Tag Archives: human trafficking

Hope for Sex Trafficking Survivors

Acer Aspire 4930G laptop, Author Jeff777BC (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Catie Hart was trafficked by a man she thought of as her boyfriend.  Their relationship became increasingly threatening, till the 18 y.o. was forced into prostitution.  Fear kept her from escaping.

The line between “boyfriend” and “trafficker” was intentionally blurred from the outset.  This type of grooming is typical.  Catie’s story did not though end there.  She is now training to become a computer programmer.

The fledgling non-profit AnnieCannons https://www.anniecannons.com/ helps survivors of human trafficking achieve financial independence by teaching them web design.  Since survivors are often stigmatized by a past which includes an arrest record, AnnieCannons, also, assists graduates of its program with networking and job placement.

Obstacles remain.  The non-profit operates on a small scale.  While involved with the program, survivors must provide their own food and housing.  With limited job skills, some continue to work in so called “gentlemen’s” clubs to do this.

But, as Helen Keller, said:

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.  Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”

Christ, of course, offers hope to all.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Cor. 5: 17).

[1]  Global Post, “This sex trafficking survivor is moving 0n — by learning how to code” by Arthur Nazaryan,  8/17/18, https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-08-17/sex-trafficking-survivor-moving-learning-how-code.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Shelter

“Unaccompanied minors” at south Texas border, Author US Customs and Border Protection (PD as work product of US Dept. of Homeland Security)

Levian Pacheco of Casa Kokopelli – one of eight federally funded private shelters Southwest Key operates in Arizona – has been accused of sexually molesting at least 8 migrant boys between the ages of 15 and 17 at that facility [1].

Fernando Negrete, also employed by Southwest Key, has meanwhile been charged with groping a 14 year old migrant girl [2].

The Arizona Dept. of Health has cited Casa Kokopelli for failure to complete background checks on employees.  Yet, Southwest Key has received over $1 billion in funds for its shelters.

Police nationwide have responded to hundreds of calls reporting sex crimes against immigrant children held by the government at shelters.

Tragically, this is not the only situation in which illegal immigrants are vulnerable to exploitation.  Fleeing poverty and violence, an estimated 17,000 to 19,000 immigrants are trafficked into the United States each year [3]. Continue reading

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Trafficked, Part 2

Lithograph of Vincent van Gogh's

Lithograph of Vincent van Gogh’s “Sorrow”, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Photographer/Source pic (PD Art-old-100)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Four unnamed women who allege they were forced into prostitution at a Maryland hotel have brought separate suits against the hotel where events took place [1][2].  The plaintiffs maintain that the staff of America’s Best Value Inn either knew or should have known that human trafficking was occurring on the premises.

Money Damages

This is among the first suits where money damages for human trafficking are being sought by victims from a “deep pocket” third party not directly involved with the trafficking.

The suit alleges the hotel failed to keep its premises safe.

The owner disputes this, saying that staff noticed nothing suspicious.  After the prostitution ring was uncovered, hotel procedure was though changed.  Rooms are now cleaned after three days, whether there is a “Do Not Disturb” sign in place or not.

Kidnapped

The women’s story is chilling.  As they describe it, the four were kidnapped; injected with heroin; then forced to engage in sex for money with men brought to the hotel.  All proceeds went to Cornelius Briddell, the head of the trafficking operation.

The women were rescued after one of the victims managed to message her boyfriend on Facebook.  Briddell was convicted in 2015, and sentenced to 145 years in prison.   The judge characterized his actions as barbaric.

Claiming to be a man of God, Briddell actually made a show of “forgiving” his victims. Continue reading

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Trafficked, Part 1

“White Slave” by Abastenia St. Leger Eberle (c. 1913), Source Journal Publication (PD-ArtlOld-100)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The website Backpage.com made tens of millions of dollars running “adult” classified ads for escorts and erotic services (many offering children).  Faced with a Senate investigation, a grand jury inquiry in Arizona, and two federal suits in California, the site removed such ads earlier this year [1A].

That has not stopped the trafficking of children.

Amber Alert

Labels like “Amber Alert” and “Lolita” (intended to signal the involvement of children in sexual activity) may have been replaced with phrases like “100% young” and “oh daddy can I be your candy” [1B].  But ads like those under investigation continue to run in the dating section of the site, as well as elsewhere online.

Children in the Sex Trade

The majority of children involved in the sex trade come from poor and dysfunctional families.  According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 35% of the underage prostitutes charged nationally are African American.  In some geographic areas, that percentage is even higher.

While it is uncertain how many children are forced into prostitution annually, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates there was an 800% increase between 2010 -2015 due to the increased sale of children for sex online.

Missing

“Scared and cold,
first night on the streets
Your body hurts
from your head to your feet…

Gotta dollar-fifty,
every penny gotta spend
Make a wrong move…Boom –
your life comes to an end

-Daniel, 16 y.o., “Run Away” [4]

According to the National Crime Information Center, there are some 435,342 children currently missing in the United States.  While custody disputes account for a large percentage of the children reported missing,  the suspicion by law enforcement is that the remaining children – at least those still alive – are being trafficked. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Emotional Abuse, Law, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Poverty, Prostitution, Rape, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault, Slavery, Violence Against Women

Time and the Value of Women

“Sales in Poznan”, Author MOs810 (CC-BY-SA-3.0 Unported)

‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher; ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’ ” (Eccl. 1: 2).

Clearly, women in Western culture are valued for their youth. We see this all around us.

Ads for every conceivable product from liquor to cable television feature young women (with two ton steel vehicles actually termed “sexy” to increase sales).

Then there are the countless products marketed to women for the ever present “problem” of aging (creams which claim rejuvenating power, hair dyes, Botox injections, and breast implants, to name just a few).  As if living were insufficient.

Starlets in flimsy clothing populate our magazines. Girls as young as 14 model for us, in the place of adult women. Meanwhile, women in their 60s seek plastic surgery – even in vitro fertilization – to prolong their saleability.

Each moment lived, a woman’s value decreases or so it can seem.

A Flight from Death

Perhaps the urge to remain young, or at least appear young, is a flight from death. If anything, however, it highlights the inexorability of time. The race is rigged. Everyone loses in the end.

Christians know that this jaded view is incorrect, incomplete since it fails to take God into account. Some 3000 years ago, when King Solomon composed the Book of Ecclesiastes (from which the quote above is taken), he deliberately wrote from that skewed perspective to drive home his point about the need for God in our lives.

Human nature has not improved much, in the intervening centuries. We remain susceptible to the adversary’s lies.

True Value

But if youth is valuable, maturity is no less so. Our value in God’s eyes does not diminish with age. It was never linked to time, in the first place. Our true value derives from the fact that we have all, male and female, been created by God and that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for our Salvation. Continue reading

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Help for Rahab

New York is the first state to establish a court system designed to assist sex workers in escaping prostitution.  Pilot courts have been in operation in Manhattan, Queens, and Nassau Counties for several years.

Eighteen states now provide services to children caught in the sex trade, rather than imposing prison sentences on them.  Reuters quotes Georgia State University law professor, Jonathan Todres, on this topic saying, “There’s a real urgency here. We need to recognize as a nation that these children are victims and survivors of violent crimes and abuse, and they should not be treated as criminals [1].”

New York’s specialized court system will link defendants with resources such as shelters, drug rehabilitation, medical treatment, education, and job training. Sex trafficking is already a crime in New York.

And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho” (Joshua 6: 25).

Some of you may remember the story of how Joshua conquered Jericho.  But before Joshua had the trumpets sound, he sent spies into the city.  Because they were shielded from discovery by the prostitute Rahab, she and her family were allowed to live when the city was taken.

That was not all.  As Matthew reports at chapter 1, verse 5, Rahab married into the line of David and what would become the lineage of the Messiah.

[1] “New York creates state-wide court system to help prostitutes,” Reuters 9/25/13, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/25/us-usa-newyork-prostitution-idUSBRE98O14520130925.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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Modern Slavery

Incomprehensible as it may be, millions today live out a modern version of slavery.  Men, women, and children are sold as if they were brute animals or inanimate objects, forced to work for little or nothing, and subjected to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. 

Human trafficking for sexual exploitation focuses heavily on women and girls.  Children (some as young as 5 or 6) may, also, labor as domestic or agricultural workers.  As many as 53 million children under the age of 15 routinely perform extremely hazardous tasks.

William Wilberforce, an English politician, philanthropist, and abolitionist, spearheaded the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade for over twenty five years, until passage of the Slave Trade Act in 1807.  Wilberforce then continued his efforts for over twenty five additional years, ultimately achieving passage of the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833.  His health had by then entirely failed, but his devotion takes one’s breath away.

That we are still addressing fundamental questions of liberty, justice, and equality nearly two centuries later – some 3500 years after they were first addressed in the Bible – is a reflection of what Christians would call the “sin nature” of man.  Our flawed human nature does not change from one generation to the next.  The same problems recur, albeit in different guise, one generation after another.

This might seem discouraging to non-believers, an argument for complacency.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  These are the front lines of the battle between good and evil, a battle each generation must fight for itself.  Christians know something that non-believers do not.  Though the battle may rage on, the war has been won.  It was won for us by Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Even the battle is not fought by our strength, but His.  That knowledge is empowering.  It carries us forward to accomplish the impossible.

Make no mistake.  This remains a tragedy.  We should be moved.  We should weep for these children, should pray, advocate, and fight for them.  We may not win the battle.  But our empathy, our common humanity, should be yet more threads drawing us together.

— Excerpt from Connecting Threads

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT:  http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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