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

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

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

Catholic Relief Services’ Turn on the Light Campaign

Launched earlier in 2017 under the umbrella of Catholics Confront Global Poverty, Catholic Relief Services’ Turn on the Light campaign calls on Catholics and people of goodwill across the U.S. to spend their consumer dollars on ethically produced and traded products while pressing government leaders to strengthen and enforce anti-trafficking laws.

CRS has fought human trafficking and helped its victims with more than 145 projects worldwide since 2000. Their work connects directly to the lived realities of those served and acts as the foundation for developing and supporting policies and procedures to fight trafficking.

Poverty, civil unrest, violence, lack of education lust for power, greed are all contributing factors in making individuals vulnerable to trafficking.  The causes of human trafficking are complex and interlinked, so strategies to combat it must address both supply and demand.   Worldwide, human trafficking is a $150 billion enterprise; and it is illegal in every country in the world.

Throughout the world, especially in poor countries, adults and children are lured away from their homes and families with false promises of legitimate work or education.  They end up in mines, fields, factories, farms, construction sites, homes, hotels, brothels, restaurants and workrooms, with low or no pay and terrible working and living conditions.  Nearly all are victims of violence while enslaved. 

Many of the goods produced or grown are sold in the U.S.  CRS wants to raise awareness of human trafficking in labor and asks people to use their voices and their purchasing power to combat it.

Catholic Relief Services’ Turn on the Light campaign urges people to contact their Senators and Representatives to advocate for key anti-trafficking legislation and to purchase a ‘Turn on the Light’ soy candle made by women who have recently resettled in the U.S. from refugee camps. Proceeds will support CRS’ work combating human trafficking and promoting ethical trade practices.

To learn more, visit Catholics Confront Global Poverty and watch the ‘Turn on the Light’ campaign video on CRS’ YouTube channel.

For additional information visit Catholic Relief Services:  Click Here

7 Things You May Not Know About Human Trafficking, And 3 Ways To Help

“The trade in human beings, a modern form of slavery, … violates the God-given dignity of so many of our brothers and sisters and constitutes a true crime against humanity.”  —Pope Francis

 

You may not see the problem, but it’s there. It’s estimated there are more than 21 million human trafficking victims worldwide. This is not something that only occurs in dark alleys in the far corners of the Earth, though. It’s happening around the world every day.

Human trafficking is considered modern-day slavery, and there are more slaves today than at any time in history.

“They are hidden from view. You don’t recognize them in the back kitchens, shops, gas stations and in hospitality. They are also tucked away in fields. They don’t come out and ask for help. It’s a different kind of slavery than long ago,” says Dr. Lucy Steinitz, Catholic Relief Services senior technical advisor for protection. “They are not in shackles or on plantations. People are coerced into harsh employment under horrible conditions, and then have no freedom to leave. They are beaten, violated and told they are worthless—that no one else wants them anymore.”

 

Here are 7 facts about human trafficking you may not know, plus 3 ways you can help.

  1. The real definition of human trafficking.
    Human trafficking is the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud or coercion. It’s important to note, though, that human trafficking can include, but does not require, movement. You can be a victim of human trafficking in your hometown. At the heart of human trafficking is the traffickers’ goal of exploitation and enslavement.
     
  2. Exploitation covers more than you think.
    Sexual exploitation and forced labor are the most commonly identified forms of human trafficking. More than half of the victims are female. Many other forms of exploitation are often thought to be under-reported. These include domestic servitude and forced marriage; organ removal; and the exploitation of children in begging, the sex trade and warfare.
     
  3. Causes of trafficking: It’s complicated.
    The causes of human trafficking are complex and interlinked, and include economic, social and political factors. Poverty alone does necessarily create vulnerability to trafficking, but when combined with other factors, these can lead to a higher risk for being trafficked. Some of those other factors include: corruption, civil unrest, a weak government, lack of access to education or jobs, family disruption or dysfunction, lack of human rights, or economic disruptions.
     
  4. It’s a lucrative industry.
    Along with illegal arms and drug trafficking, human trafficking is one of the largest international crime industries in the world. A report from the International Labor Organization (ILO) says forced labor generates $150 billion in illegal profits per year. Two-thirds of that money came from commercial sexual exploitation, while the rest is from forced economic exploitation, including domestic work, agriculture, child labor and related activities.
     

To read the full story by Rebekah Kates Lemke on Catholic Relief Services: Click Here

Survivor Sheds Light On Human Trafficking

Solano County District 1 Supervisor, Erin Hannigan, asks a question at Thursday night’s Human Trafficking Forum at the Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre. Dom Pruett — The Reporter
Solano County District 1 Supervisor, Erin Hannigan, asks a question at Thursday night’s Human Trafficking Forum at the Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre. Dom Pruett — The Reporter

Elle Snow was 19 when she was unknowingly ushered into the world of human trafficking.

After years of abuse at the hands of her trafficker, Snow was eventually able to escape from the man she once described as attractive and charismatic, who she could confide in about her traumatic youth.

Thursday evening, Snow, now 32, joined a panel of experts on stage at the sold out Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre, for the Human Trafficking Forum, presented by Soroptimist International of Vacaville and Vacaville Police Department, to tell her story. 

Before the panel, attendees were shown a short film, titled, “Chosen: Protecting Children in our Community,” which gave real accounts of girls like Snow, who are now survivors of human trafficking. 

For Snow, her trafficker, who is currently incarcerated, first made contact with her around her hometown of Eureka, through what appeared to be casual “bump-ins.”

Kelly Gilliam, director of Anti-Human Trafficking, Nalls Foundation, speaks at Thursday’s Human Trafficking Forum panel at the Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre. Diane Barney — Contributed
Kelly Gilliam, director of Anti-Human Trafficking, Nalls Foundation, speaks at Thursday’s Human Trafficking Forum panel at the Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre. Diane Barney — Contributed

“It turns out he was stalking me,” Snow said. “I was marked.”

Phone calls eventually evolved into Snow visiting the man at his home in Sacramento.

“He seemed sincere; he wanted to know everything about me,” she said. “It felt therapeutic, like he was trying to help me out.”

Snow later revealed that her trafficker’s urgency to unmask information about her is a common tactic used by traffickers: a red flag.

“They try to get to know all of your hopes and dreams,” she said.

According to Snow, reality sunk in after the first night she stayed with her trafficker.

“The next morning I woke up, and that’s when everything changed,” she said. I woke up to a man standing in front of me holding high heels and clothes, telling me I needed to put them on.”

From that point on, Snow worked off his demands.

“I knew he had a gun and that he would rape me if I tried to run,” she said.

Ultimately, Snow was trafficked throughout the Bay Area for roughly eight months, obliging her trafficker’s order out of fear.

To read the full story by Dom Pruett on The Reporter: Click Here

“Yes, Here” Campaign Raises Awareness About Human Trafficking Locally

Human trafficking is an issue many may not think happens locally, but one awareness campaign is trying to change that idea.

The Rochester Regional Coalition Against Human Trafficking announced its “Yes, Here” bus campaign in an effort to educate the community about human trafficking in the area.

The chair of that coalition, Celia McIntosh said that starts by defining different kinds of trafficking.

“The fact that there’s a name to it, some people might not know that it is human trafficking. They have probably historically thought of a different name for it like smuggling, they’re not really aware because they’re not really clear on the different meanings.”

The “Yes, Here” campaign focuses on sex and labor trafficking.

McIntosh said the campaign is meant to raise awareness across Rochester, but they’re especially trying to reach high risk populations.

 

To read the full story by Caitlin Whyte on WXXI NEWS: Click Here

Creighton Study Of Backpage.Com Finds Signs Of Human Trafficking Throughout Nebraska

Each month in Nebraska, on just one website, about 900 people are advertised for commercial sex.

That’s according to a new report by the Human Trafficking Initiative, which shows that the commercial sex industry touches all parts of the state, from Scottsbluff to neighborhoods in west Omaha.

The research, conducted through the Heider College of Business at Creighton University, looked at Backpage, a classified advertising website that features ads for “escorts.” According to the report, Backpage accounts for 80 percent of online commercial sex advertising. The report’s findings come from nearly a year of examining data from Backpage advertisements across the state.

Findings of the “Nebraska’s Commercial Sex Market” report will be presented at a hearing Thursday for Legislative Bill 289, a measure introduced by Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks that would raise penalties for sex trafficking.

Terry Clark, co-director of the Human Trafficking Initiative, said the report is just a start.

Read the full story by Mark Klecker on Omaha World-Herald: Click Here

Flight Attendants Train to Watch for Human Trafficking

Flight attendant Sheila Fedrick says she knew something was wrong when she saw a teenage girl with greasy hair sitting on an airplane next to an older man.

The girl had bruises, possible evidence that she had been hurt. The man, however, appeared very well-dressed.

When Fedrick tried to talk to them, the man became defensive. So the flight attendant left a note for the girl in a bathroom. The girl later wrote back a message that said “I need help.”

Fedrick was able to inform the pilot of the Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to San Francisco. The pilot spoke to police officials on the ground. By the time the plane landed, officers were waiting for the girl and the man at the airport. She later learned the girl was a victim of human trafficking.

Keeping the skies safe

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation says human trafficking is thought to be the third largest criminal activity in the world. Trafficking involves the illegal transport of people from one country or area to another. This is usually done to force victims into forced labor or the sex trade.

Human traffickers have often used airplanes as a way to quietly transport their victims. Yet one group, Airline Ambassadors International, or AAI, is training airline and airport workers to recognize signs of human trafficking. The goal is to give more workers the same kind of skills and sensitivity Fedrick has.

 

​AAI was the idea of Nancy Rivard, a former flight attendant. She founded the group as a way for flight attendants to help vulnerable children directly.

Rivard said AAI developed the first industry-specific training on human trafficking and trafficking awareness. She said that training just one person can have a big effect.

To read the full story by Phil Dierking on VOA Learning English.: Click Here