Category: Human Trafficking

tip 2015Since 2001, the U.S. Department of State has released a Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. This report examines trafficking country-by-country, ranks each country and gives suggestions to each country’s government to improve the fight against modern slavery.

The 2015 report begins with, among others items, a list of all situations that are now considered forms of human trafficking.

  • Sex trafficking
  • Child sex trafficking
  • Forced labor
  • Bonded labor or debt bondage
  • Domestic servitude
  • Forced child labor
  • Unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers

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htOne of the challenges that survivors of human trafficking face is that they often are unable to prove their identity. Traffickers take away driver’s licenses, visas, passports, even student I.D.s in order to control their victims.

In Australia, the Immigration Department is working to help trafficking victims by developing a special visa for trafficking victims (male and female) and their families who wish to remain in Australia. The old visa system, critics said, stigmatized victims.

Victims will now be able to stay on a temporary visa or a permanent witness protection visa, with an assistance notice from the Attorney-General’s Department, rather than a criminal justice stay certificate.
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Jenny Stanger, national manager of the Salvation Army’s Freedom Partnership, said the criminal justice stay visa had made it difficult for victims to find work, with some clients’ job interviews ending once they told their prospective employers the name of their visa. (more…)

child traffickingAt first blush, the issues of same-sex marriage and surrogacy don’t seem to have too great a connection. However, in Ireland, a public debate illustrates how closely these issues are related, and it isn’t good.

In May, same-sex marriage became legal in Ireland by public vote. In the days before the vote, major news sources noted that “fears” of surrogacy would sink the vote for same-sex marriage, even though surrogacy is not legal in Ireland. The question raised is: Do people have a right to procreate or, more importantly, have children? Christopher White explains:

The confusion can be traced back to a 1991 case, Murray v. Ireland, in which the high court effectively held that there is a constitutional right to procreate. While many on both sides of the referendum argued that this decision was referring to natural procreation, the decision has already been used to promote donor conception. It’s understandable, then, that many were fearful that a “yes” vote would open the floodgates to a practice that many Irish voters do not support. Mothers and Fathers Matter—the leading civic group opposing the same-sex marriage referendum—launched a campaign that papered the country with ads and posters of a young, concerned toddler with the following slogan: “Surrogacy?: She Needs Her Mother For Life, Not Just For Nine Months. Vote No.”

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kangblog“Because the Bible tells me so.”

Most of us think of that phrase as part of one of a beloved children’s hymns (“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”). But it’s also one of the most sophisticated premises for a moral argument. Because Scripture is a channel through which God’s self-revelation can be known, arguments based on moral appeals to the Bible (i.e., interpreted through proper contextualization and hermeneutical principles) should be particularly compelling and authoritative.

Unfortunately, this is rarely true when arguing with modern Christians, much less with non-believers. The problem is not with Scripture, of course, but with the reasoning abilities of the average person. Using Biblical arguments in moral discussions is often like using calculus to convince people who think arithmetic is akin to witchcraft: You first need to disentangle their confused worldview before they can even begin to understand.

That is why Christians often need to arm themselves with “translations” of moral appeals that are more comprehensible to people acclimatized to a culture of pluralism. “Secular” moral arguments are not better—often they lack the solid foundation of Biblical-based appeals—but for those who reject or can’t comprehend religious-based arguments, they can be more persuasive.

A good example is David Marcus’s argument in “The Amoral Case Against Paying For Sex.” Marcus agrees that we “need arguments against sex for pay that do not merely appeal to moral authority” and comes up with a clever and compelling comparison: prostitution is like predatory lending.

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A Filipino neighborhood just after Typhoon Haiyan

A Filipino neighborhood just after Typhoon Haiyan

I’ve read and heard a lot of horrible stories about human trafficking. Every time I think I’ve heard the worst, I find another one that horrifies me. This one certainly falls into that category:

According to a news outlet in the Philippines, girls in the countryside were lured away from their home with the promise of studying in Manila, and almost abducted into a life of human trafficking—by women dressed as Catholic nuns.

In a very twisted way, this makes sense. In the heavily-Catholic Philippines, there would hardly be a more trusted figure to young children than a Catholic nun. (more…)

Blog author: ehilton
Thursday, June 11, 2015
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Children forced to fight for Boko Haram

Children forced to fight for Boko Haram

Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group in Nigeria, is infamous for kidnapping girls. Last year, everyone from Wall Street to Hollywood got in on the [ineffective] #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign after Boko Haram kidnapped dozens of Christian school girls.

But what about the boys?

Boko Haram has a pseudo-military arm. Which means they need soldiers. And they can’t recruit legitimately. That means they kidnap boys.

Many are themselves victims of terror: child soldiers, abducted from their families and forced to join the ranks of the “holy” warriors. Although it is hard to know exactly how many, nongovernmental agencies estimate they number at least in the hundreds. (Some estimates suggest fully 40% of fighters are children.) The group has published videos of training camps where children, called the “Cubs of the Caliphate,” are trained to fight.

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out-of-businessNo one is interested in vying for the worst human trafficking record, but Asia would certainly be in the running. Yet, today’s Business Insider claims that Asia is getting out of the human trafficking business; can that be true?

As usual, the truth is more nuanced than a headline allows. It may be that the traffickers and smugglers are getting craftier, but it is also true that global pressure has caused traffickers in Myanmar and Thailand to – at the very least – pause their “business as usual.” Myanmar, with its horrible track record on human rights towards the Rohingya (a Muslime ethnic minority), suffered greatly in the world press as it became known that thousands of trafficked people have been caught at sea, unable to come ashore and in miserable conditions. (more…)

Timothy Ballard with a rescued child

Timothy Ballard with a rescued child

I don’t believe there is anything worse than the trafficking of children for sex. Children are often sold by parents because of poverty, are “traded” by adults in their life for drugs or cash, or are lured by traffickers who promise money, affection and support from an adult or children can simply be kidnapped.

Is there any hope for recovering a child lost in this hell?

There is. A unique, successful organization called Operation Underground Railroad is showing the world it can be done. Timothy Ballard is the founder and CEO of Operation Underground Railroad (OUR); Ballard is a former special agent in Homeland Security. There, he worked to bring down child pornography rings and the internet sale of children. With OUR, Ballard has the ability to work with many governments, and work quickly. (more…)

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Detail from Pamela Alderman’s “The Scarlet Cord”

Those of you who are regular readers here at the Acton PowerBlog are very familiar with Elise Graveline Hilton’s extensive research and work on the subject of human trafficking, both here on the blog and also through her recently published monograph, A Vulnerable World. (For those of you who don’t have a copy, you can pick up a paperback version at the Acton Bookshop; a Kindle version is available as well.) As Elise was doing the hard work of writing her book, Pamela Alderman was exploring the world of human trafficking through her artistic talents, producing an installation called “The Scarlet Cord.” Her powerful work was created for ArtPrize 2014 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and went on to be displayed at the 2015 Super Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona. It is currently on display at the Acton Institute’s Prince-Broekhuizen Gallery.

In conjuction with Acton’s exhibition of “The Scarlet Cord,” we hosted an evening event featuring talks from both Hilton and Alderman. If you weren’t able to join us for the event, we encourage you to take the time to watch the video of the event, and to share it with your family and friends. Learn to look for the telltale signs of trafficking in your day to day life, and join the effort to stamp out this inhuman practice.

Blog author: ehilton
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
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rohingya refugeesGreed. Lust. Corruption. Thirst for power. A wretched lack of compassion for human life. That is Myanmar.

Myanmar is home to 1.3 million Rohingya, a religious and cultural minority in what was once known as Burma. The Myanmar government staunchly refuses to recognize the citizenship of the Rohingya, claiming they are all illegal immigrants of neighboring Bangladesh, despite the fact that many Rohingya families have lived exclusively in Myanmar for generations. This lack of citizenship makes the Rohingya vulnerable to trafficking, forced labor, and poverty. (more…)