Thursday, September 30, 2010

Finding Graduate Programs to do Human Trafficking Research

I spent this fall applying to return to graduate school to obtain my Masters and conduct research on human trafficking. New research will be necessary for improving our understanding and ability to combat trafficking.

Some great research has been done already. Last October, I attended the First Annual Interdisciplinary Conference on Human Trafficking at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. The call for papers for the Second Annual Conference has already been posted, and this is a tremendous opportunity to learn about some of the research efforts that are already going on in the field of trafficking and meet academics from institutions which may interest you.

I thought for this post, however, that I would share some of my experiences searching for graduate programs that I felt would be helpful to those of our readers who are considering the same options for continuing their education. I will add the caveat that I did not search very much outside of the U.S. so this post will be focused mostly on U.S. Institutions. This post will also likely require multiple parts in order to outline some of the different considerations that probably will go into a decision on a graduate program. Today, let's focus on some obvious suggestions: Look for schools that already have scholars and research centers with a focus on human trafficking.

If you're considering following a specific researcher/professor, here are some people to consider:

Dr. Ato Qauyson, University of Toronto: Professor of English and Director of the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies. Organized the conference The Commodification of Illicit Flows.

Professor Claude d'Estree, University of Denver: Lecturer in the DU Josef Korbel School of International Studies (JKSIS) and Executive Director of the Human Trafficking Clinic, Prof. d'Estree is also a Senior Advisor to Colorado Task Force on Human Trafficking.

Dr. Mohamed Mattar, Johns Hopkins University: Executive Director of the Protection Project, Dr. Mattar has worked in over 50 countries to promote state compliance with international human rights standards and has advised governments on drafting and implementing anti-trafficking legislation.

Dr. Sheldon Zhang, San Diego State University: Professor and Department Chair of Sociology, Dr. Zhang's recent publications include "Beyond the 'Natasha' Story" and Smuggling and Trafficking in Human Beings: All Roads Lead to America.

Professor Amy Farrell, Northeastern University: Assistant Professor of College of Criminal Justice and Associate Director of the Institute on Race and Justice, she has recently conducted research on local law enforcement responses to human trafficking and is currently leading the development of a national human trafficking data collection program for the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Professor Jacqueline Bhabha, Harvard University: Jeremiah Smith Jr. Lecturer in Law at Harvard Law School, the Director of the Harvard University Committee on Human Rights Studies, and a Lecturer in Public Policy at the Kennedy School, she is currently working on issues of child migration, smuggling and trafficking, and citizenship.

Dr. Thomas Steinfatt, Miami University: Professor of Communication Studies, his research on trafficking in women and children has been funded by USAID and is used by the U.S. State Department in combating human trafficking in Cambodia.

Dr. Mary Burke, Carlow University: Dr. Mary Burke is a faculty member in the Psychology Department at Carlow University where she is the Director of Training for the Doctoral Program in Counseling Psychology. She also serves as Executive Director of the Project to End Human Trafficking.

Professor Louise Shelley, George Mason University: Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center, her expertise in transnational crime and corruption includes money laundering and illicit financial flows, human smuggling and trafficking and national security issues.

Dr. Denise Brennan, Georgetown University: Associate Professor of Anthropology, her research focuses on urgent human rights concerns as trafficking, women’s poverty, and migrant labor exploitation.

Dr. Richard Estes, University of Pennsylvania: Professor of Social Work and Director of the School's International Programs, he also is a specialist on issues related to social and economic development, poverty, and the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

Schools with specific research centers on trafficking:

Johns Hopkins
University of Denver

Another way to find schools and scholars in the field is to do your homework:
  • Pay attention to the authors of reports or articles you read about trafficking. See if the author teaches at any graduate programs or works frequently with one university.
  • Look to see if any academic departments or professors take part in local task forces or assist trafficking victim service providers.
  • Pay attention to names (authors or quoted experts) in books you read about trafficking. With which university is he/she affiliated?
For the next post, we will look at other considerations when trying to identify the right school to match your research interests in human trafficking.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Final Two Days to Vote For Polaris Project in the Pepsi Refreash Contest

Currently, Polaris Project is number 6 in the September Pepsi Refreash contest, which ends in two days. The top ten organizations will receive $50,000. You can vote daily online and/or by texting your vote to Pepsi (73774) with Polaris Project’s number: 102318.

Pepsi Refresh is an online voting competition to give funds to good causes. Pepsi Refresh does a number of different voting competition each month to award different grant amounts. This month, from September 1st through September 30th, voting is open for the round of September grants. Polaris Project is part of this online voting competition, trying to raise $50K to support a number of its programs and anti-trafficking efforts, including its Fellowship program.

Polaris Project is one of the largest anti-trafficking organizations in the United States and Japan, with programs operating at international, national and local levels through our offices in Washington, DC; Newark, NJ; and Tokyo, Japan. Polaris Project is one of the few organizations working on all forms of trafficking and serving both citizen and foreign national victims of human trafficking.

Polaris Project's comprehensive approach to combating human trafficking includes conducting direct outreach and victim identification, providing social services and transitional housing to victims, operating the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) serving as the central national hotline on human trafficking, advocating for stronger state and Federal anti-trafficking legislation, and engaging community members in local and national grassroots efforts.

Vote here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Slave Trader Joe's?

Is Trader Joe's Selling Slave Picked Produce?

By Amanda Kloer
September 09, 2010

Trader Joe's presents itself as a hip, progressive place to shop, full of vegetarian options and free from the plethora of hot orange processed snacks found elsewhere. But Trader Joe's refuses to take one very critical progressive step and join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' (CIW) Campaign for Fair Food. And because of their refusal, you might just be buying slave-picked produce from those friendly, Hawaiian shirt-wearing joes.

Modern-day slavery is a reality for many farm workers right here in the U.S. In Florida, over 1,000 people have been identified as trafficked in fields and on farms, picking the food we eat every day. Farm workers have also been trapped in slavery or seriously abusive conditions in California, Washington, North Carolina, Maryland, and several other states with large agricultural industries. Because the laws governing agriculture are different than those regulating other industries in the U.S., many of these workers don't have the same legal protections the rest of us do.

Trader Joe's is no stranger to dealing with labor and transparency concerns. Two years ago, a 17-year-old girl suffered a fatal heat stroke while picking grapes for Charles Shaw wine, the "Two Buck Chuck" Trader Joe's is famous for. And folks over's Sustainable Food property are asking the company for better transparency in their organic food sourcing. TJ's has also gotten flack for selling un-sustainable seafood and fish from places like Thailand and Bangladesh, where slavery in the fishing industry is common. That's a pretty poor track record for a company with a progressive, conscious customer base.

This is where you, that conscious customer, come in. As a consumer, you have the power to ensure the workers who grow and harvest your food are getting fair pay for their work and are being treated with dignity. The CIW's Campaign for Fair Food harnesses the purchasing power of the food industry for the betterment of farm worker wages and working conditions. Over the past decade, CIW has used the campaign to get some of the largest food purchasers in the country to support fairer labor standards for farm workers in the U.S., including a zero tolerance policy for slavery and transparent supply chains. Current participants include Subway, McDonald's, and Whole Foods. Now, Trader Joe's has the opportunity to join them and take a stand against slavery and farm worker exploitation.

Please, take a minute to ask Trader Joe's to join the Campaign for Fair Food and ensure that they aren't selling their customers slave-picked produce.


Trader Joe's has a wide reputation for being a company where people can purchase food and feel good about it. Unfortunately the secrecy of the organization, their unwillingness to join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' (CIW) Campaign for Fair Food and some of their practices put this feeling into question. One of these practices includes sourcing unsustainable seafood from Thailand and Bangladesh where slave labor in the seafood industry is unfortunately not uncommon. Additionally, the death of a 17 year old who was picking grapes for Trader Joe's wine has also created concern among activist. Please visit this site and click the take action button to sign your name to the petition asking Trader Joe's to ensure fair and safe labor practices. Let them know their customers (and the community as a whole if you are not a customer) care.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Get Involved: HTP Content Contributors

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

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

We are looking for gifted writers who are passionate about raising awareness of human trafficking and are ready and willing to provide analysis on current efforts to combat trafficking, report on new, innovative anti-trafficking strategies, interview organizations around the world that are making a difference, review trafficking news articles, attend and report on trafficking-related conferences and in general share their opinions and insights on everything that is trafficking (whew, that was a lot in one sentence).

We can't promise you fame and fortune (although site traffic is steadily growing, these are unpaid positions), but we can promise a forum where you can help raise awareness of trafficking and have your opinions heard.

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

Time commitment is approximately 5 hours per week.

Please email a sample blog (e.g. what would you write for your first HTP post?) and a brief description of your experience and interest in trafficking to

Thank you for your continued support!

The HTP Team

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Spain Breaks Up a Trafficking Ring for Male Prostitution

By Raphael Minder

MADRID — The Spanish police said Tuesday that it had dismantled for the first time a human trafficking network bringing men rather than women into the country to work as prostitutes.

The police said 14 people, almost all of them Brazilian, were arrested over recent weeks as part of an inquiry into the network’s activities begun in February.

The sex workers were recruited in Brazil, with their travel costs to Spain initially covered by the trafficking network’ organizers in return for a pledge to work subsequently for them, according to a police statement. Most of the recruits, however, expected to work as models or nightclub dancers, although some allegedly knew that they were coming to Spain to offer sex.

The police estimated that between 60 and 80 men were brought to Spain by the network, most of them in their 20s and originating from Brazil’s northern state of Maranhão. They reached Spain by passing through third countries.

The network covered the whole of Spain, with the sex workers placed in, and then switched regularly between, apartments whose landlords received half of the money earned by them, as well as €200, or about $255, to cover food and lodging, officials said.

The police released a video of one of the apartments in which some of the arrests were made, with bunk beds and mattresses cramped into neon-lit rooms. The gang, meanwhile, advertised pictures of the men on Web sites as well as in classified newspaper ads. The sex workers were allegedly provided with Viagra, cocaine and other stimulants to help keep them available for sex 24 hours a day. Most of their customers are suspected to have been men.

The bulk of the arrests occurred on the island of Majorca, including that of the Brazilian accused of being the ringleader, whose identity was not disclosed by the police. The prostitutes ended up owing the network as much as €4,000 each and were sometimes threatened with death if they refused to pay the debt, according to the Spanish police.

For the entire article visit here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Disabled woman was tortured and held as a sex slave

By Robert Patrick for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Friday, September 10th, 2010.

A Kirkwood man arrested by the FBI on Thursday was one of four Missouri men who paid a fifth to either watch him torture a mentally disabled woman online or torture her themselves, prosecutors said.

The 20-page federal indictment, unsealed with the men's arrests Thursday, contains accusations of sexual and physical torture lasting five years, acts that U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips called "among the most horrific ever prosecuted" in the Western District of Missouri.

The alleged torturer, Edward "Master Ed" Bagley Sr., 43, of Lebanon, Mo., tattooed the woman to mark her as his slave, convinced her that she was legally "bound" to him and threatened her, prosecutors said. He also is accused of forcing her to work as a stripper.

Bagley tortured the woman for five years, until he induced a heart attack while suffocating and electrically shocking her on Feb. 27, 2009, prosecutors said. She was hospitalized.

Her hospitalization sparked an 18-month investigation that led to the charges.

Those alleged to be customers for the woman's forced services included Bradley Cook, 31, of the 11500 block of Big Bend Road in Kirkwood; Dennis Henry, 50, of Wheatland, Mo.; Michael Stokes, 62, of Lebanon; and James Noel, 44, of Springfield, Mo., prosecutors said. Henry's occupation was listed as postmaster general of Nevada, Mo., but that could not immediately be confirmed Thursday evening. Cook, according to state records, is a licensed real estate broker associate.

The indictment alleges that Bagley met the woman when she was 16 and a runaway and persuaded her to move into his trailer with promises of a "great life" and a future as a model and dancer.

She got her own room, furniture and TV, and Bagley began giving her drugs, showing her pornography and sexually abusing her, prosecutors said.

When she turned 18, he persuaded her to sign a 'sex slave contract," which he said bound her to him for life, prosecutors claim.

Bagley "beat, whipped, flogged, suffocated, choked, electrocuted, caned, skewered, drowned, mutilated, hung and caged" the girl "to coerce her to become a 'sex slave,'" the indictment says. It adds that he tied her up and hung her in the air, locked her in a dog cage and used staples, nails and a sewing needle and thread during torture sessions too violent to describe.

For the full article click here.


This story, which broke last week, is one of the most disturbing and horrific that I have heard. This case should remind us of the urgency of the issues Ashley Keller discussed in her analysis of the intersections of human trafficking and disability issues: "[USAID also reports] that the rate of child prostitutes with mild developmental disabilities is six times greater than what is expected within the general population. This marginalized group is underrepresented and does not have access to the tools they need to become empowered. . . As Human Rights Watch notes “disabled women and girls face the same spectrum of human rights abuses that non-disabled women face, but their social isolation and dependence magnifies these abuses and their consequences”. . . We, as moral, rational and reasoning beings, cannot allow these people to be swept under the rug and forgotten any longer."

Monday, September 20, 2010


Screening of the film PLAYGROUND Thursday, September 23, 2010 - 6:30pm Capitol Hill Visitor Center - North Orientation Theater, Washington, DC

Introductory Remarks by
Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking In Persons Followed by Q&A and discussion with advocates, moderated by filmmaker Libby Spears

Directed by Libby Spears; Executive produced by George Clooney, Grant Heslov, and Steven Soderbergh

This poignant documentary about the commercial sexual exploitation of children in America has been screened around the country. It has been referenced by legislators like Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) who have seen it and felt compelled by its powerful message: "Child sex trafficking happens to our children, in our country."
The sexual exploitation of children is a problem that we tend to relegate to back-alley brothels in developing countries.

This is where filmmaker Libby Spears began her sensitive investigation into the topic. But she quickly concludes that very little thrives on this planet without American capital, and the commercial child sex industry is thriving. A meeting with Ernie Allen, President of the
National Center of Missing and Exploited Children, confirmed to Libby what her research was beginning to uncover: that the trafficking of children for commercial sexual exploitation is every bit as real in North America. And this is where Playground really begins.

Spears intelligently traces the epidemic to its disparate, and decidedly domestic, roots—among them the way children are educated about sex, and the problem of raising awareness about a crime that is often carefully hidden. Her cultural observations are couched in the search for Michelle, an American girl lost to the underbelly of childhood sexual exploitation who has yet to resurface a decade later.
Playground documents the incredible challenges we face as a society.

Luckily, some legislators have decided to meet that challenge. The "
Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010" was originally introduced in December by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) as S.2925. It passed from the Senate Judiciary unanimously and awaits a vote by the Senate. The House bill, H.R. 5575, was introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) in June and awaits action in the House Judiciary Committee.

Seating is limited. Please RSVP to

Thursday, September 16, 2010

H2-A Abuse: Largest Human Trafficking Case in the US

Thai labour recruiters indicted in US
Published: September 3rd, 2010

The Justice Department announced Thursday that a federal grand jury in Honolulu indicted Mordechai Orian, an Israeli national; Pranee Tubchumpol, Shane Germann and Sam Wongsesanit of Global Horizons Manpower Inc., located in Los Angeles; and Thai labor recruiters Ratawan Chunharutai and Podjanee Sinchai for engaging in a conspiracy to commit forced labor and document servitude.

The charges arise from the defendants’ alleged scheme to coerce the labor and services of approximately 400 Thai nationals brought by the defendants to the U. S. from Thailand from May 2004 through September 2005 to work on farms across the country under the U.S. federal agricultural guest worker program, according to the justice department.

Orian, Tubchumpol and Chunharutai are also charged with three substantive counts of compelling the labor of three Thai guest workers.

If convicted, Orian and Tubchumpol each face maximum sentences of 70 years in prison, Chunharutai faces a maximum sentence of 65 years in prison, Germann and Wongsesanit each face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and Sinchai, who was recently charged in Thailand with multiple counts of recruitment fraud, faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison if convicted in the United States.

The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired and devised a scheme to obtain the labor of approximately 400 Thai nationals by enticing them to come to the U.S. with false promises of lucrative jobs, and then maintaining their labor at farms in Washington and Hawaii through threats of serious economic harm. 

The defendants arranged for the Thai workers to pay high recruitment fees, which were financed by debts secured with the workers’ family property and homes. Significant portions of these fees went to the defendants themselves. 

After arrival in the United States, the defendants confiscated the Thai nationals’ passports and failed to honor the employment contracts. The defendants maintained the Thai nationals’ labor by threatening to send them back to Thailand, knowing they would face serious economic harms created by the debts. 

The indictment also alleges that the defendants confined a group of Thai guest workers at Maui Pineapple Farm and demanded an additional fee of US$3,750 to keep their jobs with Global Horizons. Those workers who refused to pay the additional fee were sent back home to Thailand with unpaid debts, subjecting them to the high risk of losing their family homes and land.

This case has been investigated by the FBI’s Honolulu Division. Services to victims have been provided by the Thai Community Development Center in Los Angeles. The charges, in a five-count indictment, are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This is the largest human trafficking case to come out of the United States and involves nearly 400 Thai workers who were recruited under false pretenses to work in the United States on H2-A (agricultural worker) visas. The defendants are six employees of Global Horizons Manpower Inc. including two Thai recruiters. Though the charges for each person vary, two of the defendants are facing up to 70 years in prison.

Read the Full Article Here.


This particular article helps illuminate the specific forms of force fraud or coercion used against the workers. For example, many of the workers had to take out significant debts, sometimes against their families’ homes and properties. When they arrived in the US, the working conditions were not as promised and the workers were paid less than they expected. In one case, the workers were confined on a pineapple farm and told they would have to pay $3,750 to keep working with the company. Those who refused were sent back to Thailand where they faced significant risks including losing their houses for not paying off their debts.

This will likely be a very interesting case to follow and more details are expected to emerge in the coming weeks and months. The trail is set to begin in November.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

International Orchestra for Freedom: 'Abandoning Silence' Concert Series

International Orchestra for Freedom 'Abandoning Silence' Concert Series

William Kunhardt conductor
Thomas Carroll cello
International Orchestra for Freedom
Purna Sen Head of Human Rights at The Commonwealth Secretariat

Siddique: Prayer For Humanity (world premiere)
Gulda: Cello Concerto
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.6 'Pathétique'

'Abandoning Silence' is a dynamic new concert series presented by The Human Culture Collective, which aims to raise awareness to human trafficking through orchestral music, and is performed by the dynamic International Orchestra for Freedom, a group of some of the most talented young professional musicians from across the UK.

'Prayer for Humanity' composed by Julene Siddique is a symphonic narration of human rights and the honouring of universal values. This beautiful, innovative and powerful new commission receives its debut performance.

Renowned virtuoso cellist Thomas Carroll performs Friedrich Gulda's innovative and jazzy Cello Concerto, and Tchaikovsky's infamous final symphony, the 'Pathétique', completes the programme.

£25, £20, £15, £12, £8

To buy tickets visit here or here.

About the International Orchestra for Freedom

The International Orchestra for Freedom is one of the most exciting orchestras on the planet. It is the voice of an entire generation of young professional artists, filled with passion, commitment and stunning creativity. Far beyond that however, the orchestra is a force for international social change. Its mission is to travel the world, along with its global partners, performing in the most iconic venues and working in communities, with corporations, global leaders and world governments. Its goal: To mobilise the world in facing one of the greatest atrocities imaginable – Human trafficking.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Old Slavery v. Modern Day Slavery Part III

Part of the Human Trafficking Students' series on HTP

By Ashley Keller

Old Slavery v. Modern Day Slavery
Part III (Conclusion)

Take Action
There are different national and international organizations for disabled persons. These organizations are made up of people with and without disabilities. While this is good news, sadly, this is new. Groups and organizations in the past have not thought to have disabled persons on their committees, which again leaves this population without a voice. These new integrated and accessible groups and organizations are using their insight to help implement accessible programs, or change existing programs in order to make them accessible. They are doing this by diversifying environments, i.e. taking a multicultural, multi-gender, multi-ability approach to problems and ideas.

There is also a greater urgency to educate and train the general public. This allows people to better understand and appreciate this population of people. It is very important for everyone to know that whether someone is disabled or not, they are all still people and they most definitely have value. They deserve the same human rights as those without disabilities.
Unfortunately there is not much information out there on human trafficking and the disabled. Awareness is required in regards to human trafficking, but when this entire population is overlooked and left without a voice; people are not getting the whole story. This population needs to be brought up in conversations, classrooms, websites and statistics.

As Human Rights Watch notes “disabled women and girls face the same spectrum of human rights abuses that non-disabled women face, but their social isolation and dependence magnifies these abuses and their consequences”. This is a real problem and these people need our help as much as the men, women and children who are drug into this dark reality by force, fraud or coercion.

We need to give this population a voice, if possible, and if not, be the voice they so desperately need. The media can do this by reporting on this ugly truth through pictures, articles and documentaries. The media needs to make it known that this issue is alive and it is everywhere, not just in some far off country. While many countries have taken strides to criminalize human trafficking they continually fail to prosecute these perpetrators. Through research it was noted that most individuals detained in relation to human trafficking are released by the time a trial or sentencing arrives for “time served”.

There needs to be collaboration and cooperation between many different government and non-government agencies in order to bring light to this seemingly overlooked topic within the larger picture of modern slavery. Law Enforcement, families, cultures, hospitals, education agencies, and prosecutors all need to understand the ramifications of their beliefs and actions, or lack thereof. By working together, which is a feat in and of itself, fewer and fewer individuals will fall through the cracks.

As the great Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “to ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it”. We, as moral, rational and reasoning beings, cannot allow these people to be swept under the rug and forgotten any longer.


Ashley received her B.A. in Psychology from Immaculata University this past semester. She has worked with individuals with autism for about 10 years and is currently working as an ABA therapist doing Early Intense Behavioral Intervention. This coming semester she will be student teaching to receive her Elementary/Special Education teaching certifications. She also plans to pursue graduate level programs in order to continue her work and understanding of individuals with autism.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Old Slavery v. Modern Day Slavery Part II

Part of the Human Trafficking Students' series on HTP

By Ashley Keller

Old Slavery v. Modern Day Slavery
Part II

It is commendable that human trafficking is getting more and more attention and global awareness is on the rise. But, the small amount of information regarding this marginalized group is simply not enough, especially when there are statistics that report there are approximately 340 million women with disabilities (
Amon, 2010)!

Even more stunning, not only is there a severe lack of information regarding human trafficking and disabilities worldwide, but there are entire United Nations and United States government reports, among others, that include hundreds of pages of statistics and personal accounts with no mention of this group of individuals. My nickname for them has become the forgotten people. That is precisely what they are, forgotten, omitted, passed over, left out.

It is incredible that with all the disability acts, services and initiatives, in the United States and around the world, that they have been so easily forgotten!
The Bureau of Justice Statistics completed a National Crime Victimization Survey in 2007. This survey included nonfatal violent and property crimes against individuals with disabilities. Individuals with disabilities were victims of approximately “47,000 rapes, 79,000 robberies, 114,000 aggravated assaults, and 476,000 simple assaults”. It was also found that disabled persons had a “1.5 times higher rate for persons without disabilities” to be involved in a nonfatal violent incident. Not surprisingly, their survey also found that “females with a disability had a higher victimization rate than males with a disability”.

On the other hand, among typical individuals, males had a higher victimization rate than females.
In Joseph Amon’s article entitled Invisible Women he states that “at least 10 percent of the world’s population is believed to live with a disability…half - 340 million - are women”. Sadly the voices of these women are not heard because they do not fit neatly into one group. They are women, but they are disabled, so they are not included in any women’s movements and even though they are disabled they are not necessarily included in any disability movements because they are women.

As previously discussed, the four major vulnerabilities of trafficking are poverty, ignorance, minority and being a female. According to
Stop Violence Against Women, women make up 75% of the disabled population. This means that 75% of the disabled population has at least three out of the four major red flags that increase vulnerability to human trafficking. They are disabled which makes them a minority and often creates a lack of knowledge, and on top of that they are women. Because of the incorrect belief that sex with a virgin will cure HIV/AIDS, many women and children in this category are victimized.

This is due to another false belief that because these women are disabled, they are also virgins (
stopvaw, 2009). UNICEF reports, that virtually 100% of disabled females in India are beaten, 25% are raped and 6% are forcibly sterilized. In South Africa battered women services are not accessible.

Children suffer a high rate of victimization in this population as well due to the fact that “impairments often make children appear as ‘easy victims’”. This is not only because they may have difficulty in defending themselves or in reporting the abuse, but also because their accounts are often dismissed (
UNICEF, 2008). Children in general, and children with disabilities in particular, are thought to have unreliable testimonies of situations that occur, including those involving exploitation and abuse.

USAID reports on some facts that they received from UNICEF, and it has been reported that in Thailand prostitution houses seek deaf girls. Their thought process behind this is that not many people know sign language so these girls will not be able to communicate effectively in order to get help. This specific disability serves to isolate these individuals even more than a typically developing individual trafficked into an unknown country.

They also report that the rate of child prostitutes with mild developmental disabilities is six times greater than what is expected within the general population. This marginalized group is underrepresented and does not have access to the tools they need to become empowered. Unfortunately, even organizations that make attempts to help fall short of being accessible to this population worldwide.

Continued Tuesday September 14th, 2010.


Ashley received her B.A. in Psychology from Immaculata University this past semester. She has worked with individuals with autism for about 10 years and is currently working as an ABA therapist doing Early Intense Behavioral Intervention. This coming semester she will be student teaching to receive her Elementary/Special Education teaching certifications. She also plans to pursue graduate level programs in order to continue her work and understanding of individuals with autism.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Forgotten People of Modern Day Slavery Part I

Part of the Human Trafficking Students' Series on HTP

By Ashley Keller

Old Slavery v. Modern Day Slavery Part I

Enslavement of individuals predates our history. It has been around since the beginning of man. However, it was not until sometime in the 15th century that slavery focused on a certain group of people, the African Americans (Mintz 2007). When I speak of “old slavery” I am referring to the Transatlantic Slave Trade. There are some engrained similarities to old slavery when compared to modern. For instance, there is a loss of control and free will on the victim’s part, and it continues to be exploitation for profit. The enslaved are broken down to a sort of commodity to be traded, bought and sold. Their humanness is ripped away and replaced with a monetary value. However, modern day slavery, also known as human trafficking, is not the slavery from our history books. The old slavery was hyper focused on a specific group of people, African Americans, whereas modern day slavery “cuts across nationality, race, ethnicity, gender, age, class, education-level, and other demographic features” (National, 2010; Polaris 2009).

People are easier and cheaper to buy than ever before. It is estimated that the slaves of history were ten times more expensive then modern day slaves (
Polaris 2009). The ease and cheapness of modern day slaves creates an issue of “disposability” because of the inexpensiveness of the “investment” (Bales, 2004). This “disposability” poses yet another threat to the countless, nameless, voiceless individuals caught in this hell.

Due to the fact that slaves are so cheap, there is much less motivation for the traffickers to take care of their “investments” because there are plenty more when needed. There are many reasons that individuals may be trafficked. Some of the reasons are: debt bondage, sexual exploitation, forced labor/service like domestic labor, agricultural labor, sweatshops, begging, hard labor, soldiers, hospitality industries and many more. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime reports that 161 countries have been identified as being affected by human trafficking (
Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns).

Human Trafficking and Disabilities

The International Labor Organization estimates that 2.4 million people were trafficked between 1995 and 2005. The 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report reports that 12.3 million adults and children were trafficked in 2009, at a rate of 1.8 people per 1,000 worldwide. In 2007, the Trafficking in Persons Report stated that 800,000 people are trafficked across borders every year, of which about 80% are women and girls and up to 50% are children. In the U.S. State Department’s “The Facts About Child Sex Tourism: 2005” it is reported that approximately 1 million children are sexually exploited every year throughout the world.

This statistic, as are most, if not all, is broken down into specifications of age and gender, but there is no specific information as to how many of these individuals have a disability. As defined by the
Americans with Disabilities Act, a disability is; “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; a record of such an impairment; or a person regarded as having such an impairment”.

Human trafficking and disabilities is a severely under addressed topic in the discussion of human slavery. There are very few reports on its incidence. In 2009, Stop Violence Against Women wrote an article called “Violence Against Women with Disabilities”. They report that children in orphanages are at a higher risk for violence. Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery – Belgium reports that gangs throughout Belgium’s major cities organize begging rings using children and individuals with disabilities, typically from Romania (Patt, 2010). Due to the lack of understanding, financial means and cultural stigmas, discussed further below, children with disabilities are a source of shame to their families.

Research indicates that violence against children with disabilities occurs at least 1.7 times greater annually than for their peers without disabilities (
disabledworld). There are many reasons as to why these families give up their children, such as not having the knowledge or financial resources to care for these children. Other reasons are extensions of cultural beliefs. UNICEF reports, “[s]ocial beliefs about disability include the fear that disability is associated with evil, witchcraft or infidelity, which serve to entrench the marginalisation of disabled people” (2008) . As a result, these children wind up in orphanages where they are much more susceptible to violence. Women and girls with disabilities are especially vulnerable to physical and sexual violence which puts them in danger of unplanned pregnancies due to sexual exploitation.

A child who requires assistance with washing, dressing and other intimate care activities may be particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse. Perpetrators can include caretakers, attendants, family members, peers or anyone who enjoys a position of trust and power (UNICEF, 2007).

People with disabilities are not seen as individuals who deserve dignity and respect. Even if a pregnancy occurs within a normal situation, not having to do with sexual exploitation, disabled women often do not have a choice in whether they can keep their children and abortions are forced upon them. Disabled women are also forcibly sterilized so that the issue of pregnancy will not become a recurring issue (UNICEF, 2007).

Not only are disabled children dumped off into the system and stripped of their inalienable human rights, but as they grow up they are blacklisted from employment. The factors that are thought to cause the most vulnerability for an individual to be trafficked are being impoverished, lack of knowledge or ignorance, others also discuss that being a female and a minority exacerbate the issues (
UNIAP, 2007). However, the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking and the Strategic Information Response Network (SIREN) warn against over generalizing the vulnerabilities being dealt with by different cultures and areas. They suggest that it is naïve to enter an area assuming that the issue is the same as others. They argue that it is important to know the people, the culture and the problems before implementing a program in order to provide assistance.

Many groups go to help, but assume generalizations as fact and set up information programs and funding programs to fix the ignorant and impoverished in order to combat those specific vulnerabilities. However, those may not actually be the issue (UNIAP, 2007). In
Cornell University’s 2007 Disability Status Report, they show that the employment gap between individuals with and without disabilities is 42.8%, in the United States alone (Baker, 2008). This enormous gap in employment exacerbates the vulnerability of poverty that these individuals experience by denying them access to a self-sustaining life with gainful employment.

Continued Monday, September 13th, 2010.

Ashley received her B.A. in Psychology from Immaculata University this past semester. She has worked with individuals with autism for about 10 years and is currently working as an ABA therapist doing Early Intense Behavioral Intervention. This coming semester she will be student teaching to receive her Elementary/Special Education teaching certifications. She also plans to pursue graduate level programs in order to continue her work and understanding of individuals with autism.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Oklahomans Against the Trafficking of Humans

Mark Elam is quite open about the humble beginnings of Oklahomans Against the Trafficking of Humans (OATH), the grassroots anti-trafficking organization he started three years ago: “I knew nothing about human trafficking before I saw an investigative special on it about eight years ago,” he said. “I had done overseas travel through my faith community and through that I was introduced to the tragic stories of many victims of human trafficking. The idea of taking action on this crucial problem was exciting.” He was self-employed at the time of this revelation and realized he had an unusual flexibility to confront the problem head-on. He took several trips to India and Southeast Asia on his own, helping to start small orphanages as a refuge for vulnerable children who are often taken as slaves for the sex tourism industry.

Returning to his native Oklahoma, Elam soon realized that slavery is not at all simply a third-world problem and founded OATH, the first and only anti-human trafficking organization in Oklahoma. His research on international human trafficking led to speaking engagements at various colleges and universities, advocating for victims and urging others to get involved in the fight. Because there is very little public knowledge of human trafficking issues in Oklahoma, Elam said, “OATH has been focusing the majority of our efforts on educating the community and raising awareness about human trafficking within the state.” They continue to speak at public events, have monthly community meetings, and distribute frequent newsletters, among other activities.

As OATH continues to grow, Elam aims to educate law enforcement, non-profits and other sectors of the community who should have a working knowledge of human trafficking. Unfortunately, he said, many victims of human trafficking are not identified as such because the proper training to distinguish these cases has been almost non-existent in Oklahoma – until OATH. In order to help victims, agencies must be able to recognize indicators and direct them to the appropriate services.

The young organization also attempts to identify and fill in gaps in service. This means expanding services that already exist, such as domestic violence organizations and law enforcement agencies, and also creating needed services that have yet to be implemented, like safe houses for victims.

Elam’s long-term goal is to create a multiagency task force that includes law enforcement, faith communities, businesses and other sectors that is able to identify and combat human trafficking holistically. In essence, OATH believes that the solution for ending human trafficking lies in a collective knowledge and ability to tackle the problem in a comprehensive and cooperative manner.

How can you help OATH? They need grant writers! If you’d like to volunteer your time and talents to assist a great organization who is making a much needed change in Oklahoma, you can visit their website, give them a call or send them an email.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Free the Slaves: Development Director

From Idealist:

Free the Slaves: Development Director

Education: Bachelor (BA, BS, etc.)
Location: Washington, District of Columbia, 20036, United States
Posted by: Free the Slaves
Job Category: Fundraising & Development
Sector: Nonprofit
Last day to apply: November 2, 2010
Last updated: September 3, 2010
Type: Full time
Language(s): English
Job posted on: September 3, 2010
Area of Focus: Economic Development, Foundations, Fundraising, and Philanthropy, Human Rights and Civil Liberties

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, fast-growing organization that has its headquarters in Washington, DC and satellite offices in Los Angeles, Delhi, Accra and Kathmandu. It has programs in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Brazil, Ghana, Haiti, India, Nepal, Sudan and Uganda in addition to its work in the United States. Free the Slaves is regularly sought after by governments, civil society organizations, and national and international media to lend its expertise. The organization’s revenue has grown an average of about 40% each year over the past five years.

Free the Slaves is currently seeking a strong, creative leader to serve in the role of Development Director to lead all aspects of the development / fundraising function and take advantage of expanding opportunities. This position is ideal for an experienced development professional seeking to make a significant difference in an entrepreneurial organization. The Development Director will be able to see the tangible effect of their efforts through individuals being freed from slavery and systems being dismantled that allow slavery to exist.

In partnership with the CEO and Development Team—including the Major Gifts Director, the Development Associate and a cadre of organizational leaders and volunteers who are enthusiastic about raising funds—the Development Director will develop and implement a comprehensive fundraising plan which may include major gifts, annual fund, on-line fundraising, foundations, government grants, special events, product sales and other components.

The Development Director will report to the CEO and will lead and manage the Development team. He or she will also work closely with the Executive Producer/Communications Director and the Communications team to integrate consistent fundraising messaging throughout the organization’s external communications. This position will be based in the DC headquarters of Free the Slaves. Flexible scheduling is possible. Domestic and some limited international travel will be required.

- Collaborating with Development Team, build and implement a comprehensive multi-year development plan including major gifts, annual fund, online fundraising, foundations, government grants, product sales and other components
- Lead and manage Development team of staff, organizational leaders and volunteers
- Serve as a key representative of the organization
- Manage relationships with institutional donors and work closely with the Major Gifts Director to manage relationships with major individual donors
- Design and write grant proposals and reports, working closely with other staff
- Manage fundraising aspects of special events
- Keep abreast of all programmatic initiatives to effectively communicate them verbally and in writing to a wide variety of constituents

• Demonstrated experience in identifying the uniqueness of an organization and its culture and creating a fundraising program tailored to that organization
• Is inspired by the challenge of working in a fast-growing organization
• Strong ethical background that values long-term relationships with donors
• Ability to successfully initiate and cultivate relationships with a wide variety of constituents in a number of geographical regions and cultures
• Minimum of 7 years of relevant development experience, including at least 3 years of experience in writing grant proposals and reports
• Demonstrated success in designing and executing successful fundraising strategies
• Experience managing a team of people, staff and volunteers, from a variety backgrounds
• Passion for ending slavery
• Experience in fundraising internationally a plus
• Enthusiasm for base-building, especially incorporating internet and social media strategies into development activities
• Exceptional oral and written communication skills
• Strong computer skills; experience with Raiser’s Edge a plus
• 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 employees.
How to Apply:
Applicants should send a cover letter, resume and two writing samples (preferably fundraising-related, each under 3pp) to with ‘Development Director Search’ in the subject line.

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

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Engaging the Corporation for Change

Many people, when they first learn about human trafficking and other forms of modern slavery, are compelled to act. Some people choose to educate themselves. In the process, they usually become aware that some of the products they buy could be tainted by slave labor. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the problem. There is very little a consumer can do to know whether the shirt they buy was produced ethically.

The consumer is not powerless though, and can do something to push for slave/trafficking free products. Companies, by nature, are concerned with their public image and whether or not they will have customers. They must constantly be sure that customers are satisfied with the products the company is selling. The only way companies know their customers are unsatisfied is if customers stop coming to the store or if they tell the company that they are unsatisfied. Too often in the fight against human trafficking and slavery I hear people demonizing and boycotting companies, particularly large corporations for their labor practices, without recognizing that these companies also have the most power to change labor practices within the industry for the better.

We need to engage these companies, not shun them.
Companies are incredibly strategic. If a change will positively affect public image and thus customer flow into their stores, they likely will do it. Walmart now sells organic food because they believed it would attract more customers and because people asked for it. We need to use a similar mindset. If a company knows its customers really care about the type of labor used in the production of its products and believe it is negatively affecting their public image, it will likely begin trying to find solutions, though sometimes these solutions do not occur quickly.

There are many different ways to let companies know that you as a customer find their practices troubling and to ask the to take action. One particular method that seems to be popular right now is targeted online petition/email campaigns. These are a few of the campaigns I found and believe
could be effective in this process.

Chain Store Reaction This is sponsored by Call + Response and allows you to send emails to many major chain stores. While there is already text written for each of the stores, you can also add or delete parts of the email based on what message you want to convey. This might be advisable since some of the emails are quite generic. For example, you could indicate which of their stores you frequent or which source products you are concerned about. The website also posts information on how many emails were sent to that company and whether or not they have responded. There are 767 companies listed on the website.

Chocolate Compa
Here you can learn
about the horrific working/living conditions on the cocoa farms of West Africa. Additionally, you can petition companies such as Hershey’s and Mars to take action against these abuses.

Electronic Comp
This site targets
the 21 largest electronics companies and urges them to take serious action against conflict materials, which are often used in electronics. The conflict materials are usually obtained at great cost. Rape, war, and forced labor have surrounded the procurement of these materials. Tell companies you will buy their products once the conflict material free versions are available.


This particular petition is directed towards members of the Kimberley Process which recently decided not to ban diamonds from Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond field despite finding severe human rights violations including forced labor of adults and children. This is due to the fact that human rights violations alone are not enough to ban diamonds from a particular country. This petitions asks that this criteria be changed. There are many hurdles companies face in ensuring trafficked or enslaved labor is not in their supply chains. While these challenges are real, we need to make clear to these companies that their customers care. Until they know we care and are serious about this issue, it is likely that little will be done to ensure these companies’ supply chains are free of tainted labor.

Monday, September 06, 2010

A Tribute To Their Labor

*Image courtesy of Southern Poverty Law Center

Since 1894, we have observed Labor Day in the U.S. According to the Department of Labor, "Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."

Note that the definition does not specify "paid" workers or even documented workers. It is a tribute to workers who have contributed to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country - whether that means picking our food, cleaning our homes, teaching our children, styling our hair, entertaining us, making our clothing, building new schools or rebuilding damaged cities.

Trafficked labor has been identified in all of these industries in the U.S. Documented and undocumented, foreign-born and citizens alike have been exploited for their skills, services and ability to perform.

Labor Day is probably most popularly celebrated in the U.S. as a chance to relax and enjoy the end of summer before the beginning of the school year and, for many of us, the increasingly cold weather. While we at HTP strongly encourage everyone to take advantage of the holiday and spend time with friends and family, we also hope you will take to time to remember that there are workers out there who will not get a holiday; who will work under harsh and abusive conditions, most likely without pay. Their exploited labor puts food on our tables, clothes on our back and roofs over our heads.

Thank you for your readership, and Happy Labor Day.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Craigslist Taking a Step in the Right Direction?

Craigslist removed access to the Adult Services section of its site in the United States today. Although Craigslist has not verified that the change is permanent, is this a hopeful sign of things to come for the website that has been reputed to be a popular forum for sex trafficking?

From the Wall Street Journal blog:

By Geoffrey A. Fowler

The Adult Services section of Craigslist has been removed and replaced with the word “censored” since Friday night.

It wasn’t immediately clear who was responsible for the move, which only impacted listings in cities in the U.S. Craigslist executives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Controversy has swirled around the use of the classifieds site for prostitution, erotic massage and other adult services.

Last year, Craigslist instituted a manual screening system where each adult ad is reviewed by a lawyer for compliance with the law and Cragslist’s own standards before it gets posted. Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster has said the screening caused a steep drop in the number of such listings making it onto the site.

But the move wasn’t enough for some critics. Last month, 18 state attorneys general published an open letter to Craigslist demanding that it take down that portion of the site altogether.

Buckmaster has defended the Adult Services section, saying that shutting it down would only force such ads to other parts of Craigslist and other sites.

The censored label was reported earlier by TechCrunch.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Chinese-Speaking Counselor Advocate Position Open

From Idealist:

Counselor Advocate (Chinese-Speaking)

Education: Bachelor (BA, BS, etc.)
Location: New York, New York, 10002, United States
Posted by New York Asian Women's Center
Type: Full Time
Last Day to Apply: September 26, 2010
Sector: Non-profit
Language: English, Fijian, Mandarin
Area of Focus: Crime, Safety, and Victims' Issues, Law and Legal Assistance, Network of Non-Profit Organizations, Victim Support Services, Women's Issues.


Job Title: Counselor Advocate (Chinese Speaking)
Reports To: Supervisory Counselor Advocate -or- Senior Supervisory Counselor Advocate

Founded in 1982, the New York Asian Women’s Center is the first organization on the East Coast to address the issues of domestic violence in the Asian communities. With the only 24-hour multi-lingual hotline and shelter program for battered Asian women, the Center provides counseling and advocacy to Asian battered women, children who have witnessed domestic violence.

The goal of Client Services is to provide the comprehensive direct services that support the recovery of survivors and their children from domestic violence and human trafficking. The intent is for all staff contributes towards client gaining self sufficiency.

The Counselor Advocate’s primary responsibilities are to ensure all clients receive prompt and professional services and provide therapeutic support that encourages self- sufficiency and empowerment.

Primary Responsibilities:
  • Manage a caseload of human trafficking and domestic violence clients in which one conducts assessments, empowerment counseling services, and crisis intervention.
  • Ensure that clients receive advocacy and accompaniment – either directly from the Counselor Advocate or with assistance of a volunteer - to gain rights in family and criminal court, welfare office and attorney’s offices.
  • Provide legal, immigration, entitlement and housing information and referrals.
  • Offer supportive counseling and language interpretation based on the needs of clients or appointments.
  • Ensure the quality of case files and documentations.
  • Provide office and hotline coverage in coordination with other staff.
  • Represent the Center in at least two outreach /community events per years.
  • Provide various tasks needed for the healthy functioning of the division.
  • Willing to travel and to be staffed at various community offices.
  • Other duties as assigned by the Executive Director.
Additional Qualifications:
  • Experience with anti-violence work, the Asian community, criminal justice client advocacy, and/or human trafficking.
  • Bachelors in Psychology or related field; Masters a plus.
  • Must be Fluent in English, Mandarin, and Fuzhounese a plus.
  • Ability to be self-directing and highly motivated.
  • Flexible hours required.
How to Apply:

The New York Asian Women’s Center is an Equal Opportunity Employer