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 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 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!