Tiny Pebbles, Big Ripples

By Gena Cameron

At times we can get a bit discouraged when looking at big problems in our world. It is easy to become overwhelmed and ask, “What can I really do to help?” Vast problems can overwhelm and make us feel inadequate to make any kind of impact. I try to keep myself in a positive mode and love this quote that most of us have heard:

“Just as ripples spread out when a single
pebble is dropped into water, the actions
of individuals can have far-reaching effects.”
–Dalai Lama

Each person can influence the lives of others in many ways and each pebble you toss can make a difference. That pebble I’m referring to is the use of Fair Trade products.

Items with the Fair Trade label can improve a community’s day-to-day lives. These products come from cooperatives, independent small farmers, and farm workers in 70 developing countries across Africa, Asia, Oceania, Latin America and the Caribbean. There are about 12,000 products that are Fair Trade certified. These products can be found in more than 110,000 retail locations in North America.

Your effort can be as small as buying coffee, tea or chocolate, with a mindset of helping others. This is so simple and worthwhile. You get a good product while at the same time help others. When you drink that cup of coffee, tea, or have a bite of chocolate it will taste extra good knowing you helped someone.

So the next time you are at the store, check labels and try to find a few things you can purchase that adds value to our world. If you don’t find Fair Trade items where you shop please speak to the store manager and let the store know this is something you are interested in, or fill in a product request card.

You can make a difference. Toss your pebble at the grocery store and look for these trade marks.

.fair trade

Here are 4 ways to get involved with the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking.

Here are 4 ways to get involved with FCAHT:

1. Help raise awareness on the issue of human trafficking. Host an event, re post an article posted on the FCAHT Facebook/Twitter page or simply let others know that slavery still exists.

2. Learn more about Fair Trade Certified products and purchase those products instead. Just by purchasing products such as Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream can make a big difference in the fight against Labor Trafficking!

3. Volunteer! Everyone has something to contribute. FCAHT has numerous opportunities for you to use your talents to help make a difference.

4. Start a fundraiser for FCAHT. You can go to Fundsgiving.com and start your own fundraising campaign!

Congrats Tampa Bay Rescue and Restore on Celebrating your 5th Anniversary!

In 2010, Law enforcement was on board to address the issue of the commercial sexual exploitation of children within the Tampa Bay region. However, one issue that they were coming across was that many of the local services providers were not providing services to victims of CSEC. According to FBI, about 20% of the youth recovered were receiving services. FCAHT decided to lend a hand and see why only 20% of the youth recovered were receiving assistance. FCAHT at that point decided to put together a working group that would solely focus on the issue of CSEC. On October 25, 2010 The Tampa Bay Rescue and Restore Coalition was born! The first meeting was held at DCF office. Advocates from DCF, HKI, Redefining Refuge and FCAHT came together to brainstorm on the many ways that we could help make an impact.

Slowly but surely, the word began to spread and now, 46 different agencies, including FBI, and Eckerd Youth have come to the table to continue to improve how the Tampa Bay region address victims of CSEC. Many changes have occurred over the last 5 years including the mission of the Tampa Bay Rescue and Restore. The mission of the TBRRC is to build a safety network of partnerships that will work together to identify, rescue and restore victims of Child Trafficking in the Tampa Bay Area. Our group has expanded to the issue of forced labor of youth as well. Under the TBRRC, we began the Education Subcommittee to address the issue of education. Since the subcommittee started, members of the TBRRC have assisted in training over 1,000 other social service providers within the Tampa Bay region. We have also partnered with the SHOCK Education Youth Diversion program to help educate at risk youth on the issue of human trafficking. And since 2010, we have seen the increase of services for victims of CSEC with now over 50% of youth recovered by law enforcement receiving the assistance that they are entitled to. These past 5 years have been an amazing journey!
605-500-5years

Victim survivors will be honored by victims’ advocates during NCVRW

The Domestic Violence Task Force Victim Advocacy Committee engage, will celebrate and honor the victim survivors in our community during National Crime Victims Rights Week (NCVRW)

In observation of National Crime Victim’s Rights Week (NCVRW) the Domestic Violence Task Force Victim Advocacy Committee is sponsoring a day filled with fun activities and valuable resources for crime victim survivors and their families. This year’s NCVRW Program and activities was a collaborative effort, reflecting the spirit of the 2015 theme “Engaging Communities | Empowering Victims”. It highlights the importance of building partnerships throughout our communities to better address all victims’ needs and create a victim response system that is open and accessible to all survivors and victims of crime.

The Domestic Violence Task Force Victim Advocacy Committee is a collaborative group that consists of a team of professional victim advocates and community victim advocates from local law enforcement agencies and non-for-profit organizations that serve survivors of murder victims, victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, human trafficking victims, victims of child abuse and survivors of other related violent crimes. The NCVRW event will include information and resources from the task force along with a host of other agencies and organizations that serve victims in our community.

Contributors include representatives from the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking (FCAHT), Mothers Against Drunk Driving West Central Florida – Pinellas, Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), Therapy Dogs International (TDI), Clearwater Police Department Victim Advocate Unit, Haven of RCS, Area Agency on Aging, Suncoast Center, Inc., Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA), Largo Police Department Victim Advocate Unit, Crime Stoppers of Pinellas, The State Attorney’s Victim Advocate Unit, Community Action Stops Abuse (CASA), Personal Enrichment Mental Health Services, Pinellas County Health Department, The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Victim Advocate Unit and The Springtime Club, Inc.

You can help engage, celebrate and honor the victim survivors in our community by participating in the NCVRW programs and events. The Program will include special events and selected topics for high school students in Ross Norton’s Recreation Center Teen Room. Teens will be introduced to anti-crime prevention resources and public awareness projects, such as the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking “Drop An F- Bomb Campaign”, that teaches teens that friendship is the best way to fight teen sexual exploitation, and shows them the signs of commercial sexual manipulation of children and how they can help to prevent a friend from being tricked into a life of prostitution.

Activities will also include motivational techniques and tools that help survivors cope with life experiences. Adult participants will learn martial arts and self defense tactics with Chris Sutton of Cobra Self Defense; they can take part in Yoga techniques, join a Tai Chi demonstration with Rita Hall one of the wonderful nurses from the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, and get pampered by a chair message therapist. Mean while the children can interact with therapy dogs trained to support victims impacted by crime, take advantage of the play ground and skateboard park, and participate in therapeutic games, such as ribbon tying and arts and crafts.

Entertainment will include music by Big Dad E Sound DJ’s, line dancing with The Springtime Club, stepping by The Million Dollar Steppers, and vigorous rhythms from a quest appearance by Tapped In, Inc..

The power of partnerships launched the crime victims’ rights movement and the achievements celebrated during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW) each year. Families of murdered children, victims of sexual assault, drunk driving, domestic violence, and other violent crimes mobilized at the grassroots level, joining forces to demand justice for victims of crime. The National Campaign for Victims’ Rights founded by these partners led to President Ronald Reagan’s reforms on behalf of crime victims, his declaration of the first NCVRW, and the creation of the Victims of Crime Act and Crime Victims Fund, whose anniversary the victim advocate community will celebrate during its Kick Off in observation of NCVRW, on April 19th.

Pinellas County’s victim advocates honor the steps that have been made throughout the history of crime victims’ rights through community building and partnerships like The Domestic Violence Task Force Victim Advocacy Committee. The NCVRW event offers an opportunity to renew and strengthen partnerships, and to highlight the collaborative approaches that are integral to engaging communities and empowering victims.

The 2015 National Crime Victims Rights Week is being observed from April 19–25. The event is open to the public and will serve as a prelude to NCVRW and takes place on Sunday, April 19, 2015, from 1:00 – 4:00 PM, at the Ross Norton Recreation and Aquatic Complex & Extreme Sports Park, in South Clearwater, located at 1426 S Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, Clearwater, Florida 33756.

For additional information contact The Springtime Club at 727-906-5299 or visit us on the web at http://www.springadvocate.org

vrw

House passes the 13th Amendment.

Jan 31, 1865

On this day in 1865, the U.S. House of Representatives passes the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery in America. The amendment read, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude…shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. “When the Civil War began, President Abraham Lincoln’s professed goal was the restoration of the Union. But early in the war, the Union began keeping escaped slaves rather than returning them to their owners, so slavery essentially ended wherever the Union army was victorious. In September 1862, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves in areas that were still in rebellion against the Union. This measure opened the issue of what to do about slavery in border states that had not seceded or in areas that had been captured by the Union before the proclamation.

In 1864, an amendment abolishing slavery passed the U.S. Senate but died in the House as Democrats rallied in the name of states’ rights. The election of 1864 brought Lincoln back to the White House along with significant Republican majorities in both houses, so it appeared the amendment was headed for passage when the new Congress convened in March 1865. Lincoln preferred that the amendment receive bipartisan support–some Democrats indicated support for the measure, but many still resisted. The amendment passed 119 to 56, seven votes above the necessary two-thirds majority. Several Democrats abstained, but the 13th Amendment was sent to the states for ratification, which came in December 1865. With the passage of the amendment, the institution that had indelibly shaped American history was eradicated.

gordon-slavery

Recent Federal Bills regarding Sex Trafficking in the U.S.

On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a several bills addressing human trafficking. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have been patting themselves on the back and boasting about their good work here. However, the bills do very little to address ,labor trafficking, which comprises the majority of human trafficking within the U.S. , according to the U.S. State Department. For an organization who not only assist adult survivors of sex trafficking but one that also assists adult survivors of domestic servitude and labor trafficking, this is very discouraging. It is sad to see that both at the Federal and State level, forced labor continues to be swept under the rug. In recent years, the U.S and the state of Florida have not been in full compliance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act 2000.

Of the 11 anti-trafficking bills passed by the House, few seem likely to actually assist victims. None of the bills really seem to address any of the root causes of human trafficking and does not appear to state anything that will actually help make a dent. However, the bills do help build a facade of hard-working legislators. Within the bills you will find important-sounding terms such as “Human Trafficking Detection Act of 2015” and “International Megan’s Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking.” They mandate reports! re classifications! distance-learning courses on preventing trafficking!

Here is a brief description of the individual bills:

H.R. 181, sponsored by Rep. Ted Poe (R-Tex.): Changes federal criminal code to subject anyone who “patronizes or solicits” commercial sex from someone under 18-years-old to a mandatory minimum federal prison sentence of 10 to 15 years (up to life). Raises the standard under which a defendant charged with soliciting commercial sex from a minor must prove they didn’t know the minor’s age, from “a preponderance of the evidence” to “clear and convincing evidence.”

The bill, known as the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, would also give more money to state and local law enforcement for anti-sex trafficking task forces, rescue missions, and prosecution units; set up special court programs that include “continuing judicial supervision of (people) who have been identified by a law enforcement … as a potential victim of child human trafficking, regardless of whether the victim has been charged with a crime related to human trafficking”; and create state-administered outpatient treatment centers for trafficking victims, among other things.

H.R. 515, sponsored by Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.): Creates an “Angel Watch Center” within the Department of Homeland Security which will “facilitate the implementation of an international sex offender travel notification system in the United States and in other countries.” The center would notify foreign countries whenever a U.S. citizen convicted of a child-related sex crime was traveling there, as well as collect such information from other countries (and provide money to other countries to help them comply)

H.R. 159, from Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.): Allocates money for the development and creation of a “national human trafficking hotline.” Authorizes the Attorney General “to give preferential consideration in awarding Community Oriented Police Services grants” to applicants in states that treat minors engaged in prostitution as victims rather than criminals.

H.R. 460, sponsored by Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.): Implements a training program to help Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Customs and Border Protection officials learn “how to effectively deter, detect, and disrupt human trafficking.”

H.R. 469, from Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.): Conditions eligibility to receive state grants for child abuse prevention on the state having a law or program dedicated to identifying and providing services for child sex-trafficking victims. Requires the HHS Secretary to report to Congress on child trafficking prevalence, state anti-trafficking practices, and “any barriers in federal laws or regulations that may prevent identification and assessment of children who are such victims.”

H.R. 514, from Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.): Changes the status of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking to a Bureau to Monitor and Combat Trafficking and changes the way we classify foreign countries on our “special watch list” for those not living up to U.S. trafficking-elimination standards.

H.R. 357, from Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.): Requires certain federal personnel to take “a distance learning course on trafficking-in-persons issues,” U.S. ambassadors to receive “specific trafficking-in-persons briefings,” and “at least annual reminders” to various federal personnel about “key problems, threats, methods, and warning signs of trafficking in persons.”

H.R. 468, from Rep. Joseph Heck (R-Nev.): Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to give priority to staff training projects that relate to sex trafficking and authorizes the Secretary to make grants to private nonprofit agencies providing services to “runaway and homeless, and street youth, who have been subjected to, or are at risk of being subjected to, sexual abuse, prostitution, or sexual exploitation.”

H.R. 246, from Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio): Changes the language the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children must use for its “cyber tipline” from “child prostitution” to “child sex trafficking, including child prostitution.”

H.R. 350, from Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.): Requires the Inter-agency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking to survey “state activities to deter individuals from committing trafficking offenses,” review the “academic literature on deterring individuals from committing trafficking offenses” and identify “best practices and strategies.” Also requires the Government Accountability Office to report to Congress about trafficking issues and authorizes grants for programs that assist trafficking victims with housing.

H.R. 398, from Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.): Allocates funding for the development and dissemination of anti-trafficking training for health care professionals.

HT chart

484200_10151195901606521_643946849_n

The True Definition of Human Trafficking

As you may know, January has been proclaimed to be National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month. This month was proclaimed as such by President Barack Obama in January of 2009. Since then, our organization has continued to see an increase in dialogue surrounding the topic of human trafficking……well more of an increase on the dialogue of sex trafficking. Our organization is thrilled to see so many within the United States speaking up and speaking out against the issue of sex trafficking. But it also leaves us confused as to why the other forms of human trafficking are rarely mentioned. If you think about it, it truly is a catch 22. The Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking is one of very few agencies that not only educates the community on the issue of sex trafficking, but we are also very vocal on the issue of domestic servitude as well as labor trafficking. Not only do we assist survivors of sex trafficking, but we also assist survivors of domestic servitude and labor trafficking, both male and female. One of the things that are staff has noticed is the fact that the anti human trafficking field is literally pitting victim against victim. According to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act 2000, this should not be happening.

Recently one of our staff members came across this statement: Human trafficking is the trade of people, usually for the purpose of sexual slavery, and experts claim the epidemic is on the rise in the U.S.

This statement could not be further from the truth. Human Trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.

Sex trafficking is defined as a modern-day form of slavery in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years.

Understand that human trafficking is domestic servitude. It is labor trafficking and it is sex trafficking.

HT chart

Now the statement mentioned above states that human trafficking is the trade of people, usually for the purpose of sexual slavery. Let’s see what the true experts in the field are reporting on this:

484200_10151195901606521_643946849_n

According to research conducted by the International Labour Organization, the statement shown above is false. The ILO has been researching the topic of forced sexual exploitation and forced labor since 1973. Their research has been accepted by The United Nations, The White House and the U.S State Department.

Now according to the chart, it shows that labor trafficking far exceeds sex trafficking. One of the main reasons why this is simply due to demand. Think about it. How many of us depend on the commercial sex industry? How many of us truly are part of the demand for the commercial sex industry? Now let’s flip the script and ask those same questions regarding forced labor? How many of us depend on cheap labor? How many of us depend on the workers in the agricultural industries? How many of us depend on the workers in the garment industries? How many of us depend on services provided to us in locations such as hotels, nail salons, and restaurants? These are all industries in where victims of forced labor have been recovered from.

Due to the fact that there is a higher demand for cheap labor vs. the commercial sex industry, there will always be a higher amount of victims of forced labor throughout the world and throughout the United States. Plus you add in the fact that very few labor trafficking cases are investigated in the United States, this will add onto the number of labor trafficking victims. Understand that is fewer numbers of victims of forced labor that are recovered and assisted, the less traffickers that are arrested equals to the fact that less prosecutions will take place. It is a free for all for anyone involved in labor trafficking and or domestic servitude?

In conclusion, it is important to not just shed light on sex trafficking, but it is important to also shed light on domestic servitude and labor trafficking. We often come across victims of forced labor on a frequent basis and yet not recognize them as victims due to the lack of awareness. Many of these men, women and children, both from foreign countries and the United States are hopeful that one day someone will recognize their silent pleas for help. And yet, very few of us actually recognize their pleas.