Polaris and Clear Channel Outdoor Americas Launch Anti-Human Trafficking Digital Billboard Campaign Across Minnesota

Congressman Erik Paulsen and other Minnesota Leaders Endorse Campaign to Alert Human Trafficking Victims About How to Reach Out for Help

MINNEAPOLIS, MN—Polaris and Clear Channel Outdoor Americas (CCOA), a division of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: CCO), together with Congressman Erik Paulsen, today unveiled an anti-human trafficking awareness campaign to run on 53 digital billboards throughout Minnesota. The new campaign, launching today and running for three weeks, will alert victims how to reach out for help through the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) (1-888-373-7888), as well as raise awareness about the true nature of modern slavery.

A collaborative effort between Polaris and CCOA, the Out-of-Home (OOH) media campaign, which is estimated to deliver approximately 6.5 million impressions, is designed to reach trafficking victims who may be unaware that resources exist to help them and residents who can help identify suspicious activity with raised awareness that human trafficking is a major problem in Minnesota and throughout the U.S. 365 days a year. CCOA is donating ad space across its digital OOH media platform in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan areas for the campaign.

The estimated $150 billion a year trafficking industry forces approximately 20.9 million people worldwide to live in modern day slavery. In just the first six months of 2016, human trafficking was reported in all 50 states, with 37 cases of human trafficking reported to the NHTRC from Minnesota, already a 12% increase over all of 2015. The top cities that received reports in Minnesota include Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, St. Cloud, Blaine and Moorhead. In total, the NHTRC has received reports of over 265 cases of human trafficking from Minnesota since 2007.

In a news conference earlier today held at the Minnesota State Fair, Congressman Erik Paulsen, Ramsey District Attorney John Choi, Kyle Loven, Chief Division Counsel, FBI – Minneapolis, Washington County Attorney Imran Ali, Executive Director Patina Park of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, Polaris National Hotlines Director Caroline Diemar and the President of CCOA-Minneapolis/St. Paul Susan Adams Loyd joined local and state law enforcement officials to speak with an audience of reporters and supporters to underscore the need for preventing and combatting human trafficking across Minnesota and the country. Also in attendance to endorse the campaign in solidarity were representatives from Uber, Mysister.org and the Hennepin County – No Wrong Door Initiative and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.

“We must do all that we can to eliminate the scourge of human trafficking – too many young girls and boys, and their families are affected by this heinous practice,” said Congressman Erik Paulsen (MN-03). “This awareness campaign is an important and meaningful step in accomplishing that goal. By coming together, educating our communities about available resources, and empowering others to play a role in combating human trafficking, we can all contribute in this fight.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar, who could not attend today’s event said, “Raising awareness is critical in the fight against human trafficking. This campaign, which educates and empowers people to join the fight against trafficking, has the power to help prevent children from being victimized and help those who have fallen victim to this heinous crime get the support they need to get their lives back on track. I was proud to lead the effort to pass the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act that is helping law enforcement further crack down on human traffickers in communities across the country while bringing about greater restitution and justice for victims. We must continue to ensure that children who are sold for sex are treated as victims, not criminals.”‎

“People exploited in forms of modern slavery are receiving help and services to rebuild their lives every day in America, including here in Minnesota. From the domestic worker provided with her visa, to the young girl sold online for sex who now has counseling and therapy support, survivors are reaching out to the national human trafficking hotline more than ever,” said Caroline Diemar, Polaris’s National Hotline Director. “Too often, though, survivors aren’t aware the national hotline exists or that they can be connected to a network of support across the country. Minnesota’s awareness campaign is critical to ensuring survivors of sex and labor trafficking get the help they need.”

“Our digital OOH campaign has the power to reach many victims of human trafficking across Minnesota and let them know that there is help and way out of this modern slavery,” said Susan Adams Loyd, President, CCOA-Minneapolis/St. Paul. “What is also important about this campaign is that we are reiterating to residents that human trafficking is a real, crucial issue that needs a call to action immediately. Together with Polaris, and with the support of Congressman Paulsen and Minnesota law enforcement, our goal is help these victims gain back their freedom and ultimately decrease the number of cases of this heart-breaking crime.”

Polaris and CCOA have forged a national partnership to combat human trafficking with campaigns in cities across America. CCOA launched its first anti-human trafficking campaign alongside Polaris in Philadelphia in 2012 and has since supported campaigns with Polaris and/or local partners in Baltimore, Iowa, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, New Jersey, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, and across the entire state of Texas. This is CCOA’s 20th anti-human trafficking campaign and data show that the campaigns drive calls to the hotline, including tips and requests by victims for help.

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center is operated by Polaris, and funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other private donors. The NHTRC (1-888-373-7888) is a confidential, multilingual hotline that connects victims and survivors of all forms of human trafficking to nationwide available services to get help and stay safe. It also provides the anti-trafficking community with actionable tips and insights. By offering a robust 24/7 infrastructure and sharing data and resources, the NHTRC unites local efforts into a national movement that is helping survivors restore their freedom and eradicating human trafficking at scale.

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Press release from the Polaris Project: Click Here

Convention Planners, Hotel Chains Enlisted To Help Spot Sex Traffickers

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Betsy Soltysiak leads a trafficking awareness training at Maritz Global Events. – Joseph Leahy

Events like the Olympics are great for local businesses, but some of those businesses may not be too savory. Reports of human trafficking go up during events of all kinds from big games to trade shows to political conventions. Trafficking is highly profitable for the traffickers, and their job’s been made a lot easier thanks to the internet. But many of the victims are underage and they’re being used against their will.

Now, the business world has begun to take note and it’s starting to help.

Betsy Soltysiak works as a trainer for an event management company just outside St. Louis. Today she’s addressing a roomful of people about sex trafficking, pointing out that the Olympic Games can be a magnet for traffickers.

“Of course the World Series” is somewhere else traffickers can ply their trade, she said. “Who would think? It’s baseball, hotdogs, Crackerjack!”

Soltysiak’s boss, Maritz Global Events president David Peckinpaugh, had never thought about it either. He said until a few years ago he’d always assumed that kind of seamy stuff, like kids being sold for sex,  went on overseas. Then he began to do some digging.

“As I started researching, the very first article and picture I stumbled upon was a young girl being trafficked out of a hotel in St. Louis,” he said. “And you could see the St. Louis arch in the background.”

He wanted to help stop a practice he’d had no idea was taking place in his back yard.

He knew he and his employees could help because so much of their meeting and event work takes place in hotels – and that’s where a lot of trafficking happens, right under the noses of guests and staff.

 Savannah Sanders is 31 now. She knows what it’s like to stand in a lobby shadowed by a pimp.

“There were definitely times where somebody could have noticed that there was something not right and made a call when I was being trafficked,” she said.

To read the full story by Ashley Milne-Tyte on MARKETPLACE: Click Here

How Jewelry Is Saving Women From Human Trafficking

The women of Apne Aap have survived human trafficking and now make jewelry from upcycled saris for Rosena Sammi Jewelry.

For thousands of women who have been rescued from human trafficking in India by the organization Apne Aap, it’s not the piece of jewelry itself, but rather the future it can create.

Bangles, necklaces, earrings and even bags made by Apne Aap women from upcycled saris are being sold at American department stores and boutiques and on online as part of Rosena Sammi Jewelry’s “Who Sari Now?” Collection.

About 25% of the purchase price goes back to the women artisans, giving them a livable wage. The money also helps fund their children’s education. No small feat for women who may have been sold into prostitution at a very young age, abused for years and then discarded when they were no longer a profitable commodity.

Journalist turned activist 

“Apne Aap” means “self-empowerment” in Hindi. For founder and former journalist Ruchira Gupta, helping women help themselves is what Apne Aap is all about.

About 20 years ago, Gupta was walking through the hills of Nepal when she heard a story of missing girls from the villages. When she followed the story, she uncovered a supply line of young girls taken from the villages of Nepal to the brothels of Bombay.

“What I saw in the brothel was 13-year-old girls being raped by 10 customers a night and a whole group of people living off that girl. I saw pimps who made money from her. I saw brothel managers, brothel owners, landlords. … She was basically kept in that bondage like a slave. Her body was just basically consumed, consumed, consumed for five years and when she was no longer commercially viable, she was just thrown out,” Gupta says.

She ended up making a documentary called “The Selling of Innocents,” which won an Emmy for outstanding investigative journalism in 1996. She says making that documentary changed her life.

“As a journalist, I covered war and famine and hunger and cost conflict and ethnic conflict but I’d never seen this kind of deliberate exploitation of human beings by other human beings.”

To read the full story by Betsy Anderson CNN Impact Your World: Click Here