RACINE COUNTY — Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a series of bills in support of efforts to combat human trafficking.
But anti-trafficking efforts have been active for years in Racine County, and much of its history starts with Racine’s very own Dominican sisters.
“The Racine Dominicans were instrumental in shining a spotlight on human trafficking early on in Racine when many of us, including myself, were not even aware of the issue,” said Karri Hemmig, founder and executive director of Fight to End Exploitation.
Sixteen years in the making
In 2001, 1 million Catholic sisters from around the world gathered in Rome and vowed to address “insistently, and at every level, the abuse and sexual exploitation of women and children, with particular attention to human trafficking.”
The Dominicans took the declaration to heart, helping to spur human trafficking efforts in Racine County.
“This (human trafficking) kept coming up like a bad penny,” said Sister Ruth Schaaf, who was working as a parish nurse and had an office at St. Luke’s Hospital at the time. She also chaired the Racine Dominicans’ society focus group.
“Somebody said, ‘How do we know we haven’t seen a victim?’” Schaaf said. “That was an eye opener because we began to say, ‘Yeah, what would be some red flags?’”
The sisters read a “Look Beneath the Surface” pamphlet issued by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Rescue & Restore Victims of Human Trafficking campaign, which informed them of the red flags to look for in potential trafficking victims.
To read the full story by Alyssa Mauk on The Journal Times: Click Here
At age 19, Indira Karimova became a victim of human trafficking after she was married off to her second cousin and brought to the United States.
After their arranged marriage in Kyrgyzstan, Karimova and her husband moved to America before settling in Tyler, Texas, where she alleges she was subjected to years of abuse.
Living in America and unable to speak English, Karimova said she was in hell with no lifeline to escape.
“It was a horrible experience. I was thinking it’s like a dream,” Karimova said in a phone interview. “I’m going to wake up one day, and I’ll be out of this.”
NBC News does not typically identify victims of sexual abuse, but Karimova agreed to share her story in the hopes it will help other victims come forward.
The United Nations recognizes 21 million people across the globe, like Karimova, are victims of trafficking as it raises awareness on Sunday for World Day against Trafficking in Persons.
Smith County arrest records show Karimova’s now ex-husband was taken into custody three times — once in 2013 and twice in 2014 — for assaulting a family member. Karimova’s ex-husband was never convicted of assaulting her. The assault charges were dropped after he pleaded guilty to violating the protective order in 2015, court records show.
To read the full story and watch the videos by Kalhan Rosenblatt on NBC: Click Here
SAN FRANCISCO, July 26, 2017 /3BL Media/ – Major global companies have renewed their commitment to the Global Business Coalition Against Human Trafficking (gBCAT) through an expanded membership and scope of work. Formed in 2010, gBCAT has provided a unique forum for business to understand how all forms of modern slavery affect their operations and supply chains, and to design effective and pragmatic solutions to combat traffickers. BSR—a global nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainable business—has been appointed secretariat of the initiative.
Under its new scope of work, gBCAT will capitalize on the major organizational strengths, resources, and reach of global businesses to accelerate progress on human trafficking. Through three work streams, members will share learnings through webinars and in-person meetings; develop a Research Lab to incubate ideas, publish reports, and identify areas for action; and publicize findings through an enhanced Public Platform. Issues to be addressed include employee or sub-contractor training programs, company policies, and best practices in reporting around the U.K. Modern Slavery Act.
The members of gBCAT are determined to take a proactive approach to end human trafficking, which remains widespread and difficult to uncover. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that around 21 million people globally are victims of human trafficking for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor. Others including the Global Slavery Index estimate the number of victims to be at nearly 46 million people. Modern slavery is estimated to be the third-largest international crime industry, ranking only behind illegal drugs and arms, and earning roughly US$150 billion a year for traffickers globally.
To read the full press release on 3BLMedia: Click Here
BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson is tackling a disturbing problem that’s not always visible.
Jackson and his wife, Michelle, have launched a foundation to support organizations that combat human trafficking and aid its victims, women who are exploited, abused and scarred for life.
“We’re all in,” Jackson said during a kickoff event at the team’s headquarters. “We want to make a difference in this area.”
On Thursday, The Hue Jackson Foundation announced a partnership with the Salvation Army of Greater Cleveland to provide secure housing for women who have been victimized by human trafficking — modern-day slavery that involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.
Jackson’s affiliation will raise awareness to an issue that often goes unreported and undetected.
“I’m not afraid of a challenge,” said Jackson, who went just 1-15 during his first season with the Browns. “We’ve seen the impact of what this creature does to people.”
To read the full story by Tom Withers on APNews: Click Here
The arrests of two people on sex trafficking charges in Brooklyn could be the tip of the iceberg, according to police sources who said the operation may be linked to a gang that has been forcing young girls into prostitution.
A 21-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman were arrested after a 16-year-old girl escaped their Crown Heights lair and told police that she and another teen were being held as sex slaves in an apartment where younger children also live.
“This is absolutely a case of human trafficking where these young girls were taken for profit and being forced to have sex for money,” a source said.
Cops said there are still a lot of unknowns, including the connection between the four younger children in the apartment and the people who were arrested.
To read the full story by Rocco Parascandola and Molly Crane Newman on New York Daily News: Click Here
HSBC is educating its employees about the role that banks can play in preventing human trafficking.
It has produced a new staff training video to explain the scale of the challenge. In it, Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol, the European law enforcement agency, says: “[Human trafficking] is one of the biggest and fastest-growing criminal problems. Worldwide, we have 21 million estimated victims… these people are being subjected to the worst forms of abuse, all in the name of making a quick buck.”
Victims of human trafficking pay criminals to smuggle them across international borders in the hope of starting a new life. In reality, however, they are forced to work in unsafe or inhumane conditions. They are rarely paid and may be assaulted, imprisoned and, in effect, enslaved.
The video includes an interview with a former victim of human trafficking. Adam was brought into the UK, beaten and forced to work. A criminal gang opened a bank account in his name and used it to make a fraudulent loan application, as well as to steal Adam’s wages.
When opening bank accounts for Adam and other victims, the criminal kept tight hold of their identity cards and passports. “The trafficker interpreted for us,” says Adam, “but he was really there to control what we did.”
To read the full story and watch the video on HSBC: Click Here
The streets of Pattaya, Thailand, one of the centers of sex tourism (GSR photo / Gail DeGeorge)
Public debate on prostitution can be tough, passionate, even angry.
Advocates for differing views cannot even agree on shared language: Those who defend their way of making a living as sex workers embrace their identity, while those, like Catholic sisters, who decry the term “sex work” as demeaning, argue that there can be no dignity in a relationship where sex is exchanged for money.
“I think all prostitution represents violence against women,” said Sr. Winifred Doherty, who represents the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd at the United Nations.
The passion Doherty and others bring to the topic has been on display during the last year at the U.N., where space for debate about social topics is frequently honored. The topic of prostitution was addressed at several U.N. forums during the March meetings of the Commission on the Status of Women.
And inevitably, the U.N.’s upcoming World Day against Trafficking in Persons on July 30 may prompt debate. The commemoration was designated by U.N. member states beginning in 2013 as necessary to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”
To read the full story by Chris on Global Sisters Report: Click Here
(Vatican Radio) Pope Franciscalled for increased efforts to end human trafficking on Sunday. The Holy Father’s appeal came in remarks following the Angelus prayer with pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square, on the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time and the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, sponsored by the United Nations.
“Each year,” said Pope Francis, “thousands of men, women and children are innocent victims of sexual and organ trafficking, and it seems that we are so accustomed to seeing it as a normal thing.”
To read the full story and listen to the report from Vatican Radio: Click Here
U.S. House Democrats are looking for answers after Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents showed up at a Queens courthouse to arrest a woman believed to be a victim of human trafficking last month.The ICE agents made three arrests outside the Queens Criminal Courthouse and had also planned to cuff a woman from China who was being tried for sex work in a human trafficking court. At the time, she was protected by lawyers from Legal Aid who asked the judge hold her on bail to allow her to leave the courthouse.
ICE’s appearance at the courthouse drew immediate criticism from Democrats and immigration activists. But ICE’s actual policy for seeking out and arresting victims of human trafficking remains unclear. There is also no public information about the number of people served by ICE’s Victims Assistance Program, which is meant to support victims of human trafficking.
In a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and ICE’s acting director Thomas Homan, New York City’s 12 Democratic U.S. representatives demanded clarification on ICE’s policies for stalking human trafficking courts and asked for VAP data.
To read the full story by Aaron Holmes of New York Daily News:Click Here
Legislation Would Enhance Sentences for Certain Trafficking Offenses, Establish Trafficking Coordinators in each U.S. Attorney’s Office, Increase Restitution Options for Victims, and Strengthen Victim Protections, Services, and Training
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) today announced that a bipartisan, comprehensive bill she helped introduce to strengthen tools to combat human trafficking, protect victims of these crimes, and help them rebuild their lives unanimously passed in the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary – the final step before reaching the floor of the U.S. Senate.
Building on her work to activate a community-wide response to eradicate human trafficking, Heitkamp’s Abolishing Human Trafficking Act, which she introduced with a strong bipartisan group of 12 other Republican and Democratic senators, would provide stronger assistance to victims of human trafficking, increase resources to law enforcement and victims services organizations, and implement stricter punishments for perpetrators of these crimes. The bill seeks to enhance and expand on the successes of 2015’s landmark Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking Act. Heitkamp helped pave the bipartisan, compromise path forward that led to the successful passage of the legislation which is now law.
“Eradicating human trafficking from towns across North Dakota and the country requires an enhanced, comprehensive approach that cracks down on traffickers and child sexual exploitation,” said Heitkamp. “Too often, victims of insidious crimes like human trafficking cannot fight back themselves, and their plight is not recognized as the modern-day slavery that it is. We took great strides in working to change that in 2015 when we passed bipartisan, landmark anti-trafficking legislation to bring all hands on deck. Today, our bipartisan bill that builds on its momentum took an important step forward. It is now imperative for the Senate to pass this bill to strengthen law enforcement with expanded tools to bring criminals to justice, help victims get the protection and recovery resources to regain their lives, and to activate the community-wide response we need to abolish human trafficking.”
Just last week, Heitkamp’s bipartisan Stop, Observe, Ask and Respond (SOAR) to Health and Wellness Act to provide health care workers across the country needed training on how to recognize, report, and potentially intervene when they see patients who are possible human trafficking victims was unanimously passed in a subcommittee within the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. According to a 2014 study surveying victims of human trafficking, 88 percent of respondents reported having had contact with a healthcare provider while being trafficked. Heitkamp’s SOAR Act would expand on an U.S. Department of Health and Human Services pilot program in New Town and Williston that helped train 57 health care workers to recognize victims of human trafficking and help them get the resources they need.
For the full press release on Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s website: Click Here