The happiest people are those who do the most for others. The most miserable are those who do the least.
Booker T. Washington. 1856 – 1915. Educator.
The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.
We may not have the ability to change all of the world’s wrongs, but we can make a difference where we are.
Dillon Burroughs. Activist, Author.
- Blog: Read updated information on trafficking, abuse, trauma and treatment.
The reviews are written by the STOPP website staff, or by Guest Reviewers.
- President Trump’s Crucial Speech against Human Trafficking on Oct. 11, 2018Written by STOPP Website Staff (10/17/2018)
President Trump’s Crucial Speech against Human Trafficking on Oct. 11, 2018
President Trump had vowed a year ago to fight human trafficking and since then, the Department of Justice and the FBI have arrested record numbers of traffickers. President Trump spoke at the White House on October 11, 2018 to a gathering of people from various U.S. agencies and departments who have been fighting trafficking. One of the guests was Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) who was the Chair of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations when they moved the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act (SESTA) through Congress. This bill enabled the investigation and taking down of backpage.com, the largest trafficking site worldwide.
In this speech, President Trump renewed his vow to stop modern slavery.
- National Campaign to Detect and Deter Human Trafficking Introduced in the Virgin IslandsWritten by STOPP Website Staff (09/28/2018)
National Campaign to Detect and Deter Human Trafficking Introduced in the Virgin Islands
The Blue Campaign, a nationwide initiative to combat human trafficking that was originally promoted in all fifty states, was launched on September 20th in the U.S. Virgin Islands with training sessions hosted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The U.S. territory is made up of three islands in the Caribbean, totaling 133 miles square miles and located forty miles east of Puerto Rico. In the past, the Virgin Islands have had trouble with both sex trafficking and the trafficking of stolen babies.
Young women are forced into prostitution for a tourist base. This is a continual problem due to the Virgin Island’s poor economy that relies so heavily upon tourism and a police force that is underfunded and unequipped.
Another trafficking problem is caused by couples so desperate to adopt a child in the U.S. Virgin Islands that babies are stolen from nearby Caribbean islands.
The victims of human trafficking can be found in numerous and varied places throughout the islands, often hiding in plain sight.
Members of the U.S. Department of Justice and The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) head up the Blue Campaign and spread its message around the country. DHS facilitator Scott Santoro, who has helped to get the word out about the Blue Campaign and helped lead roundtable discussions about the issue, addressed the training session by saying, “There are so many crimes around human trafficking… Victims of human trafficking live under an intense control environment.”
“Trafficking victims move through the world under supervision. They are not allowed to speak to others, including those who might be in a position to help them,” DHS special agent Louis Penn, Jr. added.
The Blue Campaign Authorization Act was put into effect in February of this year. The campaign, made up of federal officials, works in collaboration with local law enforcement, government, non-governmental, and private organizations in teaching communities about human trafficking and combating the issue.
To view the entire article published in the Virgin Islands by St. John Source, go to the following link: https://stjohnsource.com/2018/09/16/national-campaign-to-detect-and-deter-human-trafficking-introduced-in-the-v-i/
For more information on the Blue Campaign, visit the Department of Homeland Security’s link: https://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign
For more info on Virgin Island trafficking issues check out Tom Bolt’s article. Bolt is chair of the Virgin Islands Uniform Law Commission and the Advisory Board of The Salvation Army, St. Thomas Corps. : http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/opinion/humans-should-never-be-for-sale/article_cc2622e3-b13a-5ba3-8a6b-d8f2a2dd6c02.html
- How to Spot Human Trafficking by Kanani Titchen – TEDxGeorge SchoolWritten by STOPP Website Staff (09/10/2018)
How to Spot Human Trafficking by Kanani Titchen – TEDxGeorge School
Kanani Titchen, M.D. is an Adolescent Medicine Fellow at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Bronx, New York. She is co-chair of Physicians Against the Trafficking of Humans (PATH), an anti-trafficking committee of the American Medical Women’s Association.
In this talk, Dr. Titchen describes her growing awareness of human trafficking as she advanced through her early career in medicine.
Since her eyes were opened to trafficking, Dr. Kanani has trained other physicians about trafficking. She has written articles for medical journals and for the lay press about child sex trafficking and the education of physicians.
This speech was given at a TEDx event.
- Training Opportunity: Sexually Exploited Children and AdolescentsWritten by STOPP Website Staff (08/16/2018)
Training Opportunity: Sexually Exploited Children and Adolescents
- October 22, 2018 in King of Prussia, PA: Crowne Plaza Valley Forge
- October 23, 2018 in Mount Laurel, NJ: Westin Mount Laurel
- October 24, 2018 in Wilmington, DE: Double Tree Wilmington
Registration: 7:30 am. Program begins: 8:00 am. Program ends: 4:00 pm.
Continuing Education Credit for Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, Occupational Therapists and Assistants, Psychologists, Social Workers, etc.
$199.99 per person for 2 or more preregistering together, or single registration postmarked 3 weeks prior to seminar date.
Register online: pesi.com/express/64544
Register by phone: 800-844-8260 with credit card
Register by fax: 800-554-9775
Register by mail: PESI, PO Box 1000, Eau Claire, WI 54702-1000
Sex Trafficking of Youth
- Legal and Clinical Definitions
- Risk Factors for Sex Trafficking
- Adverse Childhood Experiences
- Average Age of Entry
- Lack of Psychosocial Development
- Specific Vulnerabilities
- Limited Support in Environment
Assessment and Red Flags
- Tools or Screening
- Indicators of Trafficking
- Psychological Underpinnings of Entry to Trafficking
- Understanding Traffickers
- Grooming Victims
- Why Victims Stay and Why They Return
Treating the Trauma of Trafficking
- Evidence-based Treatment for Traumatic Stress
- Strengths-based Treatment
- Trauma-informed care v. Trauma-specific Services
- Treatment Matching for Different Types of Trafficking
Post-Traumatic Growth: Transformation from Victim to Survivor
- Discover Strengths by Working Through Trauma
- Resiliency v. Post-traumatic Growth
- Critical Questions: Perceived v. Actual Growth
- Case Examples: From Trauma to Recovery
Potential Treatment Obstacles and What to Do About Them
- Lack of Trust in Providers and Law Enforcement
- The Power of Trauma Bond
- Risk of Returning to Trafficking
- Instability of Care
Legal and Ethical Considerations
- Contradictions Between Client-centered Practice and Legal/Law Enforcement Needs
- Laws That Impact Trafficking Victims
- Safe Harbor Laws
- Age of Consent for Minors
- Prosecution of Trafficking Cases
- Role of the Clinician in Supporting Clients’ Rights to Self-determination, Safety, and Well-being.
- The Visa Transparency Anti-Trafficking ActWritten by STOPP Website Staff (07/30/2018)
A Polaris report that was based on data from the National Human Trafficking Hotline identified over 800 persons who were victimized by human trafficking through 2015, 2016, and 2017. All were in the United States working under temporary work visas. According to Polaris, “the temporary work visa system is badly broken.”
The individual work visa system is a patchwork of laws and regulations. There is a lack of transparency in the system, and a lack of accountability. Workers fall through the cracks and become victims of traffickers.
The Visa Transparency Anti-Trafficking Act of 2018, H.R.4777, has been sponsored by Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL-21). The bill has been introduced but has yet to pass either the House or the Senate. On 01/24/2018, it was referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security. It is currently in subcommittee in the House of Representatives.
Please urge the US Congress to pass the Visa Transparency Anti-Trafficking Act of 2018. The Visa Transparency Anti-Trafficking Act would modify data reporting requirements, and insure that the federal government keeps organized records on all temporary visa holders AND THEIR EMPLOYERS. This information would be publicly available. Thus, the temporary workers would be less likely to become vulnerable to exploitation.
Please contact your members of Congress and ask them to support this bill.
To find and contact your US Representative, go to www.house.gov and sort by your zip code, or scroll down for the address and phone number of the US House of Representatives.
To find your US Senator, go to www.senate.gov and sort by state.
- Operation Broken HeartWritten by STOPP Website Staff (07/15/2018)
The US Department of Justice is rigorously going after child sex offenders, and in a recent national sting operation called Operation Broken Heart, they were able to arrest more than 2300 child sex offenders and save 383 children. The operation was conducted over March, April and May of 2018 by Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task forces. ICAC task forces are located in all 50 states and are comprised of more than 4500 state, federal, local and tribal law enforcement agencies.
During the three months of the operation, the task forces investigated more than 25,200 complaints of technology-facilitated crimes against children. They also delivered more than 3700 educational presentations on Internet Safety to over 390,000 youths and adults.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated, “No child should ever have to endure sexual abuse. And yet, in recent years, certain forms of modern technology have facilitated the spread of child pornography and created greater incentives for its production. Any would-be criminal should be warned: this Department will remain relentless in hunting down those who victimize our children.”
For more information on Operation Broken Heart and on the ICAC task forces, read the complete article at the US Department of Justice webpage at the following link:
You can also visit the ICAC Task Force webpage at https://www.icactaskforce.org
Information on your state’s involvement in Operation Broken Heart is available. See the information at the end of the above article.
- I AM Little Red FilmWritten by STOPP Website Staff (07/01/2018)
The following information is taken from the official website of I Am Little Red, a ten-minute animated short film that is aimed at children who are most at-risk for being victimized by human trafficking. The film is available from many media sources, which you can find on the film’s website at https://www.iamjanedoefilm.com
I Am Little Red is the idea of Linda Cabot, a key funder of I Am Jane Doe, a documentary about three middle school girls who were victims of human trafficking, and their families’ fight against Backpage.com, the online classified site where they were sold. (For more information about the movie I Am Jane Doe, see our blog dated 03-28-2018 for a review and description of the film.)
Linda saw prevention as a goal of the I Am Little Red project, hence her choice of the animated short film genre, suitable for viewing by children. The target audience is children most at-risk for sex-trafficking, e.g., foster-care, runaway, homeless, LBGTQ, and adopted children, with the goal of awareness and prevention. The film is written by 10 survivors of sex trafficking, 14 – 21 years old, and Mary Mazzio.
The film is a contemporary re-imagining of the classic fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood. I Am Little Red addresses the four tactics a “wolf” (trafficker/pimp) will typically use to lure Little Red into danger.
Training materials are available with the film for education, and the film is already being introduced into agencies that work with at-risk youth.
Click on the link below for more information on the film and training materials, to view a trailer, or to order a copy of the film.
- Health Care Fight Against Trafficking
Advocates say the health care sector should do more to recognize and help the thousands of people who have been bought and sold in the U.S.By Gaby Galvin Staff Writer June 15, 2018, at 7:00 a.m.
The Health Care Fight Against Human Trafficking
Polaris, which operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline, identified 10,615 victims of human trafficking last year, though that is likely only a fraction of the total victims in the U.S. (Getty Images)
A trip to the emergency room or local health clinic can present a path to freedom for a human trafficking victim – but only if the symptoms of their situation are seen.
Now, led by local community clinics and health organizations, a growing movement is seeking to bring victims of sex and labor trafficking out of the shadows by pushing for better awareness of who they are among health care workers.
“Doctors have been seeing these patients for a long time, but we just never had the terminology or awareness that this was human trafficking,” says Dr. Kimberly Chang, who works with minors trafficked for sex work at Oakland, California-based Asian Health Services.
Working in a clinic for underserved teenagers, Chang began to recognize a troubling pattern: Patients sometimes had bad bruises, were regularly intoxicated, came in repeatedly for sexually transmitted infections or were angry or shut down. She says she “just kind of treated their medical issues” for a while – until she realized some of these issues could indicate the teens were being exploited in what’s been referred to as modern-day slavery.
Trafficking victims live across the U.S. and all too often are hidden in plain sight: at grocery stores and movie theaters, or visiting dentists and doctors’ offices. Because spotting them is key to stopping the abuse, advocates say doctors, hospitals and clinics should screen and treat potential victims of trafficking the same way they would approach someone who may have been a victim of sexual abuse or domestic violence – though doing so can be difficult.
“There’s not a clear consolidation of scientific symptoms that says, ‘This person is being trafficked,’ unlike, say, something like an infectious disease,” says Chang, who also is a co-founder of the HEAL Trafficking network, which takes a public health approach to the issue.
That same ambiguity applies to trafficking at large, as exactly how many people are sold for sex or labor in the U.S. remains a mystery. Polaris, a nonprofit that operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline, tallied 8,759 cases and 10,615 individual victims of human trafficking last year. The majority of victims were female, of adult age and trafficked for sex.
Yet experts say such figures likely represent only a fraction of total trafficking victims in the U.S. Many aren’t captured by formal statistics, and even fewer see their day in court.
“They’re incredibly challenging cases to prosecute for a number of different reasons, and one of them is the trauma bond with the youth,” says Dr. Kimberly McGrath, who runs a program for exploited minors through Citrus Health Network, a mental and behavioral health provider in South Florida. “But we do work with them to help them heal so that they can testify. The majority I would say (don’t end up in court), but we have had some success.”
Although more victims identified by Polaris came into contact with law enforcement than health services in 2017, advocates say health care professionals have a greater opportunity to intervene because they interact with potential victims more frequently, perhaps as they’re being treated for an illness or injury.
According to statistics cited by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, more than half of human trafficking victims visited an emergency department while they were being exploited, 44 percent came into contact with a primary care professional and more than a quarter saw a dentist.
Chang says all health care systems have a responsibility to address human trafficking, but community health centers – which serve about 27 million low-income or uninsured
Americans annually – play a unique role both in caring for the long-term mental and physical needs of those who have been trafficked in the past, and in preventing potential victims from ever reaching that point.
Some centers specialize in services for immigrants, seasonal farmworkers, homeless populations or those living in public housing. Because they see more marginalized groups that could be more likely to become victims, they have a special obligation to combat trafficking, Chang says.
“We’re a little bit different because we’re based on the ground in the community, in underserved communities,” she says. “We also have community health workers that are internal that help the patients navigate our system, and sometimes external, going out into the community. … As a system, I believe we’re much more integrated into the community and into the populations that we see.”
Still, many victims don’t identify themselves to health care professionals out of fear, shame or trauma. And while some providers have been striving to better recognize and serve human trafficking victims for more than a decade, most don’t know or are just now learning how to identify and care for them.
The challenge is compounded by the wide scope of trafficking victims, who can range from domestic workers whose passports have been confiscated to minors sold for sex.
“Who the victims of trauma are can be anybody,” says Jessica Sanchez, vice president of quality and operations for the Colorado Community Health Network, which represents 20 community health centers in the state. Since learning last year that Denver is a hub for human trafficking, her organization has been developing a framework to help clinic workers identify and treat victims.
“These patients are probably already coming to our health centers, so (we are) just trying to figure out how to identify them and then start to make partnerships in the community to refer them for housing and food and mental health care,” she says.
Doctors involved in anti-trafficking efforts say they need federal and state support, and that social services organizations and community groups also should be involved in developing a holistic approach to caring for trafficking victims, whose needs will vary. Someone being actively exploited may need legal services, housing or help dealing with substance abuse, while someone with trafficking in their past may struggle with depression or other mental health issues.
In January of 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Center as a resource for health care, behavioral health and social service workers. It seeks to improve care for victims as well as reduce the risk of being trafficked for those who may be particularly vulnerable to exploitation, such as the chronically homeless, someone who’s been in an abusive relationship or a teen with an unstable home life.
To ensure fewer victims slip through the cracks in the criminal justice system, it’s vital that health professionals step up to connect them with services, says Dr. Anita Ravi, founder and medical director of the PurpLE Clinic at The Institute for Family Health, one of the largest community health centers in New York.
“In medical school … you learn that heart attacks kill people and what else kills people, but we’re not taught … that humans kill people,” Ravi says. “And I think in the situations that I’m facing, it’s very often that the worst-case scenarios are not, ‘Oh, she’s going to go back to the ER, or hospitalization.’ It’s death, incarceration or deportation.”
Ravi operates the PurpLE Clinic out of a health center in lower Manhattan several days a week for victims of trafficking, violence and human rights abuses. Patients initially came to the clinic after other health organizations identified and referred them to her, but about a year and a half ago, they started coming in on their own, Ravi says.
She stresses the importance of understanding how patients’ social needs are tied to health outcomes. The five topics she always asks about – food, housing, employment, legal services and transportation – have helped her identify patients who may have been trafficked in the past or are at risk of becoming victims.
“I may have thought it was a domestic violence referral, and maybe it is now, but they had a history of trafficking, or their ex-trafficker is harassing them from jail and they’re waiting for them to get out,” Ravi says. “It has those kinds of complexities, so one form of trauma sometimes lends itself to identifying others, depending on where people are.”
Identifying victims can be half the challenge. Traffickers often manipulate their victims to keep them under control, so doctors should insist on seeing patients while they’re alone, even if that means calling a translator by phone if they speak another language, Chang says. And anyone vulnerable to trafficking should be screened for victimization, especially if they appear physically injured or abused.
Medical providers should look for a combination of factors to identify potential victims, including an inconsistent or seemingly scripted backstory, a lack of control over their money or time, or frightened or nervous behavior, according to a guide from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, which is operated by Polaris. Health professionals then can connect them with other services in a sensitive and patient-centric way.
“I have had people who are in active trafficking situations, similar to domestic violence, where if someone is ready to leave the situation, we’re able to connect them to right services – lawyers, housing, community-based organizations,” Ravi says. “Sometimes if they’re not sure, at least they know how to get ahold of us and know they can always come to see the doctor.”
Teenagers especially are hesitant to identify themselves as victims of trafficking, McGrath says. Her clinic works with 12- to 18-year-olds in Miami-Dade County, which she says is a hotbed for trafficking due to “a lot of factors: the travel and tourism, South Beach, the weather, the music industry.”
To identify potential victims of trafficking, McGrath’s clinic looks for signs like whether a teen has frequently run away from home or has returned home with expensive items they can’t explain. Tattoos and other markers, as well as multiple instances of sexually transmitted infections or pregnancies, also can be indicators.
“This is a public health issue, so we need health care providers to not only be trained in identification, but then linkage and follow-up and support for this population,” McGrath says.
Having a close eye on the community also is key to identifying victims and removing them from dangerous situations, advocates say. But health care’s role doesn’t end with recognizing someone is being or has been exploited.
“The health care system right now, understandably so, is very focused on identification of survivors,” Ravi says. “What I think my role in this movement is, ‘OK, you’ve identified someone. What does long-term care look like for this population?’ There’s no data out there on what a sixth visit looks like, or lifespan or quality of life, or what the mental health issues long-term are.”
Gaby Galvin, Staff Writer
- Uber Combats Human TraffickingWritten by STOPP Website Staff (05/30/2018)
Uber has partnered with national organizations to combat human trafficking through the education of its drivers. Uber is working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, EPCAT USA, the McCain Institute, and now Polaris, which sponsors a National Hotline. Uber drivers have saved children from the horror of human trafficking through their recognition of the signs of trafficking.
See the article below from the Uber Newsroom on what Uber is doing to educate its drivers.
And remember, do not try to intervene yourself, as traffickers are dangerous. Call the Hotline, or call your local law enforcement.
Click on the link below to see a video about an Uber driver who saved a 16 year old girl from human trafficking.
- Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA)Written by STOPP Website Staff (05/01/2018)
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, as amended, is likely the most important anti-trafficking law ever passed. Its definition of trafficking is still used today:
A human trafficking victim is a person induced to perform labor or a commercial sex act through force, fraud, or coercion.
Any person under age 18 who performs a commercial sex act is considered a victim of human trafficking, regardless of whether force, fraud, or coercion was used.
The TPVA combats human trafficking through a policy of the “Three Ps”:
- Prevention: includes raising awareness of the inhumane practices of trafficking, and seeking to reduce the “benefits” to the traffickers.
- Protection: identifying victims, providing medical care and shelter, and when appropriate, repatriating them.
- Prosecution: passing laws that criminalize trafficking, and jailing the traffickers who exploit others for profit.
The TPVA made human trafficking and slavery a federal crime, and addressed sex crimes, forced labor, involuntary servitude that is tied to a debt, seizing a person’s documents and withholding them, and peonage. By the authority of the TPVA, victims can obtain temporary legal immigration status, medical care, financial restitution, and sometimes witness protection.
According to the TPVA, the United States State Department publishes a list of nations and their efforts against Human Trafficking. The Trafficking In Persons (TIP) report ranks the efforts of countries to combat human trafficking in four Tiers.
The TPVA has been amended and added to in 2003, 2005, 2008, and 2013.
The TPVA expired in September 2017. Not only does the TPVA provide the legal foundation in the United States to fight human trafficking, but it authorizes the federal funding needed to provide anti-trafficking programs and resources to support and treat and protect victims and survivors of this horror, both in the United States and internationally. Please contact your members of congress and urge them to reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) as quickly as possible.
For more information on the TPVA, including definitions and details of the amended laws and benefits to victims, please click on the link below.
- Alaskan Airline Stewardess Saves Trafficking VictimWritten by STOPP Website Staff (04/16/2018)
This story is taken from The Sun, dated February 6, 2017. To quote the stewardess and others, “If you see something, say something.” Human traffickers are dangerous people and usually armed. Do not try to intervene on your own. But if you see what looks like Human Trafficking, do contact the authorities and allow them to take over. This is a story of a stewardess who did just that.
As a result, Airlines for America, the trade group for American air professionals, is offering anti-trafficking training for airline personnel.
For more information on the Alaskan Airline Stewardess, please click on the link below.
- SESTA Passes in the US SenateWritten by STOPP Website Staff (03/28/2018)The United States Senate has passed the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA). Kudos to Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who moved this bill through the Congress.
This bill updates the Communications Decency Act (CDA) which inadvertently protected websites like Backpage.com when they purposely advocated and facilitated online sex trafficking. The Senate Permanent Investigations Committee, chaired by Senator Rob Portman, was able to prove that Backpage.com knowingly advised traffickers as to how to word their online advertisements to skirt the law in order to sell minors for sex through the Backpage.com website.
SESTA is a major victory in the fight against slavery in this country, and a major victory in the fight for freedom for all of our citizens.
For more information on Backpage.com, the largest online market for slavery, and for more information on the Senate battle to stop them, see the resources below.
See the link to the Report: Backpage.com’s Knowing Facilitation of Online Sex Trafficking, written by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Chairman Rob Portman (R-OH). Ranking Minority Member Claire McCaskill, (D-MO).Movie: I Am Jane Doe.
https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Backpage%20Report%202017.01.10%20FINAL.pdf91% Rotten TomatoesGenre: DocumentaryRunning Time: 98 min.
American mothers battle sex traffickers and Backpage.com on behalf of their trafficked daughters. The film includes the history of Backpage.com, and there are scenes from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations as they interview the owners of Backpage.com and investigate the website’s role in the selling of minor children for sex.Released 02-10-2017.Director: Mary Maggio
Please click on the link below.
- Medical Assessment for Human TraffickingWritten by STOPP Website Staff (03/14/2018)
Labor and sex trafficking are physically and emotionally demanding. Victims of human trafficking will likely seek medical attention at some time. In one study, 88% of trafficked victims reported seeking medical care while being trafficked. Every person in a medical setting, doctors, nurses, administrative staff, psychologists and psychiatrists, dental offices, health educators, all are in a position to identify and to educate and help a trafficking victim.
It would be so helpful if human trafficking became a routine part of medical screenings and medical education. These victims are less likely to be missed if they are being actively looked for. Please review the following information from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, and share it with your medical center staff. Thank you for helping to end the scourge of this modern slavery.
- U.S. House passes bill to fight internet sex trafficking
People opposed to child sex trafficking rally outside of the Washington state Supreme Court on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, in Olympia, Wash. The court was hearing a case filed by three victims who say the website Backpage.com helps promote the exploitation of children. (Rachel La Corte, Associated Press)
WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives adopted a measure Tuesday that would close a legal loophole that has let websites like Backpage.com avoid criminal prosecution and lawsuits for facilitating sex trafficking.
The bill adopted by a 388 to 25 margin would clarify that existing communication laws don’t protect websites that “unlawfully promote and facilitate prostitution and contribute to sex trafficking.” It would also establish prison sentences of up to 25 years for some online sex traffickers.
Courts previously ruled the Communications Decency Act of 1996 shielded the websites from liability because they merely hosted third-party content and didn’t create it.
The bill’s sponsor, Missouri Republican Ann Wagner, said it would “empower victims, equip state and local prosecutors, and ensure websites can no longer traffic children with impunity.”
“In recent years, sex trafficking has moved from the streets to the Internet,” Wagner said on the House floor. “I find it hard to imagine that if a neighborhood business hosted a slave auction, the auctioneer would not be considered liable.”
The lead Democrat on the bill, Rep. Joyce Beatty of Columbus, said it would provide “urgently needed” clarification of the law, while safeguarding Internet freedom.
All Ohio congress members backed the bill except for Miami County GOP Rep. Warren Davidson. Although Davidson was an original cosponsor of the bill and fully supports efforts to fight use of websites that facilitate sex trafficking, a spokesman said he believes the bill’s current incarnation “blurs the lines to benefit trial lawyers instead of combating sex trafficking.”
Davidson’s spokesman noted the Justice Department has expressed several concerns about the bill, including the fact that its provisions would violate the U.S. Constitution’s “Ex Post Facto Clause” by making behavior that occurred before its passage illegal.
A White House statement applauded the bill’s passage but said the Trump administration “remains concerned” about parts the bill the Justice Department flagged.
“The President looks forward to continuing to work with Congress in order to hold people who participate in human trafficking accountable for their horrific crimes,” the statement continued.
The House measure includes provisions of an anti-sex trafficking bill that Ohio Republican Rob Portman introduced in the Senate. His bill has been approved by the Senate Commerce Committee, but has not made it to the Senate floor.
An investigative report from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Portman, found that Backpage.com was aware that sex traffickers and pimps used its services to promote child prostitution, and its claim to be a mere web host for ads “is a fiction.”
Portman and the Democratic co-sponsor of his bill, Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, released a statement that noted their bill “has 67 bipartisan supporters in the Senate, as well as strong support from trafficking survivors, anti-human trafficking advocates and law enforcement, 50 Attorneys General, the civil rights community, faith-based groups, the Internet Association and its member companies like Facebook and Google, and courts and judges who have made clear that it is Congress’ responsibility to act to protect online sex trafficking victims.”
Portman said “other priorities” have kept the full Senate from voting on his measure, and he hopes the House bill’s adoption will prompt action.
“We know what the problem is, we know how federal law can be changed to address the problem and we really have to get it done,” Portman said in a conference call with reporters.
- Your Hotel Room Photo Can Save a Trafficking VictimWritten by STOPP Website Staff (02/19/2018)
When people think of women or girls being prostituted, they often think of them standing on a street corner or dancing in a men’s club. More and more, however, traffickers are using the internet and hotel rooms. A trafficker takes a photo of the woman or child in a hotel room, and uploads it on the internet as a way of advertising that victim for sale. A hotel room works well for the trafficker because it can be paid for with cash, and the victim can be moved every few days or week, or more often if need be. The room is anonymous, and the trafficker thinks that they will be undetected.
In 2016, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis and the social action group Exchange Initiative developed an app to help locate and bring these victims home. TraffickCam, the app, urges travelers to use their smartphones to upload photos of their hotel rooms in order to create a database of room photos that can be compared with the photos posted online by traffickers. No personal information is kept except the phone’s GPS location. Photos with people in them will be rejected by the database.
Furniture, patterns in carpeting, drapes, pictures, accessories, even window views can provide information to law enforcement that can lead them to local hotels. Early testing showed that the app is 85% effective in identifying hotels. The database currently has 1.5 million photos from more than 145,000 hotels all over the country.
Exchange Initiative encourages business travelers, vacationers, truckers, airline employees, sports teams and any hotel users to download the app, and photograph your rooms at hotels and motels. Use is anonymous.
Donations to continue developing the database can be made at http://www.exchangeinitiative.com. Donations will be doubled through a $100,000 matching grant challenge from the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph.
Be an Abolitionist and fight Human Trafficking!
“Criminals take advantage of technology to advertise and coordinate illegal sex trafficking. We’re using new technologies to fight sex trafficking.”
- Online Sex Trafficking and the Senate Committee on InvestigationsWritten by STOPP Website Staff (01-31-2018)Most of us are aware that there is more and more knowledge available about Human Trafficking. Despite this awareness, and the law enforcement stings across the country in which alleged traffickers are arrested and victims are rescued, the incidents of Human Trafficking are increasing, not decreasing. This likely is due to online sex trafficking through such sites as backpage.com.backpage.com was previously part of the Village Voice, a progressive NY newspaper. The Back Page was a classified section of the paper which sold sexual activities. backpage.com eventually separated from the Village Voice and went online. backpage.com is now itself responsible for about 75% of the online commercial exploitation of minors.
In addition to the far reach and the efficiency of online sales, online sites are protected by a law passed by the US Congress, the Communications Decency Act, written in 1996. Ironically, the law was passed to prevent the sending of pornography to minors. But the law also protected the online sites from prosecution, should a commercial user of the site send illegal materials through the site. So, if you post someone else’s material on your site, you are not legally liable for the content of that material.
The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has for several years been trying to prosecute backpage.com to stop the publishing of sex traffickers’ ads for minor children. The owners of backpage.com have been hiding behind the Communications Decency Act, and stating that they are not liable.
Senator Rob Portman (R, OH), Chair of the Subcommittee, explains that if they can prove that backpage.com knows that the ads are featuring minor children, then the website should be held legally responsible. Through ongoing investigation, the Subcommittee has learned that backpage.com has actually advised the traffickers how to write and change their ads in order to bypass federal laws protecting children. This is the proof that the Subcommittee needs.
At this time, the Senate is debating the passage of a law to change this situation.
On the other side, the tech community is concerned that this legislation will move to censor the online community. But Senator Portman assures the Senate that the new legislation is narrowly written to focus on sex trafficking. It will not impair the tech community. In fact, there are members of the tech community and communications companies who have already been fighting trafficking, and many who support this legislation.
Please contact your US senators and ask them to support this legislation, SESTA, Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, to help put online traffickers out of business. Thank you.
To learn the names and contact information of your senators, go to www.senate.gov and sort by your state.
- www.stopptrafficking.com blog for Jan 2, 2018Written by STOPP Website Staff (01-02-2018)
President Donald Trump has proclaimed January 2018 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Here’s the full text of the proclamation from the White House website:
“During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we recommit ourselves to eradicating the evil of enslavement. Human trafficking is a modern form of the oldest and most barbaric type of exploitation. It has no place in our world. This month we do not simply reflect on this appalling reality. We also pledge to do all in our power to end the horrific practice of human trafficking that plagues innocent victims around the world.
“Human trafficking is a sickening crime at odds with our very humanity. An estimated 25 million people are currently victims of human trafficking for both sex and labor. Human traffickers prey on their victims by promising a life of hope and greater opportunity, while delivering only enslavement. Instead of delivering people to better lives, traffickers unjustifiably profit from the labor and toil of their victims, whom they force — through violence and intimidation — to work in brothels and factories, on farms and fishing vessels, in private homes, and in countless industries.
“My Administration continues to work to drive out the darkness human traffickers cast upon our world. In February, I signed an Executive Order to dismantle transnational criminal organizations, including those that perpetuate the crime of human trafficking. My Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons has enhanced collaboration with other nations, businesses, civil society organizations, and survivors of human trafficking. The Department of Health and Human Services has established a new national training and technical assistance center to strengthen our healthcare industry’s anti-trafficking response. The Department of State has contributed $25 million to the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, because of the critical need for cross-nation collaborative action to counter human trafficking. The Department of Labor has released an innovative, business-focused mobile app that supports private-sector efforts to eradicate forced labor from global supply chains.
“And this month, I will sign into law S. 1536, the Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act and S. 1532, the No Human Trafficking on Our Roads Act. These bills will keep those who commit trafficking offenses from operating commercial vehicles, improve anti-human trafficking coordination within Federal agencies and across State and local governments, and improve efforts to recognize, prevent, and report human trafficking.
“In addition to these governmental actions, Americans must learn how to identify and combat the evil of enslavement. This is especially important for those who are most likely to encounter the perpetrators of slavery and their victims, including healthcare providers, educators, law enforcement officials, and social services professionals. Through the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign, all Americans can learn to recognize the signs of human trafficking and how to report suspected instances. By taking steps to become familiar with the telltale signs of traffickers or the signals of their victims, Americans can save innocent lives.
“Our Nation is and will forever be a place that values and protects human life and dignity. This month, let us redouble our efforts to ensure that modern day slavery comes to its long overdue end.
“NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States do hereby proclaim January 2018 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, culminating in the annual celebration of National Freedom Day on February 1, 2018. I call upon industry associations, law enforcement, private businesses, faith-based and other organizations of civil society, schools, families, and all Americans to recognize our vital roles in ending all forms of modern slavery and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities aimed at ending and preventing all forms of human trafficking.
“IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.”
DONALD J. TRUMP
- New Technology to Fight TraffickingWritten by STOPP Website Staff (12-20-2017)Most of you know Ashton Kutcher is an actor. He founded Thorn, a foundation which uses advances in technology to find and save trafficked children. You can go to https://youtu.be/HUmfsvegMRo and watch Mr. Kutcher testify before Congress re: Thorn’s technology and its amazing success.
On the video, Mr. Kutcher tells of a 15 year old girl who was taken in California. Homeland Security, who is actively trying to save these trafficked children, had been tracking this girl for three years. They kept seeing her picture online as she was offered for sale, but they could never actually locate her. They asked Thorn to step in. Thorn software found her in three days! This is wonderful and amazing news!
When Mr. Kutcher testified before Congress and told this story, he went on to say that it is one thing to find these children. But he noted that there are not enough beds to treat them, once they are found.
Mr. Kutcher is correct.
According to the FBI and the Department of Justice, there are about 500,000 women and 300,000 minors who are trapped in this life. They are literally slaves, held captive by traffickers. Thorn’s software will make it possible to find and rescue more of these victims. And if a woman was able to escape, or if a child was rescued by the police, we do not have the facilities to treat them as they need. I have heard through conversations with agency directors, and with women who work on the streets, that 80% of the women you see in the sex trades do not want to be there, and would leave if they had a safe place to which to run.
There are literally no empty beds at agencies in my community.
I spoke with a Field Supervisor of a Salvation Army of a large city that has begun taking in rescued women. The women can only stay for 6 months, which is longer than most facilities. There is no psychotherapy or trauma work done with them. The Field Supervisor told me that she is afraid that the women will return to their old lives when they leave after six months, because the agency has not been able to give them enough.
It has been my dream for years to have a comprehensive, restorative, longer-term facility for these victims, so that when they leave us, they have a real chance at a healthy life. If you are interested in partnering with me in this, please email me. www.STOPPtrafficking.com
- Commercially Exploited Boys and YouthWritten by STOPP Website Staff (11/06/2017)
Although we often focus on women and girls when we speak of sexual trafficking, we are aware that this happens to boys and male youth, as well. The following information is taken from an article written by Steven Procopio at Youth Today. Mr. Procopio emphasizes that often, law enforcement, courts, social services and others who work with sexually trafficked victims do not see the boys as victims, but as possible or future perpetrators.
We need to be more aware of the background that leads boys into sexual exploitation, and be aware of their needs, as well. The male victims have much in common with their trafficked sisters, including being at risk youth. They often experience lack of adult guidance, lack of a caring adult in childhood, and poor educational and occupational opportunities. According to a study commissioned by Covenant House, 78% of responders stated that they were first survivors of sexual abuse and/or other traumas. Like girls who are trafficked, their childhoods often included sexual abuse, broken homes and homes with domestic violence, gangs in the neighborhood, runaway behavior, poverty, family substance abuse history, and time in the foster system.
Like the girls, these boys are often depressed, anxious, and engage in self-mutilation. They experience sleep disturbance, eating disorders, and difficulties in maintaining intimate relationships. They are often suicidal and truant. More than the trafficked girls, the boys are often involved with the criminal justice system, set fires, and engage in more risk-taking behavior.
As boys and male youth are sent away from their family homes for being gay, bisexual, or transgender, they are at high risk for being commercially sexually exploited to meet their survival needs. A 2001 study indicated that most of the data in the field emphasizes the plight of GBTQ youth, but their research indicates that most sexually exploited youth are heterosexual.
In a Boston study, boys were less likely to be involved with a pimp, and more likely to be involved with a club manager, and/or they came into commercial sex through their families. However, we now know that pimps are diversifying their “services” to include various populations, including girls and boys, trans youth, youth of color, etc.
Like they do with girls and women, some pimps house the boys. But also, there are pimps who connect with a youth on the street and rather than taking the youth into his permanent “stable,” he will ask the boy if he is interested in making money that evening, drive the youth to an area where the youth preforms sexually, and then the youth is brought back. The boy may not see that pimp again, but may be picked up by other pimps who are also fee-for-service.
We are less aware of the needs of boys and young men partially due to the unwillingness of boys to self-identify as victims due to their own concerns about the perception of others about their sexual orientation. Also, law enforcement and anti-trafficking workers are less likely to consider boys as victims. Due to their involvement with the law, boys are often not seen as victims, but as offenders, and so they are often moved to the criminal justice community and do not receive the help that they need.
Boys who responded to researchers noted that their greatest needs are for safe housing, educational and occupational opportunities and training, compassionate and non-judgmental health care providers, and long-term behavioral health care from providers well-trained to work with this population.
To read the entire article, written June 20, 2017, click here: http://youthtoday.org/2017/06/more-awareness-needed-about-boys-who-are-commercially-sexually-exploited
- FBI Rescues More Than 80 Children In Nationwide Human Trafficking StingFrom the Huffington Post on (10/19/2017)
The FBI, along with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, recovered 84 children and arrested 120 suspected traffickers as part of a nationwide initiative. Operation Cross Country XI, ran from October 12 to October 15 and involved 55 FBI field offices and partners in Canada, the United Kingdom, Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines. Half of the arrests occurred in Georgia.
The staging grounds included hotels, casinos, truck stops, street corners and online. The average age of the victims was 15, and the youngest was only 3 months old. The baby was rescued in Denver, where she and a 5 year old girl were being offered to an undercover agent in exchange for $600. In Baton Rouge, an 18 month old was presented to an undercover officer as a customer.
John Clark, President and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said that “Child sex trafficking is happening in every community across America.” He said that he hoped that the FBI operation “generates more awareness abut this crisis impacting our nation’s children.” According to the news, all of the victims rescued will receive assistance from state protective services and the FBI’s Victim Services Division. “If necessary, they also will be provided medical and mental health counseling.”
To read the complete article, click here: https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_59e85f96e4b00905bdaec9d8?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009
Kudos and many thanks to the FBI, The Center for Exploited Children, and their international partners for the extraordinary planning and effort that went into this project. A sweep this large, involving 55 FBI field offices across the country, which saved 84 children from a life of degradation, abuse and hell, is incredible news. As a mental health clinician, I am unspeakably grateful for this fine work. We can only ask for more operations like this.
At the same time, we feel outrage at the victimization of these children, toddlers, and even an infant. The emotional abuse, the rapes, the beatings, the forced drug use and addiction, the control, all of this is a horror that is difficult to even imagine for adults and adolescents. There are some people who flatly refuse to believe that this can happen to small children, toddlers and infants. But one of my trafficked clients explained to me how her parents had prepared her from infancy, in her crib, to be used for prostitution. This happens more often than we care to imagine.
Years ago, I was discussing this issue of parental abuse and trafficking of children with a man who is an academic scholar and researcher on the Holocaust. I have for over twenty-five years called this abuse, this slavery, a Hidden Holocaust, because for years, no one was talking about it. Ironically, this man who researched and wrote for others to believe in the truth of the Holocaust of World War II, denied that what I was telling him could be true. He is a good man, a nurturing father and a loving husband. He could not fathom that any father or mother would do this to their children. Most people are like this. But it is important that we break through that denial to bring to light the evil that is happening in our midst.
Many people believe that the trafficking happens in other countries, or that it happens to people brought to this country from other nations. Both of those are true. But there are hundreds of thousands of American-born victims being trafficked here, or taken to Canada or other countries and sold there.
And what of these children? I became concerned when I read in the news report that these children would be given medical and mental health treatment “if necessary.” “If necessary?” I believe that it is a given that these children will need that treatment. If the children were abducted from a loving home, that trauma would call out for psychotherapy.
If the children were sold or trafficked by their own parents and were not separated from them until the FBI raid, the treatment is still necessary. These parents have not just made a spontaneous bad judgment. Anyone who does this to a child has been abusive and not bonded in their relationship with that child.
And who will care for these children? Sadly, the foster care system is often a place of abuse and trafficking in this country.
This rescue operation is hopeful and wonderful. And we have so much more to do. But thank you to those involved in Cross Country for this huge step forward.
From the Episcopal News Service: The Anglican Church of Canada is fighting human trafficking and has formed a new discernment group and developed an online human trafficking hub with information and resources. “Crucial to this process will be identifying Anglicans involved in work against human trafficking,” the statement said, as they called on those working to eradicate human trafficking to contact them. To read the entire article, go to http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/lens/2017/08/01/canadian-anglicans-step-up-fight-against-human-trafficking
From The Intelligencer: State Rolls Out Human Trafficking Guidelines for EMS Providers. Bruises, infections, pelvic pain, chronic back pain, difficulty breathing, panic attacks — these are just a number of the complaints EMTs and paramedics treat patients for on a regular basis. But these are also some of the symptoms that point to a possible victim of human trafficking, making those victims look a lot like many of the people EMS providers are used to helping. So how do they tell the difference? To read the entire article, go to
- Upcoming Trainings: Dates, Times, Locations of trainings and seminars on Human Trafficking or abuse.
Trainings are listed in chronological order
September 29, 2017, 8 am — 1:20 pm. The Health Care Professional’s Role When Faced with Human Trafficking. Fran and Earl Ziegler College of Nursing, the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Room 138. 1100 N. Stonewall Ave, Oklahoma City, OK. $50. Complementary for Consortium Employees. To register, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
September 30, 2017, 9:00 am — 4:00 pm. School-based Sex-Trafficking Prevention. Arizona State University, Downtown Campus, Westward Ho, Concho Room. 618 N. Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004. http://tinyurl.com/SchoolPrevention
October 11, 2017, 9:30 am — 3:30 pm. Hiding in Plain Sight — Unmasking Human Trafficking. Emergency Management Building, 185 Water Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701. Register by October 4, 2017. $25. Complimentary for members of The PA Association on Probation, Parole, and Corrections. Contact: Claudia.email@example.com
October 17, 2017, 9:30 am — 3:30 pm. Hiding in Plain Sight — Unmasking Human Trafficking. Westmoreland County Courthouse, 1st Floor. 2 N. Main St. Greensburg, PA 15601. Register by October 10. 2017. $25. Complimentary for members of the PA Association on Probation, Parlo9e, and Corrections. Contact: jhanley@pagov or firstname.lastname@example.org
October 20, 2017, 9:30 am — 3:30 pm. Hiding in Plain Sight — Unmasking Human Trafficking. PA Depot of Transporaiton, 7000 Gerdes Blvd, King of Prussia, PA 19406. Register by October 13, 2017. $25. Complimentary for members of The PA Association on Probation, Parole, and Corrections. Contact: email@example.com
October 27, 2017, 9:30 am — 3:30 pm. Hiding in Plain Sight — Unmasking Human Trafficking. PENN DOT Riverfront Office Center, 1101 S. Front Street, Harrisburg, PA 17104. $25. Complimentary for members of The PA Association on Probation, Parole, and Corrections. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com