Wednesday, September 30, 2009

HTP Voted Top 100 Slavery Blog by the Daily Reviewer

Dear HTP Community,

We recently received the following message: "your readers have submitted and voted for your blog at The Daily Reviewer. We compiled an exclusive list of the Top 100 slavery blogs, and we are glad to let you know that your blog was included!"

Thank you for the support and for helping to spread the word about HTP on the Internet and beyond!

As always let us know what's on your mind and if you want to get involved or if there is something that you have always wanted to see on the site get in touch, we are listening.

Yours in action,

- The HTP Team

View the Daily Reviewer top slavery blog list

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Events: Two Upcoming Trafficking Conferences

1. The Commodification of Illicit Flows: Labour Migration, Trafficking and Business

Location: Toronto, Canada
Date: Friday, October 9- Saturday, October 10, 2009

Direction: Robert Gill Theatre, Koffler Student Services Centre
, 214 College Street, Third Floor
*Free and open to the public

Our very own Elise Garvey and Renan Salgado of Farmworker Legal Services of New York (an IIB Trafficking Victim Services Program Task Force Partner) will be co-authoring a paper and presentation on the trafficking of farmworkers from Southern Mexico to Western New York at a conference entitled, “The Commodification of Illicit Flows: Labour Migration, Trafficking and Business” which will be held at the University of Toronto from October 9th to October 10th

2. First Annual Interdisciplinary Conference on Human Trafficking

Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
Date: Friday, October 29- October 31, 2009

1040 P Street, Embassy Suites Hotel
* Early registration is $295 before October 2, after this date registration is $350

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is proud to host The First Annual Interdisciplinary Conference on Human Trafficking. The purpose of this conference is to bring together researchers from many disciplines, as well as government and non-governmental agencies who have responsibility for anti-trafficking efforts, to develop a research agenda.

Elise Garvey will also be giving a presentation at this conference on the topic of Utilizing Scholarships and Service Programs to Conduct and Facilitate Research on Human Trafficking.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Launch this Thursday for Nomi Network's "Buy Her Bag, Not Her Body" campaign

On Thursday, October 1st, the Nomi Network is hosting a launch party to officially debut their "Buy Her Bag, Not Her Body" totes. The totes are made are made by survivors who earn a livable wage for their work. The bags, which are made from sustainable materials, also raise awareness about the issue of sex trafficking, and the money from purchases helps fund education, training, and counseling for sex trafficking survivors in Cambodia.

The Nomi Network started approximately two years ago as an effort to provide long-term, sustainable employment for survivors of sex trafficking in
Cambodia. According to their website, the Network's name comes from a young child who is a sex trafficking survivor. Nomi (the name has been altered to protect her identity) "is an eight year old Cambodian girl who delights in running, laughing, and playing with her friends. . . Not that long ago, Nomi was held against her will in a brothel and forced to have sex with men for money. Now, she is finding hope and a renewed life in a Christ-centered rehabilitation home for formerly sex-trafficked children in Cambodia, where she is discovering her own strength and resilience. Nomi's life, however, has been permanently altered by her past sexual exploitation; those traumatic experiences as a sex slave have left her permanently mentally disabled."

Alissa Moore and Diana Mao began the Nomi Network with the aim of eradicating such sexual slavery by using fashion and the marketplace to provide economic options for sex trafficking survivors and people at risk of sex trafficking. Rather than
inadvertently supporting slavery with what we buy, Moore and Mao wanted to leverage our purchases to address this human rights abuse.

Mao first visited Cambodia as a student at the
Wagner School of Public Service to research Microfinance. After seeing the effects of sex trafficking firsthand, she came back to the United States impassioned about finding a way to make a difference. Mao teamed up with Moore. Together, they had the idea of finding a way to bring the goods women produced in Cambodia to US buyers.

They visited Cambodia together and met with local NGOs who were already working with sex trafficking survivors, providing them with counseling, education, and job training. Mao and Moore learned that one of the main obstacles facing these organizations in their efforts to help the women find economic stability and living-wage work is the need for demand for the products women produce. The Nomi Network aims to address this need for demand by designing products that can be produced in Cambodia that will appeal to a broad market in the US, rather than just to the segment of the market that will buy products for a cause.

Moore sums up the aims of the Nomi Network as working to address the needs and gaps between what other anti-trafficking organizations can provide. Currently, the Network is addressing gaps in the design aspect of products and in ensuring that products the women produced will have find and reach a Western market. The Network is also working to educate retailers about ways stores can easily and without cost supply socially-responsible products, and they are creating a map of New York stores that sell fair-trade or slavery-free products.

Looking to the future, the Nomi Network wants to increase capacity of their work. They also want the women they work with to gain increased educational and economic opportunities so that they can enter other careers if they so choose or can manage their own businesses rather than be dependent on the Network.

In addition to attending the launch party or ordering a bag via their website, Moore and Mao encourage people to spread the word about their organization and the products they sell. People who want to get involved on a deeper level who have business or technical skills can also contact the Network at They are also looking for people involved in the fashion industry, particularly buyers.

The launch party will be held on Thursday, October 1st, at 7pm at
White Saffron Boutique in New York City, located at 232 Mulberry Street, New York, NY, 10012. Esosa Edosomwan, award winning actress, writer and “directress," will be the keynote speaker.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Kevin Bales: Momentum Conference '09 Speech

Kevin Bales, author of The Slave Next Door, recalls a life-changing epiphany that occurred over a meal of "jumping shrimp" with a young Thai sex worker.

See the full video here

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Major Gifts Director Position Open with Free the Slaves

From Free the Slaves:

Major Gifts Director

Free the Slaves is currently seeking a dynamic, organized, detail-oriented and highly-motivated candidate to fill the position of Major Gifts Director, a new position created due to organizational growth. He or she will work closely with the President, CEO and COO to support the acquisition, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship of major donors—whom Free the Slaves sees as key partners in combating slavery. The Major Gifts Director will also work closely with the Executive Producer/Communications Director and the Communications team to integrate consistent messaging throughout the organization’s external communications. This position will be based in the DC headquarters of Free the Slaves. Domestic and some limited international travel will be required.

Specific Responsibilities Include:
• Lead the cultivation, solicitation and stewardship of major donors and major donor prospects, including preparation, execution and follow-up for all visits.
• Oversee donor communications to major donors and major donor prospects, in conjunction with Communications team, including cultivation and stewardship materials as well as donor acknowledgements
• Plan and execute events for major donor cultivation, as appropriate
• Coordinate donor field visits with senior staff to Free the Slaves’ overseas programs, joining and participating as needed.
• Integrate efforts into larger development strategy, working with other members of Development team to build annual membership program as well as leverage national volunteer base.
• Develop and implement systems for managing relationships, including but not limited to effective use of the database
• Establish quarterly and annual goals, as well as tracking mechanisms to allow highlight progress
• Prepare and monitor major donor program income and expenses

• Passion for ending slavery
• At least 3 years of relevant experience; professional development experience within a nonprofit environment is strongly preferred
• Exceptional oral and written communication skills
• Demonstrated success using writing and presentation skills to increase revenue-generating opportunities, preferably for a nonprofit organization
• Ability to successfully initiate and cultivate relationships with a wide variety of constituents
• Strong organizational and time management skills with exceptional attention to detail
• Strong computer skills; experience with Raiser’s Edge a plus
• Enthusiasm for contributing to the strategic direction of a growing organization
• Ability to work in a high-pressure, fast-paced environment while maintaining a sense of humor
• Bachelor’s Degree, or equivalent experience

In order to attract and retain professionals at the top of their fields, Free the Slaves provides a generous compensation package, including competitive salaries, vacation, personal time and employer-paid health insurance for the employee.

Free the Slaves is an Equal Opportunity / Affirmative Action Employer committed to workplace diversity.

Organization Overview:
Free the Slaves is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to ending modern slavery worldwide. Founded in 2000, Free the Slaves is a dynamic, growing organization that has its headquarters in Washington, DC and satellite offices in Los Angeles, Delhi, Accra and Kathmandu. It has programs in Brazil, Ghana, Haiti, India, Nepal, Sudan and Uganda in addition to its work in the United States. See for more information.

How to Apply:
Applicants should send a resume, thoughtful cover letter, and one writing sample (preferably development-related, under 3pp) to with ‘Major Gifts Director Search’ in the subject line. The closing date is October 23, 2009.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Clinton Foundation to Highlight Human Trafficking this year: Opportunity for Action!

Bill Clinton speaking on the Today Show. Please watch until the end where trafficking is highlighted.

Today marks the final sessions of the Clinton Global Initiative's Annual Meeting 2009. Former President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative have announced that this year CGI will be bringing human trafficking on the agenda as part of their efforts to empower women and girls and build human capital. You can watch the previous sessions as well as today's live sessions here as webcasts.

You can also visit their website to see the resources they are encouraging people to explore as part of the Action Areas on Building Human Capital. The links included are from Free the Slaves, UNODC, End Human Trafficking Now, the ILO, the International Cocoa Initiative, among many others.

While CGI is working towards efforts that end all types of trafficking, one highlighted partnership includes that with the Body Shop. CEO of The Body Shop International, Sophie Gasperment, unveiled a new report addressing the global issue of child sex trafficking on Thursday:
The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) this year is offering a unique opportunity to bring world leaders together to recognize the importance of tackling child sex trafficking, an issue, by its very nature, affecting every country around the world. At the CGI, Ms. Gasperment will unveil an innovative 'Progress Card System' which paints a global picture of how the world's governments are taking action and assesses their progress in their efforts to tackle child sex trafficking in more than 40 countries worldwide.
Another initiative that is teaming up with CGI that was announced at the Annual Meeting was the Alliance to Stop Slavery and End Trafficking (ASSET):
An alliance against human trafficking and forced labor wants companies to examine whether they are indirect sponsors, with leaders at the Clinton Global Initiative saying on Thursday it could even boost business.

Julia Ormond, founder and president of the Alliance to Stop Slavery and End Trafficking, said her organization was seeking to team up with three companies willing to examine their supply chains for any abuses and to share the resulting knowledge widely. She said consumers often seek out products that are made using ethical sources and demand could increase.

"The public will rally behind purchasing product from a clean supply chain," Ormond said.

On ASSET's website, you can take a first step as a consumer to buy products free of slave labor by signing the Consumer Pledge, which not only pledges your commitment to support corporate efforts to free their supply chains of slave-made goods, but also signs you up to receive updates on these efforts and therefore make it easier to live up to this pledge.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dying to Work

While we frequently discuss the trafficking of women and girls, or that of children, the trafficking of men is a less commonly explored subject. A few years ago, I worked as a research assistant at the Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM) at Georgetown University. One of the duties I was tasked with was creating an annotated bibliography for an anti-trafficking study that included academic literature on the trafficking of men. I was shocked at the paltry amount of academic literature on the trafficking of men for work other than prostitution. True, there is a significant amount of grey literature but the academic studies and resources on the trafficking of men are vastly overshadowed by those on the trafficking of women and children. I always wondered if this was because in many societies across the globe there is a notion that men are more in charge of their destinies; are less in need of protection. It is easy to forget that there are so many circumstances that can intertwine to result in conditions of modern slavery for millions of men around the world.

Trafficking of men feeds a number of industries, such as agriculture, service, and construction. In a Huffington Post article posted on September 15th, Cameron Sinclair explores the darker side of the construction industry, focusing on the situation in the UAE. According to Sinclair, there are more than 1.1 million indentured construction workers in the UAE, mainly from India, Pakistan, and Nepal. Once they arrive in the UAE, as in many other countries, they find themselves in labor camps with inadequate food and even worse housing. Frequently, these men have their passports and other documentation taken away and receive meager wages, if they are even paid. As the global economic downturn has put over $300 billion in construction projects on hold in the UAE alone, indentured construction workers are often the most severely impacted. Without status in the UAE, they have no access to services or assistance and, without documentation or passports, they cannot return home.

As it has become increasingly imperative, even trendy, to "go green," Sinclair reminds us that we must look at not only our environmental footprint, but also our ethical footprint. What does it really mean if we construct an environmentally friendly building if we use exploitative labor practices? Can we laud such a structure when it was built on the backs of people who are living as modern slaves?

Read the full article here

In a recent search I conducted, I found that there are more academic resources available today than there were three years ago on the trafficking of men. However, this remains a fertile avenue for further research and exploration.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Interview Michelle Simonsen -- U.S. Domestic Trafficking

"Most families are told by law enforcement that their child is a “runaway” and do nothing to follow up on the missing person case or with the families themselves."-- Michelle Simonsen

While googling "domestic trafficking incidents in the U.S." the first article on google that caught my eyes was "Sex Trafficking--It Happens in America, Too" by Michelle Simonsen. After visiting her blog, Michelle Says So, I realized that she will be a vital source in raising the awareness on the issue of the domestic trafficking in the U.S. As an investigator of the U.S. crime, she offered me the information available to someone who actually witnessed human trafficking in the U.S. in a very tangible sense. I personally found her interview very informative despite the research that I have conducted on domestic trafficking prior to the interview. Lastly, I am grateful for her candor, courage, and passion for the justice that breezed through her responses.

YK: Tell me a little about yourself and your blog.

MS: I went to law school for a year with dreams of becoming a prosecutor in sex crimes. I am a victim of rape I wanted to help others by putting sex offenders away. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford the enormous tuition, so I only completed the first year and then worked in the legal field for 10 years. Since I’ve always been a writer, in 2005 I decided to start a true crime blog and named it “Michelle Says So” because of my notorious opinionated and passionate attitude. I focus on issues such as missing persons, sex offenders, women’s issues and other crime controversies. Soon after I started my blog, I began following the Natalee Holloway case. I felt connected with her personally due to the fact she was sexually assaulted and hadn’t received any justice for her assault and murder. After Beth Holloway declared a boycott against Aruba in November, 2005, I personally connected with her and I started a consumer grassroots boycott movement against the island of Aruba due to the cover-up of Natalee’s murder and the multiple conspiracies in order to protect their tourism.

YK: What inspired you to write an article about human trafficking in the U.S? How did you first learn about it?

MS: I was inspired to write about human/sex trafficking after studying the case of Amy Bradley, who was abducted off a cruise ship in 1998 and has been seen throughout the Caribbean as a sex slave by at least four individuals. In fact, all these witnesses contacted the FBI, only to be ignored. I was instantly shocked by this “invisible” and rarely prosecuted crime. Generally speaking, we are na├»ve citizens and I chose to get involved in order to educate others about these heinous offenses against our women and children. My audience is for everyone. Women, men, mothers, fathers, boys and girls. Education is the key to freedom and change.

YK: Many Americans think that human trafficking happens only in countries like Thailand or Eastern Europe. In an effort of raising the awareness, what would you say to them about trafficking within the U.S.?

MS: U.S. citizens tend to believe human trafficking only happens in other countries. In fact, human trafficking is the one of the most lucrative and increasing crimes our society faces. Some have the opinion that “prostitutes” have chosen this lifestyle. For the majority, this is not the case. Very rarely do the traffickers or pimps get arrested, charged or punished. The women arrested are treated as criminals instead of victims. When the women are released from custody, they go back to their captors due to threats of violence against them and their families. Most have no victim support resources, no one to protect them, and have brainwashed by these manipulative predators. Girls and women who are brought to the U.S. from other countries get their passports taken by the trafficker in order to keep them from escaping. They have nowhere to go, are isolated from the public, and don’t understand their rights or how to seek help.

Traffickers tend to choose young and impressionable girls and women because they know the girls can be easily fooled and tricked, then ultimately controlled through violence, threats and even murder.

Trafficking occurs in every state. You can live out in the country in Montana or Idaho, or you can live in a big city like New York, Los Angeles or Chicago. This epidemic does not discriminate locales. Sadly, it’s a matter of supply and demand in which men continually fund this criminal enterprise.

YK: Based on your research / knowledge, what do you think is the biggest cause/problem of the trafficking in the U.S.?

MS: People believe that the police are here to protect us. However, most cases of human trafficking that have been uncovered have been through tips from concerned neighbors and people who detect something suspicious or “just not right”.

YK: How can people support anti-human trafficking in the U.S.?

As I said, education is the key and the best defense is citizen involvement. Many individuals have the mentality that they don’t want “to get involved”. Yet, these are the key people who can cause change and raise awareness to law enforcement and politicians.

There are many loopholes preventing the identification of human trafficking. In some cases business owners, law enforcement, hotel establishments, and even politicians have their hands in this most lucrative illegal operation that nets over 32 billion dollars a year. This makes drug and weapon trafficking look like kids with a lemonade stand.

Other loopholes occur in the justice system itself. Sex trafficking is very hard to prosecute because the women are too afraid to come forward and testify against their captors. Since most states do not have resources to help and protect these young women, it is almost impossible to successfully prosecute those involved.

Unfortunately too many states lack law enforcement training, task forces, research commissions, or victim protection. Polaris Project, which focuses on human/sex trafficking charted each state to determine what laws or programs that are in place.

Polaris Project declared that “U.S. states with no existing law or pending legislation specifically addressing human trafficking are Alabama, Delaware, District of Columbia, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.”

According to the research done by Polaris Project, 24 states have no human trafficking task forces, 30 states do not have human trafficking law enforcement training, and 22 states offer absolutely no victim protection services. (Polaris Project, “U.S. Police Alert on Human Trafficking—Summary of U.S. Policy Activity”, July 2007.

However, this can be easily changed through the old saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil”. Politicians need our votes; therefore they need to address our concerns. The only way this can happen is for us as a society to step up, take notice and fight.

People tend to believe, “I’m just one person…what can I do?” If everyone changed that apathetic mindset things can change and lives can be saved and rebuilt. In addition to John Q. Public, trafficking survivors need to speak out and be proactive in order to stop this from happening to others.

YK: Have you received any responses from the audiences? If so, how have they responded to it?

MS: I have received huge and positive responses due to my human/sex trafficking article. I’ve connected with families who have lost their daughters to sex trafficking. They are grateful because the media, law enforcement and politicians don’t take these cases seriously. Most families are told by law enforcement that their child is a “runaway” and do nothing to follow up on the missing person case or with the families themselves.

YK: What did being able to write an article on human trafficking mean to you?

MS: Writing the sex trafficking article was important because I believe this needs to be addressed fully and in the forefront of our society’s problems. I want to educate and offer assistance to as many people as I can. Even though I am only one individual, I believe I can make a difference in someone’s life through my writing and motto of never giving up.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Kansas City, Mo. Man Pleads Guilty to Attempted Commercial Sex Trafficking of a Child

According to a September 16, 2009 Department of Justice press release, a Kansas City, Mo. man pleaded guilty in federal court on Wednesday to the attempted commercial sex trafficking of a child.

Steven C. Albers, a forty-year-old insurance manager, was one of seven defendants indicted as the result of Operation Guardian Angel, an undercover law enforcement investigation targeting would-be customers of child prostitution in the Kansas City area. The indictments are part of the first federal prosecution of alleged child prostitution customers under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

The sting operation was conducted from March 5 to 7, 2009. The police advertised the "children" online at, although no children were actually involved. On March 5, Albers responded to a posting advertising "little girls available." The undercover officer told him that he had an 11-year-old and 15-year-old girl available. Albers told the officer that he would like to spend an hour with the 11-year-old, during his lunch break so that he would be able to drive from his office near the Country Club Plaza. Later he revised it to half an hour plus an extra $20 to go "bareback," i.e. to have sexual intercourse without a condom. The total price was to be $80.

The arresting officers emerged from a bedroom at the undercover house after Albers arrived and provided money to the undercover officer. Albers attempted to flee, but was apprehended in a neighboring yard.

Albers will be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of life in prison without parole, and a fine of up to $250,000.

According to the website, although the Trafficking Victims Protection Act has previously been used to prosecute "pimps," these indictments are the first in the nation to charge "Johns" with attempts.
At least three others arrested as part of the sting have already pleaded guilty, including a naval recruiter, a finance manager for an automotive dealership, and a truck driver.

For additional information from the sources of this article, please visit the following sites:

Monday, September 21, 2009

A World Without Slavery Part I

Over the past few months, the Human Trafficking Project has reported on the impact of the global economic crisis on human trafficking. Increased poverty, gender inequality, desperation, and demand for cheap labor and goods has created a deadly combination. At a recent talk on human trafficking sponsored by LexisNexis, Martina Vandenberg stated that on the balance, she believes we are currently losing the fight against human trafficking.

Despite these bleak trends, many anti-trafficking organizations state that their mission is to create a world free of slavery.
Free the Slaves suggests that slavery can be ended within 25 years; Polaris Project's "vision is for a world without slavery;" the Not For Sale Campaign states that "together we can end slavery in our lifetime."

On the other hand, when I think about what must happen to completely eradicate slavery, I can't help but recall a conversation I had back when I first became involved in the anti-trafficking movement. At the height of my naivete, when asked about ending slavery I talked about ending poverty, racism, gender-based violence, and other forms of inequalities. The person who asked me the question countered that my vision was utopian, and that if ending human trafficking means ending all these other global problems, a world without slavery is impossible.

Given these apparent contradictions, I would like to open a dialog about what it really will take to end human trafficking. Over the next few weeks (and possibly longer), I hope that many of the writers for the Human Trafficking Project can weigh in with their perspectives. I also want to invite readers to be a part of the conversation through the comments section.

Some questions to help spark thoughts: what concrete steps, short-term and long-term, would you advocate for/implement if you could? What do you think is working in the anti-trafficking movement? What isn't? What are the most pressing needs (prevention, victim/survivor services, prosecution, education, etc.)? How do we allocate scarce resource among these needs effectively?

On a more abstract level, what would a world without slavery look like? What other issues are interrelated with human trafficking - ie, is global climate change an anti-trafficking issue? - and what does that mean for the anti-trafficking movement? What roles/responsibilities do we have as people with awareness of this issue?

Friday, September 18, 2009

OSCE Conference in Vienna

Link Between Economic Crisis and Escalation in Human Trafficking Highlighted

The global economic downturn may fuel human trafficking because it exacerbates many of the root causes, including poverty, gender inequality, and the demand for cheap labor. As unemployment rates climb, many people are driven into increasingly vulnerable positions. There is already evidence that traffickers are exploiting this as vital remittances and legitimate labor opportunities shrink.

To explore this link, the OSCE organized a high-level conference that opened in Vienna on September 14th. The conference focuses on prevention and examines the ways in which a declining global economy is likely to exacerbate human trafficking.

According to US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who opened the conference with a video address, "new economic pressures are likely to aggravate the problem further, so this conference comes at a time of renewed urgency. It is an opportunity to place a renewed focus on prevention and the root causes of trafficking. Together we must implement a comprehensive approach that both confronts criminals and cares for survivors."

Read the full article

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Courtney's House

In the US, the average age of entry into the commercial sex industry is 12 years old, according to the US Department of Justice.Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, commercial sex with anyone under the age of 18 is automatically trafficking, since minors are not of age to give meaningful consent; had no money changed hands, these would be cases of statutory rape.

Unfortunately, many survivors of commercial sexual exploitation of a minor (CSEC) are either treated as criminals or lack access to services. Courtney's House in the DC metro area is working to address this issue.

"I remember being 10 years old and my mother putting makeup on me and telling me she loved me, then opening her bedroom door where a man sat there waiting for me. My mother then put me in the room and closed the door. She told me it wouldn't take long."
-- Kelly, 17 years old. Survivor Testimonial (Courtney's House Fundraising Letter).

According to Courtney's House, "One of the largest forms of domestic sex trafficking in the U.S. involves traffickers who coerce children to enter the commercial sex industry through the use of a variety of recruitment and control mechanisms in strip clubs, street-based prostitution, escort services and brothels." Pimps and other child traffickers tend to prey on runaways and homeless youth, because these children are particularly vulnerable. However, traffickers do not only target these populations.

Courtney's House defines the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) as consisting of "sexual abuse by adults and payment in cash or kind to the child, or a third person or persons, and is a fundamental violation of children’s rights. Commercial sexual exploitation is a contemporary form of child slavery."

"I'm not sure if I was 5 or when my mother started selling me to men. Usually, she sold me for small amounts of drugs. When I was 13 years old, I ran away and met a man 20 years my senior, who told me he would take care of me. However, it wasn't long before he made me work on the street I had to bring a quota of $800 every night.
- Beth, 17 years old. Survivor Testimonial (Courtney's House Fundraising Letter)

The Courtney's House Initiative started in August 2008 to comprehensively address the needs of CSEC survivors and to end domestic sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of all children. Founded by Tina Fundt, a survivor of domestic minor sex trafficking, the organization focuses on providing long-term shelter for sex trafficked girls between the ages of 11 and 17.

Courtney's House also works to raise awareness and conducts street outreach to connect with current CSEC victims. In addition to providing shelter, Courtney's House includes counseling and educational services, and aftercare services for participants as they transition out of Courtney's House.

Currently, Courtney's House is preparing to open its doors in January, 2010. In the interim, they "remain committed. . . to providing girls with the skills and safe environment required to get them out of their trafficking situations so that they can go on to live healthy, happy lives."

"When I was 14 years old, my mom asked me to get some things from the store. I took a little longer than I thought. When I came out of the store it was getting dark. A man approached me in a car and asked me if I needed a ride. I said 'no'and crossed the street. He followed me for about 3 or 4 blocks, and then he got out of the car. I ran but he caught me and threw me into the trunk of the car. I never knew what a pimp was before that day."
- Tammy, 16 years old. Survivor Testimony (Courtney's House Fundraising Letter)

As Courtney's House prepares to open its doors and to build on the service it is already providing to survivors, it needs assistance. Currently, Courtney's House is looking for volunteers to help with fundraising, events, and awareness. Women 21+ can also help with their street outreach program.

Courtney's House will host a
Youth Rally on September 19th, and Courtney's House is involved in the September 26th Stop Child Trafficking Now Walk.

Courtney's House is also seeking giftcard donations to stores like Target and Old Navy to help provide clothing for program participants and to restaurants to cover meals before and after medical appointments. Any giftcard amount would be greatly appreciated:

Courtney's House
P.O. Box 12054
Washington, DC 20005
If you would like to volunteer or donate contact:
Natasha Adams
Development Coordinator

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Domestic Trafficking Part I: Is Nicky a Criminal or a Victim?

Nicky, a 17 year-old girl, ran away from her mother’s apartment. She had had enough.

Frank, her mom’s boyfriend, would not stop touching her. Nicky tried to tell her mom but she never believed her. Most of time, Nicky's mom wasn't sober enough to listen to Nicky’s stories anyway- she was either high on drugs or not home. Hence, the only solution to get out of this problematic reality in Nicky’s mind was to leave.

She ran further and further away from her mother’s apartment so Frank would never be able to touch her again. Nicky had no idea where she was going, all she knew was that anywhere would be better than her mother’s apartment with Frank.

Three days later, she met a guy named Leo.

He was a kind, loving man who offered her everything she needed and wanted— from food and a shelter to attention and love. His attention and gentle spirit made her feel like a princess whose prince had arrived. Leo told Nicky that their lives would be much better together in Florida if she came with him. Leo also said that they would make a fortune as long as she was willing to do whatever he asked her to do. Nicky wanted a life of happiness. More than anything, Nicky did not want to lose Leo’s affection.

She wanted to please Leo so that he would continue to love her.

Nicky and Leo arrived in Florida. A few days later, Leo asked her if she could walk into the motel across from a place they were staying to meet his client. Leo also told her that she should do everything the man would ask her to do.Nicky was scared, but she did not want to disappoint Leo out of fear that he might withhold his love and attention from her. Nicky put on the red dress that he bought for her at the shopping mall earlier that week and walked into the motel room right across from the street. Her heart was pounding, and her hands felt sweaty. When she knocked on the motel room door 202, a man in his mid 40s wearing a white bathrobe greeted her.

Is Nicky a criminal or a victim?

According to the research of Catholic Charities USA., Nicky would most likely be prosecuted and identified as a child prostitute. The same research points out a law enforcement official's lack of understanding about child sex trafficking in the U.S. as a primary reason behind the prosecution. The research also stated that such "inappropriate label [on the child] is resulting in the arrest of the victims." In addition, even if a law enforcement official and the judge see someone like Nicky as a victim, many states often have "the dearth of appropriate shelter options for child sex trafficking victims."[i] Therefore, someone like Nicky would be more than likely to be placed in a juvenile detention facility than a shelter.

Is Nicky a criminal or a victim?

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Welcome to Our Newest Contributor: Shreya Amin

We are happy to introduce Shreya Amin, the newest member of the HTP team!

A little about Shreya in her own words:

My name is Shreya Amin. My background is in Mathematics; however, I am currently switching fields and am starting a study on human trafficking. I hope to study this problem both from a qualitative and a quantitative/modeling perspective. My current goal is to gain first-hand experience in understanding the problem as well as getting involved in the anti-trafficking movements in the U.S. and globally.

In February, a friend and I started a study to understand the water crisis in a place in India (Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh) and its impact on the community. There has been an increase in migration in the area over the last decade or so. Due to the poor economic opportunities, the people are exploited by the money lenders. This has forced the people to migrate to a neighboring state of Gujarat, where they are under-paid and over-worked. Recently, we found out that the women and the girls may be sexual exploited while they migrate. We started out trying to understand water-related problems and it turned out that these problems are directly linked with exploitation. Modern-day slavery and exploitation really is present everywhere.

I plan to audit courses and meet with researchers as well as representatives from various organizations to better understand trafficking and the economic as well as social factors that are driving this problem. I will post my findings here and look forward to your feedback.

Look out for Shreya's posts coming soon.

New Documentary on Trafficking to be Screened in New York City

I was first drawn to the film Fatal Promises by the outstanding outreach effort of Anneliese Rohrer, who contacted HTP about posting information about the film's upcoming screenings in New York City. Upon taking a look on the film's website, I noticed a host of familiar faces and stories from both Ukraine and New York State in the film's preview. Last night, I had the privilege of speaking with Kat Rohrer about the making and upcoming screening of Fatal Promises, which Kat directed. The film provides a "comprehensive look at the realities of human trafficking versus the rhetoric of politicians and pundits who claim to be making significant strides in combating this horrific crime against humanity." The title, according to Rohrer, represents the fatal promises made by traffickers to their victims and the seemingly empty promises made by the international community to stop the crime and assist victims.

The synopsis of the film does not exaggerate when it states that the film is comprehensive: it covers the crime as it exists in both sex and labor trafficking with the stories of both male and female victims, a defining reality of trafficking that is often overlooked. When asked about how this film will make its own unique mark in the anti-trafficking media and film, Ms. Rohrer referred to this aspect of the film, and of the film's additional focus on the "hypocrisy on every level in every country "often put forward by lawmakers who lack the political will to put pen to paper when it comes to drafting effective anti-trafficking laws.

This is Rohrer's first feature film, and is the culmination of over four years of research and collaborative efforts. Her inspiration from the film started from a New York Times article in 2005, and she decided to do something through film, her expertise. This was followed by fact-finding missions to Ukraine and other areas of Europe and around the United States where Rohrer interviewed victims, stakeholders and activists like Emma Thompson and Gloria Steinem. Rohrer even utilized tools like Google Alerts on "human trafficking" to receive news about upcoming events in the counter-trafficking field that helped her connect with activists in the US. Some of the activists and organization are now featured on the film's website (a great idea for other individuals looking for continuously updated news on human trafficking).

I was particularly moved by Rohrer's description of the interviews that she and her crew conducted with a victim by the name of Katja, who was victimized in a suburban US neighborhood and now speaks about her experiences on major news networks and even testified to Congress. Rohrer credits Katja for being instrumental to the creation of the film through her strength and courage to work with the crew and share her story.

Today (Sep. 15) kicks off a week of screenings in New York City at the School of the Visual Arts Theater. This will then be followed by a week of screenings at Cinema Village and trafficking related events including panel discussions featuring activists and NGO representatives. Rohrer continues to work closely with Emma Thompson and the unique art installation "Journey." We will hopefully be seeing the two unique media displays together in several cities around the US. Rohrer stated there are several follow-up actions being planned for after the NYC screenings, including the possibility of an amended film for the European market to include more information on the destination countries in Europe.

For individuals looking to get involved, the film's website offers numerous outlets for people who want to contribute to the cause. Some of them include:

Attend the screenings! All participants will receive tools to help them report trafficking and create awareness. TIckets for the Cinema Village screening can be purchased here.

Purchase handmade jewelry from Justice Juels. Proceeds will benefit Faith, Hope, Love, a victim services agency in Odessa, Ukraine. This is an organization from which Rohrer and the film's crew gained a lot of valuable insight and information. They provide comprehensive victim services, and their efforts have been recognized by multiple international organizations.

Listen to the new song by Felicia Alima featuring Chino called "Trade."

To receive regular updates on how you can get involved or attend related events, please sign up for their newsletter (Contact: and Facebook page.

The preview at the beginning of the post was embedded from Kat Rohrer's blog and is also available on the website of Fatal Promises.

Monday, September 14, 2009

"Be the Change" on Gandhi's Birthday

Here's a great chance to "be the change you wish to see in the world": the Kids with Cameras Foundation is looking for volunteers to host "House Parties for Hope" on October 2 - Gandhi's 140th birthday. Kids with Cameras is the foundation that grew out of the award-winning documentary Born into Brothels, which follows the lives of several children of prostitutes in Calcutta's red-light district who are given video cameras and taught how to use them. Through a partnership with the Buntain Foundation, Kids with Cameras is now working to build "Hope House," which is a "landmark endeavor to house up to 100 girls who are daughters of prostitutes from the same red-light district featured in the film. Hope House will give them access to on-site physical and psychological care, as well as formal mentorship from nursing students from an adjacent College of Nursing, all on a quiet, rustic campus on the city's outskirts. Each girl will have a full scholarship for private school education through high school, as well as access to computer labs, English language instruction and art, film and photography classes."

To complete the project, Hope House needs to raise the remaining $690,000 of its $1.2 million goal--and that's where you can help, by joining others from all over the world in hosting or attending a screening of Born into Brothels at a
House Party for Hope. All proceeds from the house parties will go directly to Hope House's Capital Campaign.

Says Ross Kauffman, co-director and producer of Born into Brothels: "I hope all of the film's fans and our past supporters will join us in this unprecedented effort to raise the completion funds to build Hope House. It was a dream of ours as we made the film to have a place for these children to learn and grow. The dream is close to becoming a reality. There is no better way for anyone that watches the film and falls in love with these kids, just as we did, to make a difference in their future."

To learn more about hosting or attending a House Party for Hope, please visit For more information on Hope House, visit

Riz Khan interview with Kevin Bales, Ron Soodalter and Ambassador Luis CdeBaca

"It's all about people trying to find better lives. Almost everyone who ends up enslaved in the U.S. comes here because they are hoping to make a better life for themselves and their children. They are really doing what you or I would do if we were in their shoes and in a tough, insecure situation of poverty in the developing world."

- Kevin Bales

Part I:

Part II:

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Domestic Sex Trafficking in the U.S.


A 15-year-old Orange County girl who ran away from home after an argument with her mother in 2007 was kidnapped and held captive in an underground world of drugs and forced prostitution.

Now, more than two years after the teen's harrowing, three-week ordeal, an Orange County husband and wife are charged in a child trafficking case, one that highlights a growing state problem, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said.

Aleisea N. Smith, 22, and Timothy L. Smith, 39, are accused of kidnapping the teen at gunpoint and demanding she turn tricks for them. They remain at the Orange County Jail without bail.

The case came to light this week after Aleisea Smith's Aug. 7 arrest on numerous charges, including sex trafficking, forcing/coercing another person into prostitution and kidnapping.

Oakland police learned Smith's identity and discovered an outstanding warrant while investigating her for an unrelated incident. She was in court Thursday to face new charges of child neglect and providing false information to police in that other case.

Timothy L. Smith already was in jail in an unrelated child-support case when he was charged in the 2007 case, records show. He faces nine counts, including sex trafficking, kidnapping and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Investigators worked for several months with the State Attorney's Office to press charges against the Smiths, the Orange County Sheriff's Office said.

The teen's allegations against the couple illustrate a "huge problem" confronting teens in Florida, FDLE special-agent supervisor Lee Condon said.
"We're seeing it more and more," he said. "What a horrible life for a child to end up that way."

Earlier this year, the federal government documented more than 1,200 allegations of human trafficking that occurred between January 2007 and September.

Nearly 85 percent of the incidents involved sex trafficking, the Department of Justice said. Nearly one-third of the 1,229 alleged incidents involved sex trafficking of children.

U.S. citizens accounted for about 65 percent of sex-trafficking victims.

Police reports show the teen, whom the Orlando Sentinel is not identifying, was missing for 21 days, a tortuous period during which she was beaten, raped and forced to work as a prostitute.

On April 8, 2007, the girl ran away from home after an argument with her mother. The girl quickly agreed come back, reports show.

But as she walked near the Silver Oaks Apartments at Silver Star Road and Powers Drive, a man forced her into a van at gunpoint, reports show.

The man later was identified as Timothy Smith. Eventually, he picked up his wife, Aleisea Smith, at a strip club on Orange Blossom Trail.

Aleisea Smith put a towel over the girl's head and told her, "If you move, you are dead," according to an arrest affidavit. The teen later was told "she belonged to them now and would be making a lot of money."

Hours later, while the teen and Aleisea Smith waited at a hotel, Timothy Smith was arrested on a probation violation.

For the remaining 20 days, the teen told investigators, Aleisea Smith forced her to have sex with more than a dozen men at a trailer park and at a home in Minneola in exchange for money and rent, according to the affidavit.

Aleisea Smith often beat the teen, reports show. The girl's mother finally located her after receiving a call from Jatosha Battle, a woman with whom Smith and the teen were staying. The mother showed up at the house and called authorities. Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said the scenario of the alleged kidnapping is relatively rare.

"It's certainly not unheard of," he said. But, "It is far more likely that the kid would be tricked or seduced or lured into a situation like this."
Full Article

Just like the citizens in Thailand or a country in Eastern Europe, the U.S. citizens are not immune to becoming human trafficking victims. Too many teenagers in the United States run away from their own abusive homes and find themselves entrapped by the false affection and promises of the pimps. Pimps usually play roles of the victims' boyfriends or caregivers to the victims who are desperate for love and attention.

Once the pimps earn the loyalty and trust of the victims, they forcefully or deceitfully place the victims into the prostitution
. According to the research of Shared Hope International, these girls are not allowed to come home to the pimps until the daily quota is met. [i] Otherwise, they will inevitably face the consequences of verbal or even physical abuse by the pimps. [ii]

Indeed, sex trafficking of teenagers in the U.S. may sound so foreign to some of you. But, the statics shows that the domestic minor trafficking in the U.S. urges our serious attention. In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice reported in 2007 that 63% of the victims of human trafficking within the United States are U.S. citizens. [iii] If you would like to find out more about this issue, please visit Share Hope International.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

U.S. Labor Department issues reports on international child labor and forced labor

From Reuters:
WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) today released three
reports on child labor and/or forced labor in countries around the globe. The documents include the initial "List of Goods Produced
by Child or Forced Labor" required by the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 (TVPRA List).
"It is my strong hope that consumers, firms, governments, labor unions and other stakeholders will use this information to translate
their economic power into a force for good that ultimately will eliminate abusive child labor and forced labor," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis.
The TVPRA List informs the public about 122 goods from 58 countries that ILAB has reason to believe are produced by forced
labor, child labor or both in violation of international standards. ILAB also has released a proposed update to the "List of Products Produced
by Forced or Indentured Child Labor" (EO List) pursuant to Executive Order 13126 of 1999. The list includes 29 products from 21 countries
and will be available for public comment beginning Sept. 11. In addition, ILAB has published its 8th annual "Findings on theWorst Forms of Child Labor" as mandated by the Trade and Development Act of 2000 on the efforts of 141 countries and territories to combat exploitive child labor.
The countries with products included on the TVPRA List span every region of the world. The most common items listed include cotton,
sugar cane, tobacco, coffee, rice and cocoa in agriculture; bricks, garments, carpets and footwear in manufacturing; and gold and coal in
mined and quarried goods.
The primary purpose of the TVPRA List is to raise public awareness about the incidence of child labor and forced labor in the production of
goods in the countries listed and to promote efforts to eliminate such practices. Today's release is an initial list that will be updated periodically.
The bureau's Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor and Human Trafficking (OCFT) prepared the three reports and collected data from U.S. embassies, foreign governments, international and nongovernmental organizations, technical assistance and field research projects, academic research and the media.
OCFT has funded more than $720 million in programs to help officials in more than 80 countries combat the worst forms of child labor. ILAB
conducts research on and formulates international economic, trade and labor policies in collaboration with other U.S. government agencies, and provides international technical assistance in support of U.S. foreign-labor policy objectives.
Copies of the reports are available at For a printed version, contact the Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. N.W., Room S-5317, Washington, D.C. 20210; telephone 202-693-4843; fax 202-693-4830; e-mail
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at The information in this news release will be made
available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.
The Labor Department is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit 
SOURCE U.S. Department of Labor 
Clarisse Young of U.S. Department of Labor Office of Public Affairs, 
For a copy of the report, please click here.

Getting to know you: Megan McGill

I am a recent graduate of Lewis & Clark Law School, and have had a growing interest in human rights for several years. I have been impressed by the Human Trafficking Project, and am excited for the opportunity to be involved. The more I learn about human trafficking specifically, the more I am struck by the enormity and frequently horrific nature of the problem, and the more I feel compelled to do something.

I think I first began to pay attention to the human trafficking problem in 2006, when I was studying public international law in Geneva. It was during the World Cup, and I met someone who worked for the British government in anti-human trafficking. He told me how tens of thousands of females were expected to be trafficked into Germany for the games. Referring to the huge number of sex trafficking “patrons” that number implied, he said that “people assume that it isn’t their husband or it isn’t their brother, but with that many females being trafficked into the country, it IS somebody’s husband and it IS somebody’s brother.”

I was stunned—I'd had no clue what a vast problem human trafficking is before that conversation. But I think that he struck on an important point—the sheer numbers expected for that event alone is just one example which makes me suspect that one reason the human trafficking industry, in particular the sex trafficking industry, is so successful is that those spending the money that support it may not always realize that there is a chance that the person with whom they are engaging is a less-than-willing victim. For this reason, I think that promoting education and awareness is a vital first step in fighting human trafficking, and I believe that HTP can play an important role.

I am very excited to be joining HTP as a contributor, and to take my first step into the world of blogging. I hope to learn a lot as part of this experience, and to contribute in some small way to raising awareness about this widespread and urgent problem.

Picture source: