The Scourge Of Sex Trafficking

It’s the scourge around the corner, in the house down the street – or even in our own families.

Women and girls (and, less frequently, even men and boys) reduced to sexual chattel, bought and sold for their bodies and deprived, day after day, of fundamental freedoms.

Free Press editorial cartoonist Mike Thompson brings the horror of sex-trafficking to life in an animated documentary on the subject, which appeared at on Monday, Dec. 21  and will run in the print edition on Sunday, Dec. 27.

The work does many things well, but importantly, it trains focus on two important truths: what sex trafficking is, and how ordinary citizens can help fight it.

You can be forgiven if the phrase “sex trafficking,” leaves you thinking only of young women stuffed in truck trailers being carted around the country in prostitution rings. No doubt, that happens.

But as Thompson’s work highlights, it’s far more common than that. Indeed, any instance in which a person is forced or coerced into sexual activity for money, it’s trafficking. And the geographic dimensions of it don’t matter. Many trafficking victims never leave their own homes, as “D.,” one of the women in Thompson’s animated documentary, points up. She says she was first victimized by a brother-in-law. That person also forced her into sexual situations with other men – all in the home where she lived.

It’s also important to note that D.’s story begins when she is 14 – a child, unable to legally give consent for any sexual activity. A Department of Justice analysis of more than 2,500 reported trafficking cases between 2008 and 2010 showed that more than 40% of victims were children.

It is estimated that the average age of trafficked children is 11 to 14.

Thompson’s work also calls us all to more action with regard to human trafficking, and defines the ways that vigilance can pay off.

Read the full story from The Detroit Free Press: Click Here

Catholic Health Initiatives Releases Clinical Education On Human Trafficking

Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) has produced a new clinical education module – Addressing Human Trafficking in the Health Care Setting. We are pleased to announce that the course is available publically for all health care providers and organizations interested in furthering clinical education around human trafficking. The 25-minute, web-based education module will increase personal awareness of human trafficking and help providers develop the skills to identify and respond to victims.
The course was developed through collaboration among CHI’s national Advocacy and Talent Development teams, and experts from Massachusetts General Hospital Human Trafficking Initiative. This educational resource is part of CHI’s commitment to prevent violence, which was formalized in 2008 through a system-wide campaign – United Against Violence.

Health providers are in a unique position to identify and assist victims. Over 80% of human trafficking victims report being seen by a medical provider at some point during their enslavement, and two-thirds of these victims report being seen in an emergency department. We know we can have a substantial and positive impact in preventing this violent form of modern-day slavery, and we hope you will use this resource for education in your own organization and share it broadly among all colleagues.

For more information or to use the resource from Catholic Health Initiatives: Click Here

To view additional US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking Education Modules: Click Here

Cleveland Selected For Federal Grant To Combat Human Trafficking

(Photo: Getty Images)

CLEVELAND — Cleveland has been selected among six cities to participate an initiative aimed at streamlining the investigation and prosecution of federal human trafficking offenses.

The city will be part of an Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team (ACTeam) Initiative, according to U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach. “This designation will allow us to build on our success here in Northern Ohio by devoting more resources to investigating and prosecuting human trafficking,” Dettelbach said. “The cases we have prosecuted remind us time and again that labor trafficking and sex trafficking hide in plain sight.”

ACTeams are aimed at developing high-impact human trafficking investigations and prosecutions involving forced labor, international sex trafficking, and sex trafficking of adults by force, fraud, and coercion, complementing Project Safe Childhood and related efforts aimed at combating child sexual exploitation, including child sex trafficking.

Read the full story on WKYC: Click Here

Sacramento Selected For New Federal Effort To Combat Human Trafficking

Sacramento has been selected as one of six locations across the United States to form new federal task forces to combat human trafficking.

The task forces are part of the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team Initiative, an interagency federal law enforcement initiative aimed at streamlining the investigation and prosecution of federal human trafficking offenses, according to Benjamin B. Wagner, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California.

Sacramento was selected based on the commitment to identifying, investigating and prosecuting forced labor, international sex trafficking and adult sex trafficking; the prevalence or suspected existence of these types of trafficking in the Sacramento area; and the cooperation among various law enforcement agencies and the U.S. attorney’s office to combat human trafficking, according to a news release.

Read the full story by Cathy Locke of The Sacramento Bee: Click Here

Hyatt Fights Human Trafficking, Signs ECPAT Code

Hyatt Hotels Corp. has joined the fight against human trafficking by signing the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, an effort by anti-trafficking group End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT) to create a community of tourism businesses dedicated to finding and stopping human traffickers.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, approximately 100,000 children have been sexually abused and exploited in the United States in the past year, and millions more are exploited around the world. Travel infrastructure is sometimes used in trafficking and exploitation, through commercial airlines and buses used to transport children, online classifieds used to lure travelers, and hotel rooms used as sites of abuse.

ECPAT’s Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct is the only voluntary, industry-driven set of guidelines that focuses on the elimination of child exploitation and trafficking.

“Given Hyatt’s ongoing efforts to proactively fight human trafficking, we feel that ECPAT’s Code of Conduct is a reflection of that commitment,” said Brigitta Witt, Hyatt’s global head of corporate responsibility. “Standing against human trafficking is a natural extension of our commitment to positively impacting the communities where we operate.”

Read the full story on Successful Meetings: Click Here

On Human Rights Day, Hyatt Reinforces Commitment to Protect Children and Help Them Live Free from Exploitation

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Hyatt Hotels Corporation (NYSE: H) announced today it is signing the End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT) Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct (The Code). The Code, an industry driven tourism initiative, is supported by UNICEF and The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Hyatt’s collaboration with ECPAT is an extension of its global commitment to responsible business practices and supports the company’s already strong efforts to combat human trafficking within its sphere of influence. The Code focuses on providing awareness, tools and support to the tourism industry to prevent the sexual exploitation of children, a crime which impacts more than 1.8 million young people annually, according to ECPAT.

“Given Hyatt’s ongoing efforts to proactively fight human trafficking, we feel that ECPAT’s Code of Conduct is a reflection of that commitment,” said Brigitta Witt, Hyatt’s global head of corporate responsibility. “Standing against human trafficking is a natural extension of our commitment to positively impacting the communities where we operate.”

To read the full story on Business Wire: Click Here

Revealed: Thailand’s Most Senior Human Trafficking Investigator To Seek Political Asylum In Australia

Major General Paween Pongsirin in Melbourne. He was appointed to lead an investigation into the discovery of more than 30 mass graves that was later stopped by influential people, he says. Photograph: Meredith O’Shea for the Guardian

Major General Paween Pongsirin says his investigations into human trafficking implicated senior figures in police and military and he now fears for his life.

Thailand’s most senior police investigator into human trafficking is seeking political asylum in Australia, saying he fears for his life because influential figures in the Thai government, military and police are implicated in trafficking and want him killed.

Major General Paween Pongsirin arrived in Melbourne a few days ago on a tourist visa and has now told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s 7.30 program and Guardian Australia he plans to seek asylum.

For a respected and high-profile police investigator to flee the country and make such serious allegations will be highly embarrassing for the Thai government. Human rights groups have consistently said that the south-east Asian nation has turned a blind eye to the abuse of trafficked people and that many officials are implicated in the trade. Thailand’s military junta denies the claims.

Paween said he hoped Australia would grant him asylum.

“I worked in the trafficking area to help human beings who were in trouble,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking of a personal benefit but now it is me who is in trouble. I believe there should be some safe place for me, somewhere on this earth to help me.”

In May, Thai police discovered more than 30 graves in an abandoned jungle camp near the Malaysian border. Many of the exhumed bodies were believed to beRohingya Muslims, a long-persecuted minority who have been fleeing Myanmar on rickety boats, arriving in Thailand on their way to the relative safety of Malaysia. Others were asylum seekers and migrants from Bangladesh.

Traffickers have imprisoned these and other asylum seekers in make-shift camps on the Thai-Malaysian border, demanding their relatives pay ransoms for their release. Survivors say that many were raped, beaten and murdered if ransoms were not paid.

Major General Paween was appointed to lead the investigation into the grim discovery, which at the time was interpreted as Thailand treating the issue more seriously. His team uncovered a major human trafficking syndicate but he says that “from the beginning” he was under pressure not to pursue the perpetrators too enthusiastically.

Paween, 57, says he “followed the evidence”. So far, there have been 153 arrest warrants related to trafficking. Last month, 88 people appeared in court for a procedural hearing, including a senior military general alleged to be a kingpin, other military officers, local politicians and business figures.

Read the full story byGay Alcorn, Keryn Reynolds and Margaret Simons at The GuardianClick Here

Human Rights Watch Issues Report on Child Labor in Tobacco Farming

(Washington, DC) – The United States government and tobacco companies are failing to protect teenage children from hazardous work in tobacco farming, Human Rights Watch said today, in a report and video.

The 72-page report, “Teens of the Tobacco Fields: Child Labor in United States Tobacco Farming,” documents the harm caused to 16- and 17-year-olds who work long hours as hired laborers on US tobacco farms, exposed to nicotine, toxic pesticides, and extreme heat. Nearly all of the teenagers interviewed suffered symptoms consistent with acute nicotine poisoning – nausea, vomiting, headaches, or dizziness – while working on tobacco farms.

“Teenage children too young to legally buy a pack of cigarettes are getting exposed to nicotine while they work on US tobacco farms,” said Margaret Wurth, children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch and co-author of the report. “The US government and tobacco companies should protect everyone under 18 from hazardous work in tobacco farming.”

Tobacco farming in the US puts children at risk of nicotine poisoning, pesticide exposure from toxic chemicals applied to the crop, heat illness, and chronic pain and injuries from performing repetitive motions.

Some US-based tobacco companies and growers groups took action in 2014 to ban employing children under 16 to work in tobacco farming, but excluded older teens from their policies. Teenagers are still vulnerable to the harmful effects of the work, Human Rights Watch said.

Read the full article from Human Rights Watch introducing the report: Click Here

For the website and summary report: Click Here

For the full downloadable report: Click Here

For links to more studies and reports, visit US Catholic Sisters Against Trafficking’s “Trafficking Reports” page: Click Here

Human-Trafficking Signs Required at Adult Entertainment Businesses

ORLANDO, Fla. —Human trafficking is considered to be modern-day slavery. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, Florida ranks number three for the volume of calls the organization receives.

The Orange County Commission passed an ordinance on Tuesday afternoon that requires two types of businesses, massage parlors and strip clubs, to post what it calls “awareness signs” about human trafficking.

The vote by the Orange County Commission was unanimous and welcomed news for organizations that are desperate to end human trafficking in Central Florida.

“It is any time a person is commercially exploited. It could be for sex or labor,” said Tomas Lares, director of Florida Abolitionist.

The ordinance requires all massage parlors and spas that are not owned by health care professionals, as well as strip clubs and adult entertainment establishments, to post a small sign that says: “If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in an activity and cannot leave, whether it is prostitution, house work, farm work, factory work, retail work, restaurant work or any other activity, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline.”

“It’s places of vulnerability. Traffickers and pimps are always looking for the vulnerable,” Lares said.

To read the full story by Michelle Meredith and watch the original news story from WESH Orlando: Click Here