Don't join any of these group ISIS, Al Qaida, Al Shabab and Boko haram these are human traffickers

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Human Trafficking: Slavery is Alive in the South Read more:

BC blogcritics culture
Author: Diana GoodwinPublished: Nov 28, 2011 at 10:04 am
I have always been proud to be an Oklahoman. There is so much about this state that I love. I love how our food is influenced from so many different places. I love that there are communities where everyone knows each other while at the same time there are cities of over 500,000. I love that football rules the fall. Like I said, there is a lot about this state that I love.
Unfortunately I recently discovered something about my state that made me sick. Oklahoma is one of the highest “trade routes” for human trafficking. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. It is forcing someone to work for you against their will, including jobs such as prostitution.
Human trafficking isn’t a completely new concept to me. I had seen specials on TV about the issue, but they always focused on less developed countries. My heart broke when I first learned that in some countries most orphans would be forced into prostitution. It broke more to see five-year-olds offering to perform sex acts for the undercover reporters.
Unfortunately the broken pieces of my heart were shattered even more when I found out human trafficking was so prevalent in the U.S. I kept asking myself how a civilized country could allow this to happen. We fought a war to end slavery, yet it is very much alive inside our borders.
Because this problem has only recently begun being investigated, it is impossible to say exactly how much human trafficking takes place in Oklahoma, but we do know that nearly every county has at least one human trafficking case being investigated. We also know five of the top 10 cities for child sex trafficking are easily accessible through the major interstates going through Oklahoma.
There are several truck stops and cheap motels at the I-35/I-44 junction in Oklahoma City, where human trafficking can be seen much of the day. The first time I saw it I assumed it was just prostitution…just prostitution…okay, I guess that shouldn’t be a “just,” but forced prostitution seems so much worse than voluntarily selling your body.

I often stop in this area when I travel to see my family, but this was the first time I saw a prostitute walking through a parking lot. She was not trying to hide her intentions, but no one would give her any attention; of course the middle of the day doesn’t seem like the smartest time to solicit illegal services. After a few minutes of walking through the parking lots nearby she walked up to a semi driver she seemed to know, got in the cab of the truck looking quite disappointed, and they drove off.
I asked my husband if he assumed the truck driver was her pimp, thinking it odd that he would be in a semi, and he agreed. Later that night I couldn’t get it off of my mind, so I googled prostitution in Oklahoma City to see what I could find out. After sifting through many sites directing me where I didn’t want to go, I came across an article in a local newspaper talking about the new epidemic of our state, human trafficking.
I remembered human trafficking as the horrible crime that happened in third-world countries, but this article said it was happening here, in the middle of the Bible belt. I changed my search to human trafficking in Oklahoma and pulled up more information than I wanted to know. I learned that most of the human trafficking victims in the U.S. are actually U.S. citizens. I learned that human trafficking cases have been prosecuted in every state, and that most convicted traffickers receive less than 20 years in prison!
There isn’t much I can personally do to stop human trafficking. I can raise awareness about it, and I can join abolitionist groups such as Oklahomans Against the Trafficking of Humans (OATH) or the Home Foundation, but it just doesn’t seem like enough. About 1/3 of the human trafficking instances involve child sex trafficking. This includes the child pornography industry. I am sick of it. I want to protect our children. I want to protect our adults.
Child molestation has been high-profile lately as an assistant coach of a large university’s historic football team has been accused of molesting and raping young boys. This is sick. I am glad the media jumped on this case, but why don’t they cover cases involving human trafficking? Why does it have to be a high-profile perpetrator to be considered newsworthy? Maybe if the news would gave these children and adults in bondage faces, it would stop. At least Americans could know there is an evil to be fought!

Maybe it’s time a politician issues another emancipation proclamation, and not just to win votes. It’s time for someone to stand up and say we will not tolerate slavery within our borders. It’s time we spend as much energy fighting human traffickers, these modern slave traders, as we spend fighting foreign dictators.
Slavery has always existed, but I’m not willing to believe that it always has to exist. It will take something large to stop it. The media has to be involved, but maybe it doesn’t have to start with television. Maybe this could be a battle of the writers. Maybe if enough of us will write about it and get it out there, other forms of media will pick it up. Wouldn’t it be nice to know the writers began the war on human trafficking?
When I first learned about human trafficking I made a vow to adopt children from one of the leading countries for child sex trafficking. Somehow that vow made me feel like I was taking a stand, like I was helping. Now, with everything I’ve learned, I understand this is not enough. Sure, I may save a child or two from the horrors of being trafficked, but sparing two children is not enough. What about the children who live in that nightmare now? What about the children in the US who will be pushed into that nightmare? I hope this article is a start. I hope that if one person learns about human trafficking for the first time, and vows to help in some small way, we could have a domino effect.

Read more:

Trafficked workers are exploited by gangmasters using self-employed loophole, warns new report

By Nick Sommerlad on November 29, 2011 12:21 PM in Work
A hard-hitting report into human trafficking in Scotland blames bogus self-employment for the exploitation of migrant workers.
Dodgy gangmasters are pushing workers into self-employed roles so that factory, farm and restaurant bosses can pay them below the minimum wage with "no risk of legal consequences".
We've been exposing the growing use of unfair self-employment by bosses to dodge having to pay employers' national insurance contributions, holiday pay, sick pay and redundancy. (We could soon add health and safety legislation to that list.)
The inquiry by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which focussed mainly on sexual exploitation, also found that gangmasters acted as human traffickers, exploiting vulnerable migrant workers.
She said that fruit planters, pickers and packers were lured to Scotland on the promise of good pay but: "The reality may be very different.
"Their wages may be below the minimum wage and they can lose significant parts of what they earn in commission to the gangmaster, as well as repaying exorbitant charges for being conscripted and brought in.
"They may also be charged for living accommodation in insanitary, dangerous portakabins in the countryside, crammed to the seams with other workers."
The Gangmasters Licencing Authority, set up after the deaths of Chinese cockle-pickers in Morecambe, was established to regulate employment standards for migrant labourers, but Ms Kennedy found: "To the frustration of GLA personnel, mostly former police officers with considerable experience, the gangmasters can induce the workers to claim self-employed status so that British landowners, farmers, factory and restaurant owners may, if they so wish, have no risk of legal consequences when they use such cheap labour.
She added: "Another problem is that the remit of the GLA is currently confined to the oversight of labour in the food and agricultural sectors, while exploited foreign labour may now be found in the service and construction industries as well as in care homes.
"In our evidence-gathering it became clear to us that there seemed to be no good reason for the vital work of the GLA not being expanded to include these other sectors and to cover other forms of contract employment and outsourced work, and that employers who used such labour should hold some responsibility for wages and conditions."
You can read the full PDF of her report here.

New Law in Vietnam to Tackle Changing Face of Human Trafficking

VOA Asia 

 November 29, 2011

Tran Mai Hoa, 17, sits talking during an interview with AFP in the Vietnamese city of Ha Long, 25 September 2005 (file photo).
Photo: AFP
Tran Mai Hoa, 17, sits talking during an interview with AFP in the Vietnamese city of Ha Long, 25 September 2005 (file photo).
Vietnam's economic growth has improved mobility, giving people more opportunities to travel to find better jobs.
But as industries change and cities grow, so do the dangers to the country's workers. Human trafficking is becoming a bigger problem in Vietnam and the government is doing more to address the problem.

What was once an issue confined mostly to women and children who are sold into the sex industry, pressures from increasing urbanization are changing the nature of human trafficking in Vietnam.

While, demand for wives in countries like China fuel the trade, the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking, says socio-economic factors are also at play. People living in rural areas with low employment, little awareness and poor education are vulnerable to ploys that could leave them as virtual slaves.

Phan Van Ngoc, former Vietnam country director for Actionaid, says Vietnam's economic situation is making people more vulnerable to trafficking. In underemployed rural areas, people want to migrate from their home village to make more money.

The issue is not confined to Vietnam.  It also occurs in China, Thailand and other neighboring countries.  He says the bottom line is that poor people want better lives.

"The problem is that people seek a better life and the problem is that they do not have enough information about the destination," said Ngoc.  "That's why they are trapped into something that is against their will and against their basic rights."

In January, Vietnam is set to introduce the Anti-Human Trafficking Law, which the National Assembly passed in March.  The law is accompanied by a $13.5 million dollar, five-year anti-trafficking plan. The National Plan of Action for Trafficking has been welcomed by international organizations as a positive step because it goes beyond countering trafficking for sexual exploitation.

The law improves coordination among different ministries, institutions and mass organizations in Vietnam and also stresses the importance of prevention. Ngoc says the new provisions are vital to protect workers who are poorly informed about trafficking risks.

"They have to have an informed choice," Ngoc added.  "It means that they should have enough information about the destination so they can decide whether or not they want to go. It's best to work at the commune and even district level in areas with a high risk of human trafficking. If they want to go, please, but there must be guidance."

Although authorities have started paying more attention to people being trafficked for cheap labor, Florian Forster, the country director for the International Organization of Migration (IOM) says that does not mean all laborers are treated badly.

"We should not think that all internal workers are exploited," said Forster.  "Actually, research shows internal migrants moving to urban areas are economically better off. That's one of the reasons why they move."

Vietnam also has an official policy to promote sending temporary laborers abroad. Around 80 to 100,000 Vietnamese workers leave the country, through official channels, every year.

The United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking says labor reforms in China are actually fueling abuses among Vietnamese. A 2008 law in China mandates better pay and benefits for Chinese nationals, so Chinese employers instead hire Vietnamese laborers who are exempt from the provisions. However, Forster says the two governments are working together to tackle exploitation.

"There is some ongoing cooperation between Vietnam and China," Forster added.  "This year they signed a memorandum of understanding to address trafficking in human beings so there is a legal basis for cooperation. There is also a sub-regional process involving Mekong sub-regional countries, including China."

Although Ngoc welcomes Vietnam's anti-trafficking law, he says there needs to be a firmer commitment from government agencies and outside groups to get better results. He says one reason for the lack of progress is local governments not wanting to take responsibility.

"They don't want to admit there is trafficking of Vietnamese women," Ngoc noted.  "It's really sensitive, for example if you work as a provincial authority you don't want to say there is a lot of human trafficking from my own province."

He says the situation is now improving because the country's anti-trafficking law is helping to address that kind of attitude.

Sex trafficking in Scotland: Fears gangs will bring in foreign prostitutes for 2014 Commonwealth Games


sir chris hoy velodrome commonwealth games Image 1

There are worries Glasgow could be flooded with foreign prostitutes ahead of 2014 Commonwealth Games
THE 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow could become a magnet for sex traffickers, Scotland's leading human rights lawyer has warned.
Baroness Helena Kennedy said the event will attract a crowd of sports fans seeking prostitutes while away from home.
The 61-year-old launched the findings of her inquiry into human trafficking in Scotland in Edinburgh yesterday.
She said: "These type of big sporting events are used as a cover for all kinds of criminal activity."
The findings of her inquiry criticise the short-fall in public or professional awareness in Scotland of human trafficking and says police have a "significant" intelligence gap on the problem.
The report looks into all aspects of human trafficking but focuses on "commercial sexual exploitation".
Baroness Kennedy said: "With large sporting events like the Commonwealth Games, you get more people coming into the country and the border controls become softer.
"The police have told me the increase in cheap flights makes it easier for groups of men to travel abroad to sporting events and stag parties.
"This is known as the gang of guys phenomena - where men are more likely to try things they wouldn't at home.
"The criminal gangs know this and foreign prostitutes are trafficked into the area for major e Commonweal for major events like the Commonwealth Games.
"But as we saw at the Athens Olympics in 2004, the prostitutes do not leave the area.
"This is something the Olympic committee in London are very alert to."
She added: "There's nothing new in Scottish men using prostitutes for sex but they are now looking for foreign women as a result of trips abroad.
"The internet also provides easy opportunities. Even if you live in Auchtermuchty, you're only a few clicks away from getting what you want."
The baroness said the Scottish government and police had to act quickly to stop the traffickers. She said: "The authorities must take immediate action.
"I first encountered this problem in London 25 years ago when the Yardie gangsters teamed up with local criminals. The criminals in London, who were mainly into armed robbery, realised robbing banks was no longer viable and money was to be made from drugs.
"But they needed to link up with criminals from abroad who could get the drugs - that's where the Yardies came in.
"The drugs started to flood into the UK and with that came a big increase in the use of guns - then the girls followed.
"The same thing will happen in Scotland and we already know that gangs from Eastern Europe have joined forces with domestic criminals."
Latest figures show Scotland had 134 victims of human trafficking from April 2009 to December 2010. It is estimated Scotland will have around 75 victims of trafficking a year.
Five countries - Nigeria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, China and Somalia - accounted for 65 per cent of Scotland's trafficked women.
One gang were earning around £2million a year running 10 brothels.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Nestle 'to act over child labour in cocoa industry'

Children have to use machetes for their work on the cocoa plantations

Global food giant Nestle says it has taken a major step to end child labour on cocoa farms supplying its factories.
The firm, one of the world's largest chocolate producers, says it is going to work with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) on tackling the problem.
The FLA is set to examine Nestle's cocoa supply chains in Ivory Coast in January, the firm said in a statement.
Critics ask why it has taken Nestle so long to act if it knew children were involved in its cocoa production.
Nestle and the world's other biggest chocolate producers signed a cocoa protocol - an international commitment to end child labour in the cocoa industry - 10 years ago.
Earlier this year, a report commissioned by the US government found that the chocolate industry's funding since 2001 had "not been sufficient" and it needed to do more.
Nestle, in its statement, said the "cocoa supply chain is long and complex" - making it "difficult for food companies to establish exactly where their cocoa comes from and under what conditions it was harvested".
The firm said the FLA would send a team of independent examiners to Ivory Coast - where Nestle buys most of its cocoa - to map the supply chain.
The results of its assessment will be published next year and will guide future operations there, the firm said.
"Child labour has no place in our supply chain," said senior Nestle executive Jose Lopez.
"We cannot solve the problem on our own, but by working with a partner like the FLA we can make sure our efforts to address it are targeted where they are needed most".
'Moral obligation' The US government-backed report by Tulane University, published in March, found that more than 1.8 million children in West Africa were involved in growing cocoa.
Earlier this month, the BBC's Humphrey Hawksley travelled to Ivory Coast and found children using machetes to hack open cocoa pods to extract the beans.
One boy told him that he had been sent by his father to the farm to work, and had not seen his family for three years.
Gilbert Kone Kafana, Ivory Coast's minister for labour and social affairs, said there was a "moral obligation" on chocolate companies to help rebuild the country ravaged by years of civil war.
"We need to build roads, schools, hospitals and social centres; anything that would allow Ivory Coast to progress," he told the BBC.
"This development is necessary for farmers to have a good life, and it is in the interest of the industry to work with us."


During my visit to Ivory Coast earlier this month, it was easy to find child labour and difficult to see substantive measures to prevent it.
The sight of children carrying machetes or pesticide equipment is common throughout the country's cocoa belt.
More than 800,000 children there are believed to do some form of cocoa-related work.
I found a group walking along a muddy path towards trees where bright yellow cocoa pods hung ready for harvest.
Silently, the children squatted down and started work. They wore torn and grubby shorts and T-shirts. There was no laughter or play.
On their legs were scars from machete injuries. There was no first-aid kit around or any protective clothing.

Related Stories

Zimbabwe women accused of raping men 'for rituals'

A Zimbabwean woman opens a condom packet in a car 
The women are accused of collecting the semen in condoms
Zimbabwean police believe there is a nationwide syndicate of women raping men, possibly to use their semen for use in rituals that claim to make people wealthy.
It has taken more than a year for any arrests to be made, and on Monday three women are to go on trial in the capital, Harare, over the allegations which have shocked the country.
One alleged victim, who wished to remain anonymous, gave an account on national television in July of his experience which happened after he was offered a lift by a group of three women in Harare.

Start Quote

The urge to have sex was still there”
Alleged male rape victim
"One of the women threw water in my face and they injected me with something that gave me a strong sexual desire," he said.
"They stopped the car and made me have sex with each of them several times, using condoms.
"When they had finished they left me in the bush totally naked.
"Some people gathering grass helped me by calling the police, who took me to hospital to deal with the effects of this drug that I had been given, as the urge to have sex was still there."
The women due in court have been charged on 17 counts of aggravated indecent assault - as Zimbabwean law does not recognise the act of a woman raping a man.
They were detained earlier this month in the central town of Gweru, 275km (170 miles) south-west of Harare, after officers found 31 used condoms in the car that they were travelling in.
Threatening crowds The women deny the charges, saying they are prostitutes and were too busy at the time to dispose of the condoms.
People standing by mini bus taxis in Harare, Zimbabwe  
Since the reports of male rapes, some men say they no longer hitch hike and prefer to use buses
After being released on bail last month, they were confronted and threatened by a crowd. They say they have been forced to remain at home since then, to avoid unwanted attention.
Police spokesperson Superintendent Andrew Phiri told the BBC that they believe that there is a syndicate operating nationwide.
"We have received reports from around the country from different towns and provinces, it's been happening on the highways," he said.
"We are yet to find out the real reason why this is happening. We have heard speculation that it's linked to rituals."
He appealed for witnesses to come forward.
"We need to hear from people who are prepared to tell," the superintendent said.
The semen is believed to be used in rituals to bring success in business, and there are suggestions that the semen is being taken outside the country for sale.
But cultural expert and sociology lecturer Claude Mararikei told the BBC that it was not clear how the semen would be used.
"It's in the area of rituals and magic, which border on secret societies," he said.
"Even researchers don't want to go into that area because you may not come out alive to publish whatever you find out."
'Wife left me' While the first accounts of men alleging that they had been raped by women were generally met with incredulity, men who spoke to the BBC say that they are now taking the issue very seriously.

Start Quote

I think there has been a lot of under-reporting because the victims will feel not man enough to talk about such issues and that will hinder them from speaking out”
Nakai Nengomasha Counsellor
"When I travel I only use buses where people are travelling in numbers now, I won't get a lift in private cars, especially if there are women inside," said a man called Witness.
"You must exercise caution, women are raping men, it's happening."
Some women in Harare, like Sibongile, worry it is giving their gender a bad image.
"I wish that people could be encouraged to work for their money in a good way. It's evil that's gone into women's heads to cause them to be that greedy, that they want easy money," she told the BBC in the city centre.
The police have not given a figure for the number of cases reported.
Nakai Nengomasha, a counsellor who is working with three men who say that they are victims of female rapists, believes that there could be more cases who have not come forward.
"I think there has been a lot of under-reporting because the victims will feel not man enough to talk about such issues and that will hinder them from speaking out," he said.
"They need to deal with denial which comes from a deeply rooted mistaken belief that men are immune to being victimised and that they should be able to fight back if they are truly a real man.
"Some have to deal with the issue of seeing the assault as a loss of manhood and feel disgusted with themselves."
That is how the man who spoke about his alleged ordeal on television feels, saying he even contemplated suicide.
"I feel violated and disappointed, because when I told my wife what happened, she left me, together with one of our three children. I'm hoping that she will come back."

Related Stories

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

From The Daily Star: Experts urge state to curb child abduction English

BEIRUT: The government was urged Monday to sign up to an international agreement that would help reduce the rate of child abduction in Lebanon. Experts from several countries gathered to discuss The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, of which Lebanon is not a signatory, and measures to combat what is a growing trend of missions relocated against their will.

“Our biggest problems come with non-signatories of The Hague convention,” said Allison Shalaby, the acting director of British anti-abduction charity Reunite. “The more awareness we can raise the more we can reduce the number of abductions.”

Shalaby, whose own daughter was abducted to Egypt, said that a large proportion of abductions were committed by parents who are unaware such action is illegal.

“A lot of parents don’t realize that they can actually abduct their own children,” she said.

For more, please see this:

Herman Cain paid to settle sex scandals with employees


Published: 31 October, 2011, 22:17
Edited: 01 November, 2011, 16:41
Herman Cain (Photo from
Herman Cain (Photo from

No real politician would be complete without a sex scandal and Herman Cain is no exception. His unconventional campaign clearly made him popular. Otherwise who would care that allegedly he was involved in inappropriate manner with his employees?
The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and current GOP presidential frontrunner allegedly engaged in a sexually suggestive manner with two former female employees during his occupancy as head of the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990’s.
The women complained of sexually suggestive behavior that made them angry and uncomfortable,” and anonymous source told Politico.
Some of the alleged “incidents” included conversations packed with innuendo and personal questions of a sexual nature. The alleged conversations took place in hotels during conferences and at other restaurant association events.
Cain is no stranger to physical gestures, as any politician in a debate, and is also accused of displaying sexually physical gestures that made women who experienced or witnessed them uncomfortable.
The complaints of the two females were silenced by signed agreements with the restaurant group and gave them a monetary payout in the five-figure range to cut ties with the association.
According to Politico the agreement incorporated a sort of gag order verbiage that prohibited the women from speaking out about their severance.
Jonathan Martin, of Politico, confronted the GOP presidential hopeful on the campaign trail and Cain refused to comment and went as far as to turn the tables on Martin by asking if Martin had ever been accused of sexual harassment himself.
On Sunday night, Herman Cain’s campaign denied reports with an official statement:
Dredging up thinly sourced allegations…political trade press are now casting aspersions on his character and spreading rumors that never stood up the facts. Since Washington establishment critics haven’t had much luck in attacking Mr. Cain’s ideas to fix a bad economy and create jobs, they are trying to attack him in any way they can.”
Maggie Haberman, one of the reporters who broke the story, said Cain’s campaign had 10 days to respond to the allegations and they refused to address the specifics of the allegations.
Politico went public with the story after a half-dozen sources confirmed different portions of the complaints.
His recent increase of popularity has only made the target on his back bigger than before.
A recent poll in Iowa showed Mr. Cain had the support of 23 percent of the Republicans and Mitt Romney wasn’t far behind with 22 percent.
Back in May, Caintold the Washington Examiner, “They’re going to come after me more viciously than they would a white candidate.
Many believe that these attacks will lead to a tossup for a new GOP frontrunner to emerge, but the Cain camp feels it will not affect his drive to the White House.
Sadly, we’ve seen this movie played out before – a prominent Conservative targeted by liberals simply because they disagree with his politics. Mr. Cain – and all Americans, deserve better
Only time will tell if pizzaman will deliver.

Mayor Bloomberg Eviction Huge Win For #OWS

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Modern Day Slavery in Sudan

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Gangs Enter New Territory With Sex Trafficking


A placard featuring the photo of a child sits on a table during a conference on human sex trafficking last month in Atlanta. In Fairfax County, Va., gang members who have forced girls as young as 12 into prostitution are being sent to prison. Prosecutors there expect to bring more sex trafficking cases against gang members over the next several months.
Enlarge David Goldman/AP A placard featuring the photo of a child sits on a table during a conference on human sex trafficking last month in Atlanta. In Fairfax County, Va., gang members who have forced girls as young as 12 into prostitution are being sent to prison. Prosecutors there expect to bring more sex trafficking cases against gang members over the next several months.
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November 14, 2011
The MS-13 gang got its start among immigrants from El Salvador in the 1980s. Since then, the gang has built operations in 42 states, mostly out West and in the Northeastern United States, where members typically deal in drugs and weapons.
But in Fairfax County, Va., one of the wealthiest places in the country, authorities have brought five cases in the past year that focus on gang members who have pushed women, sometimes very young women, into prostitution.
"We all know that human trafficking is an issue around the world," says Neil MacBride, the top federal prosecutor in the area. "We hear about child brothels in Thailand and brick kilns in India, but it's something that's in our own backyard, and in the last year we've seen street gangs starting to move into sex trafficking."
Weapons and paraphernalia from gangs are displayed during a news conference in 2006. Authorities in Fairfax, Va., have brought five prostitution cases in the past year against gangs. One member of the MS-13 gang was recently sentenced to life in prison for sex trafficking.
Enlarge Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Weapons and paraphernalia from gangs are displayed during a news conference in 2006. Authorities in Fairfax, Va., have brought five prostitution cases in the past year against gangs. One member of the MS-13 gang was recently sentenced to life in prison for sex trafficking.
In Virginia, at least, the consequences can be severe. Over the past few weeks, one member of MS-13 nicknamed "Sniper" got sent to prison for the rest of his life. Another will spend 24 years behind bars for compelling two teenage girls to sell themselves for money.
Usually, investigators say, gang members charge between $30 and $50 a visit, and the girls are forced into prostitution 10 to 15 times a day.
It's easy money for MS-13 — thousands of dollars in a weekend, with virtually no costs. Except for alcohol and drugs to try to keep the girls off-kilter.
Often, the activity takes place at construction sites, in the parking lots of convenience stores and gas stations.
"Yeah, this last case we worked, the victim was 12 years old," says John Torres, who leads the Homeland Security Investigations unit at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Washington.
He says the girl, a runaway, approached MS-13 gang members at a Halloween party. She was looking for a place to stay. Within hours, she was forced to work as a prostitute.

Sex Trafficking In The U.S.

The U.S. first outlawed trafficking of people during the Civil War. Today, all 50 states prohibit prostitution under state and local laws. But in fiscal year 2009, government-funded programs identified more than 700 potential foreign trafficking victims, in addition to 1,000 potential American trafficking victims. Along with 27 other nations, the U.S. listed itself in the top tier of compliance in the latest report, but notes that the U.S. is "a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking". Here are a few figures.
22: Prosecutions of sex trafficking cases (2009)
18: Percent of sex trafficking victims (all women) of all foreign adult trafficking cases (2009)
38: Percent of sex trafficking victims (16 percent boys) of all foreign child trafficking cases (2009)
206: Males under 18 arrested for prostitution or commercialized vice (2008)
643: Females under 18 arrested for prostitution or commercialized vice (2008)
12,133: Males arrested for prostitution offenses (2008)
26: Arrests, indictments and convictions of U.S. citizens involved in child sex tourism (2009)
—Tasnim Shamma, NPR
Source: Trafficking in Persons Report 2010
"You have a gang that's taking advantage of people that are in a desperate situation, usually runaways or someone that's looking for help from the gang," Torres says.
Joshua Skule, who oversees the violent crime branch of the criminal division at the FBI's field office in Washington, lists some reasons for street gangs' move into sex trafficking.
"It is not like moving, or as risky as moving narcotics. It is not as risky as extorting business owners," he says. "And these victims really have no way out."
Skule says they're like modern indentured servants. The 12-year-old girl involved in one of the recent sex trafficking cases is safe now, authorities say. But she'll be dealing with the physical and emotional scars for many years.
"When someone leaves, there's a lot of shame and guilt associated with the time they were there," says Victoria Hougham, a social worker who helps victims and survivors of sex trafficking.
"They may have physical injuries which can impact, especially for young women, their sexual and reproductive health."
Hougham works with Polaris Project, a nonprofit that runs a 24-hour hot line that helps connect victims of human trafficking with police or social services. She says survivors of that kind of abuse do best when they reconnect with their families and get support from law enforcement.
Prosecutors in Virginia say they expect to bring more sex trafficking cases against gang members over the next several months.

Related NPR Stories

Child sex trafficking on rise in Clark County

The Columbian

Victim recounts nightmarish experience

“Jennifer,” a Clark County teen formerly involved in prostitution, watches over Portland’s Southeast 82nd Avenue. The motel in the background was once used by prostitutes including Jennifer; it’s now under new management and Portland police say it has not been named in any recent reports of sex trafficking.
“Jennifer,” a Clark County teen formerly involved in prostitution, watches over Portland’s Southeast 82nd Avenue. The motel in the background was once used by prostitutes including Jennifer; it’s now under new management and Portland police say it has not been named in any recent reports of sex trafficking.

The Columbian
Brianna, 19, narrowly escaped being trafficked in 2009 after meeting a man who lured her to Seattle. Two years later, she said she’s still fighting with trust issues, but is finding purpose in studying to become a nurse.
The Columbian
Jennifer walks along Southeast 82nd Avenue near motels and strip clubs where she was lured into dancing and turning tricks. Now 16, the former Clark County girl was sexually trafficked, starting at age 13. Her name is not given to protect her from her former pimp, who is still at large.
Jennifer knows the everyday details of being a teenager in rural Clark County: keeping up with grades, answering to a protective mother and sneaking out to college-age parties.
She also knows the grisly life of selling herself on Southeast 82nd Avenue in Portland — for a pimp she thought was her first love.
Just 13 when she met him at a party in Vancouver, Jennifer was attracted to his charisma, good looks and sense of style. He was older — 18 or 19 — which made it all the more exciting, she recalled.
For the first two months, he was sweet and charming. One day, though, things changed.
“I’ve done all these nice things for you. Now it’s time to pay me back,” he told her.
She first told him no, but he threatened to kill her and her family if she didn’t comply. So she reluctantly agreed and entered a world of prostitution, cocaine and strip clubs.
A minor and the victim of numerous sex crimes, Jennifer’s identity is not being disclosed; her first name was changed for her protection because her pimp is still at large and the criminal investigation against him is still open. She represents one of dozens of victims of child sex trafficking in Clark County, a crime believed to be rampant in Portland but one that’s only gained attention here in the past few years.
Over the past three years, police in Clark County have seen child sex trafficking emerge as one of the major crimes to watch. It’s no longer just a Portland problem. Fueled by online ads, johns and girls will routinely travel between Vancouver and Portland for “dates,” making the crime a regional issue.
In Clark County, police estimate about 50 children are being sold for sex, compared with 150 to 200 in Portland. Those estimates could be lower than the reality, police said, because many victims don’t self-report.
“If you would have asked me three years ago about child sex trafficking (in Clark County), I would say, ‘You’re crazy,’” said Clark County sheriff’s Sgt. Duncan Hoss. “I was pretty amazed at how big the prostitution world was in general. It’s really the upcoming industry.”

Narrow escape

Those who fall victim to child sex trafficking don’t all fit the cliche of being runaways or foster children, police said.
Another girl, Brianna, narrowly escaped being trafficked in December 2009. A star athlete and honor student, she met her would-be pimp when he stopped at the restaurant she worked at in La Center.
Initially persuading her to come to Seattle to party with college-age boys, he had other plans in mind. He coaxed her to dance two nights at a strip club and then hand over most of the money to him. When he urged her to come to Arizona with him to make more money selling her body, Brianna’s ex-boyfriend intervened, alerting her family and law enforcement.
Brianna, now a 19-year-old college student, said the ordeal made a lasting impression on how she can trust people now.
“It’s hard to befriend anyone my age,” she said. “They just don’t get it. It’s just like I have had to grow up a lot in the last few years.”
Six months prior to Brianna’s ordeal, Hoss and Vancouver police Sgt. John Chapman said they were blind to the problem of trafficking. That’s when, at the nudging of Portland police detectives, police conducted a special investigation of hotels along Chkalov Drive in east Vancouver. Expecting to uncover a drug ring, instead they found evidence of human trafficking.
Chapman and Hoss dug more. They underwent a training session that year put on by the Oregon Human Trafficking Task Force and began meeting with Shared Hope International, a Vancouver organization that combats global sexual slavery. Then, that October, Vancouver police participated in the FBI’s sting, Operation Cross Country, along with other law enforcement agencies in the metro area.
The results were surprising. Vancouver authorities recovered two juvenile sex workers — the same number as found in Portland.
The figures, however, weren’t surprising to Portland police.
“We encounter them significantly moving between Portland and Vancouver,” said Portland police Sgt. Mike Geiger. “It’s a very easy drive from Vancouver to the Portland area. It’s not a static kind of circumstance.”
With this new awareness has come harsher penalties for pimps and johns in Washington. In 2010, Linda Smith, former congresswoman and founder of Shared Hope International, successfully championed a bill to more than double the sentencing range for promotion of commercial sexual abuse of a minor, from 21 to 44 months to 93 to 318 months. For buyers of sex, the penalties increased to 21 to 144 months, up from one to 68 months under former sentencing guidelines.
Still, police and civic leaders say there’s much more to be done, namely resources for the juveniles.
There are no safe houses for victims in Washington or Oregon, something crucial for girls trying to escape the prostitution lifestyle and the grip of their pimp.
“We’re making steps,” Hoss said. “We’re just not quite there with the whole package yet.”

Then and now

Chapman and Hoss said that before their training, detectives weren’t aware of the warning signs of trafficking. They’d received reports about frequent runaway girls, often traveling with older men, but wouldn’t view it as a possible child sex trafficking case.
Other occurrences, like a girl receiving expensive jewelry or other lavish gifts from an older man, also weren’t thought of as warning signs. Now, Chapman said, detectives and patrol officers know what to look for.
Chapman also investigates the crime by trolling online ads of sex workers. His department also receives referrals from juvenile probation counselors and from organizations such as the YWCA Clark County and Oregon Sexual Assault Resource Center.
A boost for law enforcement was the addition of Kay Vail, a Clark County juvenile probation counselor now fully devoted to child sex trafficking cases, thanks to a federal grant.
Vail counsels a small group of girls (so far, there have been no identified male victims in Clark County). Those girls came through the system as runaways or after being charged with a crime. If they say they were trafficked, probation officials will refer the cases to Vail.
Vail said she sees a lot of similarity between cases. Girls who are addicted to drugs and alcohol or in foster care are especially prone to becoming prostitutes. But, she said, she also has been surprised at how far-reaching the crime can be. She’s counseled girls who were straight-A students and came from a good home.
One of the key traits in the victims, she has observed, is vulnerability. They are girls who can be groomed easily by the pimps — those who are especially responsive to compliments, expensive gifts and attention.
“A lot of (the pimps) start out as the boyfriend,” she said.
That poses the same setbacks as domestic violence victims: They are emotionally attached to their abusers and often don’t want to pursue prosecution against them, she said.
“Sometimes they feel very alienated,” Vail said. “A lot of times, they start out way tough” and she has to break through a barrier.
Long-term support is exactly what police, social workers and Smith of Shared Hope say is missing in the fight against child sex trafficking.
Vail estimates that about 80 percent of her girls have stable homes. Still, many victims need an anonymous, secure place to go.
Smith said those safe havens are rare; there are only a few in the United States specified for trafficking victims.
Across the river, Janus Youth Programs helped the Oregon Sexual Assault Resource Center secure funding for seven beds at an undisclosed location. That’s a small step in the right direction, said Esther Nelson, program manager for SARC’s commercially sexually exploited children division. “Most of them are living in very unsafe situations,” she said.

Jennifer’s story

By all accounts, Jennifer’s life was far from dangerous until the eighth grade. She was good student, receiving As and Bs, and had several friends at her Clark County middle school.
A striking 16-year-old girl with cropped hair and steely eyes, she sat in a coffee shop on a recent afternoon with Sgt. Chapman and her mother, and shared her story.
Jennifer said her ordeal started out like this: One night, she sneaked away from home to a party, where she met the man who later became her pimp. “He was cute. He had nice watches,” she said. “He was like LL Cool J.” She was 13 at the time.
Without telling her mother, Jennifer began dating the man — until it suddenly turned dark.
“It was a few months until I realized it wasn’t a relationship and he had other girls,” she said. “I started lying to myself and saying, ‘He did this (for me), so I’ll do this’” for him.
She started meeting men for “dates” and working Portland’s 82nd Avenue strip. Her rate was $100 an hour, which would all go to him. She became addicted to cocaine at age 14.
Jennifer’s mother said she saw the change in her daughter, but she had no idea about the pimp. “I thought she was just acting out because (Jennifer’s father and I) were divorcing,” she said. “It would be 8 or 9 at night and she wouldn’t be home from school.”
At first, Jennifer would tell her mom she was spending the weekend at a friend’s house, and then sneak to her pimp’s apartment. Then, she started running away for longer periods.
One night an officer broke the news to Jennifer’s mom. He told her mom to look at a certain website and scan the ads of sex workers. In disbelief, her mom looked, but couldn’t find her daughter.
Meanwhile, Jennifer told her pimp she didn’t want to work for him anymore. After an argument that including him slapping her, he kicked her out of his apartment.
Jennifer was found by an officer wandering Portland’s 82nd Avenue. The officer took her home. But a fight with her mom over her cellphone, in which she assaulted her mother, landed her in juvenile hall.
She was referred to probation counselor Vail, who gave her a book, “Renting Lacy,” about the life of one child sex worker. Vail helped her start breaking down her walls.
Then, in June 2010, her location was leaked to her pimp. One of his friends came to where she was staying and beat and sexually assaulted her.
Her attacker was convicted and sent to prison.
But Jennifer’s pimp is still at large. For her protection, Shared Hope found and sent Jennifer to a girl’s school on the East Coast. She spent nine months there before coming home in August. Her family now lives in Oregon.
Since being home, Jennifer is working to obtain her GED and wants to use her experience to help other victims.
“Many girls think I’m a criminal for doing those things,” she said. “Telling anyone is like suicide.”
Jennifer and her mom both agree she has a long way to go in the healing process. When she gets nervous, she sucks her thumb and tries to laugh at the circumstances, while her mom cries.
The process of recovery can take years, acknowledged Brianna. Her heart goes out to Jennifer.
Looking back on herself in her high school years, Brianna thinks girls are especially vulnerable because they’re still sorting out their identity. She thinks finding direction is a key to moving on.
“Your life comes with purpose,” she said. “The number one thing is finding self-respect for yourself and finding something that makes you purposeful.”
Brianna said she is finding that purpose by volunteering for Shared Hope and in her school studies; she plans to become a nurse. It’s an ongoing process.
“My life has just completely changed for the better,” she said.
Laura McVicker:;;

A defender of foreign nannies and cleaners with no rights


Anis Hidayah honoured by Human Rights Watch in Toronto for extraordinary activism

Posted: Nov 13, 2011 4:58 PM ET

Last Updated: Nov 13, 2011 4:53 PM ET

Human rights advocate Anis Hidayah works in Indonesia to protect domestics working overseas. She received a Human Rights Watch award for extraordinary activism in Toronto recently.  
Human rights advocate Anis Hidayah works in Indonesia to protect domestics working overseas. She received a Human Rights Watch award for extraordinary activism in Toronto recently. (Timothy Neesam/CBC)
In 1998, when Anis Hidayah was 20 and studying law in her native Indonesia, she heard a horrific story about a female compatriot who was raped by her employer while she was employed as a domestic worker in Saudi Arabia.
The young woman eventually escaped, but her Saudi boss faced no criminal charges and she was never compensated for her wages or the crime.
'Why is it that I didn’t know about this before?'— Anis Hidayah
Hidayah came from a village in East Java where half of the women in the country regularly left their husbands and children to go abroad, taking up posts as domestic workers in an effort to lift themselves out of poverty.
After hearing about the case, Hidayah wondered: “Why is it that I didn’t know about this before?”
There was little media discussion of the issue in Indonesia at the time, and no government monitoring of the vast labour pool leaving the country on domestic worker contracts.
Hidayah soon discovered that when women sign up with recruiters to go to work as maids and nannies overseas, they fall into a void.
Having signed two-year, legally binding contracts, they are sent to countries like Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait where they might work up to 18 hours a day, every day of the week, according to Human Rights Watch, an independent organization that monitors the industry.
Employers sometimes confiscate domestic workers' passports or even imprison them in their homes. In worst-case scenarios, the women are beaten, raped and starved. These and other abuses are chronicled by Human Rights Watch in several reports, including its most recent in 2010, "Slow Reform, Protection of Migrant Domestic Workers in Asia and the Middle East."

Leaders of the family

"Today, there are seven million migrant workers in Indonesia. Six million of those migrant workers are women and most are domestic workers," Hidayah said in during an interview in Toronto, where she was honoured recently by Human Rights Watch with the Alison Des Forges award for extraordinary activism.
"Because of poverty, women often emerge as the leaders of the family to help their families."
In 2004, Hidayah founded the Jakarta-based Migrant Care, a non-governmental organization that lobbies on the rights of migrant workers by pushing Indonesian lawmakers to come up with domestic reforms on migrant labour and by organizing protests and extensive media coverage.
'Anis Hidayah has become a national voice in Indonesia.'—Nisha Varia
'We monitor their treatment and give legal advice to the women," she said.
Her organization now deals with 1,000 cases a year, with women complaining about violence and abuse in Middle Eastern and Asian countries.
Abuse can start before these women even leave home, Hidayah said. Recruiters sometimes lock the women in recruitment centres while they wait to be matched with families abroad. Then they are saddled with the cost of airfare to their destinations, with the money taken from future wages, leaving them in debt before they even start working.
Human Rights Watch first became aware of Hidayah’s pioneering work with domestic workers in 2004, when one of the organization's researchers, Nisha Varia, was doing field work in Indonesia.
"Anis Hidayah has become a national voice in Indonesia," said Varia, now senior researcher in the women's rights division at Human Rights Watch.

Putting pressure on government

"The pressure put on the Indonesian government by Anis is strong," she said in an interview in Toronto.
Hidayah is a master at lobbying in her native country, contacting politicians directly and using the media to publicize the issue, Varia said.
"Indonesians have yet to make it an electoral issue, but I've seen the issue evolve over the years," she said. "Today there is strong coverage of migrant issues in the media in Indonesia."
Human Rights Watch is also actively trying to raise international awareness about domestic workers.
"It’s a huge economic issue in Asia," said Varia.
Worldwide, there are 50 million to 100 million domestic workers, according to Human Rights Watch.
“This is a significant year to highlight the issue because the International Labour Organization in Geneva adopted a treaty to protect these workers in June,” said Varia. The new international guidelines call for standards and rules in the treatment and protection of domestic workers.
Now that the international treaty has been approved, advocacy groups are lobbying to get it ratified by individual countries.

Dream of going global

Meanwhile, Migrant Care in Indonesia has grown from an office of four staff members to 12. It gets funding from big agencies such as the Ford Foundation, Asia Foundation and the Open Society Institute.
Hidayah hopes it will eventually go global.
"Our dream is to expand to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia and Singapore," she said.
Asked to name a case of which she is particularly proud, Hidayah tells the story of a 32-year-old Indonesian woman named Ceriyati.
Ceriyati went to Malaysia in 2006 and was abused and tortured by her employer, Hidayah said. The employer kept her confined to an apartment, prevented her from calling her family on the telephone, beat her and then put salt in her wounds to make them more painful. The employer also limited her food, giving her only three biscuits a day, Hidayah said.
The woman endured this life for seven months until she eventually escaped by tying together bed sheets and scaling down 23 floors from a window. She then fled to the police. Hidayah learned of her situation and helped get her out of the country.

'Discrimination happens all over the world'

Although Human Rights Watch has focused its research on mistreatment and exploitation of migrant domestic workers in Asia and Arab countries (Saudi Arabian households alone employ 1.5 million domestic workers), it also monitors foreign domestic workers in North America.
"Discrimination happens all over the world, including North America," said Varia.
"Domestic workers in the United States don’t have the protections of other workers."
They don’t have the right to form labour unions and there is no legal protection against sexual harassment and occupational hazards in the workplace.
"They are at heightened risk in private homes," said Varia.
Recently in British Columbia, two immigrant women who had worked as live-in domestic help in the Lower Mainland said they were treated like slaves and kept in near imprisonment in their employers’ homes.

Israel-Kenya deal to help fight Somalia's al-Shabab

Israel-Kenya deal to help fight Somalia's al-Shabab

Raila Odinga (l) and Benjamin Netanyahu on 14 November Kenya's Raila Odinga and Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu have promised to strengthen ties
Israel has offered to help Kenya secure its borders as it tackles Somalia's Islamist group, al-Shabab, the Kenyan prime minister's office has said.
It said Kenya got the backing of Israel to "rid its territory of fundamentalist elements" during Prime Minister Raila Odinga's visit to the country.
Last month, Kenya sent troops to neighbouring Somalia to defeat al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaeda.
It blames the militants for a spate of abductions on its side of the border.
In a statement, Mr Odinga's office quotes Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as saying that "Kenya's enemies are Israel's enemies".
"We have similar forces planning to bring us down," he is is quoted as saying. "I see it as an opportunity to strengthen ties."
At least 15 people were killed in a suicide bombing on an Israeli-owned hotel in the Kenyan coastal resort of Mombasa in 2002.
Four years earlier, more than 200 people were killed in co-ordinated bomb blasts on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Al-Qaeda carried out the attacks, with some of its senior members operating from Somalia.
'Regional coalition' Mr Odinga - who is accompanied on the visit by Internal Security Minister George Saitoti - said Israel could help Kenya's police force detect and destroy al-Shabab's networks in Kenya.

Start Quote

Consistently, Kenya has shown a very positive attitude towards Israel and Israel is ready to help”
Shimon Peres Israel's president
Kenya also needed Israel to provide vehicles for border patrols and equipment for sea surveillance to curb piracy off the East African coast, he said.
"We need to be able to convincingly ensure homeland security," Mr Odinga said.
The statement quoted Mr Netanyahu as promising to help build a "coalition against fundamentalism" in East Africa, incorporating Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Tanzania.
Israel's President Shimon Peres had promised to "make everything available" to Kenya to guarantee its security within its borders, the statement said.
"Consistently, Kenya has shown a very positive attitude towards Israel and Israel is ready to help," the statement quotes Mr Peres saying.
Kenya accuses al-Shabab of abducting several people from its territory since September - including an elderly French woman who suffered from cancer. French authorities say she has since died in Somalia.
Al-Shabab denies involvement in the abductions and has vowed to retaliate against Kenya for sending troops into Somalia. It has accused the Kenyan army of killing civilians.
Last month, a Kenyan man, Elgiva Bwire Oliacha, told a court in Nairobi that he was an al-Shabab member.
He pleaded guilty to carrying out grenade attacks on a nightclub and bus stop in the city, leaving one person dead and 29 others wounded.
Somalia has been without an effective government since 1991, with al-Shabab controlling most of the southern and central regions.

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