Friday, October 29, 2010

ECPAT launches a free online course on protecting children from sexual exploitation in tourism

ECPAT (End Child Prostitution And Trafficking)
Photo: ECPAT

The international organization ECPAT (End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism) recently released a free online course on “How to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism.”

The course is available in several languages, including German, Dutch, Italian, Estonian, Spanish and French. Swedish and Thai will be available at the end of 2010.

ECPAT has nearly 1,000 businesses that have signed their Child Protection Code. One of the clauses of the code stipulates that employees should be trained to deal with the various issues that arise with the commercial sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism.

ECPAT created this online course as a first step in implementing this clause and to provide businesses and the general public free training materials to combat trafficking and sexual exploitation of children.

"Even if tourism is not the reason for sexual exploitation of children, we have to realize that offenders often use the tourism structures for their criminal intents," said Andreas Mueseler a member of the Steering committee for the code of conduct. "Our task is to safeguard tourism business in our own interest and in the interest of the local communities. This issue is important for all tourism professionals; we all can contribute to implement the Child Protection Code."

ECPAT reports that the response from the tourism sector is very positive. Stakeholders and partners say the course as innovative and “right-to-the-point” in terms of easy accessibility being cost-free and efficient. Even though the e-learning course can not substitute in-depth trainings by professional child-protection experts, it provides a good basis for future capacity building.

The course is free of charge and can easily be completed at the employee’s work- place in a short amount of time. Video-clips and interactive units provide stimulating material without shocking images.

The content includes background information on where and why children are exploited, how this is related to tourism and how tourism professionals can take action at their individual workplaces.

With the modular structure of the course tourism experts are provided with area-specific information so that no matter if travel agent, decision-maker, tour operator or hotel staff: Everyone can learn how to apply the Child Protection Code according to their respective workplaces.

The E-Learning course can be accessed freely at:

Contact for questions and further information:



Thursday, October 28, 2010

Obama gives U.S. aid to 4 countries using child soldiers

United States President Obama

President Obama granted a waiver on the Child Soldiers Prevention Act, signed into law by former President George W. Bush, which extends U.S. aid to four countries using children as soldiers.

A memo was sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton extending military aid to Sudan, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Chad. All four countries are recognized as using child soldiers in their military. (read the memo)

The Obama administration said cutting the aid to these countries would do more harm than good. The aid being sent will provide more stability and allow the U.S. to help these governments eliminate the use of child soldiers. In addition, the Obama administration says that military aid to these countries is essential in the war on terror and in combattng Al-Queda in these regions.

A number of human rights group beg to differ.

"What the president has done is basically given everybody a pass for using child soldiers," said Jo Becker, children's rights director at Human Rights Watch.

Other non-profit organizations are concerned by the waivers. They say the Child Soldier Prevention Act does not mandate cutting off all forms of aid to countries in violation of the act. The U.S. can still provide aid and support to the countries in question and help them work towards ending the use of child soldiers.
"That kind of assistance is still allowed under the law without invoking the waiver. That's why this is a disturbing step," said Jesse Eaves of the World Vision humanitarian organization.

Author's Note:
There are an estimated 300,000 child soldiers in the world today. This is one of the most disturbing forms of modern slavery aside from sex trafficking. Many children are orphans, or children of opposing sides, who become child soldiers through human trafficking and kidnapping. Due to their vulnerability and impressionability, young children are preferred because they can easily be controlled and forced to obey commands.

I do not know if it was the right or wrong decision by President Obama to sign the waivers. Time will tell. I do know that the U.S. government does need to work to help these countries eliminate the use of Child Soldiers and I hope that th aid being distributed to these countries will make it a top priority.

Below is a video from Project AK47, an organization working to end the use of child soldiers in Asia. You can also see more videos about child soldiers throughout Africa and Asia If you're looking for a book to read about child soldiers, I suggest the book War Child, by Emmanuel Jal. Be warned that the book is graphic and is not for the faint of heart. It will tear you down and hopefully build you up again, as it did me.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Celebrities against slavery: Sarah Jessica Parker & Gabourey Sidibe fight Brooklyn sex trafficking

Actress Gabourey Sidibe
Photo: Livingston/Getty

Sarah Jessica Parker, and Gabourey Sidibe are lending their star power in the fight against human trafficking in Brooklyn.

District Attorney Charles Hynes established a special sex trafficking task force to combat the growing problem within Brooklyn. Parker and Sidibe have joined the DA's office to create public service announcements about sex trafficking in Brooklyn and to raise awareness of the trafficking hotline 718-250-2770.

"These kids can be runaways or victims of abusive parents ...they're desperate, they're vulnerable and they're lost," said Oscar nominated Sidibe during a radio spot. "It makes me sick to think of those animals taking 12-, 13-, and 14-year-old girls and renting them out to a John."

"At least 100,000 American children are trafficked into prostitution in the United States each year," Parker said in a PSA. "It's important that we fight this plague that affects the lives of so many of our children...Let's help the Brooklyn DA get these dangerous people off the streets."

District Attorney Hynes announced the indictment of alleged pimp David Young, last Thursday.

Young, 27, is charged with forced prostitution of a 22-year-old immigrant, and mother, from Germany into the sex trade.

"He deprived of her food, he took away the passports of the victim and her children, he beat her and he branded her, forcing her to get tatoos that read 'Daddy's Girl' and 'One Dinero,'" said Hynes.

Two Lubbock residents arrested for sex trafficking of a minor

(left) Lloyd, (right) Thomas

Jay Lavone Lloyd, 40, and Taquolia Tameek Thomas, 19, of Lubbock, TX were arrested last Friday on felony charges for human trafficking and forced prostitution in Midland, TX.

The Midland County Sheriff's department put together an undercover sting after noticing a number of advertisements for escorts in the area. During the sting they made 7 other arrests and discovered a 17 year-old High School student, from Lubbock, being forced into prostitution. At the age of 17, the teen is considered a minor under Texas law.

Authorities believe that Lloyd and Thomas had been operating a sex trafficking ring throughout western Texas. “They travel all over Texas,” said but Midland Sgt. Ray Weatherby. Authorities are still investigating the extent of the trafficking operation, and believe it to be focused in the Lubbock, Midland-Odessa and Amarillo areas.

During the sting, officers posed as men buying sex at a local motel. Thomas spoke with officers on the phone to make arrangements to buy a prostitute.

The 17 year-old girl from Lubbock showed up at the room, agreed to have sex and accepted money from the undercover officers. After officers made themselves known, she told authorities she was forced into prostitution, given a condom and told to do whatever the clients wanted her to do.

Thomas and Lloyd were arrested when they came to pickup the teenage girl from the motel.

The teen was arrested and charged with misdemeanor prostitution, which authorities said was necessary for the case. Details from her statement and how she was forced into prostitution have not been made available by authorities.

Lloyd and Thomas are both in jail with a $500,000 bond for each of them. They are being charged with compelling prostitution and human trafficking.

Mafia puts hits out on film crew documenting sex trafficking in Cambodia

Movie still from "Redlight"

Redlight, is the latest film released by the K11 Project in cooperation with Priority Films. Narrated by actress Lucy Liu, Redlight is a documentary about the child sex trade in Cambodia.

The film itself is a "gut-wrenching life changer" as it shares the stories of children victimized by sex trafficking in Cambodia.

Below is the film description from the Redlight Website.

"Filmed over a four year period, REDLIGHT focuses on the personal stories of young Cambodian victims and two remarkable advocates for change: grass-roots activist Somaly Mam (one of my personal heroes) and politician Mu Sochua. Both have since been nominated for the Noble Peace Prize. The filmmakers Guy Jacobson and Adi Ezroni won the prestigious Global Hero Award for their work in Cambodia."

"Using footage smuggled out of brothels and harrowing testimonials, REDLIGHT follows the plight of several current and former child sex slaves. Some are trying to regain entry into Cambodian society to find some semblance of normality after their horrific experiences. Other stories highlight the plight of victims who are attempting to bring the perpetrators to justice. Their torturous yet ultimately heroic battles to find witnesses and take brothel owners to court are dramatically brought to life in this topical and moving feature documentary."

While filming, the K11 crew put their lives in danger as they circumnavigated Cambodian and Thailand mafia's, pimps and assassins.

"When the film crew arrived to shoot the investigative probe into the massive child sex industry, the Cambodian, Chinese, and Vietnamese mafia who controlled the industry had hits put out on the crew within days. It ultimately took 40 armed body guards to secure the cameramen and participants," reported Amanda Kloer of

K11 said the following on their website.

"Equipment is stuck at the borders as ransom - On the scheduled first week of shooting, Guy Jacobson (Producer) and Guy Moshe (Director) try to negotiate with the chinese mafia to free the equipment trucks that are held hostage across the Thai border. After millions change hands, the trucks cross the border safely and the shoot begins."

"...Meanwhile the Documentary crew risk their lives - The documentary crew gains access to the most incredible heart wrenching stories. BUT, even mentioning a connection to the narrative film would put the crew's life in danger. The two crews cannot stay at the same hotels and barely communicate via cell phones for fear they are tapped. On one occasion, the two crews sit at the same restaurant but do not exchange a single word in order not to raise suspicion."

In addition the Redlight, The K11 Project has produced the following films regarding sex trafficking.

Below is a trailer for the movie Redlight.

REDLIGHT Trailer from jillian selsky on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ron Soodalter, author of "The Slave Next Door" to speak in Austin, TX on Nov. 16th

Ron Soodalter is an author, historian and abolitionist. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Abraham Lincoln Institute and is a foremost expert on modern slavery.

Soodalter will discuss human trafficking and slavery in America today at St. Edwards University in Austin, TX on November 16th.

Soodalter is the author of The Slave Next Door: Human Slavery in America Today and Hanging Captian Gordon: The Life and Trial of an American Slave Trader.

The Kozmetsky Center at St. Edwards University invites the community to attend this free public lecture with the world's foremost expert in global and domestic slavery, Ron Soodalter.

WHAT: Ron Soodalter discusses human trafficking and slavery in the United States today.

WHERE: Jones Auditorium, Ragsdale Center, St. Edward's University, 3001 S. Congress Ave, Austin, TX

WHEN: November 16th at 7pm

COST: Free

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ashton Kutcher & Demi Moore Speak Against Slavery

Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore have long been involved with the modern abolitionist movement. They created the DNA Foundation and have shown great support for the US based charity Gems Girls, which combats sex trafficking of girls in the United States.

Last month, at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), husband and wife activists Ashton
Kutcher and Demi Moore announced the official launch of their "Real Men Don't Buy Girls" campaign.

"Not many people are aware that yesterday was the anniversary of the Lincoln's signing of the Emancipation Proclamation," said Kutcher. "The assumption is that slavery is a thing of the past. But there are more slaves in the world today than ever before. There are currently 27 million human slaves."
76% of the underage girls sold in the United States for the commercial sex trade are sold online. To combat this, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore have partnered with a number of silicon valley companies to create a technology task force. Companies included in the partnership are Twitter, Microsoft, Google, Facebook and many others.
"There is no way we could live in this world, and not do something about it," Kutcher said.

Ashton then momentarily breaks down as as he tells the tragic story of a young girl they met while touring the US Mexican border to learn more about the issue. The young Mexican girl told them how she was trafficked into the United states, taken to a field by her pimp, and then forcibly raped by 30 men in a row on a trash bag. This was they day they started the DNA Foundation.

"Real men don't buy girls. They protect them...We're recruiting real men who have the courage to stand up against this issue," Moore concluded.

You can join the "Real Men Don't Buy Girls" campaign by visiting the Demi and Ashton Foundation (DNA). You can also add your "Real Men Don't Buy Girls" picture to the campaign at the AbolitionistJB Blog.

25% of human trafficking victims enter through Texas

At a recent University of Texas in San Antonio summit against human trafficking, state Senator Leticia Van de Putte reported that an estimated 25% of all human trafficking victims in the United States enter through Texas.

The United States Department of Justice estimates that 14,000 people are trafficked into the United States each year.  85% of the victims trafficked are women and children.

If both of these reports are accurate, then approximately 3,500 people are trafficked through Texas each year.  2,975 of these victims are women and children.

Senator Van de Putte is working to raise awareness of human trafficking and to increase the penalties for those convicted of human trafficking.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How We Can End Slavery by 2035

To quote the Obama campaign, "Yes We Can!" And there is a plan to do so in the next 25 years. Professor Kevin Bales, abolitionist and President of Free the Slaves, gave this address at the TED Conference in February 2010. It's a basic synopsis of his book Ending Slavery, which I highly recommend.

So sit back, relax, maybe make some popcorn and take a listen as Kevin Bales explains how we can end slavery by 2035. Every Abolitionist should watch this.

Together we CAN end slavery. Together we WILL end slavery.

**Be sure to checkout Ending Slavery from your local library, or you can order it online from the link below. By clicking the link below to buy the book, 5% of your order will be donated to support the AbolitionistJB Blog and the production and distributing of abolitionist materials.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
- Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Thank You,
John Burger

DNA Testing Helps Combat Human Trafficking

DNA testing is one of the latest methods used to combat the global slave trade of human trafficking. The United States Department of Justice estimates there are nearly 27 million slaves worldwide, 300,000 slaves in the United States and over 13,000 people are trafficked into the United States each year. Texas has more cases of human trafficking than any other state each year.

Women and children make up 70% of the individuals trafficked into sexual slavery and forced labor. Often children are trafficked when they have been displaced and separated from their families due to natural disasters, such as the earthquake in Haiti. In addition, if these children escape traffickers, are discarded due to disease or rescued by police and non-profits, they are left orphaned with no recollection of where they came from.

This is where DNA testing comes in. The Human Identification Center (HIC) at the University of North Texas has partnered with the non-profit organization DNA Pro-Kids, the University of Granada’s Genetic Identification Laboratory in Spain and the Indonesia’s Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology identify displaced children and victims of human trafficking so they can be reunited with family.

Most recently, the HIC at the University of North Texas helped DNA Pro-Kids reunite 13 Hatian children with their families in Haiti. By positively identifying DNA matches and reuniting them with their families, these children were protected from the very real threat of human traffickers.

Other cases in the United States and Indonesia have helped reunite freed child slaves with their parents in far away villages. Parents are able to provide DNA samples of missing children which are then catalogued in the database and can be used to search and reunite families.

DID YOU KNOW? 10 Facts About Modern Slavery

1. There are over 27 million slaves in the world today. That's the equivalent of...
  • Enslaving all of Texas.
  • Enslaving all of Saudi Arabia.
  • The total number of NFL ticket sales over nearly 2 full seasons.
2. There are currently more slaves worldwide than during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

3. There are over 300,000 slaves in the United States. That is the equivalent of...
  • The number of people attending Disneyland over 9 days.
  • The population of New Orleans, LA.
  • The total number of children attending 500 elementary schools in the USA.

4. Over 14,000 people are trafficked into the United States each year.

5. The modern slave trade made over $32 billion in 2009. That's more than Google, Nike and Starbucks combined.

6. A runaway child will be contacted by human traffickers within 48 hours of running away.

7. The average age for a girl to enter into prostitution is 13 years old.

8. 85% of the people trafficked are women and children.

9. Human trafficking is the second largest criminal activity just behind drug trafficking.

10. There is a plan to end slavery by 2035.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Looking for a good Abolitionist Non-Profit to Donate to? Try Free Generation.

Free Generation needs your help and support. I have worked with this great organization on past projects and I give my full recommendation, including 2 thumbs up and a fist bump.

They just started a new fundraiser on Facebook Causes to raise $10K. This money will be used to print anti-trafficking materials that that will be distributed to high schools across Africa. This will help raise awareness and protect future youth from being tricked into slavery by traffickers.

"Misfar" Marriages = Slavery and Abondonment

Nearly 1,000 known children have been abandoned in Egypt by their Saudi fathers. Why? Because they are the children of Misfar marriages.

A Misfar marriage is essentially a tourist marriage of an Islamic man to a woman while he travels in a foreign country. The general purpose of these marriages is for sex. These women are often divorced with 1-4 weeks of the marriage, because the men fear what their families will say back in Saudi Arabia. Here is what makes this such a sad case of modern slavery.

1. Most of the Egyptian and Saudi-Filipino girls being married are younger than 16 years old.
2. The fathers of these girls are paid up to $4,000 Egyptian pounds to sell their daughters for a Misfar marriage. This is essentially high-priced prostitution.
3. Many become pregnant during the short marriage.
4. Many are disowned by their families after the facts of the Misfar marriage are made public, even though it was arranged by the guardian or father.

Women of these Misfar marriages have been advised to register their children so they will be recognized and the father can be forced to pay child support. Sadly, this does not always happen. There are reported to be over 900 abandoned children from Misfar marriages, but the numbers could be much higher.

The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, has spoken publicly against Misfar and Mutaa marriages to fulfill lustful desires. He said, "Traveling abroad to marry with the intention of divorcing upon return is not permitted in Shariah, and such acts would have detrimental effects on society, women and children from such unions."

I couldn't agree with the Grand Mufti more. It doesn't matter which race or religion you come from, but the practice of buying brides for sex is just high-priced sex slavery. Abandoning your children is an equal atrocity that carries extreme consequences on a society.

More needs to be done to defend these daughters and to hold the parents and "husbands," if I can even use that word, responsible. Under the law, the husbands can be punished and the children must be recognized and receive assistance from the father. As is the case with most forms of modern slavery, awareness and justice through prosecution are essential if changes are to occur.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tips & Examples to Fight Trafficking While You Travel: Part 1

Holiday Season Travel
With the Holiday Season upon us, many of us will be flying all over the world. We have to remember that human traffickers use the same routes we do, including flying. Thousands of people are trafficked via standard airlines each year.

I travel about 1-2 times per month for my job with Precision Time, abolitionist events, vacation, etc... Below are some examples and tips I have incorporated into my travels to help combat human trafficking.

Traveling by Airplane
#1 Be aware of children and any red flags

Testimony by Flight Attendant Sandra Fiorini:

"During my career with American Airlines I have seen many instances of human trafficking. While every instance has been different, there were always red flags that indicated that something was not right. Most of us are parents and when children of any age are involved we seem to be more keenly aware when these flags are raised."

Examples of what I
have seen can enlighten you to what is happening everyday:

  1. 18 year old boy with a newborn baby. No diaper bag, just one bottle and two diapers.

  2. 3 adults of same nationality with 5 children of all different nationalities and same age (4-5 yrs old).
  3. Prostitution tents at Redwood, CA campground. I saw men coming in and out.
  4. Young girls 15-17yrs old coming over from Russia thinking they are going to be models and work on TV in NYC, even though they didn’t speak any English. On a Moscow to Chicago direct flight.

#2 Report Suspicious Behavior

Tell flight attendants or airport officials.
Call the National Trafficking Hotline
(Save this in your cell phone!)
Don't be scared to do it. You may be saving a life.

#3 TassaTag Luggage (Spread Awareness)
Raise your hand if you own luggage. Go ahead and raise it for all to see. 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, you can help fight slavery with your own TassaTag. Here is a picture of me with my TassaTag.

As you can see, the TassaTag is very visible, colorful and an attention-grabber. Not only will your luggage standout when you try to find it on the luggage carousel, but the TassaTag stands out to make a great conversation starter and to help you spread awareness of modern slavery.

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.

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