Category: Human Trafficking

Relatives of a Palestinian woman, who medics said was killed in an Israeli air strike, mourn during her funeral in Khan YounisA year ago this month, Islamic State (also known as IS, ISIS, or ISIL) began a systematic program of capturing women and girls for the purposes of rape, forced marriage, and sexual slavery. Yesterday, the New York Times brought renewed attention to the war crimes in an article examining how IS enshrines a theology of rape.

Here are five facts you should know about how IS views and justifies the practice of sexual slavery: 

1. IS considers rape of sex slaves to be a form of worship — In the New York Times article, a Yazidi girl was was enslaved by IS claims:

“Every time that he came to rape me, he would pray,” said F, a 15-year-old girl who was captured on the shoulder of Mount Sinjar one year ago and was sold to an Iraqi fighter in his 20s. Like some others interviewed by The New York Times, she wanted to be identified only by her first initial because of the shame associated with rape.

“He kept telling me this is ibadah,” she said, using a term from Islamic scripture meaning worship. 

2. IS has an eschatological justification for sex slavery   
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sex-workers-rightsAmnesty International, the human-rights watchdog organization, voted Tuesday to support the decriminalization of “sex work” at its Dublin-based International Council Meeting. This was in spite of the fact that anti-human trafficking organizations around the globe pushed for just the opposite.

Sex workers are one of the most marginalized groups in the world who in most instances face constant risk of discrimination, violence and abuse,’ Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary-general, said in a statement.

Shetty called it “a historic day” for the organization. Equality Now, an organization that works against female genital mutilation and human trafficking, released a statement regarding Amnesty International’s decision:

Amnesty International today has voted to adopt a policy that seeks to decriminalize all aspects of the commercial sex industry in the name of protecting the human rights of people in the sex trade. In doing so, it has ignored the clear links between prostitution and sex trafficking that it says it opposes, as well as the incompatibility of the commercial sex trade with gender equality, human rights and international law. It has ignored survivors of the commercial sex trade who repeatedly called on the organization to rethink its position based on their experiences and to adopt a policy that seeks to curb, rather than facilitate, the commercial sex trade.

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A Romanian girl, now in a shelter, bears the "brand" of her trafficker

A Romanian girl, now in a shelter, bears the “brand” of her trafficker

UPDATE: More on Romania and Human Trafficking

Where are the young women, the girls of Romania? If they are not hidden, they are trafficked. That is a harsh reality in a country of harsh living.

Stefania is 18 and a rarity. She still lives in a rural home with her father, in a ramshackle house with no electricity. She dreams of going away “somewhere” for an education and is resolute that she will never take money from a man.

Then there is Christina. Nightly, her mother would prepare her daughter for her night of work: feeding her, setting out her clothes and condoms. Christina – who has since disappeared – has been supporting her family since age 14 by prostitution.

According to the U.S. State Department’s 2014 “Trafficking in Persons” report, one-third of Romania’s trafficking victims are underage girls. (more…)

tip-logoThere are more slaves today than were seized from Africa in four centuries of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In fact, there are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in human history, with an estimated 21 million in bondage across the globe.

Modern-day slavery, also referred to as “trafficking in persons,” or “human trafficking,” describes 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.

Every year since 2011, the State Department releases the annual Trafficking in Persons Report, a congressionally mandated report that looks at the governments around the world (including the U.S.) and what they are doing to combat trafficking in persons through the lens of the 3P paradigm of prevention, protection, and prosecution.

Countries are ranked in tiers based on trafficking records: Tier 1 for nations that meet minimum U.S. standards; Tier 2 for those making significant efforts to meet those standards; Tier 2 “Watch List” for those that deserve special scrutiny; and Tier 3 for countries that fail to comply with the minimum U.S. standards and are not making significant efforts. As Reuters explains,
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We’ve seen lots of commentary on the lopsided outrage over the inhumane death of Cecil the Lion — how the incident has inspired far higher levels of fervor and indignation than the brutal systemic barbarism of the #PPSellsBabyParts controversy or the tragically unjust murder of Samuel Dubose.

At first, I was inclined to shrug off this claim, thinking, “You can feel pointed grief about one while still feeling empathy about the other.” Or, “the facts of the Cecil case are perhaps clearer to more people.” Or, “How can we be sure this imbalance actually exists?”

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But alas, the social media rants and media (non-)developments of the past few days have only continued to confirm that the reaction we are witnessing is, indeed, stemming from some kind of distorted social, moral, and spiritual imagination. This isn’t just about what is or isn’t bubbling up in the news cycle. It’s about what’s brewing, and in some cases, festering deep inside our hearts. (more…)

courtesy of CNN

courtesy of CNN

Human trafficking victims get moved frequently. It’s one way their traffickers can keep control over them – the victims often have no idea where they are. They can be transported by bus, train, 18-wheelers, and planes. Could you spot a victim? More importantly, would you know what to do?

CNN’s Freedom Project has the on-going mission to end modern day slavery. They’ve given a list travelers can look for.

1. The person traveling is poorly dressed. (Now, I realize, given the state of our national dress code, which seems to be pajama bottoms and a hoodie, this might be a tough one.) The clothes the person is wearing may be too large or too small. The clothes may be completely “out-of-sync” with their destination: too warm or too cold. A young person may be dressed very provocatively. (more…)

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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