Tag Archives: human trafficking

Time and the Value of Women

Models walk the runway during Miami Fashion Week 2019, Author Fashion photographer James Santiago (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

‘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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Domestic Violence in Japan

Neon signs in Kabukicho, a “red light” district in Shinjuko, Tokyo, Author Basile Morin (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

Domestic violence is not solely a Western phenomenon.  As of June 2017, there were 72,455 cases reported in Japan [1A].  That set a new record.  However, only 2.2% of the victims of spousal abuse there actually contact police.

A Private Matter

Japanese law does allow courts to issue restraining orders [2].  However, domestic violence is largely viewed as a private matter.

In one survey, 58.2% of the 650 victims injured did not feel their problem warranted police help [1B].  Another 34.3% did not seek police intervention because they believed themselves partly at fault, while 22.3% felt police intervention would be pointless.  Many did not recognize that they had been victimized. Continue reading

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“Commercial Surrogacy” by Kaeley Triller Harms

Abdomen of a pregnant woman, Author Canwest News Service, Source https://article.wn.com/view/2009/03/19/Vitamin_B12_deficiency_linked_to_birth_defects/, (PD)

The state of Washington legalized commercial surrogacy in 2018, despite opposition by children’s rights advocates [1].  A list of the states which allow surrogacy in one form or another can be found at https://www.creativefamilyconnections.com/us-surrogacy-law-map/.bi .

“Last year I sat in stunned silence at a WA State Senate hearing concerning the matter of commercial surrogacy.  The proposed bill contained 55 pages of legislative text full of demands and bloviations about alleged parental rights.  Its goal was to legalize commercial surrogacy without limit through the entire state.

I listened as concerned citizens pointed out the many dangerous loopholes in the bill and requested amendments that would safeguard both the women and children from potential abuse, but every request was categorically shot down as unnecessary.

There were no limits whatsoever to prevent abuse:

  • No required background checks for prospective parents (Convicted pedophiles could commission children.)
  • No limit to the number of children any given person could order. (One millionaire from Japan has fathered at least 13 children via surrogacy.  His expressed goal is to father at least 1000 over time)
  • No limit to the amount of compensation any given surrogate can receive (Hello, money-hungry human traffickers)
  • No requirements for surrogates to be WA State residents (Again, traffickers?)
  • No language preventing mentally disabled women from being exploited for commercial gain

In all 55 pages of text, there was but one single solitary reference to the needs of the child.  The rest was emotionally manipulative language revealing a deep seated sense of entitlement and a devil-may-care attitude toward the myriad ethical implications on the people most greatly affected by surrogacy- the women and children.”

Continue reading

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Forced Panhandling

“The Old Beggar” by Louis Dewar (1916) (PD-Art, PD-Old)

Leaders of the non-denominational Imperial Valley Ministries appear to have devised a new form of clergy abuse.  They are alleged to have imprisoned dozens of homeless, forcing them to panhandle 9 hours/day on the church’s behalf [1].

The church’s programs are billed as drug rehabilitation.  Destitute men and women were lured with offers of free food and shelter, along with promises of the funds to return home.  Instead, victims were required to adhere to strict rules, and denied food if they disobeyed.

Church members held them captive in group homes with deadbolts, taking their identification documents from them.  In some locations, windows were, also, nailed shut.

Meanwhile, church leaders stole Food Stamps and Welfare benefits from victims, threatening to remove children, if their parents tried to leave.  Others were told their loved ones had abandoned them and only God loved them.

Whatever this was, it was not Christianity.

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven…Many will say to Me in that day, ‘…have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matt. 7: 21-23).

[1]  USA Today, “A church needed money, so members held homeless people captive and forced them to beg, prosecutors say” by N’dea Yancey-Bragg, 9/11/19, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/09/11/church-held-homeless-people-hostage-forced-them-beg-feds-say/2285143001.

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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Courage

Motivational poster, Cadiz, Spain, Author Emilio Rodriguez Posada (PD)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Courage comes in all shapes and sizes.  In this instance, it took the form of a captive 14 y.o. girl, in fear for her life.

The girl was a Michigan runaway, kidnapped in Indiana, and forced into prostitution in California.  Though aware that her kidnappers would monitor calls, she bravely reached out to the non-profit, Crisis Text Line, which then contacted police.

As a result, the San Jose Police Dept. raided Motel 6, locating the girl and two other women held there against their will.  Antoine Williams, Christopher Lyon Johnson, and Curtis Lee Russell were arrested, and charged with kidnapping, pimping, and human trafficking.

Crisis Text Line https://www.crisistextline.org/ is a free service that connects people in crisis with counselors.  Over 100 million messages have been processed to date.

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you.  He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31: 6).

[1]  People, “How a Text From a 14-Year-Old Girl Busted an Alleged Sex Trafficking Ring” by Christine Pelisek, 5/31/19, https://people.com/crime/text-14-year-old-girl-alleged-sex-ring/ .

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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Systemic Evil

  • Child Sexual Abuse Imagery on YouTube. A large volume of child erotica is being monetized on YouTube [1].  The YouTube algorithm unwittingly works to favor child sexual abuse imagery.  Disney, AT&T, Hasbro, Nestle, and McDonald’s have pulled advertising over the fact their ads are running on videos of young girls which pedophiles have sexualized.  YouTube is blocking predatory comments, but not taking down these videos though social media is often used to facilitate grooming.
  • Violation by Labor Secretary of Crime Victims’ Rights Act.  Judge Kenneth Marra has ruled that Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act when he arranged a plea deal for multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein without informing victims [2].  Despite having engaged in human trafficking and the abuse of more than 80 underage victims, Epstein was sentenced to a mere 13 months in a private wing of the Palm Beach county jail.  Acosta, then the US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, not only failed to prosecute Epstein under federal sex trafficking laws, but denied victims their opportunity to oppose the plea deal in open court or appeal it.  Moreover, the secret plea deal shut down an ongoing FBI investigation, guaranteeing Epstein and his co-conspirators immunity from further prosecution.

Continue reading

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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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