Posts tagged with "human trafficking"

Preventing Trafficking by Changing Hearts and Minds

 

By Mitzi Perdue

Everyone has his or her own story for why they want to combat human trafficking. In the case of Jennifer Keltner, Founder of Rescue Party Give, it began when she was a terrified little girl.

A Child’s Sense of Security is Ripped Away

As you hear Keltner tell what happened, you get the impression that it’s like a film, with flashbacks and jump cuts.  The first scene is when she’s a three-year old, happily playing by herself in her family’s back yard.

“There was a 14-year old boy in the yard next to where I was,” she remembers. “He held up a bright, shiny quarter. I was fascinated. He wanted me to come over and see it.”

The boy lured her over to his house.

Keltner’s voice quavers as she recounts what happened next, almost as if reliving it: “We’re on the porch. He’s pulling my diapers down. He’s touching me.”

If this were a documentary, the camera would now pull back and Keltner would voice-over, using a firm, factual, almost clinical tone: “The touching was in the genital area. Technically, this is assault.”

The next thing the camera would show is an extreme close-up of Keltner’s mother clutching her little girl tightly against her chest. The camera would pull back to a medium close-up, seeing that the mother with her mouth wide open, screaming and screaming at the top of her lungs, shouting to the neighbors about what had happened.

Flash forward to a hospital room.  A doctor is telling the mother, “Your daughter is OK. Her hymen has not been broken.”

 Permanent Awareness of Vulnerability

For the rest of her life, Keltner has felt gratitude to her mother for saving her from something that had the potential of being truly awful. She still has some unanswered questions.  “Was the boy beaten for his act?  Did he become a pedophile?”

This experience left Keltner with an awareness that children are vulnerable and that in a moment, what seems like carefree safety can be transformed into terror that leaves a mark for the rest of a person’s life.

Keltner’s career has been in the travel industry.  However, because of her lifelong interest in and empathy for the vulnerable, she’s been eager to help anti-trafficking organizations, such as the International Justice Mission (IJM).

In 2012, she helped IJM raise a million dollars in one evening. “I collaborated  with my travel industry colleagues to create numerous amazing different silent auction items.” These included VIP trips to Turkey, or adventures with Navy Seals or complementary stays at Marriott Hotels.

Thinking back on this volunteer experience, she points out, “It was the first time IJM ever raised a million dollars in a single evening.”

Today, as the founder of Rescue Party Give, she is still working on innovative ways to stop human trafficking.  In this case, she’s aiming at something that few other anti-trafficking organizations focus on.

Prevent the Demand

“Our goal,” she explains, “is to help prevent the demand.”

How does she go about this?  “Rescue Party Give creates beautiful family-centered neighborhood events. In a typical one, the event is free, and we have anti-trafficking films, musicians performing songs of freedom, and local restaurants will donate heavy hors d’oeuvres and wine.”

It’s something everyone can get behind, including having kids hear stories that will help keep them safe.  The whole community hears how huge the problem of trafficking is, and how important it is to protect the community’s children.

People who attend one of the Rescue Party Give events no longer accept the idea of turning a blind eye to sexual exploitation.

Fathers who have been to one of these aren’t going to think it’s cool to have sons go to a brothel as a rite of passage.. Instead, they see that what’s really at stake is modern slavery with human beings for sale.

Keltner aims to address human trafficking on a subliminal level. Her goal is for people to understand at a deep, deep level that exploiting other people is wrong.

For more information go to www.rescuepartygive.org and volunteer your talent, or  host a RescuePartyGive event in your neighborhood.

 

Mitzi Perdue is the founder of Win This Fight, and author of 52 TIPS FOR PREVENTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING. Contact her at Mitzi@MitziPerdue.com or call her at 410 860-4444.

 

Atlas Rescue – Sean Williamson

ATLAS RESCUE

Sean Williamson, a Former Green Beret and Founder of Atlas Rescue, has an important story.  However, before we get to it, he has what may be surprising yet reassuring information for you.

Although the information may not apply to you, if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that it does. If you work in the anti-trafficking field and you have even a reasonably high profile – maybe you’re on the Internet, or you give talks, or you donate money to anti-trafficking causes – do you need to worry that the traffickers will find you and harm you? Or your children?

Do You Need to Worry?

Williamson’s answer is, “In almost every case, no!”  He goes on to qualify that statement by explaining that if you’re engaged in actual rescues, you may be in danger, or if you’re in law enforcement prosecuting traffickers there can be danger.

Still, short of these two cases, the traffickers could care less about you. “They know that anti-trafficking efforts are so ineffective,” he points out, “that less than half of 1% of victims will ever be rescued each year.”

He goes on observe that in our current state of affairs, most people who combat human trafficking aren’t even on the traffickers’ radar screens. Williamson, with his special ops background, was shocked by the fact that traffickers are so little concerned with being caught and so unconcerned about doing anything about those who are trying to stop them.

“I was expecting traffickers to act like terrorists, with encrypted messages and hiding everything they do.  But no, they’re  just using private groups on Facebook!”  In other words, they act with impunity. And they’re not particularly bothered by you.

Williamson and His Colleagues Do Experience Risk

Unlike most of us, Williamson and his team of retired military specialist are in the category of people who are in danger.  His for-profit company, Atlas Rescue provides specialized security services, and criminals are highly likely to want to cause harm to him and his colleagues.

To see an example of the kind of work Atlas Rescue does, imagine for a horrible moment that you discover that there’s an organization that wants to kill you.  You go to the police, and a likely response is something along the lines of, “We wish you luck, but we can’t help.”  

Dealing with threats like this isn’t the job of police. However, it is the job of the Atlas team of retired special ops people.

They exist to help people like the imaginary you who find themselves in situations somewhere in the world where they need security.  Or possibly they need rescue.  

What’s special about the for-profit Atlas Rescue company is, revenue from the for-profit side is part of what helps fund their non-profit arm, Atlas Humanitarian Rescue. The charity specializes in fighting human trafficking.

The reach of this non-profit is global and they’re adept at working with other countries. “With our anti human trafficking expertise,” Williamson explains, “other countries invite us to provide training to the local police and military.”

The special ops teams work to be so culturally sensitive that they’ll be invited back over and over again. “Our attitude is,” says Williamson: “We are a guest of that nation, and we’re there to help them push the ball forward.”  

Williamson can take satisfaction knowing that he’s part of helping, but he’s also quick to point out that he hasn’t helped as much as he wants.  But still, he keeps on working towards his goal:  “Create a worldwide effort of such highly trained anti-trafficking forces that potential human traffickers will be so afraid of who will come for them in the middle of the night, that they will not even consider enslaving another human for profit.”

What a great goal!  To learn more, go to: https://atlasrescue.org

 

Mitzi Perdue is a business owner, speaker. and author of  52 TIPS FOR PREVENTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING. Contact her at Mitzi@MitziPerdue.com or call her at 410 860-4444.

 

 

 

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.

 

Pimp Your Way to a Billion Dollars!

by Barclay Henderson

Jeff Epstein is a sordid, tragic but provocative story. A bright, good looking guy, Epstein owned seven multimillion-dollar homes and a private island. He traveled to these mansions in one of his two private jets. Keeping him company, celebs like Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Kevin Spacey, royalty, prime ministers, and other big wigs accompanied him on many occasions. 

How does a guy enjoy such success from a modest beginning? With that much to live for, why the need to assault, rape and injure very young girls, spend time in prison and finally commit suicide?

Is there any explaining a guy like this?

An addiction to sex? 

That’s possible but most of the guys I know who have a hot rod convertible seem to meet women without committing statutory rape. This guy had his own private Boeing 727.  

An addiction to power? 

Men abuse women for a feeling of dominance and surely there must be an element of that with Jeff. But again, one has to wonder why a billion-dollar guy with his jet, with friends in high places, would risk jail and suicide to enjoy and flaunt more power and dominance. 

How about extortion as a business model?

Even more worrying, did solicitation and trafficking young women become a business model to reach financial success? In other words, did underage girls give him access to a celeb Rolodex? Did his young girls allow Jeff access to royalty, and attract wealthy investment customers to his fund?

Were compromising film clips of moguls used for extortion and direct wealth transfer? The Epstein mansions were wired for active video-taping of the bedroom. What price would a mogul pay to preserve his reputation?

The Epstein criminal case was evolving, but with his death, it is closed. We will not hear testimony from Royalty, Presidents, Rothschild’s, film stars. None will be required to testify under oath. The unfortunate Prince Andrew is left to the paparazzi dogs. 

We all know enough “boys will be boys” and “sex is a victimless crime” excuses to become jaded. My inquiring mind doesn’t wish to know.

But with the Epstein case, if trafficking and pimping is a path to a billion-dollar success that is sobering. If heads of state, Ivy League Universities, Hollywood stars and royalty, all seem to have been enablers along a path to riches, it speaks to a depraved society.

I get the feeling of “a tripping point.” Like Lucrezia Borgias in the Vatican before the Reformation in 1517 or Rome after Nero and Caligula. 

 

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Author Barclay Henderson is normally a humorist, but he hates human trafficking. For more of his work (and it’s usually a brilliant combination of humor and philosophy), come to https://twitter.com/barclayhenders1

(Full disclosure: Barclay is my beloved brother.)

 

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.

 

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 

 

Dr. Jean Baderschneider

A Global Strategy to End Modern Slavery: Interview with Dr. Jean Baderschneider

Our expert is Dr. Jean Baderschneider, CEO and founding board member of the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery. This organization is designed to catalyze a global strategy to end human trafficking and to increase the necessary resources from the public and private sector to fund it. Baderschneider was in the private sector for 35 years, coming from ExxonMobil as Vice President, of Global Procurement. She also has over 10 years of anti-trafficking experience and has served on the Board of a number of the key anti-trafficking organizations in the field.

 

Interview with Dr. Baderschneider

 

Editor: Give us some background on the scope of the human trafficking problem.

 

Baderschneider: The first thing to understand is that it is a big problem, and it’s everywhere, including in our own back yard. According to the Global Slavery Index, an estimated 40 million people are in some form of modern slavery. We are working to create better quantitative data tofully grasp the breadth and depth of human slavery.

 

Editor: Why has it become such an issue right now?

 

Baderschneider: Trafficking is extraordinarily profitable. According to a 2012 estimate, thiscrime generates at least a $150 billion a year in profits for traffickers, second only to drug trafficking. The combination of the number of people exploited and size of the profits has raised demand for action. The increasing number of focused awareness efforts, as well as new legislative, efforts such as the Modern Slavery Act are having an impact and creating platforms for action.

 

Editor: And other global trends that lead to more trafficking?

 

Baderschneider: Human trafficking sits at the intersection of many global trends, such as migration, organized crime, global supply chains, and so on.. Many people migrate because they have no other options and are looking for work. There are approximately 244 million migrants a year.While this can be a positive experience for some, it also results in large numbers of vulnerable people at risk of ending up in exploitative labor situations.

 

Editor: What are the obstacles that keep us from successfully combating it so far?

 

Baderschneider: The existing efforts and resources do not match the scale of the problem. The resources currently available to combat trafficking are in the hundreds of millions of dollars, but as I said, the traffickers are making $150 billion a year. That’s not a fair fight. In addition, efforts have been fragmented, uncoordinated, and limited by lack of data.

 

Also, you may be able to shut down trafficking in one place, but the traffickers immediately pop up someplace else, like a neighboring village. Instead of solving the problem, it has only been displaced.

 

Editor: How is the organization you head, the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, addressing the problem?

 

Baderschneider: Here’s our  three-pronged approach.

  • First, we have programs related to rule of law, designed to end impunity for all forms of trafficking.
  • Second, we have programs focused on sustaining freedom for survivors through recovery, reintegration and economic opportunity.
  • Third, we have programs focused on business engagement, including proactively engaging with the business community and its supply chains.

In the world today, there is about $70 trillion in procurement spending. If we can get corporations fully engaged and leverage their resources, it begins to become more of a fair fight. We want investors and banks to incentivize companies to meaningfully address the risk of slavery in their supply chains.

Editor: I would imagine that shining a light on a company’s slave-labor-fueled supply chain would be a powerful tool. No  company wants the reputational catastrophe of being outed for using slave labor in its supply chain.  Do you have a final thought for us?

Baderschneider: Yes, we are doing much more than there’s space for in your blog! Come to our website to see what else we’re doing. https://www.gfems.org

 

Mitzi Perdue is the organizer of the Global Anti-Trafficking Auction, and author of the book, 52 Tips for Combatting Human Trafficking, available on Amazon.

How Sex Traffickers Exploit Vulnerabilty and Gaps in the Law

By Mitzi Perdue

Yasmeen Hassan, Global Executive Director of Equality NowYasmeen Hassan, Global Executive Director of Equality Now, has an interesting take on sex trafficking.  Although Harvard-educated, she grew up in Pakistan, and her defining moment came at age 10 when her country’s laws were ‘Islamized.’

She got to see, under the new regime, how women were treated as second-class citizens. The experience was the starting point of her lifelong advocacy for women’s rights.

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A Form of Trafficking You May Never Have Heard Of

By Mitzi Perdue

Large Cargo ShipAny form of human smuggling is likely to be a cross between harrowing and horrifying. Here’s one you may not know about, and it certainly fits into the category of harrowing and horrifying.

It’s the crime of smuggling human beings in the sealed containers you see stacked on ocean-going container ships. This particular form of human trafficking has its own unique horrors.

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