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I wanted to share this news link with you all. I met this young woman who was featured in the News story. Her story is sad and shocking. What is inspiring to know is that fact that she survived and with the help of the Department of Children and Families in Orlando, she was able to get the help she needed to recover from this nightmare.


By Sharon Bayata

The Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking will host the First Annual “12 Days of Freedom.” This event will take place to celebrate the month of January as the National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.   The event will also create the climax to kick off the annual celebration of “National Freedom Day” on February 1st. 

According to the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, we have adopted within the United States a 3P’s paradigm: “Prevention-Protection-Prosecution.”  Take the first step: Prevention. Become aware, enlightened, educated and inspired.

There will be a series of events and activities that you can participate each day starting on Tuesday January 11th, Human Trafficking Awareness Day, and ending on Saturday, January 28th

  • January 16th the Lake Eola Walt Disney Amphitheater, 195 North Rosalind Avenue, Orlando, FL will host the National Human Trafficking Awareness Event (1:00p.m. to 5:00 p.m.)
  • January 18th, University of South Florida hosts a movie night at the Marshall Student Center.  University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Ave, MSC, Tampa, FL.
  • January 22nd, Movies on the Lawn will be showing the movie Trade at Ringling College, 2700 Sarasota, FL
  • January 23rd Element Church at 2702 Causeway Center Dr., Tampa, FL and First Christian Church at 2299 Drew Street, Clearwater, FL will be hosting a Candle Light Vigil beginning at 6:30 p.m.
  • January 25th Sweet Tomatoes at 31151 U.S. Route 19 North, Palm Harbor, FL will be having a Fund Raiser between 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.  For more information please contact for a flyer that you can take in hand to the restaurant.
  • January 28th, Caribbean Delights Island Grille at 2920 East Bush Blvd, Tampa, FL will be hosting a Human Trafficking Awareness Event.


The 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution abolished slavery by stating, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude… shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”  This was passed through the vision of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which opened the door to contemporary thought on this issue.  Modern-day slavery is the human trafficking of men, women, and children forced into sex, labor, or domestic servitude.  We need to fight to keep the values of our country alive, and, as long as human trafficking continues, those values are at risk.  In the words of William Lloyd Garrison, “enslave the liberty of but one human being and the liberties of the world are put in peril”.  

The Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking (FCAHT) is a not-for-profit organization founded in 2004 by Anna Rodriguez.  This organization has helped many people, and will continue to help victims of human trafficking.  Anna Rodriguez’s first contact with human trafficking was in a case in which she served as a victim advocate with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office and as an outreach coordinator for the Immokalee Shelter for Abused Women in Collier County. She has performed in this capacity for over ten years.  She has also been nominated for the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame.  FCAHT works with service providers to help victims with shelter, medical and psychological services.  FCAHT also provides training and services to law enforcement agencies, medical facilities, faith based, civil and community organizations in order to bring awareness and recognition to the signs of Human Trafficking.  For more information about FCAHT or to set up a training presentation call the FCAHT office at (727) 442-3064.

Contact Information:

Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking

(727) 442-3064

Why Is Jeff Sessions Blocking A Child Sex Trafficking Bill?

In the waning days of the lame duck session, the Senate had the opportunity to pass the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act. Aimed at creating “a comprehensive, victim-centered approach to addressing the sex trafficking of minors,” the bill is “the first of its kind to deal with young trafficking victims domestically” by providing $12 million in off-set funding for state and local law enforcement to shelter, rehabilitate, prevent, and protect child victims of the sex trade.

Originally introduced by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and John Cornyn (R-TX) in 2009, the Senate Judiciary Committee adopted, amended, and passed the House version of this bill last summer which then passed the Senate by unanimous consent on December 9, 2010. The bill returned to the House, underwent further revision, and finally passed by voice vote on December 21, 2010. But when the Senate attempted to pass the bill again by unanimous consent, Sen. Jeff Sessions put a hold on the bill. The sole objector, Sessions effectively defeated its passage in the 111th Congress.

Sessions is pushing back against claims that he believes child victims deserve to be arrested as prostitutes, something the conservative Concerned Women of America alleged. In defending Sessions’ decision, a Republican Judiciary aide told ThinkProgress that Sessions was instrumental in helping the bill clear the Senate Judiciary Committee but had to object after the House removed two of his amendments that he said toughened the bill. One measure required a mandatory minimum sentence “for transporting, receiving or distributing” child pornography. The other expanded subpoena authority to the U.S. Marshals Service over unregistered sex offenders. But because the House removed these measures in its final revision, the Senate aide indicated several members opposed the new version. Thus, the staffer told us that, as the Ranking Member of the committee, Sessions had to be the one to block the bill.

According to his spokesman Ron LeGrand, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) — the outgoing Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security — dropped the subpoena position because there already was a precedent established for law enforcement agencies to receive subpoena authorization through the Department of Justice. Scott also dropped the mandatory minimum measure because minimums are “irrelevant, ineffective” sentences that “tend to have a very negative impact on people of color.” LeGrand said no one has ever presented Scott with “evidence-based research instead of knee-jerk slogan and soundbites” as rationale for the minimums, and in “the closing weeks of his chairmanship, that was still the case.” In removing the measures, LeGrand said Scott “stood on principle.”

But the Republican aide said their removal required Sessions to act on principle too. The hotlining process prevents members from changing the bill. Believing the bill to be brought up at the midnight hour of lame duck session, the aide said Sessions would not clear a watered down bill and preferred to take it up in the new session.

This is certainly not the first time a procedural impasse has jeopardized important legislation, nor is it the first time the GOP used time as an excuse to “run out the clock.” But anti-sex trafficking advocates said this time the procedural stalemate forced the sacrifice of the greater welfare of abused children. “Though we did not object to the Sessions amendments, we would have liked for Senator Sessions to put aside his objection to their removal in the House,” said Shared Hope International’s Senior Director Samantha Healy Vardaman.

Advocacy groups worked hard “to carefully craft a bill that provided solutions to the gaping problem of lack of shelter for child victims of sex trafficking and bolster support for law enforcement entities eager to investigate and prosecute these crimes,” she said. The Senate’s failure “results in a further delay in fulfilling the promise of the federal trafficking act to protect and restore victims of domestic minor sex trafficking.”

Still, Vardaman is “optimistic” that the momentum from last year “is sufficiently high in Congress to allow the bill to pass quickly in this new session.” While new efforts are likely to start in the House under the new Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), the Republican aide insisted that Sessions is supportive of the Senate bill and will work to see it passed this year. However, given the Senate GOP’s penchant for obstruction, advocates might need more than optimism.