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!

Advertisements

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

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.

To suspend or not to suspend?

I recently read an article in regards to a Shelby County high school student who was suspended for engaging in commercial sex acts in the boys bathroom at school. The freshman student would approach male students and offer sex in exchange for money. In some cases she did not accept any money. The article states that there were days in where she would engage in commercial sex acts with up to 10 males. Pretty alarming facts.

So how did the school respond? By suspending her. Is this the best solution to this situation. By reading the article, the media did a good job in portraying her as a hyper sexually active teen, with tones of shaming and blaming. But did anyone ever stop to think that this teen girl maybe a victim? Did anyone stop and think that maybe she is involved in this due to abuse? Did anyone think to assess her as a possible victim? Judging by the article, no, that thought did not come across anyone’s mind.

Before people blame and shame young women who may be engaging in a commercial sex act, stop and think before you speak. Without knowing all of the details of this young women’s life, people have casted judgement on her. No one has taken the time to understand what is going on.

So my question to you is should the school have suspended the girl?

http://www.wistv.com/story/26834413/high-school-students-suspended-parents-learn-of-prostitution-on-campus

The Swedish legislation

The Swedish legislation
Sexköpslagen – criminalizing the purchase, but not the sale, of sexual services.
By Maria Persson- FCAHT Intern

The most common legal approach among the countries in the world, towards prostitution, is either full acceptance where buying and selling sexual services are legal, or criminalizing the sale of sexual services. What these two types of legal approaches seem to lack in knowledge is the fact that persons engaging in prostitution often suffer from poor conditions, lack of gender equality and respect for human rights, poor education and the inability to find employment. In addition, social problems, addictive behavior and other health issues might lead to a situation where a person is put at risk. These contributing factors are why people who are being used and engaging in prostitution. Moreover, the primary reason for maintaining prostitution is the demand, of people buying sex (Integrations- och jämställdhetsdepartementet 2009:4).

In the light of these harmful factors and the never ending demand, the Swedish government introduced a ban on the purchase of sexual services since it was deemed that fighting prostitution was of pressing social interest. “The ban was intended to help fight prostitution and its harmful consequences in a more effective manner than […] using the previous measures against prostitution” (Statens offentliga utredningar 2010:29). The ban, Sexköpslagen, became a law, January 1 1999, and the penal provision is currently found in Chapter 6, section 9 and 11 of the Penal Code.

The ban reads as following:
A person who, otherwise than as previously provided in this Chapter, obtains a casual sexual relation in return for payment, shall be sentenced for purchase of sexual service to a fine or imprisonment for at most six months. The provision of the first paragraph also apply if the payment was promised or given by another person. (Law 2005)

Concerning children, under the age of 18:

A person who, otherwise than as previously provided in this Chapter, induces a child under eighteen years of age to undertake or endure a sexual act in return for payment, shall be sentenced for purchase of a sexual act from a child to a fine or imprisonment for at most two years. The provision of the first paragraph also apply if the payment was promised or given by another person. (Law 2005)

The primary motive for introducing Sexköpslagen was, as was mentioned, a pressing social interest in fighting prostitution. The reason stressed that prostitution bring serious harm to individuals and society as a whole, and that prostitution is closely linked with pimping, drug trafficking and battery. The law was supposed to deter the johns, which would result in the decreasing of demand for sexual services, which would lead to a decreasing number of prostitutes. Furthermore, by criminalizing the purchase of sexual services, the interest from foreign criminal groups to establishment of organized prostitution business in Sweden would probably decline (Justitiedepartementet 2008:2).

As a matter of fact, Sweden was the first country in the world to criminalize the purchase of sexual services, but is the law really effective? Has prostitution disappeared or is it merely being forced underground?

Between 1999 and 2011, 5,138 cases were prosecuted using Sexköpslagen, Section 9 and 11. The following diagram shows the number of cases distributed among the years of prosecution and referred section of Sexköpslagen. The x-axis shows the year of prosecution, and the y-axis shows the amount of cases.

Source: Statistiska Centralbyrån 02/25/2012

As shown above, Sexköpslagen can be considered effective due to the number of prosecutions, but the fact that people are still being prosecuted using Sexköpslagen indicates that prostitution still exists in Sweden. However, as the diagram shows, the number of cases have increased in recent years. This fact would indicate that the implementation of Sexköpslagen has been effective and therefore the numbers of prostitutes may have declined in recent years.

Swedish law enforcement has identified two arenas for prostitution, street prostitution and indoor prostitution. As understood from the description, street prostitution occurs in the street, e.g. the prostitute by physical appearance, is promoting sexual services in the street where the potential john approaches them. Indoor prostitution is promoted and/or takes place in massage parlors, hotels, restaurants and sex clubs etc. The contact between the prostitute and the john is not mediated in a street environment. Instead, the contacts are established over the phone and/or via the internet, and thereafter they meet in a hotel, in the john´s residence, in the prostitute´s house or another premises that either one of them may possess (Statens offentliga utredningar 2010:146 ff). Since the introduction of the internet, and the fact that more people have access to the web, increasing contact is taking place in this environment and therefore it has become increasingly more difficult to estimate the number of prostitutes in Sweden. The statistics from 2008 show that approximately 300 prostitutes are engaged in street prostitution and there are no numbers available for indoor prostitution (Integrations- och jämställdhetsdepartementet 2008:6-7).

Since the introduction of Sexköpslagen in 1999 it would appear that the number of prostitutes has diminished compared to the number prior to the introduction of the law. When in fact the number of prostitutes has remained about the same since the introduction of Sexköpslagen in 1999 until 2008 (Statens offentliga utredningar 2010:18 and 147). Interestingly, there has been an increase in the number of prostitutes engaged in indoor prostitution in recent years (Statens offentliga utredningar 2010:110). The dimidiate number of street prostitution could be a indicative of the effectiveness of Sexköpslagen, being that the johns are discouraged from buying sex. Although, viewed in a broader perspective the prostitute involved in street prostitution might have changed their arena and engaged in indoor prostitution to continue promotion of sexual services. Also, the criminalizing of purchasing sexual services leads to the prostitute engaging in street prostitution, have to find other ways to promote their sexual services. It is well known that the johns will not approach a prostitute in the street if the john anticipates prosecution for that action.

Another factor influencing the dimidiate number of street prostitutes is that concerted effort has been made to fight street prostitution. The reason for prioritizing this type of prostitution is the immediate effect Swedish law enforcement has made to deter presumptive johns from continuing to buy sex. Unfortunately, no financial and expertise resources have been made available to fight indoor prostitution, and the lack of prioritizing this type of prostitution is still present (Statens offentliga utredningar 2010:22). In the light of the increasing numbers providing indoor prostitution, it can be assumed that fighting indoor prostitution will potentially lead to a decrease in the number of prostitutes although finding this type of prostitution is more demanding for Swedish law enforcement. To sum up, there is no evidence of an increase of prostitution in Sweden, neither is there any evidence of a reduction of prostitution in Sweden (Statens offentliga utredningar 2010:104). Although, Statens offentliga utredningar (2010:20), is convinced that criminalizing the purchase of sexual services contributes to combating prostitution in Sweden.

Challenges still exist before law enforcement will be able to establish an effective approach in the fight against prostitution in Sweden. Improvement should include prioritizing indoor prostitution monitoring since the number of prostitutes have increased within this particular arena. Fighting street prostitution has proved effective, but for the reason of fighting prostitution as a whole, all types of prostitution both street and indoor must be prioritized. Resources must be made available for fighting both types of prostitution simultaneously, in order to fulfill the purpose of Sexköpslagen. The purpose of the law was to fight the harmful consequences of prostitution, as of this writing, the purpose has still not been accomplished. Moreover, the imposed penalty has to be more harsh than it is today. The maximum penalty is six months imprisonment for the purchase of sexual services and two years imprisonment for purchasing a sexual act from a child. Apparently the imposed penalty does not deter johns from continuing to buy sex, which can be directly attributed to the fact that indoor prostitution has become so prevalent in recent years. Finally, Sexköpslagen has failed to prevent criminal groups from establishing organized commercial business with the express purpose of involving prostitution. This is due to the fact that there has been an increase of aliens engaging in prostitution in Sweden (Statens offentliga utredningar 2010:145). Probably, these persons suffer from organized crime committed by foreign criminal groups which have established organized prostitution businesses in Sweden.

To overcome these challenges, the Swedish government has presented an action plan (Integrations- och jämstäldhetsdepartementet 2008). However, the results from implementing an effective approach in fighting prostitution in Sweden, are still to be proven.

Works cited

Integrations- och jämställdhetsdepartementet, (2009), Mot prostitution och människohandel för sexuella ändamål, http://www.regeringen.se/content/1/c6/13/04/69/6355d71d.pdf (accessed 02/25/2012)

Statens offentliga utredningar, (2010), Förbud mot köp av sexuell tjänst en utvärdering 1999-2008, SOU 2010:49, http://www.regeringen.se/content/1/c6/14/91/42/ed1c91ad.pdf accessed 02/10/2012)

Law, (2005:90), interpretation of the Swedish Penal Code, (2005), http://www.sweden.gov.se/content/1/c6/04/74/55/ef2d4c50.pdf (accessed 02/20/2012)

Justitiedepartementet, (2008), Utvärdering av förbudet mot köp av sexuell tjänst, 2008:44, http://www.regeringen.se/content/1/c6/10/37/32/fe52f127.pdf (accessed 02/08/2012)

Statistiska centralbyrån, (2012), http://www.scb.se/Pages/List____250612.aspx (accessed 02/25/2012)

Integrations- och jämställdhetsdepartementet, (2008), Handlingsplan mot prostitution och människohandel för sexuella ändamål, 2007/08:167, http://www.regeringen.se/content/1/c6/10/86/21/6f716aa3.pdf (accessed 02/08/2012)