Kentucky Derby Season Draws Warnings Of Human Trafficking

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s attorney general is urging people to pay attention to more than horses and parties during the springtime celebrations leading up to the Kentucky Derby.

Warning of the unsavory side of Derby season, authorities are asking for the public’s help in cracking down on sex traffickers trying to cash in on the crowds expected for the world’s most famous horse race.

“This is our Derby, which is supposed to be a celebration,” Attorney General Andy Beshear said Thursday. “And we should not allow criminals to mar it, especially through a crime that so victimizes our children and other vulnerable individuals. So be our eyes and ears.”

More than 160,000 fans are expected to pack into Churchill Downs for the May 6 race, capping two weeks of festivities across Louisville that kick off Saturday night with a huge fireworks show.

Last Derby season, Beshear’s office worked with local law enforcement in trying to root out trafficking operations. He said that effort led to multiple arrests and the rescue of a 14-year-old girl.

Authorities can point to other successes in their efforts.

A Kalamazoo, Michigan, man ensnared in a prostitution sting operation during a prior Derby season was sentenced recently to nearly 20 years in prison. David Q. Givhan was convicted of one count of sex trafficking and three counts of interstate transportation for prostitution.

To read the full story from the Associated Press: Click Here

Study Shows 1 In 5 Homeless Detroit Youths Victims Of Human Trafficking

ruth ellis center.JPG
A study shows that 1 in homeless Detroit youths are victims of human trafficking. The Ruth Ellis Center in Highland Park is a youth social service that helps homeless and at-risk gay, bi-attractional, transgender, and questioning youth. (Tanya Moutzalias | MLive.com) (Tanya Moutzalias | MLive.com)

A study of homeless youth in the U.S. and Canada indicates that one in five are victims of human trafficking. 

Among those surveyed were Detroit youths, with 21 percent of the 60 respondents reporting that they had been trafficked for sex, labor or both.

The survey was conducted by The Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice and Research at the University of Pennsylvania and Loyola University.

Researchers interviewed 911 people between ages 17 and 24 across 13 cities between February 2014 and March 2017.

In 12 of the 13 cities, researchers interviewed people from Covenant House, which offers services for homeless youth across the nation.

LGBTQ youth accounted for 10 percent of the interviews, and 56 percent were victims of sex trafficking.

About 21 percent were women and 13 percent were men. About five percent reported being trafficked for labor.

“Youth homelessness is like a disease that over time builds up a stubborn resistance and becomes immune to almost any intervention that we can provide,” said Gerald J. Piro, Covenant House Michigan executive director.

“I am greatly disturbed that so many of the youth we serve in Detroit have been victims of trafficking.

To read the full story by Dana Afana on MLive: Click Here

Maryland Bishops Join Fight Against Human Trafficking

Baltimore, Md., Apr 5, 2017 / 06:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Maryland’s bishops united in voicing their concerns over the evils of human trafficking, announcing their sponsorship of a statewide initiative aimed at raising awareness of the issue.  

“The evil of human trafficking is an international, national and local scourge, and a grave violation of the dignity and freedom of all its victims,” Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., and Bishop W. Francis Malooly of Wilmington said in an April 3 statement.

“As people of faith, this grave injustice cries out for a response.”

According to the U.S. State Department, upwards of 800,000 victims of trafficking are brought through the U.S. borders every year. Up to 17,500 individuals are also trafficked into the country annually. Globally, the number spikes into an estimated 20 million victims, according to the International Labor Organization.

The bishops lamented that the state of Maryland also sees a number of trafficked victims, due to Interstate 95, which acts as a hub to other cities, especially with the Baltimore Washington International airport nearby.

The bishops’ statement, titled Proclaiming Liberty to Captives, highlighted the duty of Christians to “break the yoke of modern-day slavery,” by raising awareness and supporting organizations that aid victims.

Many efforts are already in place, which rescue trafficked victims and prosecute the perpetrators, such as Maryland’s Human Trafficking Task Force, who rescued almost 400 victims from trafficking in 2014.

The bishops voiced their support of these initiatives, and also announced their own sponsorship of regional trainings that will raise awareness of human trafficking around the state.

“The Catholic bishops in Maryland pledge to devote the resources of the Church to support, unify and expand these efforts wherever possible,” the bishops stated.

“To assist in those efforts, the Catholic Church will sponsor regional trainings throughout the state beginning in the spring of 2017, at which we will bring together national, state and local experts who will provide participants with effective tools for combating human trafficking in our local communities.”

As many victims are not aware of their own captivity, the bishops underscored the importance of these new training programs that would help individuals recognize and identify the signs of a trafficked victim.

 

To read the full story on Catholic News Agency: Click Here

THE DESPERATE JOURNEY OF A TRAFFICKED GIRL

It was close to midnight on the coast of Libya, a few miles west of Tripoli. At the water’s edge, armed Libyan smugglers pumped air into thirty-foot rubber dinghies. Some three thousand refugees and migrants, mostly sub-Saharan Africans, silent and barefoot, stood nearby in rows of ten. Oil platforms glowed in the Mediterranean.

The Libyans ordered male migrants to carry the inflated boats into the water, thirty on each side. They waded in and held the boats steady as a smuggler directed other migrants to board, packing them as tightly as possible. People in the center would suffer chemical burns if the fuel leaked and mixed with water. Those straddling the sides could easily fall into the sea. Officially, at least five thousand and ninety-eight migrants died in the Mediterranean last year, but Libya’s coastline is more than a thousand miles long, and nobody knows how many boats sink without ever being seen. Several of the migrants had written phone numbers on their clothes, so that someone could call their families if their bodies washed ashore.

The smugglers knelt in the sand and prayed, then stood up and ordered the migrants to push off. One pointed to the sky. “Look at this star!” he said. “Follow it.” Each boat left with only enough fuel to reach international waters.

In one dinghy, carrying a hundred and fifty people, a Nigerian teen-ager named Blessing started to cry. She had travelled six months to get to this point, and her face was gaunt and her ribs were showing. She wondered if God had visited her mother in dreams and shown her that she was alive. The boat hit swells and people started vomiting. By dawn, Blessing had fainted. The boat was taking on water.

In recent years, tens of millions of Africans have fled areas afflicted with famine, drought, persecution, and violence. Ninety-four per cent of them remain on the continent, but each year hundreds of thousands try to make it to Europe. The Mediterranean route has also become a kind of pressure-release valve for countries affected by corruption and extreme inequality. “If not for Italy, I promise, there would be civil war in Nigeria,” a migrant told me. Last year, after Nigeria’s currency collapsed, more Nigerians crossed the sea than people of any other nationality.

The flood of migrants is not a new phenomenon, but for years the European Union had some success in slowing it. The E.U. built a series of fences in Morocco and started paying coastal African nations to keep migrants from reaching European waters. Many migrants spent years living in border countries, repeatedly trying and failing to cross. Muammar Qaddafi saw an opportunity. In 2010, he demanded that Europe pay him five billion euros per year; otherwise, he said, Libya could send so many migrants that “tomorrow Europe might no longer be European.”

To read the full story by Ben Taub on The New Yorker: Click Here

Slavery Still Exists In The Land Of The Free — We Must Confront It

(CNN)More than 150 years after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, slavery is illegal almost everywhere. But it is still not abolished — not even here, in the land of the free. On the contrary, there is a cancer of violence, a modern-day slavery growing in America by the day, in the very places where we live and work. It’s called human trafficking. The time has come for a new abolitionist movement to confront this oppression and turn it back.

Each year, thousands of people, usually women and girls, are deceived, threatened or simply forced into commercial sexual exploitation. That is, they are forced to provide sex for money. Don’t be misled, this isn’t a crime confined to exotic locales. It happens all the time, even in a neighborhood near you. Sex trafficking occurs when a young woman is forced into prostitution at a truck stop; when a sexual predator lures a teen on the internet; when a family member makes a child sell sex for cash.

Josh Hawley is the attorney general of Missouri.
Josh Hawley is the attorney general of Missouri.

The International Labor Organization estimates that 4.5 million people are trapped in commercial sex exploitation worldwide, 98% of them female. Since 2007, the National Trafficking Hotline in the United States has received more than 31,000 reports of trafficking happening in this country. Nearly 2,000 calls to the NTH have come from my home state of Missouri.

Sex trafficking amounts to a form of slavery: It is forced, unchosen labor. Left unchecked, it threatens to disfigure our society. That’s a danger I take personally. As attorney general of Missouri, I am my state’s chief law enforcement officer. I swore an oath to uphold the rule of law, and that means fighting violence and oppression wherever it exists, especially violence against the poor and vulnerable. The swelling epidemic of human trafficking makes a mockery of the law and its protections. Confronting this evil demands new thinking and decisive new action. And this is my pledge: In Missouri we will act, and we will act now.

To view the full story by Josh Hawley on CNN: Click Here

Holy See: ‘Migration Crisis, Human Trafficking A Crisis Of Humanity’

Msgr. Janusz Urbańczyk, Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) - RV
Msgr. Janusz Urbańczyk, Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) – RV
 
(Vatican Radio)  The Vatican’s permanent representative to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Msgr. Janusz Urbańczyk, has addressed three separate panels at the “17th Alliance against Trafficking in Persons Conference”.

The focus of the conference is on trafficking in children and is taking place in Vienna.

Msgr. Urbańczyk addressed the panels on “Human Trafficking Threats for Children in Crisis”, “Towards Effective Child Protection Systems to Fight Human Trafficking”, and “Looking forward: Guidelines for Policy Development and Implementation”.

At the heart of the Holy See’s message was a call to view the current migration crisis as a “crisis of humanity”.

“The Holy See wishes to reiterate once again that the current crisis of migrant and refugee flow is primarily, in the words of Pope Francis, a crisis of humanity. As such, it is vital that all actors recognise that above all ‘Migrants are not a danger, they are in danger’”.

Msgr. Urbańczyk also urged enhanced cooperation between governments and non-governmental organizations, as well as with members of the private sector.

“It is of great urgency to strengthen cooperation and coordination with NGOs that work in the areas of concern and know the context of poverty and vulnerability where situations of exploitation very often arise. It is also opportune to cooperate with the private sector, in particular with national and local companies, as well as with multinationals, so that they may adopt rigorous and law-abiding behavior.”

Pope Francis on Monday sent a message to the conference: click here to see it.

Please find below the three separate statements:

STATEMENT BY MSGR. JANUSZ URBAŃCZYK, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE HOLY SEE, AT THE 17TH ALLIANCE AGAINST TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS CONFERENCE “TRAFFICKING IN HUMAN BEINGS AND THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD”

To read the full story on Vatican Radio: Click Here

Why All Faiths Can Unite To End Modern Slavery

(CNN)Slavery — turning human beings into property used up for profit — is a heinous offense repugnant to all faith communities.

 
This was captured beautifully in the Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders, representing Catholics, Anglicans, Orthodox Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists. The Declaration calls modern slavery a crime against humanity.
The concepts of empathy for our fellow human beings, and the obligation to respect the rights and dignity of others, are themes found in all the world’s major faith traditions. Many of history’s great civil rights advancements have been started and nurtured by religious leaders and activists. This is also true of the anti-slavery movement. Ending slavery unites all faiths and no twisting of texts can obscure that fact. That is why faith leaders are at the forefront of the effort to eradicate modern slavery.
Maurice Middleberg, executive director, Free the Slaves

 
Shockingly, slavery persists at a massive scale. The most conservative estimate places the number of slaves at 21 million; there are estimates of as high as 36 million. And slavery is a big business — the International Labor Organization estimates that the profits from slavery are $150 billion a year.
About a fifth of slavery is sex slavery, but most slavery consists of forced labor in seemingly ordinary businesses — farms, mines, stone quarries, fishing boats, construction and brick kilns. The majority of slaves are women and girls; about a quarter of all slaves are children.
Slavery stems from vulnerability. Overwhelmingly, slaves come from the poorest, most stigmatized and most marginalized communities in the poorest countries in the world. Slavery exists in every country and traffickers unfailingly prey upon those who are the most defenseless.
Religious faith and the debasement of human beings cannot be reconciled. That is why people and communities of faith are mobilizing and must continue to lead a shared effort to end slavery once and for all. The following is a quick look at faith voices raised against slavery.

Christianity

Christian abolitionism took root in the 17th century. In England, prominent Anglicans joined forces with Quakers, Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists and other faith groups to form the world’s first anti-slavery movement. Together, they forged a moral consensus to ban the trans-Atlantic slave trade and then outlaw slavery itself throughout the British Empire. Today, Christians worldwide regard slavery as immoral and unjust. “Human trafficking is an open wound on the body of contemporary society,” says Pope Francis. “It is a crime against humanity.”
· The epistles of St. Paul condemned slave traders and called for slaves to be treated as “brethren.”
· Quakers believed that everyone, including African-American slaves, was “equal in the sight of God.”
· Men and women of faith often led slave revolts on colonial plantations, and many revolts occurred during Christian festivals.
· In the 1800s Quakers and other religious groups assisted the Underground Railroad, helping thousands of slaves to escape southern states in the U.S.

Islam

Muslim voices have called for the abolition of slavery since ancient times. The Quran teaches that all people are equal, like the teeth in a comb. The Prophet Muhammad declared: “There are three categories of people against whom I shall myself be a plaintiff on the Day of Judgment. Of these three, one is he who enslave a free man, then sells him and eats this money.”
· Sura 90 in the Quran states that the righteous path involves “the freeing of slaves.”
 
To read the full story by Maurice Middleberg, on CNN: Click Here

In U.S. Restaurants, Bars And Food Trucks, ‘Modern Slavery’ Persists

A new report highlights victims of human trafficking in the food industry, from farm workers to restaurant bus staff, cooks and wait staff. Some victims are exploited for both sex and labor. Juanmonino/Getty Images

They come from places like Vietnam, China, Mexico and Guatemala, lured by promises of better-paying jobs and legal immigration. Instead, they’re smuggled into the U.S., forced to work around the clock as bussers, wait staff and cooks, and housed in cramped living quarters. For this, they must pay exorbitant fees that become an insurmountable debt, even as their pay is often withheld, stolen or unfairly docked.

In restaurants, bars and food trucks across America, many workers are entrapped in a form of modern slavery. That’s according to a new report by Polaris, an organization that fights human trafficking and helps survivors.

In the report the group offers a detailed portrait of human trafficking as it occurs in the U.S., breaking it down into 25 distinct business models, from nail salons to hotel work and domestic service.

“Because human trafficking is so diverse … you can’t fight it all at once and there are no single, silver bullet solutions. You have to … fight it type by type,” Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris, told reporters on a press call. “We see this report as a major breakthrough in the field.”

He called the report the largest data set on human trafficking in the U.S. ever compiled and publicly analyzed. The Polaris team analyzed 32,208 reports of human trafficking, and 10,085 reports of labor exploitation processed through its hotlines for victims between 2007 and 2016. The goal: to identify profiles of traffickers and their victims — and the methods they use to recruit and control them — across industries, in order to better thwart them.

Janet Drake, a senior assistant attorney general in Colorado who has prosecuted human trafficking cases, called the new report “a game changer.”

To read the full story by Maria Godoy on : Click Here

Victims, Advocates Help Pull Human Trafficking Out Of The Darkness

When she was 12, Brianna Williams was a driven, young entrepreneur who wrote a 30-page business plan for her future party-planning endeavor. But by the time she was 15, she was being trafficked by a man more than twice her age and had forgotten all the dreams she once had of owning her own business.

“I know people have this stigma that human-trafficking victims come from a bad background, but I came from a pretty good background,” Williams said. She never imagined she would be sold for sex or that human trafficking was even something that existed in the United States.

“I knew nothing about it until it was too late,” she said.

Human trafficking has been a problem for decades in the United States, with California leading the nation in reported incidents. But only recently has the issue come to the forefront.

“I think it is like any of the crimes against people, like domestic and child abuse, it takes a little bit of time for people to recognize it,” said Carol Shipley, executive director of the Stanislaus Family Justice Center.

Experts say changes in state and federal law and people like Williams coming forward to tell their stories have spotlighted the issue, resulting in more government funding and the creation of nonprofit organizations to combat the problem.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 was the first comprehensive federal law to address the trafficking of people, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. It was five more years before California enacted its first human-trafficking law, which since has been expanded and beefed up with tougher penalties under voter-approved Proposition 35.

In 2011, Debbie Johnson, who founded the anti-trafficking nonprofit group Without Permission, held the first training in Stanislaus County on identifying the victims and the perpetrators of human trafficking. It was attended by more than 50 officials from local and federal law enforcement agencies.

“Thirty days from that training, we opened the first human-trafficking case in Stanislaus County,” Johnson said.

She said the issue gained momentum from there as she continued to train law enforcement in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. She said law enforcement would identify or rescue a human-trafficking victim within a week of the trainings during the first four years they were held.

To read the full story by Erin Tracey on the Modesto Bee: Click Here

Australian Archbishop Speaks About Helping Human Trafficking Victim

Australian archbishop speaks about helping human trafficking victim
In this file photo, Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney delivers a homily in St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney. (Credit: Giovanni Portelli/CNS, The Catholic Weekly.)

The Australian state of New South Wales is investigating the extent of human trafficking within their borders. On Tuesday, the Archbishop of Sydney told the story of the time a person trapped in slavery approached him for help in the suburbs of Sydney.

ROME – The Archbishop of Sydney has personal experience of what the modern slave trade can look like in an affluent western country like Australia.

When he was a parish priest ten years ago in the Sydney suburb of Watson Bay, now-Archbishop Anthony Fisher was approached by a South American nanny who had found herself trapped: Her passport had been taken away, she hadn’t been paid, nor was she even allowed to leave the home in which she worked without permission.

Fisher told the story of this encounter on Tuesday to a parliamentary inquiry into human trafficking in the Australian state of New South Wales.

The inquiry was set up in November by the state parliament to investigate how law enforcement agencies respond to human trafficking, including slavery and slavery-like practices such as forced labour.

Fisher told the committee how he helped the woman escape after contacting police and the church’s welfare agency.

Although most people assume modern slavery is something that only exists in developing countries, thousands of people in the developed world live in slave-like conditions.

The most visible are those trafficked into the sex industry; but many are also working in construction, agriculture, food processing, and as domestic help.

The New South Wales inquiry has heard from several Catholic organizations which advocate against slavery.

One of these, the Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH), told the inquiry most of the people affected are immigrants, who have been lied to by traffickers, and are unable to go to the authorities because they fear being sent to a detention center for illegal immigrants.

“They are deceived about the working conditions in Australia, especially with regard to the rate of pay and hours of work and are often forced to work beyond their visa conditions,” the ACRATH submission reads. “In removing the workers to immigration detention it is the people who have had a crime committed against them that are being penalized.”

ACRATH noted that in Australia, there are no national licensing requirements for labor hire businesses, making it easy for a person to set up such a business to traffic people into Australia for the purposes of exploitation and then shut up the company and disappear if law enforcement starts to investigate.

To read the full story on Crux: Click Here