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

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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!
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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

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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:

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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.

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.