Church of Scientology: Sea Org human trafficking?

 Bombshell allegations came to light Monday that the Church of Scientology is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for violating human trafficking laws. In particular, the allegations are that Sea Org practices may have violated human trafficking laws. Sea Org is a kind of fraternal religious order for the most devoted members of the Church of Scientology.

The allegations come to light in a recently released profile of former Church of Scientology member Canadian writer-director Paul Haggis, a profile written by Lawrence Wright entitled “Apostate: Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology.” 

According to the report the FBI is currently investigating claims that the church pays Sea Org workers as little as $50 per week, uses physical force to keep church members from escaping Scientology compounds, as well as other complaints of mistreatment of church members who try to quit, and allegations that dozens of apostates were confined in “reeducation camps” doing manual labor – sometimes for years.

One scholar reports:

Sea Organization (Sea Org) members can be subject to extremely severe and intrusive punishments through security checks, internal hearings called “Committees of Evidence,” and a forced labor and re-indoctrination program known as the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF) and its harshest companion, the RPF’s RPF. Taken together, these harsh and intrusive punishments likely violate a number of human rights clauses as outlined by two United Nations statements.
 
According to the Church of Scientology website L. Ron Hubbard founded the Church of Scientology in 1952 as a “religion that offers a precise path leading to a complete and certain understanding of one’s true spiritual nature and one’s relationship to self, family, groups, Mankind, all life forms, the material universe, the spiritual universe and the Supreme Being.” 

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U.S. should stop criminalizing sex trafficking victims

By Malika Saada Saar, Special to CNN //
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Up to 300,000 children are at risk of being sold for sex every year, government data show
  • Many of the girls suffer from criminalization, but not the men, Malika Saada Saar says
  • Men continue to buy and sell girls without fear of legal repercussions, Saar says

Editor’s note: Malika Saada Saar is the founder and executive director of the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, a nonprofit organization that advocates for justice, dignity and policy reform for vulnerable women and girls in the United States and in Africa.

(CNN) — Americans are right to get angry at the violence against women and girls in developing nations: the Congo rape camps, the widespread practices of female genital mutilation in West Africa and the infanticide of females in China.

Our disgust at the violence committed against women and girls is heightened by the culture of impunity that allows the perpetrators of these crimes to go free without condemnation or punishment. That culture also turns victims into criminals, such as the girls in Thailand who are beaten and raped and then ostracized by their families and society.

But our indignation must be turned inward, too. Here in the United States, there is a similar culture of impunity when young American girls are sold for sex. There are 100,000 to 300,000 children between 11 and 14 who are vulnerable to being sold for sex by pimp-captors every year in the United States, according to government statistics

These girls, many of whom are runaway children from fragile families or communities, are lured, tricked or coerced by pimps, who promise them love and safety.

Sometimes, these girls are snatched off the streets by pimps, leaving heartbroken parents to search websites such as backpage.com that advertise sex for sale and walk the “tracks” to try to find their daughters. Young girls are the new commodities that traffickers and gangs are selling.

Why? Because they can.

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The perpetrators of this new form of modern slavery in America can sell girls for sex without fear of punishment. As incomprehensible as it seems, today trafficking girls brings in more profits and results in less prison time than dealing crack.

There is no “war on trafficking” or any similar culture of crime and punishment for selling a 12-year-old girl for sex. Perversely, it is the girls — not the men — who suffer from criminalization.

Few buyers of prostituted children are arrested or prosecuted in the United States, according to the international anti-trafficking organization Shared Hope.

But girls who’ve been trafficked frequently end up arrested for prostitution. It is the girl who is restrained by police after a “bust” or a “raid” on a hotel room — not her trafficker or the “john.”

It is the girl, repeatedly raped by grown men, who is shackled and put behind bars. Rarely are these girls perceived as victims.

They are instead cast as “‘hos,” prostitutes or “bad girls.” Take, for example, in a Washington-area courtroom last year, where a colleague of mine heard a prosecutor call a girl who had been arrested on charges of prostitution “a little black ‘ho.'”

Rather than feeling rescued from a torturous situation and placed in safety, she was reviled and publicly humiliated in a court of law.

It is a story typical of so many girls arrested for prostitution. They are treated as criminals, not victims. This view explains why there are so few safe- haven programs for girls trafficked — or why not even one cent of federal funding for trafficked victims under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act goes to domestic victims.

And, unfortunately, it also explains why men continue to buy and sell girls without fear of legal repercussions. It is time to prosecute those who sell and purchase girls.

If they are subject to punishment for their criminal acts against children, pimps and “johns” will be less interested in the marketplace of young girls. The laws already exist — such as statutory rape and child-endangerment laws — but there is no political will at the state or federal level to prosecute the perpetrators — especially the “johns.”

Despite all the political jingoism about being tough on crime or protecting our children, lawmakers are remarkably indifferent to prosecuting these child abusers and rapists.

We owe it to prostituted girls to give them freedom, refuge and safety — and harsh penalties for every entity involved in their trafficking — pimps, victimizers and enterprises that profit from these sales.

No girl in America should be purchased, sold, raped, abused or exploited — and with impunity.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Malika Saada Saar.

Austin man arrested in Dallas for forcing teen girl, sister to prostitute before Super Bowl XLV

By SCOTT GOLDSTEIN

Staff Writer

Published 07 February 2011 11:05 PM

More on this story

A felon from Austin forced a teenage girl and her adult sister to come work as prostitutes in Dallas because “there was big money to be made during Super Bowl,” according to police documents.

But Dallas police say they busted Anthony Ladell Winn, 35, before the sisters, ages 14 and 20, arranged any weekend dates.

“We’re very proud of the work on this one,” said Sgt. Byron Fassett of the Dallas police Child Exploitation Squad. “Any time that we can identify a child victim on the street involved in this, it is exceptional work, quite frankly. It’s like finding a needle in a haystack.”

Winn was arrested early Sunday on felony charges of attempting to compel prostitution by force and trafficking of persons. He was being held Monday night at the Dallas County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Area authorities had been bracing for a possible influx of prostitutes and human trafficking victims in the run-up to Super Bowl XLV. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and the FBI pledged additional resources devoted to combating human trafficking last week.

Authorities say it can be extremely difficult to accurately measure whether such crimes spike and why. However, early indications in Dallas are that there was not an obvious increase in reported prostitution cases, perhaps due in part to the icy and cold conditions, police said.

Dallas police reported 23 adult prostitution arrests from Wednesday through Sunday, though they noted they do not know how many were related to the festivities or people surrounding the Super Bowl.

“We didn’t see that as being a drastic increase in our normal enforcement numbers,” said Assistant Chief Tom Lawrence. “We were trying to focus much more heavily on the locations where we thought there’d be a high level of parties, activities related to the Super Bowl.”

Arlington and Fort Worth police said their prostitution arrest numbers were not available Monday.

For Fassett, whose squad handles sex crimes involving juveniles, the Winn case was the only arrest of its kind thought to be related to the Super Bowl.

“I don’t know that I saw on the street level any more activity than any other normal night that we would have run an operation,” said Fassett. He acknowledged that “there’s no real statistical data to prove it one way or the other.”

Investigators believe Winn met the sisters in Austin, had been prostituting the older sister for about a year and the younger sister for about a month, police documents said. A few days ago, Winn and the older sister got into an argument because the woman did not want Winn prostituting her younger sister anymore, the documents said.

Winn punched the 20-year-old woman in the face and bit her twice on the arm, police said. He then told the women “they were going to Dallas to prostitute for him” during the Super Bowl and that “there were men that would spend a lot,” the documents said.

Winn drove the women to the city Saturday morning, rented a northwest Dallas hotel room and sent them out to engage in prostitution. He told them all the money they made would go to him, the documents said.

Dallas patrol officers came in contact with the sisters Saturday and investigators ran a sting operation on Winn, police said. He was arrested near Northwest Highway and Interstate 35E.

Winn’s Texas criminal record includes convictions out of Austin for assault, drug dealing and violation of a protective order.