Category: Human Trafficking

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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…)

barcode traffickiingHuman trafficking is a huge problem, morally, economically and legally. One reason it’s so hard to fight it is that it’s a hidden crime. Largely gone are the days when prostitutes hang out on darkened streets. Instead, a girl or woman is pimped out via the internet. Even more difficult, traffickers often use the Deep Web:

The term “Deep Web,” refers to the “deeper” parts of the web that are accessible, but are considered hard to find because they aren’t indexed by regular search engines. Information on the Deep Web can be indexed, but only using complex search algorithms that have the ability to break down certain barriers.

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cambodiaThere are few things more horrifying than the sexual exploitation of a child. Perhaps it is made even worse to think that those who are meant to protect the child (parents, police, court officials) are complicit in the harm of that child. No place on Earth was worse than Cambodia.

But that has changed. According to International Justice Mission (IJM), Cambodian officials have said, “No more,” and they meant it.

In the early 2000s, the Cambodian government estimated that 30 percent of those in the country’s sex industry were children. But news coverage of Western men negotiating the purchase of first- and second-grade girls in Svay Pak embarrassed Cambodia and revolted its principal international donor, the United States. When then-U.S. Ambassador Charles Ray warned the interior minister that Cambodia would lose U.S. aid if it didn’t clean up its act, the government responded with alacrity. It sacked corrupt officers from the anti-trafficking police unit and installed new leadership. A strong anti-trafficking law was adopted, and hundreds of pimps, brothel owners and foreign pedophiles were arrested, charged, convicted and jailed.

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Blog author: ehilton
Monday, May 11, 2015
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200271918-001For many of us ladies, getting our nails done is a regular bit of pampering. We stop off at the local nail salon, grab a magazine and relax while someone paints our nails. We pay our $25 and off we go.

We never, for one moment, consider the person doing our nails could be a slave.

For those who study human trafficking, nail salons have long been held as a hotspot for trafficking victims. But for the average client, the idea that the person hunched over their nails is literally a slave never crosses their mind. Last week’s New York Times followed women in four urban settings in the U.S., exploring the deplorable world they work in. (more…)

nepal earthquakeNepal has a human trafficking issue. With an open border between Nepal and India, traffickers openly move people between the two countries with promises of work. Nepalese women are trafficked to China for sex work. With the recent massive earthquake, the Nepalese who have been displaced now face the threat of trafficking.

Tens of thousands of young women from regions devastated by the earthquake in Nepal are being targeted by human traffickers supplying a network of brothels across south Asia, campaigners in Kathmandu and affected areas say.

The 7.8-magnitude quake, which killed more than 7,000 people, has devastated poor rural communities, with hundreds of thousands losing their homes and possessions. Girls and young women in these communities have long been targeted by traffickers, who abduct them and force them into sex work.

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nigerian-rescueDuring the night of April 16, 2014, dozens of armed men from the jihadist group Boko Haram captured over 300 Christian girls aged 12 to 15 who were sleeping in dormitories at Chibok Government Girls Secondary School in northeast Nigeria.

Some of the kidnapped girls have been forced into “marriage” with their Boko Haram abductors, sold for a nominal bride price of $12, according to parents who talked with villagers. All of the girls risked being forced into marriages or sold in the global market for human slaves.

The kidnappings were the focus of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ social media campaign that garnered much attention last year. What has received considerably less attention is the rescue of many of the women that had been kidnapped by the terrorist group.

Nigeria’s military said it has freed nearly 700 Boko Haram captives in the past week (though it’s still unclear how many—if any—of the “Chibok girls” were rescued). Many of the woman have begun to share stories about their horrific ordeal.

A woman named Musa was rescued from forced marriage to one of her husband’s killers:
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pakistani kilnChristians make up a tiny minority in the nation of Pakistan, where the state religion is Islam. In many places, Pakistani Christians are persecuted and enslaved. Nowhere is this more evident in the kilns and brick-making industry.

According to Christians In Pakistan, entire families are ensnared in “debt bondage” in the kilns, with children as young as five working.

The normal routine of a ‘pathera’ or family working at a brick kiln is rolling balls of clay, placing them in moulds, or dealing with backed bricks under the harsh sun and in a environment marred with thick black smoke from the chimney. (more…)

Rescuers pulling smuggling victims from the Mediterranean Sea

Rescuers pulling smuggling victims from the Mediterranean Sea

It’s not easy to make a living in Libya, one of the world’s poorest nations. However, Libya has one thing going for it: its proximity to Europe. This is making smugglers rich.

Quentin Sommerville of the BBC reports his interaction with one of the smugglers.

People smugglers don’t take too kindly to enquiries about their business but, after weeks of searching, one agreed to speak to me if he could remain anonymous.

He’s grown rich out of the trade.

“The amount of money is phenomenal,” he said. (more…)

HUMAN_TRAFFICKING_8705943What is the story with the human trafficking bill?

The recent human trafficking bill, officially known as the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, was originally introduced in in the Senate on January 2015 by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). The bill had 34 cosponsors in the Senate, 13 Democrats and 21 Republicans (Sen. Barbara Boxer initially signed on as a cosponsor but withdrew her support a day later.) However, after initially supporting the bill, Democrats launched a filibuster because of language in the bill related to abortion.

In response, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell refused to allow a vote on attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch until the trafficking bill made it out of the Senate. After weeks of negotiations, a bipartisan agreement was reached and the bill was put up for a vote, passing unopposed (99-0).

Why did the Democrats oppose the bill?

Senate Democrats—including ten of the cosponsors—filibustered the bill to prevent it coming up for a vote after learning of opposition by abortion rights groups, such as NARAL and Planned Parenthood. The abortion lobby opposed the bill because it included the Hyde amendment, an addition routinely attached to annual appropriations bills since 1976 which bans federal funding of abortion with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.

According to NPR, Democrats said restrictions on abortions should apply to only taxpayer money, and that the fund created by the trafficking measure was not taxpayer money because it’s collected from fines on people convicted of sex-trafficking crimes. A deal was later reached which would allow the criminal fines to be used for victim services unrelated to health. The money related to the bill used for health services would still be subjected to the Hyde amendment.

As NPR’s Alisa Chang says, “both sides can say they won. Republicans can say no part of the fund pays for abortions. Democrats can say the Hyde Amendment was never expanded to apply to non-taxpayer money.”

What does the trafficking act do?
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