In the News

San Diego-Based Cyber Patrol Volunteers Educate Would-Be Johns About The Realities Of Human Trafficking

“You calling about the ad?” a man’s deep voice inquired of the caller who had just rung.
The man at the other end hesitated, maybe because he expected to hear a woman’s voice answer the call, then responded: “Yeah.”
The ad he was calling about had been posted on Backpage.com on a recent Friday night. It didn’t say much — and it didn’t need to. Just a phone number and a photo of a half-naked woman.
But rather than setting up a sexual rendezvous with the half-naked woman, the caller got an earful from the man on the other end. Most of the women who advertised for sex were victims of human trafficking, the caller was told, and many were underage. 
“What now?” the caller responded, taken aback. Then he added: “Is Mark there?”
“Dude, I know you’re not calling for Mark,” the call-taker said.
“I think I have the wrong number.”
“I think you need to stay off Backpage.”
The exchange was one of 84 that night, part of an effort by a group of San Diego-based male volunteers to educate callers about the realities of human trafficking.
They call it the Bunch of Guys Cyber Patrol.
The fight against human trafficking has evolved significantly around the nation over recent years, with the most tangible efforts aimed at rescuing victims and prosecuting traffickers. Reducing demand for paid sex is a trickier proposition, one that takes a cultural shift and calls for a long-term commitment.
Public awareness campaigns are now common — in airports, at conventions, on freeway billboards — but the Cyber Patrol hopes it can be effective in another way: by appealing to individuals in a one-on-one conversation.
 

To read the full story or watch the video by Kristina Davis on LA Times: Click Here

Navajo Nation Takes Stance Against Human Trafficking

At the start of the Navajo Nation’s new winter legislative session, President Russell Begaye made it clear which issue sits high on the leadership’s agenda. Begaye signed a proclamation aimed at raising awareness of human trafficking in and around the border-towns of the sprawling reservation.

“We just want to announce and proclaim the month of January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month,” Begaye said as he assembled with other Navajo leaders outside council chambers.

In August, Begaye enacted a tribal council resolution to criminalize the sex slave trade within the reservation borders — what the International Labour Organization estimates is a $150 billion industry worldwide.

“(There’s a perception that) trafficking only happens in places like Asia, or Russia or Eastern Europe — places like that…but it does happen in the United States, and it does happen on Navajo Nation,” Begaye said.

To read the full story by Jenni Monet on Native News: Click Here

Attorney General’s Office Wants To Teach More People How To ID Human Trafficking

AUSTIN — It was a neighbor who saved Tonya Stafford’s life, she said.

The Dallas native, who spent about a decade trafficked for sex, shared her dark story and the key to her survival in a new training video released Thursday. State officials hope the video will educate and mobilize people across the state to spot potential cases of sex and labor trafficking.

“Human trafficking is very hard to detect,” said Attorney General Ken Paxton, whose office funded and unveiled the video before hundreds of people at the Austin Independent School District Performing Arts Center. “The evil of human trafficking is significant, but if it cannot endure under the might of Texans united behind one another.”

Paxton is requiring all 4,000 of his agency’s employees to watch the 52-minute video, titled “Be the One in the Fight Against Human Trafficking.”

The video features stories of two women who were trafficked as minors, as well as a group of neighbors in The Woodlands who noticed a constant stream of cars visiting a home down the block on a cul-de-sac where women were being trafficked for sex. Throughout the video are tips about how to identify potential sex and labor trafficking and urged viewers to report it.

To read the full story by Andrea Zelinski on Chron: Click Here

February 2018, Monthly Reflection

“In God’s will, there is great peace”

by Carol Davis, OP

Image: Stained Glass of St. Josephine Bakhita, Saint John Paul II Chapel, Mundelein | photo by Fr. Gaurav Shroff

The title of this reflection is a direct quote from Saint Josephine Bakhita, a courageous woman of faith who suffered brutality for years at the hands of her captors who enslaved her, who stole her from her loving family in the Sudan when she was just a child of somewhere around seven or nine. The terrors she suffered caused her to forget her name. She would eventually break free and become a Cannosian Sister in Italy. She died in 1947. Thousands came to pay their respects. She was officially recognized as a saint in 2000.

Watch this 3 minute video to learn more:

A group of women religious asked Pope Francis to raise greater awareness in the church about the issue of trafficking by establishing a worldwide day of prayer. When Pope Francis asked them for a suitable date, they suggested February 8th, the feast day of St Josephine Bakhita. This year, 2018, is the 4th worldwide day of prayer. It is a day to pray for an end to the scourge of human trafficking.

We know this: Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery—a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to 20.9 million people around the world. And no matter where you live, chances are it’s happening nearby. From the girl forced into prostitution at a truck stop, to the man discovered in a restaurant kitchen, stripped of his passport and held against his will. All trafficking victims share one essential experience: the loss of freedom. Polaris Project

An Invitation

Take the month of February or the next 28 days if you read this later, to pray daily for eight minutes for an end to human trafficking. Pray for the victims, the survivors, the traffickers, the legislators, the doctors in hospitals. Pray that corporations have fair trade supply chains. Pray for the runaway kids. Pray for the raising of awareness. Of course, you might say you’ve been praying for years and you will continue beyond 28 days! Do this anyway, consciously, deliberately in union with people around the globe. Put a notice in your local church bulletin. Invite a family member to pray. Send the links in this little article to others. Ask Saint Bakhita and others like Harriet Tubman and Sojurner Truth to be allies in the transformative ending to human trafficking. Cover the world in prayer. It will generate action.

Bakhita found peace in God. Through prayer she found God’s love and she lived that peace and love, even after suffering brutality. United in deep prayer, we will know God’s peace. Prayer and peace will provide sustenance and will lead to greater clarity in knowing the actions that each of us and all of us must take to end human trafficking.

Co-Op Offers Jobs To Modern Slavery And Human Trafficking Victims

Victims of modern slavery and human trafficking are being offered jobs by retail giant the Co-op to help them rebuild their lives.

Survivors of forced labour, sexual exploitation and domestic servitude are being given a four-week paid work placement in the Co-op’s food business.

The move is being supported by northern-based charity City Hearts, helping vulnerable people who may not have references or other paperwork.

The Co-op is drawing up a national “matching system” that will enable other companies to work with local charities to create jobs.

At least 13,000 people are estimated to have been slavery victims, although the figure is believed to be the tip of the iceberg.

Pippa Wicks, the Co-op Group’s deputy chief executive, said: “This heinous crime will only be stopped by Government, businesses and society working together.

“By creating employment opportunities we can ensure victims stay out of the evil clutches of their captors.

“Working with City Hearts we are creating a matching scheme that will put charities, in any part of the UK, in touch with employers that are willing to support victims of modern slavery find the dignity that paid, freely chosen employment provides.

To read the full story on The Daily Echo: Click Here

Truckstop Group Highlights Efforts To Combat Human Trafficking

Move comes as legislation develops to give federal and state law enforcement more tools to fight trafficking.

Truckstop and travel center operators this detailed the efforts they are undertaking to help fight human trafficking across the country on Capitol Hill, as Congress seeks to pass legislation that would provide state and federal law enforcement agencies with more “tools” to fight this crime.

In testimony before the House of Representative’s Committee on Homeland Security, Lisa Mullings, president of the NATSO Foundation – formerly known as the National Association of Truck Stop Operators – said truckstops and travel plazas play a “vital role” in combating human trafficking.

Specifically, Mullings cited the NATSO Foundation’s partnership with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its “Blue Campaign” to distribute public awareness materials truckstops can post in their locations.

As an industry that caters to millions of travelers every year, truckstops and travel plazas and their employees are in a key position to help identify and report suspected incidents of human trafficking, Mullings stressed in her testimony.

“Although there is no official estimate for the total number of U.S. human trafficking victims, it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of adults and minors are victims of human trafficking each year – many of whom are moved from state to state along our interstate highway system,” she said.

The NATSO Foundation provides online education courses to help truckstops and travel plazas train their staff in recognizing and responding to suspected incidents of human trafficking, Mullings noted.

To read the full story on American Trucker: Click Here

How To Identify Human Trafficking Victims Often ‘Hidden In Plain Sight’

Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, created by Congress in 2007 to “raise awareness of and opposition to human trafficking

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and may involve, force, fraud or coercion in exchange for labor or commercial sex acts. There are over 20 million victims worldwide in the $32 billion-a-year global human trafficking industry, according to the U.S. State Department.

Victims are often “hidden in plain sight,” and can be any age, race, gender or nationality, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Here are some questions to consider when identifying possible human trafficking, provided by the department’s Blue Campaign:

  • “Does the person appear disconnected from family, friends, community organizations or houses of worship?
  • Has a child stopped attending school?
  • Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?
  • Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts?
  • Is the person disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
  • Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?

To read the full story by Lindsey Jacobson on ABC NEWS: Click Here

Trump Signs Anti-Human Trafficking Bills Into Law

Commercial drivers found guilty of human trafficking will be disqualified from the industry under legislation President Donald Trump signed into law this month.

Katko

The bipartisan No Human Trafficking on Our Roads Act, sponsored by Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), requires the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue bans on professional drivers who are issued felonies for using commercial motor vehicles for trafficking.

“Too often, human traffickers take advantage of our nation’s transportation network to transport their victims from one location to the next,” Katko said. “Truck drivers are often a critical asset in helping law enforcement identify victims who otherwise might go unseen. However, an isolated few individuals have taken advantage of their position to illegally traffic innocent people.”

To read the full story by Eugene Mulero on Transport Topics: Click Here

Franciscans Sisters of Perpetual Adoration Co-Sponsor Video Series On Human Trafficking

The La Crosse Task Force to End Modern Slavery, founded by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, is co-sponsoring an online video series titled “The Faces of Human Trafficking.”

The FSPAs partnered with Minnesota’s Breaking Free, one of the nation’s leading organizations for working with victims and survivors of sex trafficking to create the series, which is being launched this month in connection with Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

“Our goal was to create an online resource to educate human trafficking support workers and the general public and give voice to the survivors,” said FSPA Sister Corrina Thomas, who serves in the human trafficking field.

The series features stories of survivors, pimps and johns, she said.

For example, Jenny, a survivor who was featured in the series debut Friday, said in her video, “It’s a brainwashing that happens. There’s a reason traffickers go after children.

“I want people to know that women don’t choose this. This is something that happens to them — they’re victims,” said Jenny, who, like other survivors in the series, talk about their childhoods, their time in “the life,” how they survived and what they would like everyone to know about the billion-dollar industry.

Introducing each video is FSPA Sister Marlene Weisenbeck, who founded the task force.

The FSPAs will release the videos at noon on the following dates, with specified ones followed by Twitter Chat via @fspatweets using the hashtag #HumanTraffickingFaces:

  • Jan. 10 — “Meet Laurie”
  • Jan. 12 — “Meet Anne,” followed by Twitter Chat
  • Jan. 17 — “Meet Jessica”
  • Jan. 19 — “Meet Maya,” followed by Twitter Chat
  • Jan. 24 — “Meet Ms. R”

All videos and additional resources will be available at the FSPA web site.

Also this month and into early February, near the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, patron saint of human trafficking, the series also will feature “Flora,” “Mr. J” and “Mr. P.”

Bakhita, who was born in the Darfur region of southern Sudan in the 19th century, was kidnapped at the age of 7, sold into slavery and given the name Bakhita, which means “fortunate.” She was resold five times, and her owners brutalized her, including branding, beating and cutting her. In one incident, one of her owners rubbed salt into the 114 cuts he had made on her body.

Freed through a series of unusual circumstances, she became attracted to the Catholic faith and became a Canossian nun, assisting her religious community through cooking, sewing, embroidery and welcoming visitors. Her canonization as a saint in 2000 resulted in part from the affection of children attending the sisters’ school and local citizens.

The FSPAs also will host a public human trafficking awareness prayer service on at 4 p.m. Feb. 6 in Mary of the Angels Chapel at 901 Franciscan Way in La Crosse.

To view the story by Mike Tighe as it originally appears on The La Crosse Tribune: Click Here

UN Readying Training Guidelines To Help Cabin Crews Identify, Report Human Trafficking

4 January 2018 – The United Nations is taking the global combat against human trafficking into the skies as the Organization’s human rights office and its Montreal-based civil aviation agency begin putting the final touches on training guidelines that could help airline cabin crew spot possible victims.

Human trafficking is considered the third most lucrative illegal activity on the planet – after the illegal sale of arms and drugs – and its clandestine nature makes it difficult to quantify with precision. In 2017, the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that some 40.3 million people worldwide were subjected to forced labour and modern slavery.

Men, women and children are recruited, transferred, harboured or received, through the use of force or deception, to be exploited into prostitution rings, forced labour, domestic servitude or the removal of their organs.

With all this in mind, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is working with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to develop guidelines for airlines operators to train cabin crews in identifying and reporting trafficked individuals.

“Cabin crewmembers are in a unique situation where they can observe passengers over a certain period of time, allowing them to use their observation skills to identify a potential victim of trafficking,” the document reads.

In an interview with UN News, Youla Haddadin, Advisor on Trafficking in Persons with OHCHR, said cabin crew and flight attendants develop strong observation skills and the jointly-developed guidelines can draw on those skills and provide cabin crew with the reporting and response procedures if they are faced with a potential trafficking situation.

“[The indicators] can be used when [cabin crew] crew are trying to identify potential victims or persons accompanying them.” They should observe for a period of time and collect information [while following the principle of] ‘do no harm’ – ensuring that a potential victim is not further jeopardized and ensuring their own safety and that of other passengers, she explained.

To read the full story on UN News Centre: Click Here