How Jewelry Is Saving Women From Human Trafficking

The women of Apne Aap have survived human trafficking and now make jewelry from upcycled saris for Rosena Sammi Jewelry.

For thousands of women who have been rescued from human trafficking in India by the organization Apne Aap, it’s not the piece of jewelry itself, but rather the future it can create.

Bangles, necklaces, earrings and even bags made by Apne Aap women from upcycled saris are being sold at American department stores and boutiques and on online as part of Rosena Sammi Jewelry’s “Who Sari Now?” Collection.

About 25% of the purchase price goes back to the women artisans, giving them a livable wage. The money also helps fund their children’s education. No small feat for women who may have been sold into prostitution at a very young age, abused for years and then discarded when they were no longer a profitable commodity.

Journalist turned activist 

“Apne Aap” means “self-empowerment” in Hindi. For founder and former journalist Ruchira Gupta, helping women help themselves is what Apne Aap is all about.

About 20 years ago, Gupta was walking through the hills of Nepal when she heard a story of missing girls from the villages. When she followed the story, she uncovered a supply line of young girls taken from the villages of Nepal to the brothels of Bombay.

“What I saw in the brothel was 13-year-old girls being raped by 10 customers a night and a whole group of people living off that girl. I saw pimps who made money from her. I saw brothel managers, brothel owners, landlords. … She was basically kept in that bondage like a slave. Her body was just basically consumed, consumed, consumed for five years and when she was no longer commercially viable, she was just thrown out,” Gupta says.

She ended up making a documentary called “The Selling of Innocents,” which won an Emmy for outstanding investigative journalism in 1996. She says making that documentary changed her life.

“As a journalist, I covered war and famine and hunger and cost conflict and ethnic conflict but I’d never seen this kind of deliberate exploitation of human beings by other human beings.”

To read the full story by Betsy Anderson CNN Impact Your World: Click Here

 

Lawmakers Ok Trafficking Notices In Rest Stops, Airports

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Legislature has voted to require the posting of human trafficking notices in rest stops, strip clubs, airports, and bus and train stations.

The bill sent to Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday says the notices must reference the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline as a place for victims to get help and services.

Republican Rep. Kurt Heise of Plymouth Township says the goal is to put notices in certain venues where traffickers bring victims but are less likely to monitor them — such as adult entertainment clubs. He says the measure would serve as a possible means of escape for victims or rescue by members of the public.

The proposed law would not apply unless a state department is given funding to carry out enforcement and other duties.

Originally found on WWMT West Michigan: Click Here

Senate Cracks Down On Human Trafficking Website Which Has Stricter Rules For ‘Selling Hamsters Than Children’

Backpage.com has been found to encourage outsourced employees in India to allow the posting of adverts even if they are unsure whether the advert might be selling children for sex

Senators have voted to crack down on a website which serves as a huge network hub for human traffickers and which imposes stricter rules on clients selling a “hamster” than it does a child for sex.

The Senators found that Backpage.com, which generates money by posting adverts, outsourced its screening process to workers in India, insisting that they put up adverts selling sex even if they are unsure whether the adverts involve the sale of minors.

The bipartisan probe, led by Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican Rob Portman, announced that the Senate voted unanimously on Thursday to hold the website Backpage.com in civil contempt of Congress after it refused to reveal details as to how it checks its adverts before posting them.

“The company essentially told us to get lost,” Senator Portman said in Congress.

Investigators obtained emails from executives in California which showed that its employees in India were often found to simply remove a word, phrase or image to “sanitize” the advert rather than remove it, covering up any suggestion of illegality, said Senator Portman.

To read the full story by Rachael Revesz of INDEPENDENT: Click Here

Human Trafficking a Concern as Truckers Get Trained to Help Stop Growing Crisis in America

Human trafficking is the second highest revenue generating criminal activity in the world. Each year it generates over $32 billion for those who are involved in enslaving others. The toll is actually much higher though, as 99 percent of those who are sold into the modern day slavery will never escape. Although some of those who are sold end up as laborers, more than half are women and girls who end up in the sex slave trade. Now the nation’s truckers are getting involved to stop the problem, while state governments are taking action to put an end to this modern day slavery.
Yahoo News reported that the trucking industry is getting involved in trying to stop human trafficking in the United States. Ohio State Highway Patrol Captain Mike Crispen said that those traveling on our nation’s highways see things all the time that others don’t.

“People driving down the road see stuff all the time that the rest of us aren’t seeing.”

Read the full article by by Jinger Jarrett of the Inquisitr: Click Here

In Historic Vote, U.S. Senate Unanimously Backs McCaskill-Portman Measure to Hold ‘Backpage’ Website in Contempt of Congress

WASHINGTON – In an historic vote, the Senate today unanimously approved a bipartisan resolution from U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill and Rob Portman to launch civil contempt proceedings against the website Backpage, as part of the duo’s bipartisan investigation into online sex trafficking.

“The contempt that Backpage has shown for our bipartisan investigation has now been met with the unanimous contempt of the full U.S. Senate,” said McCaskill, a former sex crimes prosecutor who is the top-ranking Democrat on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. “This historic vote makes a clear statement—we are fully committed to getting to the bottom of this company’s business practices and policies for preventing the trafficking of children, and we will get these answers.”

The last time the Senate approved civil contempt proceedings was 1995. Today’s Senate vote was 96-0. The Senate’s Legal Counsel can now bring a suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to ask the court to directly order compliance with the subpoena. The measure also cleared the Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs by a unanimous vote last month. Click HERE to read more on the contempt proceedings and what happens next.

Today’s resolution had the support of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children—whose President and CEO, in a letter to McCaskill and Portman, wrote: “…I am writing to express our strong support for your resolution… We commend you for your leadership on this investigation and your dedication to assisting victims of child sex trafficking and their families… More than seventy-one percent (71%) of all child sex trafficking reports submitted by members of the public to NCMEC relate to Backpage ads… The work of your Subcommittee to investigate these practices and to demand answers is to be widely commended. NCMEC is proud to lend our support to this important resolution…”

McCaskill and Portman, the panel’s Republican Chairman, led a Senate hearing in November to target online sex trafficking, particularly trafficking of children, and demand answers from Backpage. Carl Ferrer, Chief Executive Officer of Backpage, failed to obey a subpoena compelling his attendance at that hearing, a failure which Portman called “truly extraordinary.”

McCaskill also used that hearing to tell the story of a 15-year-old girl rescued from sex traffickers in St. Louis, Mo.: “Four months ago, a 15-year-old girl walked into Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, and asked for help. Along with four other girls between the ages of 12 and 18, she had been sold for sex at truck stops across Missouri, Florida, Texas, and New Mexico for almost two months. She was lucky to be alive. According to her police report, another girl traveling with her during those months had died in her arms. The 15-year-old girl who walked into Cardinal Glennon, like the majority of children who are sold for sex in the United States today, was trafficked using Backpage.”

McCaskill is the top-ranking Democrat on the subcommittee—which was formerly the “Truman Committee.” It is the Senate’s most powerful body for investigations and oversight and includes broad subpoena power. Relying on her experience as a courtroom prosecutor, McCaskill led the successful effort to reform the military justice system to curb sexual assaults in the U.S. military, and is helping lead a bipartisan effort to curb sexual violence on college and university campuses.

Visit mccaskill.senate.gov/violence to see more about McCaskill’s work to curb domestic and sexual violence.

Press release from Senator McCaskill’s Page: Click Here

Albany Bishop Presented With Human Trafficking Resources

2016 03 16 Carol and Bishop Scharfenberger

Sister Carol Davis, OP, a member of the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking Core Group, met with Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, of the Diocese of Albany, New York. She introduced him to the work of U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking, and together they talked about the crime of human trafficking. They also discussed the anti-trafficking work being done globally and in the Albany area.

Sister Carol presented the Bishop with copies of the monthly bulletin inserts being offered to all Catholic parishes, acquainting them with the issue of human trafficking and resources being provided by USCSAHT.  Bishop Scharfenberger agreed to share these notices with the parishes in the Albany diocese.

To view other faith resources: Click Here

South Dakota Sisters are Fighting Human Trafficking

Billboard ScreenshotA new billboard grabs the attention of those traveling through the prairie nine miles east of Watertown, SD. As noted on the billboard, the Watertown Initiative to Prevent Sex Trafficking Is alerting the community about this terrible evil and the hotline number to report suspicious behavior. The image of the child is shown with the permission of the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking.

The Benedictine Sisters of Mother of God Monastery established the Watertown Initiative to Prevent Sex Trafficking (WIPST) in September, 2015, upon receiving a grant from Catholic Health Initiatives Violence Prevention. However, prevention efforts first began in 2011 when Sister Marlene Minnaert, Prioress, vowed to do something to help prevent trafficking after attending a national meeting where horrendous stories of sexually exploited women and children were shared. The Benedictine Sisters collaborated with local agencies and individuals to create a community advocacy group called HOPE: Local Citizens Against Human Trafficking in 2012. HOPE’s work soon expanded and needed further support and participation, which resulted in the establishment of WIPST and its grant-funded outreach.

The city of Watertown is located at the crossroads of drug and trafficking routes: On U.S. highway #212 from Minneapolis, MN to Rapid City, SD and beyond and Interstate Highway 29 from the Canadian border through Fargo, ND to Sioux Falls, SD and further south through Iowa.  Interstate 90, 100 miles south of Watertown, is known as the Midwest trafficking pipeline.

Two South Dakota events attract traffickers to the state: the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which brings more than 400,000 people to the Sturgis area, and the annual pheasant hunting season, which draws men from all over the world. In addition, South Dakota is home to approximately 71,800 Native Americans and seven reservations; Native American women and children are extremely vulnerable to being sexually exploited because of poverty, neglect, substance abuse, poor health, violence, failing social systems, and cultural degradation.

This billboard is the first of many planned by WIPST with the goal to maintain a sex trafficking prevention billboard on the two interstate highways as well as on several federal highways in Eastern South Dakota. For more information, contact Grant Manager Sister Teresa Ann Wolf or Outreach Specialist Jenna Moffatt at 605-878-2021 or jenna.wipst@gmail.com.

Hair Stylists Joining in the Fight Against Human Trafficking

Ohio has been on the front lines in the battle to combat human trafficking. Now cosmetologists are joining in the fight.

Children as young as 12 are often forced into prostitution. More than 1,000 minors are reportedly involved in the sex trade each year. It’s become a growing problem in Ohio.

Beauticians throughout Ohio get a wide range of clients. Now they are being trained to look for signs of human trafficking. Marci Nattinger is a hair designer at the Urban Loft. She often learns a lot about the men and women who sit in her chair.

Victims of human trafficking might be taken to a salon to get their hair, nails or makeup done. Now the State Cosmetology Board for Licensing is requiring all hair dressers to watch a one-hour training video to learn the signs of trafficking. Nattinger is in the process of completing her training. “When I first heard about it I was like this is weird. We do hair but after hearing it I really honestly think this summer I had an instance where it happened and I’m like, oh my gosh I’m so glad we do this kind of thing,” said Nattinger.

To read the full story by Amber Jayanth, of ABC 22 NOW: Click Here