Program Assistance Helped Save Filipina Mom from Traffickers

By: Charmaine Santos

Edited by: Sharon E. Chin

 

filipino momo

Joy, whose real name is withheld to protect identity, and her husband made coconut wine and sold two barrels a week to support their family in the hills of Ormoc City in the central Philippine islands. Nearly half the population in the region lives in poverty. When Super Typhoon Haiyan came in November 2013, it destroyed most of the infrastructure that laid in its path and the winds damaged up to 90% of the coconut trees in some areas. Those who depended on these coconut trees to make a living were then left with no source of income and faced even more hardships.

Having no house or food, Joy desperately sought work and found a job as a domestic helper for $50/month. After Joy moved to work in a nearby province for $70/month, Joy’s employers kept her without pay for 7 months and physically abused her. Joy could not escape and shared, “I didn’t think I would make it out alive. I thank God every day that I am still breathing.”
USAID partnered with World Vision to start the “Prevention of Trafficking in Persons through Sustainable Livelihood Recovery for Typhoon-Affected People Program” in April 2014. This program aims to reduce people’s exposure to trafficking in 10 Ormoc villages and restore farming there; Ormoc and the surrounding areas are a historical hot spot where traffickers recruit women, men and children. The yearlong project hopes to reach 14,000 people through public assemblies and campaign materials. USAID and World Vision taught the Ormoc City community how to identify and report suspicious behavior, which lead to Joy’s husband realizing that Joy was being trafficked. Her husband reported the case and Joy was rescued.

The program provided Joy’s family 2 piglets so that they can sell and invest the income into a home-based farm. Joy says, “These piglets have made it possible for us to earn income without needing to leave our village.” The assistance also helps to ensure that vulnerable families like Joy’s don’t have to consider jobs from recruiters. Joy is now confident about her future and hopes that their family can return to the coconut wine business. 

Charmaine Santos is a sophomore at the University of San Francisco pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Biology as well as minors in Chemistry and Health Studies. She volunteers alongside UCSF medical students at a student-run homeless clinic in San Francisco and is also an active volunteer with Operation Access. Charmaine is also a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.

Reference:

Surviving a Super Typhoon and Escaping Traffickers in the Philippines. (2015). USAID. Retrieved May 20, 2015 from http://www.usaid.gov/results-data/success-stories/surviving-super-typhoon-and-escaping-traffickers-filipino-mother-fights

Photo Credit: https://www.childfund.org/childfund-emergency/

North Korea: Profit through Citizen Sales

By: Luis Gay

Edited By: Sharon E. Chin

1026455093_06a6487783_o The North Korean government is conducting state-sponsored trafficking of its citizens and claiming that it is a way to “generate new income.” Citizens are forced to do manual labor in other countries while the North Korean government appropriates most, if not all, of their wages. According to Scott Snyder, a senior fellow for Korea studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, state-sponsored trafficking has become an emerging issue.

In both April and May of this year, the North Korea Economic Institute of America and House’s Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission met in Washington D.C. to discuss this issue at hand. As a nation, North Korea has been repeatedly ranked as the world’s worst human rights abuser by luring roughly 60,000 citizens to work in laborious industries (mining, logging, restaurants) in over 40 countries including Russia, China, Mongolia, Africa, central Europe, and the Middle East. Victims enter into work with guarantees of receiving wages, whereupon the North Korean receives a profit of more than $2 billion US dollars without the workers’ consent. Robert King, special envoy for North Korea Human Rights Issues at the State Department, stated that those who try to escape or complain risk retribution toward themselves and their family.

Snyder expressed that the increase in trafficking was a method used to obtain foreign exchange. North Korea has sustained itself in the past through illegal acts such as drug trafficking and counterfeit weapon sales, although revenues from those customs have declined.

Lim II, a defector, told the Lantos Human Rights Commission that he was a state employee in North Korea, but went to work in a construction company in Kuwait. There, he was forced to work 14-hour days under strict surveillance with two days off per month. He believes that he was a slave laborer. When he escaped to the South Korean embassy, he discovered that all of his wages had gone into the Office of the Worker’s Party, which regulates foreign currency. The Database Center for North Korean Human Rights reported that the money generated from export laborers overseas was delegated to Kim Jong-Un’s personal fund.

The United States and the international community are having difficulty tackling this issue. The biggest problem is that most of trafficking from North Korea occurs in China and Russia. This limits the exposure of victims to countries that would report illegal activity and challenge the North Korean Government. Officials contemplate whether or not to approach trafficking from a sanctions perspective or a human rights point of view. Snyder stressed that the international community is needed to address this problem, where “the best way of doing that would probably be to make this an issue” for countries North Korea makes transactions with.



Luis Gay is an undergraduate attending the University of San Francisco, pursuing a Biology degree and Chemistry Minor. He is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.



Reference:

Lafon, Holly. 19May2015. “North Korea turning to human trafficking for foreign currency”. Marketwatch. [Accessed 19 May 2015]. ttp://www.marketwatch.com/story/north-korea-turning-to-human-trafficking-for-foreign-currency-2015-05-18

Photo Credit:

This photo “North Korea – Pyongyang Embroidery Institute” by (stephan) was accessed on May 20th, 2015 and can be found: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/1026455093. 

 

Account of a Child Pornography Victim in Iowa

By: Sara Kim

Edited by: Sharon E. Chin

girl

 

Sex trafficking is a silent crime where the voices of victims are not often heard. In order to combat the silence, Linda chose to speak out about her own experiences as a sex trafficking victim. Linda, whose name has been changed for safety reasons, had been trafficked for 14 years in Iowa where she was forced into filming child pornography films. Linda and her twin sister were raised by her traffickers, and were told that their mother died during childbirth. She never had a real sense of family, nor did she have people to protect her from the abuse she faced everyday.

Linda’s earliest memories were of her being raped, which occurred when she was two years old. Some men took her into a bathroom and filmed her having sex with them. Ever since then she had been raped continuously and filmed for child pornography without her consent. She even helped the perpetrators traffic other children; her worst memory was watching babies get raped for porn.

The Chrysalis Foundation is an organization that seeks to give a voice to trafficking victims in Iowa. The foundation works with Clear Channel to raise billboards informing the public about the reality and the dangers of sex trafficking. They also aim to persuade their audience to write to state and federal lawmakers, asking them for more support with law enforcement training about sex trafficking and in punishing the perpetrators. Terry Hernandez of the Chrysalis Foundation points out that people, and especially those in law enforcement, do not recognize the magnitude of the crime. Linda agrees with the statement from the perspective of a victim, as she says, “I think that that’s the real tragedy of trafficking. You have to live with this your whole life and the people who do it just walk away.

Sara (Da Som) Kim is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes.

Reference: Brilbeck, Aaron. “Victim of Iowa Sex Trafficking Speaks Out.” Who TV. May 15, 2015. URL: http://whotv.com/2015/05/15/victim-of-iowa-sex-trafficking-speaks-out/. Date accessed 5/17/15.

Photo Credit: Ausburn, Deborah.

http://taylorenglish.com/blogs/public-interest-advocacy/rotherham-child-abuse-investigation-little-change/

 

Abusing Vulnerability: Catastrophes Escalate Human Trafficking Levels

By: Luis Gay

Edited by: Sharon E. Chin

nepal

In regions devastated by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal, which killed more than 7,000 people, hundreds of thousands people living in rural communities are now homeless and left without possessions. Human traffickers are taking advantage of the vulnerability that young women are facing and abducting them by force for sex labor.

In an estimate by the UN and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), 12,000 to 15,000 girls are trafficked from Nepal each year. Sunita Danuwar, the director of an NGO in Kathmandu called “Shakti Samuha”, stated that people reported of incidences of individuals pretending to look for and rescue people. The reality is that traffickers are looking for their next trafficking victims in the wake of tragedy.

Many girls are taken to South Korea or even South Africa, although a majority of them end up in Indian brothels, faced to worked in inhumane conditions. Western aid officials expressed that these types of catastrophes are prime opportunities to traffic women. Sita, 20, told her trafficking story to The Guardian. She was taken from her village in Sindhupalchok by her uncle and was sent to Siliguri, a town near the border of India. There she was sold to a brothel owner where she was “repeatedly beaten, systematically raped by hundreds of men and infected with HIV.” Her parents, who are both illiterate and subsistence farmers, believed that she would have a good job; her “job” of sex enslavement resulted in unprotected sex with 20-30 men, seven days a week. When police discovered these events, she was rescued and sent to an NGO. Sita worries that due to desperate measures, other girls might be coaxed into taking a job that would trap them into slavery. In her home village of Sindhupalchok, more than 3,000 people were killed and thousands became homeless.

The U.S. State Department has noted that Nepal does not abide with the minimum standards to eliminate human trafficking, although Nepalese government is currently making efforts to address this problem. As for Sita, she currently lives in a shelter run by Shakti Samuha. Her parents do not know what has happened to her and her brothers have disowned her. Sex trafficking victims are often ostracized. When she called one of her brothers, he said he had no sister and that she called the wrong number. Hopefully, with awareness of the dangers to women after natural disasters, stories like Sita can be avoided. Nepal is an extremely impoverished country, being the center of smuggling networks including trades involving tiger skins, narcotics, and of course, people. While most of the networks are in India, “gang representatives and agents” are taking advantage of Nepal’s turn of events and scouting for “suitable women” in rural areas. Decisive actions that lure women into accepting these jobs include a promise to marriage with wealthy foreigners. Locally, hundreds of bars and massage parlors in places such as Kathmandu recruit women who are forced to work in poor conditions and often prompted to perform sex on their clients. Because of the quake, these businesses will have an easier time to find employees.

Luis Gay is an undergraduate attending the University of San Francisco, pursuing a Biology degree and Chemistry Minor. He is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.

References:

Burke, Jason. 2015May5. “Nepal quake survivors face threat from human traffickers supplying sex trade”. The Guardian. [Accessed 15 May 2015]. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/05/nepal-quake-survivors-face-threat-from-human-traffickers-supplying-sex-trade

Photo Credit:

This image was found in an article entitled “Sex trade human traffickers swarm to Nepal to target tens of thousands of women and girls left homeless by the country’s giant earthquake” at dailymail.co.uk. [Accessed May 15, 2015]

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3069883/Sex-trade-human-traffickers-swarm-Nepal-target-tens-thousands-women-girls-left-homeless-country-s-giant-earthquake.html

Festival Season May Draw Traffickers to Big Cities

By: Charmaine Santos

Edited By: Sharon E. Chin

spring break

Human trafficking is a looming problem facing many large cities across America. Due to the increased amount of tourism and business gatherings that occur when big cities hold huge annual events, human traffickers hope to capitalize on them; pimps are inconspicuously targeting their next victim in a large crowd. More than half of documented victims identified by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) were American Citizens.

Kay Butterfield, chief officer of the Ethics Advisory Panel for an artificial intelligence company named Lucid, stated that big festivals or parties like the Super Bowl where large groups of men gather will attract a large number of prostitutes, although many young women are forced against their will to attend. Austin, Texas holds the “South by Southwest” every year and is also one of many hotspots in Texas for human trafficking. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, in 2014 there were 709 human trafficking-related cases, 609 reported victims and 176 suspects arrested. Even local residents were shocked to see that human trafficking existed within their “seemingly safe communities”.

Butterfield suggests that sex slavery is enabled by American culture; there is an absence of value for women and children. She says, “I hope that we value children in America but maybe we need to have a different attitude towards women . . . there are some cultural things that we need to begin to change.”


Charmaine Santos is a sophomore at the University of San Francisco pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Biology as well as minors in Chemistry and Health Studies. She volunteers alongside UCSF medical students at a student-run homeless clinic in San Francisco and is also an active volunteer with Operation Access. Charmaine is also a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.


Reference:
Lillard, M., & Eads, A. (2015). “Big Festivals, other events increase human trafficking activity in cities.” Hilltop Views. Retrieved May 16, 2015 from http://www.hilltopviewsonline.com/news/article_9167ba8e-e786-11e4-9a32-afa373e8416a.html.

National Human Trafficking Resource Center. (2015). Hotline Statistics were retrieved on May 16, 2015 from http://www.traffickingresourcecenter.org/states.
Photo Credit: (Rukes) http://www.mtlblog.com/2014/12/montreal-has-an-all-new-edm-music-festival-coming-to-the-city-summer-2015/#