Today, we continue the long journey toward an America and a world where liberty and equality are not reserved for some, but extended to all. Across the globe, including right here at home, millions of men, women, and children are victims of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. We remain committed to abolishing slavery in all its forms and draw strength from the courage and resolve of generations past.
President Barack Obama
HUMAN TRAFFICKING DEFINED
The TVPA defines “severe forms of trafficking in persons” as:
➤ sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or
➤ the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. A victim need not be physically transported from one location to another for the crime to fall within these definitions.
At the government level, each country needs an anti-slavery plan. Brazil shows what can happen when a government takes a stand. In early 2003 the president of Brazil set up a commission to end slavery. Laws were strengthened and more money was given to anti-slavery squads. In 2003, close to 5000 people were rescued from slavery by Special Mobile Inspection Groups; by 2005 another 7000 had been rescued. More than $3 million was given to liberated slaves to help them get back on their feet. A company or person caught using slaves is put on an official “dirty list,” and in addition to prosecution and imprisonment, that company or person is excluded from receiving any sort of government permits, grants, loans, or credits. Since a large proportion of slaves in Brazil work where land is being developed (ranching, deforestation, agriculture, and logging in the Amazon and other remote areas), the denial of government benefits to slave-using companies can drive them out of business.
I have great admiration and respect for victims of horrendous crimes who find the strength and courage to speak about those crimes publicly. Nacole is one such brave soul who gave a TEDx talk about child sex trafficking – and what it’s like to be the mother of a child who has been lured away and sold.
Quotes From: ASEAN Plan of Action Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children
C. Law Enforcement and Prosecution of Crimes of Trafficking in Persons
b. Develop pro-active investigation methods and where appropriate, to conduct surveillance and other pro-active measures to gather evidence to establish a case to prosecute trafficking in persons cases even without the testimony of victims;
c. Enhance efforts to investigate alleged cases of trafficking in persons, strengthen the means to combat trafficking, prosecute the perpetrators, including through more systematic use of freezing assets for the purpose of eventual confiscation in accordance with the provisions of Article 17 of the ACTIP, and ensure that penalties are proportionate to the gravity of the crime;
e. Prosecute crimes of trafficking in persons that encompass all forms of exploitation and enact, enforce and strengthen legislation that criminalises all forms of trafficking in persons, especially women and children;
f. Combat and prosecute organised criminal groups engaged in trafficking in persons, in accordance with domestic laws;
g. Investigate, prosecute and punish corrupt public officials who engage in or facilitate trafficking in persons and promote a zero-tolerance policy against those corrupt officials consistent with the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime;
Jesse Bach is a self-described freedom activist. He is the founder of the Imagine Foundation, which works to fight human trafficking and modern slavery worldwide. He is on my admiration list because of all of these things.
He is also on my admiration list because his speech uses both superhero analogies and the assurance that everyday people can make big changes in small ways…while wearing spandex (if they so choose). Of course, that spandex must be ethically made and traded but, otherwise, spandex is OK.
His TED talk is about the ways that everyday people can make a real difference in ending human trafficking. I encourage everyone to watch it.
I have great respect for people who escape a horrible situation and then choose to fight the criminals that created that situation. It takes a lot of courage to stand and face people who have perpetrated unspeakably vile crimes. Simply facing these people in a court of law, under the protection of armed police officers, is extremely difficult. Continuing to fight after gaining freedom and establishing a life – that takes both courage and dedication.
Catalleya Storm survived human trafficking in Ohio, was freed through the help of law enforcement, and continues to speak out against human trafficking and sexual slavery. Her TED talk is focused on her own experience, the prevalence of these crimes in the United States and the very simple fact that combatting modern slavery and human trafficking of all kinds is everyone’s responsibility.
Catalleya is someone I would love to meet and/or hear speak. She is one of many people who I would add to my list of speakers at a slave-free city conference…if I were planning such a thing.
Kris Wade is the founder and executive director of the Justice Project in Kansas City, which has the following description posted to their website:
The mission of the Justice Project, a peer-based nonprofit human rights organization, is to provide criminal justice and social systems advocacy and navigation for women in poverty who may be suffering from a multitude of challenges, including homelessness, discrimination, addiction, mental illness, domestic violence, prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation. Since 2007 the dedicated volunteers at the Justice Project have helped positively change the lives of more than one hundred women from the streets of Kansas City.
This is an amazingly difficult job anywhere in the world. In Kansas City, the challenges are exacerbated by the mistaken belief (all over the United States) that these kinds of things don’t happen in Kansas – or anywhere else in the Midwest or similarly agricultural-heavy regions of the United States).
Ms. Wade’s Ted talk clearly explains why and how these things happen all over the United States, even within the heartland.
I would welcome the opportunity to meet Ms. Wade and learn more about the work her non-profit performs. I also would like to hear her thoughts on the slave-free city project.
Lisa Kristine is an international humanitarian photographer whose work is breathtakingly beautiful. One of her areas of focus is modern day slavery, which has led her to extremely dangerous places and situations, where she has photographed the slaves themselves. Her TED talks covers the reality of modern day slavery and her own experiences as a photographer investigating this horrendous crime:
I must admit to feeling both admiration and envy over Ms. Kristine’s career. Her work as a photographer documenting indigenous cultures is itself worthy of admiration. The fact that she takes the opportunity, and the risk, to document human rights violations and the manifestation of evil that is slavery is highly commendable. I would welcome the opportunity to meet Ms. Kristine or hear her speak in person.
Quotes From: Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000
SEC. 102. PURPOSES AND FINDINGS.
a) PURPOSES- 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.
(b) FINDINGS- Congress finds that:
(13) Involuntary servitude statutes are intended to reach cases in which persons are held in a condition of servitude through nonviolent coercion. In United States v. Kozminski, 487 U.S. 931 (1988), the Supreme Court found that section 1584 of title 18, United States Code, should be narrowly interpreted, absent a definition of involuntary servitude by Congress. As a result, that section was interpreted to criminalize only servitude that is brought about through use or threatened use of physical or legal coercion, and to exclude other conduct that can have the same purpose and effect.
(14) Existing legislation and law enforcement in the United States and other countries are inadequate to deter trafficking and bring traffickers to justice, failing to reflect the gravity of the offenses involved. No comprehensive law exists in the United States that penalizes the range of offenses involved in the trafficking scheme. Instead, even the most brutal instances of trafficking in the sex industry are often punished under laws that also apply to lesser offenses, so that traffickers typically escape deserved punishment.
(15) In the United States, the seriousness of this crime and its components is not reflected in current sentencing guidelines, resulting in weak penalties for convicted traffickers.
(16) In some countries, enforcement against traffickers is also hindered by official indifference, by corruption, and sometimes even by official participation in trafficking.
SEC. 103. DEFINITIONS.
(2) COERCION- The term `coercion’ means–
(A) threats of serious harm to or physical restraint against any person;
(B) any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; or
(C) the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process.
(3) COMMERCIAL SEX ACT- The term `commercial sex act’ means any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person.
(4) DEBT BONDAGE- The term `debt bondage’ means the status or condition of a debtor arising from a pledge by the debtor of his or her personal services or of those of a person under his or her control as a security for debt, if the value of those services as reasonably assessed is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt or the length and nature of those services are not respectively limited and defined.
(5) INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE- The term `involuntary servitude’ includes a condition of servitude induced by means of–
(A) any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that, if the person did not enter into or continue in such condition, that person or another person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint; or
(B) the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process.
SEC. 108. MINIMUM STANDARDS FOR THE ELIMINATION OF TRAFFICKING.
(a) MINIMUM STANDARDS- For purposes of this division, the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking applicable to the government of a country of origin, transit, or destination for a significant number of victims of severe forms of trafficking are the following:
(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.