Virginia Ranks 15th In US In Reported Cases Of Human Trafficking

RICHMOND, Va. (VCU CNS) — Virginia ranked 15th in the United States for the most reported cases of human trafficking in 2016. Last year, the state reported 148 cases with 59 involving minors, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

In response to the issue, Virginia is enacting a new law to decrease crimes of this nature and help its youngest victims.

House Bill 2282, which will take effect July 1, requires the Virginia Board of Education to develop guidelines for training school counselors, school nurses and other relevant school staff on the prevention of trafficking of children.

Groups fighting human trafficking applauded the move. Creating awareness through education is a tactic many of these advocates have found effective in combating trafficking.

Image courtesy of VCU CNS

“We are grateful for any new legislation that helps this issue,” said Patrick McKenna, co-founder of the Virginia Beach Justice Initiative. “Having the Department of Education require it helps push the effort forward.”

Virginia is home to several nonprofits that fight human trafficking. Many of these groups and individuals were instrumental in persuading the General Assembly to adopt the legislation. McKenna, an attorney, worked with Del. James Leftwich of Chesapeake to draft the bill.

“We are willing to help with extra manpower and extra information for no cost,” said McKenna, whose group works to prevent human trafficking and to identify and assist victims in Hampton Roads.

HB 2282 is essentially an extension of a 2012 law, Senate Bill 259. That legislation required the state Board of Education, with assistance from the Department of Social Services, to provide awareness and training materials for local school division staff on human trafficking. The new law specifies which school professionals must be trained and creates an actual training program, not just materials.

Image courtesy of VCU CNS

HB 2282 is only a small step, however. McKenna noted that the bill does not set a timeframe for developing the guidelines or explain what the training must cover.

“How the law is implemented is just as important as it being passed,” said Jessica Willis, executive director of the Richmond Justice Initiative, a group related to McKenna’s.

To read the full story by Carolanne Wilson, VCU Capital News Service, on ABC 8 WRIC: Click Here

Feinstein: ‘Human Trafficking Is Totally Bad. It’s Totally Illegal. It Ruins People’s Lives’

Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Thursday applauded the collaboration between Fresno law enforcement and community groups in combating human trafficking.

“Today was a really unique meeting, because Fresno seems to have a very unique program,” Feinstein said after the Thursday gathering. “Here, there’s a community-police connection.”

Stopping human trafficking has been a concern of the senator’s for some time, and she said the opportunity to hear from law enforcement officials and community leaders at the meeting in Fresno will be helpful in crafting legislation to address the problem.

“Human trafficking has been relayed to me to be the second largest criminal industry in the United States, Feinstein said. “And young girls are trafficked all throughout America and throughout California. And pimps make a lot of money, and young girls have their lives ruined.”

California has the most cases of reported human trafficking in the U.S., and Fresno has the seventh-highest number of those cases, according to the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission’s Central Valley Against Human Trafficking Project. Bakersfield is ranked eighth.

And human trafficking is increasing, in part because of awareness in the community to report it, but also because of gang-related trafficking, the commission said.

Feinstein said 49 percent of girls who are traffficked are between ages 15 and 19, but 10 percent are 11 years old. Those involved in human trafficking should be vigorously prosecuted, she said.

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims, who participated in the roundtable at Fresno police headquarters, said victims are often promised love and money, but “before they know it, what they’re promised is violence and death.”

To read the full story by Barbara Anderson on The Fresno Bee: Click Here

Human Trafficking: A Survivor’s Perspective

MILWAUKEE — Nancy Yarbrough grew up in a good home, with rules, morals and even a pastor father. Nonetheless, at the age of 16, she was lured into the dark work of human trafficking, working truck stops and doing drugs.
“I got involved with trafficking because I was vulnerable at the time,” Yarbrough said. “I had a lot of things that happened to me as a youth. My first sexual experience was rape. I had a lot of inappropriate touches from people that were close to me and I didn’t know how to process that.”
Yarbrough began hanging out with people 10 to 15 years her senior, smoking marijuana and drinking, when her then-best friend introduced her to her brother — a pimp.

“Her brother was talking to me about how to get in the game,” she said. “How to be able to get money and things like that.” Yarbrough responded that she was interested. “And he showed me.”

After that, Yarbrough was shown the ropes and taught to work truck stops. Her first and second time working, she was financially successful.
“That was the beginning of my lure into sex trafficking,” she said. “There was nothing in my home life that would have prevented me from having a good life. I had parents who loved me. We had a solid foundation, we had moral standards. I would not have been a candidate for it except my vulnerability, curiosity and need to feel loved and accepted.”

According to Karri Hemmig — founder and executive director of Fight to End Exploitation, who has worked with Yarbrough — a human trafficking victim is involved with a pimp or trafficker who keep the money and/or controls the victim, sometimes offering them protection in exchange for money, whereas a prostitute works independently, keeping their own money.

“Typically, this (the trafficker) begins as a boyfriend, but it can begin in other ways as well,” Hemmig said. “Sometimes, the victim starts in prostitution and ends in trafficking or the other way around. So the line gets very blurry.”

Yarbrough and her trafficker shared a drug addiction, him using cocaine and her using crack cocaine and drinking heavily. At 17, Yarbrough had her first child, a son.

At 20, she entered rehab and met a man who eventually became abusive, putting Yarbrough back on the streets.
“I started learning how to be able to use what I got to get what I want,” she said. She said she didn’t forget the “tricks of the trade,” and began manipulating women the same way she had been manipulated.

“My whole mantra was always I was never groomed by women, I was groomed by men, meaning that I learned the tricks of what to do from a male perspective,” Yarbrough said. “I felt like a man and I was able to now have women succumb under my grooming process.”

Needing a fresh start, at 21, Yarbrough enlisted in the Army National Guard and transferred to Fort Jackson, S.C., to study business administration.
“I was desperate for change,” she said. “I really enjoyed it. I cried when I had to come back home.”

She returned to her abusive ex-boyfriend, became pregnant with her second child, a daughter, and received an honorable discharge from the National Guard. When the abuse began again, she relapsed on drugs and alcohol and began prostituting.

“It was just a vicious cycle for many years,” she said. “It was a long period of time in and out of the game. For 20 years of my life, in and out of stints of sobriety and stints of being trafficked, prostituting, prostituting others.”

To read the full story by Alyssa Mauk no The Journal Times: Click Here

Houston Coffee Shop Provides Culinary Training For Human Trafficking Survivors

A 2nd Cup serves coffee with a mission to raise awareness about human trafficking.

Kaylen Simpson is the executive chef.

She helps with an aftercare training program that teaches trafficking survivors culinary skills to transition into a career in the food industry.

“There has been a lot of abuse associated with the food service industry, so getting the food service industry involved in something it’s had its hand in is really exciting to me; so kind of combating it at different ways,” Simpson says.

Simpson says the program involves a three tiered approach starting with employee skills like writing a resume and interviewing. The next tier is more hands on.

To read the full story by Marissa Cummings at Houston Public Media: Click Here

Sisters’ Collaborative Rack Card Effort Raises Awareness at Tourist Destinations in Wisconsin

by Emily Anderson


Five congregations of women religious collaborated to develop a rack card to spread awareness about human trafficking in Wisconsin. 10,000 rack cards were printed and are being distributed to 825+ rack locations at travel stops such as convenience stores, truck plazas, and other tourism destinations across Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

The rack card, which measures 4” x 9” and is printed in color front and back, shares the fact that human trafficking happens everywhere, and asks tourists to help end this crime in Wisconsin by becoming aware, learning more, and reporting suspicious activity as they travel, through two smartphone apps, Redlight Traffic and TraffickCam. It also shares the “red flag” signs of human trafficking in potential victims and shares significant statistics about human trafficking.

The Congregations of women religious who participated include the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother (Oshkosh, Wis.), the Holy Cross Sisters (Merrill, Wis.), the Servants of Mary (Ladysmith, Wis.), the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis (Stevens Point, Wis.) and the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross (Green Bay, Wis.). With 5 Congregations participating, the cost to each was approximately $300 for this initiative.

The rack locations are serviced every other week, and the cards will be replenished by drivers for one year, beginning in June, 2017. If all 10,000 cards are distributed prior to the year-end date, the Congregations will consider printing more rack cards.

Design of the card was done by the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother, and printing and distribution were handled through 5 Star Marketing, Tomahawk, Wis.


New Task Force Formed to Fight Human Trafficking in Northeast Ohio

(CLEVELAND)— Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Cuyahoga County Sheriff Clifford Pinkney, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations Acting Special Agent in Charge Steve Francis, and Independence Police Chief Michael Kilbane today announced the formation of a new task force that will work to fight human trafficking in northeast Ohio.

The Cuyahoga County Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, which is part of the Ohio Attorney General’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission, is being led by the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department and includes representatives from each of the aforementioned local and federal agencies.

The task force, which recently began operations, will investigate incidents of human trafficking primarily in Cuyahoga County.

Investigators have already opened a number of investigations, and the task force has rescued nine human trafficking victims since its formation. An additional 56 victims have been identified as possibly being involved in sex trafficking.

Among those rescued by the task force include a 14-year-old girl who investigators found was being advertised on the internet for sex. Three suspects are now facing felony human trafficking charges related to that case, and dozens of other suspects face possible felony charges as the task force continues their open investigations.

“Human trafficking is a vile crime, and I’m confident that this task force will make a difference in the lives of many more victims who are currently enslaved by traffickers in northeast Ohio,” said Attorney General DeWine.  “Human traffickers may think that their crimes will go unnoticed, but through this partnership of state, local, and federal authorities, traffickers will be exposed and held accountable for their actions.”

“Our mission in setting up the Cuyahoga County Regional Human Trafficking Task Force is to identify and recover victims, to prosecute those who perpetrate this crime, and to put an end to this crime,” said Sheriff Pinkney.

To read the full story on Huntington News: Click Here

Fruit Cart Vendors Falling Victim To Human Trafficking Network

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Eyewitness News discovered fruit cart vendors around town are part of a labor-trafficking network that originates in Los Angeles.

“Any time you see a vendor on the side of the road, there is a chance that person is being trafficked or debt bondage or peonage,” said Michael Fagans, coordinator for the Kern Coalition Against Human Trafficking.

Fruit cart workers are usually brought into the country by “coyotajes.” All the vendors Eyewitness News talked to were immigrants from Mexico who were offered $50 a day plus free housing in exchange for work.

“A coyote is someone who brings them across the border, usually for exuberant amounts of money … they know the techniques, they have certain strategies, and so they do this on a fairly regular basis,” said Fagans.

These coyotajes operate to a pretty strategic system. Once the immigrants are brought into the country, they live in homes, which are owned by their boss. One fruit cart worker said he lived with 10 others under one roof. Immigrants who work under one boss call themselves a team.

Every morning, fruit cart vendors wake up, prepare their carts and are dropped off at a location outside of Los Angeles. Vendors have been reported in numerous locations all across the state, including San Bernardino, Pasadena and Coalinga Park.

“The I-5 corridor literally goes all the way to Tijuana and to Vancouver, so every city up and down the I-5 is potentially on a labor trafficking route. Same thing with the 99,” said Fagans.

To read the full story by Kahtia Hall, on Bakersfield Now: Click Here

Interview – Adidas’ Slavery Buster Hopes Apps Can Help Give Workers A Voice

LONDON, May 24 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Adidas executive Aditi Wanchoo is on a mission – to wipe out any slavery in the German sportswear company’s supply chain, and she hopes giving workers the technology to speak out will help.

With a background in corporate social responsibility at consultancy firm Accenture, Wanchoo was hired 18 months ago in a new position created by Adidas, one of the first companies to set up a role dedicated to fighting slavery.

In recent years modern-day slavery has increasingly come under the spotlight, putting regulatory and consumer pressure on companies to ensure their supply chains are free of forced labour, child labour and other forms of slavery.

As apparel and footwear industries rely heavily on outsourcing, sportswear companies have faced growing scrutiny.

Wanchoo said Adidas had been actively working on this issue since it was revealed at the 1998 World Cup that footballs were produced by child labourers in India and companies realised they did not have control over their suppliers.

Governments are now trying to tackle the problem with new legislation, such as the UK’s 2015 law requiring companies to disclose how they are ensuring supply chains are slavery free.

To read the full story by Belinda Goldsmith on Thomson Reuters Foundation: Click Here

Spain Sex Trafficking Case Lodged To U.N. Shows Lack Of Protection For Victims – Charity

LONDON, May 19 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The case of a Nigerian woman trafficked into Spain, who was later deported while pregnant, was presented to a United Nations rights committee on Friday to highlight the lack of protection for sex trafficking victims, a women’s legal charity said.

After being trafficked to Spain and forced into prostitution, Gladys John was detained by police in 2010 and deported just days later, said Women’s Link Worldwide, which represented John at the time.

The legal charity submitted John’s case to the U.N.’s Committee Against Torture on Friday, saying she was “tortured” as a sex trafficking victim and then “faced torture again” when she was detained instead of protected by the Spanish government.

“Trafficking victims should never be held in detention centres, since they are victims, not criminals. And they most certainly should not be deported, but protected,” Women’s Link attorney Teresa Fernandez Paredes said in a statement.

“Today we don’t know if Gladys John is alive or dead. Spain is responsible for her disappearance, because she placed her trust in the authorities, and the state failed her,” Paredes added.

To read the full story byLin Taylor on Thomson Reuters Foundation: Click Here

Tributes Paid To Former Sex Slave Jennifer Kempton Whose Charity Helped Other Survivors Turn Brandings Into Flower Tattoos

Jennifer Kempton (second R) at Trust Conference/Americas Forum in Washington DC, April 25, 2017. REUTERS

NEW YORK, May 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Jennifer Kempton, a former sex slavery victim who founded the U.S.-based charity Survivor’s Ink to help other trafficked women, died on Thursday, an associate said, prompting a series on tributes on social media.

Kempton used tattoos to cover up those branded on her by sex traffickers and she founded her non-profit group in 2014 to provide grants so others could do the same.

Kempton, who lived in Columbus, Ohio, died on Thursday morning, according to Paula Haines, executive director of Freedom a la Cart, a catering and box lunch company that trains and employs trafficking survivors.

Kempton previously worked at Freedom a la Cart, and both organizations often worked with the same survivors, Haines said.

Local police said they received a report of an accidental drug overdose and took Kempton, unconscious and unresponsive, to an area hospital late on Wednesday night.

Police did not have official confirmation that Kempton died, and the hospital, Mount Carmel West, did not respond to a request for information.

Kempton, who often spoke publicly about her experiences, aimed to help survivors whose traffickers had tattooed or branded them to show ownership and control.

Globally some 4.5 million people are trapped in sexual exploitation, according to the United Nation’s International Labour Organization, generating an estimated $99 billion in illegal profits a year.

“It’s always amazing to see the look on their face when they no longer have to look at this dehumanizing mark of ownership and violence,” Kempton told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview last year.

“Sometimes I’ll get a call a few days later with someone just bawling their eyes out saying ‘Oh my gosh, I can actually look at my body. It’s my own again.'”

To read the full article by Ellen Wulfhorst on Thompson Reuters Foundation: Click Here