Monday, March 28, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
They are a part of a ring with organizational complexity comparable to that of a medium-size business enterprise’, adds the author whose latest research is also based on observations of the operations of begging traffickers in Geneva, Switzerland.
‘For their destination, traffickers chose high wealth concentration cities, such as Geneva, the world’s capital of luxurious watches.
There is a physical archetype that traffickers follow when choosing beggars. Often they chose children with handicaps’, explains the author. In a number of reported cases cited in the study traffickers hurt and mutilate beggars on purpose. By maiming and deforming them they create more revenue. A handicapped child earns three times more than a healthy child.
A survey by the Stop Child Begging Project in Thailand found that disabled children earn as much as 1000 baht a day, as opposed to a healthy child beggar who earns 300 baht a day. ‘An ugly industry is quietly sitting on the pavement and we don’t even notice it’, explains Iveta Cherneva. ‘The revenues from this illegal activity are huge’, she adds. The US State Department trafficking report cites the findings of an undercover reporter who learned in 2005 that a man in Shenzhen, China could earn between $30,000-$40,000 per year by forcing children to beg. ‘Organized begging is a form of human trafficking, although admittedly not all begging is human trafficking.
A few questions first need to be asked and answered, and a few legal parameters – examined, in order to prove that organized begging is indeed trafficking in persons. Under international law there are five elements of trafficking, which need to be met – action, means, exploitation, transnational nature and organized criminal group. Familial forced begging, for example, is difficult to prove as human trafficking. Another problem is that very few legal cases are available and this is an area where the police and the courts need to do better’, explains the author. The demand side of begging is still a largely unstudied topic.
The study looks into the psychological explanations behind begging in attempt to answer the question why people give money to beggars. ‘We need to realize that by giving money to beggars on the street we only encourage the vicious cycle, which fuels the criminal activity. This is why we need to stop and in that way cut the cycle of this trafficking activity’, the author concludes.
Trafficking for Begging: Old Game, New Name is available as an Ebook in Amazon Kindle Store. For more information Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
From Shared Hope International:
What you need to know about this legislation:
• It will provide $2m to $2.5m a year in funding to six state and local pilot projects to serve and shelter child victims of sex trafficking.
• Applying entities must have a multidisciplinary, collaborative plan to combat the sex trafficking of minors. • 67% of funds must be used for direct services and shelter for victims.
• Funds can be used to increase law enforcement efforts to combat the sex trafficking of children.
• This is a bipartisan bill.
• The legislation is sponsored by Senator Ron Wyden (D‐OR) and Senator John Cornyn (R‐TX).
How this bill will help address existing domestic minor sex trafficking challenges:
Challenge: There is little collaboration and communication between the various agencies and organizations that encounter or work with sex trafficked children. This lack of collaboration is a major impediment to efficiency and finding workable solutions.
How this bill helps: This legislation requires multidisciplinary collaboration from grantees.
Challenge: Law enforcement has expressed frustration that when they discover an exploited child, there is nowhere safe to place him/her for help.
How this bill helps: With at least 67% of funding required for shelter and services for victims, the grant locations will be required to establish safe shelter for victims.
Challenge: Sex trafficked children have a multitude of needs ranging from post‐traumatic stress and depression to STDs, substance abuse and chronic illness. They also may not have a safe, appropriate home to return to. There are few programs appropriate to address their needs. As a result, they are caught in a cycle of abuse and arrest.
How this bill helps: The majority of funding is required to go to services and shelter for victims. Additionally, the bill’s multidisciplinary focus will result in all stakeholders coming together to collaborate on fixing the response protocol, making it more efficient and addressing the intense needs of these children.
Challenge: Trafficking cases are time intensive and can be expensive. Federal prosecutors may prosecute these cases but local police are most often in a position to find the crime. Local law enforcement agencies need the resources and training so they can identify a trafficking case. If law enforcement does not have the resources to investigate trafficking cases, criminals will see little risk in the profitable venture of selling children for sex.
How this bill helps: By allowing funds to be used for training and law enforcement/prosecutor salaries related to investigation and prosecution of sex trafficking cases, the bill supports critical enforcement efforts.
To track this bill visit: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s112-596 Visit http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm to find your senators if you would like to contact them to express your support.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Nicholas Kristof, two time Pulitzer Prize winner and Op-Ed journalist for The New York Times, recently published a book highlighting the inconsistencies in gender based progress in the developing world. "Half the Sky" focuses on various issues that have affected women throughout the world in unique and often disastrous ways. Health, education, abortion rights and human trafficking are among the numerous topics discussed in Kristof's latest book.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Change.org recently reported on the child labor in the gold industry of Peru. Peru, since the beginning of colonialism in South America, has been exploited for their vast amounts of precious metals hidden in the mountains of the Andes. After the fall of the Incan empire, the Spanish conquistadors were hungry for more wealth and used native people as slaves to mine silver in order to further enrich their empire.
For more information about the "No Dirty Gold" campaign, visit Earthworks: No Dirty Gold.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Last Spring, Rob Nguyen and Ethan Downing decided that they wanted to raise awareness about a lesser-known division of human trafficking. In the following year they tracked down lawyers, journalists, social workers, and trafficked individuals in order to create an informative and startling documentary about Chinese human traffickers known as snakeheads. The film, Walking Merchandise: Child Smuggling and the Snakehead Trade, examines the intricacies of this specific trafficking method from China to the United States.
“We got involved with the topic because last Spring, Ethan Downing, the director of the film, was completing a Master's in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, at Columbia University,” said Rob Nguyen, the producer of Walking Merchandise. “He had been aware of Lauren A. Burke's work at The Door, a youth services center here in New York. She had been working with young Chinese persons who had been smuggled and trafficked into the U.S. and often working in restaurants around the U.S.”
Snakeheads solicit individuals to travel from China into the United States, using illegal means to transport them across borders and charging fees as high as $80,000, according to Walking Merchandise. Many of these individuals are children being sent by their own families. These individuals are subjected to cruelty, and extortion during their journey to America. After arriving they are forced into labor, and their well-being, as well as their families’, are threatened should they not pay back the impossible debt.
The interviews between the filmmakers and victims are an enlightening glimpse into one specific subclass of human trafficking, which as a whole, has become an estimated $31.6 billion industry, according to the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking.
Finding professionals who had knowledge of human trafficking, and more specifically, the Snakehead Trade proved easy. However, finding young individuals to tell their stories was much more difficult. “Many of them still owe money to either the snakeheads who brought them here, or persons from whom they borrowed money to pay the snakeheads,” said Nguyen.
Current involvement in the industry posed challenges for the filmmakers. Many of these individuals would be traveling to New York City only to find their next job on the restaurant circuit. This offered the individuals a chance to tell their story to, but the filmmakers extremely short notice to meet with them.
“During that brief window of time is when we'd meet with them, so this would be often last minute, with just a day or two's notice,” said Nguyen. “We just tried to be as flexible as possible in order to make ourselves available to meet with them.”
Another important part of production was maintaining anonymity of the trafficked individuals’ identities. “So as you may see in the trailer for the film we've either obscured the young persons' faces through silhouette lighting and post-processing, or otherwise simply not including their faces in the shot when we filmed the interview,” said Nguyen.
Many of the interviews they conducted were through a professional referral, and “They would take great pains to make sure that the young person was choosing to be interviewed of their own free will, and that's something that we would ask them again once we sat down and met with them,” said Nguyen.
Nguyen was surprised to find that while most of the young victims spoke with a “matter-of-fact perspective” about their ordeal, others were particularly eager to share. These few were able to realize the scope of the film, and a larger purpose in telling what had happened to them.
“They felt that they themselves had not been told the full story when their parents sent them to the U.S., and they really wanted other kids to know about it,” Nguyen said. “This was really impressive, as was their ability to articulate their experiences and their hopes for other young persons considering making the same journey.”
The film, which is currently in post-production, is expected to be finished in May of this year. The filmmakers hope that they will be able to screen the film at festivals, as well as for non-profits and NGO’s who specialize in human trafficking, through May of 2012.
“After that, we'll release the film online for free streaming and download,” said Nguyen. “We'll also try to complement that with a number of smaller online videos, similar to those on our website presently, so that the site, as well as the film itself, can be a resource for people wanting to learn more about this issue.”
Funding for the documentary was provided through a graduate fellowship from Columbia University’s Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict and Complexity that Downing had been awarded. Later, additional capital was raised through a fundraiser for the film, known as the Kickstarter Campaign.
Nguyen, Downing and the rest of the team who worked on the film, including Vincent DeLuca, Director of Photography, Drew Downing, Production Assistant, Annie Sheng, Translator, and Michael Nguyen, Publicity Coordinator, are extremely grateful for the additional encouragement that pushed them to finish the film.
“As with many small films, we are also heavily indebted to countless family and friends for their support and help with the film,” said Nguyen.
Monday, March 14, 2011
My question was, what about human trafficking?
There’s a reason that the trafficking of persons is called a shadow crime. The difficulty in defining the problem and in ascertaining exactly what the situation is at any given time in any given place makes it that much harder to combat.
I set out with a simple starting point. Before I could assess what – if anything – was being done to fight human trafficking in Trinidad or even in the wider Caribbean region, I had to get a handle on how large a problem it was or rather how large a problem people thought it was.
I was able to conduct a series of interviews with people in a wide variety of sectors. I spoke to people in the Trinidad & Tobago government. I spoke to people in the Crime and Problem Analysis branch of the national police force. I spoke to people at CARICOM IMPACS, the regional body charged with coordinating efforts to combat crime and enforce security in the Caribbean.
And of course I spoke to regular citizens. In a country as small as T&T – it has just under 1.5 million people spread over two islands – people talk.
Several things became clear. Firstly, the government of T&T is adept at saying the right things, at least when faced with a foreign freelance journalist like myself. I was told that there were fewer than 10 instances of human trafficking recorded in Trinidad and Tobago and that while illegal immigration was certainly an issue – particularly with women from South America (Venezuela and Colombia in particular) who end up working in brothels – there was no reason to believe human trafficking was cause for major concern.
Then I was told that despite human trafficking “not really being a problem” the government was determined to be proactive. A task force was formed in order to produce legislation that will bring Trinidad up to the standards set forth within the UN anti trafficking protocol. That legislation is expected to pass this month.
Trinidad and Tobago is not the only Caribbean island without legislation currently in place. Quite the opposite, it’s my understanding that there are currently only eight countries within Caricom that have introduced human trafficking legislation.
Without the legal framework, it’s obviously very difficult to have the right infrastructure in place to identify human trafficking, punish the perpetrators and assist the victims. Ultimately, the impression I left Trinidad with was that no one – within the government or outside of it - has a complete or clear picture of the human trafficking situation in the country.
But again, this state of affairs is not limited to Trinidad and Tobago. It’s a reflection of a wider global trend. Accurate data on human trafficking is one of the hardest things to come by but without it institutionalizing a response is a tricky prospect.
Traffickers aren’t bogged down by bureaucracy in the way that democratic governments and the NGOs that operate within them are.
Education on human trafficking is also lacking. Although awareness of the issue is steadily increasing, in many places people still don’t have an accurate understanding of what human trafficking actually means. It is often confused with human smuggling and illegal immigration. In Trinidad, a particularly brutal spate of kidnappings led to a change in the law that did away with the 24 hour waiting period before someone could be declared missing.
According to the Assistant Superintendent of the Crime and Problem Analysis Unit, Macdonald Jacob, this resulted in a drastic increase in the number of persons reported missing when in actual fact they weren’t. But the damage was already done to public perception and missing person quickly became synonymous with trafficking victim.
Trinidad’s society is complex but one of its characteristics is that many things are common knowledge without being on the record. None of the citizens with I spoke seemed particularly surprised at the idea that human trafficking could be a major issue. Not only that, but given the widespread belief that there is extensive corruption within both the police force and the government, it was suggested to me that there are factions within those two institutions that could be involved with or profiting from illegal trade in guns, drugs and possibly people. I have no way of knowing whether or not there is real truth in those allegations but if there is, it would be one more in a long list of challenges faced by those fighting human trafficking.
In the weeks that I was in Trinidad, all I did was begin to scratch the surface. There are dozens of other angles and leads that could and should be pursued. But even a brief glimpse into the inner workings of one country’s response to human trafficking shows just how difficult it is and will be to win this fight.
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
From Save the Children:
In many poor communities around the world, sons are considered a blessing, while daughters are viewed as a burden. Often, families marry off their daughters early — sometimes as young as 9. Then, education ends and health risks grow. Young mothers and their babies are far more likely to die from complications during pregnancy and birth. Yet more than 16 million adolescent girls give birth a year — 95 percent of them in the developing world.
But what happens when you give a girl a voice? Save the Children, in partnership with the Nike Foundation, is helping girls develop the resources, skills and confidence to participate in planning their future. The Girls’ Voices project empowers girls and encourages families to let daughters prove just how much they have to offer.
Shathi’s Story: Married Young and Speaking Out view video.
Like many girls in rural Bangladesh, Shathi was forced to marry young and drop out of school. She had her first child at 15. That put both Shathi and her baby at far greater risk of death in a region where maternal and newborn mortality are already high. What happens when you give girls’ like Shathi a voice? Thanks to support from the Nike Foundation, Save the Children’s Girls’ Voices project has given 42,000 girls in Bangladesh a chance to answer that question. www.savethechildren.org
Shilpi’s Story: Proving the Value of Girls in Bangladesh view video.
In rural Bangladesh, sons are considered a blessing, while girls are seen as a burden. They are often married off young -- ending their education and putting them and their babies at greater risk of death from complications at birth or during pregnancy. But what happens when you give girls a voice? Shilpi gained the confidence to find an alternative -- even though women in her culture are expected to stay at home. Thanks to support from the Nike Foundation, Save the Children’s Girls’ Voices project has given 42,000 girls in Bangladesh a chance to raise their voices.
Monday, March 07, 2011
This year CNN will join the fight to end modern-day slavery and shine a spotlight on the horrors of modern-day slavery, amplify the voices of the victims, highlight success stories and help unravel the complicated tangle of criminal enterprises trading in human life.
iReport Freedom Project Challenge
Think you can't make a difference? Take a stand against human slavery. Submit a photo or video saying “I’m taking a stand to end slavery.”
How to help
The CNN Freedom Project's coverage of modern-day slavery may spur many readers and viewers to ask: How can I help? E-mail email@example.com for more information and find out more
Friday, March 04, 2011
Following on from the huge success of last year, YST askes you to join them once again to take a stand against human trafficking: all you need is your yoga mat! Discover how you can get involved, and about the work being done by Odanadi. To find out here how the money raised from Yoga Stops Traffick will be spent visit www.odanadi-uk.org.
Thursday, March 03, 2011
While numerous accusations have been made over the years, so too, have the denials. There is no doubt that laws are in place which prohibit child labor and child trafficking, yet children continue to be victimized. The accused hide behind screwy loop holes in the laws and are sometimes aided by corrupt public officials. The discussion quickly turns into your typical he said, she said, scenario.
While authorities in Africa continued to deny these allegations, Mistrati and Romano’s hidden cameras tell us a different story. Children between the ages of 12-15, some as young as 7, were seen working on these coca plantations. The working conditions on these plantations are deplorable and become unimaginable when you think of a child. No child should ever be subjected to exploitation; period.
If there is one point that I can make in this post, it is that an informed consumer, is a smart consumer (and a better friend to the exploited). It is sometimes hard to make the connection between a 7-year-old-child, working a plantation in Mali, to the chocolate bar we buy in the local food store, but that is the connection you need to make, because this is what is happening.
The Dark Side of Chocolate takes us on a journey to the truth, in their ground breaking documentary on labor trafficking. Watch it and be informed.
I may think twice before I pick up a chocolate bar- will you?
To find out more about this film, please visit http://www.thedarksideofchocolate.org/
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
I thought this was a particularly effective piece for making the case that you cannot consider immigration policy and anti-trafficking policy as completely divorced from one another. There are two longer journal articles I would recommend, which also touch on this issue: "Misery and Myopia: Understanding the Failures of U.S. Efforts to Stop Human Trafficking" by Jennifer Chacon and "Assessing the U.S.-Mexico Fight Against Human Trafficking and Smuggling: Unintended Results of U.S. Immigration Policy" by Salvador A. Cicero-Dominguez.