Category: Human Trafficking

pettigrewAt any given time in the U.S., there are about half a million children in foster care. Many of these children are in crisis situations, and will be in foster care for only a short time, returning home or to live with a family member when the crisis has been resolved. Other children, however, remain in the system. The lucky ones will remain in one home, loved and nurtured, possibly even adopted (although for most that can take up to 4 years.) Unfortunately, most children in foster care will have to live in at least 3 different placements, and every year, 300,000 children “age out” of the system, meaning they turn 18 and no longer receive support services.

Most foster parents try their best to provide stable, loving environments for the children in their care. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the U.S. foster care system is becoming a “pipeline” for human trafficking. In an interview with NPR, Malika Saada Saar of Rights4Girls discusses this issue:

If we really look at this issue of child trafficking in America, it’s another lens through which to understand how broken our foster care system is. Many of these girls, especially, have been put into multiple placements, and many of these girls in those different placements have been abused. So one survivor leader whom we work with who was trafficked from the age of 10 to 17 – all through California, Nevada, Washington state – she talks about how, for her, foster care was the training ground to being trafficked. She understood that she was attached to a check. And what she points out is that at least the pimp told her that he loved her, and she never heard that in any of her foster care placements.

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Elise Hilton has been writing a good deal lately about our manufactured border crisis, and last week Al Kresta, host of Kresta in the Afternoon on the Ave Maria Radio Network, asked Elise to join him on his show to discuss the human tide currently engulfing the southern border of the United States. They discuss the response – or lack thereof – of the Obama Administration to the crisis, the underlying causes of the problem, and how the failures of the US government to address this problem are playing into the hands of human traffickers. The interview is available via the player below.

children at borderCatherine Herridge at Fox News reports that a new intelligence study suggests that the latest surge of illegal immigrants are not fleeing violence in their homelands, but rather are under the misconception that if they make it to the United States border, they will be granted permission to stay.

The 10-page July 7 report was issued by the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), which according to the Justice Department website is led by the DEA and incorporates Homeland Security. Its focus is on the collection and distribution of tactical intelligence, information which can immediately be acted on by law enforcement.

“Of the 230 migrants interviewed, 219 cited the primary reason for migrating to the United States was the perception of U.S. immigration laws granting free passes or permisos to UAC (unaccompanied children) and adult females OTMs (other than Mexicans) traveling with minors,” the report said.

Coyotes or human traffickers are said to be to blame for much of this. They are looking to money from vulnerable people. Often charging thousands of dollars per person, the coyotes have a vested interest in keeping the flow of illegal immigrants moving. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla. told reporters on Tuesday, July 15, “Remember this is not a five-year-old [sic] or an 11-year-old can’t just walk over the border and get to the United States. These are organized coyotes doing this.”

The administration’s lack of response to the border crisis is construed as permissive by many, leading to not only illegal immigration, but human trafficking and exploitation of children, the poor and most vulnerable.

Read “Misperceptions about U.S. immigration policy behind surge of illegal children, report says” at Fox News.

CNN reports on why drug cartels are employing Fortune 500 practices to grow their businesses. Unfortunately, this means dealing in human trafficking.

Lang Thi Mai , 33, from Vietnam was sentenced to six years in prison for trafficking women to China

Lang Thi Mai , 33, from Vietnam was sentenced to six years in prison for trafficking women to China

China’s one-child policy and a cultural preference for boys means that the world’s most populous country has a severe shortage of women. That means a severe shortage of brides. And that means a human trafficking crisis.

Kiab, a Vietnamese girl who had just turned 16, was told by her brother that he was taking her to a party. Instead, he sold her as a bride to a Chinese man.

The ethnic Hmong teenager spent nearly a month in China until she was able to escape her new husband, seek help from local police and return to Vietnam.

“My brother is no longer a human being in my eyes ― he sold his own sister to China,” Kiab, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, told AFP [Agence France-Presse] at a shelter for trafficking victims in the Vietnamese border town Lao Cai.

Vulnerable women in countries close to China ― not only Vietnam but also North Korea, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar ― are being forced into marriages in the land of the one-child policy, experts say.

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A nation-wide sweep last week by the FBI netted the arrest of almost 300 human traffickers and rescued 168 underage trafficking victims. “Operation Cross Country” was carried out in 106 cities across the U.S., the 8th such sting of its kind by the FBI. Since the beginning of this operation, over 3,600 children have been rescued.

These are not children living in some faraway place, far from everyday life,” FBI Director James Comey said in a press conference Monday. “These are our children. On our streets. Our truck stops. Our motels. These are America’s children.”

There are a multitude of reasons that children get swept up into human trafficking. Here in the U.S., traffickers learn to prey on vulnerable young people: the lonely, the outcast, those with little or no family support. In the video below, Nicole talks about her experience as a trafficked person.

 

Nuns Gabriella Bottani (L), Estrella Castalone (C) and Carmen Sammut hold the logo of an international campaign called ''Play in Favour of Life-Denounce Human Trafficking' - Reuters

Nuns Gabriella Bottani (L), Estrella Castalone (C) and Carmen Sammut hold the logo of an international campaign called ”Play in Favour of Life-Denounce Human Trafficking’ – Reuters

Did you watch the U.S. v. Portugal game last night? Did you cheer for the amazing play of American keeper Tim Howard? Did you howl in disbelief at the last minute goal by Portugal? Even if you’re not a soccer fan, it’s hard not to get swept up in the fun and rivalry of the world’s biggest soccer extravaganza.

Unless you’re a victim of human trafficking.

Every large sporting event in the world has become a red-light district. Where there are many people, there are many people who are willing to buy sex. And that means human trafficking. In December, Time noted that while the nation of Brazil (currently hosting the World Cup) has an age of consent of 14, a recent court ruling allowed that sex with a 12 year old did not necessarily constitute statutory rape, setting the stage for human trafficking to thrive during one of the world’s largest sporting events. This is not to say that the illegal sex trade doesn’t already have a place in Brazil, as Time reported:

Thiago, 27, has worked as a pimp and trafficker across Brazil, convincing the mothers of girls like Amanda and Emmanuelle to hand over their daughters for some $5,000 to $10,000. “I sought the girls in Recife because there is so much poverty there,” he says in São Paulo, asking that his last name not be published. “It makes it way easier to convince the girls to come down and prostitute themselves.” (more…)

It’s no secret that family dysfunction leads to many societal problems. Whether it’s addiction, abuse, financial issues, lack of educational support or simply distrustful or demeaning conditions, unhealthy family issues take their toll. One of the roots of human trafficking is unhealthy family situations.

The Urban Institute, through funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, has completed a comprehensive study of human trafficking in seven U.S. cities. A law enforcement official from Washington, D.C. (one of the cities in the study) discusses how broken families contribute to human trafficking:

When they [pimps] start recruiting, especially with young girls, pretty much what they do is go and give the girls an ear … and the girls end up telling them, “I am having this problem at home, my mama is doing this, and my dad is not doing that.” And they will just figure out what is going on with this girl and they will fill that void. At first they might not even approach her with the prostitution or anything like that. They just want to take her and shower her with what she is missing: gifts, attention or whatever. Once he gets her away from her family and it has been some time, he will eventually approach her and be like, “Take care of my man for me.” And he might ease her into it or he will tell her, “Baby, we cannot live here for free. There are bills that need to get paid and everything, you need to start contributing.” Well, of course she does not know how to contribute so he tells her she can do it for a short period of time, we can get this money and then we can go get this big house or whatever and they will go for it.

PBS Newshour recently interviewed Meredith Dank is the lead author of the report and a senior research associate at The Urban Institute.

Read the entire study from The Urban Institute here.

shackledIt is a business that exists in the shadows. You won’t see a billboard for a domestic slave, nor a glossy magazine spread for the latest in forced labor.  While cities struggle to rid their streets of prostitutes, they forget these people are victims of crime. Yet, make no doubt: human trafficking is big, big business.

The International Labor Organization (ILO), a United Nation’s agency dealing with labor issues, has released a report makes clear the financial aspects of human trafficking. The report takes some time to clearly define human trafficking/forced labor, stating that this includes debt bondage, but makes clear that things like mandatory military service does not constitute forced labor.

With that, the ILO says human trafficking accounts for $150 billion of annual global profit. That’s more than tobacco ($35B), Google ($50B), Big Oil ($120B) and even the U.S. banking system ($141.3B). It is most profitable in economically-stable, developed areas, such as those of the European Union and the United States. Sexual exploitation is the most profitable form of human trafficking but the most common form of trafficking is labor in areas such as agriculture, manufacturing, mining and domestic service. (more…)

Tanner Stewart did not intend to become an abolitionist. His passion is photography. But his gift for taking amazing photos led him to fight human trafficking.

In 2012, Stewart was on a trip to Bulgaria, volunteering for A21, an organization that educates about trafficking and provides care for trafficking survivors. Stewart was bluntly confronted by trafficking in a chance encounter:

Stewart, a Seattle-based photographer, had spotted a man holding a baby. Wanting to capture the beautiful moment, he asked the man if he could take a photo. After a brief exchange, Stewart’s translator pulled him away from the man and his child.

“I said, ‘What’s wrong?’, and [the translator] said, ‘Oh, well, the man just said you can buy his baby for $50,’” Stewart said.

It was that moment, Stewart says, that made him an abolitionist. He has used his talent to create a book of photographs, and is donating the proceeds to A21. Stewart comments that his gift of photography has taught him about being generous, and that it is not how much one gives, but what one does with the gifts and talents that God gives you.