Monday, January 26, 2009

More than a thousand women were forced into sex slavery, Justice Department reports

By Bill Myers
Examiner Staff Writer 1/25/09

More than 1,000 mostly young women in the United States were forced into sexual slavery last year, an alarming new Justice Department report has found.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics analyzed thousands of cases of alleged human trafficking. It found that the sex trade accounted for more than three out of every four human trafficking cases tracked by the Justice Department.

Anytime anyone is forced into prostitution, they are considered “trafficked,” according to the Justice Department. Children 17 or under who are in prostitution are considered trafficked whether they were coerced or not.

According to the report, about a quarter of the nation’s sex slaves were under 17; two-fifths were between 18 and 24.

Hispanic women and girls were most likely to be victims of the human traffickers. They made up about two-fifths of sexual slaves and more than half of trafficked laborers.

The Justice Department also found that U.S. citizens make up the majority of victims and perpetrators in human trafficking. Nearly two-thirds of sex slaves were U.S. citizens. Nearly three-quarters of suspected sex traffickers were U.S. citizens, the report found.

Andrea Powell, co-founder of FAIR Fund, a D.C.-based anti-trafficking group, said trafficking is a major regional problem.

“D.C. is a hot spot for labor trafficking as well as sex trafficking,” Powell told The Examiner. “Foreign nationals are brought into the area to work as nannies, house domestics and even on construction sites. Sex trafficking affects both foreign and national victims.”

About 40 trafficking victims are rescued in the D.C. area every month, Powell said.

Hoping to get a handle on the problem, D.C. Councilman Phil Mendelson, D-at large, introduced a bill earlier this month that broadens the definition of trafficking and includes labor trafficking as an offense.

“Trafficking is a much more pervasive problem than most people realize,” Mendelson said. “And there’s no justification for trafficking — it’s human slavery.”

The Justice Department report is online at

Monday, January 19, 2009

Yes we can! Ending slavery has never been more possible!

Momentum is building, check out to read about recent victories on Capitol Hill and great opportunities with the Obama administration.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

U.S. Catholic contract unconstitutional: ACLU suit

By Scott Malone

BOSTON (Reuters) - A U.S. civil liberties group sued the federal government Monday, charging it violated the Constitution by contracting a Roman Catholic entity to help victims of human trafficking.

The American Civil Liberties Union said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was imposing its beliefs on victims of human trafficking by not allowing federal grant money to be used for contraception or abortion.

When the bishops applied for the contracts, they said they would not work with subcontractors who provided abortion services or contraceptives, such as condoms, which conflict with Catholic teachings, according to the ACLU.

The suit filed in U.S. District Court in Boston said the Department of Health and Human Services violated the separation of church and state by giving the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops $6 million in grants from 2006 through 2008.

Many women victims of human trafficking are forced to work as prostitutes, and face a high risk of assault and rape, the ACLU said in court papers.

The Department of Health and Human Services permitted the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops "to impose its own religiously based substantive restrictions on the use of grant funds," the ACLU argued.

The suit asks the court to stop the department from allowing its grants being spent in a way that is restricted by religious beliefs.

Sister Mary Ann Walsh of the bishops' conference said the $6 million figure cited in the suit was the full amount authorized. But "far less" money had been appropriated, she said without giving a figure.

"The problem of trafficking in this country is huge and serious and the Catholic Church has the best network of services bar none," she said. "Going to the Catholic Church for social services is very logical."

Representatives of the Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.

Greenfield Father Arrested for Human Trafficking

Posted: Jan 12, 2009 08:49 PM

Updated: Jan 13, 2009 03:40 AM

GREENFIELD. Calif. - A bizarre case in Greenfield, as a father is accused of selling his 14-year-old daughter for marriage. Marcelino de Jesus Martinez was arrested Sunday night after voluntarily speaking with Greenfield Police.

Chief Joe Grebmeier says Martinez was not aware of United States Laws that prohibit arrainged marriages involving minors.

Police admit the case is strange. Martinez agreed to a payment plan with 18-year-old Margarito de Jesus Galindo. It included $16,000 plus: 150 cases of beer, 50 cases of gatorade, 100 cases of soda, 6 cases of meat and two cases of wine.

"I just don't think it occurred to him that he was breaking any laws," says Grebmeier.

The Police Chief also explains the difference in culture south of the border, claiming, "Different communities have different cultures... somethings are legal in Mexico and not legal here."

Police were first notified about the case in December. According to reports, police say the 14-year-old girl left with Galindo to Soledad. It became an apparent "run-away teen" case when payments to Martinez were falling short and the father contacted police asking for his daughter's return.

It was not until Sunday night that details on the trafficking were confirmed.

Galindo was detained, but has not been arrested. Greenfield Police say Galindo and Martinez were originally neighbors in Greenfield.

Police say arrainged marriages are common in several cultures, and explain it is not an issue among consenting adults over the age of 18. Police believe the 14-year-old girl left to Soledad willingly.

This was the first case of human trafficking in at least 6 years. The case will now go to the Monterey County Distrist Attorney.

Anyone with information regarding the selling of children should call local police.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Striking the Brothels’ Bottom Line

January 11th is International Human Trafficking Awareness Day. To bring more light to the situation, editorialist Nicholas Kristoff wrote the following for the New York Times:

In trying to figure out how we can defeat sex trafficking, a starting point is to think like a brothel owner.

My guide to that has been Sok Khorn, an amiable middle-aged woman who is a longtime brothel owner here in the wild Cambodian town of Poipet. I met her five years ago when she sold me a teenager, Srey Mom, for $203 and then blithely wrote me a receipt confirming that the girl was now my property. At another brothel nearby, I purchased another imprisoned teenager for $150.

Astonished that in the 21st century I had bought two human beings, I took them back to their villages and worked with a local aid group to help them start small businesses. I’ve remained close to them over the years, but the results were mixed.

The second girl did wonderfully, learning hairdressing and marrying a terrific man. But Srey Mom, it turned out, was addicted to methamphetamine and fled back to the brothel world to feed her craving.

Finish reading here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Law and Order!

Hey Everyone!

Law & Order has an exciting episode on child slavery in New York airing tomorrow night on NBC at 10PM/9 Central.


Two detectives on the show are investigating a double murder when they uncover and child slave trade ring between Haiti and New York. It will really open your eyes to the present-day, modern-world reality of slavery and indentured servitude. The show illustrates some of the psychological complexity of dealing with the victims of slavery who have spent years living with deprivation and fear.

***Keep in mind, 'Chattel' (the episode name) is not a documentary so when you hear Sam Waterson say there are no anti-trafficking statutes in New York - that is not true. In fact, New York recently passed an anti-trafficking law and is one of 40 states that have anti-trafficking status on the books. But only half of those states have laws to help the survivors of slavery.

You can find out more about child domestic slavery [or the restavek system] in Haiti and what FTS is doing with partners to combat it here:

check it out!!

End of the road for Thai project?

Stevens Point - Like many idealists, Joseph Quinnell believed he could achieve the impossible. Unlike a lot of dreamers, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point student actually made it happen.

But now, harsh financial reality threatens to dash it all away.

This was the dream: He wanted to bring undocumented women at risk of being sold into forced labor from Thailand to UW-Stevens Point to earn degrees. Born on Thai soil but lacking citizenship, these women had little to no access to government health care, education or travel.

Quinnell pictured these women, armed with an education, returning to their own country to fight statelessness and the sex trade from within.

To make it happen, Quinnell knew he had to get people as angry about the situation as he was - to see red. That's where the posters came in.

"Do you have sex with strangers?" they read. "Thousands of children are forced to every day. Get ready to join the fight against child prostitution. Get angry. See red."

The signs plastered all over campus helped launch an unprecedented effort that in August brought two 19-year-old undocumented Thai students from rural villages to central Wisconsin. State Department officials, experts on statelessness in Thailand and university administrators agree: The accomplishment was rare, impressive and important.

"Mountains moved to make this happen," said Brad Van Den Elzen, director of foreign student programs at UW-Stevens Point. "So many people stuck their necks out who didn't have to."

But the dream could end. Despite efforts, the Thailand Project hasn't raised new donations. And the women will run out of funding in May.

"We've proven the concept of gaining human rights through education (can work)," Quinnell said. "If it dies with these two girls in one year, we're never going to be able to get this again."

Read more here.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Slavery, 21st century

SLAVERY in the United States? That's ancient history, right? Apparently not. An Associated Press story ["Child maids being exported to U.S.," Dec. 29] grippingly documents a California case.

Shyima was only 10, living with her siblings and parents in a poor village in northern Egypt, when a wealthy couple from Cairo arranged for her to come and be their servant. Shyima's father was sick; her family was desperate. Still, Shyima was just a child.

Forced to work up to 20 hours a day for $45 a month, Shyima moved with her employers and their five children to America, where she lived in the garage, washed her clothes in a bucket, and was isolated from the outside world--until someone finally noticed. After two years of virtual slavery, Shyima gained freedom when authorities came to the home. Her employers eventually pled guilty to forced labor and slavery. Shyima's been adopted by a California couple.

Cases like Shyima's are becoming distressingly more common. The State Department estimates that upwards of 800,000 people, mostly women and children, are trafficked between countries every year. Somewhere between 14,500 and 17,500 come into the United States. Eighty percent of the victims are women and children. Some 70 percent are being brought in as sexual slaves. Others, like Shyima, come here as domestic servants.

Read more here.