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

Conference Connects Human Trafficking To Opioid Epidemic

2017 SART human trafficking conference
Marlene Carson, founder of The Switch national anti-trafficking network, speaks on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017, during the Modern Day Slavery: Human Trafficking in Our Neighborhoods conference held at St. Francis University in Loretto.

LORETTO – A vulnerable drug-addicted teenage girl is kept for hours in a dingy hotel room being forced to have sex with a series of strangers who learned about her services by searching on the internet.

Her compensation at the end of the ordeal might be some heroin and a little bit of money.

It is a scene many local residents would associate with far-off foreign countries where corrupt law enforcement systems turn a blind eye toward women being kidnapped, smuggled across borders, and held hostage. But that type of exploitation is actually taking place in communities all throughout Pennsylvania, including the Johnstown region.

In an attempt to draw attention to the issue, the Cambria County Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) held the Modern Day Slavery: Human Trafficking in Our Neighborhoods conference for social workers, law enforcement officers and others on Monday at Saint Francis University.

To read the full article by Dave Sutor on The Tribune Democrat: Click Here

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

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

Pope Francis Appeals For End To Human Trafficking

2017-07-30 Vatican Radio

(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

Skies Are The Frontline In Fight Against Human Trafficking

LONDON — Flight attendant Donna Hubbard was deeply concerned when a couple carried a boy who was sweating, lethargic and appeared to be in pain onto her flight from Honduras to Miami in October last year.

After take-off, Hubbard and her crew spoke to the man and woman separately, who gave different names and ages for the boy. Hubbard told the Thomson Reuters Foundation she was suspicious that he was being trafficked, kidnapped or even being used as a drug mule.

The pilot alerted authorities in Miami who met the boy and his companions on arrival. While unable to reveal details, a customs official later told Hubbard that she had made the “right call” and the boy had been safely intercepted by officials.

Hubbard’s actions are the kind of intervention the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) recommended last week when it urged airline bosses at an international airline summit to train flight crews to help prevent human trafficking.

Jean-Luc Lemahieu, UNODC policy director, told the International Air Transport Association (IATA) meeting: “It is not rocket science but most flight attendants spend one hour to eight hours with passengers.

“They can see the signs. It’s an invisible crime but in plain sight, you can you see it if you know what to look at.”

The skies have long been on the frontlines of the fight against human trafficking as criminal gangs transport thousands of children and vulnerable people by air each year.

To read the full story by Ed Upright  on GMA NEWS ONLINE: Click Here

Sisters’ Collaborative Rack Card Effort Raises Awareness at Tourist Destinations in Wisconsin

by Emily Anderson

 

Five congregations of women religious collaborated to develop a rack card to spread awareness about human trafficking in Wisconsin. 10,000 rack cards were printed and are being distributed to 825+ rack locations at travel stops such as convenience stores, truck plazas, and other tourism destinations across Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

The rack card, which measures 4” x 9” and is printed in color front and back, shares the fact that human trafficking happens everywhere, and asks tourists to help end this crime in Wisconsin by becoming aware, learning more, and reporting suspicious activity as they travel, through two smartphone apps, Redlight Traffic and TraffickCam. It also shares the “red flag” signs of human trafficking in potential victims and shares significant statistics about human trafficking.

The Congregations of women religious who participated include the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother (Oshkosh, Wis.), the Holy Cross Sisters (Merrill, Wis.), the Servants of Mary (Ladysmith, Wis.), the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis (Stevens Point, Wis.) and the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross (Green Bay, Wis.). With 5 Congregations participating, the cost to each was approximately $300 for this initiative.

The rack locations are serviced every other week, and the cards will be replenished by drivers for one year, beginning in June, 2017. If all 10,000 cards are distributed prior to the year-end date, the Congregations will consider printing more rack cards.

Design of the card was done by the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother, and printing and distribution were handled through 5 Star Marketing, Tomahawk, Wis.

 

New Task Force Formed to Fight Human Trafficking in Northeast Ohio

(CLEVELAND)— Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Cuyahoga County Sheriff Clifford Pinkney, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations Acting Special Agent in Charge Steve Francis, and Independence Police Chief Michael Kilbane today announced the formation of a new task force that will work to fight human trafficking in northeast Ohio.

The Cuyahoga County Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, which is part of the Ohio Attorney General’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission, is being led by the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department and includes representatives from each of the aforementioned local and federal agencies.

The task force, which recently began operations, will investigate incidents of human trafficking primarily in Cuyahoga County.

Investigators have already opened a number of investigations, and the task force has rescued nine human trafficking victims since its formation. An additional 56 victims have been identified as possibly being involved in sex trafficking.

Among those rescued by the task force include a 14-year-old girl who investigators found was being advertised on the internet for sex. Three suspects are now facing felony human trafficking charges related to that case, and dozens of other suspects face possible felony charges as the task force continues their open investigations.

“Human trafficking is a vile crime, and I’m confident that this task force will make a difference in the lives of many more victims who are currently enslaved by traffickers in northeast Ohio,” said Attorney General DeWine.  “Human traffickers may think that their crimes will go unnoticed, but through this partnership of state, local, and federal authorities, traffickers will be exposed and held accountable for their actions.”

“Our mission in setting up the Cuyahoga County Regional Human Trafficking Task Force is to identify and recover victims, to prosecute those who perpetrate this crime, and to put an end to this crime,” said Sheriff Pinkney.

To read the full story on Huntington News: Click Here

Fruit Cart Vendors Falling Victim To Human Trafficking Network

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Eyewitness News discovered fruit cart vendors around town are part of a labor-trafficking network that originates in Los Angeles.

“Any time you see a vendor on the side of the road, there is a chance that person is being trafficked or debt bondage or peonage,” said Michael Fagans, coordinator for the Kern Coalition Against Human Trafficking.

Fruit cart workers are usually brought into the country by “coyotajes.” All the vendors Eyewitness News talked to were immigrants from Mexico who were offered $50 a day plus free housing in exchange for work.

“A coyote is someone who brings them across the border, usually for exuberant amounts of money … they know the techniques, they have certain strategies, and so they do this on a fairly regular basis,” said Fagans.

These coyotajes operate to a pretty strategic system. Once the immigrants are brought into the country, they live in homes, which are owned by their boss. One fruit cart worker said he lived with 10 others under one roof. Immigrants who work under one boss call themselves a team.

Every morning, fruit cart vendors wake up, prepare their carts and are dropped off at a location outside of Los Angeles. Vendors have been reported in numerous locations all across the state, including San Bernardino, Pasadena and Coalinga Park.

“The I-5 corridor literally goes all the way to Tijuana and to Vancouver, so every city up and down the I-5 is potentially on a labor trafficking route. Same thing with the 99,” said Fagans.

To read the full story by Kahtia Hall, on Bakersfield Now: Click Here

Tributes Paid To Former Sex Slave Jennifer Kempton Whose Charity Helped Other Survivors Turn Brandings Into Flower Tattoos

Jennifer Kempton (second R) at Trust Conference/Americas Forum in Washington DC, April 25, 2017. REUTERS

NEW YORK, May 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Jennifer Kempton, a former sex slavery victim who founded the U.S.-based charity Survivor’s Ink to help other trafficked women, died on Thursday, an associate said, prompting a series on tributes on social media.

Kempton used tattoos to cover up those branded on her by sex traffickers and she founded her non-profit group in 2014 to provide grants so others could do the same.

Kempton, who lived in Columbus, Ohio, died on Thursday morning, according to Paula Haines, executive director of Freedom a la Cart, a catering and box lunch company that trains and employs trafficking survivors.

Kempton previously worked at Freedom a la Cart, and both organizations often worked with the same survivors, Haines said.

Local police said they received a report of an accidental drug overdose and took Kempton, unconscious and unresponsive, to an area hospital late on Wednesday night.

Police did not have official confirmation that Kempton died, and the hospital, Mount Carmel West, did not respond to a request for information.

Kempton, who often spoke publicly about her experiences, aimed to help survivors whose traffickers had tattooed or branded them to show ownership and control.

Globally some 4.5 million people are trapped in sexual exploitation, according to the United Nation’s International Labour Organization, generating an estimated $99 billion in illegal profits a year.

“It’s always amazing to see the look on their face when they no longer have to look at this dehumanizing mark of ownership and violence,” Kempton told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview last year.

“Sometimes I’ll get a call a few days later with someone just bawling their eyes out saying ‘Oh my gosh, I can actually look at my body. It’s my own again.'”

To read the full article by Ellen Wulfhorst on Thompson Reuters Foundation: Click Here