Bishop Cantú Addresses Human Trafficking and Gender-Based Violence

To fully address the “evil of horrifying magnitude” caused by human trafficking and gender-based violence, Most Rev. Oscar Cantú, bishop of the Diocese of Las Cruces, N.M., said development and community workers need to address the root causes of vulnerabilities in their communities.

“For development to be successful, it’s crucial to address the totality of issues facing the region — including corruption, impunity, violence, and poverty — with a comprehensive response,” he said. “In the long term the only way to address the crisis at hand and to protect human dignity is to provide opportunities and human security for young people and families by investing in their communities.”

Bishop Cantu was one of the key speakers during a recent workshop on gender-based violence and human trafficking held Nov. 16 and 17 at The Catholic University of America.

The workshop, which was co-hosted by the University’s Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies (IPR) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) was intended to train faith-based and community workers from Central America on the the need to get and keep faith-based organizations actively involved in the fight against human trafficking and sex-based violence in Central America’s Northern Triangle region — El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.

To read the full story on The Catholic University of America: Click Here

Religious Anti-Human Trafficking Group ‘Gaining Muscle’

Sr. Mary Adel Abamo, Talitha Kum Philippine coordinator, at their office in Quezon City

MANILA – A group comprising different congregations has grown more muscles in the past 8 years while combating human trafficking in the country as well as in its Asian neighbors.
“The more anti-human trafficking advocates, the better,” said Sr. Mary Adel Abamo, the group’s Philippine coordinator. “More can blow the whistle to crackdown this crime.”

Established in 2009, the Talitha Kum has grown from 10 partner congregation to 40 as of November 2017,

Prevention better than cure

“About 90 percent of the group’s religious advocates are sisters from different congregations, and only 10 percent priests. Lay people are also on board,” she noted.

The group seeks to stop human trafficking through preventive programs like awareness drives since they believe prevention is better than cure.

They plan to identify and form more advocates in schools, dormitories, and communities to broaden the campaign of educating people on the whys and hows of human trafficking.

According to Abamo, the number of documented trafficked children in the Philippines a year or two ago has reached 60,000 to 100,000, while the number of men and women 300,000 to 400,000.

The nun also expressed alarm over the rising figure of Filipino children forced by their own parents to pose naked online, which she explained, is also considered human trafficking.

To read the full story by Oliver Samson on CBCP News: Click Here

How Traffickers Exploit Children In Haiti’s Orphanages

A room at Four Winds Spirit Orphanage, Haiti. It was shut down after being cited as one of the worst orphanages in the country. Photo Courtesy Lumos.
A room at Four Winds Spirit Orphanage, Haiti. It was shut down after being cited as one of the worst orphanages in the country. Photo Courtesy Lumos.

Haiti (CNN)

There are at least 30,000 children living in orphanages in Haiti. It is a staggering number for a country of 10 million people, but perhaps even more shocking, most of them are not orphans.

The government estimates 80 percent of the children living in orphanages have at least one living parent.

In many cases, parents themselves are placing their children in institutions because they cannot afford to care for them. It is a practice that has long been common in Haiti, exacerbated by the 2010 earthquake that left tens of thousands of people homeless. Parents believe their children will be better off in an orphanage where they will be fed, cared for, and sent to school.

Unfortunately, that is not often the case.

The government’s top anti-trafficking official says many orphanages are profiting off the backs of children.
“They are forced into labor,” says Fils-Lien Ely Thelot, president of the National Committee Against Human Trafficking. “And they’re allowed to live in squalor so that foreigners will give money out of pity.”

To read the full story by Lisa Cohen on CNN: Click Here

Judges And Prosecutors Share Best Practices At Global Vatican Trafficking Summit

For two days, judges and prosecutors from all around the world have met in the Vatican to discuss the dangers of organized crime and combat the modern slavery of the 21st century, human trafficking.

It was organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and shows participants that they are not alone when fighting this issue.

JOAN CHARLES

Judge in Trinidad and Tobago
“Just having the platform to really articulate the issues and to hear what other countries have been doing who have been addressing this problem seriously for a very long time is helpful, so I will be able to take it back. We are doing right now continued training and sensitization of the public and of the important state holders how to recognize victims of human trafficking.”

Statistics show that around 24.9 million victims are trapped in this form of slavery. Of these, 81 percent are exploited for labor and 19 percent are sexually exploited. One out of every four victims is a minor, with 71 percent being women and 29 percent male.

To read the full story on Rome Reports: Click Here

In Uganda, Missionary Nun Determined To Tackle Child Begging

Children begging on the streets of Kampala, the capital of Uganda. (Credit: Stock image.)

A Comboni missionary nun in Uganda who’d been out of the country for ten years recently returned to discover a widespread social problem she hadn’t seen before: children begging on the streets, often as part of a human trafficking ring. Working with the Ugandan government, Sister Fernanda Cristinelli is determined to do something about it.

Sister Fernanda Cristinelli, a Comboni missionary, has returned to Uganda where she had served for ten years, to witness a disturbing new phenomenon: widespread begging. According to Fides News Agency, children sit by roadsides all night, “begging for a few pennies.

“They cannot have a hot meal, go to school, play, wash, feel safe and secure. They are children from the Karamoja area, one of the poorest in the northeast of Uganda, who are forced by adults to beg in the capital Kampala,” Cristinelli told Crux.

Cristinelli says her return to Uganda has put her “in front of a phenomenon that I had never seen in Kampala years ago.

“Children aged 3 to 10, and girls from 12 to 14, are begging on the streets, the busiest of the capital, and adult women control them. The little ones jump towards cars in the unpredictable traffic of the streets of Kampala to beg, and the girls, with babies on their shoulders, do the same.

“In addition, these children live in decrepit tents at the edge of the city, in the mud when it rains,” Cristinelli said.

The Daily Mail quotes 32-year old Betty, a mother of five, whose survival and that of her family depends on the capacity of her two -year old daughter, Namuli, to make money begging.

“Like any mother, I feel bad about doing this. But without the money Namuli gets from begging we will die of starvation and have no money to put clothes on our backs. This is the only way we can stay alive,” she said.

To read the full story by Ngala Killian Chitom on Crux: Click Here

Asia’s Biggest Budget Airline Trains Crew To Spot Human Traffickers

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – AirAsia, the biggest budget carrier in Asia, is training thousands of its staff to fight human trafficking, becoming one of the first airlines in the continent to crack down on the global crime.

Companies have come under increased pressure to tackle human trafficking, with an estimated 46 million people living in slavery and profits thought to be about $150 billion.

Planes are a key part of the illegal business, as criminal gangs transport thousands of children and vulnerable people by air each year for redeployment as sex workers, domestic helpers or in forced labour.

The United Nations has urged airlines to step in and look out for the tell-tale signs of trafficking.

Kuala Lumpur-based AirAsia, which flies millions of passengers annually to more than 110 destinations, said it was planning to train between 5,000 and 10,000 frontline staff, including cabin crew. “We like to be able to have our staff know what to do if somebody comes up to them and says ‘I need help’,” said Yap Mun Ching, the executive director of AirAsia Foundation, the airline’s philanthropic arm, which is driving the initiative.

To read the full story by Beh Lih Yi  on Daily MailClick Here

Environmental Refugees and Human Trafficking

September 2017

By Jeanne Christensen, RSM

Board Member, U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking

U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking is a collaborative, faith-based network that offers educational programs and materials, supports access to survivor services, and engages in legislative advocacy to eradicate modern-day slavery. 

Following recent climate disasters, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the earthquake in Mexico, members of the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking believed it would be helpful to share a module entitled “Human Trafficking and Environmental Refugees” for reflection and discussion.  The module can be found here. 

A brief excerpt from the module states: “In June 2014, the number of refugees worldwide exceeded 50 million children, women and men.  Half of these refugees are children, many travelling alone or in groups.  Millions of these refugees are people displaced because of environmental disasters.   Moreover, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes that in the coming years millions of people will be forced to relocate due to effects of climate change, including shoreline erosion, coastal flooding or disruption of normal farming practices. Today analysts predict that this crisis in the making will affect 150-200 million men, women and children by 2050, or roughly one in every 45 persons on earth…

Women and children are especially vulnerable during any forced displacement, and they are at risk for gender-based violence and human trafficking.  Many children are separated from their families during an environmental disaster. According to the UNHCR, children alone represent more than half of the people of concern. These children, unaccompanied by any adult or caregiver, are targets for traffickers. Two months after Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, aid agencies warned that up to two million children were at risk of abuse or trafficking.

After Superstorm Sandy, the state of New Jersey allotted more than $1.5 million to bolster human trafficking prevention and treatment services for homeless youth.  Unfortunately, the areas of the world that are most affected by disasters related to climate change are the least likely to have the resources to protect their citizens.”

Sources for the module’s content are:

A second resource was provided in early September by Polaris Project.  The article follows.

Natural Disasters and the Increased Risk for Human Trafficking

September 1, 2017

Brandon Bouchard, Director of Media Relations – Polaris Project

While every human trafficking victim is different, a common thread they share is the presence of a vulnerability that traffickers exploit. Those types of vulnerabilities are rampant in the aftermath of natural disasters. Homelessness is one of the top risk factors reported by survivors to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, and we often learn that survivors were recruited by traffickers near shelters or centers helping people in need.

In fact, one of the largest labor trafficking cases in United States history resulted from human trafficking that occurred in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. You can read more about that case from the Southern Poverty Law Center here.

As people throughout the United States continue to deal with the horrific hardships stemming from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, it is critical that a response to potential human trafficking is part of long-term recovery efforts. Local service providers and the organizations in the fight against human trafficking throughout Texas, Louisiana, and Florida need help more than ever as they provide aid to people affected by these natural disasters.

Below are a few organizations partnered with the National Human Trafficking Hotline that we encourage you to donate to, and you can search for more in the Human Trafficking Referral Directory.

  • YMCA of Greater Houston
  • Houston Area Women’s Center
  • United Against Human Trafficking
  • Freedom Place
  • Kristi House
  • International Rescue Committee (IRC) – Miami
  • Catholic Charities – Diocese of Palm Beach
  • More Too Life
  • Selah Freedom

To learn more about the impact climate change is having on human trafficking throughout the world, read this important report from our friends at the International Organization for Migration: The Climate Change-Human Trafficking Nexus”: here

Excerpts from this document note: “Climate change increases the risk of natural disasters and places a strain on livelihoods; it exacerbates poverty and can potentially cause situations of conflict and instability. These conditions, when combined with a mismatch between demand for labour and supply and the proliferation of unscrupulous recruitment agencies, increase high-risk behaviours and other negative coping strategies among affected populations. This may include resorting to migrant smugglers, which in turn makes them vulnerable to trafficking in persons (TiP) and associated forms of exploitation and abuse. The impact of climate change, however, is rarely considered as a potential contributor to human trafficking in global discussions or national level policy frameworks,1 and the nexus remains relatively underexplored.”  (p. 3)

“These incidents of human trafficking in the wake of sudden- and slow-onset disasters demonstrate the necessity of a planned response to address this cross-cutting issue. In general, there needs to be an acknowledgement that human trafficking can be an unintended but direct consequence when migration occurs in the absence of government support and management, after disasters or in the face of slow-onset events.” (p. 9)

What Happens to Foreign Human Trafficking Victims in the United States?

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

Challenging The Human Traffickers

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 Worldwide Debate About Sex Work: Morality Meets Reality

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