LifeWay Network Opens New Safe House For Trafficking Survivors

April 27, 2016 (New York, NY): LifeWay Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to combating human trafficking through housing and public education, announces the opening of a new safe house in the New York City metro area dedicated to women survivors of human trafficking. This facility, which welcomed its first resident this week, will provide urgently needed long-term transitional housing and services for up to seven women.

Though New York City is a known hub of human trafficking activity, safe housing for women survivors is limited. Currently, LifeWay Network is the only organization in the New York City metro area to offer safe housing for both domestic and foreign-born survivors of labor and sex trafficking. The new facility, LifeWay House 2, joins the original LifeWay Network safe house, established in 2012, as well as its ongoing Emergency Safe Spaces beds program, and the Aspire House opened in 2015 in partnership with Covenant House NY. Together, these facilities will offer safe housing for over 20 women survivors.
“The opening of LifeWay House 2 further advances our mission to directly support survivors of human trafficking,” said Sister Joan Dawber, Founder and Executive Director of LifeWay Network. “Since its beginnings, LifeWay Network has understood the vital need for safe housing and other services to help women survivors rebuild their lives. The expansion of our Safe Housing Program over the last two years fills a critical need in the New York area.”
City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley states “Human trafficking remains an issue of real concern all over New York City, and especially in Queens. LifeWay Network’s commitment to ending this injustice and expanding its services is critical to the safety of trafficking victims.”
Other local officials have also acknowledged that human trafficking is a serious challenge for New York City. Public Advocate Letitia James has said that “human trafficking and sexual exploitation is not only a global issue, but an issue right here in New York City,” while New York State Senator Jose Peralta has noted that “Roosevelt Avenue is a mecca of human trafficking in Queens and throughout the five boroughs.”

Over the next few weeks, LifeWay House 2 will welcome up to seven women survivors – providing them with a safe, supportive home for up to 12 months while they transition to a life of independence. LifeWay Network connects each resident with an array of services such as legal assistance, medical and mental health care, education and job skills training. LifeWay staff and volunteers provide companionship, mentoring and tutoring, along with creative and cultural activities for personal expression and enrichment. LifeWay Network’s Education Program also works to raise public awareness of the crime of trafficking.

About LifeWay Network: LifeWay Network works against human trafficking in the NYC metro area by providing safe housing for survivors of trafficking, and raising public awareness of this crime.

www.LifeWayNetwork.org
www.Facebook.com/LifeWayNetwork

LifeWay Network  ­  PO Box 754215, Forest Hills NY 11375  ­  718.779.8075

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Hackers Backing Up the Fight Against Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a $150 billion industry with only $124 million appropriated globally in the fight against it. This billion-dollar industry adapts, innovates and is not scant of resources to fuel the sale of a human being. Unfortunately, non-profits and government institutions are not innovating and face major obstacles such as:

1. Lack of data about the magnitude of the issue and in most cases not addressing the root cause. Just look at mental health alone, there are limited studies on the effectiveness of mental health services for survivors of sex-trafficking because of data gaps.

2. Lack of collaboration at the programmatic level. When you have organizations competing for limited funding, they often take the adversarial position as opposed to working together to better serve the constituent. In rare cases when they do work together on programs, it can be administratively taxing because many organizations do not have adequate staffing on the ground to implement new partnerships at greater level of impact.

3. Technology gap. Anti-human trafficking organizations don’t have access to the latest technology or security networks to protect their systems. One US based anti-human trafficking organization that provides access to shelter does not transfer any data about their beneficiaries online because they speculate a high probability of hackers accessing their network and systems. Why aren’t these systems protected in the first place?

4. Lack of evaluation on survivor based organizations. There are not many impact evaluations conducted in the anti-human trafficking space to measure outcome instead of output and activities. In order to really make an impact, there needs to be more organizations and interventions being measured so that can be scaled up. The donor community and governmental institutions need to be more aware of these programs that are truly making an impact.

To read the full story by Diana Mao on Huffington Post: Click Here

 

Eden Prairie Student Uses Fashion To Educate About Human Trafficking

Eden Prairie’s Mackenzie Lunde recently found a unique way to raise awareness about human trafficking at her college — through a fashion show.

Lunde is a fashion merchandising major and public relations minor at Kent State University and a 2012 Eden Prairie High School graduate. As a class project, she organized and brought a fashion show by the Columbus, Ohio-based nonprofit, Unchained, to campus.

“I really didn’t know I was going to be passionate about human trafficking from the beginning,” she said. “The more research I did, the more I realized how big of a problem it is.”

Unchained has a mission to end human trafficking through education and awareness. The organization was founded by Stephanie Catani and Felicia Kalan.

“Unchained seeks to empower audiences and youth with the knowledge of human trafficking and ways to report and combat the crime by performing the Unchained fashion show,” according to the nonprofit’s website. “We firmly believe that if one life can be saved through the efforts of educating youth through our fashion show, then our work is worth it.”

PLANNING TO REALITY

According to Kent State, Lunde created an event proposal for the Unchained fashion show as part of her fall 2015 Public Relations Tactics class. Lunde said she started working on the project in December and chose Unchained after having researched human trafficking.

“I wanted to pick something I could put my passion behind and something I would enjoy doing,” she said.

To read the full story by Patty Dexter: Click Here

Prayer Service Will Call Attention to Human Trafficking in Derby Season

The public is invited to take part in a prayer service May 3 at 4 p.m. to call attention to victims of human trafficking and urge an end to the demand for trafficked humans.
The service will be held at Jefferson Square Park in downtown Louisville at Sixth and Jefferson streets.

“Human trafficking would not exist unless there was a demand,” said a news release from the People Against Trafficking Humans (PATH) Coalition. “A part of this year’s prayer will focus on this demand and identify some ways that we can all work to counter the demand for human beings to be exploited for their labor or sex.”

To read the full story from The Record: Click Here

Missouri Catholic Conference Resource on Human Trafficking

The Missouri Catholic Conference’s quarterly bulletin insert delves into the issue of Human Trafficking.

To view “The Messenger”: Click Here

Address of Cardinal Nichols to UN on Human Trafficking

Cardinal Nichols at the UN

Address by Cardinal Vincent Nichols to the Special Conference held at the United Nations in New York on 7 April 2016 on the combatting of human trafficking and modern slavery.

I am honoured to address you this afternoon on this most important topic which is increasingly demanding not only our attention but that of the entire world. I address you behalf of the Santa Marta Group, an international network of cooperation and initiatives, active in this work against human trafficking and modern slavery. I speak, therefore, in the name of the Catholic community which today again wishes to make clear its unequivocal support for all who undertake this work and its willingness to take part in it.

In asserting this commitment of the Church, I emphasise the foundations from which we act: a radical commitment to the dignity of every human person, a dignity which has to be protected and promoted in every circumstance and time; a dignity which does not depend on the abilities or status of a person but which is rooted entirely in the inner depth of the person’s existence, in the gift of human life which always comes from the Divine Creator who has shown himself to be our loving Father. Human trafficking and slavery radically strips a person of this fundamental dignity, reducing them to the status of a commodity. It is an evil crying out to heaven. That there are over 20 million people callously held in modern slavery in our world today is a mark of deep shame on the face of our human family that no words alone can remove. The challenge that the eyes of faith see before us today is to work to our utmost to rescue, protect, assist and serve the poorest of the Father’s children who have be sold into slavery even as Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers ‘in the beginning'(Gen 37.32).

More personally I stand before you because of three key moments in my life.

The first was four years ago when I listened, for the first time, to the witness of a young woman who had been betrayed into the slavery of enforced prostitution. Her story was heart-wrenching. But what added a particular depth to my shock was the fact that she was a young English woman, trafficked from England into slavery in Italy.

To read the full address posted on Independent Catholic News (ICN): Click Here

NEW SLAVES: TECH AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING

How startups are using technology to make a difference

In 2006, the U.S. Department of State estimated  that 14,500 to 17,500 children, women, and men are trafficked into the United States to live as modern-day slaves.

Many women and children are purchased as sexual slaves from regions like Southeast Asia and Central Europe, according to the United Nations Office of Drug and Crime’s 2014 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons.

It’s still also a big problem throughout the globe.

The U.S. State Department estimates a total of 800,000 victims of trafficking have been forced, coerced, or deceived into labor or prostitution worldwide, while the International Labour Organization, a special agency of the United Nations, has estimated that number to be far higher at 21 million, according to a 2012 report.

Trafficking includes far more than just captivity and servitude—victims often endure physical, mental, and sexual torture, and can be deprived of food, water and sleep. Many victims of sexual exploitation are also force-fed drugs so they won’t resist or flee.

It’s arguably one of the greatest assaults on human rights taking place in the modern world, and for years, technology has helped its proliferation.

Traffickers have used social media, online messaging, and websites to posts ads for children and adults forced into the sex-trade as well as to coordinate prostitution rings and sales of victims.

But with the rise of data science, tech has begun fighting back against the global problem.

Startups Fighting Back

A handful of startups have formed specifically to stop human trafficking.

Data science can be an intimidating word for the non-engineer or scientist, but it simply refers to the process of gathering large volumes of online information and using artificial intelligence to identify patterns that can ultimately help catch the bad guys.

In the case of trafficking, this data is typically pulled from the dark net, and can include the collection of email addresses and cell phone numbers attached to posted advertisements.

Law enforcers are then trained to use the programs that assess this data, and from there organize a rescue mission.

25-year-old Emily Kennedy, CEO and founder of the data science startup Marinus Analytics, started using tech to track human trafficking while an undergraduate student at Carnegie Melon.

For her senior thesis project she engineered a program called Traffic Jam.

Her goal in creating Traffic Jam was to develop technology that law enforcement agencies couldn’t develop on their own, due to lack of resources.

Just last year, she was able to take Traffic Jam out on her own to start Marinus, and now the program has been used by over 75 law enforcement agencies in the U.S., and over 120 victims have been rescued as a result.

Tim Ballard, CEO of the startup Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.), who’s a CIA vet and formerly headed up the Crimes Against Children unit at the Department of Homeland Security, is also using technology to fight trafficking.

To read the full story by Tracy Chabala at Smashd: Click Here

7 Things To Know About Local Human Trafficking

What is human trafficking? Does it happen in the U.S.? Why don’t victims come forward to get help?

These questions and dozens more were addressed at a conference held at Indiana University Southeast on Friday. Local and state experts, as well as active social workers, gathered to talk about ways to recognize and combat human trafficking in Louisville and Southern Indiana.

Experts aimed to debunk stereotypes, educate service providers about trauma and talk about solutions to the problem.

“We have to say, as a culture, that this will no longer be tolerated,” said Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who said he wants to change the focus from punishing victims of trafficking to raising the risk of trafficking kids and adults.

Multiple speakers talked about the prevalence of the crime – especially sex trafficking – during the Kentucky Derby, Thunder Over Louisville, NCAA regional games and other major events in the metro area.

Zoeller’s office, the Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans task force, the Southern Indiana Human Trafficking task force and Indiana Youth Services Association hosted the conference at IUS.

Here are a few of the questions speakers addressed Friday:

1. What is human trafficking? What is sex trafficking?

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security defines human trafficking as “a form of modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to exploit human beings for some type of labor or commercial sex purpose.”

“When it’s sex trafficking, something of value has to be taken or given” for a sexual act, said Darlene Bradley, of Homeland Security, during a panel discussion.

Human trafficking can be in the form of forced labor or domestic servitude as well.

2. How does social media play a role?

Yvonne Moore, chair of the Southern Indiana Human Trafficking Task Force, said Internet and social media sites are one of the most common-used methods for predators to traffic children and adults.

“It’s a lot easier for a person who wants to have sex with a child to find them on the Internet, instead of grooming a neighbor’s child,” Moore said.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children made available to law enforcement more than 4.3 million reports of suspected online child sexual exploitation, Moore said Friday. She encouraged parents to watch their kids’ social media accounts and listed some commonly used by predators, such as Snapchat, Kik, Vine and Instagram.

Roger Logsdon, human trafficking task force detective for the Indiana State Police, said most of the department’s investigations deal with the site backpage.com.

Moore said when it comes to children, the average age of entry into commercial sex is between 12 and 14 years old.

“You’ve really got to look at what your kid is using” on social media, Moore said.

3. How much does sex trafficking increase during Derby and other major events?

study of 20,384 sex-related online ads over a 15-month period found that from mid-April through the end of Kentucky Derby weekend, there were more than 1,800 sex ads posted online. The study was conducted by Theresa Hayden, a University of Louisville criminal justice professor, and Dianna Anderson, with the Human Trafficking Alliance.

Moore said although some ads are for voluntary prostitution, it helps researchers get a better idea of who may be forced into sex trafficking.

On the site Backpage, there could be more than 1,000 sex-related ads posted daily in Indianapolis, Logsdon said.

Experts noted it is important to remember that sex trafficking doesn’t simply end after Derby or other major events, it happens every day of the year.

To read the full story by Lexy Gross of the Courier-Journal: Click Here

Soap Up Jax Reaches Out To Victims Of Human Trafficking

Photo Provided by Lynn Anamasi Bars of soap produced to help combat human trafficking with the phone number of the National Human Trafficking Hotline printed on them.

Lynn Anamasi is looking for people in Northeast Florida to help her stop human trafficking — and it comes in the form of a bar of soap.
She and her group of volunteers wrap bars of soap with a message and then drive to area hotels to deliver them ahead of two major sporting events, The Players Championship golf tournament in the spring and the Florida-Georgia football game in the fall.

Each bar is small enough that it can be tucked into a sock or coin purse. The wrappers on the soap carry a message reaching out to human-trafficking victims along with the toll-free number to the National Human-Trafficking Hotline.

“Human trafficking is higher during sporting events, so that’s when we’re needed most,” said Anamasi, who’s the head of a local branch of Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution.

The football game in the fall was the first time SOAP up JAX got involved with area hotels, and Anamasi said she learned a lot from that experience.

“We need more people to help out,” she said.

Anyone interested in helping can volunteer April 23 to put labels on bars of soap and then go in teams of four to distribute them to hotels. Anamasi needs drivers, riders and people willing to donate money to pay for supplies.

She encourages anyone who wants to volunteer to go to bit.ly/SOAPJAX to sign up so she can have an idea of how much material will be needed.

On April 23 the group will meet for training at 9 a.m. at Palms Presbyterian Church, 3410 Third St. S. in Jacksonville Beach. They will label the bars with SOAP up JAX wrappers and then head out to hotels until about 2 p.m.

Anamasi is new to the fight against human trafficking, but it was a friend from high school who got her interested.

She and Theresa Flores were good friends during their senior year in Connecticut, but it wasn’t until years later that Anamasi realized she was hiding a terrible secret.

Flores had been a victim of human trafficking in Michigan as a teen. But when her father was transferred to Connecticut for work, she was afraid to tell her story to anyone.

“I tried to forget that whole part of my life,” Flores said in a phone interview Thursday. “I got involved in band and just tried to immerse myself in other activities.”

Read the full story by Joe Daraskevich at Jacksonville.com

April Monthly Reflection

Can environmentalists end human trafficking?
by Sister Ann Oestreich, IHM

Finally, it’s April. In northern Indiana, where I live, April’s arrival means that the grey, cold, snowy days of winter give way to the tender greens of spring, daffodils and flowering trees. People are outside, walking and biking again, and tilling the soil for their gardens. Creation is coming back to life! On April 22 we celebrate the grandeur, beauty and fragility of our planet on Earth Day, and re-commit ourselves to reverencing and preserving what Pope Francis calls “our common home.”

In his 2015 encyclical, Laudato Sí, Pope Francis challenged us all to recognize that care for our Earth and care for people who are poor and vulnerable are not separate concerns. They are interconnected, inter-related, in what he calls an “integral ecology.” When we think about the elegance of creation and human trafficking, a horrific abuse of human dignity and human rights, where do we see that interconnection?

Kevin Bales, co-founder of the organization, Free the Slaves, makes this connection convincingly in his latest book entitled “Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide and the Secret to Saving the World.” As Bales traveled the world documenting and working to end human trafficking, he noticed that where slavery existed, so did “massive, unchecked environmental destruction.”1.

We’ve known for a long time that environmental change and human trafficking/slavery are linked. Whether it’s the slow desertification of sub-Saharan Africa or the devastating force of a southeast Asian tsunami, both cause people to migrate away from their homelands, and people on the move are vulnerable to traffickers. Once captured, they may be forced into mining gold or coltan, cutting down forests or working on brutally demanding shrimping/fishing boats for months or years at a time.

But Bales goes beyond pointing out the mutually reinforcing evils of slavery and ecocide. He posits that “slavery is at the root of much of the natural world’s destruction.”2. How can that be, given that there are an estimated 35 million slaves, a horrific number, but still a small fraction of our global population?

Bales argues: “Slaveholders are criminals, operating firmly outside of any law or regulation. When they mine gold they saturate thousands of acres with toxic mercury. When they cut timber, they clear-cut and burn…leaving behind a dead ecosystem. Laws and treaties may control law-abiding individuals, corporations, and governments, but not the criminal slaveholders who flout the gravest of laws.”

He continues, “When it comes to global warming, these slaveholders outpace all but the very biggest polluters. Adding together their slave-based deforestation and other CO2-producing crimes leads to a sobering conclusion. If slavery were an American state it would have the population of California and the economic output of the District of Columbia, but it would be the world’s third largest producer of CO2, after China and the United States. It’s no wonder that we struggle and often fail to stop climate change and reduce the atmospheric carbon count. Slavery, one of the world’s largest greenhouse gas producers, is hidden from us. Environmentalists are right to call for laws and treaties that will apply to the community of nations, but that is not enough. We also have to understand that slavers–who don’t adhere to those laws and treaties–are a leading cause of the natural world’s destruction. And to stop them…we need to end slavery.”3.

In Laudato Sí, Pope Francis reminds us that “the human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together; we cannot adequately combat environmental degradation unless we attend to causes related to human and social degradation.”4. It seems that Bales and Pope Francis are of the same mind. Modern day slavery and environmental destruction are both increasing. We need to be aware of the connections between these sins against humanity and creation, and work to root them out. To save our planet, we have to end human trafficking. To end human trafficking, we must reverence and protect Earth, our common home.

I close with some recommendations for reading and reflection. For every environmentalist, please consider reading “Blood and Earth” by Kevin Bales. For everyone who works to end human trafficking, ponder the words of Pope Francis in Laudato Sí. (You can find it online at https://laudatosi.com/watch)

And for every person who has ever experienced the indignity, despair and unspeakable abuse of human trafficking/modern-day slavery, I wish you the rebirth of April, the new life of Resurrection.

  1. Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide, and the Secret to Saving the World by Kevin Bales. Random House:      New York, 2016. Quote from the inside book jacket.
  2. Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide, and the Secret to Saving the World, p. 9.
  3. Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide, and the Secret to Saving the World, p. 9-10.
  4. On Care for Our Common Home – Laudato Sí. Chapter 1, #48.

 

We post reflections monthly on the website: Click Here

For past reflections: Click Here