Sociology Major Uses Marketing Internship to Help Former Human Trafficking Victims

Slavery was formally abolished in the United States in 1865 by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution—today, all countries have abolished slavery However, slavery continues to exist in practice in the form of human trafficking, which is often called modern-day slavery. Victoria Erdel’s (Class of 2019, sociology) curiosity to learn more about the impact of human trafficking on its victims led her to complete a summer internship helping trafficking victims using her written and visual communication skills.

For seven weeks, For seven weeks, Victoria worked with Starfish Project, a jewelry-making social enterprise in Asia that helps previously trafficked women establish careers and gain their independence.Victoria was a marketing and communications intern who helped the organization share the stories of women who were sex trafficked. “As an intern, I began by creating behind-the-scenes content for their social media accounts,” Erdel said. “However, during my third week I was assigned to come up with new ways to share the women’s stories.” That new mode of sharing stories came in the form of videos visualizing each woman’s experiences. Each video consists of Victoria drawing out the narrative of a given Starfish worker, which turns a person’s tragic story into a work of beauty and hope.

Victoria’s interest in working with Starfish Project started when she was 13 years old. She met the group’s founder when she gave a talk at Victoria’s church in Mishawaka, a town only a few miles away from Notre Dame. The talk inspired Victoria to learn more about human trafficking and how to fight it. During her sophomore year at Notre Dame, Victoria believed that she was now in a position to help the Starfish Project using a skillset developed during her first two years at the University. She learned about the marketing internship opportunity available to work directly with the women of Starfish Project in Asia.

The experience was valuable for Victoria, but it did not come without its difficulties. Going to a place where the dominant language was Chinese without any knowledge of it posed a challenge for Victoria. “I was worried about how I would be able to communicate with others, but I am glad that it went smoothly in the end.” Victoria said. Given the subject matter of Starfish Project’s activities, it was inevitable that the experience would be an emotional one for Victoria. “I had to be emotionally prepared to collect the stories from the women there. Some of the things they dealt with were quite dramatic,” Victoria said. Despite the difficulties of the internship, Victoria was inspired to continue her work on human trafficking once she came back to the United States.

To read the full story by Grant Johnson on Notre Dame‘s website: Click Here

Four Dangerous Assumptions About Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is subject to complicated legal definitions, but the essence of this crime is straightforward: a person who is trapped in a situation of economic exploitation from which they cannot escape is very likely a victim of trafficking. Someone involved in moving that person into exploitation, or keeping them there against their will, is very likely a trafficker.

The forms it takes are as varied as the potential for profit. Women, men and children are trapped on farms, fishing boats and construction sites; in factories, mines, restaurant kitchens and private households. They are coerced into fighting wars, giving up their organs, marrying into servitude, or acting as commercial surrogates.

Long banished to the outer edges of the human rights agenda, trafficking (or “modern slavery” as advocates prefer) has emerged as a major issue of concern. Each of the past four US presidents, right up to the incumbent, has loudly proclaimed his personal commitment to ending this scourge – as have religious leaderscelebrities and some of the world’s wealthiest individuals. In a radical shift of the legal landscape, the overwhelming majority of countries have, over the past decade, criminalised trafficking. Funding for programmes aimed at fighting trafficking has never been more abundant. At the international level, the issue has been taken up by the UN General Assembly and Security Council. The Sustainable Development Goals commit states to “take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking”.

But progress against human exploitation has been painfully slow, despite the vast investment of political capital, resources and expertise. In trying to work out what has gone wrong – and what we could be doing differently – it is useful to critically examine some of the basic assumptions on which the anti-trafficking movement is built.

Assumption 1: We’ve got the numbers

Wrong

The hunger for hard data – especially around the number of victims and the profits being generated – is intense and increasing. That is understandable. In our metrics-obsessed world, Bill Gates’ assertion, ”If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist”, rings unsettlingly true. Without being able to paint a clear picture of the size of the trafficking problem, it is difficult to attract attention, to solicit money, to show how well we are doing. Few public figures speaking on this issue have resisted the temptation to cite trafficking statistics that are at best unverifiable and at worst demonstrably false. The anti-trafficking community as a whole has been unconscionably silent about the shoddy research methodologies that regularly produce the wildly varying numbers on which it so heavily relies.

To read the full story by Anne Gallagher on World Economic Forum: Click Here

Is Your Teen At Risk For Human Trafficking?

Watch out and slow down isn’t the only warning from law enforcement as kids return to classes for the start of the school year.

The Modesto Police Department also advises families to be alert to a different kind of “traffic” risk: human trafficking.

The department joined with the Modesto-based nonprofit organization Without Permission to produce a video that notes a rise in high school-age victims and provides parents with “tools and advice” to protect their children.

The video, posted on MPD’s Facebook page, comes on the heels of a presentation to Modesto City Schools junior high and high school teachers by Detective Steve Anderson of the department’s Special Victims Unit and Debbie Johnson, founder of Without Permission.

To read the full article by Deke Farrow on The Modesto Bee: Click Here

Skies Are The Frontline In Fight Against Human Trafficking

LONDON — Flight attendant Donna Hubbard was deeply concerned when a couple carried a boy who was sweating, lethargic and appeared to be in pain onto her flight from Honduras to Miami in October last year.

After take-off, Hubbard and her crew spoke to the man and woman separately, who gave different names and ages for the boy. Hubbard told the Thomson Reuters Foundation she was suspicious that he was being trafficked, kidnapped or even being used as a drug mule.

The pilot alerted authorities in Miami who met the boy and his companions on arrival. While unable to reveal details, a customs official later told Hubbard that she had made the “right call” and the boy had been safely intercepted by officials.

Hubbard’s actions are the kind of intervention the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) recommended last week when it urged airline bosses at an international airline summit to train flight crews to help prevent human trafficking.

Jean-Luc Lemahieu, UNODC policy director, told the International Air Transport Association (IATA) meeting: “It is not rocket science but most flight attendants spend one hour to eight hours with passengers.

“They can see the signs. It’s an invisible crime but in plain sight, you can you see it if you know what to look at.”

The skies have long been on the frontlines of the fight against human trafficking as criminal gangs transport thousands of children and vulnerable people by air each year.

To read the full story by Ed Upright  on GMA NEWS ONLINE: Click Here

Study Shows 1 In 5 Homeless Detroit Youths Victims Of Human Trafficking

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A study shows that 1 in homeless Detroit youths are victims of human trafficking. The Ruth Ellis Center in Highland Park is a youth social service that helps homeless and at-risk gay, bi-attractional, transgender, and questioning youth. (Tanya Moutzalias | MLive.com) (Tanya Moutzalias | MLive.com)

A study of homeless youth in the U.S. and Canada indicates that one in five are victims of human trafficking. 

Among those surveyed were Detroit youths, with 21 percent of the 60 respondents reporting that they had been trafficked for sex, labor or both.

The survey was conducted by The Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice and Research at the University of Pennsylvania and Loyola University.

Researchers interviewed 911 people between ages 17 and 24 across 13 cities between February 2014 and March 2017.

In 12 of the 13 cities, researchers interviewed people from Covenant House, which offers services for homeless youth across the nation.

LGBTQ youth accounted for 10 percent of the interviews, and 56 percent were victims of sex trafficking.

About 21 percent were women and 13 percent were men. About five percent reported being trafficked for labor.

“Youth homelessness is like a disease that over time builds up a stubborn resistance and becomes immune to almost any intervention that we can provide,” said Gerald J. Piro, Covenant House Michigan executive director.

“I am greatly disturbed that so many of the youth we serve in Detroit have been victims of trafficking.

To read the full story by Dana Afana on MLive: Click Here

7 Things You May Not Know About Human Trafficking, And 3 Ways To Help

“The trade in human beings, a modern form of slavery, … violates the God-given dignity of so many of our brothers and sisters and constitutes a true crime against humanity.”  —Pope Francis

 

You may not see the problem, but it’s there. It’s estimated there are more than 21 million human trafficking victims worldwide. This is not something that only occurs in dark alleys in the far corners of the Earth, though. It’s happening around the world every day.

Human trafficking is considered modern-day slavery, and there are more slaves today than at any time in history.

“They are hidden from view. You don’t recognize them in the back kitchens, shops, gas stations and in hospitality. They are also tucked away in fields. They don’t come out and ask for help. It’s a different kind of slavery than long ago,” says Dr. Lucy Steinitz, Catholic Relief Services senior technical advisor for protection. “They are not in shackles or on plantations. People are coerced into harsh employment under horrible conditions, and then have no freedom to leave. They are beaten, violated and told they are worthless—that no one else wants them anymore.”

 

Here are 7 facts about human trafficking you may not know, plus 3 ways you can help.

  1. The real definition of human trafficking.
    Human trafficking is the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud or coercion. It’s important to note, though, that human trafficking can include, but does not require, movement. You can be a victim of human trafficking in your hometown. At the heart of human trafficking is the traffickers’ goal of exploitation and enslavement.
     
  2. Exploitation covers more than you think.
    Sexual exploitation and forced labor are the most commonly identified forms of human trafficking. More than half of the victims are female. Many other forms of exploitation are often thought to be under-reported. These include domestic servitude and forced marriage; organ removal; and the exploitation of children in begging, the sex trade and warfare.
     
  3. Causes of trafficking: It’s complicated.
    The causes of human trafficking are complex and interlinked, and include economic, social and political factors. Poverty alone does necessarily create vulnerability to trafficking, but when combined with other factors, these can lead to a higher risk for being trafficked. Some of those other factors include: corruption, civil unrest, a weak government, lack of access to education or jobs, family disruption or dysfunction, lack of human rights, or economic disruptions.
     
  4. It’s a lucrative industry.
    Along with illegal arms and drug trafficking, human trafficking is one of the largest international crime industries in the world. A report from the International Labor Organization (ILO) says forced labor generates $150 billion in illegal profits per year. Two-thirds of that money came from commercial sexual exploitation, while the rest is from forced economic exploitation, including domestic work, agriculture, child labor and related activities.
     

To read the full story by Rebekah Kates Lemke on Catholic Relief Services: Click Here

Flight Attendants Train to Watch for Human Trafficking

Flight attendant Sheila Fedrick says she knew something was wrong when she saw a teenage girl with greasy hair sitting on an airplane next to an older man.

The girl had bruises, possible evidence that she had been hurt. The man, however, appeared very well-dressed.

When Fedrick tried to talk to them, the man became defensive. So the flight attendant left a note for the girl in a bathroom. The girl later wrote back a message that said “I need help.”

Fedrick was able to inform the pilot of the Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to San Francisco. The pilot spoke to police officials on the ground. By the time the plane landed, officers were waiting for the girl and the man at the airport. She later learned the girl was a victim of human trafficking.

Keeping the skies safe

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation says human trafficking is thought to be the third largest criminal activity in the world. Trafficking involves the illegal transport of people from one country or area to another. This is usually done to force victims into forced labor or the sex trade.

Human traffickers have often used airplanes as a way to quietly transport their victims. Yet one group, Airline Ambassadors International, or AAI, is training airline and airport workers to recognize signs of human trafficking. The goal is to give more workers the same kind of skills and sensitivity Fedrick has.

 

​AAI was the idea of Nancy Rivard, a former flight attendant. She founded the group as a way for flight attendants to help vulnerable children directly.

Rivard said AAI developed the first industry-specific training on human trafficking and trafficking awareness. She said that training just one person can have a big effect.

To read the full story by Phil Dierking on VOA Learning English.: Click Here

How to Teach Teens About Human Trafficking

Actor Ashton Kutcher made headlines last week after giving emotional testimony before Congress on his efforts to fight human trafficking.

Victims of human trafficking – modern slavery – perform labor or commercial sex acts by force, fraud or coercion. Many victims are children.

While human trafficking occurs nationwide and to people of all socioeconomic levels, runaway and homeless youth are among the vulnerable, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

Recent reports of teenage trafficking have occurred in California, Louisiana and Michigan, among other states.

[Learn how homeless high schoolers face barriers to education.]

“Numerous exploiters have talked about the fact that they do target schools,” says Jeneé Littrell, administrator of safe and supportive schools for the San Mateo County Office of Education in California. “It’s a place where young children are, and young children are vulnerable.”

Teens can go through many typical stages that could put them at risk, like starting to seek external validation as well as independence from the family, says Littrell, who was the lead author of “Human Trafficking in America’s Schools,” a 2015 guide from the Department of Education.

It’s critical for schools to educate staff and students about human trafficking, Littrell says. There could be student victims or others being recruited. Schools are filled with caring adults who have relationships with students who can help young people in need of assistance, she says.

High school officials can use the following strategies to build awareness of human trafficking.

1. Make sure staff understand human trafficking: Teachers don’t need to be human trafficking experts, but they should know what modern slavery is, how it happens in their community, what to look for and who to turn to if there is a student they are concerned about or a victim comes forward.

Some of the warning signs: Students with bruises, tattoos or branding and unexplained trends in absences. For example, if a student is often absent on Monday and Friday it may be because their exploiter is making them travel to different locations.

2. Integrate human trafficking education into the curriculum: Modern slavery lessons naturally fit into a lesson about the history of slavery, says Littrell.

To read the full story by Alexandra Pannoni on US News & World Report: Click Here

Sr. Angela Reed on “Reframing Human Trafficking”

Reframing Human Trafficking: a Human Rights, Life Course Approach

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Following her talk at Notre Dame Law School, Dr. Reed sat with Christine Cervenak, Associate Director of The Center for Civil and Human Rights, for a conversation that touched upon her research methodologies and findings. The conversation was conducted as part of the Asia Working Group, a collaborative effort of the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies. The conversation can be viewed below.

For the original pst by Patrick Deegan of University of Notre Dame’s Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies: Click Here

Hotel Industry Responds to Human Trafficking Crisis with New Online Training Program

Human trafficking of children and adults continues to be a serious issue for the global hospitality industry, as traffickers sometimes use hotels to carry out their illegal operations. The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), in partnership with Marriott International, ECPAT-USA, and the Polaris Project, this month will begin offering an online training program to help hotel employees identify and respond to human trafficking at hotel properties.

Your Role in Preventing Human Trafficking: Recognize the Signs, available through the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI), was developed in response to the growing demand from global hospitality brands for an expansion of the online course, The Role of Hospitality in Preventing and Reacting to Child Trafficking, released by AHLEI and ECPAT-USA in January 2014. The expanded training course provides an overview of the issues of human trafficking, suggested protocols for responding to suspicious activity, and signs of trafficking specific to different hospitality positions (in-room staff, restaurant, lobby, and security).

“Training employees in a variety of roles in hotels is critical, so they can be the eyes and ears of identifying potential survivors in one of the most frequently documented human trafficking venues,” said Courtney Walsh, Advisory Services, Polaris.

Features of the expanded program include:

  • Information on human trafficking of both children and adults for the purposes of both sex and labor
  • Globalized information to make the program relevant at properties around the world, not just in the United States—currently available in English, the training will eventually be available in 14 additional languages
  • Content that is compliant with many new city ordinances and state laws requiring hotels to train their employees on human trafficking.

“We are so excited that the update not only broadens training to include both labor and sex trafficking but it is also now relevant on a global level,” said Michelle Guelbart, Director of Private Sector Engagement for ECPAT-USA. “The hospitality industry has made such headway in the fight against commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children and we know that with this re-launch, we will see even more progress.”

To read the full story on HospitalityNet: Click Here