Friday, February 26, 2010

Interview with Maya Worman on Our Border

The Department of Homeland Security recently launched a new social networking site called Our Border. Maya Worman of DHS kindly agreed to answer a few questions about the site.

What is Our Border?

Our Border,, is a social network maintained by the Dept. of Homeland Security that promotes direct communication and collaboration among its members by highlighting issues, ideas, and events relating to the Department's mission.

What is the goal of Our Border?

It is a meeting place for those interested in following issues, as well as those that are already active leaders in the issues discussed on Our Border. Members of Our Border can initiate or strengthen relationships within the issue areas of their choosing, collaborate with partners thousands of miles away, raise overall awareness and generate support for local efforts and events. The goal is simple: come to Our Border--talk about what you are working on, learn from your new partners, and share what works.

Who contributes to the site?

The membership is growing by word of mouth and direct invitations from content facilitators and current members to an international network of individuals, academic professionals, local and regional officials, decision leaders, emerging advocates and municipal governments--any person interested in preventing, interrupting or stopping human trafficking, or interested in learning the facts about the issue--is welcome to join.

What is your role in relation to Our Border?

I am a member of a group of DHS employees looking to develop and expand how the Department communicates with the public--through the utilization of social networks, face-to-face community meetings, and the information we make available on our main web site, The federal government is committed to providing direct lines of communication about issues that affect us all, especially when resolutions require community engagement. Our Border is one of those direct lines.

How does Our Border relate to human trafficking?

Our Border is the host for the human trafficking group. By including human trafficking outreach and coalition building in Our Border, growing networks focused on advocacy in other areas--bi-lateral cooperation, commerce, travel and trade facilitation, etc.--have access to information and discussions about human trafficking that they may not have direct exposure to otherwise.

How can people get involved/can it be used to help fight human trafficking?

Joining the site is the first step. Join Our Border and then join the Human Trafficking group within Our Border. Encourage your friends to do the same to stay updated on what is happening in the realm of human trafficking. Advocates can use the site as an additional way to communicate, promote events, grow awareness, or share ideas. The site can be used as a repository for what is happening at the community level, and as a way to build coalitions with individuals, groups and federal law enforcement partners.

What tools are available on the site?

The site is similar to other social networking applications. The content is populated and utilized by the resourcefulness of its members. Discussion forums, picture and video sharing, direct communication, document storage, etc. are a few of the standard site tools.

What do you hope the site will accomplish?

We hope the site will be a valuable resource for its members. We hope that members will log on to find out what is happening in communities like their own, learning best practices or new ideas for combating a colossal problem. We hope that advocates will utilize this tool to connect with the public and explore the partnerships that Our Border has facilitated. We hope that students and emerging advocates find authoritative facts to share with their friends, schools, community groups, and that soon people on the street aren't surprised to learn about the millions of adults and children, at any given time, held against their will in forced labor and sexual servitude.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ending Child Trafficking through Prevention

From the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Jonathan Todres:

As Haiti grapples with numerous tragedies following its recent earthquake, another horror story has emerged: Many children left homeless there now risk being trafficked. Only this is not a natural disaster, but one created entirely by humans.

Child trafficking is not new to Haiti, or to any other part of the world. It is a global phenomenon that victimizes millions of children, including many here in the United States. . .

Over the past decade, the United States and many other governments have taken significant actions to combat human trafficking, but their approach is flawed. Little attention is paid to the ultimate goal — prevention. In all my research over the past decade, I haven’t found any evidence suggesting that child trafficking has declined. . . In fact, it might be increasing.

Although the international community has agreed upon a sensible, comprehensive three-pronged approach to combating trafficking, often referred to as the three P’s — 1. punishment of perpetrators; 2. protection of victims; and 3. prevention — in reality governments have focused primarily on the first step and, to some extent, on the second. . .

Prevention, however, has been largely ignored, even though without it we will be caught in an endless cycle of chasing perpetrators and providing victims services after the harm to children has already occurred.

Read the full article here.

Like Todres, I think that we need to increase the discussion about prevention, both because it is often ignored or dealt with lost and because it is vitally important to completely eradicating slavery. As Todres notes, this conversation must include efforts to address the ways we contribute to slavery, particularly in our choices as consumers. Todres' points about engaging many different sectors, from health-care workers to law enforcement to corporations to the education sector, are also well taken. I would argue, though, that we must also make sure that survivors themselves and people at risk for trafficking take a leading role in this discussion. Prevention may not be the most glamorous of the "three Ps," but it's one that we must more seriously and actively address if we want to end slavery.

Photo taken by Kay Chernush for the State Department.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

State-Level Human Trafficking Policy

During the 2010 legislative session, state legislators around the United States are reviewing and enacting a range of anti-trafficking laws. Though federal laws and legislation play a leading role in fighting human trafficking, state-level policy has a vital role to play in filling in gaps, addressing the local trafficking context, and increasing victim identification. Pending and proposed state legislation ranges from attempts to catch up with other states to innovative efforts.

Earlier this month, a Vermont Senate Committee began considering a bill that would make Vermont's state trafficking laws comprehensive. Currently, only sex trafficking is covered under Vermont's law; labor trafficking is ignored. Vermont is one of five states that lacks a comprehensive law.

Several states are considering legislation that would strengthen penalties for trafficking. The Utah House passed a bill that would make it a separate charge for each person someone trafficked. A California bill that has received support of many anti-trafficking NGOs would increase sentencing minimums and maximums for human trafficking, and would also include fines of up to $500,000. The bill also would mandate human trafficking training for law enforcement officers and increase measures to protect victims.

Oklahoma is also reviewing a bill that could enhance penalties for trafficking, but in a slightly different way. Senate Bill 2258, which recently was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee, would increase penalties for destroying or taking someone's personal identification documents. Since traffickers often control victims through controlling victims' documentation, supporters argue this bill would help fight trafficking.

The California State Senate recently approved a bill that would require manufacturers and retailers to develop, implement, and maintain policies to help eliminate human trafficking in their supply chains. This bill takes a unique approach to anti-trafficking work by encouraging corporate responsibility. If it is successful, it could be a useful and influential model for other states.

An Oregon bill that unanimously passed the State Senate and is now headed to the Governor for final ratification aims to raise awareness and increase identification of victims. The bill would allow for stickers with the national human trafficking hotline number to be disseminated to and displayed by establishments that sell alcohol. Texas enacted a similar bill in 2007.

Polaris Project's U.S. Policy Program tracks state anti-trafficking policy efforts. The Action Center includes information on how to advocate for pending anti-trafficking legislation.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Oregon Senate Passes Bill to Help Create Awareness

The Oregon Senate approved HB 3623 on February 19, 2010. Once signed by the governor, the bill will allow the Polaris Project to include stickers with the national hotline number in routine mailings from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to restaurants, bars, and other places that serve or provide alcohol. Business owners will be encouraged to display the stickers on windows in order to raise awareness and provide a number to call for those who are victims or who may know of a victim.

According to The Oregonian, during a one-night nationwide sting last year, Portland police officers picked up more sex trafficking victims than any other of the 29 cities involved, except Seattle.

More information on HB 3623 can be found here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Upcoming Workshop in New York

This is some information about an upcoming workshop being held by UNANIMA. For more complete information, please go to this link.

Workshop on Stopping the Demand forTrafficking in Women and Children

UNANIMA International seeks 28-30 individuals between the ages of 18 and 25 from the English-speaking world who seek an end to human slavery and affirm that pornography, prostitution, and sex trafficking are acts of violence against women.

Our workshop provides as an exciting opportunity for new and old activists alike to learn, speak, and act for a just world. From panel discussions to group brainstorming, we hope that participants will make new friends and mobilize their ideas into collective action.

Our workshop is free. All participants are entitled to room and board, transportation (all air, train, and bus fares), and any visa expenses (if applicable) that are related to the workshop. Souvenirs, sightseeing, extended stays (other than a UNANIMA-planned UN experience, and other personal expenses will not be covered.

To apply:

1.Fill out the following application form.
2.If necessary, attach your signed letter of permission.
3.Complete the personal statement (page 4).
4.Send UNANIMA your completed application form, letter of permission (if applicable), and personal statement via email ( or mail –UNANIMA International211 East 43rd Street, Room 1207New York, NY 10017USA

Applications will be considered on a rolling-basis until 5 March 2010. Accepted applicants will be notified via email by 19 March 2010 with further details, including travel arrangements. Please feel free to email ( or call 1-212-370-0075 if you have any questions.

UNANIMA International is an NGO (nongovernmental organization) committed to work for justice at the international level in harmony with the charter of the United Nations for the economic and social advancement of all peoples.

The coalition was founded in 2002 by representatives from 7 congregations of women religious with a vision that by our united action we can make a difference in our world.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Interview: Buying Sex is Not Sport Part III: On Human Trafficking in Canada

Human trafficking in Canada has a unique aspect of its own. Shae Invidiata, the event coordinator of the panel, Buying Sex Is Not Sport, talks about sex trafficking in Canada, its root causes and characteristics.

According to the researches, many human trafficking victims [in Canada] are aboriginal women and girls. Do you think it is true? If so, what is the reason behind their victimization?

Yes I do think this is true. Two reasons that human trafficking occurs are because of poverty and vulnerability. Unfortunately the Canadian government has neglected funding and support for many years in our aboriginal communities, leaving them in poverty—making these communities quite vulnerable and susceptible to traffickers. The lack of support from the government has caused drugs, abuse, lack of education, crime and so forth to run rampage in these communities. Traffickers recruit, manipulate and coerce women and children from their communities offering them a “way out” of poverty; the traffickers take these women and girls to different cities throughout Canada offering them a “better life.” In a sick and twisted way, traffickers appear to offer these women a better life than what their government has provided for their communities.
Aboriginals are an easier target for traffickers as they know that these communities are often overlooked. A prime example of this is the 520 murders of aboriginal women over the decades, which if this was another ethnic group with this type of tragedy (and statistic), the government would have stepped in a lot sooner.

Also, it is hard for anyone to believe that the rights of aboriginal girls are not as well represented as others in Canada, when the country takes human rights issues very seriously. Is there reason behind it?

The fact that in the 2009 HDI rankings, Canada is ranked #4 in the world for Human Development, it is devastating that our aboriginal people are living in such poverty and social brokenness. Over the years, Canada has only neglected more the responsibility that we have to our aboriginal communities to give them aid and see poverty made history amongst the aboriginal people.

How do you feel about the fact that the private bill proposed by MP Joy Smith regarding human trafficking will not be enforced?

There has been quite some opposition in regards to Bill C-268; some of the opposition say that the Bill does not give a strong enough minimum [sentence], that five years is not long enough. Another opposing view is that placing a mandatory minimum takes away the discretionary power of the judge. I agree that a minimum of five years is too little of a sentence, and that we should at least have stronger laws than Thailand if we are not going to have laws that are comparable with the United States. Addressing the discretionary power of a judge is a bit more complex to address in just a few words, but redirecting this back to your original questions I feel that Canada has really turned a blind eye to this important issue of trafficking, ESPECIALLY with the Olympics coming. There are no other Bills that are being brought forth to consider or vote on at the moment to strengthen our legal system and protect victims of trafficking, so at least Joy Smith, even if it’s not the “best” Bill or the most “ideal” it is better than nothing—and right now, Canada has nothing. I am disappointed in our government, and the lack urgency that should be in place to fight this horrific injustice—especially when it has involved and continues to involve hundreds of our own citizens

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Anne Templeton Zimmerman Fellowship 2010

Anne Templeton Zimmerman Fellowship 2010

Free The Slaves

Education: No requirement
Location: Los Angeles, California, United States
Language(s): English
Area of Focus: Communications Access and Infrastructure, Human Rights and Civil Liberties, Media and Journalism, Network of Nonprofit Organizations
Type: Full time
Salary: $35,000
Last day to apply: March 12, 2010

One fellowship will be awarded to a young adult (21 – 30) who wants to use their talents in Web work, video production, stage production and design to help end slavery. He/she must have experience in social media, graphic design, e-campaigning, filmmaking, photography, journalism or other communications-related fields. A qualified candidate need not have experience in all facets described above, as the fellowship will be molded to fit the skills of the fellow and the needs of Free the Slaves.

The recipient will receive:
• A one-year fellowship to work full-time with Free the Slaves in the Los Angeles communications team office, with a salary of $35,000 plus benefits.
• The opportunity to help create world-class documentaries, compelling Web articles and print materials, and a live awards ceremony seen by millions around the world.
• The fellowship begins in July 2010.

The fellowship honors the legacy of Anne Templeton Zimmerman, who worked tirelessly against slavery and other abuses.

Award Criteria:
The fellowship will be awarded to an individual who most effectively demonstrates:
• An academic, internship or work background in media or marketing -- with verifiable print, broadcast, or online experience at the university or post-university level.
• Experience/talent in Web design.
• Interest in pursuing non-profit public communications as a career.
• A record of involvement in non-profit groups or causes; experience in human rights or anti-trafficking fields is strongly preferred.
• Ability to manage multiple tasks, multiple goals, and prioritize assignments.
• Ability to work as part of a team and take initiative in project management.
• Well-organized with attention to detail and a resourceful problem solver.
• Ability to work effectively under pressure without close supervision; self motivated and goal/deadline oriented.
• Preferred candidates will have a portfolio of articles/stories/photos/films/designs, either online or on DVD or hard-copy format.
• Video production experience and strong writing skills in English are a plus.

Duties of Fellow Include:
• Serve as associate producer in the production of video documentaries on anti-slavery activities around the world, including an overseas filming trip.
• Conduct research and help write online news articles for the Free the Slaves Web site, periodic e-update newsletters and e-blasts to supporters.
• Assist with a major stage production, the 2010 Freedom Awards, including event logistics planning/execution, media relations, VIP guest recruitment and relations.
• Opportunity to craft materials to inspire donations and greater public participation in Free the Slaves activities, such as flyers, online blogs, social media posts, etc.
• Work on updating and organizing the Free the Slaves video library.
• Runner for the Los Angeles office.

Additional Qualifications

Eligibility Requirements:
• Eligible to work in the USA (citizenship or green card).
• Between the ages of 21 and 30 at the time of application.
• Fluent fluid in written and spoken English.
• Involved in anti-slavery work in some way for at least two years.
• Committed to building their career in support of ending slavery.
• Eager to take advantage of a variety of learning experiences, including on-the-job training in the U.S., meeting with experts in the field and traveling overseas to visit successful anti-slavery programs.
• Enthusiastic about and willing to commit to spending 12 months as a Free the Slaves fellow, working in the Los Angeles area.
• Valid driver’s license in good standing.
• Willing to adhere to the Free the Slaves client and child protection policies.
• Able to thrive in a fast-paced, international environment.
• Willing to be filmed in preparation for and at the Freedom Awards ceremony (Free the Slaves will cover agreed travel costs), and willing to speak about past work and the fellowship experience to the media and others.

Individuals Are Not Eligible if:
• They are a current or former paid staff member of Free the Slaves (unpaid interns or volunteers are eligible).
• They have a family member who is currently on the Free the Slaves board or paid staff.

How to Apply

Application Process:
• Provide a completed application form (see below for where to get application forms). Send completed application to
• Provide a complete resume of academic and work experience.
• Provide writing samples, and copies or links to samples of your previous communications work.
• Provide two references.
• A selection panel will contact shortlisted candidates for telephone or video-conference interviews.
• Completed applications must be received no later than 5 p.m. Eastern Time on March 12, 2010.
• You can see stories and videos online featuring the 2008 Zimmerman Fellows and the 2009 Zimmerman Fellows here.

Applications can be found here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Interview: Buying Sex is Not Sport Part II: Anti-human trafficking campaign prior to the Olympics in Canada

In this interview, Shae Invidiata, the event coordinator of Buying Sex Is Not Sport (BSNS) panel in Toronto continues to share the significance of the event and anti-human trafficking advocacy on personal level.

What has it been like working on this event?

I feel very honored to have been approached to director and bring this panel to Toronto. This is a message that could not come at a better time in Canada-right before the Olympics. This awareness and importance of the campaign is crucial to our nation. This event has been a ton of work to pull together, and as we are now one week away from the and a few weeks away from the Olympics, it is paramount that this message, “the demand for paid sex fuels human trafficking” get out to the nation of Canada but also to our visitors during the Olympics. I was praying with a few people the other weekend RE human trafficking, and one lady was joining us via skype in Germany, and in her prayer she said, that she has seen the devastating effects that legalizing prostitution has done to her country. This lady in prayer said, “the legalization of prostitution is the eternal destruction of a nation.” I guess one of the purposes for the event as well, and why it has been so great to work on this event is that we can ensure that people are going to hear this message and begin to understand, if they don’t already, why prostitution should not be legalized.

How did you first learn about human trafficking?

When I was 18 I moved to Honolulu, HI to pursue my university education (I know what you are thinking- yes I did actually go to class, not all the time, but I did ☺ ). The street I first moved onto was Kuhio Avenue, which I learnt quickly was commonly known as Candy Lane. Candy Lane was where all the prostitutes walked at night. During my time in Hawaii I began to reach out to these women and girls (which over the years of living there, I kept noticing younger faces on the streets). I lived in Hawaii for 3 years years before I moved to Vancouver in 2006; it was around this time that I began to expand my knowledge of a ‘prostitute’ to a ‘prostituted’ woman/girl/child, to which the words “human trafficking” became a part of my knowledge and vocabulary.

How have audiences responded to it?

We have not had the panel yet, so this is a post question I think. But in terms of when we have gone out to tell people about the panel and that it is coming to Toronto-majority of people, regardless of age are supportive and relatively shocked that this is happening in Canada and around the world (today!).

What does being able to work on a project like this mean to you?

This is my heartbeat in life, so to work on an event like this, drives my passion and fuels my soul to keep pressing in. This injustice is soo massive that sometimes it can be overwhelming to try to see the end the slave trade, working on an event like helps you to re-focus for a particular moment in time, to just worry about reaching 1250 (both venue capacities combined) people, to raise up activists, and to send out a ripple effect. In line with my heartbeat, working on a event like this reminds me of the unique calling on my life, and that I have been called for such a time as this to bring forth this message, the abolition of the modern day slave trade. From a professional perspective this has been a great opportunity to gain further experience in event planning and directing. More importantly this event has allowed me to grow and strengthen my network and contact database—some great partnerships have been birthed through the happening of this panel, and I know that this is just the beginning—the best has yet to come!

What about this event’s efforts do you think makes it a particularly effective means of raising awareness of trafficking?

Usually events are dictated by the venue location, in that if the venue is in Toronto then the invitees are those who are in the area of the venue. However, because trafficking knows no boarders, and is not limited to districts or boundaries, I took the same approach when deciding where the word would go out. Of course people in the surrounding area of the venue were important to invite, but this also stretched to beyond the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), from the Niagara region to Waterloo from Toronto across to Vancouver, to New York, NY and Virginia the word has gone out that this panel is taking place. The unique part of this, is even though people in these more distant places may not come to the panel, a seed has been planted and a conversation may birth around the issue of paid sex and human trafficking because of hearing about this panel. The first step to STOP Human Trafficking is raising awareness and starting a conversation. The other effective aspect was not limiting age groups to this panel-so I involved high schools, colleges, universities, businesses, churches, organizations.

Is there any follow-up being planned for this event?

This campaign “Buying Sex Is Not A Sport” will continue into the Olympics and there is talk about keeping the campaign going afterwards- but there has not been a concrete answer yet on this. At the panel people will be able to provide feedback from the panel and also ask to receive more information on updates on human trafficking and other events/fundraisers.

How can people support the event and its initiatives?

People can support the event first by coming, and bring a friend with you! And to not just stop there, but take at least one piece of information that was heard and tell someone about the injustice of human trafficking, start a new conversation. Donations can be given towards the campaign. People can also sign up for the email update, where they will receive how they can be involved in small and larger way to fight human trafficking-to get connected with others who are fighting for the freedom of women and children around the world.

What can people find more information?

People can find out more information for the panel by going to on that website they can also sign up to receive updates on human trafficking issues and events.

Get Involved: HTP Operations Manager

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

The Operations Manager involves working on the diverse, daily needs of HTP including responding to inquiries, tracking relevant organizational information and identifying strategies to help us operate more efficiently.
Time commitment is approximately 5 hours per week.

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 preferred but not required. There is a lot of work to do and a lot of awareness to raise- together we can make a difference!

Please email
a cover letter explaining your qualifications and your resume to

Thank you for your continued support!

The HTP Team

Get Involved: HTP Community Development Manager

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

The Community Development Manager will focus on building and maintaining our existing network of anti-trafficking organizations
. Primary functions include reaching out to organizations to form partnerships, conducting interviews with organizations and tracking relevant events. Time commitment is approximately 5 hours per week.

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 preferred but not required. There is a lot of work to do and a lot of awareness to raise- together we can make a difference!

Please email
a cover letter explaining your qualifications and your resume to

Thank you for your continued support!

The HTP Team

Get Involved: HTP Development Manager

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

The Development Manager will focus on conceptualizing and implementing fund raising strategies including grant writing and donation-based campaigns.
Time commitment is approximately 5 hours per week.

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!

Please email
a cover letter explaining your qualifications and your resume to

Thank you for your continued support!

The HTP Team

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Get Involved: HTP Social Media Manager

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

The Social Media Manager will focus on establishing and maintaining a presence on all applicable online social networks and social media channels (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Idealist, etc.)
. Time commitment is approximately 5 hours per week.

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!

Please email
a cover letter explaining your qualifications and your resume to

Thank you for your continued support!

The HTP Team

The Sao Sary Foundation

In an earlier post, I wrote that by the time someone has been trafficked, we've already failed. The Sao Sary Foundation (SSF) of Cambodia aims to prevent trafficking before it occurs by protecting children from violence, exploitation, abuse and discrimination. On the most recent Trafficking In Persons Report, Cambodia was rated as a Tier Two Watch List Country, meaning that "Government of Cambodia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Despite these overall efforts, the government did not show evidence of progress in convicting and punishing human trafficking offenders – including complicit public officials – and protecting trafficking victims."

SSF works strategically to prevent trafficking in Cambodia by identifying children who are at high risk. For example, while SSF supports boys and girls, "
a special emphasis is placed on protecting girls older than ten years old, as statistics show that they represent the highest risk of being trafficked, primarily for sexual exploitation. Moreover, girls are the most likely to be deprived of the chance to attend school."

According to their website, SSF's mission is to achieve lasting improvements for children living in poverty in Cambodia's poorest communities, through a process that unites people across cultures and adds meaning and value to their lives by:
  • Enabling deprived children, their families and their communities to meet their basic needs and to increase their ability to participate in and benefit from their societies.
  • Inspiring deprived children, their families and their communities to socially and economically empower themselves to be agents of change in their own lives and for a more equitable world.
  • Preventing and responding to violence, exploitation and abuse against children- including commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking, child labour and harmful traditional practices, such as female genital mutilation/cutting and child marriage.
SSF provides a variety of services under their Child Protection Program and Livelihood Program, including food security, safe-drinking water/sanitation, basic/emergency needs assistance, and a range of educational programs. One particularly exciting progam is Together for Rights, which works to "mobilize young Cambodian people at-high risk for being trafficked that are under care by the Sao Sary Foundation to become human rights activists."

Unfortunately, according to Vichetr Uon, Executive Director and Founder of SSF, "
Sao Sary Foundation is facing an immediate crisis - due to lack of timely funding we may have to terminate our Child Protection Program which currently assists 50 vulnerable children in care ranging from room and board, medical care, education, and vocational skills training. Our program affords them the opportunity to be children and not have to worry about the burdens of finding work to support their families. Such desperation makes them vulnerable to being trafficked."

Click here to donate. Click here for information about volunteer opportunities. Click here for in-kind donations information.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Interview: Buying Sex is Not Sport Part I: Anti-human trafficking campaign prior to Olympics

Everyone is excited about the Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, this month. Sports fans around the world are excited just as Canadians are. But, anti-human trafficking advocates are worried that the event will increase sex trafficking in Toronto. indeed, the news reports on big sports events like the Olympics, World Cup, or Super Bowl, in the past demonstrate that they are coupled with an increase in sex trafficking or child prostitution. HTP posted an article on advocates taking a preventive method against increase in sex trafficking prior to the Super Bowl game in 2008.

Currently, Canadians are faced with the same problem, but the scope of the challenge is greater than others. The Canadian government, other than deporting some immigrants, has not been very proactive on addressing the root causes of sex trafficking as human trafficking and child prostitution are poorly regulated. As a result, some traffickers in the past could get away with spending a few weeks in jail for sex trafficking of teenagers. [1]

To make the matter worse, the prime minister called for prorogation, which prevented the pending Canadian anti-human trafficking bill from becoming enforceable during the Olympics. [2]

This is why Buying Sex Is Not Sport (BSNS), the campaign against human trafficking in Canada before the Olympics, is significant. Unlike the reluctant effort of the Canadian government, the Canadian citizens themselves are taking the initiative to fight against human trafficking in their country. In this interview, Shae Invidiata, the event coordinator of BSNS panel in Toronto, introduces her campaign and the problem of sex trafficking in Canada.

Tell us about this event:

Listen Up TV was doing a series on Human Trafficking in Canada; and from the grant that the station was given, Listen Up TV had enough funding to bring Buying Sex Is Not A Sport (BSNS) out to Toronto to have a public panel. Lorna Dueck approached me through a mutual contact to see what my thoughts were on doing a panel that would address the issue of paid sex and human trafficking, and what it would look like if we brought out BSNS to Toronto.

Listen Up is a weekly, half-hour, independently-produced television program. Our program presents "news that takes you deeper," exploring news and current affairs stories from a Christian world view. Journalist and host Lorna Dueck and the Listen Up team dig behind the headlines to investigate those points at which news and spirituality converge, to illuminate God's involvement in the issues and events of our day.

Who is the intended audience?

The intended audience is to really see people from all different ages to come out including as many political figures as possible. This is not a Christian issue, a Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Agnostic, or Atheist issue, it is not a black or white issue, nor is it a conservative or liberal, Canadian or Indian issue, this is not just a male or female issue...this is GLOBAL HUMAN ISSUE, and if you happen to fall in that category, it should demand your attention; but further it should compel our hearts, minds and souls to learn more and take action against this injustice. We need our political figures to change our laws, and we need the people of Canada to tell them we want change.

What is the purpose or goal of this event?

The purpose of this panel is to bring people to the first step to the end of Human Trafficking- and that is becoming aware. Becoming aware of this horrific injustice is the first step to the abolition. The second purpose of this panel is give people an opportunity to help STOP Human Trafficking that day- such as signing the petition that will be at the panel for the audience to sign, for people to subscribe to newsletters that will keep that person in connection with event/fundraiser and other ways to raise awareness and get people actively involved to stop human trafficking, such as signing up to raise money and walk to Stop Child Trafficking (this walk will be taking place in October 2010- I am the Toronto Community Ambassador for Stop Child Trafficking Now). The goal is to have both venues packed out – one venue holds 900-1000 people (walmer road Baptist church) and the other holds 250 (room at the university of Toronto). Another goal is to have David Miller, the Mayor of Toronto in attendance, along with other political representatives.

Do you utilize volunteers and, if so how do you recruit volunteers and who are they?

Yes volunteers are always needed in events like these, they are the blood line to the event-without them, things would take 5 times longer to get things done and over double the cost to get it done. I have a great team that I have personally recruited.

Friday, February 12, 2010

California State Senate Approves Supply Chain Bill

The California State Senate recently approved a progressive new human trafficking bill, SB 657, that would require manufacturers and retailers to develop, implement, and maintain policies to help eliminate human trafficking in their supply chains. One of the bill's more interesting points is the requirement that companies take good faith measures to eradicate human trafficking in their existing supply chains, rather than merely stopping business in areas found to be tainted by slavery. The bill as written would not apply to companies with less than $2 million in annual sales.

The bill was passed to the California State Assembly for consideration on January 28.

The executive director of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, a Los Angeles-area organization that works on behalf of human trafficking victims, has issued the following statement:

“We commend the California State Senate for its passage of SB 657, which will require the California business community to pro-actively prevent forced labor by ensuring that all of the suppliers in its supply chain will comply with the laws regarding slavery and human trafficking in the countries in which they do business, and that where slavery and human trafficking is found in its supply chain, it will seek eradication.

The advancement of this legislation comes at an opportune time, as we are in the midst of commemorating National Human Trafficking and Slavery Prevention month to raise awareness for the at least 17,000 people trafficked into the United States every year, and California as one of the top four points of entry into the U.S.

SB 657 represents a significant step towards the elimination of modern-day trafficking and slavery and, with the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation soon approaching, we are reminded of the need to eliminate human trafficking and slavery once and for all.”

Photo credit: Bill Ferris

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Human trafficking in India Part II: Interview with Dr. Joseph D'souza

"India may appear to be simply another poor country. But it is a very complex culture with a root issue of caste discrimination behind some of our social ills. While we have numerous strengths, perhaps we have hidden our deepest problems due to shame or, because of colonial history, a fear of outsiders meddling in our culture." Dr. Joseph D'souza

If you have seen the movie "Slumdog Millionaire," you might have seen the glimpse of the truth behind the caste system and human trafficking in India. Though experts identify illiteracy, corruption, and bureaucracy are causes of human trafficking, the Dalits, people who belong to the lowest caste class in India, are the ones who are mainly vulnerable to the traffickers due to their lack of education. Therefore, according to the Dalit Freedom Network website, Dr. D'souza states that one cannot understand human trafficking in India without understanding the caste system in the society. He is one of the founders of the organization The Dalit Freedom Network and an expert in the field of the Dalits' human rights. I applaud his life-long commitment to the cause and his passion to serve the most vulnerable and marginalized people who cannot speak up for themselves in India.

Q: I know you are the head of the organization the Dalit Freedom Network as well as others. Can you tell us more about your organization?

The Dalit Freedom Network started in 2002 as a result of the cry of Dalits, formerly called untouchables, in India who asked myself and others to give them a voice outside the country. During our travels, we met some Americans who were sympathetic to the plight of Dalits and wanted to do more than complain about injustice. After consulting with Indian leaders, we decided to focus on several proactive projects. We accepted an invitation to start primary schools in at least 100 Dalit communities.

The key is that teaching is in English, the language which empowers Dalits to participate in India’s rapidly growing economy. Second is a medical initiative which ensures students – and their community -- are physically healthy. Third is an economic project to help Dalits provide for their families. This includes micro-loans, economic education, vocational training, and Self-Help Groups. Lastly, we continue to present the issue of Dalit slavery to government bodies and human rights groups through our activities in Washington, D.C. and other places. [Emphasis added]

There are many non-profit groups which are part of the Dalit Freedom Movement including Operation Mobilization. Each has different projects and initiatives, for example, OM USA is helping with a subsidized lunch program at the schools and much more.

Q: Many people are unaware of the issues of human trafficking in relations to the caste system. According to your article published on Sojournors, Slumdog Millionaire’s India: My Sobering reality, the 80% of the Indian population’s lives are subject to somewhat similar to what is described in the movie, “Slumdog Millionaire.” Why do you think that people are unaware of such fact?

Trafficking is a huge issue, both in terms of its negative impact on communities but also in terms of the massive size of slavery today. With all the general information coming from the UN, US State Department, and various non-profit organizations, I know it is easy to miss a particular issue like the nexus of caste and slavery. India may appear to be simply another poor country. But it is a very complex culture with a root issue of caste discrimination behind some of our social ills. While we have numerous strengths, perhaps we have hidden our deepest problems due to shame or, because of colonial history, a fear of outsiders meddling in our culture.[Emphasis added]

But I’m encouraged because the awareness has increased dramatically in the last few years
. For example, the UN International Labor Office said in the Report of the Director-General in 2005 that “…the overwhelming majority of bonded labor victims in agriculture, brick making, mining and other sectors are from the Scheduled Castes.” Scheduled castes is the official government term for Dalits. The US State Department has started consistently noting that Dalits are largest community victimized by trafficking in India. For example, the 2006 annual report for Trafficking In Persons said “traffickers usually targeted minors and Dalit women” for the sex trade.[Emphasis added]

Q: What has Indian government done to end human trafficking among the population of low caste system? Did you think that effort was effective? Why or why not?

The Indian government should be applauded for many laws they’ve passed to protect lower caste citizens. The laws heighten penalties for people who attack Dalits. There are good programs which provide economic assistance to poor Dalits who tempted by traffickers’ offers of a few hundred dollars for their sons or daughters. The problem is the implement of justice. The government is trying and must do more to educate police on helping Dalit victims, stop intimidation of witnesses, make sure resources get to the Dalits instead of corrupt officials, and that good judges make decisions in line with the rule of law. [Emphasis added]

Q: President Obama just proclaimed the month of January 2010 as a month to raise the awareness for human trafficking victims. Does an Incident like this affect the policies of Indian government at all in terms of rectifying current issues of human trafficking of Dalit people?

On the one hand, India’s government doesn’t like outside pressure and, for example, has publicly resisted efforts United Nations committees which try to enforce accountability in the area of human rights and the caste issue. On the other hand, there are good people in government who appreciate the truth being spoken by friendly countries like the United States. Comments by Obama or others could encourage them or even create enough momentum to change a policy. In the end, we believe that some international involvement will help especially when we look at the example of how apartheid ended in South Africa. [Emphasis added]

Q: How can international community respond or help the situation of human trafficking and the rights of Dalit people in India?

The U. S. Government could take the lead to address the size and scope of the slave trade in India. They can support efforts by non-governmental groups to combat slavery in India, including special training programs to sensitize and equip Indian authorities to prevent and prosecute human trafficking in India. Americans can encourage their politicians to work on these issues. The average citizen can also help by supporting pro-active efforts to stop trafficking such as sponsoring a child’s elementary education through the Dalit Freedom Network or the lunch program for students through OM USA.

For More Information
The Dalits Freedom Network
Dr. Joseph D'souza blog
Operation Mobilization

Posted on behalf of Youngbee Kim

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Commitment to Action by the President's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

The President's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons issued a joint statement of commitment to action on February 3rd, 2010:

Trafficking in persons violates the most basic of human rights. It degrades our common humanity and is intolerable in any society. Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery. To combat this heinous crime, we recognize and build on the progress of the past ten years since the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and the Palermo Protocol.

As members of the President’s Interagency Task Force, we commit to a balanced approach in the prevention of human trafficking, the protection of victims and the prosecution of their traffickers. We pledge to uphold a system that provides for all victims, whether they have lost their freedom through sex trafficking or labor trafficking, and regardless of age, gender or immigration status. We will continue vigorously to investigate and prosecute traffickers and work toward dismantling the criminal enterprises that perpetuate human trafficking.

We will work tirelessly to overcome the barriers to victim identification and assistance, continuing a victim-centered approach and focusing on vulnerable populations at greatest risk.

We will collaborate with international, federal, state, and local counterparts, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations and advocates, recognizing that the key to ending this crime is rooted in strong and effective partnerships.

As the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, we will work with our partners across borders and oceans on behalf of the victims of trafficking to combat this violation of basic human rights.

For the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons:





I am excited to see the number and range of agencies represented in this statement, particularly agencies such as the Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture, which have an important role in fighting trafficking but whose role may not be as obvious as State's or Justice's. I am also pleased that the statement pledged a commitment to a victim-centered approach to anti-trafficking work, including collaboration with non-governmental actors.

At the same time, a commitment to action cannot replace actual and sustained action. Increased, coordinated, and strategic interagency anti-trafficking work within the government combined with collaboration with survivors, advocates, NGOs, and the private sector is a vital part of working to end slavery. The Task Force can take a leading role in this effort, so long as its commitment translates into the promised action.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Job Opportunity: Department of Justice Trial Attorneys

The Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice is seeking experienced attorneys for the position of Trial Attorney in the Criminal Section. The Criminal Section prosecutes criminal civil rights cases, including Hate Crimes,deprivation of rights under color of law, and Human Trafficking offenses.

Attorneys in this position would have substantial opportunities to do Human Trafficking cases along with other Criminal Civil Rights cases, and attorneys for the specialized Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit within the Criminal Section are generally selected from within the Criminal Section. These positions are based in Washington, DC and require significant travel.

Job Description
: The core duties of a Trial Attorney in the Criminal Section include investigating alleged violations of federal criminal civil rights statutes (including statutes prohibiting official misconduct, hate crimes, involuntary servitude, and violent interference with abortion rights) and conducting grand jury investigations and trials in federal district courts around the country. The complexity of the matters assigned, and the level of supervision required, varies depending on the Trial Attorney's years of specialized experience.

: Applicants must possess a J.D. degree, be an active member of the bar in good standing (any jurisdiction), have a minimum of three years post-J.D. experience. Applicants must demonstrate superior oral and written communication skills (including strong advocacy skills), possess excellent academic and professional credentials, and [have] outstanding professional references. Applicants must also demonstrate exceptional interpersonal skills and professional judgment, and be able to excel in a fast-paced, highly demanding environment.

Necessary Experience
: The Criminal Section seeks candidates with significant litigation experience and a demonstrated commitment to public service and/or civil rights. Applicants with one or more of the following qualifications are preferred: 1) first-chair criminal defense experience; 2) criminal or civil jury trial experience; 3) federal criminal or civil litigation experience; 4) experience with complex investigations, especially in utilizing investigative grand juries; 5) demonstrated commitment to public service through employment or volunteering; 6) demonstrated commitment to civil rights and/or human rights issues; 7) substantial knowledge of federal constitutional law; 8) fluency in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, or South East Asian or South Asian languages; or 9) judicial clerkship experience.

: Within the GS-14 to GS-15 range ($105,211 through $153,200 per annum).

How to Apply
: Applications for this position are being processed through an on-line application assessment system that has been specifically configured for Department of Justice applicants. Deadline to apply: 2/18/2010.

here to obtain more information and to apply.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Pepsi Refresh Project Demi Moore for GEMS

Demi Moore is joining the Pepsi Refresh Project with a grant idea to support GEMS (Girls Educational & Mentoring Services), an organization that empowers young women, ages 12-21, who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking to exit the commercial sex industry and develop to their full potential. With $250,000, GEMS can train 10 former victims as outreach workers and employ them to go back in their community and help refresh the lives of thousands of victimized girls.

Support Demi's idea for GEMS by voting for her at

More info on GEMS

Friday, February 05, 2010

Human trafficking in India Part I: Caste and Human Trafficking

Highly developed IT industry, nuclear weapons, and a fast developing economy with rich culture and resources are what one thinks of when he or she thinks of India in the 21st century. Also, when reading articles on Bollywood stars traveling to Africa to fight against human trafficking, readers are led to think that the victims are never Indian themselves, but instead are those who are trafficked from its neighboring countries. Furthermore, the democracy in India is well established enough that Indians, including the Bollywood stars, have a great understanding of a person’s fundamental human rights.

Scholars have pointed out to corruption, bureaucracy, and high illiteracy rates as three main factors causing human trafficking in India. However, unless one is familiar with the Indian culture and the society, one would have a hard time recognizing the connection between human trafficking and the three causes behind such atrocities in India. In fact, the causal relationship between human trafficking and the three factors is possible soley because the Caste System in the country allows Indians to accept such issues - which human trafficking - as part of the tradition or custom. Further, the Caste System allows many Indians to believe that human trafficking of low Caste class members is a fact of life, rather than a flawed tradition.

According to The Dalit Freedom Network, Dalit people are the lowest class in the Indian Castes system. The population of Dalit contains nearly 67% of the entire Indian population, which amounts to 250 million Indian citizens. [2] Though the Indian constitution outlawed the mistreatment of Dalits solely based on their social status, it has not officially abolished the Caste System from the society as a whole. Therefore, in practice, Dalit people's status in the lowest Caste's class continues to control their lives with a rare chance of climbing up the social ladder.

As Castes affect every aspects of a person’s life in India, Dalits have faced all sorts of discrimination against them. In the past, the society expected them to “use separate water taps, temples and graveyards in the cities." [3] Their Caste class status also affected their chances of getting a job or finding a place to live. Moreover, Dalit students were told to arrive earlier to clean the classroom for other students.

They were also expected to sit in the back of the classroom. [4]
Some people say that such extreme forms of discrimination mentioned above no longer exist. However, Caste discrimination is severe enough for Indians to justify modern-day slavery. Even if they try to work hard to rise above the poverty line, their social status perpetuates the maintenance of their life styles under the poverty lines.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Problems with U.S. Guest Worker Program

From the New York Times:

Suit Points to Guest Worker Program Flaws

By Julia Preston

Immigration authorities worked closely with a marine oil-rig company in Mississippi to discourage protests by temporary guest workers from India over their job conditions, including advising managers to send some workers back to India, according to new testimony in a federal lawsuit against the company, Signal International.

The cooperation between the company and federal immigration agents is recounted in sworn depositions by Signal managers who were involved when tensions in its shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., erupted into a public clash in March 2007.

Since then, hundreds of the Indian workers have brought a civil rights lawsuit against the company, claiming they were victims of human trafficking and labor abuse. Signal International is fighting the suit and has sued American and Indian recruiters who contracted with the workers in India. The company claims the recruiters misled it — and the workers — about the terms of the work visas that brought them to this country.

The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security have opened separate investigations. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined in September that there was “reasonable cause” to believe the Indian guest workers at Signal had faced discrimination and a work environment “laced with ridicule and harassment.”

The Signal case has come to represent some of the flaws and pitfalls, for immigrants and for employers, in the H-2B temporary guest worker program. As Congressional lawmakers weigh moving forward this year on an overhaul of the immigration system, they are debating whether to include an expansion of guest worker programs.

A lawyer for Signal, Erin C. Hangartner, said the company could not comment on the suit.

As it rushed to repair offshore oil rigs after Hurricane Katrina, Signal International hired about 500 skilled metalworkers from India in 2006. Numerous workers have said that they paid as much as $20,000 to Signal’s recruiters, many going into debt or selling their homes. They said recruiters had promised that their visas would soon be converted to green cards, allowing them to remain as permanent residents.

Once the workers realized they would not receive green cards, many complained of fraud and banded together to seek help from American lawyers.

In a deposition in the lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in New Orleans, Signal’s chief operating officer, Ronald Schnoor, said he grew frustrated with Indian workers who were “chronic whiners.” In early 2007 he decided to fire several who were encouraging protests.

Those workers “were making impossible demands” for the company to secure green cards for them or to repay the high fees, Mr. Schnoor said. They were “taking workers away from their work and actually trying to get them to join some effort they were organizing,” he said.

Mr. Schnoor and Darrell Snyder, a manager in the shipyard, where the Indians were living in a labor camp, said they had consulted with agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement for “guidance” on how to fire the workers, following the rules of the H-2B program.

Mr. Schnoor said the “direction” he received from an immigration enforcement agent was this: “Don’t give them any advance notice. Take them all out of the line on the way to work; get their personal belongings; get them in a van, and get their tickets, and get them to the airport, and send them back to India.”

Signal managers said they tried to carry out those instructions on March 9, 2007, putting several Indian workers into vans to take them to the airport. They were prevented from leaving the shipyard by immigrant advocates gathered at the gates.

In an internal e-mail message 10 days later, Mr. Snyder reported that another immigration official had assured him in a meeting that day that the agency would pursue any Indian workers who left their jobs, “if for no other reason than to send a message to the remaining workers that it is not in their best interests to try and ‘push’ the system.”

Carl Falstrom, an immigration lawyer in New Orleans who is not associated with the Signal case, said there were rules for employers who fired guest workers. They are required to provide return airfare to the workers’ home countries, and they are supposed to notify the visa agency, Citizenship and Immigration Services, when workers are no longer employed. But, Mr. Falstrom said, private companies cannot carry out deportations.

Saket Soni, director of the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, which represents some workers in the lawsuit, said the managers’ testimony showed that immigration enforcement agents had “advised the corporation on how to retaliate against workers who were organizing.”

An ICE spokesman, Brian Hale, said he could not comment on a continuing investigation. But Mr. Hale said ICE agents were generally aware that a company that fires workers in the H-2B program “is prohibited from compelling individuals to get on the plane.”

This particular story is not new, but this account is only one of many that illustrates that we are dealing with a broken guest worker program. Probably the most extensive account of these issues is outlined in the Southern Poverty Law Center's report "Close to Slavery." 2010 will likely be the year that immigration reform is taken up again, and the anti-trafficking movement will need to pay close attention to the reforms that are proposed. Real comprehensive reform will be extremely important to addressing some of the larger policy issues surrounding human trafficking.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Courtney's House Volunteer Opportunities

Courtney's House has two upcoming trainings for volunteers. According to its website, the organization was founded by Tina Frundt, a survivor of of domestic child sex trafficking. Courtney's House is projected to be a six-bed long-term group home for sex trafficked girls between the ages of 12 and 17. It will be the only group home of its kind in the Washington, DC area to cater specifically to this vital population segment. Courtney's House also offers mentoring, support groups and other programs for survivors, and conducts a street outreach program.

Volunteers interested in helping with direct services or street outreach can apply to attend training sessions.

Mentor Training/Direct Service Training Feb. 20th 10am-3pm, Location TBA.
This training is for people interested in mentoring, art therapy, dance therapy, sewing classes, etc. You must be 21 years or over; male or female. Email for information.

Street Outreach Training March 22-March 28 6:30pm-8pm Mon-Thurs. Special Training Friday, Marcy 27. Location TBA. March 28 Self-Defense Class 3pm-6pm.
Requires at least a three-month commitment. You must be 21 years or over; female volunteers only. If you are interested in applying for the training, please email

For information about other volunteer opportunities with Courtney's House, visit their website.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Celebrities and Trafficking

Intro by Justin: We idolize celebrities. They are modern day demigods who roam the Earth gracing us once every year or so with a world shaking motion picture or a heart wrenching song. They are the heroes and caricatures of perfection that grace the silver screen and more recently dance and sing for us on YouTube, our mouse clicks often numbering in the millions busily pressing "play" and "repeat." Yet when a celebrity gets involved in a human rights issue what does it mean?

When I was researchin
g human trafficking in the Philippines in 2007 I worked with people who had been fighting the good fight day and night for over a decade, pouring themselves, their time and energy into combating trafficking. I know that trafficking is currently highly lucrative and that where there is money, there is deep motivation on the part of the traffickers to maintain business as usual. I saw first hand that the struggle to end human trafficking is a long-term process that ultimately requires the transformation of deeply entrenched political, economic and cultural factors if the root issues are to be effectively addressed.

With this in mind, what are we to think when a celebrity joins the fight against trafficking? What do photos with trafficking survivors, a visit to a shelter and a speech or a song actually amount to? Does a celebrity's involvement signal real commitment or is it just a flash in the pan? Despite these misgivings, it is impossible to deny the unique opportunity a
nd ability that celebrities possess to use their fame to focus our attention on important global issues like human trafficking and make a significant impact.

Justin: After researching Ricky Martin and his humanitarian efforts, I am happy to have discovered his dedication to combating modern day slavery and his use of his celebrity status as a way to effectively support the anti-trafficking movement.

Ricky Martin first encountered human trafficking in 2002 during a visit to Calcutta, India. Founder of the
Ricky Martin Foundation, which works to combat human trafficking and other human rights issues, Mr. Martin has had an admirable track record in activism receiving numerous accolades for his efforts including Billboard's Spirit of Hope Award, the Alma Award, the International Humanitarian Award by the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children and the Hispanic Heritage Award for his humanitarian work through the Sabera Foundation in rescuing three orphan girls from the streets of Calcutta. In 2005 the U.S. State Department named Mr. Martin one of its "Heroes in Ending Modern-Day Slavery." Martin also collaborated with the International Organization for Migration on “Llama y Vive” (Call and Live), a campaign aimed at the prevention of human trafficking, protection of the youngest victims of child trafficking and prosecution traffickers.

Human trafficking is an issue that requires a collective effort from all sectors of society to be effectively addressed. No one group has all the answers or resources needed to solve the problem of modern day slavery whether it be government, law enforcement, the civil sector or celebrities. Collaboration becomes integral to making a real difference in the long term and, at the same time, recognizing how we can each use our unique strengths to help the cause.

Although celebrities alone are not the solution to ending human trafficking, I am glad to see someone like Ricky Martin embracing his role as a pop icon, engaging the issue of human trafficking over the long term and using his fame to make a difference.

Click here to watch Ricky Martin's speech at the UN GIFT conference in February 2008

Youngbee: Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore launched the Demi and Ashton Foundation (DNA) on January 25th, 2010. The couple have been very explicit about their support for anti-human trafficking through social media even prior to launching their DNA Foundation. They tweeted statistics on human trafficking and they also spread the word about anti-trafficking events and campaigns on Twitter. I am not sure what motivates they have behind their support for anti-human trafficking initiatives. Maybe they want to support human trafficking victims because they want to be trendy, or maybe they just are genuinely concerned for the victims of trafficking. Either way, that is not something that I would like to waste my time worrying about. I don't know them in person, nor do I know anyone who can tell me what they were about when they established DNA.

But one thing is clear: their celebrity status is put into a good use with this work. Within three days of launching the DNA Foundation, 2,182 fans have already joined their Facebook page and 3,661 people are following them on Twitter. Obviously, this is a significantly better start than most nonprofits in the US have. From their website, it is not clear what direction the DNA Foundation will take in terms of supporting the cause of trafficking victims. But, time will tell, and one can only hope for the best.

Elise: Some may have already heard that Lindsay Lohan is attempting to make her mark in the anti-trafficking world ever since she started tweeting her vows to take action over the summer. Now, a clip has been leaked for a new documentary that she is apparently shooting for the BBC in India focused on child trafficking. I have to say that this is a particular avenue by a particular celebrity where the negatives seem to outweigh the positives: here is someone known for her poor personal decisions and the clip reveals that, like in many other arenas in her life, she is diving head first into a topic that she really does not understand. While her celebrity status could at least spark interest in awareness among her fans who would otherwise spend their time watching how many times she changes her clothes every day, starring in her own documentary and narcisstically claiming to save 40 children in a day will probably not create the kind of change she seems to hope for.

This is one human rights issue wh
ere, if you really want to contribute to the fight, you cannot expect that your face will be plastered all over the results of your assistance. For example, donating funds to a victim service provider is a great idea, but the provider may not want a lot of attention in order to avoid risks to themselves or the survivors with whom they work. I'm not sure Lohan would be able to handle that kind of tame or unpublicized philanthropy. Maybe I'm not being fair; maybe she already has. I am not looking forward to her documentary, though.

Jennifer: In November 2009, Emma Thompson's exhibit called Journey opened in New York after showings in London and Vienna. The exhibit, curated by the two-time Oscar winner, is inspired by the story of a sex-trafficking survivor that Thompson first met in 2006. In a piece for Newsweek, Thompson writes, "What made her story so personal for me was where she'd been imprisoned: the same massage parlor [in my neighborhood that] I'd once treated as a joke. It underlined an awful truth: that human trafficking is not just a problem for other communities or other people. It exists on our own doorsteps, and our lack of action shames us all." Perhaps I am drawn to Thompson's anti-trafficking work because a similar experience was the catalyst for my anti-trafficking work.

In addition to her work raising awareness, Thompson is also the chair of the Helen Bamber Foundation, an organization that works with trafficking survivors and survivors of other human rights abuses. In interviews and pieces about her work, Thompson stresses the importance of being self-reflective about the ways we promote slavery through our own life choices, and she also cautions about objectifying and re-victimizing survivors. Like Elise, I am wary of celebrities whose anti-trafficking work appears more narcissistic than useful. In her writing and speaking about trafficking, Thompson not only works to end slavery, she serves as a model for others seeking to use their celebrity status to fight trafficking.

Click here to watch Emma Thompson speak about the Journey Exhibit

Meg: It's certainly amazing what fame and money can accomplish, and I think that Oprah is an obvious example. Human Trafficking is one of the many causes she is championing. Besides featuring a book that spotlights human trafficking in her book club (and having worked at a bookstore, I can vouch for the popularity of Oprah's Book Club books), she also has devoted a significant portion of her Oprah's Angel Network charity to human trafficking. On the For All Women Registry section of the site, visitors are encouraged to spend "$5 - or 5 Minutes" on causes including ending modern-day slavery -- and there are many creative suggestions of ways to help.

Just a thought: although celebrities who choose to can certainly do amazing things to promote a cause, I think it's important to keep in mind that we all have our own valuable resources and advantages which we can use for the benefit of others. It can sometimes be easy to focus on our limitations, rather than on what we can do. Even a few dollars or minutes of time donated here and there can do good things to help victims of human trafficking, and a few dollars or minutes donated by many "everyday people" can do great things.