In the News

Cleveland Browns Coach Launches Foundation To Combat Human Trafficking

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson is tackling a disturbing problem that’s not always visible.

Jackson and his wife, Michelle, have launched a foundation to support organizations that combat human trafficking and aid its victims, women who are exploited, abused and scarred for life.

“We’re all in,” Jackson said during a kickoff event at the team’s headquarters. “We want to make a difference in this area.”

On Thursday, The Hue Jackson Foundation announced a partnership with the Salvation Army of Greater Cleveland to provide secure housing for women who have been victimized by human trafficking — modern-day slavery that involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.

Jackson’s affiliation will raise awareness to an issue that often goes unreported and undetected.

“I’m not afraid of a challenge,” said Jackson, who went just 1-15 during his first season with the Browns. “We’ve seen the impact of what this creature does to people.”

To read the full story by Tom Withers on APNews: Click Here

Two Cuffed In Brooklyn Human-Trafficking Bust Could Be Part Of Larger Sex-Slavery Gang

The arrests of two people on sex trafficking charges in Brooklyn could be the tip of the iceberg, according to police sources who said the operation may be linked to a gang that has been forcing young girls into prostitution.

A 21-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman were arrested after a 16-year-old girl escaped their Crown Heights lair and told police that she and another teen were being held as sex slaves in an apartment where younger children also live.

“This is absolutely a case of human trafficking where these young girls were taken for profit and being forced to have sex for money,” a source said.

Cops said there are still a lot of unknowns, including the connection between the four younger children in the apartment and the people who were arrested.

 

To read the full story by Rocco Parascandola  and Molly Crane Newman on New York Daily News: 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

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

House Democrats Seek Answers After Ice Agents Arrest Possible Victim Of Human Trafficking

“It is simply unconscionable that ICE would target such a marginalized population,” said Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY). (SHAWN INGLIMA/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

U.S. House Democrats are looking for answers after Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents showed up at a Queens courthouse to arrest a woman believed to be a victim of human trafficking last month.The ICE agents made three arrests outside the Queens Criminal Courthouse and had also planned to cuff a woman from China who was being tried for sex work in a human trafficking court. At the time, she was protected by lawyers from Legal Aid who asked the judge hold her on bail to allow her to leave the courthouse.

ICE’s appearance at the courthouse drew immediate criticism from Democrats and immigration activists. But ICE’s actual policy for seeking out and arresting victims of human trafficking remains unclear. There is also no public information about the number of people served by ICE’s Victims Assistance Program, which is meant to support victims of human trafficking.

In a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and ICE’s acting director Thomas Homan, New York City’s 12 Democratic U.S. representatives demanded clarification on ICE’s policies for stalking human trafficking courts and asked for VAP data.

To read the full story by Aaron Holmes of New York Daily News: Click Here

 

Heitkamp Bipartisan Bill to Abolish Human Trafficking Unanimously Passes Senate Committee

Legislation Would Enhance Sentences for Certain Trafficking Offenses, Establish Trafficking Coordinators in each U.S. Attorney’s Office, Increase Restitution Options for Victims, and Strengthen Victim Protections, Services, and Training

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) today announced that a bipartisan, comprehensive bill she helped introduce to strengthen tools to combat human trafficking, protect victims of these crimes, and help them rebuild their lives unanimously passed in the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary – the final step before reaching the floor of the U.S. Senate.

Building on her work to activate a community-wide response to eradicate human trafficking, Heitkamp’s Abolishing Human Trafficking Act, which she introduced with a strong bipartisan group of 12 other Republican and Democratic senators, would provide stronger assistance to victims of human trafficking, increase resources to law enforcement and victims services organizations, and implement stricter punishments for perpetrators of these crimes. The bill seeks to enhance and expand on the successes of 2015’s landmark Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking Act. Heitkamp helped pave the bipartisan, compromise path forward that led to the successful passage of the legislation which is now law.

“Eradicating human trafficking from towns across North Dakota and the country requires an enhanced, comprehensive approach that cracks down on traffickers and child sexual exploitation,” said Heitkamp. “Too often, victims of insidious crimes like human trafficking cannot fight back themselves, and their plight is not recognized as the modern-day slavery that it is. We took great strides in working to change that in 2015 when we passed bipartisan, landmark anti-trafficking legislation to bring all hands on deck. Today, our bipartisan bill that builds on its momentum took an important step forward. It is now imperative for the Senate  to pass this bill to strengthen law enforcement with expanded tools to bring criminals to justice, help victims get the protection and recovery resources to regain their lives, and to activate the community-wide response we need to abolish human trafficking.”

Just last week, Heitkamp’s bipartisan Stop, Observe, Ask and Respond (SOAR) to Health and Wellness Act to provide health care workers across the country needed training on how to recognize, report, and potentially intervene when they see patients who are possible human trafficking victims was unanimously passed in a subcommittee within the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. According to a 2014 study surveying victims of human trafficking, 88 percent of respondents reported having had contact with a healthcare provider while being trafficked. Heitkamp’s SOAR Act would expand on an U.S. Department of Health and Human Services pilot program in New Town and Williston that helped train 57 health care workers to recognize victims of human trafficking and help them get the resources they need.

For the full press release on Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s website: Click Here

August Monthly Reflection

Traffik 2017: A New Art Exhibit about Human Trafficking

Marlene Weisenbeck, FSPA

On May 11-12, 2017 Mayo Clinic-Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse, WI held its 20th annual conference on Child Maltreatment with support from the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center, Coulee Region Child Abuse Prevention Task Force, Family & Children’s Center – Stepping Stones, the La Crosse Task Force to End Modern Slavery, and Viterbo University Art Department. This nationally recognized conference addresses strategies that multidisciplinary teams can use to intervene when child maltreatment is reported, collaborate with community and family to protect children, and ensure justice for child victims of abuse/neglect.

This year the conference devoted a full day to human trafficking. Speakers addressed national and state legislation, human trafficking in a globalized context, assisting victims, and suppression of demand on the part of law enforcement. A special feature of the conference was a nationally juried art exhibit organized and presented by the Viterbo University Art Department, entitled Traffik 2017. The goal was to create a space for artists to express themselves, and for others to dwell among works that have been highly considered, in the context of this issue. The call to artists invited submission of works with an implication for introspection on the theme, the issues that surround it or its effects, and to explore broader interpretations of issues that it raises, such as oppression, illicit economies, invisibility, innocence, social justice and others. (http://www.viterbo.edu/art-department/traffik-2017-call-artists)

Image by Margaret Miller, Viterbo Art Alumni 2014

Viterbo University received some 50 entries from artists all over the United States and one from Austria. Since the call was open to anyone 18 years of age and older, entries represented the full spectrum of working artists, from high school and college students, to university professors, to professional and amateur working artists. The jury selected 28 pieces for the show.

A sampling from the exhibit is shown here with the permission of the artists. Their own words describe their creations.

Barbed Wire with Butterfly #2

By Daniel Stokes

Terra Cotta

I have chosen to describe the theme by illustrating the contrast embodied by my subject matter, butterflies and barbed wire. The butterfly representing the fragile, the harmless, the beautiful. All those precious things of this world that are vulnerable by their very nature including men, women, and children.

Barbed wire, whose sole purpose for existence is to inflict pain, as a symbol of the methods and attitudes of those who in service of greed would control, imprison, even enslave the weak and innocent through threats of violence, to whom human beings are nothing more than mere property to be bought, sold, and ultimately destroyed.

Dark Cities

by Anna Lucille Strunk (Lucy)

Acrylic

The top half of the painting shows Americans going about their everyday lives. The blue background reflects a calm and cool world, where there is nothing to be concerned about. The white figures are the everyday people, going about their lives in the cities and towns. The small size and white color represents how most people don’t think outside of their little worlds, and how they believe everything is right and pure.

The lower portion portrays the suffering of people and children taken by the calamity of human trafficking. The red background represents the burning pain and suffering experienced by these individuals. The hunched, black figures are those who have been taken and sold into slavery. They are a larger size than the white figures above because the problem of human trafficking is larger than we think it is. The bent over posture is for the treacherous work they are put through, and how they are sold to people who make things that we use every day, being put in a position that, in an unfortunate way, supports our country.

The black city and Empire State Building that rests over the bottom half of the painting represent the United States being ignorant or ignoring the issue. Our “perfect” little world has horrible and tragic happenings occurring beneath it.

Selling

Rick Carraway

Acrylic on canvas

In painting Selling, I wanted to capture the commerce of selling oneself to survive, and probably not by choice. The Swedish government has found that much of the vast profit generated by the global prostitution industry goes into the pockets of human traffickers. The Swedish government said, “International trafficking in human beings could not flourish but for the existence of local prostitution markets where men are willing and able to buy and sell women and children for sexual exploitation.”

 

This image was not submitted to the exhibit, but represents in a survivor’s own efforts how art can be helpful in the struggle toward healing and freedom.

Survivor Woman

By KN (survivor)

Acrylic mixed with other mediums

Most of the symbolism is in the side where the face is dark or shaded. It represents either the side of us we don’t know or the side we want to be unknown. The side that makes it look as if the wind is blowing to me represents how we are constantly changing. I also think the earthy colors are grounding.

“KN” affirms that art is another way to convey the message from the survivor. Art therapy opens up areas that have been blocked and helps the individual get at the pain from another angle. It functions like a castle with different doors where one can enter the memories and work with them. The doors can be closed again and issues can be put away when the survivor is not working on them. For her, the castle concept is a way to contain the reality so that it cannot have a continuously destructive influence on her life.

Art is frequently used in healing modalities for survivors of human trafficking. It also provides an entry for understanding more clearly the reality of this criminal activity which engulfs our world. Viewers at the Traffik 2017 art exhibit found it profoundly meaningful.

The obvious benefit of the Mayo Clinic-Franciscan Healthcare Child Maltreatment Conference was not only the knowledge conveyed in a variety of ways, but the collaboration among social institutions that is essential to making a contribution to ending modern slavery in the 21st century. Mayo Clinic-Franciscan Healthcare and Viterbo University are sponsored ministries of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in La Crosse. The author of this article convened and continues to chair the La Crosse Task Force to End Modern Slavery.

Traffik 2017 will be on display at the Viterbo University Art Gallery from August 30-September 29, 2017. For more information, Department Chairwoman Sherri Lisota, can be contacted at sjlisota@viterbo.edu.

 

‘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

The State Department Just Released Its Human Trafficking Report. Here’s Why It Matters.

The State Department has released its annual Trafficking in Persons report on human trafficking. The big headline was that China was downgraded to Tier 3, the lowest ranking, suggesting that the Trump administration had decided to rebuke China by grouping it with the likes of Syria, Iran and North Korea.

The report grades countries on how well or poorly they are doing in combating human trafficking. This approach — which I call “Scorecard Diplomacy” — has become increasingly important in international relations. Countries often really care about their scores. Here’s how it works.

What is a scorecard?

A scorecard is a way of rating or ranking how countries or other actors perform in a given policy area. These scorecards are not one-off rankings; they recur, usually yearly.

Why should states, or anyone else, care about scorecards? First of all, they are easier to understand and digest than complicated policy reports. Instead of emphasizing detailed data, they sort countries into categories (e.g., countries that are succeeding vs. countries that are failing), or rank them with some score, showing which countries are at the top and at the bottom. These categories and rankings are framed to pressure the countries being ranked. For example, if your country is at the bottom of a well-respected scorecard for “Ease of Doing Business,” you might find that international businesses start to avoid investing in your economy.

 

To read the full story by Judith Kelley on The Washington Post: Click Here