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A young, foreign woman is approached on the internet via facebook, myspace, or one of the hundreds of dating sites now available online. The man contacting her wants to be her friend or develop a romantic relationship. He sells himself well. He describes himself as an attractive, sensitive, funny, caring man looking for someone to share his comfortable life with. He promises security and loyalty and love. Over the next couple of months she is courted online and by telephone. By this time, she is so smitten with him that when a plane ticket to meet him in America arrives in the mail, she cannot seem to pack quickly enough. He greets her with a smile and a hug at the airport. He ushers her into his car and drives her to his home. It is not until the door is closed behind her that she realizes her fatal mistake. This is not a nice man. He is not in love with her. He will not provide her with a bright future filled with love and family and security. He is in fact a crony for a human trafficking ring. She has been deceived, and like so many other unfortunate women, will now be subject to unsanitary living conditions, repeated rape, physical abuse, mental abuse, and forced drug addictions to keep her emotionally numb and physically dependent on her captors. She will be pimped out from brothel to brothel. Her only hope is that the F.B.I. or some local or state police will discover a brothel, shut it down, and release her back into her former life. If, by some miracle, this occurs, she will be forced to relive her experiences through interviews by authorities, media coverage, and constant, haunting memories. If she can survive all of this, the authorities of the United States will begin the extradition process and return her to her country of origin to pick up the pieces of her life and begin again. This is what happens to the unlucky victims of human trafficking. What has just been described is a devastating yet classic example of how human trafficking can and does occur. Human trafficking is occurring every day in the United States. A brothel could be set up in your neighborhood and you not even know it. Our very own communities could be in great danger from this horrific crime against humanity. Human trafficking is a complicated, prevalent, and ever expanding crime that is affecting the U.S. every day.
Human Trafficking is the illegal trade in human beings for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor: a modern-day form of slavery. It is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, falling closely behind drug and illegal arms trade.
Victims of human trafficking are young children, teenagers, men and women. Victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion, for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010)
The United States Department of State estimates that there are 40,000 to 50,000 victims that are trafficked into the United States each year. More than 80% of victims are female and 50% of them are under the age of 18. Most of the victims are not forced to come to the United States, they are however promised money, education, employment, or sometimes even marriage to get them to agree to cross international borders. Individuals are sought out based on many different criteria. They could be homeless, drug addicts or runaways looking for their next home, fix, or meal.
Human Trafficking is currently estimated at producing over $9.5 billion dollars in revenue each year. Around $4 billion is from the sex industry. (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2006) The most recognized form of human trafficking is sexual exploitation; however they are also used for drug exportation, labor services, and adoptions. According to the Rescue and Restore Campaign, human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry tied with the exchange of weapons and followed closely by the international drug trade. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010).
The most common form of human trafficking is exploitation, but there are different types. First is prostitution, second is pornography, and last is slavery or involuntary servitude. Studies show that 80% is sexual and that 20% are labor driven. (Kangaspunta, 2003)
We can see through much research that human trafficking has been going on for decades. First starting with slavery. Human trafficking is often reffered to as a form of modern day form of slavery. Slavery was an institution in America in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Southern states, with their agricultural economies, relied on the slavery system to ensure the cash crops were tended and cultivated. Slaves were not unknown in the North, but abolition in the North was completed by the 1830's. In 1808, the Congress prohibited the slave trade, not a year later than allowed in the Constitution. A series of compromises, laws, acts, and bills tried to keep the balance between the slave states and the non-slave states.
The U.S. Department of State did not begin tracking human trafficking data until 1994. It would be another 6 years before any laws would be passed in the United States that would directlty impact the crime "human trafficking". This law is called the "Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. This law was put in to effect on October 28, 2000. The purposes of this division are to combat trafficking in persons, a contemporary manifestation of slavery whose victims are predominantly women and children, to ensure just and effective punishment of traffickers, and to protect their victims. (Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000) This law had three main goals to aid in ending Human Trafficking. The first being to prevent human trafficking overseas, the second to provide victims with support and aid them in rebuilding their lives with the help of the state and federal government, and last to impose harsher penalties to those criminals that are found guilty of trafficking. Prior to the enactment of the TVPA in October 2000, no comprehensive Federal law existed to protect victims of trafficking or to prosecute their traffickers. The TVPA is intended to prevent human trafficking overseas, to increase prosecution of human traffickers in the United States, and to protect victims and provide Federal and state assistance to certain victims so that they can rebuild their lives in the United States. Victims of human trafficking who are not U.S. citizens are eligible for a special visa and can receive benefits and services through the TVPA to the same extent as refugees. Victims of trafficking who are U.S. citizens may already be eligible for many benefits due to their citizenship.
Some of the new assistance available would include housing, educational benefits and employment to victims. With a greater focus on penalties they would now define what punishment would fit the crime but what occurred during the trafficking incident. For instance if a trafficking crime resulted in death or if the crime includes kidnapping, an attempted kidnapping, aggravated sexual abuse, attempted aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, the trafficker could be sentenced to life in prison. Traffickers who exploit children (under the age of 14) using force, fraud or coercion, for the purpose of sex trafficking can be imprisoned for life. If the victim was a child between the age of 14 and 18 and the sex trafficking did not involve force, fraud or coercion, the trafficker could receive up to 20 years in prison. (Fact Sheet 2004)
The human trafficking fact sheet was published in 2004 by the department of health and
human services. It was generated to provide in depth information to the general public to raise
awareness. It also defined the differences in trafficking and smuggling.
Human Trafficking Vs. Migrant Smuggling
â€¢ Victims either do not consent to their situations, or if they initially consent, that consent is rendered meaningless by the actions of the traffickers.
â€¢ Ongoing exploitation of victims to generate illicit profits for the traffickers.
â€¢ Trafficking need not entail the physical movement of a person (but must entail the exploitation of the person for labor or commercial sex).
Other than the emotional scars victims of human trafficking fall prey too are the serious health risks that the protection act covers. Many of them will be diagnosed with HIV or AIDS, as well as many other types of sexually transmitted diseases.
Under the findings in section 23 the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 finally states that The United States and the international community agree that trafficking in persons involves grave violations of human rights and is a matter of pressing international concern. The international community has repeatedly condemned slavery and involuntary servitude, violence against women, and other elements of trafficking, through declarations, treaties, and United Nations resolutions and reports.
Another portion reads; The United States must work bilaterally and multilaterally to abolish the trafficking industry by taking steps to promote cooperation among countries linked together by international trafficking routes. The United States must also urge the international community to take strong action in multilateral fora to engage recalcitrant countries in serious and sustained efforts to eliminate trafficking and protect trafficking victims.
Importantly the focus is also shifted towards holding other international countries responsible for helping contain human trafficking. The act developed a standard list of questions for those countries that are known to have high levels of this crime. This is known as the Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The report will be a description of the nature and extent of severe forms of trafficking in persons, in each foreign country and an assessment of the efforts by the government of that country will be conducted. The assessment will include the following information from each country.
Whether government authorities in that country participate in, facilitate, or condone such trafficking.
Which government authorities in that country are involved in activities to combat such trafficking?
What steps the government of that country has taken to prohibit government officials from participating in, facilitating, or condoning such trafficking, including the investigation, prosecution, and conviction of such officials.
What steps the government of that country has taken to prohibit other individuals from participating in such trafficking, including the investigation, prosecution, and conviction of individuals involved in severe forms of trafficking in persons, the criminal and civil penalties for such trafficking, and the efficacy of those penalties in eliminating or reducing such trafficking.
What steps the government of that country has taken to assist victims of such trafficking, including efforts to prevent victims from being further victimized by traffickers, government officials, or others, grants of relief from deportation, and provision of humanitarian relief, including provision of mental and physical health care and shelter.
Whether the government of that country is cooperating with governments of other countries to extradite traffickers when requested, or, to the extent that such cooperation would be inconsistent with the laws of such country or with extradition treaties to which such country is a party.
Whether the government of that country is taking all appropriate measures to modify or replace such laws and treaties so as to permit such cooperation.
Whether the government of that country is assisting in international investigations of transnational trafficking networks and in other cooperative efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons.
Whether the government of that country refrains from prosecuting victims of severe forms of trafficking in persons due to such victims having been trafficked, and refrains from other discriminatory treatment of such victims.
Whether the government of that country recognizes the rights of victims of severe forms of trafficking in persons and ensures their access to justice.
With all of these questions in place the United States would hope to see a decrease in the amount of Human Trafficking occurring every year. Without international assistance the efforts put in place to prevent Human Trafficking would be lost by the United States.
Some of the preventions put in place by this act would be initiated by the President of the United States. He would be required to offer certain incentives such as; a) microcredit lending programs, training development, skills training, and job counseling; b) programs to promote women's participation in economic decision making; c) programs to keep children, especially girls, in elementary and secondary schools, and to educate persons who have been victims of trafficking; d) development of educational curricula regarding the dangers of trafficking; e) grants to nongovernmental organizations to accelerate and advance the political, economic, social, and educational roles and capacities of women in their countries.
The President would also be putting a set of questions or rules in place for the other international countries to answer to when aiding in the prevention of this crime. This is known as the Minimum Standards Set for the Elimination of Trafficking. The standards set are:
(1) The government of the country should prohibit severe forms of trafficking in persons and punish acts of such trafficking.
(2) For the knowing commission of any act of sex trafficking involving force, fraud, coercion, or in which the victim of sex trafficking is a child incapable of giving meaningful consent, or of trafficking which includes rape or kidnapping or which causes a death, the government of the country should prescribe punishment commensurate with that for grave crimes, such as forcible sexual assault.
(3) For the knowing commission of any act of a severe form of trafficking in persons, the government of the country should prescribe punishment that is sufficiently stringent to deter and that adequately reflects the heinous nature of the offense.
(4) The government of the country should make serious and sustained efforts to eliminate severe forms of trafficking in persons.
Again in 2003 we can see an addition or revisit to the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. This is known as the "Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003". It stated although the United States had much progress since the 2000, they have found that many of the victims were facing many obstacles in gaining assistance from the United States with protection and recovery. The Act from 2000 did put in place an assistance program that consisted of those similar of refugee assistance. In addition the Bush Administration approved a budget of over $200 million dollars to help aid the fight against human trafficking. This would allow the United States to assist the 18,000-20,000 individuals that had been trafficked throughout the United States in the previous years.
Individuals that are victims of Human Trafficking are subject to certain criteria before they will receive assistance. First they must agree to cooperate with federal agents by assisting in the investigations and prosecutions of the traffickers. Second they must complete an application for a T-Visa. Third the victim must receive a continued presence status from the Department of Homeland Security. These are the set of requirements that only stands true for those that are over the age of 18. Any victim under 18 automatically will qualify for assistance.
The assistance offered can consist of housing or shelter assistance, food assistance, employment assistance, income assistance, Health care services and mental health assistance. Once the individual has been in the United States for three years on a T-visa they can apply for permanent residence status. They also are able to apply for T-Visa's for family members.
Another important type of assistance the United States offers is a program for victims of torture or PTV. This program is a non-profit organization whose mission is to alleviate the suffering and health consequences of torture through psychological, medical, and case management services to victims of state-sponsored torture.
All of these resources are being used for victims of Human Trafficking. You have to wonder how much of this cost us. The victims and criminals are typically all foreigners. Why is the United States using our hard earned dollars to help? Do they feel responsible because the crime was committed on U.S. soil?
Then yet another question comes up; how do these individuals that are committing these crimes get into the United States. How do the border patrols not recognize these women and young children? Lastly, is the US encouraging illegal immigrant to come across our boarders?
The amendments made in this act would require tighter control at all the International boarders in the United States with direction from the President.
This is happening along the U.S.-Mexico border, where human trafficking is flourishing despite, and according to several experts because of increasingly stringent attempts of the U.S. government to police and control the nation's borders (Pizarro, 2002; Pecoud and Guchetenier, 2006).
After reading an article in the Freedom from Fear magazine all of my suspicions are being validated. Due to economic changes in the United States the need for migrant workers has increased. It is almost as if we have a big poster sign up that says: United States of America looking for hard working foreigners to make very little money and want to come and change their lives in the Unites States. Come one Come ALL! However the measures that have to be taken to come into the United States tend to be a little strenuous for the individuals, so they fall prey to the one and only trafficker. They offer to pay their way in to the United States in exchange for alternative payment. When the person can't fulfill his obligation the traffickers have to make their money back some form or fashion.
Yet there is one more form of Human Trafficking that we have not touched. The very thought makes me cringe. I am talking about Illegal adoption. In some cases forced adoption, baby factories across the world, their only purpose is to find women and exploit them for their offspring. I came across this article by Ashton Shurson, a writer for the Daily Iowan, it reads;
As Chinese adoptions increase around the world and especially in the United States, a few University of Iowa students have been looking into the darker side of adoptions in the Asian country. UI law students Patricia Meier and Joy Zhang gave a presentation on the Hunan baby-trafficking scandal and how it exposes vulnerabilities in Chinese adoptions to the United States. In November 2005, police in China uncovered a baby trafficking ring involving six orphanages and babies primarily from the southern part of the country. It is unclear how the children were obtained, but defendants claim the babies were abandoned while prosecutors in the case accused the Hengyang Social Welfare Institution of knowingly buying abducted babies.
Zhang said that the primary reason for the adoption trafficking was to garner more money - Hengyang received roughly $1,000 from the orphanages for each child and the orphanages could collect approximately $3,000 for each adoption placement. While many involved with this specific case were arrested and punished, many questions remain about the whereabouts of the children and if Hengyang was an isolated case. Either way, it has illustrated that the Chinese adoption process is easy to corrupt, Zhang said. Meier said inter-country adoption means large incomes for orphanages that are often misused. In 2006, 10,000 children were adopted from China, with 7,000 going to the United States. Adoptive parents usually pay around $15,000 to $20,000. (Human Trafficking Project, 2008)
This is startling evidence that makes me wonder how many children are actually adopted illegally in the United States every year. It is very hard to come up with actuall statisitics since no one person is going to come forward and say they illegally adopted their child.
However what I was able to come across was several stories of those who had adopted illegally. What was shocking is that most of the families had no idea that they were involved in any type of illegal activity. Most of these adoptions go directly through an adoption agency or an orphanage. One of the stories that stuck in my mind was titled, "The Impact of Illegal Adoption on One Family". This true story tells us the shocking but true story of one family's journey with adoption. These are the words of Julia Rollings:
The Impact of Illegal Adoption on One Family
By Julia Rollings
"When our daughter was eleven years old and our son twelve, I read a newspaper article that shook our comfortable world. The director of our children's orphanage had been arrested on charges relating to an apparently illegal adoption. After much soul-searching, we reached the difficult decision that we had to independently confirm what we had been told about our children's background. Our decision to launch a private search for our children's Indian parents led us into the dark and scary territory of child trafficking. It was a lonely time for us, as we grappled on our own with complex issues and questions that are (thankfully!) out of the realm of most adoptive families."
"Our children joined our family when they were three and five years old, and for eight years we had told them their adoption story: that they were born as the youngest two children of parents who were unable to continue caring for them due to poverty and chronic ill health, so their first mother and father made the difficult decision to place their little son and daughter for adoption. Instead of verifying our children's adoption story was true, as we hoped, we heard from the family's former neighbors that the children had been taken from their first mother without her knowledge, and sold by their father. Their mother, who had not seen her children for ten years, had no idea where they were until we came searching for her."
"To cut a long and complicated story short, we initiated regular contact with our children's first mother and her family, with the assistance of my trusted friend in India. We exchanged photos and emails, sending messages that were translated and forwarded by my friend. Several months after our first contact, I returned to India with the children and we spent four days living with their first mother, her husband and their five children. We committed to continue regular contact and frequent visits with this family we now consider part of our own."
"I am delighted to say that my son and daughter have coped incredibly well with the grief and distress of their difficult situation, and they are both unequivocal in their support of our decision to uncover their history. Two years later, I can now look back on our family's emotional journey and identify challenges we faced in sharing this distressing news with our children, and I am able to offer suggestions on how to support children who face similar issues."
Julia was able to rectify her situation without any legal ramifications, however not all families are that fortunate. Here are a few suggestions that Julia was able to provide in her book titled: "Love Our Way".
Deal with Your Own Emotions before Talking to Your Children:
I was angry, confused and scared when we found out that our children had been trafficked, and I needed to deal with that before talking to my children. They were going to have more than enough to cope with, and I didn't want to further burden them by adding my turmoil to the maelstrom. There was no way I could be emotionally available for my children until I had calmed myself and recovered somewhat from the initial shock. If I had become upset when talking to my children, that would only have added to their distress. I wanted to support my son and daughter through this crisis, and that wouldn't be possible if they had to modify their responses in order to protect me from their feelings. As much as this news shook the foundations of my world, I knew it would be so much more difficult for my children. I gave myself a few days to think through everything and to lessen the impact of what I had just learned, so I was able to speak calmly and remain supportive when the time came for the telling.
Pick the Time and Place for Your Talk:
This conversation is going to be a tough one, so think about where and when to hold it. I chose the end of the school week, so my children would have ample time and space before having to function in the public world.Â I made sure we had a quiet weekend planned, without visitors or social events.
The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth:
I am not suggesting that you should be brutal, but your children need to be able to depend on one reliable and unchanging thing - YOU - when their world becomes unstable. It is incredibly difficult to tell children something that you know is going to hurt them deeply, so there is an understandable temptation to sugar-coat hard truths in an effort to lessen the blow. I am convinced this does children a disservice, and that it would make things more difficult for them in the long run. Be there to comfort your children by listening to their grief and validating their feelings, but don't undermine their trust by withholding any important information.
This Will Take Time:
If you have learned something that is distressing, you have to allow your children to react to that awful news with anger and tears. It will take time for them to work their way through their emotions and the implications of what you have uncovered, and the issue may remain raw for a long while. You may learn things that fundamentally alter your child's self-identity. I am still quick to anger when I think over what happened to my children, and my daughter is easily hurt if she thinks about the pain her first mother suffered.
Verify Your Child's Legal Status:
We checked with various sources before launching our search, so we were reasonably confident of our children's legal status, should we uncover any impropriety in their adoption. This knowledge was particularly important when our children became understandably insecure and needed to be reassured that they would not be taken from our family.
This is Their Story:
My children have felt differently over time regarding public disclosure of their story. Initially my daughter did not want anyone to know that they had been trafficked. I respected her position, which also meant her older brother was not able to tell others, and I was not able to speak about our experience with my friends in the adoption community. After my children met their first mother, my daughter radically changed her position and asked, instead, for me to share their story. I explained to her that her information could not be taken back once she revealed it, but I supported my children to reach their own decisions regarding disclosure. While some may disagree with this approach, I believe it was an empowering action to allow my children to make these decisions.
What Helped Us?
In March 2007 our children travelled back to India and we spent four days with their first mother, her second husband and their five children. That experience was more healing for everyone than I could have imagined. Looking back over our experiences, I am able to see some things that definitely helped make the reunion a positive experience for all.
We set the stage long before we searched for information. Whenever we shared our children's original adoption story with them, we included the caveat that "this is your story as far as we know it." Having heard tales of adult adoptees who discovered aspects of their backgrounds had been altered, we knew it was always possible that our children may face similar challenges.
I have maintained a long-term friendship with a trusted person in India, and she was kind enough to mediate our contact with our children's first mother. This was a critical role. A mediator not only has to translate communication but, more importantly, he or she has to act as a cultural go-between. My friend's experience and understanding of the challenges facing both families meant that many potential difficulties were averted. Her mediation set the stage for our successful reunion, and she has continued to play a critical role in our continuing relationships.
We had already travelled to our children's country of origin with them before we made the reunion trip. We had toured their homeland for several weeks, fourteen months before their reunion, and we staying in a variety of accommodation including run-down hotels and camping. This was a great advantage for our children when it came time for their reunion. The children had enough to cope with in managing the emotions of meeting their first mother and her family, and I am grateful they did not also have to cope with culture shock. They were comfortable in their homeland, and had been exposed to a variety of socio-economic conditions through India, including visits to several orphanages. This allowed my son and daughter to comfortably adapt to their birth mother's community and socialize easily, even without any common language. ( Julia Rollings, 2008)
The 13th Amendment to the United States constitution reads, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
The United States of America is known for the freedom. Allowing human trafficking to occur on our own soil is not acceptable in the modern day and age. We as citizens of this great country must fight for what is right, this is exactly what one group out of California is doing. Jack Dorsey, Creator, Co-founder, and Chairman, Twitter CEO, Square and David Batstone, President & Co-Founder of notforsalecampaign.org,
Not for Sale is a Campaign of students, artists, entrepreneurs, people of faith, athletes, law enforcement officers, politicians, social workers, skilled professionals, and all justice seekers united to fight the global slave trade and end human trafficking. The Campaign aims to recruit, educate, and mobilize an international grassroots social movement that effectively combats human trafficking and slavery through "Smart Activism". It deploys innovative solutions for every individual to re-abolish slavery -- in their own backyards and across the globe. (notforsalecampaign.org, 2010)
They have a collective challenge put in place for the public. It reads simply: Stand with those who are enslaved, work together to free them, and empower them in their freedom to break the cycle of vulnerability.
Human Trafficking, for the purpose of sex, labor, or drug trade, and adoption is currently going on in the United States every day. The United States government and the individual states are attempting to abolish this unjust act. Providing education and appropriate support to victims and appropriate sentencing to the criminals involved are ways to see a decrease in this crime. However we must be able to keep the communication lines open with our international countries and continue on this long journey together to end Human Trafficking and Illegal Adoption once and for all. A wise man once said "All men are created equal". (Abraham Lincoln) In my mind those words are the basis of what America stands for. No person has the right to force another person into slavery for sex, drugs, adoption, labor or anything else for that matter. In years to come I believe we will see a greater focus on gaining harsher sentencing for those involved and even more assistance to help the victims recover and lead a fulfilling life.