Franciscans Sisters of Perpetual Adoration Co-Sponsor Video Series On Human Trafficking

The La Crosse Task Force to End Modern Slavery, founded by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, is co-sponsoring an online video series titled “The Faces of Human Trafficking.”

The FSPAs partnered with Minnesota’s Breaking Free, one of the nation’s leading organizations for working with victims and survivors of sex trafficking to create the series, which is being launched this month in connection with Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

“Our goal was to create an online resource to educate human trafficking support workers and the general public and give voice to the survivors,” said FSPA Sister Corrina Thomas, who serves in the human trafficking field.

The series features stories of survivors, pimps and johns, she said.

For example, Jenny, a survivor who was featured in the series debut Friday, said in her video, “It’s a brainwashing that happens. There’s a reason traffickers go after children.

“I want people to know that women don’t choose this. This is something that happens to them — they’re victims,” said Jenny, who, like other survivors in the series, talk about their childhoods, their time in “the life,” how they survived and what they would like everyone to know about the billion-dollar industry.

Introducing each video is FSPA Sister Marlene Weisenbeck, who founded the task force.

The FSPAs will release the videos at noon on the following dates, with specified ones followed by Twitter Chat via @fspatweets using the hashtag #HumanTraffickingFaces:

  • Jan. 10 — “Meet Laurie”
  • Jan. 12 — “Meet Anne,” followed by Twitter Chat
  • Jan. 17 — “Meet Jessica”
  • Jan. 19 — “Meet Maya,” followed by Twitter Chat
  • Jan. 24 — “Meet Ms. R”

All videos and additional resources will be available at the FSPA web site.

Also this month and into early February, near the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, patron saint of human trafficking, the series also will feature “Flora,” “Mr. J” and “Mr. P.”

Bakhita, who was born in the Darfur region of southern Sudan in the 19th century, was kidnapped at the age of 7, sold into slavery and given the name Bakhita, which means “fortunate.” She was resold five times, and her owners brutalized her, including branding, beating and cutting her. In one incident, one of her owners rubbed salt into the 114 cuts he had made on her body.

Freed through a series of unusual circumstances, she became attracted to the Catholic faith and became a Canossian nun, assisting her religious community through cooking, sewing, embroidery and welcoming visitors. Her canonization as a saint in 2000 resulted in part from the affection of children attending the sisters’ school and local citizens.

The FSPAs also will host a public human trafficking awareness prayer service on at 4 p.m. Feb. 6 in Mary of the Angels Chapel at 901 Franciscan Way in La Crosse.

To view the story by Mike Tighe as it originally appears on The La Crosse Tribune: Click Here

Illinois To Include Human Trafficking Materials In CDL Curriculum

QUAD CITIES (KWQC) – A new year brings new laws. In Illinois, one of those laws is aimed at cracking down on human trafficking.

The secretary of state will now be required to include information on human trafficking in its commercial driver’s license curriculum and study guide information.

According to the organization Truckers Against Trafficking, seven million truck drivers are on U.S. highways. They say the more people who are trained at recognizing signs of human trafficking, the better.

“There’s 40 million people enslaved in the world today,” said Kaylla Lanier, deputy director of Truckers Against Trafficking.

Lanier two others decided they wanted to do something about human trafficking in the United States.

“And we thought what group of people could make a difference what is a key strategic group and we thought truck drivers, right,” Lanier.

The deputy director says there are seven million people in the trucking industry, and these people are the eyes and ears of our nation’s highways.

To read the full article by Shelby Shepherd on KWQC: 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

Hotline Focuses Awareness Of Human Trafficking In Latino Communities

The National Human Trafficking Hotline has reportedly received 2,200 calls concerning sex trafficking with connections to Mexico or Latin America since it was set up in  2007. 

Polaris, the organization that operates the hotline, plans to target these demographics, with emphasis on the Houston area, in its latest anti-trafficking campaign, according to a news release from the group.

In partnership with Hispanic Communications Network, a social media marketing company serving U.S. Hispanic communities, Polaris will be releasing all-Spanish public service announcements, social media strategies, celebrity endorsements and survivor testimonies throughout the next few months, geared toward raising awareness in the Hispanic community nationwide, according to the Polaris news release.

“When communities are equipped to recognize the signs of sex trafficking and know there’s a trusted resource available to them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, they can play a critical role in the fight against this crime,” said My Lo Cook, Polaris’ strategic initiatives director for Mexico, in the release.

To read the full story by Jasmine Davis on Chron: Click Here

Four Dangerous Assumptions About Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is subject to complicated legal definitions, but the essence of this crime is straightforward: a person who is trapped in a situation of economic exploitation from which they cannot escape is very likely a victim of trafficking. Someone involved in moving that person into exploitation, or keeping them there against their will, is very likely a trafficker.

The forms it takes are as varied as the potential for profit. Women, men and children are trapped on farms, fishing boats and construction sites; in factories, mines, restaurant kitchens and private households. They are coerced into fighting wars, giving up their organs, marrying into servitude, or acting as commercial surrogates.

Long banished to the outer edges of the human rights agenda, trafficking (or “modern slavery” as advocates prefer) has emerged as a major issue of concern. Each of the past four US presidents, right up to the incumbent, has loudly proclaimed his personal commitment to ending this scourge – as have religious leaderscelebrities and some of the world’s wealthiest individuals. In a radical shift of the legal landscape, the overwhelming majority of countries have, over the past decade, criminalised trafficking. Funding for programmes aimed at fighting trafficking has never been more abundant. At the international level, the issue has been taken up by the UN General Assembly and Security Council. The Sustainable Development Goals commit states to “take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking”.

But progress against human exploitation has been painfully slow, despite the vast investment of political capital, resources and expertise. In trying to work out what has gone wrong – and what we could be doing differently – it is useful to critically examine some of the basic assumptions on which the anti-trafficking movement is built.

Assumption 1: We’ve got the numbers

Wrong

The hunger for hard data – especially around the number of victims and the profits being generated – is intense and increasing. That is understandable. In our metrics-obsessed world, Bill Gates’ assertion, ”If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist”, rings unsettlingly true. Without being able to paint a clear picture of the size of the trafficking problem, it is difficult to attract attention, to solicit money, to show how well we are doing. Few public figures speaking on this issue have resisted the temptation to cite trafficking statistics that are at best unverifiable and at worst demonstrably false. The anti-trafficking community as a whole has been unconscionably silent about the shoddy research methodologies that regularly produce the wildly varying numbers on which it so heavily relies.

To read the full story by Anne Gallagher on World Economic Forum: Click Here

Follow The Bitcoin To Find Victims Of Human Trafficking

 

bitcoin
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A team of university researchers has devised the first automated techniques to identify ads potentially tied to human trafficking rings and link them to public information from Bitcoin – the primary payment method for online sex ads.

This is the first step toward developing a suite of freely available tools to help police and nonprofit institutions identify victims of sexual exploitation, explained the computer scientists from the New York University Tandon School of Engineering; University of California, Berkeley; and University of California, San Diego.

Human trafficking is a widespread social problem, with an estimated 4.5 million people forced into sexual exploitation, according to the International Labor Organization. In 2016, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimated that 1 in 6 endangered runaways reported to the group were probably sex-trafficking victims.

The Internet has enabled and emboldened human traffickers to advertise sexual services. Law enforcement efforts to trace and disband human trafficking rings are often confounded by the pseudonymous nature of adult ads and the tendency of ring leaders to employ multiple phone numbers and email addresses to avoid detection. Adding to the difficulty: Determining which online ads reflect willing participants in the sex trade and which reflect victims forced into prostitution.

To read the full story on Tech Xplore: Click Here

Is Your Teen At Risk For Human Trafficking?

Watch out and slow down isn’t the only warning from law enforcement as kids return to classes for the start of the school year.

The Modesto Police Department also advises families to be alert to a different kind of “traffic” risk: human trafficking.

The department joined with the Modesto-based nonprofit organization Without Permission to produce a video that notes a rise in high school-age victims and provides parents with “tools and advice” to protect their children.

The video, posted on MPD’s Facebook page, comes on the heels of a presentation to Modesto City Schools junior high and high school teachers by Detective Steve Anderson of the department’s Special Victims Unit and Debbie Johnson, founder of Without Permission.

To read the full article by Deke Farrow on The Modesto Bee: Click 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)

ASU Class Empowers Health-Care Professionals To End Human Trafficking

A patient enters an examination room. She is young —14, maybe 15. She is walking gingerly; wearing sneakers, baggy jeans and a sweatshirt — in 104-degree weather. A few steps behind her is another young woman, a little older, early to mid-20s maybe. She hands over a clipboard with the patient’s medical information and introduces herself to the attending nurse practitioner as the patient’s aunt.

A quick scan shows the document is missing an address and contact information. The aunt quickly explains that they are both staying with some friends in the area until they find a new apartment. The patient remains silent; eyes cast downward; she looks nervous. She speaks softly, offering just a few words about a sore throat and discomfort in her lower back when the nurse practitioner asks what brings her in today.

Standing in a corner of the room just a few feet away, the aunt’s anxious glances alternate between the back of the patient’s head and the examiner’s questioning lips. Bruises dot the patient’s arm when she rolls up her sleeve to allow a blood pressure cuff to be wrapped around her upper arm. The nurse practitioner casually asks how she got the bruises on her arm. A tense silence fills the room. The aunt shifts her weight before reminding the patient of her recent mishap with the boxes they were moving.

The patient’s eyes meets the nurse practitioner’s eyes.

What the nurse practitioner decides to do next could be life-altering for all of the actors in this scenario. And that is just what Samantha Calvin hopes will happen after students take her new class through Arizona State University’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation this fall.

To read the full story by Suzanne Wilson on the Arizona State University site:Click Here

Immigrants Are Among Most Vulnerable To Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a nearly $32 billion industry and more than 27 million people are victims of the illicit business on an international scale, according to the Polaris Project, which is tasked with fighting human trafficking in its various forms.

The Administration for Children and Families, which works with the Department of Health and Human Services, estimates that human trafficking is the second fastest growing black market activity.

In 2013, the state’s Human Trafficking Policy Task Force found that immigration plays a unique role in the underground world.

“Undocumented workers are often particularly vulnerable to abuse due to their lack of immigration status and fear of deportation,” a report by the task force stated.

Additionally, many who are the victims of trafficking for forced labor or sex slavery have trouble getting the services they need.

“Other realities inherent to victims of human trafficking, such as a survivor’s criminal history, lack of housing history, and/or immigration status, may make it difficult or impossible for survivors to qualify for government services,” the agency’s report said.

New tactics are recommended to law enforcement by the agency, which encourages authorities to explain to potential victims that questions about trafficking are not intended to determine somebody’s immigration status.

New legislation filed by Gov. Charlie Baker at the beginning of August is aiming to allow police in Massachusetts to hand over illegal immigrants suspected of crimes, including human trafficking, to federal authorities.

To read the full story by Bradford Randall: Click Here