After the 12 Days of Christmas, try the 31 Days of Freedom!

31 Days of Freedom Step-by-Step Guide: Here are the first 5 Days!

1. Change your wallpaper on Facebook and Twitter to the icon below and let your friends know January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness month.

2. Start a chain reaction! Tell two people about the issue of human trafficking and its affects in the U.S. Encourage those two people to tell another two people about human trafficking, and so on and so on. Try to educate as many people as possible on this global issue!

3. Attend an anti-trafficking awareness event. Learn more about the issue of human trafficking. Encourage others to attend as well. Please check out our calendar for events in the Tampa Bay region.

4. Do you know your slavery footprint? Visit slaveryfootprint.org to find out how many slaves work for you.

5. Become a smart shopper. Visit the app store on your phone, download fair trade product apps and use them while you shop!

6. Encourage a friend to buy a Fair Trade Products. Please visit FairTradeUSA.org for a list of Fair Trade Products.

7. Shine a light on Human Trafficking awareness! Drive with your headlights on, leave your front porch light, light a candle! Show your community that we are ALL against modern day slavery!

8. Get involved! Volunteer with an anti- trafficking organization.

9. Write a blog or letter to the editor about human trafficking. Education is the key to fighting modern day slavery!

10. Wear green as a symbol of hope! Take a picture and share it on social media and encourage others to do the same.

11. Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day! Encourage your local library to carry books on human trafficking.

12. Go to Change.org. Visit the Human Trafficking section and sign one of the various petitions on this issue.

13. Call or write your state representative and let them know that you support the issue of fighting human trafficking and want to see more laws passed that will better help victims of human trafficking.

14. Donate $5 to an anti trafficking organization. Encourage your friends to donate to your favorite organization as well.

15. Get the issue trending. Tweet #stophumantrafficking

16. Educate yourself. Check out domestic and int. laws about human trafficking like the Trafficking Victims Protection Act 2000.

17. Give back! Donate items that your local anti-trafficking organization needs, and get the rest of your community involved.

18. Students- join or create your own club to raise awareness on the issue of human trafficking. Get your campus involved!

19. Do you know the “red flags”? Learn the red flags that may indicate human trafficking. Visit the International Labour Organizations (www.ILO.org) website for more information.

20. Request a training- If you know or are a business, law enforcement, social service agency or a state employee request a training session from a Grassroots anti-human trafficking organization.

21. Take a picture with a sign that reads, “Stop Human Trafficking” to remind people that there is still modern day slavery today. Post the picture on Facebook, twitter, instagram or other social media sites.

22. Watch a film- Invite friends and loved ones over to watch a documentary on human trafficking.

23. Drop an F-Bomb! Educate youth on the signs of human trafficking, and show them the website http://www.droppingfbombs.com.

24. Follow @freeallslaves, @DropAnFBomb on twitter, along with other anti-human trafficking organizations. Retweet them to get the word out!

25. Wear red today! Red symbolizes the action you are taking against human trafficking. It’s time to end modern day slavery!

26. Check out the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report to see how other counties are doing in the fight against human trafficking since Human Trafficking is a global issue.

27. Do you know your rights? Look up the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Start a conversation with friends!

28. Call and your local law enforcement agency and ask what they are doing to combat human trafficking. Ask about the resources provided to survivors.

29. Put the National Human Trafficking Hotline’s number in your cell phone today! The number is 1 (888) 373-7888

30. Check out your local 211 to see what resources are provided to survivors.

31. Plan for the future! At 2:09 pm, reflect on the fact that globally there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking that are in need of assistance. Think about what is still needed to address the root causes of human trafficking in the state of Florida, the United States and globally.

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US 2014 Trafficking In Persons Report Summary

By: Nazia Hossain

The US is a Tier 1 country in the 2014 TIP report. This means that the government fully complies with Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards. While Tier 1 is the highest ranking it does not mean that trafficking is not a problem in that country or that enough is being done, it means that the country has addressed the problem and is meeting TVPA minimum standards to address and eradicate trafficking.
Both US citizens and foreign nationals can be subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Trafficking can occur in legal and illicit markets such as brothels, strip clubs, hospitality, elderly care etc. Victims may have entered the country with or without legal status sometimes through visa programs for temporary workers. The top countries of origin of federally identified victims in fiscal year (FY) 2013 were the United States, Mexico, the Philippines, Thailand, Honduras, Guatemala, India, and El Salvador.
Federal law enforcement has prosecuted more cases this reporting period than the last. Prosecutions have also increased in the state level and all US states and territories have enacted anti-trafficking laws. The government is providing more comprehensive victims services, including a pathway to citizenship and decreased processing time for visas. Some challenges that still remain are NGOs critical need for funding and that some trafficking victims are being prosecuted and treated as criminals.
To increase its efforts the US should increase screening to identify trafficked victims, increase funding to relevant agencies, increase focus on labor trafficking, and increase training on indicators of human trafficking and the victim-centered approach.

Prosecution
In the 2013 Fiscal Year (FY), there was a reported opening of 1,025 investigations possibly involving human trafficking, an increase from 894 in FY 2012. During FY 2013, The Department of Justice convicted a total of 174 traffickers in cases involving forced labor, sex trafficking of adults, and sex trafficking of children, compared to 138 such convictions obtained in FY 2012. These totals do not include child sex trafficking cases brought under non-trafficking statutes. Notable prosecutions in the reporting period involved defendants, who lured adults and children through false promises, advertised the victims online, inflicted beatings, and threatened the victims with guns to compel them into commercial sex and/or forced labor. An increase in the number of state prosecutions has also occurred with over 100 prosecuted cases at the state level. Traffickers now also face longer prison sentences.

Protection
The federal government released a strategic action plan on victim services in the United States, which includes formal procedures to guide officials in victim identification and referral to service providers. Federal funding for victim assistance generally increased during the reporting period and was provided primarily by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). HHS supported 138 NGO service providers across the country that provided trafficking victim assistance to a total of 915 individual clients and family members, a 20 percent increase compared to the prior fiscal year.
The United States provides trafficking-specific immigration relief to foreign trafficking victims in two ways: short-term Continued Presence and longer-term “T nonimmigrant status” (commonly referred to as the T visa). Both statuses confer the right to legally work in the United States. Victims with T visas may be eligible to apply for permanent resident status and eventually may be eligible for citizenship. More T visas were issued this fiscal year than last and processing time for the T visa has decreased. Another immigration benefit available to victims of trafficking is the U nonimmigrant status (commonly referred to as the U visa) for victims of certain qualifying crimes who are helping, have helped, or will help law enforcement.
Some concerns of NGOs are that some government officials misunderstood complex legal aspects of human trafficking cases, did not consistently take a victim-centered approach and/or lack critical training to provide services to victims. Other issues are a disproportionate amount of services are available to female and child victims, but not male victims; lack of investigation of potential labor trafficking cases and immigrant victims reluctance of approaching local law enforcement because of immigration enforcement.

Prevention
The US is making progress through continued work on federal anti-trafficking efforts and an increased transparency of federal agencies. The Department of State made adjustments to rules for employers regarding temporary work visas and implemented a monitoring program to ensure participant welfare.
U.S. embassies, the Department of Education, U.S. Agency for International Development etc. are all providing services that increase awareness and training on trafficking. The Department of Labor has updated its list of items produced through forced labor. There is still a lot to be done, but the US is making progress.

 

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Prevention, Prosecution, Protection, and Partnership

The prevention aspect of the “4 P’s” dates back as early as 1904, where it was originally used to help prevent white slave traffic. Today, trafficking has taken a different meaning and claims many new victims every day. Prevention begins with awareness, especially awareness of the public eye, where small warning signs and red flags could save a life. As trafficking is evolving every day, the public needs to be aware of these signs and know the proper response to take. Governments as well, emphasizing the developing world, need to take action in enforcing common laws where the exploitation of migrant workers is rather simple to traffickers who are not being regulated properly. “People are bought and sold as commodities within and across borders to satisfy demand from buyers. Poverty, unemployment, lack of opportunity, social upheaval, and political instability facilitate traffickers’ ability to recruit victims, but they do not in themselves cause trafficking. The economic reality is that human trafficking is driven by profits.” As stated in the Trafficking in Persons Report, it is necessary for governments to take control and review many aspects of their supply and demand chain, one in which could greatly weaken a trafficker’s means of supply.
Prosecution of human trafficking has been steadily rising since 2008, but unfortunately “the number of prosecutions is far outweighed by the number of arrests and investigations. And successful prosecutions of sex trafficking offenses far outnumber successful forced labor prosecutions.” Good reason for this difficulty in proving labor trafficking is because the trafficking is often done by a respected/accomplished member of society. Despite this obstacle, countries have had an increasing number of prosecutions and convictions due greatly in part to the ongoing trainings of law enforcement, community outreach, and a greater knowledge of human trafficking evolving in society. Another key role in the prosecution process is engaging in careful interviewing strategies, strategies in which trust is gained and victims become empowered. An obstacle that has set forth in attempted prosecution, victims are made out to be the criminals, often times getting blamed for being trafficked. This is due to a lack of understanding and knowledge, and something that can make a whole prosecution fall apart.
Protection is a crucial component for anti-trafficking efforts in any country/government. It is proven to help in identification and prosecuting of traffickers, and in proactive victim identification. Having government and law enforcement proactive throughout the community has also proven to be successful in cases such as “prostitution markets, targeting of workplaces where labor offenses have been persistent, and regular inspection of businesses that get many of their workers on guestworker visas. The ability of governments to work with victims in making them feel secure can greatly assist in the identification and prosecution of their traffickers.
Partnership is often looked at as being between governments or some outside actors. The Trafficking in Persons Report states that the most effective anti-trafficking partnerships are within governments. With such an array of victims and experiences, a government must be able to coexist in assisting these victims. Federal governments and local law enforcements must all work responsibly and effectively together, making sure needs are met. NGO’s are also a significant factor in ensuring victim recovery, organizations which do indeed need federal funding in order to continue on their positive path. NGO’s contribute in ways such as referrals, feedback, and valuable information used to get victims on the right track and traffickers put to justice.

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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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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