Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Woman. A Prostitute. A Slave

Americans tend to associate “modern slavery” with illiterate girls in India or Cambodia. Yet there I was the other day, interviewing a college graduate who says she spent three years terrorized by pimps in a brothel in Midtown Manhattan.

Those who think that commercial sex in this country is invariably voluntary — and especially men who pay for sex — should listen to her story. The men buying her services all mistakenly assumed that she was working of her own volition, she says.

Yumi Li (a nickname) grew up in a Korean area of northeastern China. After university, she became an accountant, but, restless and ambitious, she yearned to go abroad.

So she accepted an offer from a female jobs agent to be smuggled to New York and take up a job using her accounting skills and paying $5,000 a month. Yumi’s relatives had to sign documents pledging their homes as collateral if she did not pay back the $50,000 smugglers’ fee from her earnings.

Yumi set off for America with a fake South Korean passport. On arrival in New York, however, Yumi was ordered to work in a brothel.

“When they first mentioned prostitution, I thought I would go crazy,” Yumi told me. “I was thinking, ‘how can this happen to someone like me who is college-educated?’ ” Her voice trailed off, and she added: “I wanted to die.”

She says that the four men who ran the smuggling operation — all Chinese or South Koreans — took her into their office on 36th Street in Midtown Manhattan. They beat her with their fists (but did not hit her in the face, for that might damage her commercial value), gang-raped her and videotaped her naked in humiliating poses. For extra intimidation, they held a gun to her head.

If she continued to resist working as a prostitute, she says they told her, the video would be sent to her relatives and acquaintances back home. Relatives would be told that Yumi was a prostitute, and several of them would lose their homes as well.

Yumi caved. For the next three years, she says, she was one of about 20 Asian prostitutes working out of the office on 36th Street. Some of them worked voluntarily, she says, but others were forced and received no share in the money.

Yumi played her role robotically. On one occasion, Yumi was arrested for prostitution, and she says the police asked her if she had been trafficked.

“I said no,” she recalled. “I was really afraid that if I hinted that I was a victim, the gang would send the video to my family." . . .

No one has a clear idea of the scale of the problem, and estimates vary hugely. Some think the problem is getting worse; others believe that Internet services reduce the role of pimps and lead to commercial sex that is more consensual. What is clear is that forced prostitution should be a national scandal. Just this month, authorities indicted 29 people, mostly people of Somali origin from the Minneapolis area, on charges of running a human trafficking ring that allegedly sold many girls into prostitution — one at the age of 12.

There are no silver bullets, but the critical step is for the police and prosecutors to focus more on customers (to reduce demand) and, above all, on pimps. Prostitutes tend to be arrested because they are easy to catch, while pimping is a far harder crime to prosecute. That’s one reason thugs become pimps: It’s hugely profitable and carries less risk than selling drugs or stealing cars. But that can change as state and federal authorities target traffickers rather than their victims. . .

Read the full article here.


Nicholas Kristof rightly points out the common misconception that human trafficking occurs only outside the U.S. borders. Awareness of the global nature of human trafficking merits great emphasis in the fight for abolition. The stories told by countless survivors demonstrates the strength of the human spirit and creates new impetus for addressing the demand side of this profitable trade.

The Human Trafficking Project: A Woman. A Prostitute. A Slave

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Check out this SlaveFree interactive map. Make your voice heard against human trafficking!


John Walsh Goes Undercover on America's Most Wanted

Watch this video!

John Walsh Goes Undercover on America's Most Wanted

The Human Trafficking Project: Shop to Stop Slavery

Press Release:

Shop to Stop Slavery Releases 2010 Ethical Christmas & Holiday Gift Guide
Learning how to be a socially conscious shopper this holiday season has just been made easier by Shop to Stop Slavery.

Jacksonville, FL, November 8, 2010 — ShoptoStopSlavery.com, a new concept website devoted to raising awareness about human trafficking, has released its very own, unique 2010 Ethical Christmas & Holiday Gift Guide. The premier edition of the guide aims to help shoppers make ethical choices in the gifts they offer this holiday season.

Many of the products purchased in the Western Hemisphere are produced by slaves or exploited groups of people. Robin Rossmanith, founder of Shop to Stop Slavery, states “It is a shame that the items that bring joy to our children, friends and family members are created in a manner that brings suffering to others.”

Consumers who are concerned about making socially conscious shopping choices can make a difference by purchasing items with the “fair trade certified” label or those shown to be made ethically. Through such purchases, they are supporting manufacturers and brands that are committed to not exploiting others. Luckily there are many options available for fairly made product purchases. However, sometimes consumers have to spend hours researching to find the right gift.

The 2010 Ethical Christmas & Holiday Gift Guide is a compilation of almost 100 US based stores that carry fair trade and/or ethically made products. The guide includes links to stores for easy access by the viewer. The Ethical Christmas & Holiday Gift Guide will make socially conscious shopping easier for the consumer. The gift guide can be viewed at www.ShopToStopSlavery.com/Gift-Guide and is also available for download.

The 2010 Ethical Christmas & Holiday Gift Guide was created by Robin Rossmanith, founder of http://www.shoptostopslavery.com. Robin has a background in retail sales, as well as extensive knowledge of human trafficking. After discovering that 27 million people worldwide are living in slavery and a shocking number of them were right here in the United States, Robin Rossmanith, a Jacksonville, Florida mother of 3 school age children, committed herself to becoming an activist for the cause. Robin became the co-chair of the Northeast Florida Human Trafficking Task Force, in 2010, leading individuals and agencies in a community wide effort to prevent human trafficking, rescue and restore victims and prosecute traffickers.

Also in 2010, Robin began ShoptoStopSlavery.com, a website dedicated to informing consumers about products made with forced labor and providing opportunities for consumers to purchase slave free goods. Shop to Stop Slavery seeks to engage everyone in the efforts to end human trafficking. “Even the seemingly little things, like the Christmas gifts you buy, can make a big impact towards ending the exploitation of those people worldwide who are most risk.”

For additional information, contact Robin at 1-904-838-5339 or online atwww.ShoptoStopSlavery.com.

ShoptoStopSlavery.com is a blog created by anti-human trafficking activist Robin Rossmanith, outlining ways to increase awareness and help eliminate modern day slavery. As the co-chairperson of an anti-human trafficking task force, she has become intimately aware of the risks posed by these types of crimes.

To get a copy of the 2010 Ethical Christmas & Holiday Gift Guide, go to www.ShoptoStopSlavery.com.

Source: The Human Trafficking Project: Shop to Stop Slavery

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The new slaves: Children forced to work as farm labourers - Home News, UK - The Independent

Children as young as five are thought to have worked picking spring onions from 7am until dusk without food or water in this field in Worcester

Seven Romanian children – some as young as nine – were found being forced to work as farm labourers in near-freezing conditions in Worcester last week, The Independent on Sunday has learned.

The children were among 50 Romanian workers discovered picking spring onions in a field in the Kempsey area of Worcester by the Gangmaster's Licensing Authority (GLA). The seven children, aged between nine and 15, were being made to work from 7.30 in the morning until dusk, dressed in thin summer clothes, as temperatures dropped close to zero.

Wellington boots that looked suitable for a five-year-old were also found in the field, suggesting even younger children had worked there. Investigators for the GLA say it is the first time they have come across such young children working in fields in the UK.

They were brought to the field in the back of a box van, with no food or water for the day. Six of the children have been taken into local authority care. Some were working alongside parents, but others appeared to have been brought to the farm on their own.

The workers said they were not sure how much they would be paid, but intelligence suggests that a household of up to 40 people would get no more than £100 a week for the job. The GLA, West Mercia Police and the UK Border Agency are still investigating and plan to arrest at least one unlicensed gangmaster this week.

Paul Whitehouse, chairman of the GLA, said: "In 2007 we celebrated the 200th anniversary of the end of the slave trade, but in 2010 we've got people working in appalling conditions who, while not actually being slaves, are very close to it."

The actress Juliet Stevenson is one of many leading figures supporting the IoS's campaign for an end to modern slavery and human trafficking, describing them as "the worst manifestation of human cruelty".

The actress said: "If it doesn't concern people that someone can be hijacked, kidnapped and manipulated away from their homes and families into horrendous situations that are at best hardship and at worst physical and mental brutality, then what does concern people?"

Stevenson said victims of trafficking who managed to escape their tormenters in Britain often have to go through a second ordeal at the hands of immigration authorities. "If you're not discovered you have to endure ongoing hell, but if you are discovered and thrown into an increasingly ruthless and unjust asylum system then you're also damned."

"Human trafficking represents just about the worst manifestation of human cruelty. If you're talking about the 'great' in Great Britain, let's look at having some moral leadership."

The Government faces calls from a growing number of high-profile campaigners to sign up to the EU directive on human trafficking, which would make it easier to prosecute traffickers and protect victims. Caroline Lucas MP, leader of the Green Party, and Yvette Cooper MP, Shadow Foreign Secretary and Minister for Women, have joined those demanding that the Government opt into EU trafficking legislation. There were signs that the Government feels compelled to respond to pressure to sign up to the directive. Simon Hughes MP, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said last night: "Signing up to the EU directive has not been ruled out; it is under consideration by the Government."

The GLA is still waiting to hear the size of the cuts it can expect following the Comprehensive Spending Review. The authority is funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which faces budget cuts of 29 per cent.

Voices for change

"It's appalling that, in the 21st century, slavery still exists. That's why the Government must back Europe-wide action against trafficking. By pandering to anti-European prejudices in some parts of the Conservative Party, ministers are putting the safety of thousands of women and children at risk."

Yvette Cooper MP, Shadow Foreign Secretary and Women's Minister

"It seems a no-brainer. I oppose modern slavery like I oppose ancient slavery. Where's the argument? It's like saying 'should we care if someone is killed'."

Joan Bakewell, Broadcaster

"It's definitely a hidden problem because we think of slavery as being abolished. When I hear about modern slavery I tend to think of the Arab princes that bring their own staff and treat them abominably."

Alexei Sayle, Comedian, actor and author

"Wilberforce described slavery as 'a disgrace and a dishonour to this country', and I'd say exactly the same about the coalition's decision to opt out of the EU directive on human trafficking. I've signed this petition on behalf of the Green Party because Greens will always be on the side of people who are vulnerable, oppressed or abused."

Caroline Lucas MP, Leader, Green Party

"I'm astonished that we are so limp in this business. We know it's going on but we don't do anything about it. It's a moral principle. If we go back to Wilberforce, all the moral arguments against slavery were established then and we shouldn't go back on them by neglect."

Brian Sewell, Art critic

"For too long sex slavery and other forms of trafficking have been brushed under the carpet. The Archbishop of Canterbury said sex trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery and it is vital it becomes a public policy issue. The Independent on Sunday's campaign is vital in raising the profile of this issue. It's a shame that David Cameron and William Hague's Euro-scepticism is preventing the UK signing up to the EU directive to protect these people, but I also feel the police should name and shame the people who create the demand."

Denis MacShane, Rotherham MP and former Europe minister

"It's important because it's the thin end of the wedge. So many people rely on the minimum wage so if that's being eroded it can affect a lot of people."

Barry Cryer, Writer and comedian

Interviews by Joe Rowley

The new slaves: Children forced to work as farm labourers - Home News, UK - The Independent

Friday, October 22, 2010

Call Response

We’ve accomplished another milestone in the fight against modern day slavery. Thanks to our fellow abolitionists we have successfully raised $7,500 forProject: AK-47.

The children that Project: AK-47 rescues spend an average of seven years in the military as children. They work to provide them with needs like shelter, food, clothing, education and LOVE.

The money that YOU have helped raised is going towards one of the aftercare projects that Project: AK-47 has in Burma. Burma is home to over 75,000 child soldiers, which is the largest concentration of child soldiers in the world. Long-standing civil war, ethnic conflicts, and drug trafficking are subjecting children to adult wars. Meet some of the faces of the ones you’re helping:

Now meet the faces of the ones doing the helping thru Project: AK-47:

(First Row: Alyxius, Jared, Jeremy, Analee; Second Row: Tyler, Reena, Marcus, Rebecca)

We can’t fight this fight alone. Thanks to you, Project: AK-47 has resources to continue their efforts to rehabiliate child soldiers.

Want to get involved? You can. We have two new projects that need your help.

Free for Life International helps to prevent and rescue girls who have been trafficked across the Indo-Nepal border.

Love146 provides aftercare solutions for children with safe housing, therapy, nutrition, medical care, education, and a home full of love and care.

Both of these organizations are calling and asking for you to help. Will you respond?

Donate today:
Free for Life International – http://www.callandresponse.com/free_slaves.php
Love146 – http://www.callandresponse.com/rehab_victims.php

Call Response

Criminal Justice Online: Georgia Man Sentenced to 20 Years for Distributing Child Pornography

RICHMOND,VA—Galen E. Vanord, 53, of Millen, Ga., was sentenced today to 20 years in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release, for distributing child pornography.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Michael F. A. Morehart, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Henry E. Hudson. Vanord pled guilty on June 1, 2010.

According to court documents, Vanord was identified by law enforcement officers during an undercover investigation of individuals trading images of child pornography over the Internet. Vanord, a truck driver, traveled around the country and used his computer at truck stops. Law enforcement in Richmond downloaded 600 images of child pornography and one video from Vanord. In the course of their investigation, agents seized Vanord’s computer and hard drive, on which they found more than 14,000 images of child pornography. Most of these images were images of babies and toddlers. After hearing evidence at today’s sentencing, the court applied an additional sentencing enhancement for a pattern of sexual exploitation of a minor, based on images of a minor that were found on Vanord’s computer.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Richmond Field Office. Assistant United States Attorney Jessica Aber Brumberg prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or onhttp://pacer.uspci.uscourts.gov/.

Criminal Justice Online: Georgia Man Sentenced to 20 Years for Distributing Child Pornography

The Human Trafficking Project: Exhibit: Invisble: Slavery Today

Earlier this month, the Freedom Center in Cincinnati, OH opened an exhibit examining modern-day slavery. "What we hope to do, at very least, is raise awareness that this exists," said Paul Bernish, the Freedom Center executive in charge of its contemporary slavery exhibit and programs, believed to be the first such position in the American museum field said in an article by Mark Curnutte. "Secondly, we want to offer people things they can do to become engaging to ending these forms of slavery."

According to their website,the "design and "feel" of Invisible is that of a dingy warehouse in an unfamiliar city, filled with wood, metal and plastic containers -- shipping cartons for human beings. Through a variety of techinques and media, including videos, sounds and touch-screen prsentations, Invisible offers a comprehensive examination of slavery in the modern world through the life experiences of five individuals who were caught up in one of the five most common forms of exploitation: forced labor, bonded indenture, child slavery, sex trafficking and domestic servitude. The exhibition explores the causes of slavery, the economic forces that have contributed to its growth, and the response of government, the justice system and the general public to this scourge. . .

"But Invisible is not just a grim walk through degradation and mistreatment. A major concluding section is devoted to antislavery activities underway around the world, especially by the Freedom Center's partners in the exhibition: Free the Slaves, Goodweave,International Justice Mission and Polaris Project. Visitors are also asked to make a personal commitment to be 21st Century Abolitionists in the cause of freedom."

Click here to learn more about the Freedom Center and for information about the Invisible exhibit. Click here to view photos from the exhibit.

The Human Trafficking Project: Exhibit: Invisble: Slavery Today

Thursday, October 21, 2010

FoxNews.com - EXCLUSIVE: Facebook's Filters Fall Short in Blocking Pedophiles

Child Predators on Facebook! Beware!

FoxNews.com - EXCLUSIVE: Facebook's Filters Fall Short in Blocking Pedophiles

Friday, September 10, 2010

Three Chicago Men Charged in Child Prostitution Probe

Two Chicago men were arrested earlier today while a third man remains at-large, culminating a two-year joint federal/state investigation into a child prostitution ring that was centered on Chicago’s west side. The arrests were announced today by Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Jody P. Weis, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department (CPD), who were joined in making this announcement by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and Anita Alvarez, Cook County State’s Attorney.

DATQUNN SAWYER, age 31, of Chicago, was arrested early this morning, without incident, by FBI special agents and detectives from the CPD, Vice Control Section and Special Investigations Unit, in the 5300 block of West Potomac. SAWYER was charged in a criminal complaint filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court in Chicago with one count of sexual trafficking of minors and sexual trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion, in interstate commerce, which is a felony offense.

Two other men, WAYMOND ORR, age 30, and KEVIN SHARP, age 51, both of Chicago, were also charged in connection with this investigation. Both men were charged in Cook County Circuit Court with one count each of pandering, which is a class 4 felony. SHARP was arrested this morning, without incident, while ORR remains at-large and is now the subject of a nationwide manhunt.

According to the federal complaint, SAWYER is charged with having operated a child prostitution ring from his residence and his mother’s residence, both of which are located on Chicago’s west side. The complaint alleges that SAWYER ran this operation from at least March of 2009 through August of this year. During that time, he is believed to have recruited as many as nine minor females between the ages of 13 and 17 who, at SAWYER’s behest, engaged in sexual acts for money. The complaint further alleges that SAWYER would “brand” his prostitutes with a tattoo and used violence and threats of violence to enforce his rules and regulations.

SAWYER is believed to have advertised his business through the Internet, making extensive use of Craigslist and similar online media, charging anywhere from $150 to as much as $350 for sexual services. SAWYER is alleged to have kept all of the proceeds from the sexual encounters, providing his prostitutes with only minimal subsistence. SAWYER also served as a driver for his prostitutes, shuttling them from location to location for sexual encounters, which usually took place at Chicago area motels or the customer’s residence.

When not responding to online bookings, SAWYER is also alleged to have forced his prostitutes to “work the track”, a term used to refer to girls walking the streets or standing on street corners to solicit customers for sex acts for money. Numerous locations in Chicago were used for this purpose, as well as locations on or around Cicero Avenue.

According to state prosecutors, SHARP and ORR worked for SAWYER as drivers and enforcers, transporting his girls to locations on the street and monitoring their activity to ensure they were not pocketing money they earned from their sexual encounters. It is also alleged that on occasion, SHARP or ORR would chauffer SAWYER to locations around the city so he could supervise his prostitutes.

In announcing the filing of the charges announced today, States Attorney Alvarez said the arrests signal an ongoing commitment between her office and law enforcement at both the federal and state level to combat the sex trafficking of minors. Said Ms. Alvarez “These defendants are alleged to have maintained control over vulnerable girls through violence and intimidation. Through our efforts, there are at least nine girls who are no longer being forced to engage in the horrific trade of sex trafficking.”

SAWYER appeared before Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox, earlier yesterday, at which time he was formally charged. SAWYER was ordered held without bond, pending his next scheduled court appearance. If convicted of the charge filed against him, SAWYER faces a possible sentence of up to life in prison. SHARP is scheduled to appear in Central Bond Court tomorrow.

The female victims of this sex trafficking operation have been provided with counseling and related assistance by the FBI, Cook County State’s Attorney’s office and private social services providers.

The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt and that all defendants in a criminal case are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Copies of the federal criminal complaint filed in this case are available from the Chicago FBI’s press office at (312) 829-1199. Copies of the state criminal complaint are available from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office at (312) 603-3423.

Source: Criminal Justice Online

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Gawker.com Tries to Increase Sex Trafficking

by Amanda Kloer

When Craigslist voluntarily blocked their adult services section, the pimps, johns, and traffickers who had been using the site to buy and sell children and victims of human trafficking were, for the first time in ages, briefly lost about where to continue advertising for rape. Lucky for them, Gawker.com stepped in with a helpful guide on how to continue profiting from the sexual exploitation of children. And by sharing their guide to buying sex online with their nearly 20 million readers, Gawker is practically guaranteed to be facilitating more child rape.

Like Craigslist, the sex-for-sale websites Gawker is promoting are a mixed bag of men, women, and transgender individuals voluntarily engaged in prostitution; adults who have been forced or coerced into prostitution; and children. The latter two categories are victims of human trafficking, and online classified ads like Craigslist and the websites in Gawker's guide have played an increasingly large role in facilitating their repeated rape for profit. The demand for commercial sex, which when it outstrips willing suppliers causes human trafficking, is a complex and nuanced phenomenon. It's affected by the price and availability of commercial sex, social norms and laws around buying sex, and potential buyers' ethical views. Craigslist's adult services section and similar sites have provided a space where buying sex is easy, normalized, and anonymous, effectively increasing the demand without increasing the supply. Hence, the human trafficking on online classified sites like Craigslist.

If Craigslist (or any other online classifieds site) wasn't a website, but an abandoned warehouse at the edge of town where children as young as 11 were being bought and sold for sex by dozens of men a night, no one would argue that warehouse's closing impinged upon "freedom of speech." No one would claim, as Danah Boyd on the Huffington Post recently did, that the child sex warehouse should continue to operate since "a one-stop-shop is more helpful for law enforcement." And if the pimps and traffickers were locked out of it one night, no one would publish a guide directing them to other abandoned warehouses they can turn into child sex factories. A website and a warehouse may not be exactly the same, but with this guide Gawker is standing on a virtual street corner directing would-be child traffickers and abusers to new meeting points. And the saddest part is that they really don't seem to understand that's what they're doing.

Gawker and many tech blogs are trying to cast Craigslist's voluntary blocking of their adult services section as forced "censorship" of the site. They're trying to make this a conversation about freedom of speech, not sexual exploitation. They're trying to paint Craigslist as a poor scapegoat, whose only sin was to be the largest and most famous of many websites who exploit children (which they were). It's not true. The campaign to ask Craigslist to stop facilitating the exploitation of human trafficking victims on their site was just one small part of a larger plan anti-trafficking groups are implementing to fight the trade in humans. And Change.org has been running a similar campaign against Backpage.com -- prior to Craigslist's voluntary block. Without Craigslist's adult services section operating, there will now be one less website increasing demand for commercial sex and one less place for child rapists to find victims on the Internet.

Unless, of course, Gawker continues to try and fill that void.

Photo credit: katayun

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Not Forsaken: Reaching Sex Slaves in Mid-America

By Charlene Israel
CBN News Reporter
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kristy Childs of Kansas City, Mo. has painful memories of her childhood.

"I was born in a smaller town in Missouri and left home, started running away. Very abusive stepfather," she told CBN News.

That abuse forced Childs to leave home when she was only 12 years old. She started working on the streets.

"I started hitchhiking and my prostitution started there with the truck drivers," she explained. "I was doing what I had to do to survive."

After 24 years of drugs and the street life, Childs wanted out. But she knew breaking away from pimps and drug pushers would be risky. Her freedom came in an unexpected way.

"I went to abort my son twice and couldn't go through with it," Childs recalled. "I was threatening miscarriage. I was bleeding and I thought 'Thank you, God. This is my answer. I'm not going to have to have an abortion because I had had abortions - many of them - and was made to have several abortions."

"Ended up going to Truman Medical Center at the emergency room where they were going to do a DNC, but before they did that they wanted to see if there was a heart beat," she continued. "The moment I heard my son's heartbeat, God just spoke into my spirit and told me 'I'm going to bring you out. Have your baby and I'm going to bring you out.'"

Raising Awareness

Today, Childs works to rescue other women and girls who are trapped in the commercial sex trade through her organization Veronica's Voice. It is named for a friend of Childs who was killed on the streets.

"A lot of them are scared," she said. "Some come through the support system; some have bad attitudes. I deal with it all across the board. They're dealing with post traumatic stress. They're full of anger because they're full of pain. And we work with that."

Each year more than 4,000 American children fall victim to commercial sexual exploitation in Missouri. Nearly 1,700 are victimized in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Carrie Rossetti is with the Kansas City Coalition Against Human Trafficking, a group of organizations, including many faith-based programs. The coalition helps to raise awareness about the sex trafficking issue, provides outreach to rescued victims, and offers prayer support.

"We have learned that, hey, guess what? It's not just here, here, here, there. It's actually right in front of us in our communities, happening right now," Rossetti explained.

Rossetti told CBN News that Kansas City's easy access to highways and the large amount of commercial trade the pass through the state make it a hub for traffickers.

"So Kansas City, Mo., Kansas City, Kan. and Overland Park, Kan. are a great place to do international and national trade and not just in the trade of commercial products, but also in the trade of human beings," she said.

People You'd Least Suspect

Rosetti said most people would be surprised to discover who the sex traffickers really are.

"It is not just the sleezy people we think on the streets that this is happening. Traffickers can be doctors, and have been doctors, lawyers, dentists, social workers, teachers. There's really no end to the person that would be a candidate, so to speak, to be a trafficker."

Like Childs, many of the girls working in the sex trafficking industry come from abusive homes.

"They're coming from the foster care system. They are coming to us as runaways, children with no places to go. Children who have been victimized - sexual molestation, abuse, neglect," Rosetti explained.

Experts say the majority of the girls rescued from the streets will need long term recovery.

Exposing a Toxic Culture

Ministries in the Kansas City area are stepping up to answer the call.

"I got to be part of a two-some who provided chaplaincy services for one victim who wanted somebody to pray with after she got brought in," said Wendy Andrews, who serves on the leadership team for The Kansas City Boiler Room.

"There's a holistic approach that needs to be provided for these clients who come in on these cases," Andrews explained. "And I think that it's absolutely essential that a spiritual component of ministry or healing in the Holy Spirit is going to be necessary for their full recovery and health."

Exodus Cry is an international anti-trafficking organization committed to ending human trafficking and modern day slavery, They are headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., and recently opened a shelter for rescued victims of human trafficking.

The group is also working on a documentary that exposes the undercurrent of injustice beneath the surface of sex tourism. Benjamin Nolot, the group's founder, explained why they made the film.

"The issue of human trafficking is just exploding," he said. "Part of our goal in the documentary is to expose the toxic culture that we live in."

"We don't just want to say, 'Hey, look. Isn't this awful?'" Nolot continued. "We want to ask questions to get people thinking and really bring abut a grassroots movement, a purity revolution where we would literally raise up a 'see-no-evil' generation, a generation that says I don't want to see it."

One of the Lucky Ones

Meanwhile, Childs admits she is one of the lucky ones. She is working hard to help others break free from a life of sex trafficking.

"The girls that are making it out," she says, "They are miracles in every way."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Human traffickers supply nail-salon workers

By Alan Johnson

What is described as a multimillion-dollar human-trafficking scheme is operating out of nail salons in Ohio, with immigrants from Southeast Asia - many of them illegal - being forced to work as "indentured servants" in exchange for passage to the U.S.

Kevin L. Miller, executive director of the Ohio Board of Cosmetology, said he expects "indictments and arrests" statewide in the next 60 days or so. State and local law-enforcement agencies, the FBI, Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are investigating, he said.

The legal problems involve human trafficking, illegal immigration, identify theft, fraudulent license testing and potential national security threats, said Miller, who added that he could not provide specifics because of the ongoing investigation.

The matter came up at yesterday's meeting of the Ohio Trafficking in Persons Study Commission, convened by Attorney General Richard Cordray.

"It's a huge concern in most jurisdictions around the state of Ohio," Cordray said.

The cosmetology board annually licenses 145,000 people who work in nail shops, hair salons and tanning parlors.

"We're talking just in the state of Ohio about thousands of people who have fraudulently got their licenses," Miller said.

He told the commission that immigrants from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and other Southeast Asian countries, often brought illegally to the U.S. for a price, are given "laundered" false identities, including fake high-school diplomas, driver's licenses, immigration papers and other documents.

The employee then becomes an "indentured servant," working for the employer for two years for little or sometimes no money to pay off their debt. Often, the employees are required to live on the premises. The agency documented one case where 16 licensees lived at the same address.

Neither Miller nor Cordray commented specifically about homeland security issues. However, in his report to the commission, Miller referred by means of background to Najibullah Zazi, an al-Qaida operative who plotted to blow up New York subway stations using chemicals found in nail polish remover and hair dye.

The problem of illegal immigrants working in nail salons has cropped up in the past in Ohio and nationwide, but little has been done.

"It's easy to hide in plain sight," Miller said. "If they can get a driver's license, an address, a place where they went to school, they're all set."

The human-trafficking commission also discussed the need for more training for Ohio law-enforcement agencies. A majority of agencies which responded to a 2009 survey doubted their ability to recognize signs of human and labor trafficking; all wanted more training.

Lt. Matt Warren, head of the State Highway Patrol's criminal intelligence unit and a member of the human-trafficking panel, cited two cases in 2009 when training paid off in rescuing underage girls who were likely to become trafficking victims.

He said a trooper stopped an Idaho trucker for speeding near Athens last year and was suspicious about the 17-year-old girl in the passenger seat. Trained to recognize the signs of human trafficking, the trooper began asking questions and found the trucker was a sex offender who met the mentally challenged teenager online, picked her up in Marion and was transporting her when he was stopped for the traffic violation.

Similarly, a seemingly routine stop rescued a 17-year-old Detroit girl who was being trafficked at truck stops in the Lima and Dayton areas.


Monday, August 16, 2010

15 Men Arrested in Undercover Child Sex Sting in Florida

By Diane Macedo
Published August 16, 2010| FoxNews.com

Fifteen men allegedly looking to have sex with underage girls were arrested in an undercover sting in Florida over the weekend, law enforcement authorities said.

The suspects were arrested between Thursday and Sunday and charged with traveling to meet a minor for sex or related crimes, during an extensive undercover operation conducted by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, along with state and federal officials.

Police said 12 of the 15 suspects responded to ads authorities posted on Craigslist that shared the common theme “mom or dad seeking guidance for my daughter” for girls between 10 and 14 years old. The other three used chat rooms.

After the suspects answered the ads, they engaged undercover detectives in emails, instant messages and telephone calls, during which time the detectives told the suspects to come to an undercover location in Polk County, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said.

“These men expressed specific desires to prey upon who they believed were innocent children,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in a press conference Monday.

One of the suspects, Brandon Cashen, 31, asked a detective if she had a daughter younger than the one advertised, and when she said she had an 8-year-old, expressed a desire to have sex with the younger daughter, the sheriff's office said.

“Some of the men even sent pornographic images of themselves to the detectives and made very specific requests about what they wanted these children to do to them,” Judd said.

When the suspects arrived at the undercover location, they were met not by children wearing lingerie, but by undercover agents in vests, who placed the men under arrest.

"It's still a shock to me …when we have a predator show up with condoms in one hand and candy bars in the other hand," Judd said at a press conference Monday afternoon.

Judd said one of the agents was shocked to discover that a suspect, 33-year-old Tommy Dupre, had been his son's former baseball coach.

"This gentleman coached youth sports baseball in Lakeland. Our undercover sergeant recognized him because he coached his son 8-10 years of age," Judd said.

The suspects range in age from 18 to 67. Six of the suspects, including Cashen, are married, and one has six children of his own and one on the way, Judd said.

Cashen’s wife was shocked to hear the news of her husband’s arrest, Judd said, and told police, “He can rot in hell before I bond him out of jail.”

The wife of Kevin Scott, 35, had similar sentiments, telling police, “I never want to see him again, I don’t want my children see him again, I hope he rots in jail for life.”

Judd said the oldest suspect, Donald Knuckles, said he'd waited his entire life for the opportunity to have sex with a 14-year-old girl and her mother.

Another, Gregory Alan Archambault II, 32, "bragged that when he was 16 he had sex with an 8-year-old girl, and when he was 21 he had sex with a 12-year-old girl," Judd said.

Authorities are now investigating "to see if we can determine when they may have victimized other children along the way … to make sure we charge them with everything we can charge them with," Judd said.

Members of the Tenth Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office, State Attorney Jerry Hill, Attorney General Bill McCollum’s Office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, the Lakeland Police Department and the Plant City Police Department also contributed to the operation.


A story of modern slavery in Utah

By Lee Davidson
Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Chan, a short man but strong from a lifetime of labor in rice fields, tells how he blundered into a trap when he left Thailand to work abroad. In fact, the U.S. government officially calls him, in diplomatic parlance, a victim of "human trafficking."

Chan is more blunt. "We were slaves," he says about himself and scores of fellow Thai workers.

He says their employer controlled their movement. If they failed to work long and hard, the employer could ensure that their families back home would lose everything. Housing lacked enough heat in freezing winters and air conditioning in scorching summers. They repeatedly went hungry and even trapped wild birds to subsist.

That did not occur in Sudan, Burma or some other infamous Third World slavery abyss.

It happened in Utah — from 2005 to 2007 for a group of workers from Thailand who eventually managed to get help, freedom and a new life in America.

With their experiences as a starting base, the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating what could become the largest human trafficking case in U.S. history.

At the center of scrutiny is Global Horizons, a Los Angeles-based company that recruited people in Thailand for farm work in the United States. It eventually placed some of them with two Utah companies: Circle Four pig farms in Milford and at Delta Eggs chicken farms in Delta.

Chan, Bon, Tin and Rong — all pseudonyms because they and their lawyer fear extended families in Thailand could be targeted because they are talking to the press — look like Americans now.

The skinny men wear polo shirts or T-shirts, blue jeans and sneakers. Their haircuts are American-style. They grin as they talk about America and its opportunities, sounding like politicians on the Fourth of July. One of their T-shirts even says "American Tradition" and has an eagle on it. Tin just came from a job interview in the land of opportunity.

They share their stories while seated around a polished conference table at Utah Legal Services, a nonprofit that gives legal aid to the poor. They say that agency and attorney Alex McBean rescued them and won them "T visas" from the Department of Homeland Security as victims of human trafficking. Those visas allow them to stay in America and seek permanent residency.

The four tell how they were conned into what sounded like a good deal to work in America, only to land in modern slavery in Utah. They became victims of human trafficking even though each had worked abroad previously without problems on farms and in factories in such countries as Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore and Israel.

(parts removed)

The workers say they arrived legally in America at different times in 2004 and 2005 with H-2A visas for agricultural work. Such visas are good only as long as workers remain with the employer that obtained them, which in this case was Global Horizons. If workers tried to leave Global, they would lose their legal status.

Workers were sent to farms nationwide and at first were not in Utah (where their slavery story later would worsen and then end).

(parts removed)

Chan added, "They did not allow us to go outside and get to know anyone. And they did not allow outsiders to come into the premises. It made it hard for us to live in that confinement." They didn't have a lot of time to socialize anyway, working 10 hours a day, six days a week — not counting long commute times.

While no guards kept them in their trailers, workers say that Global Horizons supervisors constantly warned that if they broke the rules, they would be sent home — and their families would be ruined.

(parts removed)

The Thais in Utah may be just the tip of the iceberg of human trafficking. Between 2001 and 2008, the Justice Department convicted 515 people on human trafficking charges. Last year, it convicted another 47.

The federal government last year issued 313 "T visas" to foreigners considered victims of human trafficking in America and another 273 visas to members of their families. Also, 299 potential victim-witnesses were granted continued presence in the country while awaiting final visa decisions.

A report this summer by the State Department acknowledged to the world that America has a problem with human trafficking, "specifically forced labor, debt bondage and forced prostitution."

It describes some problems much the same way as do the Thai workers in Utah.

"In some human trafficking cases, workers are victims of fraudulent recruitment practices and have incurred large debts for promised employment in the United States, which makes them susceptible to debt bondage and involuntary servitude," the report said.

It adds, "Trafficking cases also involve passport confiscation, nonpayment or limited payment of wages, restriction of movement, isolation from the community, and physical and sexual abuse as a means of keeping victims in compelled service."

See the entire article here.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Kudos to Avon for being socially responsible!

Avon mark. Launches the Brand’s First Fair Trade Body Collection

New York, NY (July 14, 2010) --- Avon's mark. the beauty brand that celebrates remarkable young women who are making their mark in the world, will introduce the mark. Fair Trade Body Collection in August 2010. The Fair Trade ingredients in the products are certified by TransFair USA, the primary third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States.

The collection features Fair Trade Certified™ ingredients from countries across the globe, making the products not only good for the body, but also good for every body. The four beauty products are all priced at 14 dollars and below. With this new body care line, mark. is leading the charge to bring Fair Trade beauty products to the U.S. market.

The mark. Fair Trade Body Collection consists of four body care products including a cleanser, body lotion, body cream and body balm. These body-loving products contain naturally derived ingredients to soothe, hydrate, comfort and care for skin while protecting with anti-oxidants. Their formulas incorporate the world’s highest-quality Fair Trade Certified™ ingredients sourced from countries across the globe such as Vanilla from India, Cocoa butter from Peru, and Chamomile from Egypt. All products are fragrance free, allergy tested, and appropriate for all skin types.

The Fair Trade system empowers farming families around the world to lift themselves out of poverty by investing in their farms and communities, protecting the environment, and helping them develop the business skills necessary to compete in the global marketplace. “Fair Trade certification enables consumers to contribute to a better world with their dollars, simply by looking for the Fair Trade Certified label on the products they buy,” says Maya Spaull, Senior Manager, New Category Development, TransFair USA. “mark.’s new Fair Trade products will empower women to make their purchases matter because it guarantees fair prices to farmers and social justice for the workers who harvest the Fair Trade ingredients.”

“Beyond being an on-trend beauty and fashion boutique brand, mark.'s mission is one of social responsibility and empowerment, and that is what the Fair Trade Body Collection is all about,” says Claudia Poccia, Global President, mark.. "Our mark. Reps have high ideals and are always looking for new ways to make a positive difference. We couldn't pass up the opportunity that would allow us to improve the lives of people around the world while meeting the body care needs of mark. girls' like never before through the use of Fair Trade Certified ingredients."

The mark. Fair Trade Body Collection will be available through mark.’s 50,000 plus Representatives, Avon Representatives, online at www.meetmark.com and the shop tab on the “mark. girl” Facebook Page.

About mark.

mark. is the on-trend beauty and fashion boutique brand that celebrates young women making their mark in their own way, on their own terms. mark. offers an expertly edited collection of edgy, customizable and affordable fashion and beauty products for trendy, young women, and it is the number two trend brand in the world, catering to young women who are digital natives and who choose to socially connect with friends via text and online communities, like Facebook and Twitter.

About TransFair USA

TransFair USA, a nonprofit organization, is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. TransFair USA audits and certifies transactions between U.S. companies and their international suppliers to guarantee that the farmers and workers producing Fair Trade Certified goods were paid fair prices and wages. TransFair USA educates consumers, brings new manufacturers and retailers into the Fair Trade system, and provides farmers with tools, training and resources to thrive as international businesspeople. Visit www.transfairusa.org for more information.

Erin Wolf, Kaplow / 212.221.1713
Kimberly Waite, mark. / 212.282.8196


There's no human trafficking in my community, right?

This is just one of many misconceptions associated with the problem of human trafficking. Several weeks ago, The New York Times reported that eight people were indicted in Brooklyn, NY on charges that include sex trafficking or promoting prostitution of women and girls as young as 15 years of age. So it is happening here under our noses; a simple Google search reveals similar activities all around the country, not just in our biggest city.

In fact, estimates put the number of American kids under the age of 18 who are victimized by child prostitution at anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000. This is not just prostitution – it’s human trafficking on a grand scale… domestic minor sex trafficking to be exact.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof nailed it in a recent column when he wrote: “Human trafficking tends to get ignored because it is an indelicate, sordid topic, with troubled victims who don’t make great poster children for family values. Indeed, many of the victims are rebellious teenage girls — often runaways — who have been in trouble with their parents and the law, and at times they think they love their pimps.”

Our domestic problems mirror global problems. After drug dealing, the “trafficking of humans” is tied with arms dealing as the second largest criminal industry in the world, with an estimated 17,000 trafficked people arriving on our shores every year.

And it’s all too easy for all of us to just turn our heads away from the problem.

A valuable first step in dealing with human trafficking is dealing with the myths associated with human trafficking.

■Victims of trafficking are all foreign born. Not true. Since 2006, the “Innocence Lost National Initiative,” collaboration between the FBI, the Justice Department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, has rescued 900 U.S. children trafficked into prostitution.
■Human trafficking is just another term for the sex trafficking. Not true. According to a recent report from the US Department of State, three-quarters of identified foreign adult trafficking victims were trafficked for forced labor.
■Existing laws are enough to address the problem of human trafficking. They aren’t. Given the state of existing laws and resources to combat trafficking globally, it is estimated that only one person is convicted of trafficking for every 800 trafficking victims. Part of the reason for a lack of complete data on human trafficking can be attributed to a lack of anti-trafficking legislation and/or legislation that is narrow in scope.
■If trafficked individuals were truly victims they would just walk away. That’s hard to do. Traffickers use threats of violence to trap their victims and often convince them that seeking help from local law enforcement will result in incarceration.
Generating awareness of the problem of human trafficking and educating the public on how it can be prevented has been an important initiative for various Junior Leagues around the country for the past several years. Only recently has the issue become a topic of interest in the media and state politicians on how to solve this growing problem in their communities.

Welcome to the fight.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Call to Action: Support Critical Legislation to Protect Victims and End Sex Trafficking in the US

Please join us in supporting two critical federal human trafficking bills:

“Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010” (H.R.5575)

"The Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2009" (S.2925)

What the Bills Will Do:

These bipartisan bills will help provide holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to bring law enforcement, non-profits and agencies together to combat the commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking of children in the US. Block grants will fund collaborative programs in up to six regionally diverse areas across the U.S. Each grant will help increase victim services while increasing law enforcement resources to investigate and prosecute traffickers. Outreach and awareness efforts are also supported. The bill also makes improvements to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system which can better track homeless and runaway youth who are extremely vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation.

What You Can Do:

Please see the two attached documents (from Polaris Project) on how to contact your representatives and advocate for each bill. Sample messages are included in the documents.



Friday, July 9, 2010

Over 50 Haitians Found Enslaved in Florida's Farms

While there has been much discussion of the increased human trafficking in Haiti following the earthquake, 2010 is by no means the beginning of slavery for Haitian people. This week, court documents were unsealed which indicate over 50 Haitian nationals were trafficked to the U.S. and forced into farm work in 2008. And what the traffickers did to keep their slaves hidden from prying eyes was extraordinary, if not uncommon in modern-day slavery.

Three Haitian nationals, one of whom had been a long-time farm worker in the South Florida area, were accused of trafficking dozens of their countrymen into the U.S. to force them into farm labor. Back in Haiti, the workers were offered lucrative jobs with the U.S. guest worker program (which, incidentally, has been often criticized for its frequent use in human trafficking). The visas were false, though. Once in the U.S., workers' travel documents were confiscated, effectively confining them to their work sites. They suffered from poor food and sanitation conditions, and were made to work in fields so recently sprayed with chemicals that some of them left with permanent scars. One of the female workers even reported being raped on the job.

When the farms where the workers were enslaved were inspected by federal agents, the traffickers forced the men and women to put on drumming and dancing shows for the inspectors, threatening that anyone who didn't look happy would be deported to Haiti. They also hid workers at a nearby Walmart to fool inspectors as to the number of people working on the farm and how much they were being paid. During the rare times inspectors were able to communicate with the workers, one of the traffickers acted as interpreter, claiming that the federal inspectors gave them permission to withhold food from the workers. Eventually, however, the inspectors and local law enforcement were able to identify the horrible and dangerous working conditions, and arrested those responsible. But for too long, Haitian slaves remained hidden in plain view.

One of the most interesting elements of this case is the lengths traffickers will go to to hide their crime from the authorities. This is one of the major reason human trafficking is so hard to identify. In this case, the exploiters employed smart and creative techniques to hide their abuse from inspectors. Forcing the workers to smile and perform is especially effective, because who would suspect someone is a slave if he's smiling and playing the drums? And despite the abuses in the U.S., deportation back to Haiti was a very real threat to these workers, and when their only way to communicate with people who might help them is through their exploiter's interpretation, well, you can imagine how hopeless that must feel. The deception in this case may sound extraordinary, but these are not uncommon steps for traffickers to take to protect the financial investment in their slaves.

The Haitian workers are now getting services, including rape crisis counseling, from a number of South Florida agencies. And the three men who brought them to the U.S. face charges of forced labor and fraud.

Photo credit: treessftf

New Alabama Law

Human trafficking is now a felony in Alabama since the state passed its first law addressing the issue June 25 and began being enforced July 1.

The law defines a victim of human trafficking as anyone who is put through sexual servitude, labor servitude or involuntary servitude.

Polaris Project is an anti-human trafficking organization proclaiming the mission of a world without slavery. According to the organization’s website, human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world.

Polaris Project’s Policy Council Consult, Kristen Fortin, said the organization’s hotline has received 54 calls from people in Alabama since December 2007, with 13 referencing potential human trafficking situations within the state.

“It’s very difficult to come by statistics,” Fortin said.

She explained the only statistics they have are those based on calls that have been made, as human trafficking is a hidden crime.

State Rep. Jack Williams said there are no statistics relating to the occurrence of human trafficking in Alabama because, until recently, it was not a state crime.

Fortin said a lot of legislators don’t realize human trafficking is an issue in their state, which is why some states don’t have laws against it. But anyone can be subject to trafficking.

“It’s basically anyone who is vulnerable,” Fortis said, providing examples of potential victims such as children, runaways and immigrants.

Williams provided an example of how an illegal immigrant could get caught up in human trafficking: Someone may offer them a way to get to America and ensure they have a job. So that person is brought in illegally and forced into servitude through threats of turning them in or of harming their family.

Alabama’s new law is the most comprehensive anti-human trafficking law in the country.

According to the law, in the first degree, human trafficking will be considered a Class A felony, punishable by 10 years to life in prison. In the second degree, it will be a Class B felony, punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison.

The law continues by listing the various fines anyone violating the law will be subject to. Some of the fines include mandatory restitution to the victim, costs of medical and psychological treatment, costs of the investigation and whichever is greater: minimum wage for the trafficking victim’s labor or the gross value of the victim’s servitude.

The law also states victims may bring civil action in state courts, potentially being awarded actual damages, punitive damages and appropriate forms of relief.

“We were very closely involved with the legislation that passed,” Fortin said.

However, she continued by saying she would have liked to see raising awareness of the issue and informing people of what to do when they are involved in or aware of human trafficking incorporated into the law.

The easiest way to view Alabama’s anti-trafficking bill in its entirety is to do a Google search for “Alabama HB 432.”

To report a tip on human trafficking, contact the Polaris Project National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

Read more: The Auburn Plainsman - Human Trafficking Becomes a Felony in Alabama


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Confronting Child Sex Tourism

7/7/2010 – Child sex tourism is an urgent child rights issue throughout the world, but especially in Southeast Asia, as recent arrests in Thailand have demonstrated.

Despite the efforts of many governments to enact legislation that prohibits their citizens from engaging in child prostitution abroad, many children continue to suffer sexual abuse by locals, visitors and ex-pats.

For instance, the US created the Protect Act in 2003, which doles out a possible 30-year prison stay to an US citizen engaging in sexual acts with anyone under 18 years old abroad. In Canada too, engaging in any sexual act concerning children is illegal. However, a high-profile Russian pianist was apprehended and charged with raping a 14-year old boy in Thailand today. Mikhail Pletnev could face up to 20 years in prison and 40,000 baht in fines. And less than two weeks ago, a 90-year old Australian man, Karl Kraus, was apprehended by police for the sexual abuse—including child pornography—of four Thai girls (aged 5 to 12).

Thailand is a source, transit and destination country according to the US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report. Thai girls may be trafficked to other Southeast Asia countries, South Africa, Europe, North America and Australia. Those coming into Thailand may originate from East Asia, Russia and Eurasian countries. Not all, but many, girls are trafficked by international networks of organized crime. Thailand’s 1997 Prevention and Suppression of Trafficking in Women and Children Act makes the sexual exploitation of children a crime punishable by 5-20 years imprisonment for exploiting children under 15 years old in addition to financial penalties.

In nearby Cambodia, 30, 000 children suffer from commercial sexual exploitation. Children as young as 5 years old are used as sex slaves. As in Thailand, they are magnets for child sex tourism, which is illegal in the country. In 2004, it was estimated that roughly a third of all prostitutes in Cambodia were children.

In the entire Mekong region of Southeast Asia, roughly 35% of all sex workers are between 12 and 17 years old.

Worldwide, more than 2 million children are victimized by the commercial sex industry. They have been sold by family members to pay debts or earn some extra cash, kidnapped, or otherwise coerced into the sex trade. These children are a high-risk group for sexually-transmitted diseases. More often than not, they face destitution in addition to prostitution, rejected by or estranged from their families and communities.

Child prostitution is only one aspect of the global child rights challenge of child trafficking. Girls may also be trafficked for mail-order-brides and domestic help. Both girls and boys may be trafficked for labour, sexual exploitation and work in the drug industry. Those interested in child protection might consult the 2009 “Training Manual to Fight Trafficking in Children” produced by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Documentary Screening

The Anti-Slavery Project is hosting a screening of the documentary DEMAND. by Shared Hope International. We will also have a presentation on what human trafficking is and what we are doing to combat it.

If you know someone in south Georgia or north Florida, please forward this to them!

July 29th, 6pm, at CrossPointe Church on Northside Drive and Patterson. Admission is free!

This is for adults and mature teens only!