A call to action!!

Tell Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to pass
S.2925 “Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010”
On December 9th, the U.S. Senate passed S.2925, “Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence
and Victims Support Act of 2010.” This bipartisan legislation was introduced by Senators Wyden
(D-OR) and Cornyn (R-TX) and was passed with unanimous consent in the Senate. On
December 21st it passed in the House but with changes that will be unfavorable to Senators Kyl
and Sessions. We need them to understand the importance of S.2925 and remind them of what
good they will do if this bill passes. We have only 24 to 48 hours left!!!
What you need to know about S.2925:
• It will provide $2m to $2.5m a year in funding to six state and local pilot projects to serve and
shelter child victims of sex trafficking
• Funds can be used to empower law enforcement efforts to combat the sex trafficking of
• With less than 100 beds in shelters across the nation, these funds are critically needed to
help restore exploited children. Law enforcement has expressed frustration that when they
discover an exploited child, there is nowhere safe to put her for help.
• Law enforcement needs assistance to ensure that traffickers and buyers of sex with
vulnerable girls and boys don’t continue to get away unpunished.
• Senator Kyl feels strongly about crime victims’ rights. If you call his office, remind him that
child victims of prostitution are victims and need his support.
• Senator Sessions was a U.S. Attorney and cares a great deal about law enforcement.
Remind him that these funds will also be used to support the men and women working to
combat this crime.
Calling your Senator is easy! Just review the instructions below and use the sample language
as a guide. Use your own voice and remember, your legislator wants to hear from you!
What you must do:
1. CALL KYL (AZ) OR SESSIONS (AL) TODAY! Calls are the most effective and powerful way
to urge Congressional action. We ask you to pick up the phone and let them know you
support this legislation.
Arizona Constituents call Senator Jon Kyl: (202) 224-4521 or
Alabama Constituents call Senator Jeff Sessions: (202) 224-4124 or
2. You will likely get a front desk or policy staffer. Tell them you are calling about S.2925,
“Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act”:
“Hi, my name is [ ], and I am a constituent of Senator [ ]. On Tuesday night the House
passed S.2925, “Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of
2010.” This bipartisan legislation will fund state and local efforts to assist child victims of sex
trafficking. Funds will be used to increase victim services, provide law enforcement more
resources to combat sex trafficking of children, and fund deterrence and outreach efforts.
I urge Senator [ ] to support this critical legislation. Children exploited in prostitution need
the Senator to remember them. These victims have rights and need his support today.
3. After you complete your call, send a follow-up email to the Senator you called thanking him.
Here is some sample language you can use as a guide:
Dear [ ]:
I am a constituent who is very concerned about the sex trafficking of children in the United
States and in my state. I called your office today to urge passage of “Domestic Minor Sex
Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010.” The House passed S.2925 on
Tuesday evening. I urge the Senate to adopt and pass S.2925 immediately and without
Today, there is a severe lack of services for child sex trafficking victims in the United States.
This legislation helps address this by supporting holistic, multidisciplinary approaches that
bring law enforcement, non-profits and agencies together to combat the problem. Block
grants will fund collaborative programs in up to six regionally diverse areas across the U.S.
Each grant will help increase victim services while increasing law enforcement resources to
investigate and prosecute traffickers. Outreach and awareness efforts are also supported.
Thank you for acting to protect our state’s and our nation’s children and to stop sex
trafficking. Please adopt and pass S.2925 in the Senate and close the severe gap in victim
services and law enforcement resources.

Street Smarts: Homeless LGBT youths are vulnerable to sexploitation

Joshua Scarpuzzi – SDGLN Contributor
December 17th, 2010
Josh Scarpuzzi
Related Stories
SAN DIEGO — Every night, on the mean streets of San Diego, thousands of youths struggle to survive without money, a job or even a roof over their heads. They often sleep under bridges and overpasses, in overgrown canyons or with whomever makes a tempting offer to spend the night.

Many of these homeless kids are a largely invisible part of our LGBT community and have been kicked out of their homes after coming out. Rejected by their loved ones, they frequently have no place to call home.

I was once one of these kids.

To make a living and survive these harsh conditions on the streets, many of these youths are lured into child sex trafficking with promises of money and a place to stay. Sadly, it’s the start of a downhill spiral leading to drugs, violence, sexually transmitted diseases and, most of all, a terrible scenario they never imagined: a tender life bound into sexual slavery.

You may have heard about this growing problem on shows like “Dr. Phil,” NBC’s “Today Show,” even “Oprah.”

Actress Demi Moore calls it America’s “dirty little secret.” But child sex trafficking is not high on the list of importance in today’s society, which is overwhelmed with grim economic news, massive unemployment, and the collapse of the housing and lending industries.

Child sex trafficking is not going away in America, and it is an even bigger problem here in San Diego, where a mild climate and “beach town” mentality can ease the pain and fear of living on the streets. The FBI considers San Diego a “key trafficking center.”

The problem is so big in San Diego that America’s Finest City was deemed as a HICPA, or High Intensity Child Prostitution Area. That designation followed the 2001 publication of the University of Pennsylvania document, “Silent Emergency: The Commercial Exploitation of Children,” a comprehensive study involving 28 U.S. cities and 300,000 to 400,000 children.

For more facts on human trafficking, click here.

How youth sex trafficking is affecting our community

Of the estimated 1.6 million homeless American youths, about 30% identify as LGBT. Gays and lesbians make up about 12% of the nation’s population, therefore these numbers in the homeless community are more than double that of heterosexuals.

In one prominent study, results show that 50% of gay youths feel unwanted by their parents after coming out, and 26% are told they must leave their home immediately.

Having gone through this in my own life, I fully understand the feelings involved with being kicked to the curb, being lost, needing to feel loved, needing that reassurance from grown-ups.

Unfortunately, many of our LGBT youths in San Diego are currently enticed by the sex industry. Not only are LGBT homeless youths at extreme risk for sex trafficking, but they are also at risk for self-prostitution at local hookup sites and in online sex chat rooms. Then there is the lure and coercion of the porn industry.

When I was left to fend for myself on the streets, I was immediately lured into the pornography industry. I was without a place to sleep, without money, and without the feeling of belonging, and I was promised these things by the directors, producers and workers of the porn industry. San Diego is a gay-porn mecca with major adult film companies continually searching for new “models.”

I was young and naive and had no positive influences in my life when I was abruptly thrown out of my home. I turned to this industry without a thought and only months later realized the downward spiral my life was taking. I had to learn that while money and sex may be fun in that moment, it will never replace the deep holes I was trying to fill. These days, I still reap the continuing consequences of my actions years ago.

I still encounter constant judgment and face relationship issues over my choices of the past. I will always be haunted because I know that through making these movies, strangers will be able to view my body on those DVDs. Do I regret it? Deeply. And I can only do my part now to help other youths from taking the same path I did.

I credit not only my own self-realizations, but also the help and support of organizations such as The Center in Hillcrest, as well as counseling and my wonderful boyfriend. He continually encourages me to work on myself, learn from the past, and be a better person. He makes me the best person I can be, and I love him with all my heart.

With the number of homeless San Diego youths reaching into the thousands many other young boys have no positive influences in their lives and are often turning to the sex industry for reassurance, love and acceptance. In a community filled with drugs, parties, sex and exploitation, it is imperative that organizations such as The Center and SDGLN are present in our community to show a positive path for the next generation of LGBT people.

Police in Gabon raid markets, rescue 140 children in operation to combat child trafficking

By: The Associated Press

 LYON, France – Interpol says police have raided markets in Gabon and rescued more than 140 children, some just six years old, who had been trafficked from 10 different countries to work as forced labour.

A statement said police also arrested 44 people in the Dec. 9 to 11 Interpol-led operation in the central African country’s capital, Libreville, for detaining the children.

The international police organization said on Monday that some of the children were forced to carry heavy goods while others sold products.

The statement did not specify where the children came from or how they got to Gabon.

France-based Interpol said the investigation continues and more such operations are planned. Operations to combat child trafficking have also taken place in Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso.

Old-Fashioned Gold Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, mix up this magic:
Bowl #1
2 ⅓ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 ¼ cup Fair Trade Certified sugar
Blend with fork or electric mixer.

Ready to whip up some frosting for your cake?
1/2 cup butter
4 teaspoons buttery spread (like Earth Balance)
1 teaspoon Fair Trade Certified vanilla
2 teaspoons cream
4 cups Fair Trade Certified confectioners sugar
1/3 cup Fair Trade Certified cocoa
Mix, frost, and enjoy
Bowl #2
½ cup (very softened) butter
1 ¼ cup milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons Fair Trade Certified vanilla
Beat the heck out of this by hand or with an electric mixer.
Slowly add flour mix, continuing to beat the whole time.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or more. Makes one layer of super moist, spongy, cake goodness

Child labour continues to be rampant in India: US report

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child-labour_200Washington: Large scale child labour persists in India, mostly in the agricultural sector and the informal economy despite initiatives by the government and instances of commercial sexual exploitation of minors are oft reported, a US report on the issue said on Wednesday.

According to the India section of the annual report of the Department of Labor, children are exploited in the worst forms of child labour with a majority working in agriculture, including in the production of rice and hybrid seeds.

Children who work in agriculture may carry heavy loads, and apply harmful pesticides, it said.

India has increased funding for and coordination of an extensive network of programmes to address the worst forms of child labour, but the menace persists particularly in agriculture and informal economy, said the report.

Only in India

“Forced child labour exists in domestic service, agriculture, and manufacturing. India lacks a minimum age for work and sets a low age for hazardous work, hindering efforts to address the problem,” the report said.

A large number of children also work in the informal economy, with child labour increasingly found in home-based production rather than organised factory settings.

Children are also found engaged in work on the streets which may include vending food and other goods, repairing vehicles and tyres, scavenging and rag picking, shoe shining, car washing, and begging, besides in construction and domestic service, it said.

“Most children working in domestic service are girls aged 12 to 17 but some are reportedly as young as age 5 or 6. Many work very long hours and suffer abusive treatment.

“Waste picking is prevalent among children in castes and tribes that have traditionally suffered from societal discrimination,” the report said.

The document said there are reports that “children have been recruited to serve as soldiers by armed opposition groups in zones where armed conflict is occurring, such as in Chhattisgarh”.

Service industries that employ children include hotels, food service, and tourism, and children also quarry sandstone and other material, break stones, and polish gems.

It also cites children being involved in manufacturing matches, bricks, carpets, locks, glass bangles, fireworks, bidis, footwear, garments, brassware, and other metal goods.

Noting that the commercial sexual exploitation of children remains a problem, the report said an estimated 1.2 million children engage in prostitution.

“Cases of child sex tourism continue to be reported. India is a source, transit and destination country for minors trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour in domestic service, agriculture and activities such as begging, driving cycle rickshaws and hotel services,” it said.

A Call to Action

Tell the House of Representatives to Pass the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010

On December 9, 2010, the U.S. Senate passed S. 2925, the “Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010.” Now this critically needed legislation passes to the House where it must be adopted and passed by December 17, when Congress is expected to adjourn for the year. Calls are urgently needed to House members to make this legislation the law of the land before the legislative session closes. Learn more here.

Experts estimate that at least 100,000 children are sex trafficked in the U.S. every year. These children experience violent trauma, manipulation, and are often arrested and detained in juvenile detention. There are currently less than 100 beds nationwide in shelters prepared to provide the specialized care young trafficking victims need and deserve. If passed, S. 2925 would provide increased support and protection for child sex trafficking victims across America by providing 6 block grants of $2 million to $2.5 million each, spread out regionally. This will ensure that every part of the U.S. has safe and appropriate services and shelter so that young sex trafficking victims can recover, rebuild their lives, and stay free from further exploitation. It would require that 67% of funds are dedicated toward direct support services and shelter for child victims of sex trafficking. The remaining funds may be used to increase law enforcement resources and combat demand to reduce the number of children across America that are trafficked for sex. Learn more about the legislation here.

We have come too far to let this opportunity to increase support and protection for child sex trafficking victims pass us by.

Calls are the most effective and powerful way to urge Congressional action so pick-up the phone and call your House member today!

Wyden/Cornyn Sex Trafficking Bill Passes Senate

United States Senate
December 9, 2010 202-224-3789
Kevin McLaughlin (Cornyn)
Wyden/Cornyn Sex Trafficking Bill Passes Senate
Bill To Provide Aid for Victims of Sexual Slavery and Crackdown On Those Who Exploit Underage Girls Moves to the House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. – The United States Senate unanimously approved a bill to aid victims of modern sexual slavery and give law enforcement the tools to investigate and prosecute sex traffickers who exploit underage girls and force them into the sex trade. Sponsored by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act will create a six-state pilot program to help law enforcement crackdown on pimps and traffickers and create shelters, provide treatment, counseling, and legal aid for the underage girls that are forced into sexual slavery. This bill will be considered a model to help rescue the hundreds of thousands of underage girls believed to be forced into the sex trade in America. According to FBI estimates, more than 100,000 underage girls are exploited for commercial sex in the U.S. each year.
“Senator Cornyn and I have long believed that sex trafficking is modern day slavery and the poor young women forced into the sex trade are victims of the real criminals – the pimps and traffickers,” Wyden said. “Today, the United States Senate agreed with us. Not only will this bill create a working model to help these young women break the cycle of exploitation for good, it will provide new tools for law enforcement and prosecutors to put these modern day slave owners behind bars.”
“Our nation must remain committed to ending the scourge of human trafficking. This legislation will provide valuable assistance to state and local governments on the front lines of battling organized criminal syndicates and violent gangs that traffic humans for labor and sex,” said Cornyn. “I am proud to partner with Senator Wyden on this important bipartisan effort.”
The Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act would authorize block grants to six locations deemed to have significant sex trafficking activity, require a workable plan to provide comprehensive, wrap-around services to sex trafficking victims – including the establishment of a shelter facility – and require demonstrated participation by all levels of law enforcement, prosecutors, and social service providers.
Each grant will be funded at $2-2.5 million per year with the option of renewal for two additional years. Some of the items that can be funded by these block grants include:
· A shelter for trafficking victims;

· Clothing and other daily needs in order to keep victims from returning to the street;

· Victims’ assistance counseling and legal services;

· Education or job training classes for victims;

· Specialized training for law enforcement and social service providers;

· Police officer salaries – patrol officers, detectives, investigators;

· Prosecutor salaries, and other trial expenses;

· Investigation expenses – wire taps, expert consultants, travel, other “technical assistance” expenditures; and

· Outreach, education, and prevention efforts, including programs to deter offenders.
The bill will help encourage and boost prompt reporting of missing and abducted children to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database. With the help of more timely reporting, law enforcement will be able to identify repeat runaways who are statistically more likely to be lured into prostitution.

Editorial: Trafficking award

Three cheers for Anna Rodriguez of Bonita Springs.

She is up for possible induction to the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame. She is among the 10 nominees for the three spots this year.

Her distinction is public service that was, and still is, ahead of its time. As director of the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking, she tutored our community and much of the rest of the country — before most of us knew what she was talking about. We have come to learn the hard way that human trafficking is what the name implies — smuggling people, even children, from poor countries into the United States for “opportunities” that often amount to slavery. These traffickers deal in humans rather than drugs or other illegal goods.

A native of Puerto Rico, Rodriguez’ induction in the Hall of Fame would be highly appropriate. Either way she can be assured of the esteem and gratitude already earned from her Southwest Florida home.

© 2010 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

2 Pinoys sentenced for forced labo

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North American News Bureau
Posted at 12/11/2010 10:48 AM | Updated as of 12/11/2010 10:48 AM

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida – Two Filipinos found guilty of victimizing 39 Filipino guest workers were sentenced to prison.

Sophia Manuel, 41, alleged mastermind of the human trafficking operation, was sentenced to 78 months in prison. Alfonso Baldonado, 45, received a 51-month prison sentence.

Manuel and Baldonando own Quality Staffing Corporation Services that obtained cheap labor by making false promises to entice Filipinos to come to the US as guest workers

Their 39 victims were Filipinos who paid up to $5,000 in recruitment and placement fees for jobs in the US. Many ended up jobless in Florida and buried in debt in the Philippines

Other victims were forced to provide cheap labor and services to some hotels and resorts in south Florida.

The victims said they were repeatedly threatened with arrest and deportation if they failed to perform their jobs.

One of the plaintiffs, said Manuel and Baldonado have victimized more people.

“They should receive the maximum prison sentence because there are other victims who have not yet stepped forward to complain against them,” he said.

Fil-Am lawyer Marissa De Guzman-Cobb, former Assistant Attorney General in the State of Florida, assisted the Filipino victims in prosecuting the defendants.

“It is my belief that justice was served. The judge was well within his discretion to exact the sentence that he did. I think he found the statements by the Filipino victims extremely compelling,” De Guzman-Cobb said. Balitang America

27 people found in human trafficking raids in Largo, Clearwater

LARGO — The two white vans would pull up to the nondescript beige duplex on the dead-end street early in the morning.

At the honk of a horn, a dozen or more Hispanic and Asian men and women would come out of the home and pile into the vans.

Neighbors wouldn’t see them again until late at night or early the next morning when the vans reappeared to drop them off.

“That’s seven days a week,” said 67-year-old Sylvia Leuci, a home health nurse who works at a home across the street.

Just a few miles away in Clearwater, a similar scene was unfolding each day at a one-story tan home with a single-car garage and an overgrown lawn.

On Wednesday, the FBI and local law enforcement officers raided both homes and a Chinese restaurant on East Bay Drive as part of an investigation into human trafficking.

In all, authorities found 27 people living in the two homes at 2820 Oaklawn Ave. in Largo and 2401 Havana Drive in Clearwater.

Investigators are looking at the possibility that the people were being forced to work at the Country Super Buffet at 5010 East Bay Drive, said special agent Dave Couvertier, a spokesman for the Tampa field office of the FBI.

No arrests were made, he said, but the investigation is ongoing.

Corporate filings with the state list the registered agent of the business as Jian Hui Wang, who also was renting the Largo home.

The people found at the homes are being treated as victims and were being interviewed Wednesday to determine the circumstances of their status in the United States, investigators said. Most are Hispanic and Asian, and all appear to be adults, Couvertier said.

The Salvation Army and World Relief are working to assist the people with housing, food and clothing, Couvertier said.

At the Largo address, 19 people were found.

“We noticed these big vans coming and going with all of these people,” said next-door neighbor Michelle Kramer. “They leave early in the morning and don’t get back until late at night, like midnight, sometimes 1 (a.m.).”

Kramer said “tons of people” lived at the home and they rarely communicated with neighbors. There are three bedrooms in each of the two units, she said.

Mike Modha, 45, of Lutz said the home belongs to his business partner, Akshay Patel. Modha, a Realtor, said Patel left him in charge of the property when he went to England to seek treatment for health problems more than 18 months ago.

Modha said he rented the duplex in January to Wang, whom he knew as Kenny. The rent is $1,300 and the lease says that six people can stay in each unit.

On the lease, Wang listed his employer as Royal Buffet at 9550 U.S. 19. in Port Richey. Modha said Wang told him he would use one duplex for himself and another for restaurant workers.

Except for one month, Wang always paid the rent on time Modha said.

“If they broke the law, they should be punished,” said Modha, himself an immigrant who came from Gujarat, India, 12 years ago.

In September, he and his wife became U.S. citizens.

At the Clearwater address, eight people were found.

Neighbors said the residents, who appeared to be Asian, had lived there since summer. Emily DeGarmo, 22, who lives across the street, said “they had a lot of people coming in and out.”

The home’s owner could not be reached for comment.

Early Wednesday afternoon, more than a dozen FBI agents, Pinellas County sheriff’s deputies and other authorities were going in and out of the house. They carried items in brown paper evidence bags and in black and yellow bins.

“This specific situation should serve as what I refer to as a wake-up call to the folks in our local community,” Couvertier said. “It can happen anywhere. It’s not limited to this area.”

Human trafficking is a worldwide problem that usually takes the form of forced labor, domestic servitude or forced prostitution, the most common of the three. In the United States, it’s estimated that anywhere from a couple of thousand to several thousand people a year are victims of human trafficking, Couvertier said.

According to a 2009 draft of a report by the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights at Florida State University, labor trafficking is the most prevalent type of human trafficking in Florida.

A finalized 2010 version of the report, commissioned by the state Legislature, notes that Florida was the third-leading state, with 296 calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline in 2009.

Between May 2009 and June 2010, the state Department of Children and Families received reports of 156 trafficking incidents through its hotline. Of those, 22 cases were verified as trafficking, the report said.

Worldwide, 49,105 victims were identified in 2009, according to the 2010 Trafficking in Persons report published by the U.S. Department of State.

Officers with the Clearwater/Tampa Bay Area Task Force on Human Trafficking said their investigation began several months ago with a tip from a source they declined to identify. During the investigation, they were able to gain intelligence that led to Wednesday’s search warrants.

Couvertier and Clearwater police spokeswoman Beth Watts said it’s important for people to be aware of what’s happening around them and to report suspicious activity.

“It will help us, hopefully, to rescue women, children and men brought in (to the United States) under the ruse of promises of a better life,” Couvertier said.

Unfortunately, Couvertier said, “They don’t know what’s waiting for them on the other side.”

Times staff writer Mike Brassfield and Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report.

Suspect anything?

Clearwater police said some signs of human trafficking include large numbers of people living in the same home, people who seem abnormally withdrawn or afraid and indications people are being held against their will, such as locks on windows. Authorities ask that anyone who thinks they have come into contact with a victim of human trafficking in Pinellas, Pasco or Hillsborough counties to call the Clearwater/Tampa Bay Area Task Force on Human Trafficking hotline at (727) 562-4917. In other areas, contact the Trafficking Information and Referral Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.