Congress Opens Its Eyes to the Reality of DMST

By Rachel Moore,  Fall Intern at Shared Hope International

On September 15, 2010, the culmination of many voices and a powerful idea finally found its way into the halls of the illustrious Rayburn Building. With a knock of the gavel, Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) began his introduction, “Subcommittee will now come to order, and I am pleased to welcome you [to]…today’s hearing before the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. The committee is hearing Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking and specifically, H.R. 5575-Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010.”

This bill, sister to the Senate bill (S. 2925), was introduced by Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Christopher Smith (R-NJ) in June and has collected 24 co-sponsors. Despite the pending Congressional votes that day and the haste of a short session, the room was filled to capacity with listeners awaiting the testimonies of the two distinguished witness panels. Spectators even filtered into an overflow room to view the hearing via satellite; while, the most notable media in attendance included: CNN, Fox News, C-SPAN (Full Video Coverage) Washington Post, Christian Broadcast News, Al Jezeera, and Change.org

Though not every member of the Subcommittee was able to attend, Chairman Scott was joined by Ranking Member Gohmert (R-TX), Rep. Lungren (R-CA), Rep. Jackson-Lee (D-TX), and Rep. Poe (R-TX) for the hearing.

The first panel was comprised of five members, including our very own founder and President, former Congresswoman Linda Smith:

  • Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (R-NY)
  • Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA)
  • Representative Ted Poe (R-TX)
  • Representative Christopher Smith (R-NJ)

The second witness panel included law enforcement, NGO representatives, a survivor, and an employee of Craigslist/ their attorney:

  • Ms. Francey Hakes, National Coordinator for Child, Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction, US Dept. of Justice
  • Mr. Nicholas Sensley, Chief of Police, Truckee Police Dept., Truckee CA
  • Mr. Ernie Allen, President & CEO, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
  • Ms. Tina Frundt, Partner to SHI and Survivor and Executive Director/Founder, Courtney’s House
  • Ms. Suzanna Tiapula, Director of National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse  of the National District Attorneys Association
  • Ms. Deborah Richardson, Chief Program Officer of Women’s Funding Network
  • Mr. William “Clint” Powell, Director of Customer Service/Law Enforcement Relations, Craigslist, Inc.
  • Ms. Elizabeth “Liz” McDougall, Partner at Perkins Coie, LLP, Craigslist, Inc. Representation

It is not often that so many organizations come together to give testimony for a single bill, and in light of the recent Craigslist allegations related to fostering minor sex trafficking via the Adult Services section on the company’s Web site, urgency for passage of the bill was unmistakable. H.R. 5575 authorizes the US Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs to allocate six, one-year block grants of $2.5 million to create a victim-centered approach in addressing the sex-trafficking of minors. This includes placing a heavier focus on the necessity for proper shelters and services for victims, providing funding to improve resources for law enforcement agencies, such as the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system of tracking data of missing and exploited children, and creating treatment programs in lieu of incarceration for those charged with solicitation of prostituted children. The bill also addresses deterrence tactics to prevent men from buying young girls for sex, including $2500 fees, vehicle impoundment, etc.

Panel One:

After brief introductory statements and comments from the members of the Subcommittee, the first round of testimony began with Rep. Carolyn Maloney poignantly describing the institution of sex trafficking as the recycling of human beings. The position and mindset of the Congressional panel was emulated by Rep. Ted Poe who recalled being told to “get a rope,” when he was serving as judge in Texas, to address perpetrators of sex exploitation.

Congressman Christopher Smith echoed the need for reformation by declaring this issue a huge and escalating crisis. He commended Rep. Speier for asserting that we need to do what the bill has outlined and expand on it ten-fold.

Former Congresswoman Linda Smith brought the first panel testimonies to a close by screening a short victim testimony video and giving a voice to the voiceless; she called her “Lacy”.  Linda Smith discussed the issue of DEMAND for younger and younger victims as the driving force of this market. She implored the committee to understand that those who buy sex from innocent children should receive the full penalty under the law.

Panel Two & Questioning:

The main focus of the second panel was a reiteration of the need for resources, a reverberating sound of how prolific the use of the Internet to exploit children has grown (and not just on Craigslist) and the need for law enforcement to use this same technology to combat it. Rep. Poe said he wanted to the see the pictures of every buyer posted online and done more fervently than the traffickers post pictures of their girls.
The DOJ’s Innocence Lost Initiative was noted for making strides, but they need to capitalize on their progress. The 10 traffickers that have presently been indicted needs to become 1000; the approximate 1200 children rescued needs to look more like 10,000; and the 50 beds available for these rescued victims needs to become 50,000.

There is a social change that is needed, according to Mr. Ernie Allen. This was done to campaign against tobacco and for the use of seat belts, and now we need society to see the realities of the heinous crimes happening to our children in America. As Tina Frundt so powerfully stated, “We need this [change] yesterday!”

Once questioning concluded, Chairman Scott adjourned the hearing with the closing remarks, “This was a very powerful hearing. We can do a lot more if we focus our minds to it.” Focus our minds we must, and continue to take the needed steps e.g. Craigslist shutting down their adult services section, but more importantly, the American people need to re-sensitize their psyche and raise their voices to fight against Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking.

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Anti-trafficking report: Jamaica

Shared Hope International is fortunate  to host interns from across the United States who work in our Washington D.C. office on programs including national awareness, advocacy work, research and communications. This summer, our interns have also researched anti-trafficking efforts in Fiji, Nepal, India, Jamaica and the United States – the countries where Shared Hope actively funds programs.
 
Erika Parkins - Summer intern at Shared Hope

Erika Parkins - Summer intern at Shared Hope

  

  

By Erika Parkins

When most people think of Jamaica, they think of sitting on a beach with clear water, white sand, palm trees, and reggae music playing in the background. Few people would think of a 13 year old girl living in poverty, being forced into prostitution by her brother. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon in Jamaica where sex tourism, poverty and unemployment fuel the forced prostitution of minors. In June the U.S. State Department released the 2010 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report. The report ranks countries as Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 2 Watch List, or Tier 3 (more info). This year, Jamaica was ranked Tier 2. Due to a high economic dependance on sex tourism, Jamaica will have a difficult time attempting to reduce their human trafficking problem. 

History of Trafficking in Jamaica

In the beginning stages of formulating a plan for dealing with sex trafficking and child prostitution, Jamaica was ranked Tier 2 in 2003. The Ministry of Health began inspecting sex clubs and other places where minors were suspected to be employed. The Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA) passed in 2004, however trafficking was only in one section of the legislation. Because of this Jamaica was placed on the Tier 2 Watch List due to the lack of implementation by the government to combat human trafficking.  In 2005 Jamaica was ranked Tier 3, because there was “no discernable action taken.” In light of being placed in Tier 3 and under pressure from the U.S., Jamaica conducted public awareness campaigns, created a task force, and increased law enforcement efforts. In 2007 Jamaica passed a comprehensive act called the Trafficking Act of Jamaica, which prohibited the trafficking of persons, including minors, for commercial sexual exploitation. Due to this legislation, Jamaica returned to Tier 2 and has maintained the rank for the past four years.There are many problems in Jamaica that make combating sex trafficking difficult. Jamaica’s garrison communities are not effectively controlled by the government, instead crime bosses or “Dons,” rule these poverty stricken areas and violently promote their criminal agendas. The Jamaican government has difficulty enforcing laws in these areas as many people fear the Dons more than the government. Jamaica also suffers from extreme poverty and over 14.5% unemployment. In 2007 a report on Jamaica identified poverty and unemployment as the main causes of sexual exploitation in Jamaica. Shared Hope International’s (SHI) 2007 “DEMAND” report stated that Jamaica’s heavy economic reliance on tourism fuels demand for commercial sex. 

TIP Report Evaluation

The 2010 TIP report ranked Jamaica a Tier 2 country. Jamaica is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children specifically for forced prostitution. Poor women, girls, and increasingly boys, are being forced into prostitution in mostly urban and tourist areas due to the popularity of sex tourism.

  • ProsecutionNo progress. In 2009, few traffickers were prosecuted, none were confirmed to be convicted, and many disappear on bail.
  • ProtectionSome progress. In partnership with an NGO, the Jamaican government plans to partially fund three new shelters. Victims were generally not punished for trafficking related violations.
  • PreventionSome progress. The government funded anti-trafficking campaigns in schools and libraries and funded one NGO to raise awareness among youth in rural communities.  

Reactions and Responses

The government of Jamaica has not made a negative statement about the report or ranking, however there have been some comments made from newspapers and other sources about whether America has the authority to grade others’ progress. A commentary in the Jamaica Gleaner stated, “…I find it counterproductive for the US to stand in judgment of the world when the very evil it purports to eradicate is happening in abundance in its backyard.”(Quill). Although the U.S., like other countries, could always do more, the U.S. is doing a great deal to comply with the UN protocol to prevent, protect, and prosecute. For most countries this data may be useful in creating a strategy to combat human trafficking, or could serve as a wake up call to speed up policy formation. The report is not perfect, and politics guided the ranking of some countries. However, in the case of Jamaica, the ranking seems fair given the undeniable trafficking problem due to poverty, unemployment, and demand from the sex tourism industry.  

Shared Hope International Efforts in Jamaica
 
SHI staff take advantage of the skills learned by the WIN students!

Jamaica was one of the four countries investigated for SHI’s 2007 “Demand.” report on trafficking markets. Information from this report was submitted to Jamaica’s Constabulary Force which resulted in the rescue of a 14 year old girl.

 Two partners in Jamaica currently provide shelter and services for victims. Theodora House and Project in Negril includes a shelter and a computer center to help provide vocational training. Additionally, SHI supports Hebron House, which is a home-like shelter which serves sexually exploited girls. 

What Now? 

With the release of the report and the ranking for Jamaica remaining the same for the 4th year now, I hope that more will be done to combat this exploitive practice. Police must be trained in trafficking recognition, vigorously pursue traffickers, and conduct thorough investigations into suspected cases. Increased public awareness programs are necessary not only for residents but also sex tourists who come to Jamaica year round and and create demand for commercial sex with young girls. However, with extreme poverty, crime, limited resources, and increasing demand, these changes are going to be no easy task. That is why non-profits, NGOs, politicians, and grassroots organizations can not stop advocating for and supporting these women and children who can not speak for themselves.

If we do not stand up and defend them, then who will?

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Anti-Trafficking Report : India

Shared Hope International is fortunate  to host interns from across the United States who work in our Washington D.C. office on programs including national awareness, advocacy work, research and communications. This summer, our interns have also researched anti-trafficking efforts in Fiji, Nepal, India, Jamaica and the United States – the countries where Shared Hope actively funds programs.

Megan McFeeley - Summer Intern at Shared Hope

 

By Megan McFeeley

The 10th annual Trafficking in Persons report (TIP report) was released in June and placed India on the Tier 2 Watch List for the seventh consecutive year.  However, India should drop to Tier 3 because of all the corruption of political and law enforcement officials as well as the lack of arrests, prosecutions, and services provided by the government.

Historically, India has been known to be a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking.  All types of human slavery occur within the country—labor, sex, domestic victims, foreign victims, trafficking of men, women, and children.  The history of India’s human trafficking issue varies by region.  For example, in Mumbai exists the largest red-light district in Asia—Kamathipura.  The area first began as a place for British troops to relax and “be comfortable.”  In about the 19th century, women and girls were trafficked to work as prostitutes for the British and Indian men.  The British eventually left India and the region was taken over by Indian sex-workers and traffickers.  More recently, many women and girls from Nepal are also trafficked into Kamathipura to work as sex slaves.  It will take a lot of patience and hard-work to undo what was begun in Kamathipura.  That is just one story of  the MANY large red-light districts in India.

This year’s TIP report contained a comprehensive summary and many statistics on human trafficking in India. To access the full report on India click here, for a brief summary see below:

–        Only a few states (such as Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu) showed significant improvement in enforcing laws

–        The amount of police corruption that occurs in India is large and rampant

–        NGOs are the key players in the anti-trafficking movement

–        India has a slow & backed-up court system that contributes to injustice

SHI Staff with the lovely ladies at Ashagram

–        Some laws meant to rescue, restore, and protect victims are used to punish them (Section 8 of the ITPA and the Foreigner’s Act)

–        38 AHTUs (Anti Human Trafficking Units) in police departments are responsible for investigating human trafficking cases, and are meant to be comprised of specially-trained police officers

–        There have been recently more prosecutions fully processing in places such as Delhi (several stories mentioned in the TIP report)

India has been put on the “Tier 2 watch list” in the TIP report  for the seventh consecutive year.  This ranking is the second to lowest in which “the government does not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but is making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards,” and there is either an increasing number of victims or little to no evidence of efforts to combat slavery.

“Why has India been on the watch list for so long and not dropped to a Tier 3?”  It is rumored that our diplomatic relations prevent India from dropping to Tier 3.  However, since amendments were made by the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, India may drop to a Tier 3 next year.  The amendment states that any country that has been ranked Tier 2 Watch List for two consecutive years (beginning from the time of the 2009 report) and that would otherwise be ranked Tier 2 Watch List for the next year will instead be ranked Tier 3 country, thus facing sanctions.

India has the necessary legislation to tackle human trafficking through prosecution of traffickers/clients and provision of services to victims.  Unfortunately, these laws are ineffectively enforced and traffickers often go unpunished and victims are often left unassisted.  Legislation is sometimes used against victims, such as Section 8 of the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA) which prohibits the act of solicitation for prostitution.  It was used in some states to detain and penalize women in prostitution that often included trafficking victims (several state governments – such as Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu – discouraged its use).  The TIP report repeatedly noted that NGOs are leading the fight against human trafficking because the Indian government is slow, corrupt, and seemingly powerless.

Shared Hope International was  initially founded to respond to the horrors of sex-trafficking in India.  Just 2 hours north of Mumbai (Bombay), Shared Hope International funds Bombay Teen Challenge to operate the 72-acre Village of Hope in India called “Ashagram.”

Ladies of the WIN program proudly show their products.

 At the Village of Hope more than 140 female survivors of sex trafficking are provided with safety, security, medical care, emotional care, literacy training, educational training, and access to vocational facilities that provide a variety of options for economic development through the WIN program.  Shared Hope also partners with Bombay Teen Challenge to operate a HIV/AIDS clinic that serves more than 2,000 people in and around the brothel district of Mumbai each year through providing protein packed meals, counseling, ART (anti-retroviral treatment) and other services.  These programs have seen many women, like Ganga, become fully restored women who return to the brothel district to help others survive their victimization.

To include all information about India’s anti-trafficking efforts would take a long time since India is a country of 1 billion people. I encourage you to even go beyond the links to educate yourself on the issue of human trafficking because it is a very important step in ending modern-day-slavery.

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Combating Sex Trafficking in Nepal: A Modest Effort

Mark Bennett - Summer Intern at Shared Hope

Shared Hope International is fortunate  to host interns from across the United States who work in our Washington D.C. office on programs including national awareness, advocacy work, research and communications. This summer, our interns have also researched anti-trafficking efforts in Fiji, Nepal, India, Jamaica and the United States – the countries where Shared Hope actively funds programs.

By Mark Bennett

Known as the “Himalayan paradise,” Nepal is home to the most magnificent tourist locations in the entire world, including the legendary Sherpas and Mount Everest. Yet lurking behind the majestic scenery and peaceful mountain terrain, a lucrative industry of modern-day slavery (that is sex trafficking) thrives.

Nepal’s history of sex trafficking can be dated back to the royal Rana family regime of 1846. The Ranas targeted beautiful girls and demanded that they work in their palaces, at times enticing some to become concubines. If the girl refused, she and her family would be beaten. When the Rana family lost power in 1950, they fled from Nepal and traveled to neighboring India. To support their affluent lifestyle, the Ranas prostituted their women. As the demand grew, the Ranas recruited women from the surrounding areas, including Nepal, beginning the now thriving sex trafficking industry between Nepal and India.

Nepalese women have also been governed by Nepal’s deeply embedded traditional patriarchal value system, where women were and are treated as mere luxuries and second-class citizens.  Within Nepal, men have always been looked upon with greater importance than women. Nepal is broken up into lower and higher casts of society. The lower cast of Nepal is called the Dalit community, which amounts to over 20 percent of Nepal’s population. These individuals are denied access to land and subject to exploitative labor and segregation. Among this group, almost all of the women and children are illiterate and receive little if any pay for their work. They are easily coerced with hopes of a better job and better life outside of Nepal.

A third contributing factor in Nepal’s human trafficking problem is the struggling economy. As one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world, Nepal’s per capita Gross Domestic Product is only $1,500. Roughly 38% of Nepal’s population lives below the poverty line with approximately 42% unemployed. Such high rates of unemployment and extremely low family income create vulnerable women and children.  Traffickers offer false hope of a better life to poor and hopeless individuals and lure them into a life of utter desolation.

In an effort to attack this modern-day slavery within its borders, Nepal has enacted laws, domestically and internationally, to combat sex trafficking of women and children. Domestically, Nepal’s Interim Constitution (2007), provides that, “No physical, mental or any other form of violence shall be inflicted to any woman.” Later: “Traffic in human beings, slavery or serfdom is prohibited,” and that “Forced labor in any form is prohibited.” In 1986, the Fundamental Features of the Trafficking of Persons Control and Punishment Act was established which is a law “to combat the growing menace of trafficking in women and girls for prostitution.” In 1992, the Children’s Act was issued, which contains regulations on child labor laws, specifically in regards to sexual abuse. In 2000, the Child Labor Prohibition and Control Act of 2000 was established, prohibiting any work done by a child under fourteen; and forbids any false presentation or coercion to get a child to work. Finally, in 2007 the Trafficking in Persons and Transportation (Control) Act was enacted, providing that all forms of trafficking are prohibited within Nepal and punishable with imprisonment of up to 20 years. The act also provides a one to three months penalty imprisonment for brothel customers.

Shared Hope staff with Mithu, a survivor of trafficking, on her wedding day!

Internationally, Nepal has taken strides to sign on to legislation suppressing any and all forms of trafficking women and children. Nepal ratified the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others and also signed the Convention on Civil and Political Rights, making trafficking of girls illegal. On January 26, 1990, Nepal signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child which provides that trafficking in young girls is illicit and makes illegal economic exploitation, sexual exploitation, torture, inhumane and degrading treatment of children.

When Shared Hope began its ministry of rescuing and restoring trafficked young women and children in Nepal, it was evident that the victims rescued from their traffickers desired to return home.  Shared Hope’s wanted to make that wish come true.

In 2005, Shared Hope established and is now funding the Village of Hope “Asha Nepal,” 45 minutes outside of Kathmandu. At the Village of Hope, women receive vocational training, formal and non-formal education, and counseling. In fall 2009, Shared Hope International funded a grant that allowed high-level Christian schooling for the children at the Village of Hope in Nepal, reducing the young women and children’s chances of being lured into unsafe environments. Village of Hope is a home that can protect once trafficked Nepalese girls and helps them to acquire skills and education necessary to build a new life once again. One of Shared Hope’s most successful survivors is Renu, who was drugged by her foster brother and forced her into prostitution at 14 years.

Renu with our amazing ladies of hope in Nepal

In the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report, the US State Department again placed Nepal as a Tier 2 country, stating that while “…Nepal does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking… it is making significant efforts to do so despite limited resources.” While Nepal serves primarily as a source country, there is evidence that its role as a destination country for child sex tourism is growing steadily. Normally the lower and poorer casts of society are the targets for traffickers but recently, traffickers have also been targeting the educated and high castes of society as well.

The government of Nepal has made modest efforts to prosecute traffickers, support victims and prevent trafficking in persons yet is seeing minimal results. During the reported year, Nepal saw only twelve convictions against human traffickers (two less than the previous year). In trying to protect victims of trafficking, Nepal lacks any “formal system of …identifying victims of trafficking.” In the rare blind raids conducted by local and government officials, victims are identified as prostitutes rather than trafficking victims and are thus deported or arrested. If victims are identified as trafficking victims, they normally refuse to testify against their traffickers because Nepal lacks the necessary resources to protect them. Nepal is attempting to prevent human trafficking within its country and even has at its disposal a national task force to combat trafficking in persons; but the lack of resources has made the task force and Nepal’s efforts have very minimal results.

Nepal’s ranking is a fair and generous assessment. While results have been nominal, it is not attributed to Nepal’s desire and willingness to see the problem of human trafficking eradicated. However, if Nepal is to remain a tier two country, it must increase its efforts to educate first responders to victims and increase its protection for victims once discovered. Nepal also can not allow any complicit actors among government and local officials. In the reported year, zero prosecutions or convictions were leveled against those local and government officials who help traffickers and sometimes are the owners and runners of brothels.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the problem of Human Trafficking “a catalogue of tragedies that the world cannot continue to accept.” It is time for Nepal to take greater strides in its efforts to protect victims, prosecute traffickers and fight against those who are sympathetic to the heinous crime of human trafficking.

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Anti-Trafficking Report – Fiji

Sarah Curtis - Summer Intern at Shared Hope International

Shared Hope International is fortunate  to host interns from across the United States who work in our Washington D.C. office on programs including national awareness, advocacy work, research and communications. This summer, our interns have also researched anti-trafficking efforts in Fiji, Nepal, India, Jamaica and the United States – the countries where Shared Hope actively funds programs.

By Sarah Curtis

Fiji — A country of beautiful tropical islands that holds many secrets and the tragedy of modern-day slavery.  Political instability has gripped Fiji for at least the past 20 years. In April of 2009, then President Iloilo completely dismantled the country’s constitution. The current Prime Minister Bainimarama, who led a coup in 2006, and President Nailatikau now enforce a military government, restrict freedom of speech, and are delaying any elections until 2014 at the earliest.  Despite the precarious political situation, according to the US State Department’s 2010 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, a hopeful amount of progress in the fight against sex trafficking occurred this past year.

Shared Hope staff dig in at the Hope of Hope in Fiji!

Fiji is both a source and destination country for sex trafficking. Fijian children are trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation by family members and taxi drivers, while deceived Chinese women are sex-trafficked into the country using student or tourist visas. In an effort to eliminate trafficking, in 2009, the old Penal Code was replaced with the new Crimes Decree, which defines trafficking as a crime of compelled service that does not necessarily involve crossing a border or otherwise moving a victim.  Additionally, the government began training law enforcement officers and held anti-trafficking conferences, which significantly increased publicity about the presence of human trafficking. The 2010 TIP Report notes this progress, but clarifies that Fiji is on the Tier 2 Watch List because trafficking offenders have yet to actually be investigated or convicted. Also, a formal system for victim identification or of referrals to NGOs, like Shared Hope International’s partner in Fiji, has not been implemented.

Due to the unstable government and the restriction of the media to cover these issues, I would concur that the 2010 TIP Report’s rating of Tier 2 Watch List is appropriate.  Considering the precarious nature of the political situation, I think it is an accomplishment that Fiji managed to remove itself from the 2009 Tier 3 ranking and move up one level to the Tier 2 Watch List. The reality that a questionable government decided to pass a comprehensive anti-trafficking law sheds some hope on the future of the fight against trafficking in Fiji. Now, we hope that we don’t have to wait much longer until the government takes action to justly enforce the legislation while protecting and providing services to victims of trafficking.

Finding new life at the Home of Hope in Fiji

Shared Hope International is presently active in Fiji through the provision of resources to fund a Village of Hope and the Women’s Investment Network (WIN) program. The Village of Hope has room for over 200 women and children who are victims or at high risk of sex trafficking, serving as a place of refuge and personal restoration.  The Village offers training for marriage and parenting, provides housing in residential homes, and encourages Christian discipleship. Additionally, it operates within an environment modeled after extended family relationships. The WIN program teaches vocational skills and seeks to enable women towards full recovery and reintegration back into the community.  Participants help operate a bakery, flower business, and hospitality center, and are given the chance to be trained as teachers.

As one can tell from the description of the services offered, the Village of Hope in Fiji is succeeding in the monumental role of rescuing and restoring women and children in crisis.

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Craig – The Most Successful Pimp in the World

Former Congresswoman Linda Smith is Founder and President of Shared Hope International

By Linda Smith
President and Founder, Shared Hope International

Recent news reports have highlighted the role of Craigslist in facilitating commercial sex involving minors – domestic minor sex trafficking. However, as we advocate for the closure of Craigslist’s adult services web page, we must acknowledge that for the lucrative business of online classifieds for “adult services” will continue to exist as long as the fuel that keeps this seemingly endless problem alive exists – DEMAND.

Shared Hope International’s research has demonstrated the connection between increased access and increased demand for paid sexual services.  More men and boys are receiving unsolicited Internet advertising for pornography – this explosion in the amount of pornography is causing an unprecedented demand for commercial sex with a female who looks young and healthy – this female is too often a girl.  Thriving demand has led to the migration of criminal ventures to the anonymous world of the Internet.

Perusing the local street corner turns into a virtual experience
In the 1980’s, we decimated the pornography industry by focusing on its primary distribution system, the postal service.  Today we are faced with a pornography industry a thousand times more pervasive as it utilizes the anonymity and accessibility of the Internet.  The dissemination of pornography and access to commercial sex through computers brings the market directly into your home.

Today, anyone can go online to a number of classified services websites and purchase sex with a minor. Where ten years ago these prostituted youth – victims of sex trafficking – might have been forced to stand on a busy street corner, fulfilling a nightly quota for their controlling pimp, today they are more likely to be standing on the virtual street corner of Craigslist, out of sight from those not looking for them but easily accessible for the shopper in the mall of human product.

Craig, the most successful pimp in the world
Craigslist is the giant in the nascent online classifieds industry. Ever the opportunists, child predators have spotted the potential of Craigslist’s “adult services” page and the website has become a bustling marketplace for the buying and selling of our kids for sex.

A new slavery block has been created on Craigslist and many other online classified web pages, and the modern-day slave is an American child under 18 years of age being recruited and ensnared through manipulation and violence by predators who sell them for sex in their own towns and cities across the U.S.

Craigslist has been under attack for facilitating the trafficking of women and children for sex by not preventing it from occurring on their web pages.  Sadly, this has made Craig America’s most successful pimp, bringing in an estimated $36 million in profit from the posting of adult services ads last year.

In a 2009 lawsuit filed by the Cook County, Illinois Sheriff against Craigslist for creating a public nuisance through its provision of a forum for prostitution services, the judge said, “We cannot treat Craigslist as if it did create those ads.”  While technically true that Craigslist is not creating the ads, shouldn’t they have a responsibility to their customers to refrain from posting them?  Is the claim by Craigslist that they monitor the ads and remove those that suggest exploitation sufficient when we know from the mouths of survivors of domestic minor sex trafficking that they have all been marketed on Craigslist?

A minimal response
Craigslist states that the “criminal misuse of the site is quite rare,” and that the site is “one of the few bright spots” when it comes to fighting against child exploitation because the company manually screens each adult services advertisement to filter out those advertising prostitution. In addition, Craigslist claims to assist and be a tool for law enforcement in investigations because it provides phone numbers used in the ad posting and created a victim search interface.  But it is clear that neither Craigslist nor any other online classified service can keep an adult service page clean and there can never be enough law enforcement or staff to enforce it.  Craigslist claims to have screened hundreds of thousands of ads submitted for posting to the adult services web page, but has only reported 109 of the rejected ads to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for investigation into the potential of an exploited child in the ad.  It is encouraging that Craigslist is cooperating with law enforcement and we commend the efforts and successes of law enforcement to investigate these heinous crimes, but maintaining the website for the purpose of corralling buyers and sellers of sex with children is inexcusable.  Craigslist and similar online classified services are creating a marketplace and increasing sales as a result of the access.

Craigslist argues that if we close these web pages down in America, then this activity will simply move to Internet sites hosted in other countries – let it!  This excuse for failing to prevent exploitation of children through online advertising of prostitution is not convincing to those Americans living with the effects of advertised sexual exploitation on their city streets, draining law enforcement capacity and most important, putting their children and families at risk.

One exploited girl is too many – legislators must respond
“Craigslist is making money misery by misery while we are left to rescue and restore the victims one life at a time,” explained Linda Smith, Founder and President of Shared Hope International.

Almost every girl who survives sex trafficking reports having been sold through Craigslist to ten or more men every day, sometimes forced to post the ad themselves – the conduit to their repeated sexual exploitation. Many girls don’t survive to tell. A conservative calculation reveals that a child victim of prostitution is raped more than one thousand times by as many different men over the course of one year enslaved.

While regulators, legislators and courts wrangle over the ability to control the content and outline the responsibilities of online classified businesses, we must put a stop to this 21st century slave market that permits Craigslist to profit from the demand for commercial sex with our children.

End Craigslist by ending DEMAND
Although Craigslist adult services must be shut down, so too must the demand. If there were no demand for commercial sex with women and children, the market disappears. We cannot turn our backs on the rising demand for commercial sex with our women and children. Shutting down Craigslist adult services, and all those online classified businesses like it, is certainly a necessary step to stop the exploitation, but let’s be certain not to lose sight of the problem of demand.

Watch the documentary DEMAND. to learn more about how demand is driving the criminal sex trafficking markets worldwide.

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I am a Giant Fan, but not a fan of this Giant

By Larry Hawley

Defenders USA Fellow

Sports are part of the fabric of America.  The national pastimes, whether baseball or football, allow everyday people to escape their problems for a three hour period and root, root, root for the home team.  However, professional and even amateur sports have become big business through enormous television contracts, merchandising, and billion dollar sports stadiums.  We are not just fans anymore; we are also consumers with choices.  The salaries of athletes and coaches have gradually grown in millions with the cost being passed onto consumers.  A consumer’s taste can drive the market and decide the millions doled out to our favorite sports stars.  With this power, you would think we would use it more often.

A percentage of athletes, like a percentage of the populace as a whole, take the field or court with a criminal record or pending case files.  With a diligent sports media, we are informed immediately when charges filed against athletes and have the opportunity to decide whether he is guilty to our eyes.  Debates ensue about whether the athlete is more susceptible to criminality because of his background or the temptations that the sports star lifestyle provides.  Tiger Woods’ arrogance to carry on numerous affairs is said to be linked to a feeling of immunity as the best  golfer in the world.  NFL Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s choice of women and place of intercourse is to be forgiven because his team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, cannot adequately replace a two-time Super Bowl champion.  Lawrence Taylor, also a two-time champ and one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history is given the benefit of the doubt as he didn’t know that the woman he paid for sex with was only sixteen years old.

Fans  – as a consumer of a high end product  – demand success out of their home teams.  They want great athletes on the field of play to enjoy their skills and to let out their frustrations upon.  As children, sports fans grow up idolizing their favorite athlete.  The expectation is of great performance, but also great humanity.  As adults, sports fans know that athletes are fallible, but tend to ignore their flaws if they provide great performance.   As sports media has grown, the enormity of sports has been overstated.  Teams are now believed to carry cities out of the doldrums, i.e. the Saints in New Orleans.

What we tend to forget as sports fans is that we are also citizens and our consuming habits can change behavior.  Fair trade goods are growing in popularity in the United States and are an important part of the work to end modern-day slavery.  Keeping companies accountable for their labor practices changes corporate behavior in the same way that refusing to purchase Tiger Woods’ sponsored goods or Ben Roethlisberger jerseys does.  Telling your favorite team that employing a sexual batterer is unacceptable will send the message to that athlete that the privilege of earning millions of dollars to play a game can be taken away.  Sports may be a billion dollar industry, like sex trafficking, but we are not powerless to change its practices.

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