What exactly is being done to protect victims?

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It is sad to know that in some parts of Florida, victims of human trafficking are being arrested by law enforcement as a result of lack of programs and trust of some agencies that have popped up with little to no experience with the issue of human trafficking. Some of these programs have nothing put together to assist their clients to become self empowered and self-sufficient and are embellishing information.

The whole purpose for a Human Trafficking task force is to identify agencies that can be trained in human trafficking so they can provide services to victims that have been identified law enforcement. Many of these victims are in need of emergency relocation amongst other services. The responsibility of a task force or coalition is to identify all the services around their area and bring them to the table as a partner to assist victims of human trafficking. They have to be able to identify agencies that will be able to provide shelter, initial assessments, crisis intervention, mental health counseling, health assessments, dental work, continuing education, legal referrals, transportation, food, clothing and safety plan. That task force or coalition must develop a resource directory and a first responder protocol so that all members will know exactly what their role will be once a victim is relocated. If we do not take the time to have all the services in place, the ones that will be suffering the consequences are the victims as it is already happening in Florida. Agencies are assisting in the re-victimization of the victims one more time and proving to them that their trafficker/pimp was right when saying to them that no one will help them.

Another group in Florida has decided to “Baker Act” the victims for 72 hours. This is unacceptable as the first 48 hours a crucial in a victims recovery. So now you are telling a victim that she is crazy for what she was exposed to. Are we insane!

We are here telling the community we will provide victims a safe house and services to ensure their recovery but in reality they are either sent to jail because law enforcement feels they are going to be taken care off and received better services in jail vs an NGO. Or is it better to be placed in a Baker Act for 72 hours so that the victims will be more stable before taken to a shelter that has no programs in place for victims.

What have we done. Do these agencies not know that this is a full violation of the Victim’s Bill of Rights? Don’t they know it is a full violation of the Declaration of Human Rights?

So now it is OK to re-victimized victims. I am so disappointed with the movement in Florida as we have gone backwards and forgot that this is a Victim Centered Law.
We are behaving just as the traffickers/pimps said. We are reinforcing their lies. We have become as bad as they are. We are failing the victims. When are we going to wake up and do what is right.

Are we truly making a difference?

In 1865, The United States outlawed slavery with the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Section One of the amendment stated that ” neither slavery nor involuntary servitude. except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction”

Brave words but yet it took over a century of suffering, anguish and bloodshed until people started to believe that slavery had finally been abolished. Here we are in the 21st century still addressing the issue of “modern-day slavery” or Human Trafficking. There is still so much work to be done, so many people to be educated about all forms of human trafficking. It is sad to see how people are embellishing numbers and sensationalizing the crime to increase fundraising not thinking about the negative consequences they are creating that it is affecting the public view, interest and the victims.

Just yesterday I was at an event and when people walked by and saw the word ” human trafficking” they would walk away making statements as ” disgusting”, ” epidemic”, ” horrific” and many more negative comments that makes me angry to say. Not one person talked about hope, the victims or even how can we help.

We have new groups going around and misleading the community to get people to open their pocket books and give t hem money to help victims. Some groups don’t even provide victims services and others are using human trafficking as a way to get name recognition, more funding and even promotions at work. But at what cost?

Territorial wars, false accusations, media attacks against grassroots agency that have been doing the work for years. Is that how we help victims? Is that they way we can make a difference on some one’s life?

I have been working human trafficking cases since 1999 and I have seen new groups come together. I have seen and met amazing people doing the right thing for the victims. I have also met and seen evil. The ones that don’t really care about the victims because they are using human trafficking to make a name for themselves, for fundraising, promotions at work and even fame. I have seen and met narcissistic people that only use this to promote themselves. These are the ones that don’t know what they are doing and have never taking the time to create programs to help more victims. But it is sad to see how the movement is going backwards and how victims are being pin against each other as some of this same impostors are addressing only one form of trafficking and pushing aside other forms like labor trafficking and domestic servitude.

I ask each and every one of you if this is right. I ask each and every one of you to look beneath the surface not only for the victims but to make sure that the group you are listening to and supporting really has experience about human trafficking. For ach and every one of you to take the time and do the research to make sure the groups are legit. To asked the questions and make sure they talk about programs that will empower and give a survivor the tools to rebuild their lives. Males, Females, Child or LGBTQ…. they all deserve to be rescued and restored.

Remember this is all about the victims and not our personal agendas.

Slavery is Hiding

Social workers learn more about spotting Human Trafficking.

Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking State Outreach Coordinator, Giselle, trained 200 Child Welfare Professionals on Monday on the issue of Child Victims of Human Trafficking. Not only did the training focus on the issue of child sex trafficking, but it also explored child labor trafficking as well as domestic servitude. Social workers and counselors learned about spotting and stopping human trafficking by studying recent cases. They also spoke about the best practices for assisting victims in such cases. Our hope is that with this new knowledge, the attendees can assist in the identification and restoration of child victims of human trafficking.

As of now, our office has received positive feedback. Here are some of the comments that we have received thus far.

-“Thanks again for coming down on Monday. We all learned a lot and had an overwhelmingly positive response from those who attended. ”

-“Thanks so much, Giselle. What most people liked about it so much is that is was so “practical.” ”

A big thank you to the Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham for hosting and sponsoring this much needed training!

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My final thoughts on training delegation in Paraguay.

Finally back home and spending time with my family after being away for 10 days in Paraguay and Brazil.
 
Here we are going to another country, to teach their law enforcement, their prosecutors, and their judges about Human Trafficking investigations and coalition building. In the end, we had witnessed the people of Paraguay’s Human Trafficking initiative, collaboration, and unity in relations to combatting Human Trafficking.
 
One of the training components that was covered during this trip was How to Investigate a Human Trafficking Case and other Law Enforcement related topics. One of the members of the training delegation is a law enforcement representative. His role was to help elaborate on their role in Human Trafficking cases. The Law Enforcement representative had claimed to be a part of the “model task force” in Florida and has assisted in implementing several protocols. After the training had been concluded, the law enforcement representative saw that there was a lot about the topic of human trafficking that he and his task force were unaware of. His comment at the end of the training was “Here I came to train you and I am leaving here being trained by you all.”
 
Yes, at one point that task force was considered a model to emulate, but greed and power took over. Today, everything that had been accomplished by this task force is gone and is far from being considered a program to mirror. It is blasphemy to have people that will claim to be “experts” in any field and not have the aptitude to even put together services and programs to better assist the victims.
 
We must understand that this is all about the victims and no one else. We need to understand that this is not about fame, money, or power. We are all here to better serve the victims and ensure them safety, protection, and empowerment. This is all done so that in the near future, they can rebuild their lives.
 
I do not and will not disclose the name or location of said task force or group, but I know who they know who they are. I hope this Investigator’s statement to the people of Paraguay will make them realize their mistakes and help direct the task force down the right path. I believe he saw the truth and I hope and believe that will do the right thing and head their task force in the manner that is should be run.

Last day of training in Paraguay.

Today we are conducting a ” Train the Trainer” session for law enforcement, service providers, prosecutors and other government agencies. The training will also include a section on prevention.
What is interesting as is the same scenerio I am seeing in every country visited throughout the America’s and even Russia is that they are seeing a huge increase in labor trafficking and domestic servitude. In Paraguay they are also seeing cases of organ trafficking and street begging using “rental babies” . This is something that we have not come across in the US but it could be a possiblitity.  Paraguay has been able to identify all forms of trafficking scenarios and have established 12 regional task forces throughout the region to identify, rescue and restore. This groups include representatives from every government agencies, faith-based and service agencies. The collaboration and unity I have seen here is what we are lacking in the US.  We don’t see territorial wars as we see every day in  the US and we lack unity.  
We are leaving Paraguay knowing they are taking charge of the situation and as our law enforcement trainer said ” I leave with more tools to bring back to Florida as I came here to as a trainer and I have learn more as a student.”
For years I have been saying that the only way we can combat this crime is by working together in unity and collaboration. Joining forces with grassroot groups that have been working with human trafficking and have the knowledge and expertise to do so. Wemust stop creating new groups that are just causing confusion and distractions. We must always remember we are working to help victims and not promote personal agendas and egos. This is something I saw in Paraguay and in most countries visited and I hope one day I can see it I  the US.  Paraguay has reinforced my commitment to continue the work I started 15 years ago when I came across my first human trafficking case and the movement that was started to combat this terrible crime.
Remember is all about Identify, Rescue and Restore. Is about unity and collaboration. Its about the victim.
 
The group attending the training today were selected by government of Paraguay and approved by US Embassy in Paraguay since US is a co-sponsor of the training.
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