Friday, January 30, 2009

OVC Web Forum on Labor Trafficking

This week, the Office for Victims of Crimes hosted a live web forum for victim service providers on labor trafficking. The Forum's guest hosts included Florrie Burke, the cochair of the Freedom Network (USA), a national network of service providers, attorneys, and other advocates who work with trafficked and enslaved persons and provide regional trainings throughout the country, and Katherine Kaufka, the executive director of the International Organization for Adolescents, and previously managed the counter-trafficking project at the National Immigrant Justice Center.

Guests were allowed to submit questions and the hosts provided answers. Many of the questions and answers were quite specific to people working directly in victims services, however the forum is available to anyone to look at. With the permission of the OVC, here are some of the questions and answers.

Are statistics related labor trafficking available?

All statistics related to human trafficking are subject to interpretation. It has been difficult for researchers to get accurate numbers as the numbers are pulled from a variety of sources. Most of us think there are much higher numbers of trafficked persons than recorded. Many cases of labor trafficking are not recognized as such because investigators might not screen for trafficking, but look for labor violations or documents of residency only. Look at the reports from the ILO, the DOL, and other government reports to get some idea of the numbers being used. -Florrie Burke

Are statistics even accurate? Other than cases identified through the police involvement, what are the statistics based on?

Statistics are also gathered from Dept. of Justice --they count prosecutions. Health and Human Services counts certified victims, Vermont Service Center counts T Visas issued. For survivors who don't access these services or follow up on legal and immigration remedies--no count! -Florrie Burke

Particularly in labor cases, it is likely that law enforcement will encounter male victims. Since historically most victims of human trafficking are female (in my experience), I'm curious as to what you view as any special considerations for male trafficking victims. Thanks.

Please also look at a previous response about the differences with sex trafficking and labor trafficking survivors. I am glad you asked the question as male victims are often overlooked. They have issues of responsibility to family back home (females do also) and they have often suffered severe shame for being duped into a situation. This occurs with women too, but the effects often show up differently. Male victims do well if they are able to learn about the law and about their rights. They are often not comfortable receiving social services, but do have practical needs that must be attended to. Engaging them as full partners with a lot of control over their service plan is helpful. Finding emergency housing is a challenge and we need to be careful to avoid putting them in danger (homeless shelters.) Many male survivors have been able to become advocates and labor activists as a way to cope with their situation. I do not in any way mean to impart a sexist response here. I used some generalizations. I do, however, see differences in a response to male survivors. Cultural considerations are key. -Florrie Burke

To add to the previous comments, I think because of the perception that victims are usually female, boys and men sometimes get overlooked. I've worked with boys who encountered several first responders (i.e. local law enforcement, federal law enforcement, govt agency, service provider, etc.)before being identified as a victim of human trafficking. -Katherine Kaufka

What changes, if any, would you like to see happen on the Federal level regarding this topic? Do you think Obama being in office will make a difference?

On that note, I heard that a new TVPA was signed just recently. Do you see any issues that might come up with the new one?

We see advances already being made since the recent reauthorization of the federal law. President Obama has rescinded a previous directive that prohibited any agency receiving federal funds in other countries from working on reproductive rights. This is helpful for those NGOs in source and transit countries to do their prevention work on human trafficking. There needs to be better accountability, more transparency and more attention to the issue here in the U.S. and we are hopeful it will happen with the new administration. -Florrie Burke

The TVPRA 2008 was signed into law in Dec 2008. It provides enhancements for victim protections, greater transparency and accountability re funding, and sentencing enhancements (plus more - too much to type)! I hope that this administration will uphold enhancements to the TVPA, and keep agencies responsible for various provisions of the Act accountable. -Katherine Kaufka

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

USDOJ releases trafficking victim statistics for the U.S.


WASHINGTON – In the first 21 months of operation, the Human Trafficking Reporting System (HTRS) recorded information on more than 1,200 alleged incidents of human trafficking, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. The HTRS contains data collected by 38 federally funded human trafficking task forces on alleged incidents of human trafficking that occurred between January 1, 2007, and September 30, 2008.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), and its reauthorizations in 2003, 2005, and 2008 define a human trafficking victim as a person induced to perform labor or a commercial sex act through force, fraud, or coercion. Any person under age 18 who performs a commercial sex act is considered a victim of human trafficking, regardless of whether force, fraud, or coercion was present.

Most (83 percent) of the reported human trafficking incidents involved allegations of sex trafficking. Labor trafficking accounted for 12 percent of incidents, and other or unknown forms of human trafficking made up the remaining five percent. About a third (32 percent) of the 1,229 alleged human trafficking incidents involved sex trafficking of children.

More than a quarter of alleged sex trafficking incidents contained multiple victims, and nearly half of labor trafficking incidents had more than one victim. Labor trafficking incidents were more likely to involve more than one suspect (47 percent), compared to sex trafficking incidents (37 percent).

As of September 30, 2008, less than 10 percent of the 1,229 alleged incidents had been confirmed as human trafficking. To be confirmed in the HTRS, the case must have led to an arrest and been subsequently confirmed by law enforcement, or the victims must have received a special non-immigrant Visa classification, as provided under the 2000 TVPA.

Over 90 percent of victims in both alleged and confirmed human trafficking incidents were female. Nearly 40 percent of victims in alleged and confirmed labor trafficking incidents were male, while almost all (99%) victims in alleged and confirmed sex trafficking incidents were female. Hispanic victims comprised the largest share (37 percent) of alleged sex trafficking victims and more than half (56 percent) of alleged labor trafficking victims. Asians made up 10 percent of alleged sex trafficking victims, compared to 31 percent of labor trafficking victims.

Approximately two-thirds of victims in alleged human trafficking incidents were age 17 or younger (27 percent) or age 18 to 24 (38 percent). Sex trafficking victims tended to be younger (71 percent were under age 25) and labor trafficking victims tended to be older (almost 70 percent were age 25 or older). Slightly more than half of all victims in alleged human trafficking incidents were U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens accounted for 63 percent of sex trafficking victims, compared to four percent of labor trafficking victims.

Nearly eight in 10 human trafficking suspects were male. A fifth of sex trafficking suspects were female, compared to about a third of labor trafficking suspects. Nearly two-thirds of sex trafficking suspects were under age 35, while nearly two-thirds of labor trafficking suspects were age 35 or older. U.S. citizens accounted for 66 percent of suspects in alleged incidents. Nearly three-quarters of sex trafficking suspects and a third of labor trafficking suspects were U.S. citizens.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-164) requires the submission of biennial reports on human trafficking using available data from state and local authorities. In response to this requirement, the Department of Justice (DOJ) funded the creation of the HTRS, which was designed by the Institute of Race and Justice at Northeastern University (NEU) and the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute (UI). The HTRS is updated monthly. The data in this report represent the status of each case as of September 30, 2008.

The report, Characteristics of Suspected Human Trafficking Incidents, 2007-08 (NCJ 224526), was written by BJS statisticians Tracey Kyckelhahn, Allen J. Beck, and Thomas H. Cohen. Following publication, the report can be found here.

For additional information about the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ statistical reports and programs, please visit the BJS Web site.

The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey L. Sedgwick, provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has five component bureaus: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime. In addition, OJP has two program offices: the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART).

More information can be found at

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Call to Action

Help build the Human Trafficking Project into an informational resource of news, analysis and insights for researchers and individuals interested in learning more about trafficking!

Are you a researcher? A student? A social worker? An advocate? A lawyer?

We are looking for a diverse group of gifted writers who have experience in the anti-trafficking field and are passionate about raising awareness of modern day slavery to join the HTP team.

Assignments will include interviewing trafficking experts and NGOs, analyzing news articles and writing opinion pieces.

Although at the moment we cannot promise you fortune (the positions are unpaid), we can deliver on the fame by providing a platform from which you can speak your mind and create valuable content for those interested in learning more about trafficking.

Direct experience in the field is appreciated but by no means required. There is a lot of work to do and a lot of awareness to raise- together we can make a difference!

If interested, please email
a writing sample, a resume and a brief description of your experience in the trafficking field to

Thank you for your continued support!

The HTP team

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Featured Organization: The Emancipation Network

The Mission
The Emancipation Network (TEN) is an international organization that fights slavery with empowerment, 'slavery-proofing' survivors and high risk communities by giving them economic alternatives and education and using the Made By Survivors products to help build the abolition movement in the US.


The Emancipation Network (TEN) was founded in 2005 by Sarah Symons as an organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking and modern day slavery. TEN imports and sells beautiful handicraft products made by survivors of slavery and persons at risk of being trafficked into slavery.

Sarah Symons, the founder and president of TEN with a group of teens at the Apne Aap partner NGO in India.

TEN combines public outreach and education programs about human trafficking with income-generating programs for survivors and high risk girls. Staff members, "Ambassadors" and volunteers organize awareness events across the country to educate people about human trafficking and sell the Made by Survivors products. Sarah was inspired to start TEN after viewing "The Day My God Died," a film about sex trafficking in Nepal and India. She visited Maiti shelter in Nepal and stumbled across a room full of beautiful purses. These handbags were made for art therapy, but Sarah had the idea to sell them in the US and raise money for the girls. The idea became reality and now the selling of Made by Survivors products generates income for both survivors and at-risk groups. Since Sarah's first visit to Nepal in 2005, TEN has expanded to work with over 20 partners in 12 countries.

Watch the Day My God Died trailer

Current Programs

TEN has programs both abroad and in the US.


TEN has over 12 programs and partners in countries such as: India, Cambodia, Nepal, Philippines, Ukraine, and Uganda.
One of our exciting new programs is the Destiny Program in Calcutta, India.

Destiny Productions at the Thomas Clayton Center in Calcutta, India is TEN's newest initiative to help survivors become fully independent, and to slavery-proof them and their children into the future.

One of the biggest problems confronting the shelters that rehabilitate survivors is that the survivors have no place to go. They are often not welcome back in their own community, especially if they were sold into prostitution. Typically they were trafficked at a young age (average 11-12 yrs) and have never lived independently. This not only means they don't have good options for the survivors, but it also means that the shelters can't free up space to take in newly rescue
d survivors.

To assist survivors in reintegration, this summer, The Emancipation Network, in partnership with T.E.N. Charities, the Clayton family, and three of our shelter partner organizations, opened Destiny Productions at the Thomas Clayton Center in Calcutta, India. Destiny Productions is housed in a rented 3-story house in the Kasba neighborhood of Calcutta. Calcutta is a city of over 18 million people, near the Nepal border in Northwest India where poverty and human trafficking are endemic.

Watch a video on Destiny Productions

United States

TEN offers concerned persons in the US the opportunity to take action to fight human slavery, and to make a real impact in the lives of survivors and high risk girls. TEN works together with other organizations to create a critical mass of concerned persons who can put pressure on those who tolerate the modern practice of slavery. We have educated tens of thousands of Americans about human slavery and trafficking, mostly in small groups of 10 or 20, in volunteers' homes, schools, and places of worship.


John Berger, one of TEN's founders, with a group of girls who are benefiting from one of our partner organizations-Apne Aap

TEN has reached approximately 10,000 Americans with slavery education at home parties and community events and is currently employing approximately 300 survivors/high risk people part-time or full-time at shelters and prevention programs. TEN opened its own protection center, the Destiny Project, in the summer of 2008.

Future Growth

In the future TEN will address increasing NGO demand for its services by growing its marketing program and increasing the number of volunteers and reps it maintains to sell more survivor-made products and generate the funds needed to expand its business development services.

Learn more about TEN