Human Trafficking News

Compiled by Students & Artists Fighting to End Human Slavery

Monday, July 30, 2007

UK: Museum shows up past and present, July 25

Mary O'Hara
Wednesday July 25, 2007
The Guardian

As the descendant of black Africans sold as slaves and the son of a Guyanese father and English mother, Richard Benjamin's passion for his job as head of the new International Slavery Museum in Liverpool comes, he says, "from a very personal place". His role at the museum, which opens next month, is the culmination of years of studying race relations and, recently, gaining a PhD in archeology, inspired by an interest in how black communities engage with their past.

"Black history was important to me," he says. "I grew up in a small village in Yorkshire. It was a traditional white, working-class place. My childhood was very good, but I did often encounter blatant racism."

For Benjamin, 36, who has been in post six months, being made director of the museum gives him the opportunity to "tell the story" of transatlantic slavery in a way that appeals to a cross-section of people. He hopes his knowledge and understanding of the issues will make a real difference to its future.

The aim is to build on the museum's origins as the much smaller-scale Transatlantic Slavery Gallery, Benjamin says, by exploring "a bigger picture", encompassing a longer historical period. There are also plans to develop more audio-visual elements and large research and learning centres. "This is definitely for people who have no understanding of what a slave is or was," he says. "But it will also cater to academics and tourists. It will work on many levels."

Benjamin says that what particularly excites him is that the museum will not remain limited to an examination of the past, or indeed to how the international slave trade impacted on black people and communities. The broader legacy of the slave trade is something he hopes to examine in more detail. "The next phase is to look at the issues around contemporary slavery. We will look at sex-trafficking. I'd like the museum to confront and challenge modern slavery."

Benjamin attributes the vision for the museum to David Fleming, director of National Museums, Liverpool, to which the new museum belongs. But he has his own ambitions for it and they are rooted in his personal and academic background. "This is important to me. I would like to think that black people in the rest of the world will know there is somewhere they can visit that covers the issue of slavery historically and in a contemporary context."

· The International Slavery Museum opens on August 23, which is Slavery Remembrance Day. More information at

· Email your comments to If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly "for publication"

UK: Sex slave escapes from brothel, July 24

A TEENAGE sex slave escaped from a brothel and sought help from residents.

The Vietnamese girl, who cannot speak English, appeared at the home of Christine Bonner in Milton Road, Gravesend, at around 8pm on July 18.

She later told a translator she had been sold as a sex slave and had escaped from a house.

Shop worker Mrs Bonner, 65, said: "She was sitting on my wall and then started looking through my window. I rang my daughter who came over with her friend."

Her daughter, 38-year-old mum-of-two Kerri Bonner, said: "We gave her a cup of tea and biscuits.

"She was holding the cup like it was a baby. We just cuddled her and tried to comfort her."

The housewife added: "It's the last thing you expect.

"I will never forget this girl until the day I die."

Miss Bonner said the girl's eyes were "souless".

She added: "You could see she had been to hell and back. When the police came she was cowering and became frightened again.

"As she left she bowed to each of us. I wish I could have done more to help her."

Miss Bonner's friend Samantha Bunn, a mum-of-two who lives in Stanley Crescent, Gravesend, said: "She was a child. She only looked about 16 or 17 years old. She was scared and crying. She said her name was E."

The 33-year-old added: "I feel disgusted. You know it goes on and see it on TV but you don't expect it to happen in Gravesend.

"She had lots of white bags stuffed inside her bag. They looked like nappy sacks."

Mrs Bunn said officers told her they would try to get the teenager to point out the house she escaped from. The women do not know where the house is.

A police spokesman said: "Patrols attended immediately and the woman was taken into custody at Gravesend police station before being put into the hands of the immigration services."

And a Home Office spokesman said it does not comment on individual cases.

He added the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, which aims to combat child sex abuse, published a report on the extent of child trafficking on June 11.

The writers of the report believe 330 children were trafficked into the UK between March 2005 and December last year.

Later this year a police-led operation, Pentameter Two, will aim to rescue trafficked women and girls from commercial sexual exploitation.

12:31pm Tuesday 24th July 2007

By Vicki Foster

30 Bags of Baby Body Parts Found in Eastern India May be Products of Illegal "Female Foeticide"

July 24

Original Post:

By Hilary White

NAYAGARH, India, July 24, 2007 ( - The BBC reports that police have found 30 bags full of baby body parts outside an abortion facility in the eastern Indian state of Orissa. Local forensic experts suggest the remains are the product of illegal sex-selective abortions.

The owners of the abortion facility have been taken into custody. Police have said there is no way of knowing how many bodies were found in the bags recovered from a waste dump near the town of Nayagarh.

Abortion, sonograms and the traditional cultural preference for boys have combined to cause a lopsided sex demographic in India that has left the country facing a massive demographic crisis.

With the population shifting towards the abortion-generated gender imbalance of 927 females born for every 1,000 males, the country is beginning to experience the social ills associated with sex-selective abortion.

Trafficking of women in India has become common in the Northern region of Haryana, where there are about 861 women for every 1,000 men due to sex-selection. Trafficking in women is a problem also experienced in China where a similar gender imbalance was created by the communist one-child policy.

While sex-selective abortions and the use of sonograms to detect the sex of a child are technically illegal, enforcement has proved difficult. A case last year in which an abortionist and his assistant were sentenced to two years in prison and fined Rs 5000 by the court in Palwal, Haryana, was the first time an abortionist was sentenced under the law since it was passed in 1994.

Read related coverage:

Indian "Genocide" of Girls by Abortion Exposed in New Book "Disappearing Daughters"

Abortion Doctor in India Jailed Under Female Foeticide Law

Trafficking of Women Rampant In Northern India: 8 Women for Every 10 Men

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ohio Man Arrested, Charged with Attempting to Purchase Two Children for

Ohio Man Arrested, Charged with Attempting to Purchase Two Children for
Sexual Torture

July 25, 2007

~ Man asked undercover investigator if he
could drown her daughters for sexual gratification ~

TALLAHASSEE, FL ­ An Ohio man was arrested on feelony charges that he approached an undercover investigator online and offered to pay to act out his sexual perversions with children, Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced. Jeff Doland was arrested by authorities with the Attorney General’s Child Predator CyberCrime Unit after he flew to Miami, believing he was going to meet a mother of two girls, ages nine and 12 years old, and would pay the woman $550 to forcibly submerge the children under water until they became unconsciousness. During multiple internet conversations, Doland told the woman, an undercover agent with the United States Secret Service, that “dunking” was his particular form of sexual gratification.

“The allegations made during the course of this investigation are so heinous they are almost outside the realm of comprehension. Without law enforcement intervention, real children could have been in grave danger,” said Attorney General McCollum.

The undercover investigation began in April when the Secret Service agent was working undercover in an internet chat room, posing as the mother of two young daughters. Doland, of Uniontown, Ohio, approached the “woman” online and told her that he would pay her to allow him to dunk the girls, describing dunking as forcibly submerging someone under water until he or she is generally unconsciousness, then raising the person out of the water. He claimed he “liked watching the bubbles” and went on to send the undercover agent explicit images of child torture as examples of what he proposed to do to the two young children.

The Secret Service agent alerted authorities with the Attorney General’s CyberCrime Unit, who assisted with the continued investigation until Doland announced his intention to meet the “mother” in Miami. Doland was arrested when his plane arrived in Miami after again describing to another undercover investigator exactly what he wanted to do to the children, including a detailed explanation of how he planned to bind the young girls to the bottom of the pool of water. The arrest was made with the assistance of the Miami-Dade Police Department.

Doland will initially be charged with selling or buying of minors, a first-degree felony, and promoting the sexual performance of a child, a second-degree felony. The first charge is described in Florida statute as offering to purchase a minor with the intent to promote acts requiring the rendering of assistance by the minor to any other person to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of the conduct. The additional charge is described as producing, directing, manufacturing or promoting the sadomasochistic abuse or harm of a child through torture and/or physical restraint for the purpose of sexual gratification. Doland faces up to 45 years in prison for the charges against him. The case will be prosecuted by the State Attorney’s Office for the 11th Judicial Circuit.

Under the new CyberCrimes Against Children Act of 2007, which was successfully championed by Attorney General McCollum and will become effective October 1st, child predators facing allegations similar to those against Doland can be criminally charged for soliciting the parent or guardian of a child who would then provide that child to the predator for the purpose of further sexual abuse. Sexual abuse of a child includes any sadomasochistic abuse of a child for the purposes of sexual gratification. The new law will provide for more effective prosecution and stronger penalties for this type of crime.

Sex Trafficking, Not Pimping

Thomas Bodström, he head of the Swedish parliament’s judicial committee, wants to abolish the crime of pimping, in order to force courts to impose harsher sentences.

Bodström wants pimps to be punished for sex trafficking, for smuggling foreign women into Sweden for the sex trade.

Some courts have recently imposed lighter sentences for pimping only – claiming there was no solid proof that the women were tricked into prostitution and were not necessarily held against their will by the traffickers.

Bodström, who was Minister of Justice in the former Social Democratic government, says
the present law against pimping is outdated – from the past when a pimp and the prostitute worked together – and does not reflect the present system of sex slavery.

MySpace Finds 29,000 Sex Offenders With Profiles on Its Site, State Officials Say

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


RALEIGH, N.C. ­ has found more than 29,000 registered sex offenders with profiles on the popular social networking Web site ­ more than four times the number cited by the company two months ago, officials in two states Tuesday.

North Carolina's Roy Cooper is one of several attorneys general who recently demanded the News Corp.-owned Web site provide data on how many registered sex offenders were using the popular social networking site, along with information about where they live.

After initially withholding the information, citing federal privacy laws, MySpace began sharing the information in May after the states filed formal legal requests.

At the time, MySpace said it had already used a database it helped create to remove about 7,000 profiles of sex offenders, out of a total of about 180 million profiles on the site.

Cooper's office said Tuesday, however, that now the figure has risen past 29,000.

"I'm absolutely astonished and appalled because the number has grown so exponentially over so short of time with no explanation," said Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who also had pressed the company earlier for sex offender data.

MySpace declined to comment on the figure, focusing instead on its efforts to clean up its profile rolls.

"We're pleased that we've successfully identified and removed registered sex offenders from our site and hope that other social networking sites follow our lead," MySpace chief security officer Hemanshu Nigam said in a prepared statement.

Cooper is pushing for a state law that would require children to receive parental permission before creating social networking profiles, and require the Web sites to verify the parents' identity and age. For example, social networking sites would have to compare information provided by a parent with commercial databases. Sites could also force parents to submit credit cards or printed forms.

Cooper is working with law enforcement officials in other states in pressuring MySpace to use age and identity verification methods voluntarily. Based on media reports, Cooper's office found more than 100 criminal incidents this year of adults using MySpace to prey or attempt to prey on children.

Most recently, a Virginia man pleaded guilty Monday to kidnapping and soliciting a 14-year old girl he met on MySpace.

"All we're doing is giving parents the right to make a choice whether their children can go online," Cooper told a state House committee considering the bill on parental involvement and verification. He said the measure would lead to "fewer children at risk, because there will be fewer children on those Web sites."

Advocates for Internet companies and privacy issues testified against the proposed restrictions, saying the broad parental verification standards would be found unconstitutional because they prohibit free speech or impede interstate commerce. The experts who testified also said Cooper's idea isn't foolproof, because children could fabricate their parents' information and purported consent.

The parental verification requirement "makes promises to consumers that cannot be kept. It is dangerous language," said Emily Hackett, executive director of the Washington-based Internet Alliance, whose clients include Time Warner Inc.'s AOL, Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO - news)/span>. and VeriSign Inc. "There is no way to eyeball a user."

The bill has already passed the North Carolina Senate. Now it goes to a House subcommittee for more consideration.

State Sen. Walter Dalton, a Democrat who is a primary sponsor of the bill, acknowledged that it won't stop all sexual predators from getting on social networking sites. But he said it addresses a problem that shouldn't be ignored, Dalton said.

"There is obviously a compelling state interest to protect our children from sexual predators," he said.

MySpace is owned by News Corp., which is the parent company of

New program to fight human trafficking

By Barb Barrett, Staff Writer

Published: Jul 23, 2007 03:37 PM
Modified: Jul 23, 2007 03:36 PM
The News and Observer

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families will announce a program Tuesday that hopes to educate agencies and individuals about human trafficking in North Carolina and across the country.

The federal department estimates that 14,500-17,500 people are trafficked into the United States every year.

Several high-profile cases have come up in North Carolina in recent years, including a sex ring in the Triangle and a legal suit filed by 22 Thai farm workers fromJohnston County earlier this year.

The federal program comes alongside an ongoing statewide coalition that has been working several years to train social services and law enforcement agencies about how to identify and help trafficking victims.

"It's so hidden right now, and people are afraid to come forward and, often, don't have the capacity to come forward," said Kaci Bishop, an immigration attorney with the N.C. Justice Center who will be at Tuesday's news conference in Raleigh.

Human trafficking often follows drug trafficking corridors, Bishop said. "We're right on the I-95 corridor."

She said coalition members suspect a lot of trafficking among farm workers, and that advocates suspect women are forced into the commercial sex trade to service both migrant workers and men on the Interstate 95 corridor.

The General Assembly is considering legislation sponsored by Sen. Ellie Kinnaird of Carrboro to make human trafficking a state offense as well as a federal offense.

The federal government's program, called Rescue & Restore, involves a network of 21 cities and states fighting human trafficking

Israeli police arrest nine citizens suspected of trafficking in organs

International Herald Tribune

The Associated Press
Monday, July 23, 2007

JERUSALEM: Israeli police have broken up an organ transplanting ring that persuaded dozens of Israelis to have their kidneys removed in Ukraine for $30,000 (€21,700) each, a spokesman said Monday.

Nine Israelis suspected of trafficking in organs and humans have been arrested and remain in custody, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

The case was opened when an Israeli woman filed a police complaint charging that she was not paid after her kidney was removed in Ukraine, Rosenfeld said. She had answered an ad in the local press, he said.

Police uncovered the ring by sending an undercover officer to pose as a potential donor, he said.

Army Radio quoted police as saying dozens of people may have been duped into donating organs. Ads seeking donors were published in the Russian and Arabic press, the radio said.

"We are talking about several incidents in which we located the people," a senior police commander, Lior Boker, told Army Radio. "I estimate that ... over a long period of time we are talking about a lot more people."

Israeli police have informed the Ukrainian police of the arrests, Rosenfeld said.

Israel allows transplants from relatives or anonymous donors, but the law forbids any sale of organs. Still, local and foreign laws are not sufficient to stop the sale of organs if people travel abroad, said Eitan Mor, executive director of the Israeli Transplantation Society.

"It's a jungle out there," Mor said. "As soon as Israelis go abroad to give organs this opens the door to trafficking in organs."

About 200 Israelis go abroad every year to receive transplants, most of them to receive kidneys, Mor said.

Police may have to release the suspects since Israeli law does not explicitly forbid trafficking in organs, said Meir Broder, a legal adviser to the Health Ministry. Draft legislation before Israel's parliament would make it illegal to transport or deal in organs, Broder said.

Israel has began cracking down on transplants abroad when organ trafficking is suspected, Broder said.

Since last year, Israeli health maintenance organizations have been required to question the source of organs transplanted into their members abroad. This has prevented Israelis from receiving state-funded transplants in China, he said, where human rights groups believe organs have been taken from executed prisoners.

Man sentenced for sex with girl forced into prostitution

Associated Press - July 21, 2007 4:05 PM ET

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) -
A man who had sex with a 13-year-old girl who had been forced into prostitution has been sentenced to serve up to 15 years in prison.

District Judge Nancy Guthrie in Jackson yesterday (Friday) sentenced 37-year-old Juan Luna to serve between nine to 15 years in prison.

Luna admitted this spring to having sex with the girl five times in March 2004.

A federal judge last month sentenced three other men who admitted forcing the girl to work as a prostitute to serve prison sentences ranging up to eight years.

Prosecutor Brian Hultman asked Judge Guthrie to hand Luna a lengthy prison sentence. He argued that Luna's crimes were at least as bad as the crimes of the men who pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of a child in the case.

The girl has testified that the men who brought her into the country from Mexico told her that she needed to repay a debt for her transportation. She said she never received money for the sex acts she performed in March and April 2004.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.

Cyber sex den 'operators' fall POLICE URGING PUBLIC TO



The police appealed for public support in fighting the growing problem of trafficking in persons, especially women and children, after the arrest Wednesday of a couple who allegedly operated a cyber sex den in a village in the outskirts of Dumaguete City.

Armed with a search warrant issued by the Regional Trial Court Branch 34, the operatives headed by Dumaguete deputy chief of police Chief Inspector Julius Muñez, swooped down on a residential house in the area, about six kilometers from the city proper. Muñez said at least four minors were made to perform nude in front of the computer camera for a fee from foreigners.

Police confiscated the computer and its accessories, telephone set and other paraphernalia, and assorted clothing of the minors.

Muñez said women and children are the most vulnerable victims of human trafficking, because of depressive conditions in their homes that force them to do anything to earn income.

The raid at the house of the suspects on Wednesday was a result of close surveillance and reports from minor victims who claimed they were made to undress and dance in front of the web camera for "clients" who connect to them via the Internet. Muñez, meanwhile, declined to identify the couple arrested and charged in court, citing a confidentiality clause in Republic Act 9208, or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.

Section 6 of the Act states that the right to privacy of the trafficked person and the accused must be respected, and that at any stage of the investigation, prosecution and trial of an offense under it, the identities and personal circumstances of both the accused and the victim shall not be disclosed to the public, Muñez added.

The media shall also be held liable for publishing or airing information and causing publicity of any case of trafficking in persons. Because of these provisions, Muñez said the police could not freely discuss with the media the alleged cyber sex operations of the couple.

He, however, appealed to the public to help the police by monitoring and reporting unusual activities in their neighborhood, such as the constant presence of young girls, especially if scantily dressed and wearing make-up, at a particular house.

Muñez added that he believes cyber sex operations are syndicated and that those involved in the illegal trade usually move from one place to another, making it difficult for the police to arrest them.

Meanwhile, Commission on Human Rights special investigator Jess Cañete who witnessed the raid, said the four minors are now in the custody of the G-WAVE, but their names are being withheld. Cañete said the girls were told to remove their clothes and show their private parts in front of the camera.*JG

Mother gets 15 years for forcing teen daughters into prostitution

Posted on Thu, Jul. 19, 2007

The Associated Press

A mother was sentenced to 15 years in prison Thursday after she admitted she sold her teenage daughters as prostitutes.

The woman's lawyer told the judge her family needed money for food, but prosecutors said she used the money to feed her addiction to crack cocaine.

The name of the mother is being withheld because it could identify her daughters and The Associated Press does not generally identify alleged victims of sex crimes.

The girls, who were 15 and 17 when their mother was arrested in January, are in the custody of the Department of Social Services and receiving intense counseling, authorities said.

The father of the teens faces charges because authorities said he knew what the mother was doing. Three men also are awaiting trial for buying sex from the teens, prosecutors said.

Before being sentenced, the mother apologized to her daughters, who were not in the courtroom. "I'd like to tell my girls I'm sorry and I love them," she said.

But Circuit Judge Kenneth Goode said he wasn't swayed by her remorse.

"I've known many families who've gone through huge financial straits," Goode said. "And they didn't resort to what you did."

Human Trafficking Worse In Northern Marianas Than U.S., Official Says

Friday: July 20, 2007
Pacific Magazine

(Marianas Variety)

Human trafficking problems are worse in the Northern Mariana Islands on a per capita basis than in the entire United States, a Bush Administration official told a U.S. Senate hearing, the Marianas Variety reports.

David Cohen, deputy assistant secretary of the interior and the administration's lead official for insular affairs, said yesterday in testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources that "human trafficking is between 8.8 and 10.6 times more prevalent in the CNMI than it is in the U.S. as a whole. This is a conservative calculation that most likely makes the CNMI look better than it actually is.”

Cohen was testifying in support of a Senate measure that would impose U.S. federal control of Northern Marianas immigration.

In his testimony, Cohen noted that 36 female victims of human trafficking in the Northern Marianas were identified by Guma Esperansa, a women’s shelter operated by a Catholic non-profit organization, during the 12-month period through the end of April. The women were brought to Saipan to participate in the sex trade, he said.

Cohen noted that compared with the U.S. State Department estimates that between 14,500 and 17,500 victims are trafficked into the U.S. each year for all purposes, including labor. The Northern Marianas population is 70,000 compared with a U.S. population of 300 million.

Placement agencies in trafficking case

20 Jul 2007, 0339 hrs IST[] ,[] Abhinav Garg[] ,[] TNN

NEW DELHI: Almost half a dozen placement agencies of south Delhi, responsible for supplying everything from a domestic help to a guard, are under the scanner of Delhi High Court for allegedly indulging in human trafficking.

The court was alerted to such a possibility through a petition which says these placement agencies lured 298 women and children to the Capital from West Bengal on the pretext of providing them job as domestic servants but instead forced them into ‘‘slavery and sex’’.

On Friday the Delhi Police and the placement agencies are likely to place before a division Bench of justice R S Sodhi and justice P K Bhasin, their response to the allegations levelled against them. The police has been blamed of complete inaction by the petitioners.

According to the petition filed by an NGO called Shramjivi Mahila Samiti, these 298 women and children from indigent families in rural West Bengal were shipped to Delhi by local agents at the prodding of various placement agencies in Saket, Malviya Nagar and Lado Sarai areas of the Capital.

The NGO through its counsel Colin Gonsalves claimed before HC that distraught relatives of these 298 missing persons were forced to approach the court for relief because they were unable to contact their kin, who had come to Delhi for household jobs as the placement agencies fobbed them off, even threatening them with dire consequences if they persisted with inquiries about these 298 people.

Relying on the testimony of one who managed to escape back to Bengal, the petition says this man apprised other villagers about the appalling conditions in which the untraceable children and women were kept with some doing unpaid labour, others being forced into sex and slavery.

He said the promised wages were never paid by the agencies which frequently rotated the servants from one household to another to avoid their being traced. The elation of those who managed to get paid through cheque was shortlived as these bounced soon after.

Even the police, the petition complains, was in collusion with the placement agencies which got wind of the fact that relatives from Bengal were coming to question them about the missing persons. ‘‘Police tipped off these agencies,’’ the counsel had informed HC on the last date of hearing.

In Plain Sight but Invisible

Shelley Seale

July 19, 2007


Indian street children play beside a parked hand rickshaw on a street in Kolkata. (Photo: Deshakalyan Chowdhury / AFP-Getty Images)

Sitting on my backpack in the Rourkela railway station at 10 p.m., I am waiting with a group of four other volunteers for our train. We hover around our amassed baggage, far more than the five of us need because many of the bags contain art supplies, games and treats for the children at the Miracle Foundation orphanage in Choudwar, India that we are on our way to spend a week with.

From nowhere it seems, two boys suddenly appear beside us. They look about seven or eight years old and are alone. Silently they hold out their hands, then bring them to their mouths, then hold them out again in the universal language of begging. I am acutely aware of the mountain of belongings surrounding the five of us ­ the suitcases containing toys and treats for other children, the plastic bags of food and drinks for the overnight train journey at my feet.

When brought face to face with such children ­ an all-too-common occurrence virtually everywhere in India ­ it becomes almost impossible to ignore them; to say no. A struggle invariably begins inside my soul and no matter how many times the situation occurs, that struggle never lessens and is never resolved. The truth of the matter is that giving money to these children will not have any significant impact on their lives beyond a few moments. It might even worsen their circumstances; many of these children turn the money directly over to parents or other adults who are either exploiting them or simply trying to stay a step above starvation.

Reinforcing the tactic of children begging as a successful strategy merely continues the cycle. Activists and non-governmental organization (NGO) workers will tell you over and over that if you really want to make a difference for children like this, or in fact anyone in desperate need, then supporting legitimate holistic programs that address the root issues and long-term solutions is the only way to make a lasting impact.

I agree with this. In my head, I know it is true. I donate thousands of dollars and volunteer hundreds of hours every year to NGOs that work with vulnerable children. It's the reason I'm in India in the first place, volunteering in an orphanage. But in my heart it is another story every time I'm approached, every time children like these boys look up at me with their haunted or, even worse, vacant eyes. It's so hard to look away, to wave them off, to pretend not to see them.

A few minutes later, the station alert sounds as our train approaches the platform. I grab my backpack and a team suitcase. But I can't help it. Just before we start down the platform to where our car will board, I pull several candy bars and two bottles of soda from a plastic bag and set them on the ground. We begin to walk away and I look toward the boys. Amazingly, they do not grab the snacks and run. They just stand there, not taking their eyes off us. I look at the candy, then at the boys, and nod my head. Hesitantly the older one questions me with his eyes and looks at the pile on the floor for the first time. I nod again and like a shot, the boys quickly snatch it up and dart off at a blazing run.

After we board the train and find our seats, I stow my backpack under a side bench and sit down. Within moments, there is a knock on the window. I look out and the two boys are standing on the platform, now with several other boys. They're all grinning from ear to ear. "One more, auntie!" they shout. I smile and wave at them, but the train is already pulling out of the station. As little as it seems, I'm glad we left the candy and I hope it makes them happy even if it is only for a moment. They stay with me long after I'm gone and I wonder how they ended up there, what their life is like, where they will go next.

There are millions of such children in India; waves of people step over and around them every day without ever really seeing them. Of all the vulnerable children they are the least hidden, in plain sight right out on the pavement or the train stations ­ yet they are perhaps the most invisible of all.

The figures quoted by various agencies are so varied they are almost meaningless. One 1994 report by UNICEF estimated 11 million street children; the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights quotes 18 million. Some NGOs put the figure as high as 100 million. Such statistics are hard to pin down because their lives are never constant and their mobility is as much as 70 percent. Many of them right on the sidewalks or in slums of extreme deprivation. Although I don't know the specific circumstances of the boys in the Rourkela station that night, uncounted numbers of children live in railway stations all over the country scratching out whatever meager existence they can, living on the constant edge of disaster. Current estimates suggest that as many as 125,000 street children live in each of Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata.

With the second largest rail network in the world carrying 11 million passengers each day, India's train stations play a major role in street children's lives. Many of those who run away take a train, often without even knowing where it is headed, and usually remain in the stations where they arrive because of access to toilet facilities and the ability to eke out a meager existence from industry that springs up around rail travel: luggage porters, shoe shiners, food or tea servers, rag pickers, or beggars if they must.

They sleep on the platforms, sometimes mere feet from where the trains race by, or on the footpaths or under bridges. They are at high risk for malnutrition, health problems, substance abuse, and violence. Glue sniffing is the most common drug problem for many of these children without a childhood, who often yearn for an escape from the brutality of their lives.

With no supervision of any kind and largely unprotected by adults, they are extremely vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, especially within the first days and weeks of leaving home. A child arriving alone at a railway station will only be approached by a predator, maybe a factory representative seeking cheap child labor or a brothel owner, within 20 minutes. Employers of kids who perform jobs such as rag and bottle collecting keep the children indebted to them. These victimizers know where to find the children who won't be missed.

I met some of these kids myself one sunny morning shortly after arriving in Mumbai. An estimated 30 unaccompanied children arrive at the city's 125 train stations every day. As thousands of people disembark from the trains ­ commuters, businessmen, families, university students, mothers and babies, young trendy urbanites with their iPods ­ they leave the platforms and swarm to the exits. But some remain behind ­ the small and permanent residents, the ones for whom the railway station is their only home.

Gyan, a social worker with the NGO Oasis India, escorted me to their Ashadeep project at the Kurla train station. After winding through a maze I would never find my way back out of alone, Gyan knocked at a locked door and another Ashadeep worker let us in. The tiny room was filled with nine boys, ranging in age from about eight to fourteen, playing games on the floor with two other male workers while they took turns washing in the one bathroom. The boys all live in the Kurla station by night.

Ashadeep social workers spend much of each workday doing outreach in the train stations, searching for new children and befriending them in a non-threatening manner. They offer the kids food, a bath, clothing and the chance to regularly participate in Ashadeep activities such as games, movies and sports. The caseworkers try to protect them as much as possible from the dangers of the station.

"These boys lose their right to a childhood, education, and family. They even lose their humanity," Gyan said. "Then the cycle continues into the next generation."

The program also provides medical care and learning activities. Half an hour into my visit the games were put away and a math lesson began. The boys grew serious as they carefully wrote out the numbers and did their sums. The interesting foreigner in their midst was quickly forgotten as they concentrated on their assignment, each of them soaking up the learning like a sponge and eager to show off their skills. I watched these eight, ten, twelve year olds who should be in school every day and thought about most children who take it for granted. This was the only schooling these boys had, and it made me very fearful for their futures.

Once a boy has been coming to Ashadeep regularly and wants to leave the railway life, the caseworkers will contact any family he has to try and work with them for reunification and to get the child into school. But because many of them fled abusive homes or were forced to leave, this is not always an option. Some have been so abused and are so frightened of their parents that they do not want to return home, even with an Ashadeep representative at their side.

"We tell the boys that as long as we are with them, no one can raise hands against them any longer," Gyan said. "But still, they are sometimes very afraid."

The workers try to place such children, if they are younger, into boarding schools or residential homes. For the older boys, Oasis will rent a house for several of them together and help with job training and life skills.

Before I left the Ashadeep railway center I asked Gyan why it was only boys in the program. He replied that the majority of kids living in the train stations are in fact boys, and this seems to be attributed to two reasons. First, boys are more likely than girls to actually run away from home and leave their villages. Second, for the females who do arrive, Gyan said they are the first to disappear. The sex trade swallows up the girls immediately.

When Ashadeep workers do occasionally find girls in the stations, they refer them to other NGOs such as Salaam Baalak Trust that have programs for girls. Oasis communications manager Divya Kottadiel echoed how difficult the challenge is for girls.

"Once they've been in the sex trade very long, no matter how abusive, it becomes more difficult to get them out of it. Many children on the streets continue to live on the streets, despite safer options," she said. "The thought of being confined to four walls frightens them and they prefer to live in 'freedom' out on the streets."

But for these children, the price of freedom is very high. They pay with their childhood, their innocence, their health, and sometimes their very lives.

View the Worldpress Desk’s profile for Shelley Seale.

Shared Hope International Launches Public Awareness Effort

Shared Hope International Launches Public Awareness Effort to Combat Sex Trafficking of Minors in America: Ground-Breaking New Video and Educational Materials Available

WASHINGTON, July 19 /Standard Newswire/-- Shared Hope International, a leader in the worldwide effort to prevent and eradicate sex trafficking, is distributing a ground-breaking new video featuring never before seen footage of child sex trafficking in the United States.

Through extensive undercover research and on-camera interviews with pimps, sex trafficking survivors, members of law enforcement and social service providers, the video "Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: How to Identify America’s Trafficked Youth" provides an in-depth look at the buying and selling of America's children.

In 2005, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) was reauthorized with amendments identifying all minors under the age of 18 as sex trafficking victims when engaged in a commercial sex act such as prostitution and pornography.

"The best data suggests that at least 100,000 American kids a year are victimized through the practice of child prostitution," said Ernie Allen, President and CEO of The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. "These kids literally become 21st century slaves."

Other research has shown up to 300,000 American children are at-risk of being exploited through the commercial sex industry in the U.S. every year. The average age of coercion and recruitment into prostitution is 12 and some victims report being forced to service 10 to 15 buyers each night.

"To a trafficker, a child is low-risk, high-profit and easy to move about," said Linda Smith, founder and President of Shared Hope International.

To combat this crisis, Shared Hope International (SHI) is distributing their ground-breaking new video and other educational materials to first responders across the nation including Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) task forces, social service providers, and juvenile detention facilities. The goal of these materials is to provide a baseline understanding of domestic minor sex trafficking, redefine "child prostitutes" as trafficking victims, improve prosecution of traffickers, and increase victim identification and access to protective and restorative services. SHI is pleased to provide:
  • "Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: How to Identify America's Trafficked Youth" (25-minute video, DVD format)
  • Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Educational Power Point Presentation

These materials are available for download at

Norway to ban buying sex services

CONCERNS: Support groups for prostitutes fear the law may lead to violence toward sex workers and greater reliance on pimps, but backers say it will hurt traffickers

Thursday, Jul 19, 2007, Page 6

Prostitues from Eastern Europe work on a street in central Oslo on March 30. Norway is preparing to criminalize the purchase of sex.
Norway is preparing to criminalize the purchase of sex -- though not the sale of it -- a move that is proving highly controversial among prostitute support groups, who argue that the policy will make sex workers more vulnerable.

Men who buy sex could face up to six months in jail, pay a fine or face both, under proposed legislation currently under consultation with relevant interest groups.

The law will ban paying for sexual services, but not selling them. Procuring, or pimping, and human trafficking are already illegal.

The bill, expected to be sent to parliament before the middle of next year, is certain to be adopted as all three parties in the governing coalition have said they will back it.

"We want to send a clear message to men that buying sex is unacceptable. Men who do it are taking part in an international crime involving human beings who are trafficked for sex," Norwegian Justice Minister Knut Storberget said.

"Criminalizing buying sex will make it more difficult for traffickers to organize themselves," he said, because they won't be able to find clients on the street, since the latter will be afraid of getting caught.

Prostitutes' support groups say the law will be ineffective.

"The law will end street prostitution but it won't stop women from working indoors or from going abroad" to work as prostitutes, said Liv Jessen, director of the Pro Center, an Oslo-based support group for prostitutes.

It is estimated that about 40 percent of deals between prostitutes and customers in Norway are made on the street, with the rest occurring indoors, for instance in hotels or at massage parlors.

Among prostitutes working on the street, about 80 percent come from countries such as Romania, Bulgaria and Nigeria, via trafficking. The rest are Norwegians who tend to be drug abusers.

In recent years, street prostitution in central Oslo has become more visible, prompting calls for a ban. But critics say the law will make sex workers more vulnerable.

"The girls will have to rely more on pimps than before to get clients," said Janni Wintherbauer, the leader of the Organization for the Interests of Prostitutes and a sex worker herself. "The pimps will organize everything: the flat where they live, the choice of clients and how much money they get."

"In the street, the girls can choose who they go with. If they don't like the look of a client, they can say no. In an apartment, they can't," Wintherbauer said.

She fears there will be more rapes and attacks on prostitutes.

"The client will think: `I've already broken the law, I've got nothing to lose.' And in an apartment, a girl will be alone" where no one will be able to help her, she said.

The planned law is modeled on legislation passed in 1999 in Sweden. There, men who buy sex face six months in jail or a fine, set in proportion to their income.

No one has yet gone to prison for the offense, but one person was fined, police said.

Child marriages, trafficking on the rise in West Bengal

Antara Das
The Hindu

A rising awareness against dowry is fuelling the incidence

KOLKATA: A survey conducted across several districts in West Bengal has indicated that a rising awareness against dowry is fuelling the incidence of child marriage and trafficking.

The survey was conducted by Women’s Studies Research Centre (WSRC); the Department of Sociology, Burdwan University; and Centre for Women’s Studies, University of North Bengal, supported by the West Bengal Government’s Department of Women and Child Development and Social Welfare and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“We found that the traffickers approach the villagers in the guise of grooms without any dowry demand and lure them into marrying off even minor girls,” said Ishita Mukhopadhyay, Director, WSRC, Calcutta University. “The girls are then sold and sent to other places like Mumbai, Dubai or Kashmir,” she added.

“The problem is compounded by the fact that West Bengal lies on the vulnerable international trafficking route, a fact acknowledged by the United Nations, with Kolkata itself becoming a significant source and destination for traffickers,” Dr. Mukhopadyay said.

“The elderly women in the villages acknowledge that child marriages were not so prevalent earlier.” She said that once married, even minor girls were treated as women and they did not enjoy child rights any more.The data quoted in the report (sourced from the 2001Census and the National Family Health Survey) shows a high incidence of child marriage in the State ­ 39.16 per cent compared to the national average of 32.10 per cent. “Though the Social Welfare Department has been organising awareness campaigns at the block and anganwadi levels, it is hard to eradicate the problem,” the department’s Principal Secretary S.N. Haque said.

While the Government’s focus is on economic empowerment of women through vocational training, and providing financial incentives to prevent girls from dropping out of high school, Dr. Mukhopadhyay felt that police action was needed to reign in traffickers. “There are, after all, hardly any trafficking cases that are registered with the police,” she said.

Nigeria probes mass human trafficking case

Wed 18 Jul 2007, 11:28 GMT

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigerian police intercepted a freight truck carrying 62 people, including babies and children, in a suspected case of mass human trafficking, the agency in charge of fighting such crimes said on Wednesday.

The 62, who include men, women, boys and girls, are all from the same community in southeastern Cross River state and they say they were on their way to various locations in southwestern Ogun and Ondo states to join relatives or find work.

"We are investigating because we think it is possible that human traffickers recruited these people to give them out as farm hands, house helps or for brothels," said Funke Abiodun, head of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP) in Edo state, where the truck was stopped.

Human trafficking is a major problem in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation where the majority live on less than $1 (49 pence) per day, and victims are often made to swear oaths at traditional shrines, discouraging them from denouncing the traffickers.

Abiodun said police intercepted the truck on Sunday and detained the 62 people for two days in cells where they complained of ill treatment and refused food or water in protest.

She said NAPTIP had taken over the case on Tuesday and the 62 had initially been hostile to the agency's staff, but the women and girls were now in a NAPTIP shelter while the men and boys were in a holding centre and all were eating and drinking.

Some Nigerian victims of human trafficking are transferred within the country, but many are taken abroad where they work as domestic staff or prostitutes. Victims are often saddled with huge "debts" towards their traffickers and are unable to retain any earnings for several years.

Man on Trial in 'Sex Tourism' Case, July 17, 2007

AP Online
Tuesday, July 17, 2007 8:00:00 PM
Associated Press Writer

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A wealthy motel owner accused of sexually
abusing boys from a poor Eastern European village tossed money
around to ingratiate himself with people he met, a federal
prosecutor said in his opening statement at the man's trial.

Anthony Mark Bianchi, 44, of North Wildwood, N.J., is being
tried under a little-tested 2003 law designed to thwart "sex
tourism" by trying suspected overseas child predators in U.S.
courts. Bianchi has been accused of assaulting nearly a dozen
minors on foreign soil.

Bianchi's attorney, high-profile defense lawyer Mark Geragos,
said his client is being falsely accused by Moldovan boys who are
getting what amounts to a swank prosecution-funded trip to the U.S.
in exchange for their testimony.

Four of eight accusers who testified at a closed-door court
hearing in the former Soviet republic recanted, while the others
changed their stories drastically, Geragos said. Prosecutors have
said some of the accusers were too embarrassed to say in their home
country what happened.

Bianchi is accused of assaulting boys from Trebujeni, Moldova, a
remote village of 600 to 700 people, between 2003 and 2005. Federal
prosecutor Michael Levy told jurors the defendant spread his money
around there for sinister reasons.

Bianchi allegedly gave a television and $25 to one family that
innocently let their son stay with him one night, prosecutors said.

"Everything he did was designed to make friends with these
boys," Levy said. "And then, when their guards were down, he
began his advances."

Prosecutors charge that Bianchi, through a local translator who
helped procure the boys, assaulted teenagers in exchange for money,
liquor, gifts and trips, including trips to Cuba and Romania.

Prosecutors suggested that only someone with ulterior motives
would vacation in the isolated village of Trebujeni, where most of
the accusers live, but Geragos said the town draws tourists with
its scenic beauty and hilltop monastery.

"There are no four or five-star amenities, but it's hardly some
impoverished place that no one would ever go," Geragos said.

He described Bianchi -- who with his parents owned a New Jersey
beach motel -- as a veteran traveler who sought out offbeat
destinations. Bianchi liked to stay in small boarding houses to get
to know the locals, Geragos said.

Bianchi was convicted of Russian charges connected to children
from the same village in 2000; he was sentenced to three years in
prison but immediately expelled from the country.

About 50 people, including Bianchi, have been charged to date
under what's known as the Protect Act. About 30 of them have been

Rescued human trafficking victims go on hunger strike

Uchechukwu Olisah, Benin City - 18.07.2007

THE 62 suspected victims of human trafficking that were rescued by the police in Edo State on Sunday have embarked on a hunger strike.

The victims, who were handed over to officials of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP) at the State Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on Tuesday, said they would not eat the food and drinks offered them by NAPTIP.

The victims said they were protesting against the “inhuman treatment” by the police since they were brought to the police command headquarters on Sunday.

One of the victims, Mr. Godfrey Ayima, said since they were brought in by the police, they had not been fed or allowed to take their bath, saying they were detained with hardened criminals and the girls made to pass the night in the same cells with boys.

Swedish embassy e-mail link to combat Asian child sex tourism

Posted on : 2007-07-17 | Author : DPA
News Category : Internet

Stockholm - The Swedish embassy to Thailand has set up a special e-mail link on its web site as part of efforts to combat child sex tourism in South East Asia, reports said Wednesday. The e-mail links to the Nordic police liason office located at the embassy where two police officers from Denmark and Sweden liaise with authorities in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and the Philippines.

The Swedish branch of the ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography & Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) network welcomed the move that if successful could be introduced at other embassies.

"This is not a day too early," ECPAT Secretary General Helena Karlen told daily Svenska Dagbladet, saying the group had suggested something similar for several years.

ECPAT Sweden, founded 10 years ago, set up its own web-based hotline in 2005 and also cooperates with travel companies in an effort to counter child sex tourism.

The group has estimated that nine in 10 Swedish tourists that have seen indications of child sex tourism outside Europe never file any reports.

he Swedish embassy website urges tourists who believed they have witnessed child sex tourism to write down their observations, mentioning the place (town, location, hotel), when the sighting was made, as well as a description of the suspect and child.

Tips could also be filed anonymously.

To date, two Swedish nationals have been sentenced in Sweden for child sex tourism, including one case in Thailand.

Print Source :

Death sentence over China slave scandal, July 17, 2007

Jul 17 07:54 AM US/Eastern

One man in China was sentenced to death and 28 people were handed jail terms in the first convictions over a huge slavery scandal that shocked the nation, a judge said Tuesday.

Zhao Yanbing, a brickyard employee who confessed last month in footage broadcast on national television to killing a mentally handicapped slave, was given the death penalty, High Court judge Liu Jimin said.

The other defendants got prison terms ranging from two years to life.

"These cases have had a vile effect both domestically and overseas and can only be handled... in the most severe fashion," Liu said as he delivered his ruling, which was broadcast live on state television.

"Only with a fast verdict can we deter these crimes and safeguard citizens' lives."

However, human rights groups and some ordinary Chinese citizens on the Internet said those convicted could just be scapegoats, and accused the ruling Communist Party of trying to ensure that corrupt officials were not implicated.

The scandal surfaced last month after about 400 distraught parents posted a plea on the Internet about their children who had been sold into slavery in China's northern Shanxi province and neighbouring Henan.

They made their case public after police and local authorities refused to help find their children.

After the Internet postings prompted action from police and attention from the state-run press, disturbing images were broadcast of abused and emaciated workers being freed from brick kilns, with some young men too weak to stand.

Officials say 576 enslaved workers have since been rescued, but the true number of victims is widely believed to be far higher.

Parents initially said up to 1,000 youths had been working as slaves, but only 41 of those people officially rescued are children.

Zhao and the others who received the harshest penalties were involved in running what the state-run media has turned into the most infamous of the Shanxi brickyards.

The foreman, Heng Tinghan, was condemned to life in jail, while owner Wang Bingbing was given a nine-year sentence.

The kiln was located in a courtyard belonging to Wang's father, a local Communist Party village chief, but there has been no word on any punishment for the official.

After his arrest, Heng shocked the nation with his lack of remorse when he said: "I thought it was a fairly small thing to do."

Zhao, the man sentenced to death, was similarly placed in front of news cameras on June 15 and described in a matter-of-fact manner how he beat to death a mentally handicapped man, aged "57 or 58", for not working hard enough.

"His performance was bad, so I thought that I would frighten him a bit, " Zhao said.

"When I raised the shovel over him I never thought that he would get up and confront me, so I slammed the shovel down on his head."

Zhao was found guilty of illegal detention and intentionally causing harm.

Reaction on the Internet to Tuesday's ruling was swift, with many Chinese netizens calling for stiffer penalties.

"The verdicts are too light. At least the owner of the illegal brick factory and his father, who was also the party chief, should be sentenced to death too," said one post on popular portal

China also announced on Monday that 95 Communist Party officials in Shanxi had been punished, but most just escaped with warnings.

Only six of them were senior officials in local governments. There has been no report on any punishments being doled out in Henan province.

"It's outrageous," Robin Munro, research director of the Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin, said of this week's punishments.

"Clearly there is one law for ordinary citizens and another for entrepreneurs and party officials."

Arrests in Vietnam for child trafficking to China, July 17, 2007

ABC Radio Australia
Last Updated 17/07/2007, 21:42:00

Police in Vietnam say they've arrested three people for allegedly trafficking children to China, some of whom were forced to work as prostitutes.

The police say two young men from Hanoi were detained on Friday, while a 36-year-old woman from the northern province of Lang Son which borders China was arrested on Saturday.

Local media reports say police started investigating the case after getting a letter asking for help from a 15-year-old girl who had escaped from a brothel in China.

The girl is said to have told police she met the traffickers online, and had been raped before being sold in China as a sex worker.

The reports say the alleged traffickers admitted they had taken five children across the border, receiving hundreds of dollars for each.

Truckers Haul Sex Slaves on Midwest Highways

from staff reports

Trafficking is not limited to other countries.

Trucks in Kansas and Missouri are carrying more than corn and wheat. Human-trafficking victim support groups say truckers that voyage north and south on Interstate 35 are hauling women and children trapped in the sex trade.

“Not only the Midwest but I think the country as a whole has an unrecognized problem concerning the trafficking of U.S. citizens into the commercial sex industry,” Lisa Thompson, liaison for the abolition of sexual trafficking for Salvation Army, told Family News in Focus.

The State Department estimates that 100,000 children in the U.S. are at risk of becoming trafficking victims.

“They are in every city,” said Linda Smith, founder of Shared Hope International and a former member of Congress. “They are being sold at truck stops, strip joints, massage parlors and often out of homes, marketed online or on the streets. But they are our little girls.”

Daniel Weiss, senior analyst of media and sexuality for Focus on the Family Action, said America needs to wake up to the pervasive problem.

“I think most people do not realize this is going on, they pay no attention to it, therefore many of them are probably missing the signs of people being trafficked right around them – right in their neighborhoods.”

Drive To Decriminalise Prostitution, July 11, 2007

By Emma Birchley

Sky News Reporter
Updated: 09:11, Wednesday July 11, 2007

A new drive has been launched to decriminalise the sex trade by the English Collective Of Prostitutes.

A working girl in Ipswich
A working girl in Ipswich

But would such a move be supported by the working girls of a town shaken by the murders of five prostitutes?

After seven months, the shadows of last winter's killings have still not lifted from Ipswich.

Fewer women are prepared to work the streets of the red light district, fearing for their safety.

Paige has no choice. She's an alcoholic, uses crack cocaine and has debts to repay.

"I owe quite a lot of money, so that's why I do what I'm doing now," she says.

But she says business has been tough since the zero-tolerance policy to kerb-crawling was introduced in the town in March.

At least 64 men have been arrested already.

The English Collective Of Prostitutes, which is calling for the sex trade to be decriminalised, says the move would help provide safe places for the women to see clients.

Maxine agrees. She worked alongside the murdered women, scored drugs with them and even shared squats.
Prostitution is dangerous work
Prostitution is dangerous work

"I think it would probably be better if they did legalise it. A lot of problems would be sorted. Girls would be safer and also the clients wouldn't have to worry," she explained.

Drug rehabilitation projects like ICENI have been helping ther women kick their habit and get off the streets.

But the scheme's director is concerned that decriminalising prostitution is too simplistic an approach.

"I do not believe you can eradicate it, " said Brian Tobin. "I think you need to manage it more efficiently."

ICENI is attempting to help Lou to come off heroin and crack.

Since her friends were killed she's reduced the time she spends working the streets.

It used to be every night, now she comes out three or four times a week.

But she believes that while legalisation might keep some girls safer, those who want to avoid the system would be at even greater risk.

"It could be more dangerous, it's going to send some girls further underground," she said.

The murders have made Maxine rethink her life. She rarely works as a prostitute these days, but many others remain trapped in a world of selling sex to fund a habit.

Phoenix police break up child prostitution operation, July 12
July 12, 2007

PHOENIX -- Phoenix police made two arrests in a monthslong investigation of a suspected child prostitution operation that involved at least three teenage girls, one of whom the main suspect branded, authorities said Thursday.

Vice detectives served a search warrant late Wednesday, Sgt. Joel Tranter said, a day after they arrested Shawn Lamar Bailey, 40, and Charmaine Lee, 22.

Bailey was booked on two counts of child prostitution, six other prostitution-related charges and a charge of conducting a criminal enterprise.
He also faces one count of aggravated assault for allegedly branding one of the three teens he was actively prostituting, Tranter said.

Lee was booked on one count each of child prostitution, pandering and conducting a criminal enterprise.

The girls involved in the case range in age from 14 to 17, Tranter said. Two adult women were also being prostituted by Bailey, Tranter said.

19-Year-Old Charged With Using Craigslist to Recruit Teens for Prostitution, July 12, 2007

Fox News

A 19-year-old woman faces federal charges of recruiting minors for prostitution, after some teenage girls told investigators she was actively recruiting clients for a sex ring she allegedly operated out of a Burnsville motel where she worked.

Investigators believe Justine Alex Reisdorf of Eagan advertised in the "erotic services" section of the Web site, and more recently on the "Live Links" telephone chat line, according to a statement by FBI agent Lisa Nielsen.

Eagan Police Detective Kurt Bratulich started the investigation in December after a girl who allegedly worked for Reisdorf confided in him.

Click here to watch the video report on

"I work at one of the schools, so the victim felt pretty comfortable in talking to me about what was going on," Bratulich said Wednesday. "It kind of snowballed on the state level, and it turned into a federal investigation once we found that the Internet was used and that the victims were underage."

Bratulich said the FBI is still investigating and investigators and prosecutors met with the defense attorney Wednesday to discuss the case. He declined to say more.

Reisdorf's attorney, assistant federal defender Katherine Menendez, declined to comment.

Reisdorf, the mother of a 14-month-old girl, was charged June 14 in federal court with recruiting minors for a prostitution ring from November 2006 until June.

According to court documents and statements from Nielsen, Bratulich learned Reisdorf was recruiting high school girls to work for her as prostitutes at a town house she rented in Burnsville. He found advertisements on Craigslist that read: "Hi Fellas. it's the party girls ... 200 roses for 2 hours for one of us ... 375 roses for 2 hours for 3 of us ... Kandy, Deja and Carmen." He learned "Deja" was Reisdorf's alias and "roses" was code for dollars.

Authorities searched the Burnsville residence in December, but Reisdorf was in the process of moving and few items were left, records show.

Nielsen and Bratulich interviewed an underage girl in February who said Reisdorf had run a brothel in the Burnsville town house and advertised the services of adult and minor prostitutes on Craigslist.

Another underage female admitted working for Reisdorf, Nielsen said. The girl also said Reisdorf put ads on Craigslist that contained pictures showing parts of her body.

In April, investigators traced some erotic postings on Craigslist to "Deja A. McDone." They connected phone numbers in the ads to Reisdorf.

Last month, another juvenile told Bratulich that Reisdorf was "actively recruiting minor children to engage in acts of prostitution," Nielsen said. The investigation indicated Reisdorf used her job at a Burnsville motel "to obtain hotel rooms for purposes of prostitution," she said.

Nielsen also said Reisdorf no longer exclusively advertises on Craigslist but solicits prostitution on a telephone chat line known as "Live Links."

Midwest becomes a pipeline for human trafficking

newspaperof.GIF (1391 bytes)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter

The Catholic Key

This poster, which appeared in Great Britain, is one of several efforts around the world aimed at raising awareness of sex trafficking. Many efforts, like this one, are aimed at the ultimate cause of trafficking - the consumer.

KANSAS CITY - It can't happen here. New York or Los Angeles, sure, but not here in Kansas City. It only happens someplace else, right?

"Human trafficking is more prevalent in this region than most people know," said Janel D'Agata Lynch, program manager for community services at Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

"Local people were shocked when the news broke about the massage parlor raids in Overland Park, Kan., and earlier this year, the central Missouri boy who was found, along with a second boy, in the St. Louis area.

"Human trafficking is not always 'some place else,'" D'Agata Lynch said.

A report released in June by the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, labeled the U.S. as "a source and destination" country for thousands of men, women and children trafficked annually for purposes of sexual, and to a lesser extent, labor exploitation.

Procurement and sales of human organs, illegal adoption of children under the age of 18, and mail-order brides constitute other forms of human trafficking.

Melissa Snow of Shared Hope International, a non-profit organization founded in 1998 serving sexually exploited women and children, told The Catholic Key that the Midwest has become a kind of pipeline for human trafficking. "The truck traffic on Interstate 35 may be carrying more than meets the eye," she said. "I-35 bisects the country from Laredo, Texas, to Duluth, Minn., with access to highways leading east and west. Truckers can load women and children into their cabs and transfer them to other trucks at truck stops along the way. They can park so close together that children can be moved without their feet even touching the ground - invisibly."

An unknown number of American citizens and legal residents are trafficked within the country, mostly for the commercial sex industry, including prostitution, sex entertainment and pornography. The State Department estimates that between 100,000 and 300,000 American children under the age of 18 are at risk of being trafficked within the U.S. for commercial sexual exploitation.

Kristy Childs, director of Veronica's Voice, a local organization she founded in 2001 to help prostituted women reclaim their lives, said she had been contacted by or worked with more than 5,000 women.

In his February 2007 pastoral letter on pornography, Kansas City St. Joseph Bishop Robert Finn wrote that, ". pornography is a serious sin against chastity and the dignity of the human person. It robs us of sanctifying grace, separates us from the vision of God and from the goodness of others, and leaves us spiritually empty. Attraction to pornography and its gratifications is a false 'love' that leads to increasing emotional isolation loneliness and subsequent sexual acting-out with self and others. It depends on the exploitation of other persons: frequently the desperate or poor, or the innocent young. Use of pornography has cost persons their jobs, their marriages and families. Traffickers in child pornography may end up in prison. It has often been associated with and has contributed to, acts of sexual violence and abuse."

Snow said victims come from all ages (the average age of entry into the commercial sex or sex entertainment industries is 13), racial and socio-economic backgrounds. "People try to compartmentalize: 'Oh, they asked for it,' or 'That girl has always been a slut.' We have to re-educate people and change the language to place the blame where it belongs: on pimps and traffickers, not on the victims, especially the children," she said.

Kristy Childs said much the same thing.

"These women and girls are not prostitutes, they are prostituted," she said. A trafficking and prostitution survivor, Childs is familiar with many situations young girls and women unwittingly find themselves in.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Web site on human trafficking cites research done by Richard Estes and Neil Alan Weiner of the University of Pennsylvania, which indicates that 75 percent of sex trafficked children come from middle class backgrounds. Rural children are often more naive than inner city children, making them easier targets.

Traffickers include criminal networks, strangers, other youth, pedophiles and a transient male population, even family members and acquaintances.

Children are lured from inside their own homes through the Internet (one in five children have been approached online), in school, at movie theaters and arcades, bus and train stations, at the homes of friends or at dance clubs. Runaways are particularly vulnerable, often being approached or coerced within 48 hours of hitting the streets, Snow said.

According to Catholic Charities USA, vulnerable children can be exploited through their need for love and affection, their need to belong or fit in, low self-esteem, physical or psychological needs, or problems at home. Traffickers may promise affection, money or designer clothes. The child is often isolated and alienated from friends and family. Once a trafficker moves a child to a strange place, forcing her into prostitution is simple.

Catholic Charities USA described domestic minor trafficking victims, whether middle class or not, as usually coming from dysfunctional and unstable families, often with serious drug or alcohol problems. There may be a history of physical or sexual assault. Runaways may participate in "survival sex" to obtain money for subsistence, and when compounded by immaturity and poor sexual decision-making, a child's vulnerability to traffickers increases.

The Campus Coalition against Trafficking said that pimps can earn up to $632,000 per year by selling four young women or children.

There are many ways a trafficker can control and enslave a victim. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, control is achieved by confinement or physical restraint (both threatened and actual) and frequent moves from city to city, often across state lines. Victims may be isolated from other people, made to feel fear, shame or self-blame. Traffickers may use or threaten reprisals to the victim or her family. They may make false promises or give misinformation. Frequent beatings, slapping or rape create traumatic bondage. Victims may even form an emotional attachment to their captors due to repeated stress or a need to survive.

When trafficked children or adolescents are brought to the police, Catholic Charities USA said courts often discharge them right back to the pimp, to the family they ran away from, or to foster homes, from which they bolt as they are usually too damaged to adjust. It can be a vicious circle.

Childs offered several other reasons sex trafficking victims don't leave their pimps: they lack money and identification, they may distrust law enforcement or service agencies, and 95 percent or more are dealing with drug addiction issues. Most often control is gained through drug dependency.

Childs said, "These women and girls have been used over and over, trick after trick, day after day, year after year, arrest after arrest, high after high - until they become a bigger liability than an asset. . They become discarded cargo, dumped like trash in the streets, to survive the only way they know how. We need to let them know we are here to help before that happens."

"Each situation is vastly different," D'Agata Lynch said. "It's a complex issue. When someone is rescued, the justice department has to determine if the person is a victim, if coercion or physical threats have had a role in the situation. We are trying to educate and raise public awareness, and help the victims of trafficking. Once a victim is safe, if they request it, Catholic Charities can provide services within the scope of what we already offer: emergency assistance, counseling and case management. We have to learn more about identifying victims."

Ilene Shehan, chief operating officer of Hope House Battered Women's Shelter in Independence said, "People need to look under the surface, there may be something else going on."

D'Agata Lynch said, "Mail carriers have good instincts about what's happening on their routes. Perhaps a lot of coming and going at a particular house; that might be a big clue."

Shehan said people in northwest Missouri come face-to-face with victims every day, at dry cleaners or laundromats, fast food restaurants, factories and farms. "You never know, unless you look beneath the surface, if the young man or woman or the child you just saw is a forced labor or sex trafficking victim. We likewise don't want to think that a trafficker could be an acquaintance or a member of our community."

First and foremost, trafficking victims need safety and security. Catholic service organizations provide support services to both adults and children, including health and mental health services, employment services, English language training, housing assistance and other material assistance programs.

The federal government has continued to work toward eradicating human trafficking worldwide. This effort includes several federal agencies, including the Department of Justice and Health and Human Services. In 2006 approximately $28 million were appropriated for domestic programs to boost anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts, identify and protect victims, and raise awareness of trafficking.

The FBI and the Department of Justice Criminal Division work to combat child sexual exploitation through the "Innocence Lost" initiative which resulted this past year in 43 convictions.

Two presidents have signed into law Trafficking Victims Protection acts in 2000, 2003 and again in 2006. Twenty seven states have passed criminal anti-trafficking legislation. The departments of Justice and Health and Human Services have increased the number of anti-trafficking task forces, which partners state, local and federal law enforcement agencies with non-governmental organizations, to 42. In metropolitan Kansas City, the Coalition Against Human Trafficking, Catholic Charities, Veronica's Voice, Hope House, Rose Brooks and Synergy House in Missouri and Joyce Williams/Safe Home in Wyandotte County, in Kansas, plan through a federal grant to train doctors and nurses to identify domestic abuse and trafficking victims.

Under a Department of Justice grant, Shared Hope International is aligning with 10 newly funded Human Trafficking task forces across the country, including Independence, to better identify domestic victims of trafficking and provide them with needed resources. In October, a nine-week assessment of the Kansas City-Independence area will be launched, with a loaned employee of Veronica's Voice serving as an evaluator.

In May, the U.S. Justice Department announced that the Independence police department and Hope House were awarded 3-year grants of $450,000 each as part of the national Human Trafficking Rescue Project initiative to combat human trafficking. Hope House plans to use the grant to provide rescue and investigative services to victims, as well as certification of trafficking, Shehan said. Certification allows survivors to access all available services, programs and benefits, including medical treatment, food and rest, funds and resources.

"The grant and the rescue initiative together underscore the fact that domestic violence and human trafficking are not just legal issues or battered women's shelter issues, they are community and country issues," she said.

Jerry Young of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocesan Human Rights Office said his staff has collaborated with city and state offices to raise awareness of human trafficking both here and elsewhere in the world. "We are helping to educate people and looking to make the burden of proof of trafficking less difficult for both victims and law enforcement. People have a right to freedom," Young said. "Freedom from exploitation and freedom of human dignity."

More information on Veronica's Voice can be found on their Web site:

Russia, Lawmaker targets human trafficking, July 7, 2007


U.S. Rep. Chris Smith has gone to Moscow to address his concerns over human trafficking in Russia.

Smith (R-4th Dist.) is the author of America's first anti-trafficking law, the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protect Act.

"Russia has made progress toward stopping the flow of trafficked persons -- mostly women and children -- in and out of their country by criminalizing human trafficking," Smith said in a statement is sued by his office. "But more work remains to be done and the greatest gap in their approach remains their ability to protect traffic victims."

Smith is in Moscow to encourage the Russian legislature to bolster their existing laws. Smith has visited the Angel Coalition Trafficking Victim Assistance Center in addition to offering guidance to Russian lawmakers on how to more effectively enhance their anti-trafficking legislation.

The assistance center coordinates Russian and international rescue and repatriation efforts for trafficking victims, according to Smith's office.

"Victims assistance programs and shelters provide essential support, rehabilitation and recovery services for victims of trafficking," Smith said in the release. "They are a vital part of any comprehensive plan to end human trafficking and it is imperative that the U.S. and other nations continue to support their efforts."

According to Smith, Russia is a source, conduit and destination for men, women and children trafficked for various purposes. In the case of women and children, they are almost always used for sexual exploitation in nations in the Middle East, Western Europe, Canada, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and the United States, he said.