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Molly Gochman: Using Art to Combat Trafficking

Can art combat human trafficking?

You already know the answer. 

Art has the power to reach beyond our rational brains.  At its best, art has the power to reach to the very core of what makes us tick. It can make us see ourselves differently and it can inspire us to action. When we say that art “moves us,” this is actually literally true; art can not only make us more aware, it can inspire us to behave differently. 

Meet Molly Gochman

There may be artists who are a better example of art moving us to take action, but in the anti-trafficking field, there aren’t many who are more effective than New York-based artist, Molly Gochman.

Her particular genius is, she translates the commonest of experiences, something that is a part of everyday life, into something transcendent. She creates something that once you’ve seen it, you can’t un-see it. 

After learning about the metaphor you’re about to read, your world is going to be at least slightly different. The world as a whole will be at least slightly better.

Cracks in the Sidewalk

The metaphor begins with cracks in the sidewalk. Any sidewalk. Anywhere.  Cracks in the sidewalk are part of everyday life, and we hardly ever notice them. 

Gochman’s artistry, her ability to make connections that the rest of us don’t see, resulted in her thinking one day, “We don’t pay attention to sidewalk cracks. They’re in plain sight, just like human trafficking!”

She knew that 40.3 million people live as slaves. “There are overlooked populations,” she says, “and these include refugees, immigrants, LGBTQ people, people of color, indigenous people, people with disabilities, women and girls, and children, and they are at risk of being enslaved, spending their lives being exploited for the profit of others.”

Like most of us, the idea of doing something about a problem so huge was daunting. For her, almost the biggest part of the problem of changing the conditions of those who are most vulnerable is, these individuals are there, but no one sees them.

Wanting to do something about what she considered almost unimaginably horrible, she asked herself, what could she, one individual, do?

Her answer was, as an artist she could help raise awareness. 

She started small.

She began pouring red sand into cracks in a sidewalk in Miami, at an art fair. She was doing this initially as a way to start a conversation with the people who were walking by. As she expected, people were curious about the strange sight of a grown woman pouring bright red, blood-colored sand into cracks in a sidewalk.

“Why are you doing this,” people would ask.

“It’s an art project to raise awareness about modern day slavery.” 

“I thought slavery had ended!” was a typical response, and pretty soon, a robust conversation was underway.

This initially small project grew. It touched a nerve. The more people learned about Gochman’s 

Red Sand Project, the more the idea of pouring red sand in sidewalk cracks spread. Other people began doing it.  

Today, Red Sand Project is a participatory artwork that uses sidewalk interventions and earthwork installations to create opportunities for people to question, connect, and take action against vulnerabilities that can lead to human trafficking and exploitation. 

As Gochman puts it, “We do this to recognize those who are overlooked. We invite individuals to take the time to fill a sidewalk crack with red sand and to then document their sidewalk transformations on social media using #RedSandProject. 

“The intention is to encourage us all to not merely walk over the most marginalized people in our communities—those who fall through the metaphoric cracks.”

And where is the project today? With the help of Stardust Arts Foundation, in this past year alone the Red Sand Project team has mailed more than 22,000 Red Sands Project toolkits, and supported over 45,000 people doing Red Sand Project events. Since its founding in 2014, “more than a million people have come into contact with it,” Gochman says, her voice seemingly registering amazement at this fact.

It’s reached a million people, and the project continues to grow.  For more information, visit the website, https://redsandproject.org

Mitzi Perdue is the founder of the anti-trafficking organization, WinThisFight.org and author of 52 TIPS FOR PREVENTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING. Contact her at Mitzi@WinThisFight.org or call her at 410 860-4444.

 

Looking for an Education about Sex Trafficking? Here’s an Answer

Would you like an overview of human trafficking in America? Would you like a report that manages to be not only comprehensive, but also brief? And that has the most recently available information and statistics?

Jeff Keith from Guardian Group has an answer for you. He and his colleagues designed the 15-page report, 2019 Human Trafficking in America, and according to Keith, they did it, “To create a tool that enables people to get information in one place without having to seek it out. We sourced it from well-done research projects and then added to it our own analysis of the problem based on 10 years of experience.”

He goes on to say, “Our goal was to make it human and personal, and not just about statistics.  We wanted to avoid ‘paralysis by analysis,’ where you get so many statistics that you take away the person behind it.  This report isn’t just statistics, it’s about someone’s loved one, or maybe a community member.”

Keith also had another goal.  “We wanted to re-educate people and show people what’s really happening. People may watch the movie Taken or Pretty Woman, and think that’s how it happens here, but typically that’s not the case.”

To get a feeling of how different trafficking is likely to be from what you see in those two movies, read this quote from page 4 of the report:

“The pimp/traffickers monitor social media or dating sites for potential victims. They look for a vulnerability or a problem they can solve. Posting “my mom is the worst” on your Facebook page offers a predator the opportunity to swoop in and become the victim’s hero. They may also recruit victims at places teens hang out such as: parks, malls or outside shelters for runaway and homeless youth. Pimp/traffickers view humans as a product to be sold.”

In creating this report, Guardian Group members wanted not only awareness, they wanted impact.  Keith is pleased to report that already there have been amazing impacts.

“For example,” Keith says, “within a few weeks of a training session where a lot of the information in the report was communicated at a local hospital, members of the staff in the Emergency Department experienced a truly impactful result.”

Keith goes on to explain that shortly after the training session, there was a motor vehicle accident that occurred. The woman that was in the car accident had to be put on an automatic 24-hour hold due to her injuries. During that time a nurse and social worker both noticed several red flags.

  • The young woman’s story changed various times.
  • She would not make eye contact.
  • She was very afraid of the man that had been driving the car.

The hospital staff notified Law Enforcement and a multiple jurisdictional trafficking case was opened. The young woman was returned safely to her family.

Keith believes that the more people who read this report, the more impact it will have. To download a .pdf of 2019 Human Trafficking in America, go to Guardiangroup.org, click on Community under the Training tab, and then scroll down to Human Trafficking In America Report.

 

Elizabeth Peyton-Jones

A Threat in the Fashion Industry–and What Can Be Done about It

 

The Jeffrey Epstein case brought to light one of the ugliest secrets of the fashion world. In too many cases, a pretty girl is offered a glamorous and lucrative career in modelling and ends up being trafficked.

Traffickers Use Modeling as a Lure

That’s what happened to at least some of the young women who ended up servicing Epstein and his friends. In the view of Elizabeth Peyton-Jones, founder of Responsible Trust for Models (RTM) “Fashion is a global industry with no borders and no controls, and this makes it is easy to use and abuse the system.”

Peyton-Jones has an impressive and effective approach to addressing the issues in the model industry which are hiding in plain sight, like the abuse of power and the ability for predators to use model agencies as scammers or worse, trafficking and money laundering.

As she puts it, “The modeling industry attracts children who wish to work as models. They are self-employed which means they fall through the cracks. It is not up to them to change the abuse; it is up to the adults in the industry to see what is wrong and change it.” 

She goes on to say, “We at RTM wish to aid in protecting the vulnerable within the industry by creating a globally recognized standard, one that’s  awarded to model agencies, and that will allow  ethical agencies to step up and show best practice and alert brands as to which agencies are best to source their models through.”

Abuse Hiding in Plain sight

We’ll get to Peyton-Jones’s ideas on improving the safety of models in a moment. But first, let’s take a look at a typical case of how models can be exploited. It’s the case of Larisa Popova. That’s not her real name, but the events described did happen.

“At age 16,” begins Peyton-Jones, “Popova was a young, beautiful, eager and impressive Russian girl.”

Her fabulous looks attracted a European scout who was in Russia looking for ‘new faces’ for their internationally renowned brand. “They loved her look so much they decided to sign her to an agency in NYC with the intention she would be their next new prodigy,” says Peyton-Jones. This young girl had a ‘Mother Agency’ in Russia who was supposedly taking care of her.

Popova, who arrived in NYC did not speak a word of English, needed some serious guidance, which the agency in NYC gave her. She was given a tutor for English and her career began to take off. She made a significant sum of money, but the ‘mother agency’ refused to open a bank account, which meant Popova had to take wads of cash home to Russia each trip.

The agency became suspicious when, even after several months of asking, no bank account was opened. Popova had also started hanging around people taking drugs and alcohol. The US agency gave the mother agency in Russia an ultimatum, “Get your model away from the bad element, open up a bank account or the police will become involved.”

At that point, Popova disappeared.

When the agency looked into things further, they discovered the truth: The mother agency was a prostitute ring and the model agency had been a front for a criminal gang, which meant that the brands had inadvertently sourced a model who was legitimizing a criminal activity. If this ever got out, the brand’s reputation would be destroyed as it is directly their responsibility and their supply chain.

This obviously does not end well for anyone. The US agency is wondering what they could have done better, and it’s hard for the  brand to pursue this because of the negative press it would attract.

Peyton-Jones won’t speculate on what happened to Popova. All she knows for sure is that the fashion house or model agency was never able to locate the girl.

What Can Be Done

Peyton-Jones knows that because of the glamourous nature of the industry and indeed models, this is a difficult story to tell and gain sympathy. However, the fact that any person can approach anyone in the street, mall or online, whether legitimate or not, and there is no method of knowing who the good guys are, means that everyone is vulnerable. If you have a child who is easily led, she is a potential victim. This is so even if she never set her sights on fashion.

The resolution to this is simple and positive and will allow for positive change in an industry which is calling out for better, more modern governance and operational behavior.

It begins with an industry-led and curated kite mark of best practice. A good house-keeping mark, if you like.

  1. 1.A global standard, respected and recognized by industry professionals championed by model agencies, allowing for best practice, professionalism and labor rights for models.
  2. 2.A piece of research to show that this abuse exists, mapping countries and profiling for patterns.
  3. 3.A training and educational program for models which will allow them to understand their career value and teach them about finance, contracting, social media rights and public speaking.

Funding at this point is important for the research piece. For philanthropists who would like to see a measurable outcome and want to shift the dial on modern slavery, this is an opportunity.

For more information, go to https://www.modelstrust.com or @models_trust. Or contact Peyton-Jones on sue@modelstrust.com

Mitzi Perdue is the Founder and President of Win This Fight and author of 52 Tips for Combatting Human Trafficking. Contact her at Mitzi@WinThisFight.org.

Prisons and Jails: A Fertile Recruiting Ground for Human Trafficking

When you think of human trafficking, here are two factors you may not have considered. Both of these factors involve the need for prison reform.

  1. 1.Too often traffickers target female prisoners on their release.  
  2. 2.Children of mothers who are incarcerated all too often end up in foster care. If they run away from foster care, which is a serious risk, they will be attractive prey for human traffickers.

Lets deal first with the issue of incarcerated women being trafficked after theyre released.  

Incarcerated women who Get Trafficked

Although what youre about to read is a composite, its based on real people, known to your author.  Ive met them because of a prison visit organized by the prison reform organization, Defy Ventures.

 So, lets suppose for a seriously unpleasant moment, that youre in a womens prison, and youve been there for five years. Youre in for attempted murder, and while normally youd be in for much longer than five years, in this case, youve been a model prisoner.  

You had an enormous incentive to be a model prisoner because you have a daughter you havent seen since she was seven. Making parole as fast as possible is the most important thing in your life. 

During your five years, youve spent almost every waking second thinking about her, wondering how shes doing, missing her, regretting that one terrible day which happens to be the worst day of your life, when you shot at your abuser because you just couldnt take one second more of his battering.

Today youve made parole and youre about to walk out of the correctional facility and leave the guards and the locked doors and the claustrophobia. However, once you walk out the door, youre up against a horrific problem.

Where are you going to find an apartment? Youre a convicted felon, one whos done time, and it seems that the only landlords who will consider you are slum landlords. They preside over rodent-infested, drug-infested, crime-infested, buildings where the heat goes off, the water may not work, and ceiling leaks go unattended. It’s a nightmare.

On top of that, you’re in one of the  many parts of the county where having a criminal history automatically disqualifies you from access to public housing.

And then theres the question of getting a job.  What decent job is available to you, now that youre a convicted felon? The data shows that it is already hard enough for women to reenter the workforce after a prolonged period out of the job market. You’re now discovering how hard it is to reenter the workforce after a prolonged period of incarceration.

Youre wrestling with these two realities, and as you take your first steps into the seemingly unreal and terrifying world of freedom, a seeming miracle happens!  By chance (except it wasnt by chance) you meet this warm and wonderful guy outside the prison gate who wants to help you!

Hes kind and gentle and reassuring.  He completely understands you and offers you a place to stay and a nice, non-prison meal.  Youre so grateful!

Unfortunately for you, hes a pimp.  He knows youre vulnerable, and although he started out as a Romeo pimp, he quickly turns into a guerrilla pimp.  In a matter of days, youre being sex-trafficked, and if you dont have sex with as many as a dozen strangers each night, hell beat, starve and torture you.

Children of Incarcerated Women Can End Up Trafficked

And what about your dream of reuniting with your daughter?  In the next couple of weeks, you learn from others who are being trafficked out why she never visited you in prison. She hated her foster family, ran away, and a trafficker found her and shes now living the same wretched life that you are.

Her chances of escaping the life” and your chances of escaping are less than 2%. If youre lucky, you may age out” of forced prostitution, but in the case of your daughter, the most likely outcome is shell die of an overdose, suicide, disease, or murder. 

As Marcus Glover, head of Defy points out, Traffickers have identified the prison system as fertile recruitment grounds for their stables.’”

When considering prison reform, keep in mind the prison and human-trafficking connection. Its real, its horrifying, if we care about human trafficking, it deserves our attention.

For more information on prison reform and human trafficking, contact Marcus Glover at marcus@mglovercapital.com or visit his website at https://www.defyventures.org.

 

Tahirih Justice Center – Protecting Immigrant Women

Human exploitation takes many forms, but all of them have one thing in common: exploiters prey on the vulnerable.  The Tahirih Justice center focuses on helping a particularly vulnerable group, immigrant women and girls.

Tahirih  has an impressive record of helping this group. Beginning in 1997, Tahirih has served more than 25,000 individuals who’ve fled trafficking and violence.

A senior staff attorney with Tahirih, Leah Chen Price, has an example of the kind situation Tahirih deals with.  Anna Santos is not the real name of the woman we’ll be talking about, but the details are entirely real.

Anna Santos and Her “Dream” Job

Santos grew up in the Philippines, and in her early twenties, she was a caregiver for a well-to-do woman in Manila. One day her employer told her about what seemed like a dream job.  Santos’s employer had a daughter in Burlingame, California, who wanted Santos to take care of her young family.

The pay was impressive compared to what Santos was earning in the Philippines, and Santos liked the idea of travel to America, all expenses paid.  Unfortunately, this would mean being away from her own two young children. 

However, the pay was so good that Anna felt it would be great to work there for six months, make some money to support her family, and then return home to the Philippines.

The dream job turned out to be a dream job, but it was a dream of the nightmare variety. Her job included having to get up at 4:00 am to clean, cook, do laundry, and take care of five people and 10 dogs. 

And her living quarters?  Her employers made her live in a garden shack with no heat or electricity.  They denied her medical care, demeaning her at every step, treating her like a domestic animal.  She was living in modern day slavery.

As she froze in her garden shack with only a thin blanket for warmth, can you imagine how much she must have missed her children and her country? 

Why Didn’t She Escape?

There were several reasons Santos didn’t escape. For starters, her employer would lock her in the house so she couldn’t.  But in addition, her employers also threatened her with the police. “You’re here illegally,” they’d point out. “We’ll have you thrown in jail!”  And of course they carefully nurtured in her a terror of all law enforcement.

Incredibly, this went on for 15 years. Eventually, a Good Samaritan from the family’s church learned of Anna’s plight and helped her escape. After she left the house, Anna was put in touch with various social service organizations that work with survivors of human trafficking, and ultimately the Tahirih Justice Center who assisted her with her immigration status.

Anna Santos’s life is now entirely different.  “We’ve supported her as she has stabilized herself  financially, physically,  and psychologically,” says Price.  “Her life is now her own again. She has taken advantage of employment development assistance, mental health counseling, case management support, and she is now living on her own supporting herself.”

Possibly best of all, Santos not only got her own immigration papers, Tahirih’s attorney’s helped her reunite with her own children. They arranged to bring Santos’s children to this country on visas designated for family members of victims of human trafficking.  

The Problem Exists Everywhere

Price points out that although Santos comes from the Philippines, she could have come from almost any country. Tahirih deals with hundreds of cases of modern-day slavery and the victims come from every corner of the globe.

Price emphasizes that, “Human exploitation like this takes place in every city, and in every industry, whether construction, restaurants, massage parlors, child care, –any low wage job is ripe for it.”

Price loves her work.  “I feel so lucky to do this job. At times I don’t know how people find such an incredible amount of strength as they transform from victim to survivor. It’s an inspiration to work with people who have found so much strength and courage in spite of so much suffering.”

Tahirih Justice Center stands alone as the only national, multi-city organization providing a broad range of direct legal servicespolicy advocacy, and training and education to protect immigrant women and girls fleeing gender-based violence.

 

To make a donation, go to https://www.tahirih.org or call Leah Chen Price at 650 270 2102.  

Mitzi Perdue is the founder of Win This Fight, Stop Human Trafficking.  She’s also the author  of 52 TIPS FOR PREVENTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING. Visit the website at WinThisFight.org or write to her at Mitzi@WinThisFight.org.

Let’s Talk about LGBTQ Young People

By Mitzi Perdue

Want an extraordinary statistic? One that is deeply disturbing and that may be even worse than it seems?

Forty percent of runaway and homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. That makes them prime targets for either survival sex or for being victims of sex-trafficking. 

Meredith Dank, a Consultant at the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, suspects that the 40% figure is an understatement.  As part of her research, she’s interviewed 289 youth who identify as LGBTQ, and as a result of her experience in the field, she believes that the 40% figure is outdated. She hopes that new research will be undertaken to update it.

The 40% statistic may be understated, but Dank is pleased that the subject of LGBTQ youth vulnerability is becoming more a part of the conversation.  “In the past, when people spoke about building awareness, when you brought up gender non-conforming youth, people didn’t want to discuss it further.”

However, the topic needs and deserves our attention. LGBTQ young people are particularly at risk.

 LGBTQ Young People at Risk

They’re at risk because they may be without a support system. Too often they’ve come from families with a history of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse or neglect. Or their families kicked them out because of their gender identity.

According to Dank, youngster who has been kicked out will have a tenfold increase in vulnerability. They may have “couch surfed” to find a place with friends to stay, or maybe they’re hungry.

The problem is, they have few options. And so they move to survival sex.

As one Spanish and black 19 year old female said, survival sex, “.. .is not as bad as sleeping under the bridge, it’s not as bad as going without food, it’s not as bad as walking around slanging [selling cocaine or other narcotics].”

  Preventive Services

 Dank wishes both society and the criminal justice system would rethink how we respond to the LGBTQ young person who is engaged in survival sex. They may not have experienced force, fraud or coercion but they nevertheless need assistance. 

Here are some recommendations for providing assistance for non-gender-conforming young people.

  1. When providing services, hire people who reflect the populations you’re serving,
  2. For trans youth, make sure they’re connected to health providers who know how to be with trans kids.
  3. Have available social workers with training in how to work with young people who are struggling with their identity or who are transitioning, 

Dank believes that with better preventive services, fewer young LGBTQ people would feel the need to engage in survival sex, and fewer would be vulnerable to being trafficked.

If you were to talk with Dank, you’d quickly get a sense that she cares deeply about the non-gender-conforming young people she works with. In fact more than that, she is in awe of them. “They are the most resilient people you’ve ever met in your whole life. They’ve faced things that you can’t imagine, and yet they’re still out there, making it!”

If want to read the research, go to:
https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/42186/2000119-Surviving-the-Streets-of-New-York.pdf

 

Watching Pornography – a Harmless Pastime?

Is pornography a harmless activity? A “No harm, no foul” situation?

Nina Bullock from Fight the New Drug has emphatic answers. Her answers are, “No!” and “No!” 

The “new drug” that her organization is fighting is pornography. It resembles a street drug in that it requires a continuously increasing dose to produce a thrill. It can also ruin lives.

How Pornography Messes up Lives

Let’s join Bullock in taking a look at a composite case, Joey Adams. Eighteen now, Joey started going to porn sites when he was 12 years old. He didn’t go looking for a porn site, but one day during web surfing, he saw an attractive female picture.

Curious, he clicked the link, and suddenly this 12-year-old was looking at the most exciting woman he had ever imagined.

It gave him a nice dopamine hit. He felt great!

But after a few days of looking at her, he wanted more. And bam! The more he saw, the more he wanted. At first, watching kissing was exciting, but over time, to get the excitement and the turn-on he now craved, he was searching for hard core sex acts.

But soon even that wasn’t enough. There had to be some violence in it to get him turned on. It had to be rape. And then brutal rape. And then beatings along with the sex.  

By the time he was in his mid-teens, even those images didn’t do it for him.  By age 18, he needed to watch ATMs. And no, we’re not talking about automatic teller machines. (Look it up under ATM sex.). (Although skip looking it up if you have a weak stomach. It’s horrible, and yet common.)

Adam Was Addicted

Adams needed to spend a couple of hours a day getting his porn fix. He had a serious addiction problem.

As Bullock points out, there were negative effects to what Adams was doing. For one thing, his addiction was affecting his brain. His brain was becoming desensitized and it took ever greater amounts of his pornography “drug” to give him the high that he craved. 

This also affected his heart. He could be in the presence of a real girl and feel nothing.  Between his tendencies to isolation and a sense of shame, his social life became non-existent.

Another consequence was one that involved society as a whole. Adams was unintentionally helping make possible a whole ecosystem of exploitation, whether women or men, or for that matter, boys or girls. 

“People may try to tell you this is harmless,” says Bullock, “but it’s not harmless. In 9 countries, 49% of sexually exploited women said that pornography was made of them during the time they were being sold for sex. For more on this come to: https://fightthenewdrug.org/by-the-numbers-porn-sex-trafficking-connected/

An Ultimate Scam

As Bullock points out, “There was an institute that claimed to be a sex positive production company, but we later learned that the star of these films was being trafficked.   

“One female survivor’s captor slept on top of her at night so she wouldn’t escape, watched her through a hole when she went to the bathroom, and listened to her phone calls with a gun pointed at her head. She was forced to appear in a video that made the Sinclair Intimacy Institute’s list of ‘sex positive productions!’”  

The victim reported, “Every time someone watches that film, they are watching me being raped.” 

What Parents Can Do

Don’t have “the sex talk” just once. Have it over and over again. – For age-appropriate language, visit: https://fightthenewdrug.org/the-guideline-how-to-talk-to-your-kids-about-porn/

You have a right to prevent your child from viewing pornography. It’s a right just as much as you have a right to keep your child from any dangerous drug.

What an Addicted Person Can Do

 

What about the individual who is already addicted and wants to get back a normal life, one where he (and sometimes she) feels normal arousal related to real human beings?  For recovery-related resources, Bullock recommends: https://joinfortify.com/ftnd  

For more information on pornography addiction, go to https://fightthenewdrug.org.  

________________

Mitzi Perdue is a business owner, speaker. and author of the books, HOW TO MAKE YOUR FAMILY BUSINESS LAST, and 52 TIPS FOR PREVENTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING. Contact her at Mitzi@MitziPerdue.com or call her at 410 860-4444.

 

 

 

 

Human Trafficking Awareness

KATIE FORD: FROM HELPING MODELS TO MODELING  FREEDOM

KATIE FORD: FROM HELPING MODELS TO MODELING  FREEDOM

By Mitzi Perdue

Katie Ford, former CEO of Ford Models, Inc., got a life-changing phone call in 2007.  She was invited to speak at the UN about human trafficking awareness.

She wasn’t at all sure why the UN would want her.  At that point in her life, she hadn’t even heard the term, “human trafficking,” 

Ford decided to accept the UN speaking invitation, and that meant delving deeper into the issue. She learned that traffickers frequently offer the opportunity of a job and money, but that job doesn’t exist. People are duped. They are forced into a job that they didn’t agree to and forced to work without pay. This is otherwise known as slavery.

As Ford points out,  “How people are trafficked parallels how we brought in models. We offered them opportunity, including the opportunity to make a lot of money.” However, with Ford, there was no duping. Later, she learned that traffickers often use the lure of a career in modeling to recruit future victims.  

The traffickers’ approach was the polar opposite of what Ford, as an ethical person in the modeling business, was doing. She was about building careers and protecting young models, even including having the younger ones live in her home, where she could look out for their safety and welfare.

As she learned of case after case where young, vulnerable people had been enslaved and had their lives taken away from them, she came to a realization: “I can’t stand by and not do something.”

That was the beginning of the not-for-profit organization, “Freedom for All.” In the years since, the organization has freed people from all kinds of slavery.  The organization currently has nine on-the-ground partners in five countries, including the USA.

‘We picked groups where we could vet the work,” Ford points out. “They have enough systems in place where we could see the results of the money. I wanted groups where the amount of money we can give, which is relatively small, can make a big difference.”

The organization’s impact has made a huge difference.  “In the last 10 years, Freedom for All, has helped 28,000 people,” Ford points out. “When slaves are freed and given a little help, they can do well. They are accustomed to hard work.”

An Example of the Foundation’s Impact

A success story she enjoys talking about is a sample of her organization’s efforts in India.  A man was in debt to his employer and couldn’t leave until he paid his debt off. But since the employer wasn’t paying him, he had no possibility of paying off the debt.

To make a terrible situation even worse, the man’s children were going to be enslaved with the father and not allowed to go to school. 

Involuntary servitude, the kind where you can’t quit, is illegal throughout the entire world.  Freedom for All, with its on-the-ground partner, was able to free this man and get him a “ $500 reparations grant” from the Indian government, so that he could start a free life where he profited from his labor. 

Here’s what this man did with his new freedom. He was able to open a store. With the income from the store, he was able to move from sleeping on the ground of a straw hut to living in a nice stucco home with electricity.

Even better, his children escaped being slaves.  Instead, they got an education and today are attending university.  

“Freedom for All makes this kind of transformation possible,” says a pleased Ford. Fortunately, her work enables her to see this kind of change all the time. 

What Can We Do?

Ford encourages all of us to be a part of anti-trafficking efforts.  “Everybody can do something,” she points out. Make a donation.  “Any amount counts. Anti-trafficking is underfunded, and a $10 donation makes a difference.” If you would like to:

Mitzi Perdue is the organizer of the Global Anti-Trafficking Auction, and author of the book, 52 Tips for Combatting Human Trafficking. Contact her at: Mitzi@WinThisFight.org 

 

Anti-Trafficking Organizations

Using Counterterrorism Methods to Fight Modern Slavery

By Mitzi Perdue

Our expert is Nic McKinley, Founder and CEO of DeliverFund, a nonprofit, private intelligence organization that uses counterterrorism techniques to combat modern slavery. DeliverFund is made up of former elite intelligence operators from the CIA, NSA, FBI, and Navy SEALs. 

Interview with Nic McKinley

Editor:  There seems to be an explosion in human trafficking. Why?

McKinley: The problem has grown because of the Internet. The Internet allows scale, and to get a feeling for it, let’s look at the human trafficking issue through the lens of technology. In the days of the Pony Express, you could write a letter and it could take weeks or months to get it delivered, and the whole process was expensive. Today, you can send all the emails you want at a fraction of a penny and at the speed of light.

Editor: So, a person who wants to advertise sex on-line can reach hundreds of thousands of potential clients at almost no cost?

McKinley: Yes. The bad news is, traffickers can cheaply market their product to customers at a large scale at very little risk to themselves. The good news is, using technology and an understanding of black-market economics, we can introduce risk. We can make it more expensive for them, and we can disrupt their ability to reach the customers. 

Editor: How? 

McKinley: We make it more expensive for the trafficker. If the trafficker faces a lifetime in prison, word gets out among the traffickers. There’s now serious risk to the trafficker. 

And this brings us to black market economics. From a business point of view, how do people handle risk? 

The answer is, insurance. 

For the trafficker, insurance against going to jail means the trafficker has to spend more money on the “muscle” to control the girls, more money on bribing hotel employees, more money hiding what’s going on. Our goal is to make the transaction so expensive that the trafficker can’t make money on it. 

Editor: You played a role in taking down the infamous commercial sex trafficking site, BackPage.com. Is this part of making trafficking uneconomic for the trafficker?

McKinley: Yes, the traffickers’ Achilles heel is the Internet. The traffickers can’t make money if they don’t advertise on the Internet. Nobody stays in business if they can’t make money at it. We want to take away their ability to advertise.

Editor: How does DeliverFund use technology to bring this about?

McKinley: Our role is using our military and intelligence training to help law enforcement. Arresting human traffickers is the ultimate form of prevention, but keep in mind that the only people with the authority to arrest the human traffickers are law enforcement officers–so that is who we serve. 

We provide them with the technology tools and the cyber investigative techniques to be more effective in investigating and prosecuting human traffickers. Most law enforcement departments don’t have even one full-time human trafficking analyst or intelligence professional. We use our intelligence training to do the heavy lifting of finding the traffickers, and then we hand the information over to law enforcement. 

Interestingly, they validate and verify everything we give them. We work within the system. 

Editor: If someone likes your approach and wants to make a donation to DeliverFund, what would their donation make possible?

McKinley: For $50, a donor can know that he or she funded discovering the physical location of a trafficked victim. $75 would fund mapping out a trafficker’s network. $100 funds finding out a trafficker’s online footprint. And $500 funds an intelligence report on a trafficker that can help put a trafficker away for life.

Editor: Do you have a final thought for us?

McKinley: We believe the ultimate prevention program is the elimination of human traffickers. Without them, there would be no victims of human trafficking. 

For more information on Nic McKinley’s work or to make a donation, go to https://deliverfund.org. We are dedicated to supporting anti-trafficking organizations like this one.

Rachel Lloyd

 Recovery, Dignity, and Helping Others after Being Trafficked

 Recovery, Dignity, and Helping Others after Being Trafficked

By Mitzi Perdue

 

If you were to meet Rachel Lloyd today, you’d see a leader known for improving the lives of young women who have been sex trafficked. The organization she founded, Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS), has helped thousands of girls and young women be restored to a life of dignity.

We’ll get into how this miracle gets accomplished in a moment. But first let’s take a look at Lloyd’s extraordinary journey from being trafficked herself to leading a movement that has transformed laws, attitudes and most of all, lives.

When Lloyd was 17, she left England and her abusive, alcoholic mother, hoping to start a new life in Germany. She arrived in Munich with enough money to pay for two weeks’ room and board. She assumed she could get a job waitressing.

However, there was a flaw with this plan. “I didn’t speak German,” she recalls, “and that meant I couldn’t get the kind of job I was counting on.”

At the end of two weeks, things were becoming desperate.  “I was about to be kicked out of my bed and breakfast, and that meant I’d have no place to go. I walked into a strip club and said I could dance. My plan was to do it to do it for a week, so I’d have enough money to pay for a ticket back to England.”

However, she wasn’t even qualified for a job dancing. The manager did offer to pay her to be a hostess, the kind that encourages customers to have a drink with them.

She soon learned that having a drink with a customer wasn’t just “having a drink with a customer.” There was a back room where the high paying customers expected her to spend intimate time with them.

Her first night, an 80-year old man bought her a bottle of champagne. In return, she had to go the back room with him.  

After her “back room” experience was over,  she felt so dirty that she spent the rest of that night in the shower, “wanting to scrub my skin off.” The experience was harrowing, but it did mean that she had enough money pay her rent. 

Her plans to work at the strip club for only a week, didn’t work out.  The money was good, but her self-esteem was low, and it wasn’t much of a step to being sex trafficked. 

Her life became full of beatings, hunger, betrayal, violence, and terror. It was a nightmare.

 

After two years, she was able to get out of “the life,” with the help of a military family and a church on a US Air Force base in Germany. From there, she emigrated to the United States, got her GED, a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in Applied Urban Anthropology.

Her time of being exploited for commercial sex left her with a deep desire to help other young women.  She started GEMS in 1998, and in the years since, she’s helped mentor more than 300 girls and young women a year, helping them get out of “the life.”   In the last 21 years, she’s:

  • Created a place of safety and support for thousands of girls and young women 
  • Passed legislation that finally protects children 
  • Reached millions of Americans through awareness and cultural change efforts 
  • Created the survivor leadership movement 
  • Permanently changed the conversation and landscape on CSE (Commercial Sexual Exploitation) and domestic trafficking in the U.S. 

She sums up her life by saying, “Obviously there have been experiences I would rather not have had and pain I wish I hadn’t felt, but every experience, every tear, every hardship has equipped me for the work I do now. I get such deep satisfaction from knowing I’m fulfilling my purpose, that my life is counting for something; it puts all the past hurts into perspective. My pain has become my passion and I find true joy in my work, in my life, and in seeing ‘my girls’ fulfill their purpose too.” 

If you’d like to support girls and young women who are working to rebuild their lives after having been trafficked, visit Lloyd’s website: https://www.gems-girls.org/about-anything  And even better, donate.  Your donation can make an extraordinary difference in the lives of the many young women whose lives GEMS and Rachel Lloyd touch.

Mitzi Perdue is a business owner, speaker, and author of the books, HOW TO MAKE YOUR FAMILY BUSINESS LAST, and also 52 TIPS FOR PREVENTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING. Contact her at Mitzi@MitziPerdue.com or call her at (410) 860-4444 for more info about human trafficking education.