Monday, May 31, 2010

SHI Awareness Campaign - Chicago

Shared Hope International is coordinating a campaign in Chicago this June to get the message out that "Kids Are NOT for Sale in Chicago!" If you are in the Chicago area, they would love to have your participation and help in spreading the word. The events will include a rally, a "Voices for Justice" event for survivors and activists, and Truck Stop Campaign rallies. Students are also needed to host "One Night, One Voice" campus awareness nights. For more information about the events, please click here.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ayuda Seeks New Executive Director

From Ayuda:

Organization Description
Ayuda is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the legal and human rights of the immigrant community in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area by providing direct legal and social services, referrals, education, and advocacy. Ayuda has a 36 year history of providing critical services on a wide range of issues. The organization has nationally recognized expertise in immigration law, domestic violence, and human trafficking.

Ayuda’s core services include comprehensive legal and social services to foreign-born victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking, as well as a general immigration practice. In addition, Ayuda continues to update and develop special programs to serve especially vulnerable populations, including unaccompanied immigrant children and asylum-seekers. Ayuda’s programs are designed to help its clients obtain lawful immigration status, including residency or U.S. citizenship, reunite with family members, and create a safe home for themselves and their children.

Ayuda has staff and offices in Washington D.C. and Sterling, VA. The annual budget for FY2010 ending September 30, 2010, is $1.6 million.

The Position
Ayuda is seeking an Executive Director to report to the Board of Directors, lead a staff of 19 full-time members and numerous volunteers and interns, and to seek, identify, and nurture relationships with the organization's donors and stakeholders. The Executive Director is charged with implementing the organization’s strategic vision; overseeing Ayuda's direct services, advocacy, and other programs; leading the fundraising process and donor relations; managing internal operations in collaboration with the management team; meeting the organization’s financial goals and assuring fiscal integrity; providing leadership in community affairs and collaborative initiatives; and serving as the public voice of the organization.

Key Responsibilities of the Executive Director
• Provide leadership on collaborative efforts in the legal, social service and immigrant communities
• Assure the financial integrity of the organization and work closely with the Finance Committee to monitor financial achievement against financial goals
• Work collaboratively with the Board of Directors and its committees: advise and report on the status of the organization’s activities, particularly on issues of strategic importance; cultivate positive relationships between the Board and staff; and assure support for the operations and development of the Board
• Sustain current and leverage new funding opportunities (national and local, private and public) through relationship-building, networking and increased public visibility
• Provide support to the management team (including the Legal Director, Social Service Director, Development Associate, and Interpreter Bank Director), including assisting them in the development of performance goals, setting benchmarks, and conducting evaluations
• Assess key needs of the organization such as facilities and technology infrastructure in partnership with the management team to promote highest levels of efficiency
• Develop an annual budget in conjunction with key staff and the Board, including mapping out projected expenses and revenue sources

• Significant knowledge and experience in immigration, domestic violence, or human trafficking and related public policy issues
• Strong background in non-profit leadership and management
• Success in fundraising, including knowledge and experience with government funding
• Demonstrated success in driving growth and change
• Excellent written and oral communication skills, including public speaking skills
• Demonstrated skills in advocacy, coalition-building and media relations
• Excellent reputation for integrity and high ethical standards
• Proven background in fiscal management and budgeting
• At least 5 years of relevant experience and 3 years of non-profit management experience
• Fluency in Spanish strongly preferred

Competitive salary and benefits package.

To Apply
Send cover letter (including salary requirements) and resume as attached Word or PDF documents to with "Executive Director Search" in the subject line.

Please direct all inquiries related to this position to the same email address.

Review of resumes will begin immediately upon receipt.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Anti-Trafficking Legislation 2010

As many state legislative sessions come to a close, it is useful to take stock of anti-trafficking legislation that has passed this year. A number of states have passed bills that address different aspects of trafficking or that take creative approaches to combating trafficking.

Alabama and Vermont both passed laws making trafficking in persons a state crime for the first time. While this is exciting progress, several states still do not have laws criminalizing trafficking, such as West Virginia and South Dakota.

Other states that already had anti-trafficking legislation moved forward on efforts to increase penalties for traffickers. Maryland
legislation that passed this session will increase penalties for traffickers, and create penalties for people that knowingly benefit from trafficking.

Beyond criminal provisions, some states passed legislation that will help people report potential cases and help victims connect with services.
Maryland and Oregon both passed bills that will mandate or encourage certain establishments to post the human trafficking hotline number for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. In Maryland, hotels that have been the location of arrests for prostitution, solicitation of a minor, and/or human trafficking will have to post the number; in Oregon, establishments that sell alcohol will be provided with free materials with the hotline number. Washington state also passed legislation that will allow for the hotline number to be posted in rest stops in the state.

New York's example, Connecticut and Washington also have become leaders in addressing commercial sexual exploitation of children/sex trafficking of minors through so-called Safe Harbor Legislation. Such laws aim to divert minor victims of sex trafficking, who in the past may have been arrested for prostitution and treated like criminals, from the criminal justice system. Instead, minors will be directed towards service for trafficking victims/survivors. Other states, such as Illinois, are considering similar legislation.

While this session has seen the passage of a number of important pieces of anti-trafficking legislation, much remains to be done, and constituents play a vital role in pushing legislators to take action.
Please encourage your representatives to address trafficking in your state.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Real Men Don't Buy Sex": Spotlight on The Defenders USA

The Defenders USA is a unique campaign of males speaking out against sex trafficking and the demand that is created for it by the commercial sex industry. The Defenders' National Coordinator, Tomas Perez, kindly agreed to share more information about his organization and the intriguing concept behind it. Below is a campaign video from The Defenders USA website, followed by the interview.

How was The Defenders USA started, and who runs it?

In the spring of 2006 a handful of men were attending a series of meetings on human trafficking. The group was led by Vern Smith, husband of Shared Hope International founder, Linda Smith. These men had spent the day listening to numerous presentations by undercover officers, FBI, Homeland Security and others. Shared Hope had been commissioned to co-host the U.S. Mid-Term Review on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) in America. The data presented on the subject was staggering, but the tipping point for the men was witnessing via hidden camera the actual sale of a 15 -year old girl for $400…and it wasn’t in some exotic foreign land. It was in Atlanta! This experience was the genesis for The Defenders USA. These men looked at each other and determined that it was imperative to impede demand by defending and protecting all men’s daughters. The Defenders USA is a national project run by Shared Hope International. As of this May, I’ve taken over as the National Coordinator for the Defender Project.

What is the concept behind the Defenders?

The concept behind the Defenders is relatively simple: since men create the demand for prostituted children, better men have to stop it. Practically speaking, this means mobilizing men across the country that are committed to personal integrity. This is manifested in a refusal to patronize the commercial sex industry (in any of its forms) because this is the primary force driving demand. Being a Defender also means being informed about the many factors surrounding this issue. And finally, it means being purposefully engaged in the fight to protect innocence on the local, state and national levels. Currently we have just over 1000 members across the nation.

What is the Truck Stop Campaign and in your mind, has it been effective?

Truck Stop Campaigns are simple, respectful demonstrations designed to draw the public’s attention to one of the most common trafficking markets. Research has shown that the interstate highway systems are the conduit for the flow of trafficked kids. Truck stops are among the easiest and most profitable places for pimps to do business. The campaigns have done a great job of drawing the public’s attention to this reality. And I think it's also given the truck stop owners and trucking companies that oppose trafficking a voice too.

What is The Defenders Ride?

The Defenders Ride is a new concept. Like the Truck Stop Campaign, our goal is to make noise and draw attention. But unlike the truck stops, this is a moving protest that follows known trafficking routes. Our first ride is July 10. We’ll travel Interstate 5 from Portland to Seattle. Our hope is to have a couple hundred riders from all walks of life. A local Harley Davidson dealership and a couple local businesses have partnered with us and we’ve also been given a semi truck to serve as our lead vehicle; a 50 foot rolling billboard that will carry a simple sign: “Kids are NOT for sale!”

Are there other Defenders activities that men can get involved in?

The short answer to this question is “yes.” Over the course of this summer, the Defenders USA will be rolling out a tool box of activities and initiatives that can be scaled and tailored to specific regions and cities. This will include the resources already available for the truck stop campaign as well as Defenders Rides, sponsoring events like triathlons and 10k runs and even materials and directions for hosting tailgate parties at sporting events. In addition to public awareness activities, we’re developing a mobile web and social media strategy that will further support and enhance communication and provide an efficient way to keep men current on what’s happening locally, and nationally.

Why do you think that sex trafficking is as prevalent as it is?

My answer is simple but not easy; I think the prevalence of sex trafficking is due to an inherent moral weakness common to every man combined with what one research study calls a “pornified culture.” It's a perfect storm of variables that’s creating and sustaining this problem; in America we now have generations of men (all of whom are flawed and vulnerable) that have been raised in a society that has seen an ever-increasing toleration for unrestrained sexual expression in the name of “freedom.” The sick irony is that the pursuit of that freedom for some is leading to the enslavement of others…at least 100,000 children each year according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

What do you think are the biggest problems facing the anti-human trafficking movement?

One problem is ignorance. So many men I talk to have no idea how big and how close this problem is. We tend to think the problem exists in far away, exotic places like Thailand. It does happen there and that’s tragic enough, but so many of the men I’m talking to have no idea its happening in their own cities. Linda Smith’s book “Renting Lacy,” opened my eyes to this reality.

Another problem is indifference. Sad to say, a lot of people don’t care. And the current cultural language surrounding this issue perpetuates the indifference. The word “prostitute” conveys the idea of willing participation in an immoral act. And even when you call someone a “child-prostitute,” the stigma remains. If you followed the recent arrest of NFL Hall of Fame player Lawrence Taylor you’ll see what I mean. Calling anyone a prostitute criminalizes that person, but how can you call a 12 year old girl, who is forcibly raped and beaten by her pimp and then turned out on the street to sell her body for sex, a “criminal?” She’s a victim and we have to change our understanding and language in order for things to change. The best term I’ve heard to describe these kids is “prostituted child.” It puts the blame where it belongs; on the buyer and seller and preserves the dignity of the victim.

I also think the prevalence of trafficking is due to the commercial sex industry. Globally, porn is a 97 billion dollar annual business that respects no border and is largely unregulated in any sense. And it's just a click away 24 hours a day.

What can men do within their own communities to fight sex trafficking?

Seriously, I would say join us! Join the Defenders USA movement. Be a man who is committed, informed and engaged. There are dozens if not hundreds of great organizations around the country that are working on the rescue and restoration of women and children, but few are focused (as we are) on the demand side of the equation. I mentioned earlier that at least 100,000 kids are caught up in this mess each year. Our goal is to mobilize at least 100,000 men between now and the end of 2012; that’s one Defender for every child. I don’t think we will have solved the problem by then, but 100,000 committed, informed and engaged men could probably do some serious damage…to the pimping business that is.

Monday, May 24, 2010

New Minimum Wage for Kuwait's Expat Workers Paves the Way for Domestic Worker Reforms

Despite the overall inaction seen across the Gulf Region to institute a universal minimum wage for workers outside of the public sector, progressive measures are being taken by Kuwait to implement upgrades to its newly approved labor law.

Trade Arabia News Source released an article recently that revealed the approval of a minimum wage for expatriate workers of approximately 207 USD per month. Although the salary is relatively small, this is a major milestone across the GCC countries, and especially within Kuwait, a country that has traditionally neglected the establishment of legal safeguards to protect its foreign population from exploitation and coercion by Kuwaiti citizens.

Kuwait's new labor law was approved earlier this year, and until that time, had not been reformed in over forty years. Although a minimum wage is certain to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of Kuwait's foreign workers, domestic workers are currently excluded from the new labor law. The article also focused on promulgating legislation that would enforce a new minimum wage for Kuwait's estimated 600,000 domestic workers, employed as maids, drivers, gardeners and security guards.

A proposed salary of 45 Kuwaiti Dinars (approximately 154 USD) is one of several reforms that will be included in the draft domestic worker law, along with amendments to enforce working hours, payment of wages and protection from abuse.

Such legislation would vastly improve the lives of domestic workers who are often forced to work 16-hour days. If the current draft law is approved by parliament, working hours for domestic workers would be limited to eight per day, employers would no longer be allowed to withhold passports, and workers would be allowed one day off per week and time-off during national holidays.

Skeptics still question the extent to which the government would be able to enforce the new law given the high sensitivity associated with domestic issues (within private homes) and how they should be regulated by the Ministry of Social Development (responsible for regulating all other foreign workers). For example, the new law would impose fines on employers who fail to pay their domestic workers, but there are no mechanisms in place to enforce or prove that a violation has been committed. Since most sponsors do not allow their domestic workers to contact their embassies or law enforcement agents, most cases go unreported.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Countdown to the 2010 World Cup

As the 2010 World Cup games quickly approach, human traffickers and abolitionists alike are gearing up for a busy month. According to one estimate, at least 373,000 football fans are expected to be drawn to the events in South Africa. Although it is hard to make an accurate estimate of the number of sex workers that will also be present, it is clear that they are already arriving in force and their numbers undoubtedly include those who will be working against their will.

According to the
Christian Science Monitor, local hotel employees report seeing an influx of prostitutes from many different countries, from as far away as China, Pakistan, India, Hong Kong, and Venezuela, although the primary source country for incoming sex workers appears to be Zimbabwe. According to the Monitor, cross-border bus drivers have reported that most of their passengers in April were women, which is unusual because normally their passengers primarily consist of men traveling to South Africa for work.

Despite these reports from locals, an anonymous senior Home Affairs official told the
Monitor that "We do not have evidence of [prostitutes entering the country], but will always make sure that no illegals, particularly human traffickers, enter the country through our ports." One has to wonder about the diligence of the government, if it truly does "not have evidence" of entering prostitutes, while hotels and bus drivers report that entering prostitutes have been comprising a majority of their clientele.

Meanwhile, charity and international organizations have been working to spread awareness about human trafficking during the games. One international network of Catholic women's orders has been running an awareness
campaign called "2010 Should Be About the Game," targeting attendees, potential victims, and the general public.

International Organization for Migration launched an initiative this week to support organizations responding to human trafficking during the World Cup, which will be funded by the U.S. Department of State. The initiative will primarily fund activities raising awareness, including radio dramas, theater, road shows, soccer matches, and school trainings.

FIFA has taken unusual steps toward assisting South Africa's police force, holding a security meeting at its headquarters with international security representatives, and funding additional police officers from all participating nations to assist the South African police force during the games. Although there is no indication the assistance is directed toward addressing the trafficking problem, hopefully it will free up more of the South African police to put more efforts towards assisting the games' most vulnerable and unwilling participants.

Image source:
The Catholic Herald

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Trafficking of U.S. Children

From NPR, an advocate and survivor discuss sex trafficking of children within the U.S.:

According to Malika Saada Saar, co-founder of The Rebecca Project for Human Rights, "[T]he venue of really evolving as almost a virtual slave market in which children are bought and sold over the internet."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Human Trafficking Fellowship: My Sister's Place, LexisNexis, and the Somaly Mam Foundation

From Idealist:

Human Trafficking Fellowship

Salary: $50,000 annually plus benefits
Education: JD
Location: White Plains, New York, 10601, United States
Last day to apply: July 8, 2010
Type: Full time
Language(s): English


Initiative Overview

The Human Trafficking Fellowship, a two year opportunity, represents the collaborative efforts of three organizations—My Sisters' Place, LexisNexis, and the Somaly Mam Foundation—that have come together to respond to the increased prevalence of human trafficking in the United States. The Human Trafficking Fellow, in conjunction with a Project Committee comprised of staff from each organization, will be coordinating this response, which includes ensuring that victims are assisted with a range of case management services, as well as providing technical assistance, researching and developing protocols, trainings, and best practice models for intake, case management and legal representation of victims of human trafficking. In addition, a strategic goal of the Initiative is to replicate this model of service delivery throughout the United States and to share best practices with international organizations serving victims of human trafficking.

The Fellow will join and be a member of a team of expert staff at My Sisters’ Place (MSP). MSP is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization located in Westchester County, New York, that has grown from a grassroots task force and drop-in center formalized in 1978 into a cutting-edge leader and resource in the fields of domestic violence and human trafficking advocacy and services. MSP’s many programs include two emergency shelters, a 24/7 hotline, individual counseling and advocacy, children’s programs, support groups throughout Westchester, a legal center including family law, immigration and appellate divisions, life skills training, and extensive community education, training, and outreach programs.

Fellowship Description
  • Oversee agency’s human trafficking project, including coordinating with local, state, and federal governmental and law enforcement agencies, other community partners, and agency staff to help victim’s access safety and services and to promote victim engagement with law enforcement.
  • Provide technical assistance, training, and support to Legal Center Staff regarding legal representation and advocacy to victims of trafficking with Immigration and Family Law matters in the Westchester County Family Courts (Yonkers, New Rochelle, and White Plains) and the Integrated Domestic Violence Courts (Yonkers and White Plains) on a variety of legal matters including but not limited to: orders of protection, child support, paternity, custody and visitation matters.
  • Together with guidance and assistance from the Project Committee (Somaly Mam Foundation, LexisNexis, MSP) research and create best practice model for human trafficking intervention, advocacy, legal representation and case management. Develop curricula to conduct peer training on best practices model throughout the United States and abroad.
  • Provide technical assistance to law enforcement agencies and service providers working with potential trafficking victims to assess and identify victimization type and to begin to address victim needs.
  • Work with the Project Committee to organize and conduct trainings, conference, and workshop presentations on human trafficking. Participate in media interviews to present MSP’s work and to discuss issues related to addressing the crime of human trafficking.
  • Facilitate, organize and/or attend meetings and other events to advocate with local, state, and federal legislators for the drafting and passage of key legislation affecting the lives of victims and the agencies that serve them, in addition to accessing increased funding for services.
  • Coordinate collaboration meetings with partner agencies to improve interagency communication and develop cross-training for staff.
  • Oversee statistical data collection to ensure grant compliance, meet reporting deadlines, and identify/evaluate program needs.
  • Assist with case management reimbursement contracts, including client spending limits, contract reports, and monthly billing.
  • Other duties as assigned.
Additional Qualifications:
  • J.D./M.S.W. joint degree preferred; however, J.D. or M.S.W. will be considered
  • Some direct service experience with trafficking victims, immigrants/refugees, or other vulnerable or disenfranchised populations
  • Experience in the areas of legislative change/public policy or human rights activism, preferably involving any of the above populations
  • Strong project management or coordination skills, including ability to work independently, assess priorities, take initiative, handle multiple assignments, and meet deadlines
  • Strong public speaking and written communication skills a must
  • Team player who can work collaboratively with and serve as a liaison between the legal and social services departments of MSP
  • Ability to network and maintain strong relationships with governmental and community partner agencies.
How to Apply:

Send resume, cover letter, and brief writing sample by mail, e-mail, or fax to:

Director of Programs
My Sisters’ Place
One Water Street
White Plains, NY 10601
FAX: (914) 683-1412

Monday, May 17, 2010

Take Strong Action Now to Stop Gender-Based Violence in Haiti

“The way you saw the earth shake, that's how our bodies are shaking now” described one woman of a secondary humanitarian crisis facing the women and girls of Haiti.

As Haiti’s earthquake toppled buildings, it also toppled social structures that provided Haitian women some protection against sexual violence. Rape was widespread before January 12, but the hundreds of thousands of women now living on the streets or in camps, often without their family and neighborhood networks, are more vulnerable than ever.

Special thanks to Harriet Hirshorn for shaping and editing this video and to Sandy Berkowitz for shooting it.

Take a look at more of Harriet's work here: and, and Sandy's work here:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Vermont Joins Fight Against Human Trafficking

From the Burlington Free Press:

Gov. Jim Douglas has signed into law a bill cracking down on human trafficking in Vermont.Supporters of the bill say Vermont was one of only five states in the United States and alone in the Northeast in not having a law targeting trafficking in human beings.

View a video report on the story

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Calling All Bloggers

If you have a human trafficking blog, or are a blogger interested in writing about human trafficking, HTP would like to connect with you! HTP is currently brainstorming about potential ways to increase networking with our anti-human trafficking allies. If you are interested in connecting, and would like to hear our ideas, or have ideas of your own, please shoot an email to We look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Additional Thought to Arizona's Immigration Bill and Human Trafficking

Earlier today, Jennifer wrote about the effects of Arizona's new immigration bill on the ability of trafficking victims to come forward and the likelihood that victims will simply be arrested and deported if they lack status.

Another consideration that hasn't been talked about yet is that undocumented survivors who have already been identified by service agencies and law enforcement could also be arrested and/or deported under a law like Arizona's. Survivors of human trafficking go through various stages of immigration relief and the amount of time between them also varies. A survivor could go months without status while a law enforcement agency applies for continued presence (a temporary status, typically one year, that allows a survivor to stay in the US during an on-going investigation), federal certification or while a legal service provider applies for a T Visa (a more long-term immigration status set up through the TVPA).

During this time, service providers work to assist survivors to gain English skills, temporary housing, in addition to providing for other personal needs, but they are free to explore and walk around their community. While service providers can safety plan with survivors, the idea of explaining a law like that to an undocumented survivor who is waiting for immigration relief seems extremely challenging and, I would safely guess, add to the fear of law enforcement that survivors often already have.

Simply because a survivor is working with a law enforcement or service agency does not prevent another law enforcement agency from arresting and deporting them under this law because other law enforcement agencies would not have access necessarily to that individual's case. And, again, even though a person has been identified as a pre-certified victim of trafficking, they may still be considered undocumented and be without any form of government ID until the paperwork has gone through on any status application. If survivors are arrested or worse, deported, that negative experience could be extremely traumatic to that survivor (or worse) and damage any investigation or prosecution; all of which would be serious injustice for survivors.

Arizona's Immigration Bill and Human Trafficking

Arizona's recent immigration bill has been widely debated, garnering intense criticism from many circles as well as intense support. A number of entities and organizations are threatening or bringing legal challenges and suits, and many believe the bill will be found unconstitutional. If the law is not overturned, though, it will have a strong impact on human trafficking victims. Regardless of the law's future, it raises questions for anti-trafficking work.

The law will be one of the strictest in the nation. According to the New York Times, the bill "would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally."

While some of the
bill's defenders have invoked human trafficking and crime reduction as a justification for the bill, the bill has the potential to hurt trafficking victims. Traffickers use people's immigration status to control victims, and the Arizona law is likely to make people more vulnerable to this type of control. Additionally, many people who are in the United States without documents or are out of status will be even more afraid to come to the police when they know about human trafficking or other crimes, or are victims of trafficking or other crimes.

Amanda Kloer argues that the Arizona law "will probably mean imprisoning victims of human trafficking and other crimes. . . The fact is that this law is going to up the chances that undocumented trafficking victims end up detained or deported and documented traffickers walk free." Moreover, in focusing efforts on people in the US without documents, finite resources will be diverted from efforts to address violent criminals, such as traffickers (including US citizen traffickers and traffickers with documents). Former Arizona Governor Napolitano vetoed similar bills for this reason.

A recent Human Trafficking Project piece on a
failed Alaska bill pointed out that immigration laws frequently impact trafficking victims, though trafficking victims' needs may not be considered in the crafting of this legislation. While the author's hope that "other legislators give survivors this kind of consideration in similar bills" has not been the case with the Arizona bill, hopefully the broader immigration reform debate this bill has sparked will give serious consideration to the needs of trafficking victims and survivors.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mexico Sex Trafficking Soars

From Al Jazeera:

Mexico has become the top provider of sex slaves to the Americas, according to the United Nations.

In an effort to tackle the problem, the Mexican government has now signed onto the UN's Blue Heart campaign, but so far it has had little success in prosecuting and convicting human traffickers.

One reason, according to some analysts, is confusion over which government agencies have jurisdiction over human trafficking cases.

In addition the Mexican government has yet to conduct any comprehensive surveys detailing the true extent of the problem.

Al Jazeera's Mariana Sanchez reports.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Symposium on Human Trafficking in Los Angeles

A Symposium on Human Trafficking in Los Angeles: Local Discussions and New Collaborative Directions in Anti-Trafficking Work and Research

UCLA Royce Hall, Room 314 – May 14, 2010 – 9am-4pm

Confirmed Participants: Kathleen Kim (Loyola Law School)Jennifer Musto (UCLA)Lara Stemple (UCLA)Elena Shih (UCLA) – Dennis Ballas (LAPD) – Maria Suarez (Human Trafficking Survivor and Advocate)Imelda Buncab (Not For Sale) – Susie Baldwin (LA County Department of Public Health) – Vanessa Lanza (Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking)Abbe Land (City of West Hollywood).

The Human Trafficking in Los Angeles Symposium brings together scholars, students, professional advocates, activists, and artists in Southern California to discuss regional trends, collaborative interventions, and artistic responses to human trafficking for the purposes of forced labor. Organized around structured conversations and panel discussions, this event provides a platform to reflect upon the multi-professional, cross-institutional relationships that have been forged to respond to human trafficking in Los Angeles and questions recent trends in identifying and protecting trafficked persons and researching the issue.

RSVP to Jennifer Musto at by May 12th.

This event is being funded through support from University of California Institute for Research in the Arts and is cosponsored by the UCLA Center for the Study of Womenm the UCLA Department of Women's Studies, and the UCLA Anti-Trafficking and Human Rights Coalition Student Group, University of California Institute for Research in the Arts, the LA Metro Task Force on Human Trafficking, and the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Qatar: How The World's Wealthiest Nation Per Capita Relies on Migrant Worker Labor

In an attempt to further expand the scope of my research, I recently attended a few meetings and conferences in the State of Qatar to better assess the human rights and migrant labor issues that this majestic city-state currently faces.

Qatar hosts the most dramatic demographic contradictions between its local population and the migrant worker community that it must outsource in order to accommodate its rapid and unparalleled Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Industry. With only 350,000 Qatari citizens inhabiting a nation that boasts the highest production and export of LNG in the world, Qatar ranks number one for the world's highest GDP per capita income and embodies a rentier welfare-state in its most basic description.

However, the wealth that Qataris enjoy is at the expense of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers that are brought to the country on two-year contracts to work in nearly every sector and industry that the country has consecrated, mostly because the Qataris have no interest in working in positions that are not managerial or administrative. They hold a reputation that is even more negatively slanted than their Kuwaiti counter-parts, attributed largely to the country's massive natural resource wealth that provides a backbone for lavish lifestyles that are serviced and maintained by the hands of poor, outsourced laborers.

However, it is unfair to immediately dismiss the Qataris in their efforts to regulate and protect their migrant worker population. Higher income for Qataris has trickled down the economic ladder and raised income levels for migrant workers to higher salaries than anywhere else in the region. Legitimacy of private sector employment contracts is upheld and regulated by the Ministry of Interior. Unlike other parts of the region, Qatar maintains a strict turn-over of migrant workers to prevent long-term residency and the potential to reap attractive welfare benefits.

As a result, sponsors are less able to withhold wages and force their employees to stay in the country longer than the 2-year period the law allows. Although issues like withheld passports, coercive employment tactics (i.e. false contracts), and rights to change employers continue to remain crucial issues for anti-trafficking and human rights advocates, Qatar has seen rapid advancements under its labor law, with many foreseeable positive developments on the horizon.

Some of these developments have already come to fruition, and include, the abolition of the Camel Jockey industry. Previous to the Qatari Government's intervention in this regionally cultural tradition, underage children or "camel jockeys" were recruited from south Asia to participate in extremely dangers recreational races for entertainment purposes. Many were seriously injured and malnourished to keep them within race-weight standards. Now, the industry has made use of electronic jockeys instead, which has allegedly stopped the flow of the children who were previously trafficked into the country and exploited.

Another major development is the incorporation of anti-trafficking statutes under the current labor law. I will underscore that there is still no anti-trafficking law (although talk of drafting one has been reported); nevertheless, statutes exist that make use of similar language and highlight relative clauses that penalize trafficking of laborers. Qataris have even been tried, convicted, and imprisoned under these statutes-something barely seen in arguably more labor-friendly countries like Bahrain.

Like its neighbors, Qatari labor law maintains a crucial fault with regard to its domestic worker population (including housemaids, drivers, cooks and gardeners) who are not offered any legal protection under the current labor law or benefits that are awarded to private sector employees. Salaries, days-off and contracts are the responsibility of the sponsor and offer considerable room for ambiguity and abuse to exploitative employers. However, in response to growing criticisms from the international communities towards Qatar and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), new interest has developed in drafting a formal labor law that will better regulate Qatar domestic worker population.

Featured on the front page of one of the country's principle English-speaking newspapers, The Peninsula, an article described the development of a new domestic labor law being drafted by a special panel tasked with finalizing the regulation of rights and duties of domestic workers. The panel will incorporate representatives from several government agencies and will review with other GCC countries. The draft law may finally provide privileges to domestic employees, like end-of-service benefits, annual leave, and free medical care. These and other formal arrangements would have to be included in contracts between sponsors and their employees and would require endorsement by the Labor Department to be considered legally valid. The law might also regulate the functioning of manpower agencies and their role in hiring domestic workers in the country, The Peninsula reported.

And finally, the sponsorship system. Found in all countries except for Bahrain officially, but actually found in all countries of the Gulf unofficially, Qatar's sponsorship system seems to be the most archaic and limited with regard to a worker's access to mobility. As is required in Kuwait, Oman, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia, a sponsor must provide consent for his employer to change to a different sponsor. In Qatar, the process is further complicated with the addition of a second party that must approve a change of employment as well-the Ministry of Interior. Qatar, like Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait has embraced a new economic development model that "ization-izes" the national population and encourages locals to enter the job market. Limiting positions for expatriates is an effective way to open up the job market to locals but discourages the professional development of expatriates.

Qatar presents an intriguing case study for human trafficking and migrant worker issues in the Arabian Gulf. I intend to keep my attention partially focused on the peninsula as it embarks on a proactive course of action to improve its labor laws and the lives of its expatriate workforce. I am sure there will be some follow-up.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Kevin Bales: TED Talk

From TED:

In this moving yet pragmatic talk, Kevin Bales explains the business of modern slavery, a multibillion-dollar economy that underpins some of the worst industries on earth. He shares stats and personal stories from his on-the-ground research -- and names the price of freeing every slave on earth right now.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Staff Attorney Position Open at CAST

Staff Attorney Position Open at CAST LA.

Summary of Position

Under the supervision of the Policy and Legal Services Director, the Staff Attorney will be responsible for providing comprehensive legal services to survivors of human trafficking including assisting clients seek immigration, criminal and civil relief with an emphasis on immigration assistance. The Staff Attorney will also be responsible for coordinating the legal program’s emergency response to breaking cases and developing and providing training on the issue of human trafficking to partner organizations, law firms, and law enforcement. This is a full- time, exempt position.

Essential Duties
  • Assume caseload of trafficked clients;
  • Develop and implement creative, alternate legal strategies to assist trafficked persons;
  • Work collaboratively with social services and shelter staff
  • Support advocacy work for policy reform that emphasizes the human rights of trafficked persons, migrants and low wage workers;
  • Provide outreach and training to legal aid organizations, law firms, and law enforcement to assist trafficked clients;
  • Recruit, supervise and train pro bono attorneys to assist trafficked clients;
  • Recruit and supervise legal fellows or interns;
  • Participate in LAPD task force for human trafficking victims;
  • Coordinate legal emergency response efforts.
  • Active membership in the California State Bar required
  • Fluency in Spanish required
  • Experience in the practice of law, including two years immigration experience and competence in federal and/or state criminal law and procedure
  • Commitment to serving the needs of trafficked persons, migrants and low wage workers
  • Ability to develop cooperative relationships with other legal service providers in areas relevant to trafficked persons (includes immigration law and labor law)
  • Ability to work effectively and cooperatively with trafficked persons, legal organizations, community based organizations, volunteer lawyers, and government agencies
  • Ability to develop and implement effective systems for managing own case load, as well as supervising and monitoring legal caseloads handled by volunteer attorneys or other legal organizations
  • Experience developing and providing trainings to diverse groups
Desirable Qualifications
  • Knowledge of trafficking and the issues affecting trafficked persons
  • Experience in working with trafficked persons, migrants and low wage workers in the areas of immigration, labor and civil litigation
  • Experience with criminal issues and experience in a legal services program
  • Familiarity with the rights of victims of crime and resources
  • Experience advocating for trafficked persons human rights in governmental and non-governmental contexts, preferably in California or at the federal level.

Salary is commensurate with experience. Benefits package includes medical, life, sick/vacation leave, and a 403(b) plan.

To Apply:
Email cover letter, resume, writing sample, law school transcript and list of references to Due to the high volume of resumes received only qualified candidates will be contacted.

NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE. CAST is an equal opportunity employer.

To learn more about CAST, please click here.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Child Trafficking

Introduction: Trafficking in children takes many different forms worldwide, from child soldiers to child sex tourism to forced child labor in brick factories to child camel jockeys to child sex slaves to child pornography to child domestic slaves to forced child begging. Ending child slavery and child exploitation will take committed, strategic effort based on understandings of the myriad forms of child trafficking and their interconnections.

Elise: Before the TVPA was ever enacted in the U.S., a case out of Texas showed the complexity that is often overlooked when we talk about children and trafficking. Given Kachepa, along with other boys from Zambia were brought to the U.S. under false pretenses offered to them by a Baptist minister claiming the young boys would come to the U.S. to perform in a boys choir and earn money for themselves and for a new school in Zambia. The reality the boys faced included forced performances, the withholding food and medical care if the boys resisted and the constant threat of deportation among other coercive and traumatic tactics used by Keith Grimes to keep the boys in their trafficking situation. A more detailed account of the case is given in The Slave Next Door by Kevin Bales and Ron Soodalter. Years after his trafficking situation ended, Given has taken to advocating on behalf of trafficking victims. He has appeared on national TV and print media delivering his message and his story, and has contributed to the development of state-level legislation.

Youngbee: Among the many different forms of child trafficking, a particularly terrible kind is child trafficking involving child pornography. In Japan, for instance, Jake Adelstein, a public relations representative in Polaris Project in Japan, describes child pornography as "evidence that a crime has been committed[;] that people can derive sexual pleasure from that or profit on that is horrifying." These children are not only sexually exploited but also their humiliation is likely to be publicized on the internet forever. What is worse is that the internet access makes this evil an average Joe's concern in the United States. In fact, a British internet watchdog says that over the past ten years, 51% of such illegal child pornography websites were hosted in the United States. Currently, in Japan, possession of child pornography is not illegal though distribution and production are criminalized. As Japanese government is sensitive to its reputation before the international world, perhaps, US citizens calling their state representatives would pressure the country to fix its legislative loophole further.

Meg: One child trafficking topic that seems to have received a lot of attention recently is trafficking and international adoptions. The issue came to the forefront after the Haiti disaster, when it became suspected that children disappearing from hospitals were being taken by traffickers and sold off as orphans. Learning about this form of trafficking was disheartening to me, because apparently even those trying to do something positive can inadvertently contribute to child exploitation and human trafficking. Although there does not appear to be much in the way of statistics on this issue yet, it is easy to see how traffickers could exploit situations such as the disaster in Haiti to make a profit off of vulnerable children, not only through international adoption, but for sex trafficking and other forms of trafficking as well. One interesting potential solution to the adoption problem is the idea of using DNA databases to reunify parents with missing children, which is something that has begun to be implemented in Haiti. If the Haiti situation prompts development of an international adoption DNA system that can be used to prevent future trafficking, this may be one positive result of a tragic disaster.

Jenn K.: According to the 2009 Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking report by Shared Hope International, over 100,000 US children are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation each year. The Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the United States Department of Justice reports that the average age for entering commercial sex in the US is 12-14. Despite progress in addressing this aspect of the United State's trafficking problem, such as programs targeting demand and increased attention to the issue, much remains to be done particularly in terms of services for victims and survivors. According to Gracehaven House, which will be opening a group home for child sex trafficking survivors in Ohio, there are only 39 shelter beds dedicated to minor sex trafficking victims in the US. Other organizations, such as Courtney's House in Washington DC, are also in the process of opening group homes for child victims. Both Gracehaven House and Courtney's House were founded by survivors of sex trafficking as minors, and plan to offer comprehensive services for survivors. Still, the shelter need greatly exceeds and is likely to continue to greatly exceed resources.