INHUMAN TRADE: Labor Trafficking Hidden in Massachusetts Communities

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third installment in a series of stories exploring human trafficking in Massachusetts. The series delves into the widespread commercial sex trade in our cities and suburbs, the online marketplaces where pimps and johns buy and sell sex, cases of modern-day slavery and victims’ tales of survival.

Three years ago, a couple from Brazil moved to Massachusetts with their young child and took jobs with a cleaning company in New Bedford.

Instead of building their piece of the American Dream, however, they soon found themselves in a nightmare, according to prosecutors. Their employer, according to a criminal indictment, forced them to work up to 100 hours a week, cleaning banks, car dealerships, stores and other businesses in Bridgewater, Fall River, Marshfield and Cape Cod.

DMS Cleaning Services owner Donny Sousa, prosecutors allege, had recruited the couple to move from Brazil, promising them $3,000 in monthly wages. Instead, they said, he failed to deliver the promised pay and intimidated them into working for the company, threatening them with a handgun when they asked for their wages. In the 15 months the couple worked for DMS before fleeing, prosecutors say they were paid just $3,600 and had only three days off.

A grand jury indicted Sousa last October on human trafficking, weapons, wage theft and forced labor charges. Sousa has pleaded not guilty and is due back in Bristol Superior Court for a Sept. 6 status hearing.

It’s one of the few examples of labor exploitation cases being prosecuted under the state’s 2011 human trafficking law, which has been most frequently applied to cases of sex trafficking.

While most human trafficking cases in Massachusetts involve the illicit sex trade, labor trafficking and commercial exploitation remain a problem, especially in the immigrant community, said Julie Dahlstrom, a clinical associate professor of law at Boston University and director of the school’s Immigrants Rights and Human Trafficking Program.

“We don’t have accurate statistics around this problem,” Dahlstrom said. “Anecdotally, what we’ve seen is largely non-citizens subject to labor trafficking, although it does sometimes impact citizens.”

To read the full story by Gerry Tuoti on The Milford Daily News: 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

Human Trafficking Survivor Helps Educate Healthcare Providers In SW Missouri

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. With recent raids for suspected human trafficking on more than a dozen massage parlors in Springfield, the disturbing issue has hit home. Many in Springfield spent the afternoon learning more about human trafficking at a conference that has been planned for several months.

180 people registered for CoxHealth’s free human trafficking conference Friday afternoon. They got to hear firsthand from a sex trafficking survivor. Kris Wade was 18 and at a Chicago train station for only minutes, when she says a man offered her a place to stay and a meal. 
Before she knew it, she was under the control of a motorcycle gang that forced her into prostitution.

Wade shared some of the things that made her vulnerable to traffickers. 
“I just really had no respect for authority and like a lot of 18 year old kids, I considered myself queen of the universe and pretty much knew everything in the world there was to know. And I think that couple with my undeveloped teenage brain and my risk taking, thrill seeking capabilities, that made me vulnerable to these guys,” says Wade.

Wade’s advice for parents is to build trust-based relationships with your kids from a young age, and teach them to say no and not show vulnerability to bullies, which is what pimps and traffickers are. Wade also says, “Their kids need to know that they love them unconditionally, that if they get in trouble, it’s ok to tell their parents if they’re in a difficult situation. Parents need to support their kids no matter what.” She says her parents were loving and supportive, which she says ultimately helped her get away from the trafficking.

Wade is now the president of The Justice Project in Kansas City, working to combat trafficking. She and other presenters focused on teaching those in healthcare to look for signs like torture injuries, tattoos showing ownership, burns, and multiple STDs.

To read the full story by Linda Russell on KY3: 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

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

‘Am I About To Be Sold?’: Human Trafficking in Alamance County

 

Editor’s note: In the process of reporting on prostitution and human trafficking in Alamance County, as well as the cycle of poverty, homelessness and drug use that often accompanies it, the Times-News spoke with a woman who was forced into prostitution this year at a Burlington hotel. Law enforcement has confirmed the woman’s story of being victimized as part of a sex trafficking operation. The Times-News has changed her name in this story for her protection.

As she sat waiting for her name to be called in Alamance County Superior Court, Ashley had no choice but to listen to the plea that was unfolding at the front of the courtroom.

She had been in court before, undoubtedly hearing attorneys and prosecutors talk about other defendants’ cases as she waited. Ashley didn’t remember those, but the facts of this case would stick with her.

She would remember the appearance of the man pleading guilty to having sex with an underage girl who was, as it turned out, being forced into prostitution as a victim of human trafficking.

She would remember that the john pleading guilty had formerly been a police officer, and that he had filmed the encounter with the girl.

To read the full story by Natalie Allison Janico of Times-News, Burlington , N.C.: Click Here

How Human Traffickers Trap Women Into Domestic Servitude

JUDY WOODRUFF: But first: More than three million migrant workers every year, most of them women, leave their countries to work as domestic laborers, often in conditions some say border on slavery.

Human trafficking is especially grave in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East.

Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro begins his report from the West African nation of Cameroon. It’s part of his series Agents for Change.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: They’re able to laugh at it now in a workshop setting, but the skit these women are watching depicts experiences that are all too real.

These women are all survivors from time spent in Persian Gulf and Middle East countries where they were domestic workers, victims of an industry the U.N. and rights groups say is rife with human trafficking and abuse.

 

For the source page and full transcript on PBS NEWSHOUR: Click Here

Caught In Modern-Day Slavery, She Thought She’d Die. Could This Idea Help Others?

THE DESPERATE JOURNEY OF A TRAFFICKED GIRL

It was close to midnight on the coast of Libya, a few miles west of Tripoli. At the water’s edge, armed Libyan smugglers pumped air into thirty-foot rubber dinghies. Some three thousand refugees and migrants, mostly sub-Saharan Africans, silent and barefoot, stood nearby in rows of ten. Oil platforms glowed in the Mediterranean.

The Libyans ordered male migrants to carry the inflated boats into the water, thirty on each side. They waded in and held the boats steady as a smuggler directed other migrants to board, packing them as tightly as possible. People in the center would suffer chemical burns if the fuel leaked and mixed with water. Those straddling the sides could easily fall into the sea. Officially, at least five thousand and ninety-eight migrants died in the Mediterranean last year, but Libya’s coastline is more than a thousand miles long, and nobody knows how many boats sink without ever being seen. Several of the migrants had written phone numbers on their clothes, so that someone could call their families if their bodies washed ashore.

The smugglers knelt in the sand and prayed, then stood up and ordered the migrants to push off. One pointed to the sky. “Look at this star!” he said. “Follow it.” Each boat left with only enough fuel to reach international waters.

In one dinghy, carrying a hundred and fifty people, a Nigerian teen-ager named Blessing started to cry. She had travelled six months to get to this point, and her face was gaunt and her ribs were showing. She wondered if God had visited her mother in dreams and shown her that she was alive. The boat hit swells and people started vomiting. By dawn, Blessing had fainted. The boat was taking on water.

In recent years, tens of millions of Africans have fled areas afflicted with famine, drought, persecution, and violence. Ninety-four per cent of them remain on the continent, but each year hundreds of thousands try to make it to Europe. The Mediterranean route has also become a kind of pressure-release valve for countries affected by corruption and extreme inequality. “If not for Italy, I promise, there would be civil war in Nigeria,” a migrant told me. Last year, after Nigeria’s currency collapsed, more Nigerians crossed the sea than people of any other nationality.

The flood of migrants is not a new phenomenon, but for years the European Union had some success in slowing it. The E.U. built a series of fences in Morocco and started paying coastal African nations to keep migrants from reaching European waters. Many migrants spent years living in border countries, repeatedly trying and failing to cross. Muammar Qaddafi saw an opportunity. In 2010, he demanded that Europe pay him five billion euros per year; otherwise, he said, Libya could send so many migrants that “tomorrow Europe might no longer be European.”

To read the full story by Ben Taub on The New Yorker: Click Here

Why All Faiths Can Unite To End Modern Slavery

(CNN)Slavery — turning human beings into property used up for profit — is a heinous offense repugnant to all faith communities.

 
This was captured beautifully in the Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders, representing Catholics, Anglicans, Orthodox Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists. The Declaration calls modern slavery a crime against humanity.
The concepts of empathy for our fellow human beings, and the obligation to respect the rights and dignity of others, are themes found in all the world’s major faith traditions. Many of history’s great civil rights advancements have been started and nurtured by religious leaders and activists. This is also true of the anti-slavery movement. Ending slavery unites all faiths and no twisting of texts can obscure that fact. That is why faith leaders are at the forefront of the effort to eradicate modern slavery.
Maurice Middleberg, executive director, Free the Slaves

 
Shockingly, slavery persists at a massive scale. The most conservative estimate places the number of slaves at 21 million; there are estimates of as high as 36 million. And slavery is a big business — the International Labor Organization estimates that the profits from slavery are $150 billion a year.
About a fifth of slavery is sex slavery, but most slavery consists of forced labor in seemingly ordinary businesses — farms, mines, stone quarries, fishing boats, construction and brick kilns. The majority of slaves are women and girls; about a quarter of all slaves are children.
Slavery stems from vulnerability. Overwhelmingly, slaves come from the poorest, most stigmatized and most marginalized communities in the poorest countries in the world. Slavery exists in every country and traffickers unfailingly prey upon those who are the most defenseless.
Religious faith and the debasement of human beings cannot be reconciled. That is why people and communities of faith are mobilizing and must continue to lead a shared effort to end slavery once and for all. The following is a quick look at faith voices raised against slavery.

Christianity

Christian abolitionism took root in the 17th century. In England, prominent Anglicans joined forces with Quakers, Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists and other faith groups to form the world’s first anti-slavery movement. Together, they forged a moral consensus to ban the trans-Atlantic slave trade and then outlaw slavery itself throughout the British Empire. Today, Christians worldwide regard slavery as immoral and unjust. “Human trafficking is an open wound on the body of contemporary society,” says Pope Francis. “It is a crime against humanity.”
· The epistles of St. Paul condemned slave traders and called for slaves to be treated as “brethren.”
· Quakers believed that everyone, including African-American slaves, was “equal in the sight of God.”
· Men and women of faith often led slave revolts on colonial plantations, and many revolts occurred during Christian festivals.
· In the 1800s Quakers and other religious groups assisted the Underground Railroad, helping thousands of slaves to escape southern states in the U.S.

Islam

Muslim voices have called for the abolition of slavery since ancient times. The Quran teaches that all people are equal, like the teeth in a comb. The Prophet Muhammad declared: “There are three categories of people against whom I shall myself be a plaintiff on the Day of Judgment. Of these three, one is he who enslave a free man, then sells him and eats this money.”
· Sura 90 in the Quran states that the righteous path involves “the freeing of slaves.”
 
To read the full story by Maurice Middleberg, on CNN: Click Here