Monday, September 27, 2010

Urge Your Rep. to Support the Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010

Each year in the United States at least 100,000 children are victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Our children are being sold for sex on street corners, through escort services, and online. These victims need safe shelter and treatment, but in the United States today there are only 80 beds available for them. That leaves thousands of sexually exploited children who are unable to access shelter beds or other services.

The average age a child is first bought and sold for sex is 13 years old. Due to the violence they, these children may suffer from post-traumatic stress, sexually transmitted infections, substance abuse, and long-term health problems. When rehabilitation is absent, these victims risk continued sexual exploitation. Without proper identification of victims and treatment, these children face extreme lifelong challenges.

H.R. 5575 addresses the severe lack of services for child sex trafficking in the United States. The "Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010" awards six block grants to state or local entities who have a plan to investigate, prosecute and deter sex trafficking, while at the same time providing special services and shelter to victims.

There is an urgent need to move this bill forward before Congress adjourns on October 7. Take Action to support H.R. 5575 by September 30!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

David Batstone Conversation: How Social Media Can Fight Modern Slavery

Abolition Conversations: Social Media & Social Change from Not For Sale Campaign on Vimeo.

From The Hub SoMa, Jack Dorsey of and Square ( and David Batstone of Not For Sale address the question: "Can Social Media be a catalyst for real social change?" Brought to you by the 2010 Global Forum on Human Trafficking, this event is an excellent preview to the Global Forum ( on October 14-15.

What do you think?  How can you use social media to make a difference via Twitter, Facebook, Email, Blogging, etc...?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Breaking the Cycle of Pimps

A study was done earlier this month by Jody Raphael and Brenda Myers-Powell of the DePaul College of Law regarding the business of pimping and the background of pimps. The study interviewed 25 ex-pimps from the Chicago area. What they uncovered from the study is quite eye opening and alarming.

Most of the former pimps had been abused physically, sexually, and with drugs and alcohol as children. 48% of them ran away from home to avoid these abuses, and many of them were then trafficked into the sex industry.

What a pimp does is horrific, wrong and can not be excused. But from this study, I glean a new outlook on what needs to be done to combat human trafficking here in the United States as well as a better understanding of the business of pimping.

Ending trafficking and modern slavery requires a multi-faceted approach, one of which involves breaking the cycle of pimps. There is a cycle, similar to what's seen in domestic abuse and child abuse cases, apparent in pimping.

One participant said his father was
a pimp and his mother a prostituted woman.
“I was raised in the game. It was a way of life in
my household and neighborhood. It was almost

One hundred percent of the women in our
sample began in the sex trade industry by
selling their own bodies between the ages of
nine and 25, with the average age of onset at 14.
They all ended up pimping, and it was not
totally voluntary.

“My mother was my first
pimp. She used to sell me to the landlord and
other men who wanted a young girl. She was a
junkie... I thought it was normal...I just hope what I’m
telling you can help someone not end up
feeling and looking like me.”"

To break this cycle we have to educate and protect children, both boys and girls in high risk areas. I don't have the answers on how to accomplish this, but if we can protect and provide the treatment these abused boys and girls desperately need, then maybe we can prevent the next generation of pimps from ever forming. That's only one facet. To fully end sex trafficking, it will also take ending the demand, more education, more prosecutions and more awareness.

I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas regarding this study. What solutions do you see and how does this study change your view of pimping and trafficking, if at all?

As always, thank you for reading and keep up the good fight.

Thank You,

"From Victims to Victimizers:Interviews with 25 Ex-Pimps in Chicago," by Jody Raphael and Brenda Myers-Powell

"Most Pimps Were Trafficked, Abused as Children," by Amanda Kohler

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Is the Tide Turning in China?

Beijing Crackdown on Human Trafficking Frees 16,517 Women and Children. 2010-09-20 01:24:40

BEIJING, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) - Chinese police freed 10,621 women and 5,896 children who had been abducted for human trafficking as of September 6,since the Ministry of Public Security launched a crackdown on trafficking the crime in April last year.

In the campaign, police nationwide apprehended 2,398 human trafficking gangs and handled 13,500 such cases, said the ministry in a statement on Sunday.

Further, the police put 15,673 suspects under criminal detention and handed out administrative penalties on 1,518 people, it said.

In addition to the tough crackdown, the police have stepped up measures to return the children who have been trafficked to their biological parents, including building a database that collects the DNA of those children who may have fallen victims to human trafficking and their parents.

The database had helped 813 children to find their biological parents through DNA matching.



Human trafficking is a serious issue throughout Asia and Southeast Asian countries, including China. Even now, China has a 2 Tier rating on the 2010 Trafficking in Person annual report, which is not a good rating. But the news report above gives me hope that the tide is turning.

The main problem with combating traffickers in Asia is the lack of enforcement. Simply reading some of the stories and research from the Somaly Mam Foundation, Free the Slaves and the International Justice Mission make this abundantly clear. There are anti-slavery and trafficking laws on the books in almost every country in the world, but it comes down to enforcing those laws and eliminating corruption.

Freeing 16,517 slaves is a BIG deal. Arresting nearly 16,000 suspects is huge in the fight against traffickers. But what happens to these suspects and the number that that are prosecuted will determine the greater long-term effect these arrests will have against traffickers.
With a major bust like this in Beijing, maybe public opinion and policy are finally starting to overcome the corruption. At least that's what I hope and pray for.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Another Easy Way You Can Help

Raise your hand if you own any luggage. Go ahead and raise it for all to see. Then when they ask why you're raising your hand like a weirdo, you can tell them about this. Now keep your hand held high if you're opposed to human trafficking. Continue to keep it raised if you have $14.50 to spare.

If your hand is still raised, as most of them will be, here's an easy way you can help fight modern slavery and protect children.

ECPAT-USA, which stands for End Child Prostitution, Pornography, and Trafficking, is an international network of individuals and companies dedicated to ending the sexual abuse of children. ECPAT-USA's work focuses in research, advocacy, and public awareness campaigns. One such campaign is the TassaTag.

TassaTags, which are bright-colored luggage tags, are made at The Regina Center in Nongkhai, Thailand. The Regina Center allows women within rural Thailand to earn a steady income, stay within their villages, and enroll their children in school. These are essential components in the fight against trafficking and sexual exploitation. TassaTags are a "fair trade plus" product because the Regina Center is a fair trade certified retail producer, and TassaTags support this center, in addition, to ECPAT-USA's work.

Also, the TassaTags are great conversation starters while you travel. The bright, colorful tags
draw attention to themselves which spark questions about them from other travelers. Plus they make it easy to find your black suitcase among all 20 other black suitcases coming off the plane at the airport.

You can order your tag for $12, plus $2.50 shipping at

The Story of TassaTag ™

Travelers Take Action Against Sex Slavery and Trafficking

In 1993, Brenda Hepler attended the UN Human Rights Conference held in Vienna, Austria as a representative of a Children’s Rights Organization. A major issue at that Conference was the sex slavery and trafficking of children. When Brenda attended the UN Women’s Conference in Beijing in 1995, she found many of the workshops focused on this same issue.

What could one person do to make a difference? Brenda had been a teacher, a travel agent, a foreign student advisor, a storyteller, a cross-cultural educator, and an advocate for responsible tourism. Now, at age 68, this wife and mother decided to build upon her experience and contacts in the travel industry. After all, the promoters of sex slavery and trafficking of children took advantage of this industry. What better than a large, bright, and beautiful luggage tag! Travelers would be able to easily spot their luggage. Sales of the tags could raise awareness of the issue and assist in protecting children.

To counter this dark issue, the tags needed to be beautiful; they needed to represent the beauty of the children who were the victims. For her logo, she wanted the beauty and delicate strength of a flower. Since the daisy was the only flower she could draw, that image became her focus. Upon the advice of her son, she drew the daisy with one petal falling; the single petal looked like a tear. Nature wept for its own while maintaining its beauty and strength.

To begin the move from concept to finished product, Brenda worked with advisors from the San Francisco and Napa College Small Business Development Centers. She also received assistance from the Sawyer Center in Santa Rosa regarding prototype development and trademark.

The tags had to be in bright, bold colors and of sustainable fabric. Manufacturing had to meet the criteria for Fair Trade. She contacted the Regina Center in Nongkhai, Thailand. The Center met all her needs.

Brenda now had a plan and a product. She was ready to contact the US Chapter of Thailand-based ECPAT. As a result of her contact, TassaTag has become a project of ECPAT-USA.

Often when we hear the words sex slavery and trafficking, we think, “How horrible, but what can I do?” Now, with a TassaTag™, travelers can do something about it.

Friday, September 17, 2010

New Video from Truckers Against Trafficking

I received a link to this video from Kylla with Truckers Against Trafficking. It's an altogether sad, but real story that thousands of teens face in the United States. The Department of Justice estimates over 300,000 people are trafficked into the United States each year. It also reports that a a runaway teenager will be contacted by traffickers within the first 48 hours of running away.

Here is the true story of a victim from Toledo, OH who was kidnapped and forced into prostitution. It's a hard video to take-in, but this is a hard problem we all face. Particularly if you're a trucker, or traveling, you can make a difference and can put a stop to this evil facet of trafficking in our country. If you notice anything suspicious, call 911.