Category: Human Trafficking

Mary Queen of Heaven Missionaries with His Eminence Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop of Cebu

Mary Queen of Heaven Missionaries with His Eminence Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop of Cebu

A petite woman in pink, in a Filipino red-light district, is picked out by a “tourist” as a possible sex partner for the evening. A pimp accompanying him tells him she’s not a good choice.

She’s a nun.

The Mary Queen of Missionaries (MQHM) are a group of Catholic sisters who serve the sex workers in the Philippines. Their order was established solely for this purpose:

To seek the stray and fallen away in the person of the victims of prostitution and in the power that the Holy Spirit gives, bring them back to the bosom of the Father.  We search for them in the bars and casas and along streets in the red light districts, offering them a decent way of living in our “Home of Love”, a rehabilitation and livelihood training center for them and their children. Those who are willing to embrace God’s grace of renewed life with Him, are sheltered in the Home of Love with all the basic provisions, free of charge.

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Trafficked-Men-570x379The face of human trafficking, for the public, is typically female and young. There is an assumption that females are the victims and males are perpetrators. But is this mindset keeping boys and young men from getting the help they need to escape human trafficking?

The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange believes this is the case. While it appears that males make up about half of human trafficking victims, the numbers may be higher, especially for those involved in sex trafficking. This type of crime, when it involves boys, is often underreported, says one expert.

The percentage of male victims may be higher due to the underreported and subversive nature of the crime, said Summar Ghias, program specialist for the Chicago-based International Organization for Adolescents.

“We’re conditioned as a community to identify female victims more readily,” she said, “because that has been the more prominent focus of the anti-trafficking movement.”

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Rani Hong

Rani Hong

One of the strongest voices in the fight against human trafficking belongs to a survivor. Rani Hong, founder of The Tronie Foundation, has a bright smile and warm eyes. Her placid face does not tell the story of her life, but her words do. She wants her voice to be heard so that others do not have to experience what she did as a child. (Her Twitter handle is @RanisVoice.) In preparation for a campaign called, “Everyone’s Kids, Everyone Gives,” Hong has four things she’d like everyone to know about child trafficking today.

First, anyone can be a victim. It does not just happen “over there,” in certain neighborhoods, or in large citites. The internet lures vulnerable young people every day; a trafficker develops a relationship with a young person, playing on their dreams and their vulnerabilities. If the young person has a troubled home life, the risk increases, but it’s not just young people living in high-risk situations who fall prey.

Second, the business of human trafficking is doing great. It’s one of the strongest parts of the nation’s and the global economy. (more…)

arrestedIn the world of human trafficking, there are pockets of hope across the U.S. In Cook County, Ill., Sheriff Tom Dart works relentlessly to improve not only the prosecution of human traffickers, but also the aid that law enforcement brings to victims. Dart began to realize several years ago that prostitutes were cycling through the justice system over and over, receiving no help to stay out of jail.

Knowing that the women are, as he put it, “victims of crimes of violence, who have been through unspeakable horrors and betrayals,” Dart wanted a better way to restore those trapped in prostitution and keep them out of jail.

To do this, he developed the Women’s Justice Program, which employs previously prostituted women to serve as peer counselors to those arrested for prostitution. These counselors work to convince the women to leave prostitution behind when they’re released and provide ongoing counseling and resources to help them do it. Dart knows that women will struggle to trust the police who arrested them. But they might listen to someone who has walked in their shoes and managed to escape the pain and abuse that they feel.

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niqab-veil_2172238bIn an ugly twist on the world of online dating scams, ISIS (the Islamic terrorist group responsible for much evil in places like Syria and Iraq) is now actively recruiting girls and women in the West to join their cause. Jamie Detmer reports that ISIS is now using social media to seek out females who want to join the cause, mainly by stressing the domestic life that supports it.

The propaganda usually eschews the gore and barbaric images often included in the general fare of jihadist online posts, such as the beheadings last month of dozens of Syrian army soldiers after a base was overrun in the northern Syrian province of Raqqa.

Instead, the marketing focuses on what one analyst calls the “private sphere,” concentrating on the joys of jihadist family life and the “honor” of raising new fighters for Islam. The online recruiters stress the pleasure of providing the domesticity that a warrior waging jihad needs and by doing so serving Islam.

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child_from_hondurasBishop Romulo Emiliani Sanchez says the lies and lures of human traffickers are the root cause of the surge of illegal immigrant children at the U.S. southern border. Emiliani, an auxiliary of the Catholic Diocese of San Pedro Sula in Honduras, decried the tactics of organized crime and human traffickers for tricking parents and children into thinking that a warm welcome and easier life awaits them in the U.S.

It is unfortunate that the illusion and mirage that the U.S. is the best place for all of the children from Honduras, when it is a false and empty promise to say that arriving there they will have free education, health care, food, and clothing,” Bishop Romulo Emiliani Sanchez told the Honduran newspaper “La Tribuna.”

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Today is the first World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, as declared by the United Nations. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement:

To stop the traffickers, we must sever funding pipelines and seize assets. I urge all countries to ratify and fully implement the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and its Protocol on Trafficking in Persons.”

International Justice Mission is one of many organizations that fight human trafficking on a daily basis. They track down both victims and traffickers, with the hope of bringing traffickers to justice and help victims rebuild their lives. The video below tells the story of Suhana, a trafficking victim and the fight for justice.

Oskar Zepeda when he was active military.

Oskar Zepeda when he was active military.

It takes a special person to serve in the military. It takes a special person to come to terms with and overcome profound injuries caused in the line of duty. It takes a special person to track down child pornographers. It takes unbreakable men.

Aptly dubbed “HERO,” the Human Exploitation Rescue Operative is being developed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Special Operations Command in conjunction with the National Association to Protect Children. The idea grew out of a chance conversation between a child advocate and an FBI agent about equipping wounded elite soldiers with high-tech computer forensics training and law enforcement skills to assist federal agents in their fight against online child sexual exploitation.

The intensive training kicks off with four weeks at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, followed by six weeks of computer forensics training in Virginia and an embedded internship assisting HSI special agents with criminal cases and prosecutions.

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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.