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 can come from all ranges of background and sexual orientation. However, most of them then d to be young adolescents, teens, and women. Small percentages are men. Victims of human trafficking are essentially kidnapped and forced into labor or drugs for the purpose of sexual exploitation. (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 tricked into coming 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. In fact a very common but simple explanation of human trafficking is modern day slavery. Slavery was a very popular and large trading industry in America in the 1800's and 1900's. In the southern states slavery was used more for agricultural purposes vs. sexual exploitation. The used the slaves to help with crop revenue. The north did not have a large slave industry due to the early illegalization of slavery in 1830. Congress passed a law in 1808 to end the inner state slave trade; however it would take another 20 years to completely disappear in the north. Exceptions were made for the southern states, allowing slavery is some forms.
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 directly 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 main focus of this act was to fight trafficking as related to humans, to create fair, effective and harsh punishments for the traffickers involved, and lastly, protection for the victims. (Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000)
The act of 2000 had three goals in mind for fighting against human trafficking. First was to end trafficking across the world, mainly starting overseas. Second on the list was to assist victims with many different benefits and provide with them with much needed support and guidance to begin 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, there had been no federal laws in place to offer protection of any kind to the victims of human trafficking or prosecution for the actual traffickers. The TPVA of 2000 had great intentions in place, as mentioned above the federal government wanted to offer assistance to victims. They would do this by allowing non U.S. citizens to obtain a special visa and can receive benefits and services through the TVPA to the same extent as refugees. 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 the crime resulted in death, or attempted murder, kidnapping, attempted kidnapping, any sexual abuse, or attempted sexual misconduct, the trafficker could be given a sentence of life in prison. In order for the trafficker to receive a reduced sentence, 20 years to life in prison the crime would have to only involve children between the ages 14-18 and the trafficking could not be a result of force or fraud.(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 states that the United States and neighboring countries have come to an agreement. They have agreed that Human Trafficking is a direct violation of human rights and is a growing international matter. Other countries have recognized and attempted to abolish slavery, involuntary servitude, and other forms of trafficking by creating declarations, treaties, and United Nations resolutions and reports. The United States is working closely alongside international communities to abolish human trafficking. The United States has come up with a set of standards that the other countries must comply with in order to eliminate human trafficking throughout the United States and other International borders. The United States must also encourage other countries to take strong action to engage recalcitrant countries to assist in anti-trafficking efforts 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 consist of many facts ranging from the nature of the trafficking crimes committed in each foreign country and how the country is going to rectify the trafficking issue. The assessment will include the following information from each country.
Does the government in the country allow trafficking in any form?
What steps are the governments taking to abolish human trafficking in their own country?
Is the government taken appropriate steps to insure that the government employees or persons of power are not participating in any human trafficking?
Has the government put in place regulations to stop citizens from engaging in all forms of human trafficking or slavery?
What is the efficiency of the penalties for the criminals involved in Human Trafficking?
What actions have the government of that country taken to help the victims of trafficking, what efforts to prevent victims from being further victimized. Is the country offering grants of relief from deportation, humanitarian relief, including mental, health care and shelter?
Is the country in question cooperating with other international officials to appropriately extradite traffickers?
Is the government taking measures to the older non-effective laws to promote the ending of human trafficking?
Will the government of the country help in international investigations of trafficking rings and assist in the prosecution of them.
Does the government in the country refrain from punishing or discriminating against the victims of severe or harsh human trafficking?
Will the government allow justice to occur for the victims and ensure their human rights are recognized?
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) 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, this is a lot like the Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, an assessment that must be completed by the questioned countries that have a higher rate of Human Trafficking. The first question is; does the government prohibit and punish acts of human trafficking? Next, does the country properly provide appropriate sentences for the traffickers involved in crimes committed against children that are not of the consenting age, or if the crime resulted in a death? Lastly the government officials should not take lightly the forms of human trafficking yet embrace the harshness and attempt to eliminate human trafficking throughout the world.
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 has been established as a non-profit organization. The organizations mission is to assist in the aid of those victims that are suffering from the aftermath of human trafficking. These aids consist of psychological, medical, and different case management issues that the victims may be having. 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. The U.S. -Mexico border shows a huge number of human trafficking each year. Due to the increase of the borders being patrolled by the government and police this number is dropping. 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; he states that adoptions in China are becoming more popular around the world with highest in the United States. Students at the University of Iowa decided to investigate Asian adoptions and the impact it had on the country. The students presented a project on Hunan baby-trafficking and the exposure it had on China and the adoptions in the United States. Chinese police discovered a baby trafficking ring in 2005. The ring had a total of six orphanages. The children and babies that were being held at the orphanage came from southern China. The Chinese police were unable to identify how the children came to the orphanages. Some of the defendants in the case were able to testify that the children were abandoned at birth. The prosecutors however had accused the baby traffickers of kidnapping the children and babies. Adoption trafficking provides a huge amount of revenue for the people involved. The trafficker would be paid around $1000.00 for each child they would bring to the orphanage. The orphanage would then turn around and sell the babies and children for $3000.00 or more. Some questions are still unanswered in the case. Most of the traffickers where arrested and prosecuted, however many of the children in the orphanage disappeared and the to this day there placements are unknown. Inter-country adoptions are also very well defined source of income for the orphanages and the proceeds 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 actual statistics 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. Julia was reading a newspaper when she came across an article about the orphanage that her and her husband had adopted their two children from. She was very surprised to see that the director had been arrested for the involvement in illegal adoptions. Julia then decided she would do what was morally right and investigate the origin of her children that she adopted from the agency. She began to search for the children's biological parents in India. This search opened up a very scary territory of child trafficking. The couple felt very overwhelmed by this discovery, but decided to take each step together as a family. "Our children joined our family when they were three and five years old, and for eight years we had told them their adoption story." The two children had been put up for adoption by their parents because their biological mother and father where unable to care for them due to their financial situation and other health issues that had risen in the family. They were told that there mother and father loved them very much but had to make the ultimate sacrifice for them and chose to give them up for adoption. The couple never thought they would need to verify the origin of the children; after all they were dealing with an actual adoption agency in India. After the couple contacted neighbors of the biological parents they came across the startling truth. The children had been kidnapped from the mother without her knowing and sold by the father to the orphanage. Then the orphanage then adopted out the children without the parents' consent. Too much surprise by the family it had been ten years since the mother had seen her children. Their whereabouts unknown until Julia began the search. Julia initiated contact with the children biological mother and her family through a family friend in India. The families were able to keep in touch through photographs and emails, not wanting the original family to have her location she had her friend in India forward all this information on. Julia and her husband then decided they would take the children to India and visit their "first" parents. They stayed with the mother and her entire family for four days. They came to an agreement to allow the children and parents to stay in contact; they decided to embrace them as part of her extended family. Julia stated, "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". 1. Try and deal with our own emotions prior to attempting a discussion with your own children. She had her own anger to deal with and was not quite sure how her own children would take the news, but she did know that they would need to cope, so making sure she was mentally prepared was imperative. She had to mentally and emotionally prepare for what she was about to unravel to her children and the rest of her family. She did want any added stress to situation at hand. Julia wanted to ensure that she could provide the children with all the support that she could when she broke the news to them.
2. Picking an appropriate time and place to begin the discussion is imperative. Julia chose to take the children away for a nice weekend vacation. She wanted to make sure the children had enough time to deal with the news before having to go back to school or any public event.
3. Do not stray from the truth. The truth is going to save the trusting bond you have developed with your children. The children have already been through so much just being adopted out. They are resilient and stronger than you think; the truth is the best route to take. Sugar coating or telling less than the actual truth will only lead to more questions and then more lies to cover the old lies up. Once you break the news Julia says you must be prepared to be there for your children because they will go through a grieving process.
4. Healing will take time. Allow your children to express whatever feelings they may be having. They may feel angry, some children may show extreme sadness, others may not react at all, kind of like building a wall. Each child will eventually find a way to deal with their emotions, and as a parent you will need to be there to provide guidance to them. You will need to watch for any signs of trauma, such as the child trying to hurt themselves or anyone else to deal with the suffering. This type of action is not ok and will need to have professional intervention.
5. Verify Your Child's Legal Status: As a parent Julia and her family was scared that the children could be taken from them due to the illegal adoption. Prior to the search she insured that they took all the legal routes when adopting the two children. You will also want to make sure that the children understand that there is no chance that they will be taken from the family. 6. Let the children tell their own story. Julia's children felt differently over time regarding public disclosure of their story. Initially her daughter did not want anyone to know that they had been trafficked. Julia respected their decision, and advised all parties that had knowledge of the trafficking to not discuss it any further until the children became comfortable. The daughter eventually asked Julia to share the story; she made this decision after she was able to meet her biological mother and family. Julia explained to her daughter that once the story had been put in the public eye it could not be taken back.
Julia soon discovered that many would not agree with the approach that she took, but she felt it gave her children a way to be in charge of their own story. Julia decided to travel to India in 2007 to visit the children's mother and step-father and the siblings they never met. Her children were able to bring closure to their story with this visit. Julia states, it was a "positive experience" for the entire family.
Julia and her husband knew that is was possible for the adoption story to change over time, so they set themselves up prior by leaving the information they provided to the children open ended. They would often say "this is your story as far as we know it." Julia has maintained a long-term friendship with a trusted person in India, and she was kind enough to assist with her 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. Her friend's experience and understanding of the challenges facing both families meant that many potential difficulties were avoided. With her friends help she was able to have a successful and rewarding reunion with the birth parent and family. Julia also had decided to visit India prior to meeting the birth mother so that the children could become aware of the surroundings and their ethnicity. They were fortunate enough to stay in India for a month. The reunion was scheduled about one year from that point. The family stayed in different types of hotels and camp grounds. The chidlren would need to be prepared for the accommodations of their birth family when it came time for the 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," Julia said. (Julia Rolling's, 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, The Not for Sale is a Campaign that consists of a large variety of citizens. It consists of very large social network ranging from students to professionals. It also has homemakers and government officials. They all have a common goal and that is to end Human Trafficking. The Campaign wants to recruit, educate, and mobilize an international movement. (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.