one of the biggest growing organized or individual crimes in our country – bigger than guns, bigger than drugs."

Bellows urged the audience to become active in the push for uniform anti-human trafficking legislation; advocate for individuals caught in the legal net by seeing victims as victims and not defendants and prosecuting the perpetrators; direct victims to public and private support groups; and work with businesses to develop employee standards that address the issue.  She noted that lawyers, judges, law enforcement and medical personnel, and non-government organizations are on the forefront as first responders in identifying victims and ensuring appropriate support.      

Bellows urged all citizens to become aware of the signs of human slavery and report suspected instances to the Polaris Project at 1-888-373-7888. More information is available on the Polaris Project website at

In addition to discussing human slavery, Bellows spoke on other topics of high importance for the ABA this year, including diversity in the workplace, specifically mentioning gender, racial and ethnic inequities, and the very real threat of cyber security both in terms of protecting confidential records and in terms of the lack of global safeguards for the transfer of data via the Internet.

For these and other ABA initiatives, visit the ABA website at

The Orange County Bar Association, established in 1933, is a voluntary association comprised of 3,300 judges, attorneys and other legal professionals in Central Florida.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Vermont adds human trafficking charge to a child sexual abuse case

State adds human trafficking charge to child sexual abuse case


Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- The state has filed a human trafficking charge, as well as a charge of promoting a sexual recording, against a Bennington man already accused of engaging in sexual acts with a 14-year-old early last year.

Peter A. Goewey, 59, of Autumn Acres Road, pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Bennington Superior Court Criminal Division to aggravated human trafficking of a child under 18 years of age, and promoting a sexual recording. He reentered not guilty pleas to repeated aggravated sexual assault of a child, possession of child pornography, and sexual assault - no consent. He was arraigned on the initial charges on April 27, 2012 and has been held without bail since.

Should Goewey be convicted, the human trafficking charge carries a minimum penalty of 20 years in prison, while the aggravated repeated sexual assault carries a base of 25 years.

According to a police affidavit, a 14-year-old boy reported in April of last year that Goewey had touched him, performed oral sex on him, and had him take nude photographs of himself and send them to Goewey’s cell phone. He said some of these incidents happened in 2011. According to the boy, he met Goewey while playing pool at Bennington Lanes, a bowling alley, and while nothing happened the first few times they met, eventually Goewey touched him, and asked him to go to his vehicle to retrieve a pool stick. The boy told police while outside, Goewey pulled his pants down and performed oral sex on him despite being told to stop. He said Goewey also asked for nude pictures, which the boy supplied and was paid not to say anything.

According to a more recent affidavit in which a Bennington police detective writes about digital information recovered from a computer and cell from seized from Goewey’s home, the boy told police that Goewey offered him money for the photos, but the boy refused. He said Goewey gave him $40 all the same then another $50 not to tell anyone. Police said the images found were of male genitals and they were able to match the type of underwear depicted with a pair the boy owns, as well as link the type of tile on the floor to that of the bowling alley’s bathroom, where the boy said he took the photos allegedly sent to Goewey.

Deputy State’s Attorney Christina Rainville said in an interview that the newer charges were only passed in 2011 and given a closer reading by the state, it was determined they applied.

Bennington attorney Daniel M. McManus, who represents Goewey, said in an interview the human trafficking charge was not intended to be applied to the sort of behavior being alleged. He said the state’s reading of the statute is "tortured, at best" and that prosecutors are "Trying to fit a square peg into a round hole."

McManus said the human trafficking statute is aimed at people who kidnap or otherwise coerce others into the sex trade. He said he expects more litigation over the validity of the charge.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Human Trafficking: A Big Business Built on Forced Labor

Human Trafficking: A Big Business Built on Forced Labor

Trafficking in persons has become a big business. Globally, it's a $32 billion industry involving 161 countries -- including the United States. Trafficking in persons involves activities where one person obtains or holds another person in compelled service. While many people are aware of sex trafficking, human trafficking that involves forced labor is far more prevalent. Some 78 percent of forced labor is based on state- or privately-imposed exploitation, not forced sexual exploitation.

It's likely you have encountered at least one of the 21 million people in forced labor. In developed economies such as the United States, Europe and Japan, we are seeing an increase in cases of trafficked immigrant teachers, nurses, construction and service workers -- all who hold valid visas. Their presence shines a light on the structural failures within our economic and employment systems that increase immigrant workers' vulnerability to severe forms of labor exploitation. Multinational corporations, employers, businesses, labor recruiters and others exploit these failures.

In other words, human trafficking is not only a big business. Trafficking in humans is increasingly a legitimate business.

While the media portray traffickers as organized criminal syndicates or underground blackmarketeers who exploit undocumented workers, today's traffickers can also be licensed labor recruiters -- those who solicit workers for jobs in other cities or countries -- employers or even government officials. Trafficking for labor exploitation occurs within the legal framework of employment and business and through documented visa programs.

Trafficking for labor exploitation often goes undetected and gets little attention. Immigration officials may categorize immigrant workers who are trafficked as undocumented workers and deport them. Police and labor inspectors may view involuntary servitude or debt bondage in sectors such as agriculture, construction, manual labor and manufacturing as "mere" worker rights abuses, and so not justifying a remedy. Prosecutions for forced labor are far fewer than those for trafficking for sexual exploitation (and even those are low).

When such cases do make it to the justice system, they provide a rare look into the struggles of these exploited workers. In 2010, the U.S. Justice Department investigated the case of 400 Thai migrant workers who were allegedly trafficked to the United States under the H-2A visa program through false promises of decent work. The Thai workers "took on crushing debt to pay exorbitant recruiting fees," ranging from $9,500 to $21,000. After they arrived in the United States, according to the indictment, their passports were taken and they were set up in shoddy housing and told that if they complained or fled they would be fired, arrested or deported.

Human trafficking thrives in an environment of worker exploitation and engenders forced labor, debt bondage and other egregious labor abuse. The creation of so-called guest worker programs and the rise of "labor recruiters" have exacerbated the vulnerabilities for workers inherent in labor migration. Many labor recruiters charge exorbitant fees for their services, forcing workers into debt bondage. Temporary labor migration or "guest worker" schemes promoted by governments to fill demand for cheap labor often create a legalized system for employers to exploit workers, deny them their rights and increase their vulnerability to trafficking and forced labor.

If we want to end trafficking, forced labor and other forms of modern slavery, we must address these broader underlying root causes, including failures to protect workers and enforce labor standards. One of our most important weapons in the fight against trafficking is the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), currently pending reauthorization but languishing in Congress. The TVPA provided critical resources and important tools. Its reauthorization is critical to maintaining U.S. leadership on this important issue.

Other steps to address forced labor through human trafficking include:

· Reforming labor laws to cover people now excluded from legal protection, such as domestic workers, and ensuring such laws are implemented and enforced.

· Providing safer migration processes for workers.

· Boosting scrutiny of imports and exports to ensure goods made by trafficked or forced labor are not allowed in the marketplace. U.S. law does not allow evidence collected by unions (and, hence, from the exploited worker themselves) or non-governmental sources to be the basis for restricting the importation of products made by trafficked or slave labor.

· Increasing pressure on companies to map their supply chains and make such information public.

· Promoting freedom of association and the right to organize -- worker reporting and worker representation over unenforceable codes of conduct and third-party monitoring -- as an effective way to monitor supply chains for trafficking and forced labor.

· Regulating labor recruiters and subcontractors more strictly, ensuring the elimination of fees for jobs and the imposition of strict liability for employers for the actions of their recruiters/subcontractors.

Monday, February 4, 2013

SLAVERY SUNDAY: Attorney General: Super Bowl Is Largest Human Trafficking Incident In U.S.

Super Bowl Is Single Largest Human Trafficking Incident In U.S.: Attorney General
The Huffington Post  |  By Eleanor Goldberg
Posted: 02/03/2013 9:04 am EST

When it came time for the Super Bowl, Clemmie Greenlee was expected to sleep with anywhere from 25 to 50 men a day. It’s a staggering figure, but it doesn’t shock advocates who say that the sporting event attracts more traffickers than any other in the U.S.

"The Super Bowl is the greatest show on Earth, but it also has an ugly underbelly," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told USA Today in 2011 when his state was gearing up to host the event. "It's commonly known as the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States."

The influx of fans fosters the optimal breeding ground for pimps looking to boost their profits. Experts say that the sheer number of men looking to pay for sex substantially increases demand and the massive crowds allow for pimps and victims to essentially go unnoticed, reports.

"It's not so much that you become a victim at the Super Bowl, but that many victims are brought in to be used for all the men at the Super Bowl," Stephanie Kilper, a representative for Operation Freedom Taskforce in Akron, Ohio -- an organization which aims to end to human trafficking –- told

According to Forbes, 10,000 prostitutes were brought to Miami for the Super Bowl in 2010 and 133 underage arrests for prostitution were made in Dallas during the 2011 Super Bowl.

Greenlee, a former sex trafficking victim who was abducted and raped by her captors at 12, told the Times-Picayune that she was shuttled around cities in the South to work as a prostitute at large-scale events. The 53-year-old, who now works as an advocate for sex trafficking victims in Louisiana, said there was immense pressure to meet her traffickers’ demands at events like the Super Bowl.

"If you don't make that number (of sex customers), you're going to dearly, dearly, severely pay for it," Greenlee told the Times-Picayune."I mean with beatings, I mean with over and over rapings. With just straight torture. The worst torture they put on you is when they make you watch the other girl get tortured because of your mistake."

As of Friday, five women were rescued and eight human-trafficking related arrests were made in New Orleans, according to FOX 8.

To help crack down on the number of sex trafficking cases this weekend, law enforcement agencies and advocacy groups are collaborating with local businesses.

They’re handing out pamphlets to local clubs and bars, explaining what to look out for and advocacy groups have been doling out bars of soap to hotels that have hotline numbers etched on them so that victims in need of an escape know where they can turn for help.

"We treat these people as victims,” Ray Parmer, the local special agent-in-charge with Immigration and Customs Enforcement told FOX 8. “They are not arrested, they are not removed from the United States, we treat them as victims.”

Friday, February 1, 2013

We Can All Be Part of the Solution

We All Contribute to Modern-Day Slavery
JANUARY 29, 2013

The take-home lesson from Human Trafficking Awareness Month is that we are all part of the problem and the solution.
There have been a ton of great conversations this month about human trafficking, including the historic Google+ Hangout with Nicholas Kristof, Somaly Mam and Rachel Lloyd. Though we ran The Misconceptions of Human Trafficking, what stood out most to me about January’s awareness campaign was the sheer number of people getting involved. Great organizations who once only got a few retweets or “Likes” are now consistently getting hundreds, and I’ve watched on more than one occasion this month as somebody wrote something like “I had no idea this existed” or “I can’t believe men are trafficked too” or even “Sex trafficking is just one of many forms of human trafficking.” There’s more buzz, there’s more interest. Artists and poets are using it as subject matter. Businesses are being held more accountable for their supply chain and some have for the first time witnessed the horrors of where their goods come from. Of all these brilliant happenings, the most consistent message being spread is that we are all in this together. Even the most conscientious consumer can trace the roots of something they’ve purchased back to a devastatingly brutal situation. One of the clearest messages out there, in my opinion, is a short piece that came from the US State Department and their collaboration with It was published in July 2012 but resurfaced thousands of times this month. Check it out:
6:00 am: Wake up and get ready for work:
The clothes on your back could have been produced by a man, woman, or child in a garment factory in Asia, the Middle East, or Latin America who is subjected to forced labor, including withholding of passports, no pay, long working hours to meet quota, and physical and sexual abuse. To complete your outfit, the jewelry you put on this morning may include gold mined by trafficked children in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
8:00 am: Sit down at your desk:
The electronics you use may be dependent on minerals that are produced in conflict-affected areas in Africa. Children and adults are forced to work in mines under conditions of forced labor and sexual servitude. The PDA you use may also be produced in Asia by adults and children – some as young as nine years old – who are sold or deceived into working in electronic factories under conditions of forced labor, including excessively long hours, minimal or no pay, and threats.
10:00 am: Take a caffeine break:
The coffee you drink to keep you energized may have been touched by modern slaves. Some men and children work under conditions of forced labor on coffee plantations in Latin America and Africa. The sugar you put in that coffee may have also come from plantations where children and men in Latin America, Asia, and Africa are subjected to conditions of forced labor and debt bondage. These victims were exposed to high levels of pesticides and potential injuries from machetes, which are used to cut sugar cane.
12:00 pm: Eat lunch:
The fish you eat for lunch may have been caught by men in Southeast Asia and children as young as four years old in West Africa, who are subjected to conditions of forced labor in the fishing industry. While catching your lunch, these victims may have been deprived of wages, food, water, and shelter, worked extremely long hours, and suffered physical and sexual abuse.
2:00 pm: Afternoon snack:
The chocolate dessert you eat may have been touched by modern slaves, primarily in Africa. Children that work on plantations that produce cocoa – the key ingredient in chocolate – are subjected to conditions of forced labor. There are an estimated 300,000 children who work in cocoa production worldwide.
4:00 pm: Drive to a meeting:
The tires on the car you drive are made of rubber, which is produced in Asia and Africa on rubber plantations. Adults and children, including entire families, are forced to work on these plantations for little to no pay, excessive hours to meet quotas, and in hazardous working conditions.
6:00 pm: Arrive at home:
The bricks in the walls of your house may have been produced by bonded labor victims, including men, women, and children, in brick kilns primarily in Asia and Latin America. Children and adults are forced to work in hazardous working conditions in brick kilns for long hours and minimal pay.
8:00 pm: Enjoy dinner:
The food you cook and eat for dinner may have been touched by men and children subjected to forced labor on cattle ranches and farms in the United States, Latin America, and Africa. These victims work long hours, receive little or no pay, and suffer physical and emotional abuse to herd the cattle that will eventually make it to your dinner table.
11:00 pm: Go to bed:
The cotton in your bedroom may have been picked by men, women, and children – some as young as three years old – in cotton fields, primarily in Central Asia and Africa. While you rest easy on your cotton pillow, children are forced to leave school to work under arduous and abusive conditions, sometimes with no pay, during the annual cotton harvest.
Source: A Day In Your Life: Touched By Modern Slavery