High Road for Human Rights

SLAVERY

slaveryHigh Road is elevating understanding throughout the nation about the horrors of slavery, including sexual slavery, with the objective of motivating people to advocate for far better international leadership by the US to reduce the suffering. Elected officials have proven that, without a call by the public for change, they are not going to effectively act to stop trafficking. Help High Road for Human Rights organize people to tenaciously demand changes in US policies and practices to stop all forms of slavery, including sexual slavery- many of whom are little girls.

THE PROBLEM

Slavery Today: How We Can Stop the Tragedy
by Alan Barstow

What Is Human Trafficking?

prostitutionThere are more slaves in the world today than at any other time in history. While precise numbers are hard to ascertain, the International Labor Organization estimates that at least 12.3 million people worldwide—the population of the state of Pennsylvania—are victims of human trafficking.[1] These modern day slaves are exploited in many ways, including the commercial sex industry, as forced laborers and servants, or as child soldiers and child sex workers.[2] Estimates suggest that annual profits from human trafficking range between $9 billion and $32 billion.[3]

The following chart, developed by the Solidarity Center, illustrates the United Nations’ definition of human trafficking. One item from each must be present for a case to be considered human trafficking.

Process + Way/Means + Goal
Recruitment
or Transportation
or Harboring
or Receiving
A
N
D
Threat
or Coercion
or Abduction
or Fraud
or Deceit
or Deception
or The Abuse of Power
A
N
D
Prostitution
or Pornography
or Violence/Sexual Exploitation
or Forced Labor/with unfair wages
or Slavery/Similar Practices
Consent of the Victim Is Irrelevant.

The emphasis in determining cases of human trafficking is placed on exploitation rather than movement, meaning that a “trafficked” person does not have to be transported at all—he or she need only be exploited for another’s gain. [5] This exploitation can take a variety of forms, including forced labor, bonded labor (labor that stems from the exploitation of debt), debt bondage and involuntary servitude among migrant workers, involuntary domestic servitude, forced child labor, child soldiers, sex trafficking and prostitution, children exploited for commercial sex, and child sex tourism.[6]

Who are the Victims of Human Trafficking?

2010 Trafficking in Persons Report

Victims of human trafficking come from every country, ethnicity, and social class. They become slaves after being kidnapped, intimidated, deceived, enticed, or, simply, born into bondage. People who choose or are forced to move in search of a better economic situation are often those at greatest risk of falling prey to human traffickers. [7] Estimates suggest that 80% of the victims of transnational human trafficking worldwide are female, and half are minors. [8] Often, these women and girls are forced to work in domestic servitude (where many are sexually and physically abused), in the commercial sex industry, or both. While the number of slaves in the US is hard to estimate, it is believed that 17,500 new slaves enter into bondage in the US each year.[9]

In a January 3, 2009 editorial in the New York Times entitled If This Isn’t Slavery, What Is?, Nicholas Kristof writes:

Anyone who thinks it is hyperbole to describe sex trafficking as slavery should look at the maimed face of a teenage girl, Long Pross. Glance at Pross from her left, and she looks like a normal, fun-loving girl, with a pretty face and a joyous smile. Then move around, and you see where her brothel owner gouged out her right eye…. Pross was 13 and hadn’t even had her first period when a young woman kidnapped her and sold her to a brothel in Phnom Penh [Cambodia]. The brothel owner…beat Pross and tortured her with electric current until finally the girl acquiesced. She was kept locked deep inside the brothel, her hands tied behind her back at all times except when with customers. Brothel owners can charge large sums for sex with a virgin, and like many girls, Pross was painfully stitched up so she could be resold as a virgin. In all, the brothel owner sold her virginity four times.[10]

In an article from Foreign Policy, Author E. Benjamin Skinner, describes the life of Gonoo Lal Kol, who remains in debt bondage in northern India although Indian laws ban such customs. Skinner writes, “The seed of Gonoo’s slavery was a loan of 62 cents. In 1958, his grandfather borrowed that amount from the owner of a farm where he worked. Three generations and three slave masters later, Gonoo’s family remains in bondage.” Gonoo and his family work fourteen hours a day at a quarry, working off a debt that accrues interest at over 100-percent annually.[11]

John R. Miller, US ambassador at large on modern day slavery from 2004-2006, recounts a conversation he had with a victim of trafficking:

In an Amsterdam hospital I encountered Katya, who recalled how, as a Czech teenager with a disintegrating marriage and a two-year-old daughter, she was told by a “friend of the family” that she could make good money waiting on tables in Amsterdam. A Czech trafficker drove Katya and four other girls to the Netherlands, where he linked up with a Dutch counterpart. After they took the girls’ passports for “safekeeping,” the men drove Katya to a brothel in Amsterdam’s red-light district. When Katya said that she had come to work in a restaurant, she was told that she owed the traffickers thousands of euros for transporting her across Europe. When Katya continued to resist, she was told she must do the men’s bidding if she hoped to see her daughter alive. She was freed only after several years, through the efforts of a friendly taxi driver who enlisted a gang to intimidate her captors.[12]

Effects on the Victims and Countries

In addition to being deprived of their freedoms and basic human rights, trafficking victims’ sense of self and worth are destroyed.[13] Victims are often raped, beaten, and dehumanized. Exploiters often instill in victims a mistrust of law enforcement and social services officers.[14] Those who have been abused sexually or who are forced into prostitution are at high risk of becoming infected with sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS.[15] Victims can even be so traumatized that they become dependent on those who exploit them. As former ambassador Miller writes:

…Susan, an African-American woman in her twenties…had been terrorized since her teens by her Minneapolis pimp. He exerted such control over her that she didn’t know how to buy groceries, take a bus, or interact with people outside “the business.”[16]

In these cases, as Taina Bien-Aimee, the executive director for Equality Now, says, “No locks, chains or guns are needed to maintain a psychologically broken and abused victim in a state of servitude.”[17] When seeking rescue or release from their bondage, victims often face criminal charges and deportation, which can lead to additional charges in their home countries.[18] Also, when victims’ families and loved ones threatened with retaliation, there is little reason for victims to cooperate with law enforcement officials.[19]

Recent data shows that countries that have a high prevalence of people trafficked into commercial sex also have a high prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS.[20] In addition to straining health systems, human trafficking can also undermine the safety and security of nations by making use of corrupt officials and making borders porous.

The State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report, 2010

The 2010 edition of the Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) marks the 10th anniversary of the first TIP report released by the U.S. State Department.   The TIP Report evaluates how 177 countries combat human trafficking- which includes the two primary types of human trafficking: sexual slavery and forced labor. The report notes the extent to which each country is a source or destination country of trafficked people, as well as how each punishes traffickers, protects victims, and prevents trafficking from occurring. The 2010 report, for the first time ever, includes an evaluation on the United States’ efforts to combat the crime.   In addition, the report reveals the increasing trend of “feministation,” or the increasing number of women who are trafficked for the purpose of labor servitude, whereas the majority of victims were at one point men and boys. The full report can be found here: 2010 US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report.

 

 

United States Legislation

The State Department recognizes the US as a destination country for sexual and labor exploitation, and notes that an unknown number of people are trafficked domestically.[22] In 2000, the US introduced the Trafficking in Persons Prevention Act (TVPA); however, there has been no decline in trafficking in the US since the TVPA was introduced.[23] In fact, only 70 cases, out of more than a thousand, were successfully prosecuted between 2000 and 2006.[24] Human Trafficking advocate Jessica Neuwirth states that the “force, fraud, or coercion” requirement in the TVPA is very difficult to prove, and, therefore, can only be used in the most severe cases. She writes, “[This] requirement poses a significant burden on victims, who are often reluctant to testify for a number of reasons, including fear or mistrust of law enforcement, threats by traffickers to harm them or traumatic bonding with their captors.”[25]

Due to the TVPA’s shortcomings, a new bill, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), made its way through Congress and the Senate in 2008. However, many experts agree that the TVPRA will neither greatly increase the number of prosecutions nor adequately protect victims because the “force, fraud, and coercion” stipulation has remained. Ken Franzblau, the director of the anti-trafficking initiative at Equality Now, says, “Even though the TVPRA makes things a little easier, it won’t solve the problem to have ten or twelve more prosecutions a year.”[26]

SOLUTIONS

Slavery: Steps Toward Solutions

by Mallory Elizondo

PREVENTION

International Slavery

1. Promote Literacy for Women in High-Risk Areas

  • The United States, in collaboration with the international community, should enhance resources for literacy and other educational programs for women in high-risk areas abroad.

2. Increase Education and Information Distribution to the Public

  • The President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, in collaboration with the appropriate NGOs, should implement a massive education campaign in origin countries in order to reach those most at risk. Information should include how to identify potential traffickers and schemes, false advertisements, and contact information to report slavery activity.

3. Adjust the Trafficking in Persons Annual Report (TIP) Provisions

  • TIP Report: To avoid politicization and make certain that other considerations do not trump the interest in preventing against slavery, the reporting and categorization of nations under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) should be the responsibility of a neutral government office or official, such as an Inspector General, and not the Department of State.
  • Sanctions: Require mandatory non-humanitarian sanctions against Tier 3 countries (those whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards of the TVPA and are not making significant efforts to do so).
  • New Offense: The act of any person or agency directly or indirectly assisting in the provision of non-humanitarian aid to a Tier 3 country should be a criminal offense.

4. Make Businesses Part of the Solution and Not the Problem

  • Ventures: The Department of Labor should establish incentives for businesses to join ventures – such as Chain Store Reaction and the Athens Declarations, pursuant to which companies may publicly declare their stance against slavery – as well as establish penalties for failing to report slavery practices.
  • State Legislation: State legislatures should prohibit any trade in materials or goods produced in whole or in part as a result of slavery.

5. Strengthen Federal Legislation

  • H.R. 2737 and S.3184 Child Protection Compact Act of 2010: Congress should pass the Child Protection Compact Act which would authorize the Secretary of State to provide assistance to those countries that enter into a compact with the US setting specific objectives in a “national child protection strategy” and indicating benchmarks for measuring success. Assistance would be provided in the form of grants, cooperative agreements, or contracts for building public justice systems that effectively investigate crimes against children and prosecute perpetrators. The legislation would also authorize increased assistance for care of survivors of slavery.
  • Trade: US federal law should prohibit any trade in materials or good produced in whole or in part as a result of slavery.

Slavery Within the United States

6. Use Frequent Travelers and Transportation Agencies as Resources

  • The Blue Campaign: The Department of Homeland Security should actively provide businesses and corporations with materials from the anti-trafficking Blue Campaign rather than counting on the businesses to seek information themselves. Materials from the Campaign should include the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) wallet-size human trafficking indicator cards, which inform travelers how to identify victims and where to report suspicious behavior.
  • Agencies: The Department of Transportation (DOT) should provide the appropriate federal agencies with information from the Blue Campaign, which can then be dispersed to their customers and/or other travelers. In addition, federal agencies should provide appropriate training for personnel who have direct contract with potential victims.
  • Code of Conduct: The DOT should make it mandatory for any supplier of tourism services in and out of the United States to sign the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism.

7. Hold the US Territories and Islands to the Same Standard as the Rest of the United States

  • Training: Federal law enforcement agencies should provide intense anti-trafficking training to local law enforcement officials in US territories as they are at higher risk of slavery, especially forced labor.
  • US Labor Requirements: The Department of Labor should require that use of the “Made in the US” stamp of approval be used only when the manufacturer meets the minimum labor requirements set for the rest of the United States.

State/Local Slavery within the United States

8. Strengthen State Legislation

  • State Model Code: States should adopt state model codes mirroring the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in order to launch a uniform attack on slavery.
  • Jurisdiction: The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) should coordinate with the state welfare departments to ensure that jurisdiction over victims rests with the state’s welfare system and not with state correctional facilities.

9. Strengthen First Response Training

  • The FBI and other federal agencies within major cities should be required to provide training to local law enforcement and coordinate and create task forces to encourage cooperation and information sharing.

10. Increase Education and Information Distribution to the Public

  • Education: The US should implement a school-wide initiative to educate young people about modern-day slavery, including education on prostitution and pornography.
  • Communities: Federal, state, and local officials, and civic organizations, including churches, universities, community groups, etc., should use their “bully pulpits” to address societal stereotypes that aid exploitation of enslaved people in addition to spreading awareness about modern-day slavery.
  • Blue Campaign: The Blue Campaign should be aggressively funded and expanded to include active information distribution to private citizens in addition to organizations, businesses, and law enforcement.

PROTECTION

11. Encourage Greater Use of Immigration Relief for Victims

  • Issuance of visas: The Department of Justice or Department of State (depending on the law enforcement organization in charge of the investigation) should more strictly promote the issuance of visas available under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act to victims of slavery.
  • Number of visas: The cap of 5,000 T-visas per year (available to victims of severe forms of trafficking who have complied with any reasonable requests for assistance in the investigation or prosecution) should be removed.
  • Assistance Requirement: The “reasonable assistance” requirement to obtain T-visas should be removed, as those who are not willing or able to participate in the investigation or prosecution are still deserving of benefits as victims.

12. Broaden Benefits Offered/Available to Domestic Victims

  • Once a state adopts a state model code for slavery, or similar legislation, the state should allow domestic victims to be eligible for the same benefits as foreign victims under TVPA, including access to crisis counseling and intervention programs, short-term shelter or housing assistance, mental health assistance, and information about pro bono and low-cost legal services.

PROSECUTION

13. Ease the Elements of the Offense for Adult Victims of Slavery

  • New Elements: The Trafficking Victims Protection Act should be amended to allow prosecutors to prove that victims were “enticed, persuaded, and induced,” in addition to the option of proving “force, fraud, and coercion.” This stipulation would make offenses easier to prosecute and reduce the burden of testifying on victims.

14. Adjust the Elements of the Offense for Minor Victims of Slavery

  • When dealing with victims under the age of 18 (minors), the defendant’s knowledge (or lack thereof) of the victim’s status as a minor should be irrelevant and strict civil and criminal liability should apply.

15. United States Military Personnel Participation in Slavery

  • Exam: The Department of Defense mandates training of all officers in anti-trafficking, and consists of an online or PowerPoint presentation. There should be a test at the end of the presentations to ensure the trainee understood and absorbed the information.
  • Reporting: Training should not only teach trainees why they themselves should not participate in slavery and prostitution but also how to identify victims and how to report the abuses of others. Reporting abuses should be mandatory and failure to do so should be a punishable offense.
  • Minor Victims: If the victim is a minor, the defendant should be strictly liable for rape, regardless of the defendant’s state of mind and subject to same sentencing as statutory rape cases.
  • Adult Victims: If the victim is an adult and the defendant knew or should have known that the victim was a slave, then a higher sentence should be implemented (20 years to life).
  • Applicability: The above recommendations should also be applicable to all US agents, employees, contractors, and subcontractors.

_________________________________________
[1] International Labor Organization, “Forced Labor.” http://www.ilo.org/global/Themes/Forced_Labour/lang–en/index.htm
[2] US Department of State, “Trafficking in Persons Report 2008.” Introduction http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2008/105376.htm
[3] The University of Iowa Center for Human Rights, ” #15—Human Trafficking. http://international.uiowa.edu/centers/human-rights/projects/human-right…
[4] Solidarity Center, “What is Human Trafficking?” www.solidaritycenter.org/files/IndoTraffickingFactSheetWhat.pdf
[5] US Department of State, “Trafficking in Persons Report 2008.” Major Forms of Trafficking in Person. http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2008/105377.htm
[6] US Department of State, “Trafficking in Persons Report 2008.” Major Forms of Trafficking in Person. http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2008/105377.htm
[7] US Department of State, “Trafficking in Persons Report 2008.” Introduction http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2008/105376.htm
[8] US Department of State, “Trafficking in Persons Report 2008.” Introduction http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2008/105376.htm
[9] Skinner, E. Benjamin, “People for Sale.” From Foreign Policy. Reprinted in Utne Reader. http://www.utne.com/print-article.aspx?id=18250
[10] Kristof, Nicholas D. “If this isn’t Slavery, What Is?” The New York Times. January 3, 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/04/opinion/04kristof.html?th&emc=th
[11] Skinner, E. Benjamin, “People for Sale.” From Foreign Policy. Reprinted in Utne Reader. http://www.utne.com/print-article.aspx?id=18250
[12] Miller, John R. “Call it Slavery.” The Wilson Center. http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=wq.essay&essay_id=459603
[13] US Department of State, “Trafficking in Persons Report 2008.” Introduction http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2008/105376.htm
[14] Neuwirth, Jessica. “Statement to the New York City Council 6/11/08.” Equality Now. http://www.equalitynow.org/english/pressroom/press_releases/presidentsta…
[15] US Department of State, “Trafficking in Persons Report 2008.” Major Forms of Trafficking in Person. http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2008/105377.htm
[16] Miller, John R. “Call it Slavery.” The Wilson Center. http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=wq.essay&essay_id=459603
[17] Bien-Aimee, Taina. “Protecting Pimps and Traffickers.” The Huffington Post. July 15, 2008. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/taina-bienaime/protecting-pimps-and-traf_b…
[18] Bien-Aimee, Taina. “Protecting Pimps and Traffickers.” The Huffington Post. July 15, 2008. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/taina-bienaime/protecting-pimps-and-traf_b…
[19] Bien-Aimee, Taina. “Protecting Pimps and Traffickers.” The Huffington Post. July 15, 2008. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/taina-bienaime/protecting-pimps-and-traf_b…
[20] US Department of State, “Trafficking in Persons Report 2008.” Punishing Trafficking Offenders Adequately. http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2008/105378.htm
[21] US Department of State, “Trafficking in Persons Report 2008.” Country Narratives. http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2008/105386.htm
[22] US Department of State, “Trafficking in Persons Report 2008.” Domestic Anti-Trafficking in Persons Efforts. http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2008/105385.htm
[23] Skinner, E. Benjamin, “People for Sale.” From Foreign Policy. Reprinted in Utne Reader. http://www.utne.com/print-article.aspx?id=18250
[24] Neuwirth, Jessica. “Statement to the New York City Council 6/11/08.” Equality Now. http://www.equalitynow.org/english/pressroom/press_releases/presidentsta…
[25] Neuwirth, Jessica. “Statement to the New York City Council 6/11/08.” Equality Now. http://www.equalitynow.org/english/pressroom/press_releases/presidentsta…
[26] Franzblau, Ken. Director of Anti-Trafficking Initiative, Equality Now. Phone Interview. Jan. 26, 2009.

HIGH ROAD ACTIONS

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