Friday, July 30, 2010

Join IJM for the 5 Weeks For Freedom Finale Event in Buffalo Today

The International Justice Mission wraps up their 5 Weeks For Freedom Tour in Buffalo, New York at the Town Ballroom at 7:00 pm today. Join us! HTP will be there!

From the IJM:

Freedom Night: Special Finale Concert with Green River Ordinance and Enric Sifa

Join us for our grand finale event—the conclusion of 5 Weeks for Freedom — with performances by critically acclaimed Green River Ordinance – whose hit singles “Come On” and “On Your Own” have peaked in the radio top 40 charts – and a performance by Rwandan-born singer/songwriter Enric Sifa.

You’ll also have the opportunity to meet the 5 Weeks for Freedom riders as they conclude their 1800 mile bicycle tour, and participate in an exclusive screening of IJM’s inspiring new documentary At the End of Slavery (featuring music by Green River Ordinance and Enric Sifa) as we broadcast live from the event to kick off our global Weekend to End Slavery. Don’t miss this FREE event! Space is limited, so register today!

About 5 Weeks For Freedom:

Stop Injustice: 5 Weeks for Freedom is a major awareness and advocacy campaign to support International Justice Mission’s work and give a voice to victims of modern-day slavery and other forms of injustice. A team of ordinary people is giving up 5 weeks to cycle 1800 miles of the Underground Railroad – a route that reminds us that change happens when ordinary people do what they can to stop injustice, that the evil of slavery has been defeated once, and that, together, we can do it again. Get Involved »

Over the 5 weeks of the campaign – June 28 to July 31, every major city along the tour route will host events featuring music, celebrities, the tour riders and more, to raise awareness of modern-day slavery and other forms of violent oppression – and empower people to take action to stop injustice.

The cycling tour is led by Venture Expeditions, a non-profit organization committed to mobilizing support for humanitarian work through major cycling and climbing tours.

There will also be an Advocacy Training in Buffalo on Saturday from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at the Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church. This event is also free!

Check out their website and register for the events here!

Project Development Officer Vacancy with IOM

From the IOM:

Position Title : Project Development Officer
Duty Station : Nairobi, Kenya
Classification : Associate Expert
Type of Appointment : Fixed term, one year with possibility of extension
Estimated Start Date : As soon as possible
Closing Date : August 03, 2010

Note: Only applications from United States citizens will be considered in accordance with the Cooperation Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the International Organization for Migration on the Associate Expert Programme.


The IOM Mission with Regional Functions (MRF) for East and Central Africa is based in Nairobi/ Kenya and covers the following countries: Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Djibouti, Burundi, Rwanda, Sudan and all three regions of Somalia. The East and Horn of Africa are diverse regions composed of states in conflict, post conflict and development stages.

The regions produce and serve as host to the world’s largest
refugee population. The emerging migration trends in the region indicate an increased mixed migration flow of irregular migrants and asylum seekers to, through and from the countries along various routes that have been mapped by recent studies. These flows and other movements are posing new migration challenges to the governments in the region in their efforts to manage migration due to increased internal displacements, increased vulnerability to human trafficking and smuggling, return and reintegration, lack of protection for migrant rights. Labour migration, large remittances flows, linkages with the Diaspora and skill transfer from national experts abroad are some of the existing benefits the region states should better capitalize on. Governments in the East Africa region are also faced with the challenge of ensuring harmonized regional integration with the coming into effect of the EAC Common Market Protocol in 2010 that will allow for the free and safe movement of persons with the East Africa Community Partner States.

MRF Nairobi is highly involved in supporting the government and regional economic bodies
in the region to address the above mentioned migration challenges and to better benefit from the opportunities. In recent years the number of projects managed directly by the MRF
and their thematic and geographical coverage has extended dramatically to more than 35
projects, with much support from the Project Development and Implementation Unit (PDIU).

The primary function of the Project Development and Implementation Unit (PDIU) is two fold:

1. To enhance the functions of the MRF Nairobi through project/ programme development, donor liaison, resource mobilization and coordination with IOM field missions within the East and Central African region.
2. To directly implement and provide technical support for the implementation of countertrafficking, AVR, labour migration and diaspora projects as well as migration related


Education and Experience
a) Advanced university degree in International Development/ Relations, International Law or related field;
b) professional experience in project development, project implementation, monitoring and evaluation;
c) experience in liaising with national and international institutions.

a) Excellent drafting ability, in particular ability to draft clear and concise papers in English;
b) ability to analyse and present facts, evidence and precedents as well as present clear opinions;
c) self-directed, ability to work with a high degree of autonomy as well as part of a team;
d) personal commitment, efficiency, flexibility, drive for results, creative thinking;
e) ability to adapt to changing circumstances;
f) ability to work effectively and harmoniously with colleagues from different cultural backgrounds;
g) demonstrated gender awareness and gender sensitivity;
h) familiarity with standard computer packages (MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint as well as electronic mail and use of the Internet as a research tool).

Thorough knowledge of English. Good knowledge of French would be an advantage.

How to apply:

Interested candidates are invited to submit their applications via PRISM, IOM e-Recruitment
system, by August 03, 2010 at the latest, referring to this advertisement.

For further information, please refer to:

In order for an application to be considered valid, IOM only accepts online profiles duly filled
in and submitted with a cover letter not more than one page specifying the motivation for

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. You can track the progress of your application
in your personal application page in the IOM e-recruitment system.

For the full description of the position, please download the vacancy announcement here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Free the Slaves: Zimmerman Fellowship

Each year Free the Slaves recognizes various individuals and organizations who have made major contributions to the international anti-slavery movement by naming them Freedom Award recipients. Among those Freedom Awards is the Anne Templeton Zimmerman Fellowship, named for the anti-slavery pioneer and founder of Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

The Zimmerman Fellowship is awarded to one or two young adults under the age of 30 who have made concrete progress in ending slavery in the United States and especially abroad. The general purpose of the fellowship is to build up young leaders in the field and introduce them to the work of Free the Slaves. In addition, the fellows partner with Georgetown University’s School of Public Policy where they obtain a certificate in Non-Profit Executive Leadership.

Betsy Bramon, a 2007 graduate of William Jewell College, was one of the 2009 Zimmerman Fellows. Bramon has exemplified what it means to be a modern day abolitionist through her work with numerous organizations like Hagar International and Polaris Project. However, her year with Free the Slaves provided her with an opportunity to explore more of where her talents and passions may lead her in the future. During her fellowship, she worked closely with FTS’ international partnership teams that are successfully combating slavery and trafficking at the local levels. FTS partners with these smaller organizations to help them become even more effective leaders in their areas.

In addition, through the educational experience at Georgetown University, Bramon learned about not only leadership development but also the practical business side of the anti-trafficking field like human relations, finance, policy and research.

Overall, Bramon found her time as a Zimmerman Fellow to be rich and worthwhile. She said, “I was able to see into a different part of the anti-slavery movement, connect with other organizations who share similar values and goals, and grow both professionally and personally."

The Zimmerman Fellowship for 2010 has been selected; however, if you are interested in interning or volunteering with Free the Slaves you can follow this link:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Admitted Human Traffickers Got Federal Aid

Picture from KGMB News

From KITV News:

Nonprofit Aloun Foundation Got $2 Million Fed Loan

Keoki Kerr

The owners Kapolei's Aloun Farms -- who've already pleaded guilty to human trafficking some of their farm workers -- received a multimillion dollar federal loan to buy an apartment in which to house their farm employees.

Brothers Mike and Alec Sou have already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit human trafficking for mistreating workers brought in from Thailand to work on one of Oahu's largest fruit and vegetable operations, Aloun Farms. They await sentencing in September.

Now, KITV4 News has learned a nonprofit corporation set up by the Sou brothers, the Aloun Foundation, received $2.1 million in low-interest loans from the U.S. Agriculture Department to buy a four-story Wahiawa apartment complex to house low-income farm workers.

The mortgage for 104 Lakeview Circle shows the loan deal was signed in July 2008, just before the FBI began its federal human trafficking investigation.

Tax returns filed by the nonprofit Aloun Foundation list Alec Sou as president, and his brother Mike and their mother and father as directors. The nonprofit “supports cultural and historic agricultural activities in Hawaii through providing low cost living assistance to employees working in those organizations,” according to its 2008 tax return.

"It's a real straight up deal, and it really is serving a public purpose," said Craig Watase of Mark Development, property manager for the apartment house.

All of the rental units house at least one resident who works at Aloun Farms, he said. Residents at the complex confirmed that to a reporter Monday and said most of them were Micronesian, with two families from Hawaii.

Watase said the residents here must meet federal low-income levels to qualify for subsidized rentals, paying 30 percent of their income in rent and the U.S. Department of Agriculture picking up the rest. “It’s a good thing, and it’s on the up and up. It’s federally audited and monitored,” he said.

The Sous pursued the federal loan through their nonprofit instead of their for-profit farm because non-profits have a "better chance" of winning help from the federal government, Watase said.

He said in the nearly two years he has managed the property, only employees from Aloun Farms have been tenants there, but they’ve “tried to reach out to employees of other farms.”

"I think it's interesting and a little troubling how the Sou brothers know how to work the system," said Clare Hanusz, the attorney representing 27 former Aloun Farm workers who are trafficking victims in the federal criminal case and did not live at the Wahiawa apartment complex.

"Why this would fall under the guise of a nonprofit foundation as opposed to their for-profit enterprise is potentially concerning," she said. "I don't know hy Aloun Farms wouldn't just pay a living wage so that its workers wouldn't have to use subsidized, basically federal government subsidized housing."

Sources told KITV4 News the state attorney general's office is investigating to determine whether the Sous are using the apartment owned by their nonprofit organization as an extension of their for-profit farm.

covered parts of this story out of Hawaii, that actually operated all over the US, in the past. The sentencing in this trial started in June, however is set to continue in September after an agreement could not be reached. I find this particular finding interesting because I think it highlights that although traffickers make efforts to prevent their abusive practices from being discovered and punished, they can also operate in general quite publicly. Traffickers can be active community members, producing goods for major grocery chains, or, in this case, federal grantees. We can never assume that just because an agricultural employer is providing goods or services to major companies or works with grant monitors of the federal government, they are not capable of being traffickers.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Missed the Goal for Workers: the Reality of Soccer Ball Stitchers in Pakistan, India, China and Thailand

Last month, the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) released a report entitled "Missed the Goal for Workers: the Reality of Soccer Ball Stitchers in Pakistan, India, China and Thailand." The report details a variety of abuses, from child labor to hazardous working conditions to the practice of hiring temporary stitchers, leaving the workers vulnerable to exploitation.

The report notes that, despite a commitment in 1997 to end the use of child labor in the industry, children are still sewing soccer balls. Moreover, even as the apparent crackdown on child labor failed to eradicate this practice, it also did nothing to address the poor working conditions in the industry, according to the report (
In one Chinese factory, workers were found to work up to 21 hours a day during high seasons and without one day off in an entire month).

The report concludes, "Over a decade after the signing of the Atlanta Agreement child labor still exists in the soccer ball industry. As the preceding data clearly demonstrates, although action was taken to eradicate child labor in the late 1990s, very little was done to end its root causes. The parents working in the soccer ball industry are still receiving next to nothing for their work. They are working as temporary or casual employees and therefore receiving none of the benefits that can keep their families healthy. Despite each countries’ cultural and governmental differences, the soccer ball industries in these countries share the same problems: casual or temporary work, poverty level wages, discrimination, restriction of the right to organize or collective bargain, and health and safety violations."

ILRF is using this report to put pressure on FIFA to take a lead in eradicating the use of child labor and abusive labor practices in the production of soccer balls. While the World Cup has concluded, it will take consistent efforts to end this abuse. The ILRF is conducting an email campaign to Joseph Blatter, president of FIFA.

In addition to putting pressure on FIFA and the professional wing of the sport, we can also take action to end abuse and ensure fair labor practices through the products that we buy. Soccer enthusiasts and other sports players can check out
Fair Trade Sports, which sells soccer balls and other sporting equipment that is certified Fair Trade and certified green. Please see an example, pictured above.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Take Action on the Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act

In his recent article, Sex, Seduction, and Slavery, Nicholas Kristoff wrote "There’s a misperception in America that “sex trafficking” is mostly about foreigners smuggled into the U.S. That exists. But I’ve concluded that the biggest problem and worst abuses involve not foreign women but home-grown runaway kids." As he points out, however, domestic minor sex trafficking tends to be ignored, and its victims tend to be treated like criminals instead of victims.

Awareness of the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the United States is growing, however, as are arrests and prosecutions of the traffickers. Just last week, a
Maryland man was sentenced to 37 years in prison for his role in a sex trafficking operation. "This defendant violently preyed upon some of the most vulnerable members of our society. He sought out troubled young girls and, using physical violence, drugs, guns and lies, coerced them into prostitution for his own benefit," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Department of Justice will continue to vigorously prosecute these cases."

While arresting and prosecuting the traffickers is vital, efforts cannot stop there. As Kristoff also
noted, "Human trafficking tends to get ignored because it is an indelicate, sordid topic, with troubled victims who don’t make great poster children for family values. Indeed, many of the victims are rebellious teenage girls — often runaways — who have been in trouble with their parents and the law, and at times they think they love their pimps." Minor victims have complex needs and have experienced incredible trauma. There is a dearth of services for them, though.

As a
Polaris Project Action Alert points out, "Each year, at least 100,000 children are victimized through commercial sex and prostitution within the United States. Particularly vulnerable to sex trafficking are runaway children, an estimated 33% of them are lured into prostitution within the first 48 hours of leaving home. Unfortunately, victims of sex trafficking, including children, are commonly overlooked in most state and federal efforts to respond to the brutal crime. A mere 80 beds in shelters nationwide are available to provide the safe shelter and professional health and social services that these victims need."

Currently, the House (
HR 5575 by Rep. Maloney NY14) and Senate (S 2925 by Sen. Wyden OR) are reviewing bills that would provide crucial funding to develop and enhance comprehensive, collaborative efforts to combat the sex trafficking in the U.S. by providing six block grants of $2,500,000 each to state or local government entities who have designed a holistic approach to investigating, prosecuting and deterring sex trafficking, and providing special services and shelter to the victims.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to review the bill on 7/29/2010.
Click this link to learn more about how to urge your senators to support funding for fighting trafficking and supporting victims and survivors.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Florida Modern-Day Slavery Museum Northeast Tour

Press Release:

The Florida Modern-Day Slavery Museum consists of a cargo truck outfitted as a replica of the trucks involved in a recent slavery operation (U.S. v. Navarrete, 2008), accompanied by displays on the history and evolution of slavery in Florida agriculture. The museum's central focus is on the phenomenon of modern-day slavery – its roots, the reasons it persists, and its solutions.

The exhibits were developed in consultation with workers who have escaped from forced labor operations as well as leading academic authorities on slavery and labor history in Florida. The museum is endorsed by many leading human rights and anti-slavery organizations, including Amnesty International and Anti-Slavery International, respectively the largest human rights organization and the oldest human rights organization in the world. . .

The museum was conceived of by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the human rights award-winning farmworker organization that has aided in the prosecution by the Department of Justice of seven farm slavery operations and the liberation of well over 1,000 workers since 1997. A federal indictment for the most recent forced labor case in Florida agriculture was unsealed just last week.

The tour will also raise awareness about labor conditions in the tomato supply chains of Ahold's USA supermarket brands, including Giant, Stop & Shop, and Martin's.“

Slavery in Florida agriculture today is not separate from the past – indeed, its roots extend deep within our state’s history. Farmworkers have always been, and remain today, the state’s poorest, least powerful workers,” explains Gerardo Reyes of the CIW. “If we are to abolish slavery once and for all in Florida agriculture, we must pull it up by the roots by addressing farmworker poverty and powerlessness.”

Th exhibit will be touring the northeast, starting in Virgina on July 25th before traveling to DC, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Baltimore, and other cities. For a full touring schedule, click here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Program Officer Position Open with Winrock

From DevEx:
Organization(s): Winrock International
Country/Region: United States
Contract Length: Full-time staff position
Apply by: 30 July 2010

Program Officer I – Arlington, VA

Effective with the release of this position announcement Winrock International will be recruiting applications for position of Program Officer I to work one year within the Empowerment and Civic Engagement Group, with special focus on anti-trafficking and children and youth development primarily in East Central Europe and Asia. The responsibilities, duties and qualifications for this position are described in the attached position description. Depending on available funding and staffing needs, the position could extend beyond one year.

GENERAL: Winrock International is a non-profit corporation whose mission is to put ideas to work-empowering the disadvantaged, increasing economic opportunity and sustaining natural resources. Program emphasis includes agricultural productivity, forestry and natural resource management, rural enterprise and employment, renewable energy, gender equity and women’s empowerment, education and children and youth leadership, and civil society strengthening. Over 100 projects are underway in forty developing countries and the United States.

SALARY AND BENEFITS: The annual salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience. Excellent benefits include health, life and disability insurance, retirement and other Winrock benefits.

APPLICATIONS: Applicants should go to and submit a current resume and cover letter referencing PO1-ECE by July 30, 2010. Winrock would like to thank all applicants for their interest, but only candidates who meet all requisite criteria and are “short listed” will be contacted.

Winrock International is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer.

Position Summary: This one year position will provide technical advice and programmatic and financial backstopping for Winrock’s anti-trafficking and children and youth development projects, primarily in East Central Europe and Asia. The projects are generally integrated development efforts among vulnerable populations, especially women, children and youth, and include employment, education, life skills training, advocacy and awareness and policy formulation. The position will include coordinating and monitoring project activities on a daily basis, processing financial and technical reports, communicating with field staff, and liaising with donors. The position also includes pursuing new opportunities for funding and partnership in the areas of prevention of trafficking in persons and youth and women’s empowerment.

Qualifications: The candidate must have a minimum of five years of professional experience with the management of programs in gender, employment and other related activities and/or working experience in former Soviet Union or Asia. Preferred candidates will have knowledge of youth and gender development, entrepreneurship, employment and leadership, especially in rural environments. Development and management of programs in developing countries in areas such as trafficking in persons, enterprise and livelihoods, improving educational quality and access, and monitoring and evaluation of trafficking prevention and education alternatives are desirable.

Major Responsibilities:

  • Serves as project and operations manager, providing full programmatic and administrative backstopping for trafficking in persons programs and rural youth education and employment programs.
  • Works with the field office to develop project strategies, work plans, and budgets.
  • Manages information dissemination and electronic communications among the relevant field offices.
  • Supervises staff as assigned.
  • Interacts with donors, preparing and submitting quarterly and annual reports, and responding to their requests.
  • Tracks and monitors programs as assigned to ensure they are fulfilling deliverable and performance requirements.
  • Reviews, approves wire requests and approves field financial reports, liaising with Operations at Winrock headquarters based in Arkansas.
  • Conducts significant new business for ECE and contributes to or leads proposals primarily related to trafficking in persons, youth leadership and education, workforce development, integrated development programs.

Other Responsibilities:

Makes presentations at seminars; hosts, manages and/or facilitates workshops; writes reports; provides technical expertise outside WI at conferences, seminars and other venues; participates in ECE activities as necessary.

Qualifications and Background

Education: Master’s Degree in International Development, International Relations, Education or related field preferred.

Experience: Knowledge of trafficking in persons, youth employment and enterprise development, and life skills development in East Central Europe or Asia are preferred. Five years relevant experience including hands-on experience with international development issues related to women, children and youth development and implementation of programs and projects in developing and emerging countries. Experience with US government programs and regulations and at least two years living experience in a developing country a plus.

Skills: Strong, tactful and patient communicator, excellent written and verbal skills. Fluency in English and one other language is preferred. Excellent analytical skills, including ability to understand concepts and issues and present them clearly; demonstrated strong organizational skills, including management of multiple tasks; effective “hands-on” user of Microsoft Office; familiar with; committed to the Mission and values of Winrock International.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Seduction, Slavery and Sex

From The New York Times on July 14, 2010:

By Nicholas D. Kristof

Against all odds, this year’s publishing sensation is a trio of thrillers by a dead Swede relating tangentially to human trafficking and sexual abuse. “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” series tops the best-seller lists. More than 150 years ago, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” helped lay the groundwork for the end of slavery. Let’s hope that these novels help build pressure on trafficking as a modern echo of slavery.

Human trafficking tends to get ignored because it is an indelicate, sordid topic, with troubled victims who don’t make great poster children for family values. Indeed, many of the victims are rebellious teenage girls — often runaways — who have been in trouble with their parents and the law, and at times they think they love their pimps.

Because trafficking gets ignored, it rarely is a top priority for law enforcement officials — so it seems to be growing. Various reports and studies, none of them particularly reliable, suggest that between 100,000 and 600,000 children may be involved in prostitution in the United States, with the numbers increasing.

Just last month, police freed a 12-year-old girl who they said had been imprisoned in a Knights Inn hotel in Laurel, Md. The police charged a 42-year-old man, Derwin Smith, with human trafficking and false imprisonment in connection with the case.

The Anne Arundel County Police Department said that Mr. Smith met the girl in a seedy area, had sex with her and then transported her back and forth from Washington, D.C., to Atlantic City, N.J., while prostituting her.

“The juvenile advised that all of the money made was collected and kept by the suspect,” the police department said in a statement. “At one point, the victim conveyed to the suspect that she wanted to return home, but he held her against her will.”

Just two days later, the same police force freed three other young women from a Garden Inn about a block away. They were 16, 19 and 23, and police officials accused a 23-year-old man, Gabriel Dreke-Hernandez, of pimping them.

Police said that Mr. Dreke-Hernandez had kidnapped the 19-year-old from a party and had taken her to a hotel room. “Once at the hotel,” the police statement said, Mr. Dreke-Hernandez allegedly “grabbed her around the throat and began to choke her. Hernandez then pushed her head against the wall several times before placing a knife to her throat and demanding that she follow his commands.

“The female further advised that all of the money made was collected and kept by the suspect. At one point, she indicated that she would not prostitute any longer and the suspect subsequently pulled her into the bathroom and threatened her again with a knife.”

Police officials did not release details about the 16-year-old and 23-year-old, though they said customers for the teenager had been sought on the Internet.

There’s a misperception in America that “sex trafficking” is mostly about foreigners smuggled into the U.S. That exists. But I’ve concluded that the biggest problem and worst abuses involve not foreign women but home-grown runaway kids.
To read the rest of the article, follow this link:

Friday, July 16, 2010

'Fabric' The Story of the El Monte, CA 72

From Blogging LA: Written by Los Angeles playwright, Henry Ong, “Fabric” is the only known dramatization of the 1995 Thai garment workers’ slavery case. Company of Angels, Los Angeles’ oldest professional non-profit theater company, in association with the Thai Community Development Center (CDC), opened “Fabric” to sold-out audiences and standing ovations this past weekend.

This was one of the defining moments in the modern anti-slavery movement in the United States. People who were completely unaware that slavery still existed in the United States were faced with a sobering reality; slavery not only existed in the US but it existed in the garment industry not just in agriculture.The scale of the operation was shocking; 72 people from Thailand were being held in an apartment complex surrounded by barbed wire. Some had been there 7 years.

This play depicts the first major discovery of slavery in the US since the abolition of slavery over a century before. The play will be held at Black Box at The Alexandria, 501 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles. It runs until August 8.

JULY 8 – AUGUST 8, 2010
Friday, Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 4:30pm
$20 General
$12 Students & Seniors
Box Office: (213) 489-3703 /

Lighting Design: Christopher Singleton
Sound Designer: Dennis Yen
Stage Manager: Amelia Worfolk
Set Design: Luis Delgado

Company of Angels
inside The Black Box at The Alexandria
501 S. Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Molly Bryant, Introductory Post

The issues of human trafficking and modern day slavery are dirty and uncomfortable. There are few appropriate responses to, “I’d like to work with women who are forced into prostitution.” Thus, I am often met with blank stares and seemingly insensitive questions about why I would ever want to surround myself with prostitutes; however, I have seen too much now, and at this point, there is no turning back. I cannot erase the images of the women in the windows that line the Red Light District of Amsterdam. Their bodies clad in next to nothing, their faces caked in make-up to hide their tired eyes and beaten cheeks.

Amsterdam, the European hub for prostitution and sexual services, has made a fortune on providing tourists with countless opportunities for sexual exploration. Everything from live sex shows to strips clubs to the infamous women in the windows. Ironically, the Red Light District became a temporary home for me during the summer of 2009. The streets were both full of life and excitement and also hopelessness and despair. Men briskly walked out of the rooms into the narrow cobblestone alleys after paying 50 Euros for an insatiable and unattainable satisfaction. Uneducated tourists gawked at the women and laugh at their pitiable situations. A teenage girl stopped to fix her mascara in the reflection of an occupied window never noticing the woman inside.

It is easy to see the women as bodies. As prostitutes. As purchases. As anything but complete humans full of beauty and potential. But throughout my time in Europe I listened to their stories, I heard their woes, danced salsa and sang out of tune with them. And I hate to admit that even with what I would consider a decent awareness and compassion for these women, I was still surprised at how similar they are to me. Music. Laughter. Dreams. Aspirations. They transcended our differences in lifestyles to forge unlikely friendships. Ultimately, we are the same. We are all searching for worth, value, meaning and love.

Throughout my posts, I will focus on sexual slavery, forced prostitution and trafficking. I hope to bring a very real and human aspect to an issue that oftentimes appears distant and impersonal, because yes, it is undoubtedly uncomfortable and dirty but it is happening and should no longer be ignored.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Vanguard: Soccer's Lost Boy

In light of the recent World Cup in South Africa, Vanguard, the television documentary series, recently aired an episode focusing on the dirty underground of the soccer world. Boys from poverty-stricken regions of West Africa are being trafficked by the thousands by sports agents who promise to fulfill the young boys’ hopes that their soccer skills will lead to international stardom through European soccer leagues. However, the vast majority of boys who are taken from their countries by agents are not signed to professional teams. Instead, they are abandoned by their agents in places like France and Morocco. With very few options available, some even turn to prostitution as a means of survival.


Although FIFA and other soccer organizations have done very little to halt this trend, Jean Claude Mbvoumin, a former professional soccer player, founded an organization called Foot Solidaire which attempts to raise awareness about the issue and end the exploitation of thousands of young footballers across the globe.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Welcome to HTP's Newest Team Member: Lauren Hutton

Lauren Hutton is currently a senior in New York University’s College of Arts and Sciences where she is double-majoring in Journalism, and American and British Literature. Her journalistic emphasis is in general and investigative print journalism, largely focusing on foreign reporting and more specifically topics and issues surrounding the Middle East.

Lauren hopes that her work with HTP will give her the first hand experience needed to later work for non-profit organizations that focus on public health and infrastructure of third-world countries and tackle issues like human trafficking.

As HTP's Social Media Strategy and Outreach Intern, Lauren will be building and managing HTP's Facebook and Twitter presence, and assisting with outreach to other bloggers. Lauren will also be a contributing writer for HTP.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Conference on Child Trafficking and Exploitation in Chicago

From CHRC at Loyola University - Chicago:

Human Trafficking and Exploitation of Children and Youth in the United States

September 22-23, 2010
Loyola University
Philip H. Corboy Law Center
25 E. Pearson Street Chicago, IL 60611

This year, the United States celebrates the 10th Anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. While the United States has made significant progress to eradicate human trafficking, children continue to be disproportionately underrepresented in cases identified. This demonstrates the need for a national, collaborative response to address the gaps in identification, protection, recovery, and prevention of child trafficking and exploitation. This conference is an opportunity to learn best practices, research, and scholarship on this issue, and stimulate ongoing work and partnerships in the field to protect the rights of children impacted by human trafficking and exploitation. Practitioners, scholars, government agencies, students, and community based organizations are encouraged to attend.Keynote Speakers: Senator John J. Cullerton and Kelly Heinrich, Counsel, U.S. State Department, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

Brought to you by the Center for the Human Rights of Children, in collaboration with the Criminal Justice Department, the Child Law Center, and the School of Social Work at Loyola University

Please visit the CHRC Website for more information. Conference agenda and registration information are forthcoming.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Cell Phones' Ethical Hang-Up

Hello, I'm a Mac, and I'm a PC -- Here's How I Help Fuel the World's Deadliest Conflict

From the Huffington Post.

By: Brooke Smith and John Prendergast

Hello, I'm a Mac, and I'm helping fuel the war in the Congo - currently the deadliest conflict in the world. So are PCs, cell phones, digital cameras and other consumer electronics. That's what Apple's famous "I'm a Mac ... And I'm a PC" ads don't tell you. So I (Brooke) and cinematographer Steven Lubensky, with the help of actors Joshua Malina and John Lehr, decided to create a version that does.

It is not surprising if you didn't know that your favorite Apple gadgets -- your iPhone, iPad, iPod and Mac -- are linked to the conflict engulfing the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo today and for the past dozen years. Most people don't know - which is in part why the war in Congo has gone on for so long. With more than 5 million people killed, it is the deadliest conflict since World War II.

As Nick Kristof wrote in The New York Times yesterday, "Electronics manufacturers have tried to hush all this up. They want you to look at a gadget and think 'sleek,' not 'blood.'"

Tech titans -- including Nintendo, HP, Dell, Intel, and RIM, the makers of BlackBerry -- have made millions from products that use conflict minerals and have gotten off the hook for fueling violence in the Congo, thanks to a tendency in today's culture not to question where our everyday items come from.

That's not necessarily a criticism; it's just the way the world works now, where we interact with materials from every corner of the globe on a daily basis. So we tend to think that our new iPhone came from the Mac store down the street or our new digital camera originated from an online camera store. But as you see in our video, the problem arises with all the components inside.

Essential parts of our electronic devices are made from minerals found in eastern Congo. Tin, tantalum, tungsten -- the 3Ts -- and gold serve such necessary functions as making our cell phones vibrate or helping our iPods store electricity.

The same armed groups who control most of the mines that supply these essential minerals to the world market are responsible for the epidemic of sexual violence in eastern Congo. Women and girls pay a gruesome price, and the persistent health conditions and severe trauma that linger for years after an attack are leaving communities and families in utter ruin. In addition, the labor conditions in the mines are abysmal. Indentured servitude is common practice, and children as young as 11 are used to squeeze into the tight spaces underground.

There are few conflicts in the world where the link between our consumer appetites and mass human suffering is so direct.

The lucrative mineral trade -- estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually -- perpetuates the violence because it enables militias and government soldiers to buy weapons to continue the fight for these valuable resources. All along the supply chain that winds its way through central Africa, armed groups and governments benefit immensely from the trade in conflict minerals, making it a very stubborn problem to eradicate.

This reality isn't the result of an elaborate cover-up. Until consumers started asking, electronics companies were satisfied to say that they didn't know whether their products were made with conflict minerals from Congo. The trade in minerals from eastern Congo is shockingly opaque, hence the easy exploitation. Even now, as the issue of conflict minerals gains traction, companies like Apple continue to tell us that their products do not contain conflict minerals because their suppliers said so.

From towns and campuses across the United States to the U.S. Congress, advocates are protesting this inadequate response and pushing to put a system in place to trace, audit, and certify the minerals in our electronic devices, so that ultimately, we as consumers can choose to buy conflict-free.

Visit RAISE Hope for Congo,, and send the message to tech companies that you want them to make their products conflict-free. And please share this video with your friends.

Brooke Smith is an actress, writer and director. Brooke has acted in many feature films including "The Silence of the Lambs", "Vanya on 42nd Street" and "Series 7: The Contenders." On television, Brooke played Dr. Erica Hahn on "Grey's Anatomy." The MAC/PC Conflict minerals ad is the third PSA Brooke has directed for The Enough Project's RAISE Hope for Congo campaign.

John Prendergast is Co-Founder of Enough, the anti-genocide project at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., and co-author with Don Cheadle of the forthcoming book The Enough Moment.


With the release of the new iPhone 4, various groups are attempting to raise consumer awareness about where the materials used in cell phones originate. The reality is sickening. Two opinion pieces posted within the last week, one by Brooke Smith and John Prendergast for the Huffington Post (shown above) and one by Nicholas Kristof (link below) for the New York Times, detail how our demand for cell phones, and lack of real corporate accountability are fueling the war in Congo, at least in part.

Essential minerals used in the production of cell phones, such as (Tin, tantalum, tungsten among others), are sourced from the Congo. The mineral trade is very lucrative there and those who are in control of the mines are the same people responsible for mass rape in the country along with indentured servitude and the use of child labor in these mines. Electronics companies claim that their products are free from conflict materials but this is because the suppliers tell them they are conflict free not because they are. This is why many people are calling for companies to take more interest and be more responsible for their supply chain.

If you are interested in learning more, please watch the video Brooke and her team put together which is posted here. To take action please visit and click on the Commit to Purchase Conflict Free Electronics, where you can email the 21 largest electronic companies and let them know you are committed to conflict free electronics. Tell your friends too. Until corporations know their customers are serious about conflict free materials, they won’t take the problem seriously. Make sure to check out Kristof’s article as well

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Program Assistant - Safe Horizon's Anti-Trafficking Program

From Idealist:

Safe Horizon’s Anti-Trafficking Program (ATP) maintains a two-tiered approach to fighting the epidemic of human trafficking. First, we provide intensive case management and legal services to holistically meet the needs of trafficked persons. While recognizing that client services alone will not turn the tide on human trafficking, our Anti-Trafficking Program also offers a range of services including education, technical assistance, training and advocacy to foster systemic change.
• This is a 60% of full time employment position: 9 - 5; Monday, Wednesday, Friday; with the possibility of becoming 100% full time. At least a one year commitment required.
Essential Job Functions:
• Provide backstopping for entire ATP team (staff of eight).
• Administer and reconcile petty cash and gift cards for clients.
• Undertake and complete research assignments as requested.
• Assist Intensive Case Managers by locating and coordinating services with external partners to provide a continuum of care for clients.
• Provide logistical support for ATP events including scheduling, registration management and printing materials for meetings, outreach activities, presentations, trainings and conferences.
• Compile and enter data for monthly funder reports and databases.
• Maintain office environment through ordering, stocking and keeping records on office supplies and other purchase orders.
• Liaise with Safe Horizon Training Department and assist with management of the Conference Center.
• Active participation in weekly staff meetings with a small and dynamic team.
• Participate in professional development activities and attend events relevant to human trafficking.
• Complete additional tasks as required by the Anti-Trafficking Program.
Additional Qualifications:
• High school diploma required; BA/BS and interest in the field of human trafficking desirable.
• Excellent and effective writing, organization and communication skills required.
• Exceptional attention to detail and highly organized.
• Ability to work independently and manage multiple tasks.
• Computer skills. Experience with Access helpful.
• Second language highly desirable. Spanish a plus; Russian, Korean, French or Chinese helpful.

• Problem-solver and self-starter; able to meet deadlines; able to identify and report problems with completing assigned tasks; willing to ask for help when needed.

How to Apply:
Please email resume and letter of interest to Jennifer Dreher, Senior Director, Anti-Trafficking Program at:
Please include “Program Assistant” in the subject title. The letter of interest should address your interest in human trafficking issues and how you meet the job functions and KSAs. Resumes without a letter of interest will not be considered.

Monday, July 05, 2010

What to the Slave is the 4th of July?

Frederick Douglass - July 4, 1852

Fellow citizens, pardon me, and allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I or those I represent to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits, and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions. Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold that a nation's sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation's jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the "lame man leap as an hart."

But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you this day rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you, that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation (Babylon) whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrecoverable ruin.

Fellow citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions, whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are today rendered more intolerable by the jubilant shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, "may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!"

To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs and to chime in with the popular theme would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world.

My subject, then, fellow citizens, is "American Slavery." I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave's point of view. Standing here, identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this Fourth of July.

Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity, which is outraged, in the name of liberty, which is fettered, in the name of the Constitution and the Bible, which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery -- the great sin and shame of America! "I will not equivocate - I will not excuse." I will use the severest language I can command, and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slave-holder, shall not confess to be right and just. . .

What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mock; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy - a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.

Go search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.

Friday, July 02, 2010

RFP for Enhanced Task Forces Announced

OVC FY 10 Enhanced Collaborative Model to Combat Human Trafficking

Eligibility: Applicants are limited to state and local law enforcement agencies and nonprofit victim service organizations with a demonstrated established relationship and capacity to successfully partner among themselves and key stakeholders to support an enhanced approach to identifying, rescuing, and assisting victims of all forms of human trafficking. Applicants will only be eligible to apply if their application is made in conjunction with an application from a law enforcement agency or a victim service organization. Recipients of awards under this solicitation must be located in the community, jurisdiction, or geographic area specified in the application. Grantees currently receiving human trafficking funding from BJA and OVC are eligible to apply for this funding.

Overview: Through this solicitation, BJA and OVC seek to update the DOJ multidisciplinary anti-human trafficking task force model for contemporary relevance and incorporate lessons learned into a new model: the Enhanced Collaborative Model to Combat Human Trafficking. This FY 2010 program will fund up to three Enhanced Collaborative Model Task Force sites that will take a comprehensive approach to combating all forms of trafficking–sex trafficking and labor trafficking of foreign nationals and U.S. citizens (male and female, adults and minors). A total of six cooperative agreements are expected to be awarded. Three awards are expected to be made by BJA to support law enforcement agencies to coordinate the goals, objectives, and activities of the entire task force in close collaboration with the local U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) and victim service provider partner; and three awards are expected to be made by OVC to support a victim service organization to coordinate the provision of a comprehensive array of culturally and linguistically appropriate services to all trafficking victims identified within the geographic area impacted by the task force.

Deadlines: Registration and Application: Registration is required prior to submission. OJP strongly encourages registering with several weeks before the deadline for application submission. The deadline for applying for funding under this announcement is 8:00 p.m. eastern time on July 27, 2010.

Please find the full RFP here.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

US Federal Anti-Trafficking Initiatives

In June, the Department of State released the 2010 Trafficking In Persons Report. While State leads the US Federal Government's international anti-trafficking work, many other federal agencies contribute to anti-trafficking efforts in the US. While others may not have large trafficking programs, many are in a position to contribute to efforts to end slavery in the US and throughout the world. This month, we discuss various federal anti-trafficking programs.

Meg: The Department of Justice: One of the most significant programs the Department of Justice runs in relation to trafficking is operating the Office for Victims of Crime. The OVC maintains a website on trafficking with information and resources, and funds service programs for trafficking victims, which can include shelter, medical care, and legal services, among other things. Additionally, the OVC operates a Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), and a Trafficking in Persons and Worker Exploitation Task Force (TPWETF). The OVC's website also provides numbers to call to report suspected trafficking crimes, a directory of crime victim services, publications, and reports.

Jenn: The Department of Health and Human Services: Many federal efforts to raise awareness, identify potential victims, and provide services for trafficking victims and survivors, are coordinated through the Department of Health and Human Services via the Office of Refugee Resettlement. In addition to making awareness raising materials available to order for free, HHS coordinates Rescue and Restore Coalitions in 24 cities, regions, and states throughout the US that bring together community members, services providers, and other anti-trafficking actors. HHS also plays a vital role in connecting victims with services and funding services. According to their site, "HHS is the sole Federal agency authorized to certify adult foreign victims of human trafficking. Similarly, it is the sole Federal agency authorized to provide Eligibility Letters to minor foreign victims of human trafficking." HHS provides grants to service providers, and funds the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, which operates the national human trafficking hotline.

Amanda: The Department of Labor: The Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor exists to ensure that workers are receiving due compensation for work they perform without regard for their immigration status. They also work to combat human trafficking through enforcement, education, partnerships and public awareness. One particular way this is done is through their toll-free helpline (1-800-4US-WAGE). This office is key in ensuring workers are not exploited since they are allowed to do on-site investigations and interview employees about their wages, hours, deductions, transportation to work and about their living situation. Earlier this year, the Department of Labor also announced it will begin to use its authority to certify U-visas, which are for victims of major crimes including trafficking. The Wage and Hour Division will be responsible for this. After victims are identified, the Division is also responsible for calculating back wages and overtime owed to victims.

Elise Garvey: US Department of Agriculture: "One of my friends that works over at the USDA said it probably the best. You can’t have food security if the hands that picked the crops are not free." That quote comes from Ambassador Luis CdeBaca. Most people would wonder what the government agency responsible for our food safety could possibly do to combat trafficking. The point that the Ambassador makes points out the exact area where the USDA can be most helpful. One thing you may not know about the role of the USDA is that on June 18, 2008, Congress passed the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (“Farm Bill”). This law establishes a Consultative Group to Eliminate the Use of Child Labor and Forced Labor in Imported Agricultural Products, which is chaired by the USDA. The mandate of this Consultative Group is to “develop recommendations relating to guidelines to reduce the likelihood that agricultural products or commodities imported into the United States are produced with the use of forced labor and child labor.” (By the way, a quick mention is needed that forced labor and trafficking are not the same thing, but forced labor is a form of exploitation in which trafficking can result)

According to this same section of the Farm Bill, the recommendations from this group to the Secretary of Agriculture were supposed to be made available no later than June 18 of this year. You can find public record of their activity here, along with a communication from Secretary Vilsack that the recommendations from the group will be received shortly. While this effort can be applauded and could potentially produce important steps towards better understanding the source of our imported agricultural goods, the USDA could also help play a role in this effort in the US. Their regulatory work in food safety, including inspections and research are potential gateways for identifying problematic companies and industries where the abuse of workers are prevalent. Some sharper teeth and stronger partnerships with other federal agencies could go a long way.