A call to action!!

Tell Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to pass
S.2925 “Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010”
On December 9th, the U.S. Senate passed S.2925, “Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence
and Victims Support Act of 2010.” This bipartisan legislation was introduced by Senators Wyden
(D-OR) and Cornyn (R-TX) and was passed with unanimous consent in the Senate. On
December 21st it passed in the House but with changes that will be unfavorable to Senators Kyl
and Sessions. We need them to understand the importance of S.2925 and remind them of what
good they will do if this bill passes. We have only 24 to 48 hours left!!!
What you need to know about S.2925:
• It will provide $2m to $2.5m a year in funding to six state and local pilot projects to serve and
shelter child victims of sex trafficking
• Funds can be used to empower law enforcement efforts to combat the sex trafficking of
• With less than 100 beds in shelters across the nation, these funds are critically needed to
help restore exploited children. Law enforcement has expressed frustration that when they
discover an exploited child, there is nowhere safe to put her for help.
• Law enforcement needs assistance to ensure that traffickers and buyers of sex with
vulnerable girls and boys don’t continue to get away unpunished.
• Senator Kyl feels strongly about crime victims’ rights. If you call his office, remind him that
child victims of prostitution are victims and need his support.
• Senator Sessions was a U.S. Attorney and cares a great deal about law enforcement.
Remind him that these funds will also be used to support the men and women working to
combat this crime.
Calling your Senator is easy! Just review the instructions below and use the sample language
as a guide. Use your own voice and remember, your legislator wants to hear from you!
What you must do:
1. CALL KYL (AZ) OR SESSIONS (AL) TODAY! Calls are the most effective and powerful way
to urge Congressional action. We ask you to pick up the phone and let them know you
support this legislation.
Arizona Constituents call Senator Jon Kyl: (202) 224-4521 or
Alabama Constituents call Senator Jeff Sessions: (202) 224-4124 or
2. You will likely get a front desk or policy staffer. Tell them you are calling about S.2925,
“Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act”:
“Hi, my name is [ ], and I am a constituent of Senator [ ]. On Tuesday night the House
passed S.2925, “Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of
2010.” This bipartisan legislation will fund state and local efforts to assist child victims of sex
trafficking. Funds will be used to increase victim services, provide law enforcement more
resources to combat sex trafficking of children, and fund deterrence and outreach efforts.
I urge Senator [ ] to support this critical legislation. Children exploited in prostitution need
the Senator to remember them. These victims have rights and need his support today.
3. After you complete your call, send a follow-up email to the Senator you called thanking him.
Here is some sample language you can use as a guide:
Dear [ ]:
I am a constituent who is very concerned about the sex trafficking of children in the United
States and in my state. I called your office today to urge passage of “Domestic Minor Sex
Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010.” The House passed S.2925 on
Tuesday evening. I urge the Senate to adopt and pass S.2925 immediately and without
Today, there is a severe lack of services for child sex trafficking victims in the United States.
This legislation helps address this by supporting holistic, multidisciplinary approaches that
bring law enforcement, non-profits and agencies together to combat the problem. Block
grants will fund collaborative programs in up to six regionally diverse areas across the U.S.
Each grant will help increase victim services while increasing law enforcement resources to
investigate and prosecute traffickers. Outreach and awareness efforts are also supported.
Thank you for acting to protect our state’s and our nation’s children and to stop sex
trafficking. Please adopt and pass S.2925 in the Senate and close the severe gap in victim
services and law enforcement resources.

Street Smarts: Homeless LGBT youths are vulnerable to sexploitation

Joshua Scarpuzzi – SDGLN Contributor
December 17th, 2010
Josh Scarpuzzi
Related Stories
SAN DIEGO — Every night, on the mean streets of San Diego, thousands of youths struggle to survive without money, a job or even a roof over their heads. They often sleep under bridges and overpasses, in overgrown canyons or with whomever makes a tempting offer to spend the night.

Many of these homeless kids are a largely invisible part of our LGBT community and have been kicked out of their homes after coming out. Rejected by their loved ones, they frequently have no place to call home.

I was once one of these kids.

To make a living and survive these harsh conditions on the streets, many of these youths are lured into child sex trafficking with promises of money and a place to stay. Sadly, it’s the start of a downhill spiral leading to drugs, violence, sexually transmitted diseases and, most of all, a terrible scenario they never imagined: a tender life bound into sexual slavery.

You may have heard about this growing problem on shows like “Dr. Phil,” NBC’s “Today Show,” even “Oprah.”

Actress Demi Moore calls it America’s “dirty little secret.” But child sex trafficking is not high on the list of importance in today’s society, which is overwhelmed with grim economic news, massive unemployment, and the collapse of the housing and lending industries.

Child sex trafficking is not going away in America, and it is an even bigger problem here in San Diego, where a mild climate and “beach town” mentality can ease the pain and fear of living on the streets. The FBI considers San Diego a “key trafficking center.”

The problem is so big in San Diego that America’s Finest City was deemed as a HICPA, or High Intensity Child Prostitution Area. That designation followed the 2001 publication of the University of Pennsylvania document, “Silent Emergency: The Commercial Exploitation of Children,” a comprehensive study involving 28 U.S. cities and 300,000 to 400,000 children.

For more facts on human trafficking, click here.

How youth sex trafficking is affecting our community

Of the estimated 1.6 million homeless American youths, about 30% identify as LGBT. Gays and lesbians make up about 12% of the nation’s population, therefore these numbers in the homeless community are more than double that of heterosexuals.

In one prominent study, results show that 50% of gay youths feel unwanted by their parents after coming out, and 26% are told they must leave their home immediately.

Having gone through this in my own life, I fully understand the feelings involved with being kicked to the curb, being lost, needing to feel loved, needing that reassurance from grown-ups.

Unfortunately, many of our LGBT youths in San Diego are currently enticed by the sex industry. Not only are LGBT homeless youths at extreme risk for sex trafficking, but they are also at risk for self-prostitution at local hookup sites and in online sex chat rooms. Then there is the lure and coercion of the porn industry.

When I was left to fend for myself on the streets, I was immediately lured into the pornography industry. I was without a place to sleep, without money, and without the feeling of belonging, and I was promised these things by the directors, producers and workers of the porn industry. San Diego is a gay-porn mecca with major adult film companies continually searching for new “models.”

I was young and naive and had no positive influences in my life when I was abruptly thrown out of my home. I turned to this industry without a thought and only months later realized the downward spiral my life was taking. I had to learn that while money and sex may be fun in that moment, it will never replace the deep holes I was trying to fill. These days, I still reap the continuing consequences of my actions years ago.

I still encounter constant judgment and face relationship issues over my choices of the past. I will always be haunted because I know that through making these movies, strangers will be able to view my body on those DVDs. Do I regret it? Deeply. And I can only do my part now to help other youths from taking the same path I did.

I credit not only my own self-realizations, but also the help and support of organizations such as The Center in Hillcrest, as well as counseling and my wonderful boyfriend. He continually encourages me to work on myself, learn from the past, and be a better person. He makes me the best person I can be, and I love him with all my heart.

With the number of homeless San Diego youths reaching into the thousands many other young boys have no positive influences in their lives and are often turning to the sex industry for reassurance, love and acceptance. In a community filled with drugs, parties, sex and exploitation, it is imperative that organizations such as The Center and SDGLN are present in our community to show a positive path for the next generation of LGBT people.

A Call to Action

Tell the House of Representatives to Pass the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010

On December 9, 2010, the U.S. Senate passed S. 2925, the “Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010.” Now this critically needed legislation passes to the House where it must be adopted and passed by December 17, when Congress is expected to adjourn for the year. Calls are urgently needed to House members to make this legislation the law of the land before the legislative session closes. Learn more here.

Experts estimate that at least 100,000 children are sex trafficked in the U.S. every year. These children experience violent trauma, manipulation, and are often arrested and detained in juvenile detention. There are currently less than 100 beds nationwide in shelters prepared to provide the specialized care young trafficking victims need and deserve. If passed, S. 2925 would provide increased support and protection for child sex trafficking victims across America by providing 6 block grants of $2 million to $2.5 million each, spread out regionally. This will ensure that every part of the U.S. has safe and appropriate services and shelter so that young sex trafficking victims can recover, rebuild their lives, and stay free from further exploitation. It would require that 67% of funds are dedicated toward direct support services and shelter for child victims of sex trafficking. The remaining funds may be used to increase law enforcement resources and combat demand to reduce the number of children across America that are trafficked for sex. Learn more about the legislation here.

We have come too far to let this opportunity to increase support and protection for child sex trafficking victims pass us by.

Calls are the most effective and powerful way to urge Congressional action so pick-up the phone and call your House member today!

Wyden/Cornyn Sex Trafficking Bill Passes Senate

United States Senate
December 9, 2010 202-224-3789
Kevin McLaughlin (Cornyn)
Wyden/Cornyn Sex Trafficking Bill Passes Senate
Bill To Provide Aid for Victims of Sexual Slavery and Crackdown On Those Who Exploit Underage Girls Moves to the House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. – The United States Senate unanimously approved a bill to aid victims of modern sexual slavery and give law enforcement the tools to investigate and prosecute sex traffickers who exploit underage girls and force them into the sex trade. Sponsored by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act will create a six-state pilot program to help law enforcement crackdown on pimps and traffickers and create shelters, provide treatment, counseling, and legal aid for the underage girls that are forced into sexual slavery. This bill will be considered a model to help rescue the hundreds of thousands of underage girls believed to be forced into the sex trade in America. According to FBI estimates, more than 100,000 underage girls are exploited for commercial sex in the U.S. each year.
“Senator Cornyn and I have long believed that sex trafficking is modern day slavery and the poor young women forced into the sex trade are victims of the real criminals – the pimps and traffickers,” Wyden said. “Today, the United States Senate agreed with us. Not only will this bill create a working model to help these young women break the cycle of exploitation for good, it will provide new tools for law enforcement and prosecutors to put these modern day slave owners behind bars.”
“Our nation must remain committed to ending the scourge of human trafficking. This legislation will provide valuable assistance to state and local governments on the front lines of battling organized criminal syndicates and violent gangs that traffic humans for labor and sex,” said Cornyn. “I am proud to partner with Senator Wyden on this important bipartisan effort.”
The Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act would authorize block grants to six locations deemed to have significant sex trafficking activity, require a workable plan to provide comprehensive, wrap-around services to sex trafficking victims – including the establishment of a shelter facility – and require demonstrated participation by all levels of law enforcement, prosecutors, and social service providers.
Each grant will be funded at $2-2.5 million per year with the option of renewal for two additional years. Some of the items that can be funded by these block grants include:
· A shelter for trafficking victims;

· Clothing and other daily needs in order to keep victims from returning to the street;

· Victims’ assistance counseling and legal services;

· Education or job training classes for victims;

· Specialized training for law enforcement and social service providers;

· Police officer salaries – patrol officers, detectives, investigators;

· Prosecutor salaries, and other trial expenses;

· Investigation expenses – wire taps, expert consultants, travel, other “technical assistance” expenditures; and

· Outreach, education, and prevention efforts, including programs to deter offenders.
The bill will help encourage and boost prompt reporting of missing and abducted children to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database. With the help of more timely reporting, law enforcement will be able to identify repeat runaways who are statistically more likely to be lured into prostitution.

J-1 Visas lead to HT for labor and sexual expoitation

Lured by unsupervised, third-party brokers with promises of steady jobs and a chance to sightsee, some foreign college students on summer work programs in the U.S. get a far different taste of life in America.

An Associated Press investigation found students forced to work in strip clubs instead of restaurants. Others take home $1 an hour or even less. Some live in apartments so crowded that they sleep in shifts because there aren’t enough beds. Others have to eat on floors.

They are among more than 100,000 college students who come to the U.S. each year on popular J-1 visas, which supply resorts with cheap seasonal labor as part of a program aimed at fostering cultural understanding.

Government auditors have warned about problems in the program for 20 years, but the State Department, which is in charge of it, only now says it is working on new rules. Officials won’t say what those rules are or discuss on the record the problems that have plagued J-1 visas.

John Woods, deputy assistant director of national security for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, told the AP there were at least two federal investigations under way into human trafficking related to J-1 visas. He would not provide details.

The AP interviewed students, advocates, local authorities and social service agencies, and reviewed thousands of pages of confidential records, police reports and court cases. Among the findings:

— Many foreign students pay recruiters to help find employment, then don’t get work or wind up making little or no money at menial jobs. Labor recruiters charge students exorbitant rent for packing them into filthy, sparsely furnished apartments so crowded that some endure “hotbunking,” where they sleep in shifts.

Students routinely get threatened with deportation or eviction if they quit, or even if they just complain too loudly. Some resort to stealing essentials like food, toothpaste and underwear, according to police.
“The vast majority of participating students in this program find it a rewarding experience and return home safely,” the State Department said in an e-mail to the AP.

But it’s not hard to find exceptions. Most of the nearly 70 students the AP interviewed in 10 states, hailing from 16 countries, said they were disappointed, and some were angry.

“This is not what I thought when I paid all this money to come here,” said Natalia Berlinschi, a Romanian who came to the U.S. on a J-1 visa hoping to save up for dental school but got stuck in South Carolina this summer without a job. She took to begging for work on the Myrtle Beach boardwalk and sharing a three-bedroom house with 30 other exchange students.

“I was treated very, very badly,” Berlinschi said. “I will never come back.”

— The State Department failed to even keep up with the number of student complaints until this year, and has consistently shifted responsibility for policing the program to the 50 or so companies that sponsor students for fees that can run up to several thousand dollars. That has left businesses to monitor their own treatment of participants.

The program generates millions for the sponsor companies and third-party labor recruiters.
Businesses that hire students can save 8 percent by using a foreign worker over an American because they don’t have to pay Medicare, Social Security and unemployment taxes. The students are required to have health insurance before they arrive, another cost that employers don’t have to bear.

Many businesses say they need the seasonal work force to meet the demand of tourist season.
“There’s been a massive failure on the part of the United States to bring any accountability to the temporary work visa programs, and it’s especially true for the J-1,” said Terry Coonan, a former prosecutor and the executive director of Florida State University’s Center for the Advancement of Human Rights.

The issues are serious enough that the former Soviet republic of Belarus told its young people in 2006 to avoid going to the U.S. on a J-1, warning of a “high level of danger” after one of its citizens in the program was murdered, another died in what investigators in the U.S. said was a suicide, and a third was robbed.

— Strip clubs and adult entertainment companies openly solicit J-1 workers, even though government regulations ban students from taking jobs “that might bring the Department of State into notoriety or disrepute.”

“If you wish to dance in USA as a J-1 exchange visitor, contact us,” ZM Studios, a broker for topless dancers, advertised on its website this year. The ad said ZM Studios is “affiliated with designated visa sponsors” and can get women J-1 visas and jobs at topless clubs in cities like Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

ZM Studios president Julian Andreev denied employing J-1 students in an e-mail to the AP, but the company’s site on Friday still guaranteed help getting visas for prospective dancers, noting that they need a J-1 or one of two other types of visas to work legally.

J-1 students have been recruited to smuggle cash that authorities said was stolen from U.S. bank accounts, court records show, and their identities have been used in a million-dollar income tax scam.
“It’s difficult to prosecute these cases because the workers usually leave the country within a few months.

That’s why the J-1 is the ideal visa to exploit,” Coonan said.

In the worst cases, students get funneled into sexual slavery.

The J-1 Summer Work and Travel program, which allows college students to visit for up to four months, is one of the State Department’s most popular visas. Participation has boomed from about 20,000 in 1996 to a peak of more than 150,000 in 2008.

The visas are issued year-round, since students come from both hemispheres on their summer breaks. They work all over the country, at theme parks in Florida and California, fish factories in Alaska and upscale ski destinations in Colorado and Montana.

The influx has been especially overwhelming for some resort towns.

In Maryland, the Ocean City Baptist Church served more than 1,700 different J-1 participants from 46 countries who sought free meals this summer, sometimes upward of 500 in one night, said Lynn Davis, who leads the food ministry.

Down the coast in Virginia Beach, Va., a homeless shelter that typically feeds 100 people a day was serving twice that many this summer as the site became overrun with J-1 students. The Judeo-Christian Outreach Center began running out of food on some days and was forced to limit how often the students could eat there, said Tony Zontini, the shelter’s assistant director.

Hotels, restaurants and other businesses often hire third-party labor recruiters to supply the J-1 workers. Many of those brokers are people from the students’ native countries, often former Soviet bloc nations.
These middlemen commonly dock students’ pay so heavily for lodging, transportation and other necessities that the wages work out to $1 an hour or less, according to George Collins, an inspector at the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department in the Florida Panhandle who has worked cases involving J-1 students since 2001.

Collins, who once notified the State Department that “J-1 abuse is epidemic here,” told the AP the same companies often exploit students year after year despite his reporting them.

For years, the State Department has refused to publicly discuss problems in the program in any kind of detail.

The AP asked the State Department in a Freedom of Information Act request in March 2009 for a full list of complaints related to the program. In May, more than a year later, the department finally responded that it kept no such list, and that it keeps records related to the program for only three years.

Last month, the department said it had finally created a database of complaints.

“It turns out that until this year, we did NOT keep a record of complaints. Now, we do,” Marthena Cowart, a senior adviser for the department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, said in a Nov. 10 e-mail.
Cowart did not provide a copy of the complaint database to the AP or indicate how many complaints it included. And the department declined to discuss the AP’s findings on the record.

“We are deeply concerned by any allegations involving the poor treatment of participants as this potentially undermines our goal of promoting mutual understanding and goodwill between the people of the United States and the people of other countries,” the department said Friday in declining an interview request.

For the many J-1 women who end up working in strip clubs, whether by choice or force, the changes can’t come soon enough.

In Florida, a 19-year-old Russian told the AP she went to work as a cocktail waitress this summer at a topless bar in Fort Walton Beach because the souvenir shop where she worked didn’t pay much and the shop owner had her living in a crowded, run-down apartment.

She gave the AP only her first name, Oleysa, because she hadn’t told her parents.

“My father doesn’t know where I work,” she said, lowering her gaze to a tray of beers and mixed drinks.
A Ukrainian woman who said she was forced to strip in Detroit asked the AP to identify her only as Katya, because she fears for her life.

Katya, who used the same alias when testifying to Congress in October 2007 about how sex trafficking brought her to the U.S., said she was studying sports medicine in Kiev back in 2004 when her boss told her about the J-1 program.

Instead of waitressing for a summer in Virginia as she’d been promised, however, Katya and another student were forced to strip at a club in Detroit. Their handler confiscated their passports and told them they had to pay $12,000 for the travel arrangements and another $10,000 for work documents, according to court records.

Katya said he eventually demanded she come up with $35,000 somehow, by dancing or other means.
“I said, ‘That’s not what I signed here for. That’s not right.’ He said, ‘Well, you owe me the money. I don’t care how I get it from you. If I have to sell you, I’ll sell you.'”

The women were told that if they refused, their families in Ukraine would be killed, Katya said.
Over the next months, the two men beat the women, threatened them with guns and made them work at Cheetah’s strip club, court records state. Katya said one of the men also forced her to have sex, a memory she still struggles with.

The two men are now in prison, and Katya’s old boss in the Ukraine is a fugitive.

Even J-1 students who avoid physical or sexual abuse often face other challenges.

Exchange student Munkh-Erdene Battur said he and four others were fired from their fast-food jobs last year in Riverton, Wyo., after complaining about living in what looked like a converted garage and paying $350 apiece per month for the accommodations.

“In my whole life, I’ve never lived in that kind of place and that kind of conditions,” said Battur, who is from Mongolia.

Iuliia Bolgaryna came to work this summer at a souvenir store on the outskirts of Surf City, N.C.
The store manager offered to let her and two other women from the Ukraine stay with him for $120 a week. But he wouldn’t let them eat at the table, so they huddled together for meals on the floor. They worked loads of overtime but were only paid for 40 hours a week.

The store manager declined to comment.

“It was almost normal that he screamed, that we worked 14 hours, that we ate on the floor,” she said. “That was our America.”
Mohr reported from along the Florida Panhandle. Weiss reported from Myrtle Beach and Columbia, S.C. Baker reported from Surf City, N.C. Associated Press writers Michael Kunzelman in New Orleans and Mike Schneider in Orlando contributed to this report, as did The AP News Research Center in New York. AP videojournalist Jason Bronis contributed from Detroit and the Florida Panhandle

Study: does decriminalizing child porn lead to lower rates of sex abuse?

Interesting article. What do you think about this research and it’s results?

In an article published in Archives of Sexual Behavior, Dr. Milton Diamond and researchers from the University of Hawaii examined the relationship between the availability of legal child pornography and the incidence of child sex abuse. What they found may surprise you.
Diamond examined the number of sex-related crimes recorded in The Czech Republic in the 15 years before the country switched to a democratic government in 1989, and the 18 years after. During this change, the government also relaxed its ban on sexually explicit materials, which included the decriminalization of child porn. Diamond’s team discovered that the number of reported cases of child sex abuse dropped significantly after the ban on sexually explicit material lifted. This research would appear to support the idea that porn provides an outlet for sexual frustrations instead of serving as a catalyst for abuse.

In the case of the Czech Republic, it may be difficult to directly link the relaxed pornography laws with lowered sex crimes considering the entire society dramatically changed with the fall of communism. However, researchers note that similar drops in sex crimes involving children also occurred in other countries that permit child porn, including Denmark and Japan. Again, even with these countries it’s difficult to attribute lowered rates of sex crimes with porn as opposed to other factors such as legalized prostitution.

Also, even if the decriminalization of child porn was shown to reduce abuse rates, there’s still the issue of the welfare of the children depicted in such material. While Diamond made the point that he does not endorse the exploitation of real children, his team suggests that artificially produced materials may be just as effective. In Japan, the trend of Magna, or sexually explicit comic characters, may be what they had in mind. Many of these illustrated characters depict school girls of an unspecified age. There has even been a recent trend of Japanese men who “date” electronic Magna characters via electronic devices or pillows featuring their Magna girlfriends.

Read more about this controversial research at sciencedaily.com

Milton Diamond, Eva Jozifkova, Petr Weiss. “Pornography and Sex Crimes in the Czech Republic.” Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2010; DOI: 10.1007/s10508-010-9696-

Reporter’s Notebook: On Oakland thoroughfare, sexual slavery a lucrative business

Dan Simon

Oakland (CNN) – I have lived in the San Francisco Bay area for nearly 5 years. As a reporter, I’d like to think I’m pretty well informed about what is happening in my community. But I had no idea what was happening on International Boulevard in Oakland, California.

It’s a major thoroughfare, but locals know it as the “track.” As we discovered while working with police and prosecutors, it is ground zero for child prostitution.

Go to the “track” at any time of the day or night and you will find numerous girls working the streets. And these girls are noticeably underage. According to police, many of them are recruited as young as 12 years old.

Undercover officers conduct weekly prostitution stings to get as many of them off the streets as possible. A couple weeks ago, we were invited to come along to watch how it happens.

Over the course of two nights, we saw the girls get detained and brought to a holding facility behind a mall where they are not treated as criminals, but as victims.

“To look at them as prostitutes is a complete misnomer because they’re sexually exploited children. They’re victims of child abuse and it’s slavery,” said Sharmin Bock, who heads up the human exploitation and trafficking unit for the Alameda District Attorney’s office.

As we learned, it’s clear there is one thing driving this whole enterprise: money. A pimp with 4 girls who each bring in $500 a day is taking in more than $600,000 a year. That’s all cash, tax free. Human trafficking has become so profitable that drug dealers are increasingly turning to pimping.

Experts say the girls aren’t allowed to keep any of the money.

“I have to say traffickers are by far the most manipulative of all the people I have prosecuted in my 21 years,” said Bock.

Most of the girls are runaways, with nowhere to turn and little self esteem. It’s likened to Stockholm syndrome, where victims bond with their captors. For all their labor, Bock says, they may wind up with a meal from a fast food restaurant.

The “track” basically has a whole infrastructure set up for prostitution. Cheap motels dot the boulevard and there are lots of side streets for johns to sit in their cars and wait for the right girl to come along.

Officers try to target the youngest girls. (Getting the exact age of a girl can be tricky because many of them lie once they’re detained and they often don’t carry identification.)

For me, the most surprising thing about our ride along was the realization that this is actually happening in America. You often think of this kind of activity happening in some foreign land.

As Sharmin Bock told me, “This is something that occurs in America with American men exploiting American children and other Americans facilitating what it in essence is modern day slavery today.”


Female Pimps? Myth or Reality?

Here is another case in where the perpetrator was a woman. As I have mentioned before, traffickers can be anyone.

Latasha McFarland sentenced for child sex trafficking in St Louis County Court December 02, 2010 06:55 AM EST

A St Louis County Mom was sentenced yesterday to five years in Federal custody after a plea agreement on charges that she sold another woman’s daughter as a sex slave on the Internet. Latasha McFarland was said to have sobbed when the sentence was read. Her mother, who had accompanied her daughter to court, ran out of the courtroom hyperventilating

While our sobbing suspect, or should we now say crying convict was sentenced to five years in federal prison, she could have been given a longer sentence. However, in her plea agreement with prosecutors, the charge of trafficking a minor was dropped.

Sympathizers for Latasha McFarland are worried for her daughter. Of course the world worries about the fate of her own young daughter. Who wouldn’t, after all? Her kid did nothing wrong in all of this, as is usually the case. So, let’s all hope she goes into good hands, perhaps family, while Mom is busy making big rocks into little rocks for the next five years.

Even the family of Latasha McFarland’s victim expressed sympathy for her.

It appears that in light of the total situation, even the family of her victim claims to feel bad for her five year prison sentence. Most of us won’t, though. Her underage victim is still in treatment for the emotional and physical abuse of being sold as a sex slave, and even had to resort to going to Chicago, to get the treatment she needs. Now, let’s see the prosecuting attorney go after the customers of Latasha McFarland.

Trenton teen pleads guilty to child endangerment in Rowan Towers rape case

Published: Friday, November 19, 2010, 2:00 AM
Lisa Coryell/The Times
TRENTON — The 15-year-old girl accused of selling her 7-year-old stepsister for sex at a party in Rowan Towers last spring has pleaded guilty to child endangerment and has been sentenced to a year in juvenile detention, prosecutors announced yesterday.

Charges of aggravated assault and promoting prostitution in connection with the alleged gang rape of the little girl have been dropped, prosecutors said.

“She pled guilty to physically endanger the welfare of a child, not the sexual component of the endangering charge,” said Casey DeBlasio, spokeswoman for the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.

The teen and six males — two of them adults — were charged with sexually assaulting the little girl at a party in a vacant apartment on March 28, 2010. The crime outraged city officials and local residents and attracted widespread media attention.

In a closed hearing in juvenile court on Wednesday, the teenager pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of endangering, DeBlasio said.

The teen has been held in a juvenile detention center since her arrest in March.

“The judge ordered her to truthfully testify and continue cooperating with the police in the prosecution of the co-defendants,” she said.

The males charged in the case range in age from 13 to 20 years old.

Gregory Leary, 20 of Jackson Street, and Timear Lewis, 19, of Division Street, the two adults, are free on bail and awaiting trial on charges of aggravated sexual assault and child endangering.

Earlier this week, Leary and Lewis were arraigned before Mercer County Superior Court Judge Robert Billmeier. Lewis entered a plea of not guilty. Leary, who is no longer being represented by attorney Robin Lord, did not enter a plea because he did not have representation at the hearing, DeBlasio said.

The juveniles were offered plea deals in exchange for their testimony against the adults. Two of them are scheduled for juvenile court hearings at the end of the month.

According to police, the 15-year-old girl brought her stepsister to a party in the apartment building where several men and boys had gained illegal entry into a vacant unit. There, the teenager engaged in sex for money with some of the males and later sold her stepsister to them for sex, police said.

When the little girl returned home, police were already there because her parents had reported her and her stepsister as runaways.

From the outset, defense attorneys questioned the child’s report that she had been sexually assaulted. Lord said the child made up the story to avoid getting in trouble for running away. She pointed to the lack of DNA evidence in the case as proof.

Leary and Lewis were indicted last month.

In addition to charges connected with the alleged assault on the 7-year-old, Leary was also indicted on two counts of second-degree assault and one count of third-degree endangering the welfare of a child in relation to the 15-year-old, with whom he allegedly had sex at the party. According to prosecutors, Leary told police he thought the girl was 18.

Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Downing, chief of the Child Abuse/Sexual Assault Unit is prosecuting the case.

Asian stories of trafficking find local meaning in Jacksonville

It was very brave of this young women to share the horrific nightmare she endured as a victim of sex trafficking. Please understand that what this young women suffered happens to young men and women here in the U.S. However victims of sex trafficking from other countries are treated much differently than victims of sex trafficking in the U.S. When people hear of stories such as this young woman’s people will cry and become angry at the fact that this is happening in our world. But when it comes to Americans that face this same abuse, our society will criminalize them, call them names such as hoes, crackheads and juvenile delinquents. Why does this happen? Why do we treat our victims so badly?

Our society needs to understand that many of our children are forced into prostitution. Many of our children do not have a choice in this matter. BUt we still treat these children as criminals. Granted that many of them are rude and defensive. But understand that this is part of their defense mechanism. This is a part of the trauma that they have suffered.
So please, the next time you hear of a story such as this one, remember that someone in your community has gone through the same thing.

Jacksonville has its own exploitation cases that mirror those of Cambodian women.
Posted: October 22, 2010 – 11:00pmPhotos Back Photo: 1 of 2 Next

Liya Chang
Back Photo: 2 of 2 Next

Transitions Global psychologist Sola Long (center) offers support to Srey Neth Chan (left), who along with Liya Chang, told their stories of being human trafficking victims in their native Cambodia Friday at the University of North Florida.

By Kate Howard
Liya Chang was 15 when she was manipulated into serving at a Cambodian brothel.

She was forced to serve 10 men a day, endured beatings and gang rapes and became addicted to drugs. She was treated, she said, as if she wasn’t human. She was a slave.

Chang, now 19, is traveling the United States to tell her story with the organization to whom she credits her recovery. She and another young woman, Srey Neth Chan, 21, volunteered to speak about their experiences as child victims of human trafficking after finishing their own therapy programs. They were nervous when they arrived for their speech at the University of North Florida, they admitted, and they said it was still hard to speak about the details of what they endured. But they’re doing it for one reason: They want to be heard.

“I hope when you listen,” Chang said through a translator, “you will share with other people who were not here, and make sure your children understand the harmful experience of working in a brothel.”

The women went through a multi-year recovery and education program with Transitions Global, a small organization for victims of human trafficking in Cambodia run by an Ohio man. They will speak twice more in Jacksonville – at Jacksonville Life Church and at a yoga center – before moving on to other big cities. This trip is their first time outside of Cambodia. They will return home and to their jobs as yoga instructors in November.

“It’s hard to tell our story, but then I feel so relieved,” said Chan, who was sold into a brothel at the age of 14. She entered the Transitions Global program after being rescued by police. “There are a lot of people listening to us, and I know they’re going to help.”

More than 1.2 million children are trafficked every year, according to the United Nations, and it’s a problem not only in Southeast Asia. Criminal charges have been brought in three documented cases of human trafficking in Jacksonville in the past few years, most recently in August.

A 15-year-old girl who had run away from home met some men in Jacksonville and agreed to trade sex for cocaine. But she was held captive for a month and forced to prostitute herself before she could break free and call her mother.

In 2008, a man was arrested for forcing two girls, 15 and 16, into prostitution at various Jacksonville hotel rooms. He met them at a party in Virginia and promised them a better life in Jacksonville if they joined him. They were spotted by a motel security guard who saw a parade of men visiting the room.

Awareness of those types of signs is the purpose for the speaking tour, said James Pond, founder of Transitions Global. Many Americans have no idea these types of things happen here, he said.

“It takes more people knowing,” Pond said. “We as a nation love to hide our heads in the sand, because it’s difficult to face.”

In Jacksonville, several groups have formed to provide infrastructure to treat trafficking victims when they’re found. They have a special set of needs, said Crystal Freed, a lawyer who is a member of the Northeast Florida Human Trafficking Task Force. Trafficking goes deeper than prostitution or abuse: It creates a truly broken person, Freed said, and they could easily be living right under our noses.

The city’s advocates are developing a network of services and shelters so they’ll have a treatment plan and all the resources they need next time they’re called upon for help.

“When we have trafficking victims, we want to help rehab them right here in Jacksonville,” Freed said. “What that’s going to look like, we don’t know yet.”

She hopes people will pay attention to the signs: young women who aren’t allowed to go anywhere by themselves, are spoken for by others, are not allowed to keep their wages or are being forced to work to pay off a debt that never shrinks.

“We need to look at the people doing our nails, cutting our hair, serving us our food,” Freed said. “There could be victims among them, and we are missing them.”

What is human trafficking?
The United Nations defines human trafficking as the exploitation of human beings – be it for sexual exploitation, other forms of forced labor, slavery, servitude, or for the removal of human organs. Trafficking takes place by criminal means through the threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of positions of power or abuse of positions of vulnerability.
Trafficking is not just a transnational crime across international borders – the definition applies to internal domestic trafficking of human beings.
Source: The United Nations policy paper on human trafficking