Center improves odds for victims of child abuse
by Arnold Garcia Jr., Austin American-Statesman
Had Christopher Wohlers lived, he would be 23 today. With the right kind of treatment, and counseling, he might have overcome the abuse he suffered and become a Had Christopher Wohlers lived, he would be 23 today. With the right kind of treatment, and counseling, he might have overcome the abuse he suffered and become a productive member of the community.
Or, as is often the case with child abuse victims, he could have become an abuser himself. There is no way to know because his short, tortured life ended in January 1990.
Christopher was not even 2 years old, and he never had a chance.
When he died, the toddler had 90 bruises on his body. Prosecutors said at the time that he had been systematically tortured. In June 1989, Christopher was scalded in the bathtub by his mother's live-in boyfriend, Michael Wayne Hoffman, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for injuring Christopher.
After her relationship with Hoffman, Robbi Boutwell, Christopher's mother, met and married the man who was eventually convicted of killing the toddler. Gerald Zuliani was tried three times and eventually did time on an involuntary manslaughter conviction in the child's death. He has since been released from prison.
As sad the case was, sadder still is that children continue to suffer abuse they don't deserve. Then, as now, the legal system slogs through the cases, locks up the offenders and waits for the next one.
We see images of victims look at us from the newspaper pages or the television screen, triggering emotions from pity to outrage. When we see those, maybe we hug our children and grandchildren protectively, hoping or praying or both that God will help us protect them from the monsters who would hurt or kill them.
The death of Christopher Wohlers showed some ugly cracks in the way Austin responds to child abuse. There was little or no coordination or communication between the social services and law enforcement agencies. That's not to say nobody cared. Most did, they just had not figured out a way to care effectively.
In 1999, community leaders, social workers, prosecutors, police officers and elected officials committed to improving communication and coordination by sharing work space and by opening a kid-friendly center that would be the first stop for victims of suspected abuse.
Making children as comfortable as possible during the initial stages of abuse investigations is an key to getting youngsters to tell investigators what happened to them.
"It's pretty revolutionary,'' Sandra Martin, the center director, said in 1999. "No one else in the state has done that."
The innovation took root. Known today as the Center for Child Protection, the center pulls together an array of medical and mental health and other forms for support for victims and their families. Now, the center is about to get some prestigious national attention.
A segment of "Visionaries" a PBS series on organizations and individuals who have accomplished positive changes in their communities with the idea of inspiring others to follow will feature the center.
A screening of the program is scheduled for Monday, and the segment hits the national airwaves in November.
Unfortunately for us all, the need for such a facility never goes away. In 2010, 739 children were interviewed at the center that provided 7,100 services to 3,520 children and adults.
Of the children interviewed, 63 percent were between 6 and 12 years old. Of those, 68 percent were victims of sexual abuse.
While visiting with Martin and other members of the center staff, I commented that I couldn't do what they do and sleep at night.
Though the center staff hears horrific stories, Martin replied, it's a happy place to work. They have to focus on the good they do and the lives they save.
Congratulations to them for the recognition. And thanks to them for the difficult but necessary job they continue to do. If you can help them do that, you should.
Learn more about the Center for Child Protection at http://www.centerforchildprotection.org/
Students Learn Ways to Prevent/Stop Child Abuse
Unique class tested on Nixa High School Students
by Mary Moloney, KSPR News
The big game or a new outfit is typically on the minds of teenagers. Yet for more than 60 students at Nixa High School, child abuse and preventing teen pregnancy were the main topics of discussion.
This week, the COPE24 program was tested in the school. Using videos and discussion topics, the curriculum aims to illustrate all forms of child abuse in a way high schoolers can understand. The normally 2 week course was broken down into an hour lesson plan for students.
"I didn't think I was hurting him, but I did," a man said crying with his head in his hands. It's one of the videos COPE24 uses explaining Shaken Baby Syndrome.
"They were just real life situations like dealing with potty training or with when a baby will cry and you can't get the baby to stop. Things like that," said Ashley Newberry, a teacher a Nixa High School. "Even if a student isn't dealing with it personally, they may know friends who may be going through this. And even if they are personally not dealing with it, it will help them to see warning signs in a friend or family member and maybe able to help them."
Missouri is one of the worst in the nation for child abuse. According to the Children's Defense Fund, a child is abused every two hours in the state. The creators of COPE24, which stands for Changing Our Parenting Experience, hope the program will help fight the problem.
"It's kind of shocking to, you know, kind of realize that it actually happens so often. Especially like, right here where you are from," said Mickaela Barcklay, a sophomore at Nixa High School. "I think it's a good base so you can start to build on how you want to, how you want to take care of it. And you will always have that in the back of your mind that you know what is right and how to handle things and something that can help you cope with the stress."
Although students may not be parents anytime soon, teachers feel the program is effective to teach what's right and what's wrong.
"My hope is that each one of these kids will remember what they saw, they will be the best parents and adults they can be --someday when they are ready -- in their adult lives and they can raise happy and healthy children. Have happy healthy families," said Newberry smiling.
Faculty hope to teach the COPE24 curriculum by next school year. The cost for all the materials is about $400, but teachers said, learning to save a child's life is priceless.
"I think that this program like it will help to stop the cycle. Like maybe it won't be so bad in the future like with our generation. Like we will understand it isn't necessary to continue what's going on with abuse and neglect," said Barclay.
The COPE24 program started in Missouri this year and is already in 26 schools across the state.
For more information on the COPE24 program, click here.
Bay, Saginaw counties' child advocacy groups join forces
Two local children advocacy organizations are joining forces, a move officials say will significantly enhance regional efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect. The Child Abuse and Neglect Council of Saginaw County and Bay County's Nathan Weidner Children's Advocacy Center (NWCAC) are merging to form the CAN Council Great Lakes Bay Region.
Suzanne Greenberg, CAN Council president & CEO, said the new alliance meshes two agencies with different cultures but a shared mission: stopping child abuse and neglect.
"We're extremely excited," Greenberg said. "This is a major step to reach more children and families in our communities. Our organizations have had their own respective programs, but coming together under one organization will increase our ability to provide top-notch prevention, intervention and advocacy for children in our communities."
In 2010, CAN Council provided services to 4,050 children, families and professionals in Saginaw and Bay Counties. This included forensic interviewing, medical examinations, court advocacy, personal safety education, infant safety education and professional development.
Michael Wiltse, NWCAC board chair, said the partnership reflects an organizational commitment to reducing administrative costs so "we can show our funders that their dollars are going directly to assisting children and their families."
"The real goal is to meet needs of children and their families," she said. "The kids need us to get together by offering stronger programs that respond to our communities while streamlining administrative functions."
The merger, Greenberg said, has been in the works for about 15 months. Administrative duties will be centralized at the council's Saginaw location, but both the Saginaw and Bay City facilities will remain open to serve its residents.
"Families feel more comfortable seeking our services in the communities they know," she said. "Our services are tailored to meet each community's needs, and that won't change."
Greenberg said no employees of the two nonprofits will lose their jobs.
"We are extremely proud of the visionary leaders from both counties, who saw the need and benefit of bringing our organizations together," said Drewe Robinson, CAN Council Great Lakes Bay Region board chair.
Officials said a new board of directors has been created for the organization, which is the only nonprofit in Saginaw and Bay Counties dedicated to the prevention of child abuse and neglect through education, awareness, intervention and advocacy.
"Child abuse doesn't stop at county lines," Wiltse said. "This move shows that our organization is a leader when it comes to regionalism."
The merger announcement was made at Saginaw Valley State University's Founders Hall and also featured remarks by former state Sen. Joel Gougeon and Terry Moore, Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance president and CEO.
Afghanistan: Child Street Workers Vulnerable to Abuse
Hundreds of children in northern town miss out on school
by Baqer Adeli
In the relentless heat of a summer's day in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif, most people are trying to find some shade, but 11-year-old Mohammad Rafiq is walking the streets carrying a box full of shoe-shining equipment.
Dripping with sweat, the boy asks passers-by, “Uncle, may I polish your shoes?”
Although often rebuffed, he carries on walking undeterred, calling out, “Polish your shoes and slippers.”
Mohammad Rafiq used to spend his days at school, but five months ago, his family moved to Mazar-e Sharif because of drought and unemployment in Faryab province, where they lived. He would love to carry on in school, but doubts he will able to do so.
“My father is old and ill,” he said. “My brother and I polish people's shoes every day. We only earn enough to pay for bread.”
The worse thing about his new life working on the streets, he said, was when strangers tried to lure him into sex work.
“Nothing annoys us more than the demands of these horrible people, who ask us to do bad things,” he said.
Mohammad Rafiq described how a friend of his was abused by a stranger who enticed him by giving him something to eat, and then abducted him.
“They took him to some place and did shameful things to him,” he said. “They dumped him in a corner of the city after a few days. He didn't feel well, and had to be taken to hospital.”
Hundreds of children work on the streets of Mazar-e Sharif, collecting rubbish, carrying goods, selling produce or simply begging.
Experts say they are often at risk of sexual exploitation. The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has repeatedly expressed concern over an increase in sexual abuse cases.
“Children are the most vulnerable section of society,” said Salamat Azimi, head of the commission's section for children's rights in northern Afghanistan. “There is no guarantee these children will not be abused.”
Sexual abuse is a taboo subject in Afghanistan, and the families of victims often keep quiet about it out of shame or fear of reprisals.
Nevertheless, local media in the north have recently reported on ten cases of abuse, and got family members to speak out on behalf of the victims.
Maria Sayi, head of child protection at Balkh provincial welfare department, said the lawless environment, poverty and unemployment forced many minors to work.
“Children can often be observed working from sunrise until evening. The International Labour Organisation has banned such conditions for children,” she said, adding that Afghan labour legislation was unclear on the hours and kind of jobs minors were allowed to work at.
A survey carried out by her organisation in 2008 covered some 780 children, and found that many of them had been forced to drop out of school and go to work for economic reasons.
Sayi said that when cases of child abuse were uncovered, her agency worked with the police to pursue the culprits. But sometimes they involved individuals to powerful to be held to account.
“Influential figures are often involved, and we fail to go after them,” she said. “When we realise that we have leads that take us out of our depth, we are forced to stop investigating the case. Even the national security forces sometimes warn us to stop.”
Sayi said her department had received threats from powerful individuals when it investigated such cases.
Mohammad Nazer Alemi, a child protection campaigner who heads the Youth Information Centre in Balkh province, confirmed that powerful individuals and officials were sometimes implicated in the abuse.
He said he was in possession of a documentary film which no media outlet would agree to air, because it showed the involvement of powerful individuals.
He referred to the tradition of “bacha bazi” or dancing boys, kept by powerful older men and made to perform at private parties.
“They not only force them to dance but also sexually abuse them,” he said.
Sher Jan Doranai, spokesman for police headquarters in Balkh, said sexual abuse and child trafficking did not exist in Balkh province at all.
“Perhaps such cases exist in other northern provinces, but not in Balkh,” he said, insisting that the police carried out their duties of child protection to the full.
While a child protection law is on the statute books, observers say it is not implemented properly. Alemi said that on several occasions, he had seen police harassing or beating street children instead of protecting them.
Mohammad Rafiq will continue living on his wits, and on the advice his mother gives him.
“Every day, she tells me to come home before it gets dark in the evening, not to polish anyone's shoes in secluded places, not to take extra money if anyone offers it to me, and not to eat anything offered by strangers,” he said.
Support group for survivors of domestic violence
Sexual abuse survivors support group sponsored by Safe Homes meets in Arkansas City.
Call (620) 221-7079 for info.
Every Monday at 7 p.m. Call Safe Homes, 1-800-794-7672 for location.
Child care provided.
‘The clerical abuse issue is a small part of a much larger global problem'
by Charles Lewis
Oct 14, 2011
It would seem to be the ultimate in bad taste to look for a silver lining in the dark cloud of the Roman Catholic Church sexual-abuse crisis. To do so would be, in the minds of many, to minimize the damage done to countless children and teenagers who were betrayed by the “holy people” they trusted.
But for some of the scholars meeting this weekend at McGill University in Montreal, the abuse scandal offers something more than just despair: It is a chance for a broader society plagued with child sexual abuse to learn from the mistakes of the Church and the solutions it found to try to end the abuse.
Dan Cere, a professor of religion, law and ethics at McGill, and one of the organizers of the conference, said the Church crisis now stands as a “case study” that secular society should pay careful attention to.
No other institution, he said, has produced as many reports and done as much analysis on the problem of abuse.
The conference, called “Trauma and Transformation: The Catholic Church and the Sexual Abuse Crisis,” will see 20 presenters take stock of what the Church has done to date to confront the crisis, how effective those measures have been and what more is needed.
They will discuss the Church's attempts to move from a culture of concealment to transparency, improvements made on the report of abuse to civil authorities and the attempts to screen seminary candidates to weed out potential abusers.
They will also look at clericalism — a form of cronyism and cloistered political environment in the Church — that led to cover-ups and a desire to protect the institution instead of the victims.
The news on Friday showed the Church still has a long way to go. The bishop of Kansas City and his diocese were indicted for failure to report an allegation of child abuse.
This comes a decade after the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops made it mandatory to report suspected abuse to civil authorities.
Still, despite the failings, insights the Church has gained can help guide secular society, Prof. Cere suggested.
“The Catholic Church has been the main focus of media and public attention, and there has been more study on abuse in the Catholic Church than on any other institution in society,” said Prof. Cere. “But if you stopped every clerical abuser tomorrow, the vast majority of kids in the world will still be abused by other people. The clerical abuse issue is a small part of a much larger global problem.
“Even in the Catholic community the vast amount of children that will be abused will be by extended family, teachers and coaches. So if our fundamental concern is about the protection of children, ending clerical abuse doesn't get us very far along the path to that goal.”
In a 2010 landmark study on the U.S. abuse crisis, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York found that between 1950 and 2002, 4,932 priests, or 4% of all U.S. priests, faced allegations of sexual abuse. Over that same period there were 10,667 incidents, many of which likely involved more than one child.
Statistically however, said Prof. Cere, that is a sliver of the greater problem.
Child Help, an Arizona-based group that studies child abuse, says a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds in the United States and more than five children die every day as a result of abuse.
It noted 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims knew their perpetrators. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found 83,000 reports of child sexual abuse in 2005 alone.
“Child sexual abuse is very prevalent in institutions where there is interaction between adults and children and adolescents, particularly in environments where there is a mentoring and nurturing relationship between adults in children,” said Karen Terry, professor and acting dean at John Jay and the main author of the 2010 report.
“The information the Church has gathered is applicable to schools, other religious institutions and especially sports groups — where there is often a strong bond between a coach and an individual player.”
A key issue that the Church has tried to grapple with was the way it put its priests on a pedestal, said Sister Nuala Kenny, who is also a pediatrician and the former head of the department of bioethics at Dalhousie University in Halifax.
She said the more exalted the priest, the more likely that no one would believe he was capable of doing harm, which in turn affected the way abuse allegations were dealt with.
But this problem of power is not unique to the Church, she noted. Clericalism, she said, can infect any organization big enough to develop structure and authority.
“Many people experience ‘clericalism' from doctors,” she said. “How many times have you heard, ‘I'm the doctor here!' The medical profession is as hierarchal as the Church because the characteristics are the same: power over people who are vulnerable by reason of position.”
Pastor arrested in child sex assault case
by NOELLE NEWTON
AUSTIN -- An Elgin pastor has been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting children in his congregation.
Austin police say in June four women in their 20s and 30s came into APD headquarters to report they had been victims of sexual abuse as children.
One woman, now 25, claims her former pastor, Francisco Antonio Hernandez, molested her in 1991 in his South Austin home.
The other three women are sisters. They say they too were abused in his home in 1989. KVUE spoke to the oldest sister who is now 31. She asked that we not reveal her identity.
"I thought it was my fault, you know, what happened, and so all this time I've been carrying that," she said. The woman says her family met Hernandez, or who she came to know as Pastor Javier, at a local grocery store. He invited them to a church service. She says he would preach several times a week at the homes of church members. She says at the time, there were 25 to 30 families involved, and she remembers the children not being so nice to him.
"I know why now, because he had already done that stuff to them, tried to touch them and all that," she said. When she was in fourth grade, her parents went out of town for a weekend leaving she and her sisters in the pastor's care. While inside his home on West Wind Trail, she says he sexually assaulted them. She says he paid her $20 to keep everything a secret adding if she didn't, something bad might happen.
"For me and my situation it was hard carrying all this for the longest," she said. "Now that I have my kids, you know, what if he's doing it to other people?" Last spring she reached out to other victims. "They all started talking, and they came to me, even guy friends," she said.
In May, she says the pastor showed up at her parents' house with an apology.
"He said, 'Sorry for what I did to your children, and I want forgiveness,'" the victim said.
Still, she went to police. On Thursday, officers arrested the pastor at his home in Elgin. He is charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child. He is in the Travis County Jail with a bond of $200,000.
"He messed up our lives, and he's gonna pay it; he's gonna pay," the victim tearfully said. While still emotional about what happened, the victim says she's relieved he's in jail and wants others to speak out.
"Come forward and if anything that's why the law is here to protect us. He's in jail. There's nothing is going to do to us. It's where he belongs," she said. If you are a victim or think you know someone who is, police ask that you call the child abuse unit at 974-6880.
Two Arrested on Child Abuse Charges, Two-Month-Old Hospitalized
Child stable after receiving medical treatment for fractured ribs and brain trauma
An 18-year-old woman and a 21-year-old man were arrested on Friday in connection with the physical abuse of a 2-month-old girl, according to the Lexington County Sheriff's Department.
Tameeka Shanae Wallace, 18, and Benson Edem Essien, 21, turned themselves in to authorities on Friday morning and were charged with unlawful conduct towards a child by a legal custodian.
The home address of Wallace or Essien, or their relationship with the 2-month-old girl will not be released in order to protect the girl's identity, Lexington County Sheriff James R. Metts said.
The 2-month-old, who is in stable condition at Palmetto Health Richland Hospital, has received medical treatment for fractured ribs and brain trauma since Oct. 7, he said.
A physician determined that the girl's injuries were the result of physical abuse rather than an accident, and that she had been physically abused for an extended period of time, according to a release from the Lexington County Sheriff's Department.
Detectives began their investigation on Oct. 7 after being notified by hospital personnel of the girl's injuries.
Metts said arrest warrants allege that between Aug. 15 and Oct. 7, Essien and Wallace, who live near Irmo, unlawfully placed the 2-month-old girl at unreasonable risk of harm by failing to provide timely medical attention and/or inflicting physical injuries or allowing physical injuries to be inflicted.
The Social Services Department will take custody of her when she is released from the hospital, according to the Lexington County Sheriff's Department.
Essien and Wallace each were being held on Friday at the Lexington County Detention Center on a $5,000 bond.
Under South Carolina law, unlawful conduct towards a child by a legal custodian is a felony that carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison, Metts said.
Anyone with information about the child abuse case involving Essien and Wallace is asked to call the Lexington County Sheriff's Department at (803) 785-8230 or CrimeStoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC. You can also provide information anonymously by accessing the Crime Tip link.
Three charged with child sexual abuse, family maintains their innocence
GREENVILLE , N.C. - Three people are behind bars tonight facing a laundry list of charges revolving around the sexual abuse of two children, both under the age of 10.
44-year-old Leroy Jackson, his sister 40-year-old Vanessa Jackson-Wagner and Leroy's 21-year-old son Emmanual Jackson have been charged with first degree sex offense of a child, along with child abuse.
Deputies arrested the three Thursday. Both Leroy and Emmanual have had run-in with the law in the past.
Emmanual was charged with first degree rape of a child and sexual offense back in May, while Leroy was charged as an accessory to the fact. They've been out on bond ever since.
Investigators now say they committed more sexual acts to two children than previously thought. That caused deputies to arrest the two again along with another relative Vanessa Jackson- Wagner .
"This has been a really tough, tough case. In my many years of experience, you don't run across these every day," said Paula Dance , a Pitt County Sheriff's Detective.
Both Leroy and Vanessa are in the Pitt County Detention Center. Leroy is under a $6,002,000 bond, while Vanessa stays under a $6 million bond. Emmanual is under a $1.5 million bond.
The family of the three tells us, detectives have it all wrong.
For Jessica Jackson, the charges against her father, brother and aunt simply don't reflect the people she's known and loved all her life.
"It's false accusations. My brother and my father are too good of people to do anything like that," said Jessica , Leroy's daughter.
Another relative who didn't want to be identified agrees.
"Anybody in this town can tell you that they don't have any trouble out of the Jacksons at all," the relative said.
With 14 counts of first degree sex offense of a child and another 15 counts of sexual child abuse, sheriff's detectives are painting a different picture.
They say Leroy and Emmanual Jackson along with Vanessa Jackson-Wagner have been committing these crimes for close to a year.
The victims: two children, less than 10 years old and are related to the three.
"It's just not right. I know it's not right," said Jessica.
She says when she came home from work on Thursday she saw sheriff's deputies parked out front of her home, Emmanual and Leroy already in handcuffs.
"They stopped me before I could even make it into the house," she said.
Ultimately, Jackson says, determining their guilt lies in the hands of someone else.
"I believe in God and I know that God knows and everybody else knows that it's not the truth," said Jessica.
Detectives say more charges are pending against the three and more arrests could be forthcoming.
Both Leroy and Vanessa face 26 counts of incest that do not involve any of the children.
Detectives say it was a tip from the Department of Social Services that lead them to the Jacksons.
The two children involved are staying with relatives and are being monitors by DSS.
Pitt County Family charged with multiple counts of sexual child abuse---
GREENVILLE, N.C. – Sheriff's detectives tell Nine on Your Side three people are in custody after having sexual relations amongst themselves and multiple children.
Deputies arrested Leroy Jackson, Emmanual Jackson, and Vanessa Jackson-Wagner Thursday. They were taken to the Pitt County Detention Center.
44-Year-old Leroy Jackson was arrested for possession of marijuana. Detectives say he had at least 1/2 ounce and was in possession of drug paraphernalia. He also faces 11 counts of first degree sex offense of a child relative and 11 counts of conspiracy felony. His bond was set at more than $6 million dollars.
21-Year-old Emmanual Jackson, Leroy Jackson's son, faces three counts of first degree sex offense and is being held under a $1.5 million dollar bond after detectives say he had sexual relations with his aunt, 40-year-old Vanessa Jackson-Wagner.
Jackson – Wagner is charged with 15 counts of conspiracy felony and 15 counts of a sex act of child abuse with a relative after detectives say she had sexual relations with both Leroy and Emmanual. Her bond was set at $6 million.
Detectives say the three were also having sexual relations with children, some of them younger than 10 years old. They say the three where selling the children for drug money.
Ohio Human Trafficking Commission meets without Lisbeth Salander
by John Michael
COLUMBUS, Ohio (CGE) - According to the Ohio Attorney General's office (OAG), which manages the Human Trafficking Commission (HTC), no one matching the description of Lisbeth Salander, the enigmatic 25-year old fictional action hero at the center of the sensational Millennium Trilogy -- "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "The Girl Who Played With Fire," The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" was present at the HTC's second meeting Wednesday.
Charged to study the problem of human trafficking as it occurs in Ohio, HTC will review the criminal offenses in Ohio law that currently apply to such conduct and the penalties for those offenses and develop recommendations to address the problem of human trafficking and to improve criminal law.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine formed the Human Trafficking Commission
to not only continue the work of the previous commission but also to make sure action is taken. The OAG's Website
says the HTC consists of more than 20 offices and agencies throughout the state as well as survivors of human trafficking.
Since the Trafficking in Persons Study Commission was convened in 2009, the commission has released a major report on the prevalence of human trafficking in Ohio and recommendations for how Ohio law can be strengthened to battle this crime.
Mark Moretti of the OAG told CGE that, in addition to organizational matters, the HTC heard from Ohio Rep. Teresa Fedor, a Toledo lawmaker who has taken on the issue of human trafficking. It also heard from Dr. Williamson of the University of Toledo, who is working on trying to quantify the problem in Ohio.
Additionally, Alex Kreidenweis, a graduate assistant in public administration at the University of Dayton, briefed commission members on his work to further define human trafficking through interviews with people directly or indirectly involved with the crime. Moretti said his work will bring a "different perspective, an overarching definition that can aid in determining best approaches to combat the problem and help the victim."
Brent Currence, Director of Missing Children at the AG's Missing Children Clearinghouse, reported that he's organizing law enforcement working groups to talk about how they approach these cases and how to learning and collaborate on cases that are often difficult and challenging, Moretti said. The HTC says an international black market where victims are held against their will and forced to work for their captors is all too real. Forced labor or prostitution, frequently involving children, are central to human traffickers.
Separately, Tina Frundt, founder of Courtney's House, a program that rescues and provides resources and shelter to trafficking survivors in Washington, D.C., told an audience of about 250 Thursday at the Human Services Institute, an annual conference on health, social and economic issues hosted by the Center for Community Solutions, that the problem is much bigger than many people believe, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The former foster child who, at age 14, was taken to a house in Cleveland where four other teen girls lived and where she was raped by two men she didn't know, told reporter Margaret Bernstein, "Here we label it something else. We say it's prostitution, it's pimping....but it's actually the marketing and selling of children."
Frundt said teens and even younger children are pulled in regularly to work as prostitutes, in strip clubs and to produce child porn, according to Frundt.
"It's supply and demand economics at work, and unfortunately the demand is for our children," she said, adding that "Until society wakes up and views it that way, children will continue to be exploited." "The Human Trafficking Commission will...take on the issue from a law enforcement perspective, raising public awareness and working to put traffickers behind bars," Attorney General DeWine said.
Human Trafficking usually involves trafficking persons for use in the sex trade or in illegal labor operations, the AG's office notes. Nationally, it says, over half of all human trafficking cases involve victims under the age of 18, and most girls who are engaged in sex trafficking begin between the ages of 12 and 14. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that at least 100,000 American children become engaged in child prostitution and child trafficking each year.
"While the statutory commission may have issued a final report, our work is not done on the issue of human trafficking in Ohio," DeWine, present at the first meeting but not at the second, said. The former U.S. Senator elected Ohio AG last November wants the HTC to help him develop "practices and proposals to root out human trafficking in our state."
In the Millennium Trilogy, Salander, a frail but tough 90-pound weirdo who's an antisocial mathematical genius, a brilliant hacker with a photographic memory and a vengeful killer and unforgiving moralist, all wrapped into one punk character, is dedicated to stopping the violence that men inflict on women, enabled through human trafficking.
While human trafficking is a major theme in the thriller series, abuse of women is equally powerful. Moretti did not confirm but expects the HTC to meet again in December. Watch the video on human trafficking from the Human Trafficking Collaborative of Lorain County
Trafficked Women's Second Chance
It's like a cruel joke: Women forced into the sex trade end up with rap sheets for prostitution. But a years-long effort to expunge their records is finally paying off.
by Hugh Ryan
For 10 years, Maria (not her real name) was beaten, raped, and forced into prostitution by her husband, a New York City resident. He often refused to allow her food, locked her in a room without a toilet for days at a time, and made her buy drugs for him. As a non-English speaker induced to enter this country by the very man who tortured her, she had few options or resources.
“I was made to be a sexual slave,” Maria said, “to make him money.”
Over the course of a decade, she was arrested repeatedly on prostitution and drug charges, garnering a long and damning criminal record before her husband finally disappeared, leaving her with psychological scars—and a criminal record.
Maria, now a professional in the health-care field, is a survivor of human trafficking, a crime that may affect as many as 12 million people worldwide, according to the International Labour Organization, a U.N. human-rights agency. The most extraordinary part of Maria's story is not the hell she went through, but the fact that she escaped and put that life behind her.
Or at least, she tried to. Unfortunately for Maria, a criminal record stays with you forever. On every job interview, loan form, credit check, or visa application, she must disclose her arrests. In this Kafkaesque twist of the legal system, Maria is a victim indelibly marked as a criminal. Few offenses carry a greater stigma than prostitution, which makes finding work (or becoming a citizen) a near impossibility for her and other survivors.
Until recently, their options were few: lie, or find work in the shadowy world of undocumented labor. But this past spring, Maria became the first person in the country to have her record wiped clean of crimes she was forced into as a result of trafficking, thanks to a new state law that is the culmination of years of political organizing.
“There was no way to go back and erase a criminal conviction in New York,” says Sienna Baskin, co-director of the organization that helped Maria, the Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center. SWP is a legal advocacy organization that helps sex workers of all kinds, from trafficked individuals to those who freely engage in commercial sex. In 2007, SWP helped create the New York Anti-Trafficking law, which made human trafficking a statewide offense.
“We wanted to have as part of that law a remedy for people who've been convicted of prostitution,” said Baskin, but it wasn't included in the final bill. So in 2010, they drafted and were instrumental in passing Criminal Procedure Law §440.10(1)(i), which allows judges to vacate convictions directly related to an individual's history as a trafficked person. This law, the first of its kind in the nation, gave Maria and other survivors the chance to truly leave their pasts behind. It also sparked a wave of similar organizing around the country.
“We were really interested in the law because we were seeing the same types of issues coming up with the clients we work with,” said James Dold, policy counsel at Polaris Project, a national group that tracks and assists state-level anti-trafficking organizing. Within a year of the New York law, vacating bills were passed in Nevada, Illinois, and Maryland, and other bills are pending or being organized in California, DC, Hawaii, Virginia, and Washington. These bills have wide bipartisan support, but certain provisions have caused some lawmakers to balk. Virginia's bill, though it was Republican-sponsored, failed to pass on its first try because of concerns about “decided cases” being “re-opened.” Because prostitution is a state-level offense, Polaris Project and other organizers must adapt their bills to local realities.
“In all the states, we start out with something that is similar to the New York model,” said Dold, who referred to Criminal Procedure Law §440.10(1)(i) as the “gold standard.” Similar, however, doesn't mean identical. For example, under the new Maryland law, Maria's criminal charges would have been expunged, not vacated. What's the difference?
She holds a special visa created for individuals trafficked into this country.
“Expungement does not effect your criminal record for purposes of immigration,” said Baskin. “Immigration can still look at those criminal records and use them to deport you.” As many survivors, like Maria, are not U.S. citizens, this is a potentially dangerous loophole, which organizers like Baskin hope will be closed through amendments to the bill. These and other issues (including lack of funding for lawyers working with survivors) have slowed the implementation of these laws to a crawl.
Even in New York, with the “gold standard” law, only three survivors have seen their convictions vacated in the year the bill has been on the books. “We could bring a hundred of these motions tomorrow, if we had a hundred attorneys to work on them,” said Baskin. Although trafficked individuals are likely just a small portion of those involved in commercial sex, more and more have come forward as legal remedies have been created to help them. But funding, assistance, and education around the new laws take time.
As for Maria? “My whole life is different now,” she said. She has been reunited with her family, holds a T-visa (a special visa created for individuals trafficked into this country), and is in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen.
“When the door opens for you, your whole life changes.”
AnswerFirst Answering Service Attends Child Abuse Council Benefit
Tampa, FL, October 14, 2011 --( PR.com )-- AnswerFirst Communications (www.answerfirst.com), an international telephone answering service and customer service solutions company specializing in answering services, virtual receptionist and call center solutions, announced this week that their Business Development Coordinator, Teri Erickson, attended the Child Abuse Council's 9th Annual Champions for Children Breakfast.
The Champions for Children Breakfast is one of many annual fundraisers organized by the Child Abuse Council. According to their website, the Child Abuse Council has been helping children and strengthening families through prevention, education and treatment programs since 1977. Through these programs, parents receive hands-on training, support and the information needed to face the many challenges and pleasures of raising healthy, happy and well-adjusted children.
The Child Abuse Council is an accredited agency that operates in accordance with nationally defined best practice standards and consistently strives to deliver superior services to children and families. The theme of this year's Champions For Children Breakfast was “Angels of Past, Present, Future,” highlighting ways in which the council works with families within the Tampa Bay community to build strong families and prevent child abuse and neglect from occurring.
The CAC has numerous programs that offer child abuse prevention classes and techniques that will help stop the reoccurring instances of abuse within Hillsborough County. This year's breakfast had an exciting theatrical flair staring Gayle Sierens and directed by Peter Lewis. Some of the cast includes Trish Sandag and Joanne (from Kids on the Block) and Edward Viverette (from Boot Camp for New Dads).
Teri Erickson, Business Development Coordinator at AnswerFirst said, “The Child Abuse Council always does a great job organizing events and the Champions for Children Breakfast was no exception. We are proud to support the children and families of our community through contributions to the Child Abuse Council and we were honored to have been invited to attend the Champions for Children Breakfast.”
AnswerFirst Communications, Inc. is based on Tampa, FL and provides answering services, virtual receptionist and call center solutions to customers internationally. For more information about AnswerFirst's answering service and call center solutions please visit their website (www.answerfirst.com), or call Teri at 1-800-645-2616.
From the Department of Justice
Defending Childhood Task Force Experts Will Examine and Address the Issue of Children Exposed to Violence
WASHINGTON – Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli today announced the establishment of the Attorney General's National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence. The task force is part of the Attorney General's Defending Childhood initiative, a project arising from the need to respond to the epidemic levels of exposure to violence faced by our nation's children.
“Our vision of justice must start with preventing crime before it happens, protecting our children, and ending cycles of violence and victimization. Every young person deserves the opportunity to grow and develop free from fear of violence,” said Associate Attorney General Perrelli. “The task force will develop knowledge and spread awareness about the pervasive problem of children's exposure to violence – this will ultimately improve our homes, cities, towns and communities.”
Following the release of the compelling findings of the first National Survey on Children Exposed to Violence (2009), Attorney General Eric Holder launched the Defending Childhood initiative in September 2010. The goals of the initiative are to prevent children's exposure to violence as victims and witnesses, reduce the negative effects experienced by children exposed to violence, and develop knowledge about and increase awareness of this issue.
The Defending Childhood Task Force is composed of 14 leading experts from diverse fields and perspectives, including practitioners, child and family advocates, academic experts and licensed clinicians. Joe Torre, Major League Baseball Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, founder of the Joe Torre Safe at Home® Foundation, and a witness to domestic violence as a child himself, will serve as the co-chair of the task force.
Over the course of the year, the Defending Childhood Task Force will conduct four public hearings around the country to learn from practitioners, policymakers, academics and community members about the extent and nature of the problem of children's exposure to violence in the United States, both as victims and as witnesses. The task force will also identify promising practices, programming and community strategies used to prevent and respond to children's exposure to violence.
Hearings will take place in Baltimore; Albuquerque, N.M.; Miami; and Detroit. The first hearing of the task force will be held in Baltimore on Nov. 29, and 30, 2011, at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.
The Defending Childhood Task Force will issue a final report to the attorney general presenting its findings and comprehensive policy recommendations. The report will serve as a blueprint for preventing children's exposure to violence and for mitigating the negative effects experienced by children exposed to violence across the United States.
The members of the task force include the following:
Co-chair: Joe Torre, Chairman of the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation. Mr. Torre, Major League Baseball's Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations and former manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees, created his foundation to educate students, parents, teachers and school faculty about the effects of domestic violence.
Father Gregory Boyle, S.J., Founder of Homeboy Industries. Fr. Boyle was ordained as a Jesuit priest in 1984 and serves as a member of the National Gang Center Advisory Board.
Sharon W. Cooper, M.D., CEO of Developmental & Forensic Pediatrics, P.A . Dr. Cooper serves as a consultant and board member of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Sarah Deer, Citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma. Professor Deer is an assistant professor at William Mitchell College of Law and her scholarship focuses on the intersection of tribal law and victims' rights.
Deanne Tilton Durfee, Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect. Ms. Tilton Durfee also serves as chairperson of the National Center on Child Fatality Review.
Thea James, M.D., Director of the Boston Medical Center Massachusetts Violence Intervention Advocacy Program. Dr. James is assistant professor of emergency medicine at Boston Medical Center/Boston University School of Medicine.
Kevin Jennings, CEO of Be the Change. Mr. Jennings founded the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
Alicia Lieberman, Ph.D., Director of the Early Trauma Treatment Network. Dr. Lieberman is Irving B. Harris Endowed Chair of Infant Mental Health at UCSF Department of Psychiatry and director of the Child Trauma Research Program, San Francisco General Hospital.
Robert Listenbee, J.D., Chief of the Juvenile Unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. Mr. Listenbee also serves as a member of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
Robert Macy, Ph.D., Founder, Director, and President of the International Center for Disaster Resilience–Boston . Dr. Macy is also the founder and executive director of the Boston Children's Foundation and serves as co-director of the Division of Disaster Resilience at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Steven Marans, Ph.D., Director of the National Center for Children Exposed to Violence. Dr. Marans is Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry, Professor of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, and also serves as director of the Childhood Violent Trauma Center at Yale University.
Jim McDonnell, Chief of Police, Long Beach Police Department, California. Chief McDonnell teaches public policy issues at University of California, Los Angeles, and served with the Los Angeles Police Department for 28 years.
Georgina Mendoza, J.D., Senior Deputy Attorney and Community Safety Director for the City of Salinas, Calif. Ms. Mendoza has been involved in the California Cities Gang Prevention Network for the past four years and serves as the Salinas lead in the White House's National Forum on Youth Violence.
Retired Major General Antonio Taguba, President of TDLS Consulting, LLC, and Chairman of Pan Pacific American Leaders and Mentors (PPALM). General Taguba served 34 years on active duty, including serving as Deputy Commanding General for Support, Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC)/ARCENT/Third U.S. Army, forward deployed to Kuwait and Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
For more information about Attorney General Holder's Defending Childhood initiative, the Defending Childhood Task Force, and the upcoming hearings, please visit www.justice.gov/defendingchildhood.
From the FBI
18 Child Porn Websites Shut Down
Result of Joint U.S.-China Cooperation
In another example of the increasingly international nature of crime, a man was recently indicted on federal charges of running 18 Chinese-language child pornography websites out of his apartment in Flushing, New York. The websites were being advertised to Chinese-speaking individuals in China, in the U.S., and other countries.
This case serves as an example of something else as well: the increasingly international nature of law enforcement. While the FBI investigated this case in the U.S., we received what U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York called “extensive cooperation and assistance” from the Chinese Ministry of Public Security.
How it all started. In late 2010, the FBI—through our legal attaché office in Beijing—received information from Chinese officials about their investigation of a large-scale child pornography website housed on U.S. servers. And one of their main suspects, a Chinese-born man, was living in New York. So our New York office opened an investigation under our Innocent Images National Initiative and instituted an undercover operation.
The investigation. While the main webpage advertised the various categories of pornographic pictures that were available, our undercover agents—with the help of an FBI Chinese language specialist—discovered that in order to actually view, post, or download the pornography, you had to pay a membership fee ($25 quarterly, $50 annually, and $100 for a “lifetime” membership). The website conveniently accepted all payment types—credit cards, wire and bank transfers, online payments, and even cash that could be mailed to what turned out to be a money transfer office in New York. After becoming “members,” the agents saw hundreds of disturbing pictures and videos of children of all different nationalities engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
Through our investigative efforts, we were able to determine that the site—and its related online payment system—resided on the servers of a web hosting company in Dallas and that the subscriber of the website domain lived in Flushing. We also traced two e-mail accounts—one featured on the site and the other affiliated with the website domain—back to the same individual. Through billing information, we learned that the man had made about $20,000 per month from his subscribers. We believe he had been operating the site since at least 2007.
After the arrest, we identified 17 additional Chinese-language child pornography websites he allegedly maintained and operated. We also seized two servers in Dallas where those sites were hosted. All 18 websites have been shut down.
During the course of the operation, FBI and Chinese investigators and prosecutors met to discuss the case and to talk about future cooperation on similar cases.
One concrete outcome of this partnership? The Ministry of Public Security sent its first Chinese officer to join the FBI's Innocent Images International Task Force and receive specialized training on such topics as legal principals, emerging trends and technologies, and investigative techniques. Once the fall 2011 training session is completed, the task force will number 100 officers in 43 countries. Since its launch in 2004, the task force has built an international network of Internet child sexual exploitation investigators who share intelligence and work joint operations across national borders. Exactly what's needed to combat the many child pornographers using the Internet to extend their nefarious reach around the globe.
Rally Held Supporting Bill To Increase Child Abuse Penalties
An effort is under-way to get stiffer penalties in the state for those involved in child abuse.
It's a bill called Dominick's Law and it's named after a little boy who was beaten to death by his mother's boyfriend last year near Flint.
The legislation was introduced Thursday and dozens of people rallied outside the capitol to show support.
It's been nearly a year and a half since the Calhoun family lost four year-old Dominick, a victim of child abuse.
"We as a family, never thought this was going to happen to us," said Richard Calhoun, Dominick's grandfather.
"It's really a culmination of about a year and a half, two year's work," said Representative Paul Scott.
Scott is sponsoring a bill that would increase punishments for both child abusers and those who see child abuse, but fail to report it.
"While there's a lot of focus on Dominick Calhoun today, there's Dominick Calhouns unfortunately all over our state," said Scott.
He's hoping this law, will put an end to it.
"People who are engaging in this mentality need to know to think twice, and citizens need to know that the government is going to protect their kids from these kinds of behaviors," said Scott.
"We're gunna save some kids," said Calhoun.
Although nothing will bring Dominick back, his grandfather says he can at least take comfort knowing he's working for change.
"I'll just know that eventually when I go, I'll be able to look my grandson in the eye and let him know that grandpa was there for him," said Calhoun.
The bill will now go to a committee where Representative Scott says he'll try to get support and votes for the bill.
Domestic violence survivor shares her harrowing story at Clearwater event
by Keyonna Summers, Times Staff Writer
CLEARWATER — Looking back, the cycle of domestic violence in Audrey Mabrey's life is obvious. As a child, she said, she watched her mother endure abuse at the hands of her father and became a victim herself as her brother mimicked the behavior.
As an adult, Mabrey found herself in two abusive relationships. Her most recent one ended violently in 2009, when she says her estranged husband, Christopher Hanney, beat her, doused her with gasoline, then lit it with a candle, causing burns to 80 percent of her body.
But Mabrey, 28, told about 400 attendees at the Faces of Domestic Violence luncheon Thursday at Clearwater's Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church that she is determined to turn her ordeal into a positive situation and help others recognize the signs of abuse.
"It is oftentimes a silent issue, so it is important to encourage other women to not only get out of it but to advocate," Mabrey said.
The luncheon drew church and business leaders, police officials, civic organization representatives and domestic violence survivors. Among them was Detective Sgt. Sheila Waters-Borland, head of the Clearwater Police Department's Crimes Against Children and Families division. She said her office investigates about 30 domestic violence battery cases a month.
Waters-Borland said victims typically don't report violence the first six or so times and are unlikely to prosecute before the 11th time. That's why, she said, it's important to educate community members — including family members, friends and neighbors — about the signs of domestic abuse.
Mabrey detailed the lies, threats and other signs she ignored throughout her courtship and marriage to Hanney and the red flags that counseling has since taught her to recognize.
People gasped as Mabrey accused Hanney of sexually assaulting her before bludgeoning her with a hammer and setting her afire. Hanney is set to stand trial Jan. 23.
Mabrey, who has two children, spent three months in the hospital and has since enrolled at Hillsborough Community College in hopes of becoming a psychologist or psychology professor.
Gang-related sexual exploitation inquiry launched to combat child abuse
A two year inquiry will be launched that will investigate gang-related sexual exploitation of British children amid fears more than 10,000 young people are being abused.
by Andrew Hough
The Office of England's Children's Commissioner has launched the inquiry amid claims that the scale of the problem is far worse than previously thought.
The Child Sexual Exploitation - Gangs and Groups Inquiry (CSEGG) - which will focus on the links with gangs and groups, is being led by Deputy Children's Commissioner Sue Berelowitz.
It is thoughts that up to 10,000 children are affected by gang-related sexual exploitation but initial research carried out for the Office of the Children's Commissioner has suggested that this figure could be much higher.
Ms Berelowitz has already said that existing data is inadequate and the full extent of this type of abuse is unknown.
Speaking ahead of its launch on Friday Dr Maggie Atkinson, the Children's Commissioner for England, said the inquiry would be "a wake-up call for us all".
The investigation team will gather evidence from police and local authorities as well as health and youth justice workers until early next year, before publishing an interim report in July.
More information will then be gathered the following autumn into early 2013, and the final report will be released in September that year. Concerns have already been raised this year about a lack of action over the sexual abuse of children.
Leading children's charity Barnardo's warned in August that parents and professionals were missing telltale signs of youngsters being groomed for sex.
In June the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) published damning research which found that two-thirds of Local Safeguarding Children Boards were not meeting national guidelines and have failed to put in place ''basic processes'' to stop sexual abuse.
Rebecca Einhorn, from the NSPCC's Street Matters project, said: "Many girls' lives are seriously damaged by gangs who run this type of grooming. It is a corrosive problem that needs serious research and action to help those affected.
"Each year we work with up to 250 girls - four out of five of them have been snared by these predatory offenders.
"We know this type of sexual abuse affects many communities across the UK and has a devastating impact on the young victims.
"But hopefully this inquiry will give us a clearer picture of just how big the problem is and help those working in the field find solutions to protect these vulnerable children."
Barnardo's chief executive, Anne Marie Carrie, said: "Sexually exploited children are right under our noses, yet many are still slipping through the net.
"In this telling new research, it is abundantly clear that, despite victims being amongst the most vulnerable children in society, we still have a long way to go to save them from the clutches of these vile abusers.
"We need to act now to stop more children being failed."
Several court cases have emerged in recent months of gangs exploiting British children. A government spokesman was unavailable for comment.
Missing 5-year-old's mother has history of child abuse
The mother of the 5-year-old Glendale girl who went missing on Tuesday has a criminal history, according to court documents.
Jerice Hunter allegedly served time in a California jail for "injury to a child."
According to ABC 15, Hunter is not considered a suspect or person of interest by police at this time.
Glendale police Officer Tracey Breeden said they do know about Hunter's criminal history, but their "primary goal remains focused on Jahessye's safe return."
After she found a cut on her 3-year-old granddaughter's leg, the children's grandmother called police in October 2005. Cuts and scars were also found on three other children in the home.
Hunter entered a plea of no contest to four counts of causing injuries to her children.
According to records, Hunter's 14-year-old son told police she had been punching him and whipping him with sticks for over two years.
Police said Hunter's husband was also involved in causing the children's injuries by holding one of them down. He is a registered sex offender.
One child allegedly told police the husband whipped her sister five to six times a day, three times a week. All of the children reported that the abuse had taken place for years.
Prosecutors dropped torture charges against Hunter in January 2006 when she agreed to a plea of no contest. California's probation department denied her request and said she was a threat to the well being of her children.
Hunter was sentenced to eight years in prison, and her appeal of that decision was denied.
The eight-year sentence was imposed in early 2006, but it is not yet known why she is now out of prison.
Jahessye Shockley was reported missing around 5 p.m. Tuesday near Glendale and 43rd avenues, and the Amber Alert issues Wednesday morning is still in effect.
Non-profit trying to end human trafficking
October 13, 2011 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Twelve years ago, Lia Valero spent time working in Cambodia as a volunteer for the Peace Corps. What she saw there had a permanent impact. Now, she has started Stop Traffick, a non-profit organization to help stop human trafficking in Chicago and abroad. It's how she shows her "spirit of giving."
It is these faces of the children that keep Valero motivated. These children live in a Cambodian orphanage called Goutte D'eau. It specializes in rescuing children who were victims of human trafficking. One little girl lost her eye after an infection went untreated. She was then reportedly sold into a begging ring.
"I witnessed firsthand victims of human trafficking, and I didn't have any idea at the time what was going on and then later I put it together," said Valero.
Valero set out on a mission to help. Six years ago, she started Malia Designs, a fair trade company that sells purses and accessories made by women in Cambodia who were victims or are at risk of human trafficking. She then donates part of the profits back to the women's' groups.
"By providing a job, it effectively can trickle down to the children as well, so the children are less likely to become victims," said Valero.
Valero still wanted to do more. So she started Stop Traffick, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and funds to help victims in Southeast Asia as well as in Chicago.
This year, Valero has partnered with the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation. That organization focuses on ending the demand for prostitution by educating the public and lobbying for laws that stiffen punishment for solicitors.
"Without people willing to buy commercial sex, there would be no commercial sexual exploitation," said Lynne Johnson, Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation. "We're trying to reduce the exploitation of human beings by holding the people who are doing it accountable and that's the same principal and logic that's applied whether we're talking about an international trafficking ring or a local pimp who is recruiting girls on the West Side."
Stop Traffick is hosting its third annual fundraiser on Saturday, October 22, at Intuit Gallery.
You can find ticket information at: stoptraffickbenefit.eventbrite.com.
Program will focus on human trafficking
The League of Women Voters of Mountain Lakes (LWVML) invites all to a presentation of "Human Trafficking: In Our Own Jersey Backyard" on Tuesday, Oct. 18, at 9:30 a.m., 65 Melrose Rd.
At a U.N. meeting, Elizabeth Santeramo heard a survivor share her story of being trafficked as a sex slave in California at the age of 16.
Santeramo was inspired to organize a panel in Montclair, co-sponsored with Delta Sigma Pi at Montclair State University. The goal is to teach people to protect themselves from being abducted on campus, recognize and anonymously report massage parlors that function as sex spas, work with and train local law officials on how to identify and help victims and to become more aware so that everyone can make a difference and even save someone.
Other programming highlights for the year include guest speakers on Violence Against Women, potluck dinner to discuss the LWVUS Consensus Study on the Role of Federal Government in Education, Running and Winning Workshop for high school girls, Youth in Government and social events.
The LWVML is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose purpose is to promote political responsibility through the informed and active participation of citizens in government. It offers many ways to learn about what is happening in the community and beyond and encourages you to get involved.
Membership has been reduced to $65 for an individual and $90 for a family. For more information about membership, email Jayne Wolkenstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Voices of Survival: Victims of sexual assault rehabilitate after their attack
by Sarah LaCorte
October 13, 2011
Cathryn Dutton was sexually assaulted by an acquaintance during her time at Loyola University.
LaQuisha Hall was a victim of incest when a pastor in her community molested her.
But on Oct. 10, still in the process of healing, Dutton and Hall sat down in front of a room full of students as two survivors.
Dutton and Hall were participants in panel discussion Voices of Survival, an event headed by Marie Lilly, associate director of Women's Resources at the Center for Student Diversity.
“I became empowered mostly by speaking out after being silent about it for four years,” Hall said. “The more I told my story, the more liberated I felt. Today, I feel that promoting awareness, educating the public, and providing victims with support is what empowers me.”
Hall, who is 30-years-old and Butterfly Sistas' Program Director at Heal a Woman to Heal a Nation , said she did not have a supportive response when she told her family she was sexually assaulted.
“The person who molested me was not any member of my family, but romantically involved with my mother,” she said. “When I came out with this to my family, the first thing my mother said was that I was a lying bitch. She ended up taking his side, along with the remainder of my family.”
Hall said that people in her community discouraged her from pressing charges because it was a case of he said, she said.
“I didn't even know what the term sexual assault meant at the time,” she said. “I just felt like I had been a target. I felt it was best to keep it to myself because, to be completely honest, I didn't want anyone to put me out of my house because they didn't believe me.”
Dutton, 22, was sexually assaulted two years ago by an acquaintance. She said she also has a friend who was raped.
“One song helped me out a lot, and that was ‘Don't Carry It All,' by the Decemberists,” Dutton said. “I was angry, sad, frustrated. I wanted answers, and that's a lot to carry internally. I feel like when I found solidarity in others that's when I started to heal.”
Hall said the more she told her story, the more liberated she felt and wanted to spread the message that victims can live a successful and victorious life after trauma.
“While it is important to educate the public, I have walked in the shoes of victims,” Hall said. “I know what it is like to wake up in the morning and feel defeated before stepping out of bed. I know what it is like to feel like you are not ‘normal' and that you can't ever live a ‘regular' life, whatever that may be.”
Dutton said it took a lot for her life to go back to normalcy, and she would not have been ready for a panel discussion six months ago.
“I had to go back to my normal life, and that's really difficult,” Dutton said. “It wasn't normal. It was the same people, the same classes, but it wasn't the same— it was surreal.”
Hall said that the media's neglect of sexual assault issues compels her to speak at panel discussions.
“No one wants to even fathom a child in a sexual position or an adult being forced to perform sexual acts,” she said. “It's almost as if it is believed that if it is not discussed, then it is not happening– out of sight, out of mind. Also, I believe that because the public is poorly educated. They are clueless as to how tackle this issue if they are faced with it.”
Because the statistics of assault are so high, with one in three women and one in five men being victimized, Hall said there is greater need to address this issue.
“There are so many people walking around suppressing their own issues of abuse,” she said. “Many of these people are not ready to talk about their own experiences, let alone face them.”
Dutton said victims of assault need to be handled delicately.
“To help carry the person's burden, it's best to try and help your friends and survivors, just to listen,” she said. “Ultimately, it needs to be the survivor's decision. Rape and assault are situations where the victim has no control, so saying, ‘you have to go to the police, you have to press charges,' is taking the control away from that victim even more, even though that might be the right decision.”
Through all the talks and discussions she has attended, Hall said she considers herself more a soldier than a survivor in the fight against sexual assault.
“I am hopeful that this won't impact me negatively one day, but I also realize that healing takes time– some wounds take longer than others,” she said. “I also believe that all things happen for divine reasons. I believe that God knew I would be strong enough to overcome this catastrophe and move forward as a ‘soldier' in this war.”
Sexual assault against women an emerging challenge here
by Ella Kauhue
October 13, 2011
Sexual abuse is a CRIME.
Sexual assault is an attack of a sexual nature on another person or child, or any sexual act committed without the person's permission.
It is an involuntary sexual act in which a person is threaten, intimidate, or forced to engage against their will, or any sexual touching of a person who has not consented.
This includes rape “(such as forced vaginal, anal or oral penetration), inappropriate touching, forced kissing, child sexual abuse, or the torture of the victim in a sexual manner”.
There is nobody, no organization, no law and no government that will stop this rising tide.
Sexual Assault is slowly killing many women and young girls in many communities throughout the Solomon Islands.
One way in expressing this is that, sexual assault in this country turns out to be an EPIDEMIC and it is spreading out in many homes, communities, offices and squatters.
Sexual abuse is non discriminatory for it can happen to any man, woman or child. Sexual abuse if it is increasing in the Solomon Islands, there is need for those in places of leadership in the family, community, workplaces and others to be able to read the signs by people or children who may be experiencing sexual abuse. Sexual abuse happens everywhere, at home, in public places and offices etc.
Why do people sexually assault others?
Sexual assault is not about offenders getting pleasure from sex, but rather about them claiming power and control over someone else.
The local media is providing us with information on a lot of cases in which the father or the uncle having sexually abused their own very young daughters or nieces is not about pleasure, but more about POWER and CONTROL.
Again there are a lot of contributing factors that makes a person do such an act. In a place like Honiara, issues such as having crowded homes, unemployment, fragmentation of leadership and good governance in many families and communities, no long term role models, increase of criminal activities as well as having a legal system that is there, but in many ways fragile to address such a crime effectively.
At the same time, it is not a new thing that the legal system is not operating on its own, but considerably influenced by our local social and cultural attitudes.
One area to consider as well is that most of our local Judges are male and in most of these sexual assault cases with all their legal experiences behind them in dealing with similar cases before, does not often meet the expectations of women in particular the victims.
Monitoring and observing what is going on, a lot of cases on sexual assault against women and young girls are being made public with many been put before the court, but with such a very tiring and expensive process, most of these cases changed in terms of hard evidences to lessen the support for such cases.
At the same time, the pressure that is been put on the victims to alter their stories or withdraw such cases is quite massive.
This happens in particular when the father is the perpetrator and the daughter is the victim.
In order for the police to investigate such cases thoroughly, the report should have come from the mother herself and not anyone else as indicated by one of the Police Officers.
Looking at what is happening now, a lot of people would say that this country is on the road to recovery as result of the presence of RAMSI, however all these issues are killing RAMSI assistance because we ourselves are not trying hard enough to develop our own country to be a better place where men, women and children can enjoy without fear and intimidation.
When sexual assault is committed by an adult to adult, it is wrong, but not so wrong compared to when it happens to a child.
When an adult is sexually abused, he or she can talk about it confidently that such an act had actually happened as well talk about how she feels.
When this happens to a child the trauma is very different. Studies have shown that the psychological damage is often particularly severe when sexual assault is committed by parents against children due to the incestuous nature of the assault. “Incest between a child or adolescent and a related adult has been identified as the most widespread form of child sexual abuse with a huge capacity for damage to a child. Often, sexual assault on a child is not reported by the child for several reasons”:
- children are too young to recognize their victimization or put it into words
- they were threatened or bribed by the abuser
- they feel confused by fearing the abuser but liking the attention
- they are afraid no one will believe them
- they blame themselves or believe the abuse is a punishment
- they feel guilty for consequences to the perpetrator
Traditional way of dealing with Sexual abuse:
Personally, compensation as a form of penalty for Offenders committing sexual abuse should not be encouraged in any way.
Paying compensation in many of our customs only encourages silence on behalf of the victim and maintain of peace between the families.
Such a process does not care about the livelihood of the victim, but only to receive the compensation in whatever forms it comes.
Again one can transparently see the aspects of power and control. In this compensation process, victims in particular women and young girls never asked what they would like to see, or whatever process they would like to take.
Such decision on what to do is mainly made by men and even the compensation itself is received on behalf of the victim by men as well.
Today we are talking about how law and order have been restored, that is in relation to the ethnic tension, but looking at issues such as violence against women and young girls including sexual abuse, it is quite very alarming.
If half of the Solomon Island population are affected as result of these issues, would you confidently say that the law has been restored?
There is no denial that a lot of good things are happening, but the worse this country can do is to overlook this issue.
Issues such as violence against women including sexual assault is on the rise and women themselves are not strong and resourceful enough to remotely advocate on these life threatening issues.
There needs to be a better way forward for all stakeholders to engage. There is need for more inclusive development programs to be initiated and supported by donors and the government.
Sexual assault in this country is quite alarming and this country cannot shut this out in the name of sustainable developmental programs or projects year after year.
The Civil Society and the National Government should do more to protect the women and young girls in this country by putting more resources into existing programs that addresses violence against women and young girls including sexual assault.
The national government needs to invest more resources into women's organizations such as the National Council of Women, Family Support Centre and the Christian Care Centre so that together their work can make a difference.
Bill Creating Task Force on Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse Now Law
Guam - A measure creating a Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children has been signed into law.
Bill # 173 is now Public Law 31. It was one of 47 bills signed into law last week by either the Governor or Acting Governor. The Governor's office has made no announcement of any of the bills that were signed, leaving it up to individual Senators to announce the signing of their own bills.
The measure was sponsored by Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz who in a release thanked Governor Calvo, his legislative colleagues and members of the community for their testimony in support of the legislation.
The law calls for the appointment of various members of key GovGuam agencies and community-based organizations to develop policy recommendations for preventing child sexual abuse in Guam.
The release quotes Senator Cruz as saying the new law " makes it possible for children to be educated about child abuse so that fewer abusers may harm Guam's youth.”
READ Senator Cruz's release in FULL below:
Vice Speaker Cruz pleased at the signing into law of the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children
(Monday – Hagåtña, Guam) Vice Speaker Cruz is pleased that Governor Calvo signed into law the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children this past October 4, 2011. The Vice Speaker expressed additional gratitude to the community for their testimonies of support and to his colleagues in the 31st Guam Legislature for their support.
Public Law 31-97, originally introduced as Bill No. 173-31 (COR), was modeled after Erin's Law, which was enacted in Illinois on February 14, 2011. Vice Speaker Cruz said, “Public Law 31-98 will bring together key members of Guam's government agencies and community-based organizations to develop policy recommendations for preventing child sexual abuse in Guam.”
Vice Speaker Cruz asserted, “We live in a community of communal settings. Often this places children at greater risk for sexual abuse due to a heightened number of sexual abuse perpetrators. Unfortunately, children often remain silent about the abuse they suffer because the offender threatens to hurt or kill them or a loved one, for reasons of embarrassment, fear of being responsible, or a fear of punishment. Public Law 31-98 makes it possible for children to be educated about child abuse so that fewer abusers may harm Guam's youth.”
Vice Speaker Cruz reiterated his thanks to Governor Calvo, the 31st Guam Legislature, and the community for their involvement in Public Law 31-97. Vice Speaker Cruz said, “Through these types of partnerships, our community continues to make proactive strides toward the protection of our families. I look forward to working in unison with my colleagues, the community, and Governor Calvo on future legislation to preserve the safety of Guam's residents.”
Domestic violence is no longer illegal under Topeka, Kan., law
It's no longer illegal to abuse a spouse if you're in Topeka, Kan. -- at least under city law.
The Topeka City Council voted Tuesday night to repeal the city's misdemeanor domestic battery law. The issue, which had become a bargaining chip in an awkward battle over local and county budgets, has so far seen the release of 30 abuse suspects, according to the Kansas City Star.
Felony domestic abuse cases continued to be prosecuted, but the Star reported that one abuse suspect has been arrested and released twice since the budget spat started last month.
“I absolutely do not understand it,” said Rita Smith, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, in the Star's report. “It's really outrageous that they're playing with family safety to see who blinks first. People could die while they're waiting to straighten this out.”
Behind the move is a game of political "chicken" that developed recently when the local prosecutor for Shawnee County, Chad Taylor, said he could no longer prosecute misdemeanors because his office's budget had been cut by 10%. Half of Shawnee County's misdemeanors are domestic battery cases, and domestic abuse prosecutions had increased over the last three years without extra funding from the county, according to the prosecutor's office.
That meant the city of Topeka — which had a misdemeanor domestic battery law but had let county prosecutors handle the cases in recent years — would have to pick up the slack. But it couldn't afford to handle the cases either.
So City Council members rescinded the domestic battery law to force a stare-down with the county prosecutor. The state has its own misdemeanor battery law, and the county prosecutor would still have to enforce state law.
The city's tactic worked. In a news release Wednesday, Taylor announced — grudgingly — that he would prosecute the domestic abuse cases again.
"Effective immediately my office will commence the review and filing of misdemeanors decriminalized by the City of Topeka," Taylor said in the release. "My office now retains sole authority to prosecute domestic battery misdemeanors and will take on this responsibility so as to better protect and serve our community. We will do so with less staff, less resources, and severe constraints on our ability to effectively seek justice."
But Taylor said there would have to be a reckoning; justice costs money, and someone has to pay.
"Public safety is being ignored by the leaders of this community and we will shortly see the consequences of their actions," he said.
Annual walk to prevent child abuse to be held Saturday
by MEGHAN McCOY
October 12, 2011
The 6th annual walk to prevent child abuse in Southwest Florida will be held this weekend at Pelican Preserve in Fort Myers thanks to the Children's Network of Southwest Florida.
Director of communications Aimee McLaughlin said Wednes-day event organizers have re-ceived a commitment from 350 walkers for the event so far.
"It is a light-hearted, fun way of showing your support for child abuse prevention," she said about the walk.
The number of children that the Children's Network of Southwest Florida provides care for changes from month to month. The organization is currently helping approximately 1,400 children who have suffered from abuse or neglect across Southwest Florida.
McLaughlin said on average they receive more than 1,000 abuse calls a month that are taken and accepted across the five counties of Southwest Florida.
The event, which is held each year to increase awareness, along with raising funds to create child abuse prevention programs, will be held Saturday with registration beginning at 7:30 a.m. and the 3 1/2-mile walk kicking off at 8:30 a.m.
Dogs, as well as individuals, are welcome to join the walk.
Although there is no fee to register for the walk, a majority of the walkers are setting goals to raise a specific amount of money to go towards the cause of fighting abuse and neglect in children.
Individuals can also donate money for the walk online at www.childnetswfl.org.
It is a community awareness event, McLaughlin said, which is typically a successful walk every year due to the good turnout.
"One where people come together and show they care about children," she said about the 6th annual walk.
There will also be a chance for individuals to win raffle prizes during the walk.
Pelican Preserve is located at 10571 Veneto Drive in Fort Myers. For information, call 239-226-1524 or visit www.childnetswfl.org.
The walk was made possible due to the sponsors, Suncoast for Kids Foundation, the News-Press Media Group, Family Preser-vation Services and Pelican Preserve.
Reporting child abuse and neglect:
by Kristen Coughlar
October 13, 2011
EMC News - Fact or fiction: we all have a legal responsibility under the Child and Family Services act to report any suspicions that a child is being abused or neglected to a Children's Aid Society? Fact.
During the month of October the Children's Aid Society of the City of Kingston and County of Frontenac is seeking to remind the community of this fact as part of Child Abuse Prevention Month.
"It's important for people to understand what their responsibilities are when it comes to children in our community. There's that expression, 'it takes a village to raise a child,' and it really is true because it really does take a community to keep our kids safe," said Yvonne Cooper, manger of communications and stakeholder relations.
She noted that it's not feasible for local CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETY staff to be everywhere all the time, and therefore the organization relies on the public to help keep an eye out for children in our community.
Here in Kingston, THE CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETY receives approximately 3,500 referrals a year for suspected abuse or neglect. Of those 3,500 referrals, the organization investigates around 1,200. It works with about 500 families on an ongoing basis, and has approximately 350 children in its care each year.
In addition to neglect, there are three different types of child abuse: physical, emotional and sexual.
Cooper noted that neglect is the most common across the province.
"(Under) reasons for admission into the care of the society, 64 per cent is neglect, followed by emotional harm, physical harm, domestic violence, behaviour problems with the child, and abandonment or separation."
Cooper noted that each form of abuse and neglect comes with its own signs and symptoms, but that if anyone in the community is concerned about a child they've come into contact with in the community the first step is to call the society.
"The people that work in this agency are trained professionals and they know what the actual signs and the symptoms are, and know what it is that needs to be done. So if anybody has any question, or any doubt, or any suspicions the best thing to do is call us and talk to somebody at the referral centre."
From there it will be determined whether an investigation is required.
The referral centre is open 24/7, 365 days a year by calling 613-542-7351. Calls are anonymous.
"Sometimes folks are a little leery of calling because they may have a connection with that family and they don't want to be known, and that's understandable," Copper said. However, she noted that the child's safety should always be the main priority.
"When you think about the vulnerability of children, they can't protect themselves, and every child really deserves to live in an environment that they're not scared, and they have every opportunity to succeed in life."
Information on the signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect, reporting child abuse and neglect, and how the Children's Aid Society responds to a report can all be found online at www.casfrontenac.ca
Child abuse ‘epidemic'
The number of child abuse cases is rising year after year in Columbia County
by Stover E. Harger III
The South County Spotlight
ASSESSING ABUSE – Though they resemble toys to the untrained eye, these anatomically correct dolls are used by assessment specialists to determine whether children have been sexually abused. Children sometimes have a difficult time verbalizing instances of maltreatment, but are better able to use the dolls to relate abuse experiences.
The number of child abuse victims in Columbia County is increasing year after year.
Child abuse advocates call it an epidemic, one that ruins families for generations and costs the government an estimated $67 million daily in direct costs to the health care, law enforcement, judicial and child welfare systems.
Statistics published in the Oregon Department of Human Services' 2010 “Child Welfare Data Book,” paint a harrowing portrait of child abuse in all its forms in our county.
In 2010, 214 county children were victims of abuse at a rate of 18.8 per 1,000 kids. This is up from 192 victims in 2009 and 120 in 2008. Statewide, 11,188 of Oregon's 884,078 children were abused in 2010 at a rate of 12.7 per 1,000.
Deputy District Attorney John Berg, who prosecutes many of the child abuse cases that make it to the court system, said traditionally there is a decline in the amount of reported abuse during the summer because children are not in school where teachers keep an eye on their well being. This summer, however, he witnessed something different.
“It seems like we've had a steady flow of reports over the summer as well,” he said. “It seems like there's a lot, but there is always too many.”
On the forefront of the battle against child abuse is Columbia County's nonprofit Child Abuse Assessment Program, the Amani Center, which started in 2000 to help treat victims. Their interviews and examinations of children are often used in criminal abuse cases.
Amani Center Director Lisa Galovich said since assessing their first child in 2002, the center has seen an increasing amount of kids. The Amani Center saw 34 children that year. Now, staff do around 500 intakes yearly, not all of which make it to the detailed assessment process. Galovich said the center completes about four assessments a week, with many of the abuse cases sexual in nature.
“It's been a busy year,” Galovich said.
One factor that seems to contribute to an increase in child abuse is the economy, which is long believed by many to play a role because of the stress often thrust upon parents suffering from financial hardships. A study published last month by the journal Pediatrics seems to link the number of kids hospitalized in the U.S. with abusive head trauma with the faltering economy.
Before the late 2007 economic crash, the average rate of abusive head injuries of kids was 8.9 per year per 100,000 children. After the crash, that number rose to 14.7 per 100,000 kids.
Child welfare advocates say abuse is so painful to children that it often leaves mental scars that last through that person's life. Research shows that many times abusers were abused themselves.
Apart from the physical and emotional turmoil abuse causes in children and their families, there is a clear economic impact, according to the Prevent Child Abuse America group. They estimate the cost of child abuse and neglect to each taxpaying family is $1,461 a year.
While there is no single cure for child abuse, one thing will help — talking about the issue, no matter how hard it may be to think about, Galovich said.
“It's a difficult conversation for people to have,” she said.
Investigation Continues Into Sexual Abuse Allegations At Jackson Middle School
by Kait Rayner
The investigation continues into allegations of sexual abuse in an Aiken County middle school. We told you Tuesday on WJBF News Channel 6...parents of 2 Jackson Middle School students reported to police their children were sexually assaulted by other students in school.
Right now, the investigation is in the hands of specially-trained investigators at the Aiken County Sheriff'S Office, in the Juvenile Division, where some argue it should have been from the start. But, officials say they are working with the school to determine exactly what happened.
In two separate incident reports, one child says she was forced to make sexual contact with another student. Another says she was dragged into the bathroom by two boys and forced to perform oral sex.
Both incidents allegedly happened at Jackson Middle School in Aiken County, and both were reported by parents. One report was made a week after the incident occurred.
The failure of school authorities to immediately report the incident to law enforcement has raised some eyebrows.
Now the investigation is up to the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, where Captain Troy Elwell admits...the miscommunication may have slowed down the investigative process.
Captain Troy Elwell, Aiken County Sheriff's Office: "In this situation, I think the school system was trying to do the right thing. They were trying to determine what they did have, if they had a crime, and the parents came to us prior, which is not the normal everyday occurrence. Normally, the school comes to us first."
Capt. Elwell maintains the Sheriff's Office has a good working relationship with the schools and that the system works...most of the time.
From here, investigators in the Juvenile Division take over...
Capt. Elwell: "They provide them with anything they can during the investigation and even after the investigation, if they need any counseling or any time of help...”
They hopefully will help find some resolve...in this difficult case...for both the alleged victims and their families.
Private bill targets human trafficking outside Canada
Canadians who exploit children or traffic humans outside our borders could still be prosecuted in Canada if a new private member's bill from a Manitoba Conservative MP makes it through the House.
by Mia Rabson
OTTAWA — Canadians who exploit children or traffic humans outside our borders could still be prosecuted in Canada if a new private member's bill from a Manitoba Conservative MP makes it through the House.
But a law to make buying sex a crime will have to wait.
Kildonan-St. Paul MP Joy Smith introduced her new bill earlier this month. It will come up for debate Oct. 25.
Human trafficking is defined by the United Nations as the recruitment, transportation, harbouring or receipt of people using threats, violence, force, fraud or deception. Most victims are female, about half are children and about 70 per cent are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Others end up in forced-labour situations, often as domestic help or in illegal drug operations.
Human trafficking was added to the Criminal Code in 2006.
Smith's bill goes after Canadians who traffic victims abroad. Currently, Canadian laws can only prosecute offenders who traffic people into, out of, or through Canada.
Smith said that's not good enough, when so many countries where the victims come from can't or don't have the ability to prosecute offenders.
"We need to take responsibility for Canadians who traffic and enslave victims in other countries," said Smith.
The bill also gives more specific examples of what exploitation is to aid prosecutors in court.
However what the bill won't do is enact a Nordic model of prostitution, which views women who sell sex as victims and the men who buy sex as the criminals. In Sweden, being caught buying sex could net you a year in jail or a fine of up to 50 days pay.
The Swedish law has been in place since 1998 but has had mixed reviews in its impact on the sex trade.
Currently in Canada it is illegal to keep a bawdy house, live off the avails of prostitution or procure a person into the sex trade. It is not illegal to sell or buy sex.
Smith's national strategy on human trafficking included going after the buyers and last July she said she intended to use her next private member's bill to do so.
However last year an Ontario judge struck down Canada's prostitution laws and said they were unconstitutional. The government is appealing that decision.
A source in the government said the fear was if Smith's bill were put on the order paper it could upset the government's argument on appeal.
It is likely if a law to charge the buyers of sex ever appears it will come from cabinet rather than the backbench, so the changes can be better supported with programs and money.
Teens target human trafficking
A group of students are working to make the world safer for women and girls
by Matthew Claxton, Langley Advance
October 13, 2011
A group of Walnut Grove Secondary students has launched a project to get the Canadian government to take action on human trafficking and sexual slavery.
Anna Demian, a Grade 11 student, was first inspired after her sister made a trip to Cambodia three years ago.
She came back with stories of women and girls, some as young as three, who had been rescued from the sex trade.
"It shocked us completely," Demian said.
A recent trip of her own overseas just confirmed that she wanted to do something concrete. More research by Demian and her friends - Kendra Goodman, Claire Konrad, Allison Evans, and Kelsey Hari - showed that it was not a problem just in poorer countries, but here in Canada as well.
The young women were also inspired by the example of Tara Teng, a Fort Langley woman who was crowned Miss B.C. and Miss Canada last year.
The Trinity Western University student devoted her tenure as Miss Canada to raising awareness about human trafficking.
"The passion to make a change has been growing," said Evans.
They contacted Langley MP Mark Warawa and asked if they could meet him, and give him some letters about the issue. They planned to collect 1,000 letters from the students at Walnut Grove Secondary calling for change.
Warawa later agreed to meet them on Oct. 13.
The five young women, their friends, and teachers, then went into a high-speed campaign to gather as many letters as possible before the deadline.
The letters aren't form letters, but are unique to each student. The young women collected them after doing presentations in social studies classes, then in various other classes as more teachers at Walnut Grove requested they speak.
Two core themes of the letters are the need for a national strategy in Canada, and a plea to adopt the "Nordic model."
That's the notion that those who buy sex should be penalized more harshly than those who sell it.
Konrad said she was shocked to learn that in Canada you can get more time in prison for selling marijuana than for trafficking in humans - selling people.
The students have more than 300 letters so far, and they fully expect to hit their goal and present another 700 to Warawa within the year.
Walnut Grove has about 2,000 students, so they'll need one from every other student at the school.
Principal Jim Darby said the project has benefited from help from teachers, but it belongs to these students.
"It's just another indication of how amazing these guys are," he said. "A lot of kids today want to make the world a better place."
Philippines: How many sex tourists, how many victims?
by Fr Shay Cullen
October 13, 2011
The recent Philippine Tourism Congress avoided a hot subject - sex tourism. This is the scourge that is causing endless abuse and exploitation of women and children. It is also destroying the moral and family values of this country and damaging the name of Philippine tourism. Some Philippine officials have hotly disputed a statistic mentioned by the US Ambassador, Harry K Thomas, Jr that 40% of the tourists coming to the Philippines are sex tourists. The Philippine officials raising a storm, are embarrassed that the ugly shameful truth has come out.
The exact figure may never be known, but can anyone prove 40% is not true? And is any percentage acceptable? The evidence is clear, the sex bars and clubs are filled with foreign customers and thousands of young women and even minors are for sale. The Ambassador, to end the controversy over his remark, said he regrets it, but he should not, it highlights a shocking reality - the truth of widespread sex tourism.
When it comes to such blatant crimes against women and children, denial, silence and indifference is a form of consent and is unacceptable. Church and State have to speak out and act more decisively to end this destructive industry that is widely tolerated. It is the major cause of the trafficking of persons in the Philippines. "Our faith is dead" says St James, "when there is no action for the needy"(2 James Ch.2.vs 14-26).
The Preda Foundation gives free legal assistance and shelter to victims of sex trafficking. The case of two daughters, 12 and 14 years old, trafficked and sold as sex slaves by her parents to two foreign sex tourists at an Olongapo beach got no justice. Despite strong evidence of guilt, the case was dismissed on technicality. In another case, two children were made sex slaves at ten and eleven years old for four years by two American sex tourists in Olongapo City. They got no justice either and one has been abducted. The two child abusers, a father and son from California, went free and escaped when the law enforcers failed to present the evidence.
The sex tourists lie, bribe and go free. They are the big spenders and coddled by authority. Sex tourism, ignored by officialdom, is the scourge that spreads HIV-AIDS, moral depravity, child abuse, incest, abortion, woman abuse and corruption throughout Filipino society. Many victims fill the children's refuge centers seeking help, crying for justice. Thousands more victims are left to suffer. The sex industry is damaging the good name of the nation.
The US Ambassador was making an important speech appealing to judges to give more basic justice for the trafficked, exploited and oppressed women and children. The lack of justice in the Philippines is like people without food, it can drive many to violence. It has kept this nation at war with itself and has fostered an insurgency that can only end when corruption ends and justice is done speedily, fairly and with integrity. Then peace will reign.
What percentage of sex tourists can be tolerated, if not 40% of all arrivals? 10% of 3.5 million tourists is ok? For me and many more people of conscience who respect the dignity of women and children, even one act of rape, child abuse and sexual exploitation is one too many.
The estimated number of children alone trafficked or lured into the sex trade is said to be between 60,000 to 100,000 children, a statistic that most non-government agencies and UNICEF stand by. The number of women trafficked could be ten times that. In the Olongapo area, a research project learned that 5000 women are working in the sex trade in that city and nearby Subic Town.
In its July 2011 edition, The Reader's Digest, known for its meticulous research, shows a chart of human trafficking world wide and says that 500,000 Filipino women and children are trafficked to the United States and other nations every year. So how many more victims are trafficked internally from the poor regions of the Philippines to the cities and sex tourist resorts? Visit the bars and many thousands will be found.
These bars and clubs are managed by foreigners, and they offer the victims for sale in modern slavery auctions operated with a Mayor's license and permit proudly displayed. Is this government approval? The sex tourism and the bars are a blight on the nation and must be closed down. Instead, human rights must be respected and work with dignity and fair wages must replace them.
Fr Shay is a Columban priest working in the Philippines. For more information see: http://www.preda.org/main/index.htm
Not always the 'gentler sex'
by Barbara Kay, National Post
Last Saturday's Post featured an interview with Shannon Moroney, the wife of a supposedly rehabilitated Jason Staples, who in 1988 murdered a woman in a fit of rage and spent 10 years in prison. A month after their marriage, Staples sexually assaulted and kidnapped two women. He's back in prison as a "dangerous offender."
Mentioned, but not elaborated on in the interview was the revelation that Staples had been sexually abused as a child. You're not surprised. By his mother. Now perhaps, you are.
Most rapists were subjected to some form of sexual abuse in childhood. A startling amount is perpetrated by females. Peer-reviewed studies conclude that between 60% to 80% of "rapists, sex offenders and sexually aggressive men" were sexually abused by a female.
And yet it is commonly understood that, except in rare cases, women don't harbour such impulses. As McGill professor of social work Myriam Denov, who did her PhD thesis on female sex offenders, notes, as recently as 1984, a study proclaimed that "pedophilia does not exist at all in women."
It exists in spades. According to a 2004 U.S. Department of Education mass study of university students, 57% of students reporting child sexual abuse cited a male offender, and 42% reported a female offender. Interestingly, 65% of the survivors of female abuse who opened up to a therapist, doctor or other professional were not believed on their first disclosure. Overall, 86% of those who tried to tell anyone at all about their experiences were not believed.
According to a 1996 report from the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN), about 25% of child sexual abuse is committed by women, but that figure may be low, because survivors are far more conflicted and shamed in admitting abuse by their mothers than by fathers. In one study of 17,337 survivors of childhood sexual abuse, 23% reported a female-only perpetrator and 22% reported both male and female. A U.S. Department of Justice report finds that, in 2008, 95% of all youths reporting sexual misconduct by staff member in state juvenile facilities said their victimization experiences included victimization by female personnel, who made up 42% of the staff.
Public acknowledgement of female sex abuse remains a social taboo. BBC Radio 4 broadcast a film called When Girls Do It, following which a TV show, This Morning, opened its lines to survivors of female sex abuse. The studio was overwhelmed by over 1,000 calls, 90% women, none of whom had ever before disclosed their secrets.
Dr. Paul Fedoroff, a forensic psychiatrist and co-director of the Sexual Behaviors Clinic at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, says that "there are a lot of women who do sexually abuse children, but they get away with it." Daycare centres, schools and homes make propitious terrain for predators. One study found 8% of female perpetrators were teachers and 23% were babysitters.
There are three types of female sex offenders: those who are predisposed to it and will abuse very young children, exactly like men; those who are "male-accompanied," like Karla Homolka (alive and well, and the mother of three children in Montreal); and the "teacher-lover" type, like the infamous Mary Kay Letourneau, who seduced and, after a stint in prison, married her former student.
While the first two types are universally detested, the third type is problematic, because it is often assumed, even by law enforcement, that older women cannot coerce sex, or that teenage boys are flattered and empowered by an older woman's sexual mentorship. Boys do act out their confusion and anxieties differently than girls do, but that doesn't mean many of them aren't damaged by the relationships, or that the law should be applied to women abusers with any less rigour.
Even mental-health professionals and social service agencies avoid facing up to the phenomenon. I spoke at length with an adult survivor of a mother's sadistic sex abuse. "Nina," not her real name, told me that although she has attempted many times to deal with her past therapeutically, "I have never found any social service agency willing to acknowledge this or speak about it."
Victorian chivalry and 21st-century feminism would seem to make strange bedfellows, but in their equally unrealistic characterization of women as the always "gentler sex," they condemn both male and female victims of femaleperpetrated abuse to silence and second-class social status.
To err is human. Are women fully human? Then stop treating them like saints or permanent moral infants.
Abused Chicks Grow Up to Be Abusers
by Virginia Morell
It's a scene that occurs daily among nesting colonies of Nazca boobies: A young adult bird struts over to a neighbor's chick and begins biting and pecking it, sometimes causing injuries that lead to the nestling's death. But if the chick survives, it's likely to become just like its tormentor, attacking other nestlings when it reaches maturity and perpetuating this "cycle of violence," researchers report. It's one of the first times that the cycle, which is normally used to explain child abuse in humans, has been discovered in a population of wild animals. The study appears in the October issue of The Auk.
It's well known that children who suffer attacks by adults often grow up to abuse their own kids. But it's been difficult to study this cycle outside of humans or captive species, such as rhesus monkeys, that may exhibit some similar behaviors—because it is apparently rare, or at least seldom witnessed. On Española Island in the Galápagos, however, adult Nazca boobies attack chicks at an alarming rate, and the researchers say the birds' behavior offers a somewhat parallel model to that of humans. The birds are indifferent to human observers, so it's easy to spot and record the entire sequence of events, the researchers say.
The sea birds' chick abuse is "one of the first things you notice; it's that obvious and disturbing," says David Anderson, an evolutionary ecologist at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and one of the study's co-authors, who has been observing the boobies since 1984. The behavior is also surprising. "You don't expect to see animals wasting time, bothering with a neighbor's chick, when it could be doing something that benefits its fitness, like finding a mate."
To understand more about how this behavior arises in the boobies, Anderson and his graduate students, including first author Martina Muller, collected data over three breeding seasons. They identified 24 individuals, some of which were attacked as nestlings and some of which weren't. They tagged these birds with bright blue leg bands and tracked them again when they were adults. The scientists discovered that those adults that had suffered the most abuse as nestlings were themselves the worst chick abusers as adults. "A bird's history as a target of abuse proved to be a strong predictor of its adult behavior," Anderson says. The bird's behavior is thus similar to that of humans—but with a key difference, he adds. In humans, the abuser is most often related to the child. The boobies, however, are attacking unrelated chicks.
The boobies' behavior seems to be at least partly linked to the birds' natural history. Boobies often lay two eggs, even though the parents can care for only one chick. If both eggs hatch, the nestlings fight each other to the death—a behavior that is governed by hormones.
The latest find—that these survivors often become abusers as adults—may be due to this previous behavior or to lingering hormonal effects. Because the scientists have not yet found an evolutionary explanation for the birds' behavior, they suggest there may be "some psychological element at play," given the abusers' "intense interest in the chicks," Anderson says.
Because the attacks by unrelated adults are similar to the sibling attacks, there may be a "maladaptive side effect" of something that makes evolutionary sense, says Scott Forbes, a biologist at the University of Winnipeg in Canada. Forbes agrees with Anderson that the boobies can provide a "useful model system" to study the causes of human child abuse. Others, however, are not yet convinced that the chick-abusing boobies and child-abusing humans are sufficiently similar to warrant using the birds as a model. "It is very interesting to see these intergenerational effects of early experience and hormones in an animal," says Dario Maestripieri, a behavioral biologist at the University of Chicago in Illinois. "But what happens in humans is pathological," he continues, "whereas the birds are programmed to attack each other as siblings," because the parents can handle only one.
Men With Disabilities, Four Times More Likely To Be Sexually Abused
by Art Writ
In prior studies and surveys, it has been said that women with disabilities are more likely to be the subject of sexual abuse compared to women without any impairments. In the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the first study which tackled a population based investigation of sexual violence victimization against men was published. Researchers of the study have reported that as compared to those men without any disabilities, men who are disabled are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted.
“Men with disabilities are at a heightened risk for lifetime and current sexual violence victimization,” said the lead investigator Monika Mitra, who is a research scientist of the Center for Health Policy and Research, and Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Massachusetts Medical School. “The most notable finding is that the prevalence of lifetime sexual violence, completed rape, and attempted rape against men with disabilities was comparable to that against women without disabilities, and past-year rates for men with disabilities exceeded those for women without disabilities.”
Dr. Mitra further explains that “this study also broadened research of such victimization against men with disabilities beyond the intimate partner context to acquaintances and strangers, as well as family members, intimate partners, and dates. This is particularly relevant for people with disabilities whom earlier studies have suggested are especially likely to experience abuse from caregivers and personal care and other attendants, in addition to intimate partners.”
The researchers who came from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health made use of data coming from the 2005 Massachusetts Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (MA-BRFSS). There were about 22,000 respondents in this annual health survey of non-institutionalized adults, and this survey was also done in collaboration with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study found out that:
- Approximately 13.9% of men with disabilities reported lifetime sexual violence, compared to 3.7% of men without disabilities, 26.6% of women with disabilities, and 12.4% of women without disabilities.
- Men with disabilities (5.3%) were more likely to report past-year sexual violence than men (1.5%) and women (2.4%) without disabilities and less likely than women with disabilities (6.3%).
The participants were asked about (1) whether anyone ever had or attempted to have sex with them without their consent; and (2) whether in the past year anyone had touched them sexually without their consent/despite their objections or had exposed them to nonconsensual sexual situations that did not involve physical touching.
According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, men and boys are also the victims of the crimes of sexual assault, sexual abuse, and rape. In fact, in the U.S., over 10% of all victims are male. And as per the Male Abuse Survivor Report website, male survivors of childhood sexual abuse and male rape have until recently been the silent, unseen victims of sex crimes; often forgotten by the support services and legal system. In the last couple of years this has fortunately begun to slowly change.
As many as 1 in 5 males will be sexually abused before the age of 18. According to FBI figures in the USA, about one in 5 adult rape victims are male.
SwiC, faith community to hold child abuse seminar
by Thomas Leskin
In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness month, leaders in the faith community will be joining with Schuylkill Women in Crisis on Thursday at the third annual Awareness Raising, Information-Sharing Event.
ARISE, which is a free two-and-a-half-hour event that will be held at Christ United Lutheran Church, 437 Airport Road, Ashland, is for anyone in the faith community who wants to familiarize themselves with domestic violence. Darla Troutman, assistant to the director at SWiC, said the event is not only for pastors, but also women's group members, Sunday school teachers and youth group leaders, since victims may turn to someone in the faith community for help.
"The main topic will be child abuse and, specifically, child sexual abuse," Troutman said. "It is 1,500 times more likely for a child to be abused that is living in a home where an adult is being abused."
Troutman said the program aims to tie in how churches and Schuylkill Women in Crisis can partner together because any type of trauma often brings up spiritual questions.
"We aren't trained to answer those questions, so more people in the faith community need to learn about what exactly domestic violence is and we want them to be informed and ready to approach questions," she said. "Nationwide studies have shown the first people victims choose to turn to are members of the faith community."
The event will begin with a domestic violence 101, then participants will watch a movie titled "Domestic Violence: What Churches Can Do," followed by another movie and discussion about child sexual abuse. There will be periods for questions, discussion and a break.
Troutman said the first year the event dealt with elder abuse and was held at First United Church of Christ, Schuylkill Haven, while the second year was about how abusers use technology to harass, stalk or abuse victims and was held at The Lighthouse Church, Orwigsburg.
With seminars focusing on a different specific-related topic each year and held in different locations - being held in Ashland this year - Troutman said the goal is to move the event around the county each year to reach people who couldn't attend in previous years due to the location and time.
Although the seminar is free, those interested in attending must register by calling 570-622-3991. Registration will also take place from 8:30 to 9 a.m. on the day of the event.
Many searches, few clues in KC baby disappearance
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Authorities searching for a missing baby in Kansas City have marched shoulder-to-shoulder through acres of woods, rappelled down cliffs and combed through landfills. They've interrogated her parents for hours and called in firefighters to search a 36-foot well that seemed like a possible place to hide a child's body.
But after receiving more than 300 tips and chasing down many others, police still have no idea what happened to Lisa Irwin, a fair-haired, big-eyed baby, whose first birthday is now only a month away.
A full week has passed since Lisa's parents, Jeremy Irwin and Deborah Bradley, reported their daughter missing. Jeremy returned home from a late shift at work Oct. 4 and told police he found the house lights on, a window tampered with and his child gone.
Police have since searched the home with metal detectors, and FBI and police re-enacted a possible abduction, all done while camera crews filmed from the street.
Police spokesman Capt. Steve Young has said police are pursuing all leads and taking a no-holds barred approach to the investigation.
"I challenge you to name something, and I can assure you we have done it twice," Young said early in the investigation. But he has also said all along that he and other police can't comment on the investigation.
Lisa's parents appeared on television several times that first week but have since retreated from the media, saying they want to focus all their attention on finding Lisa. They declined to comment Tuesday.
A relative said family members had watched part of the well search on television.
John Hamilton, a former Kansas City police officer who now teaches criminal justice at Park University in nearby Parkville, Mo., said officers are as determined as anyone to find the child.
"If there is any pressure, it's to find the (baby) safe and bring her home," Hamilton said. "Another thing people don't realize, and this happens in a majority of big cases, is the prosecutor's office and police are working hand-in-hand on this."
The Clay County Prosecutor's office did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday afternoon.
As for Wednesday, the beginning of the search's second week, Young, the police spokesman, said police will carry on.
"It's fair to assume a small amount of frustration on behalf of everybody," he said. "But it doesn't change the direction at all. ... Tomorrow morning, I'm sure they'll get everybody back in the (command post) and hand out leads and keep people coming and going."
It's time to get serious about sex trafficking in Australia
by Caroline Norma
October 13, 2011
Legalising prostitution has not made the women working safer.
Each week in Victoria, more than 60,000 men buy women in prostitution. Thanks to investigations like those carried out recently by The Age and Four Corners, we know that some of the women they buy have been trafficked.
Sex trafficking in Australia should not come as a surprise. Sex industry businesses find a burgeoning market here. According to the business research company IBISWorld, the Australian sex industry has ballooned over the past decade. High growth has forced pimps to forge international supply routes to source their ''product'', which, in the case of the sex industry, is mostly women and children. Asian women in particular are a consumer favourite.
''Customer review'' websites set up for buyers of women in prostitution reveal just how popular Asian women are in the Victorian sex industry. One forum dedicated to reviews of women in legal brothels contains hundreds of comments about Asian ''working ladies'', or WLs. Users complain that these women speak ''barely intelligible English''. One contributor notes that ''Korean WLs never look happy'', and another encourages readers to check out the ''Korean chicks'' at one particular brothel because they are ''very young'', and ''work for a matter of months before disappearing''.
Website participants are mostly unconcerned about the possibility the women they use might be trafficked. The token measure taken by Consumer Affairs Victoria last year to get these men to report trafficking - by putting up warning signs in brothel waiting rooms - doesn't seem to be working.
Consumer Affairs licenses brothel and escort agency businesses. Prostitution was legalised in Victoria in 1984 to tackle three problems: illegal prostitution and police corruption, harm to women and street prostitution. More than 15 years later, these problems have grown worse, not better.
Estimates from police and the legal brothel industry put the number of illegal brothels at 400 in Victoria, four times the number of legal ones, and legal brothels are being used as fronts for illegal operators and criminal activity. Brothel owners have been caught bribing local government officials to warn them of licence checks.
Legalisation has not made women safer. A 1998 study found 40 per cent of clients do not use condoms. A woman in a Blackburn brothel this year was threatened by a client with a gun after she refused sex acts without a condom. Three academics who interviewed women in legal brothels in 2011 found that ''physical safety'' was one of their biggest concerns.
Violence in street prostitution is just as bad, and the author of a 2011 report commissioned by Inner South Health wrote that he collected ''25 pages of short excerpts from interviews'' where 89 people in prostitution in St Kilda described their experiences of ''violence and rape''. The Attorney-General's Street Prostitution Advisory Group in 2002 estimated 300-350 people were engaged in prostitution in St Kilda over the 12-month period. At least two have been murdered - one in 2003 and one in 2004.
If legalising prostitution hasn't eliminated the problems of the sex industry, what will? We need to look to Sweden for the answer. The Swedish government criticises countries such as Australia that allow legal prostitution on the basis that it generates demand for the criminal activity of traffickers and organised crime. Swedish bureaucrats understand that prostitution and trafficking are two sides of the same coin. In 1999 they made pimps, traffickers, and prostitution ''clients'' liable for criminal prosecution.
A detective inspector with Sweden's National Police Board notes that, since 1999, the country has become unattractive for traffickers, because they can no longer ''earn as much money as they want to''. In a phone tap recorded by Swedish police, a trafficker tells a pimp he wants to bring 15 young Estonian women to Stockholm for a couple of weeks to make money. The pimp says: ''Don't do that. It's too expensive for you. Bring the women to … Denmark or even better, Germany or Holland.'' Germany and Holland, of course, are (in)famous for their systems of legalised prostitution.
Since 1999, the number of Swedish men buying women has dropped from 12.7 to 7.6 per cent. The Swedish government runs public education campaigns against prostitution on the basis that it is a cause of trafficking and a form of violence against women.
Sweden has managed to cut the number of women in street-based prostitution by half. These women are eligible for state-subsidised housing, legal and medical assistance, counselling, education, and job training. In Victoria, the only agency funded by the government to offer help to prostituted women, RhED, runs brothel ads in its quarterly magazine.
State and federal governments in Australia make a lot of noise about their opposition to trafficking, but continue to provide the sex industry with a very hospitable operating environment. Victoria should, at the very least, send its staff on a study tour of Sweden, Norway, South Korea and Iceland to see what serious public policy against the crime of sex trafficking really looks like.
Dr Caroline Norma is a lecturer in the school of global studies, social science and planning at RMIT University and a member of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia.
Human trafficking a local plague, too
MUNSTER | Around the globe nearly 1.4 million people are sold annually for sexual exploitation and forced labor in a practice called human trafficking. Some 200,000 of them -- mainly children and young women -- are U.S. residents traded in all 50 states, according to the U.S. Congressional Research Service.
On Tuesday, the Lady Love Organization of Family Christian Center hosted A Night For Freedom at the church to shine a spotlight on the practice and tell area residents what they can do to abolish human trafficking here in Northwest Indiana, throughout the U.S. and the world.
Pastor Melodye Munsey, the organization's founder and president, hosted the event, which featured speakers Jan Jeffcoat of Fox News in Chicago and former Lake County Sheriff Roy Dominguez.
"The strongest gangs in California are said to have swapped their major trade in illicit drugs and illegal weapons to the selling of human beings," Munsey said.
"Human trafficking is the second largest global organized crime today. It's a $31.6 billion industry," she said. "It's said that you can sell a drug or a weapon once, but a human being can be sold again and again."
Munsey called the rally "a call to action" and urged those present to support those trying to abolish the trade.
Among those supporters are Hookers for Jesus, a group of former sex industry workers who provide education, housing, friendship and social service programs for former and current prostitutes.
The group's name refers to Jesus' call to disciples James and John to leave their nets and become "fishers of people," said Samantha Summers of the Las Vegas-based organization who left the sex industry 11 years ago.
"Prostitution is legal in 11 counties in Nevada, but not in Clark County where Las Vegas is located," said Annie Lebert, who is a former worker in the sex industry. "When we started the group in 2005, it wasn't trendy. Now it's trendy, which is a good thing."
Sex trafficking doesn't just take place in distant lands or in the glittering lights of Las Vegas, said Dominguez.
Jovan Demont "Geo" Stewart, 31, of Hammond, was sentenced Dec. 7 to life behind bars for luring more than 40 women, and in some cases, teenagers into prostitution and for helping run a sex trafficking business.
Stewart's cousin Justin "Tootie" Cephus, 33, of Chicago Heights, also received a life sentence in December, and Cephus' brother, Stanton Landry Cephus, 29, was sentenced to 27 years in prison in January.
A federal law against human trafficking, first passed during the Clinton administration, wasn't reauthorized this year by Congress and expired or "sunset" on Sept. 30, Dominguez said.
The Senate is considering a reauthorization, but House Bill 2830, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2011, is being held up in House committees, he said.
"A part of the bill provides money to other nations to combat human sex and slavery trafficking," Dominguez said. "Some members of Congress want to cut foreign aid."
Prayer fights sex trade on I-10 corridor
October 11, 2011
by Grace Gaddy
A 15-year-old girl recounted her painful story to police. She told them of a man who went by “Santana.” The man arranged for someone to lure her into his Florida residence, where he raped her, recorded images of her unclothed and forced her into a life of prostitution.
Eric Antwan Bell was arrested Sept. 1 on counts of producing child pornography, unlawfully possessing a firearm, and aiding and abetting the sex trafficking of minors. Bell was accused of sexually abusing the girls and advertising them for prostitution via various Internet sites.
Three months after appearing on Fox's “America's Most Wanted,” and following a multi-agency and federal FBI investigation, Bell was arrested. Authorities traced the accounts of sex trafficking over several states extending back to 2008, according to information from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and an article in The Jersey Journal.
This case of trafficking underage girls is one of many cases appearing in the United States, said Tomi Grover, director of TraffickStop, an anti-human trafficking education and awareness campaign. Grover leads a coalition connecting Texas Baptists, churches, state conventions and other anti-trafficking groups across the country.
Most recently, organizers joined forces to launch an initiative known as “10 at 10 for 10.”
“We hope to unveil for the tenth of each month to become a focused day of prayer from Jacksonville to Los Angeles along the I-10 corridor, because the FBI has named I-10 as the primary trafficking corridor in the United States,” Grover said.
The initiative debuted at 10 a.m. Monday with a conference call for each time zone. The plan encourages participants to “adopt” points along the I-10 route such as a local truck stop or mile marker at which they can focus on prayer, raise awareness by posting information against trafficking, or any other activity God opens for them to shine light into the darkness, organizers said.
The I-10 prayer came about through efforts by Texas Woman's Missionary Union, which seeks to mobilize people to combat human trafficking through WMU's larger national initiative spanning two years, known as Project HELP: Human Exploitation. The project is in its second year.
Carolyn Porterfield, multicultural consultant for the WMU of Texas, said the I-10 prayer strategy is a step in the right direction.
Grover affirmed her stance, noting that the largest section of that highway runs through Texas.
“So many people have access to I-10, and it is the primary east-west route,” she said.
Therefore, it provides the main route to facilitate human trafficking, Porterfield and Grover said.
“Our hope is that people will really become serious about praying [about] how they can be involved for a solution, a difference in this issue,” Porterfield said.
In 2006, The U.S. State Department released a report stating an estimated 14,500 to 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States each year. The CIA estimated that number to be higher, between 40,000 and 50,000. That equated to one person every 10 minutes, according to the TraffickStop website.
“It's really very multi faceted in the ways people can be involved,” Porterfield said. “It's a dark issue. It's probably an issue that most of us don't want to have to know about. It's a very complex issue. In some ways it's a hidden issue.”
But it's something organizers say must be addressed.
In addition to covering the “I-10 pipeline” in prayer, participants can engage in a variety of efforts, from individual to international, Porterfield said.
Getting involved might begin with a simple self-education of the laws concerning trafficking, she said.
Then people could encourage lawmakers to pass legislation aimed at the issue of human trafficking.
Suzii Paynter, director of the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, is working to do just that. The CLC regularly visits with Texas lawmakers on behalf of various Texas Baptist interests such as fighting human trafficking.
In May, the group witnessed the fruits of their efforts while watching Gov. Rick Perry sign Texas Senate Bill 24, which made it easier to prosecute traffickers. Texas House Bill 3000 also created a new first-degree felony charge in the penal code, meaning that offenders convicted on at least two trafficking offenses are punishable with up to a life sentence, and “a second conviction warrants life without parole.”
“There's a lot of moving parts,” Paynter said. “You've got to have people that go to the Legislature. You've got to have people that work in a community to build a safe house [for victims]. You've got to have people that raise money. You've got to have people in job training. So there's just a lot of moving parts.”
And the I-10 prayer strategy is one of the most important parts, Grover said.
“Without prayer, we will not see opportunities for us to experience God, to respond to God and to be involved in anything that will include prevention, intervention [and] restoration,” Grover said. “I don't think that there is ministry without prayer. Otherwise we're just doing it in our own power.”
To minister to the needs that trafficking creates, prayer is the hardest but biggest work of all, she said.
“I learned a long time ago that prayer is the work, and ministry is the reward. So when we start praying, people become aware, and then they respond to what God's doing,” she said.
Visalia teen is on a mission to stop child abuse
VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Visalia teenager is making it her mission to stop child abuse and she's taking her campaign to her fellow students.
Erin Fisher is a soft-spoken sophomore at Redwood High School in Visalia. But don't let her quiet voice fool you. The 15-year-old is taking on a big message: stop child abuse and neglect.
Erin was witness to child abuse in second grade. Even at such a young age -- it was clear to her that one of her best friends suffered from neglect.
Fisher said, "She would come to school in winter in t-shirts and shorts because she had to share clothes with her sister."
When she entered high school, Erin knew this was her time to make a difference. Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council Coordinator Billie Shawl remembers when Erin walked into her office last spring.
Billie Shawl said, "Obviously, she's an angel and she has more consciousness than many adults do that this is an issue and needs some attention."
Erin told Billie she wanted to help spread their message. After several meetings the two decided a student should design a t-shirt. The t-shirt's message would bring awareness and the sales would provide funding for the Child Abuse Prevention Council. Erin sells the t-shirts at lunchtime at Redwood High.
Fisher said, "I'm hoping they're going to see this and they won't to this to their kids when they have them eventually."
On this particular week, Erin sold the t-shirts for ten dollars with a special incentive.
Fisher said, "We're selling them so that kids can buy them and then when they buy them they get in free to a home football game this week."
More than one-hundred people were wearing them at the game that night.
So far, Erin has raised more than $3,500 for child abuse awareness. The Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council says that money will greatly help them spread their message.
Fisher said, "I 'm hoping that people are going to be more aware of it and if they suspect it that theyre going to report it
Erin, an amazing kid spreading a powerful message she hopes changes lives.
Appleton School Board Voting Tonight on Child-Abuse Reporting Policy
The Appleton School Board is expected to pass a policy Monday night requiring all district employees to report suspected child abuse.
State law requires teachers, counselors, and administrators to report suspicions of abuse.
This proposal expands that to all other employees, including receptionists and janitors, who would also be trained on how to properly report abuse.
This policy was created after allegations surfaced that former teacher Mary Berglund abused disabled students in 2009 but it wasn't reported right away.
District administrators say all employees have already gone through the training and Monday's vote is to officially put the policy on the books.
Include child abuse treatment in medical courses: Activists
Diagnosing and psychologically healing child abuse cases should be included in the basic medical training of doctors and nurses , child rights activists said here Monday.
“Child abuse is not considered a health issue. While the focus of the health ministry is on survival and diseases, we would want the ministry to include training on medical practitioners and nurses in dealing with cases of physiological and mental child abuse,” pediatrician Rajeev Seth said at a conference at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
“We will approach the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the ministry to consider the possible changes. It will help the parents also become more comfortable with the doctors,” said Seth, also the chair of the organising committee of the Asia Pacific Regional Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect (APCCAN).
The experts emphasised on introducing child protection units in hospitals that are equipped in dealing with cases of child abuse by providing medical, legal, logistical, and psychological support.
The Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has also proposed Collaborative Child Protection Units (CCPU) in six hospitals in Bangalore.
“The units will use multi-disciplinary approach to protect the best interests of child victims,” said Shireen Vakil Miller, director advocacy with NGO Save the Children.
Child welfare, by the numbers
L.A. County supervisors should rededicate themselves to their effort to bring some clarity to child-abuse statistics.
October 11, 2011
Large government agencies with vital missions, such as the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, can run properly only on the strength of selfless work, courageous leadership, responsible oversight — and data. Managers and policymakers need accurate, consistent and complete statistics, and they need to demonstrate that they have chosen the right outcomes to measure. Otherwise, there is no way for them, or the public, to know whether they are succeeding.
In October 2010, county supervisors found themselves unable to measure the performance of DCFS because they believed they lacked consistent data from year to year on the number of children who had died as a result of abuse or neglect. They directed county staff to compile statistics on child deaths over the last decade, but soon realized that many agencies track child deaths, often recording different aspects of the tragedies while needlessly duplicating their efforts. With numbers gathered by different authorities with different goals, the supervisors couldn't agree on whether things were getting better or worse. So the board called for a "single entity" to compile, maintain and interpret child death data. The matter was deemed urgent.
In a report dated March 31 of this year, county Chief Executive Officer William T Fujioka recommended that representatives of various agencies meet to draw up a charter for what became known simply as the "single entity." The work group was to make staffing recommendations and propose an oversight board.
A year after the supervisors demanded action, and several months after they ordered the head of DCFS to report directly to them instead of to Fujioka, no work group has met. There is no uniformity of child death statistics. There is no "single entity."
That's par for the course in Los Angeles County government, where attention spans often last only as long as the news cycle. Frustrating, to be sure. Embarrassing, even.
Let's stick with frustrating and embarrassing. There are enough outrages in county government. Too often and too easily, the latest outrage reorders priorities and derails important work as the board reacts to public or media scrutiny and managers react to the board. Supervisors fume, fingers point, heads roll, remedies are debated, selected and quickly forgotten.
Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich has requested an update on the "single entity," and that's a good thing; the county needs some follow-up or some closure on the issue, and it needs it soon, before the next board blow-up over child death numbers. But first, everyone involved — the supervisors, Fujioka, DCFS and all the other agencies and offices that track child death statistics — could profit from taking a deep breath.
And then they can ask, calmly: What happened? Why is it that, a year later, there is no "single entity" with consistent and unassailable data? Was the goal really to create yet another county agency? Isn't the problem that the county has too many siloed and sometimes squabbling agencies?
It's important to focus on the underlying mission of the county's child welfare program, which is, or ought to be, to keep children safe and living securely in permanent homes. The numbers that count are the ones that measure safety and permanency. They include incidents of re-abuse — how often children who were abused before the county intervened are abused again afterward — and how long it takes to move a child from a temporary situation, such as foster care or a group home, back to a reunified family or, if necessary, into adoption.
Those are the numbers for which the Board of Supervisors should be holding the Department of Children and Family Services accountable. The methodology for compiling those numbers should be transparent and files should be accessible to, at the very least, an outside auditor, so the board can be certain the figures aren't being gamed and are consistent and complete.
Tabulating the number of children in foster care from year to year is not unimportant, especially given that the rate of abuse of children removed from their homes was so high in Los Angeles County through much of the 1990s, and especially given evidence that removing a child can cause emotional trauma that is often deeper and harder to treat even than difficult home conditions. But taken by themselves, without reference to re-abuse or the time to permanency, numbers documenting the steep decline in recent years of the number of children in foster care tell little about whether the county is achieving its mission. Likewise, tracking the deaths of children from abuse or neglect and the rise or decline of those numbers over the years most certainly correlates with the county's performance; but while those deaths demand the attention of investigators and policymakers, they represent such a small fraction of cases handled by the county that they, by themselves, without analysis, reveal little beyond the stubborn consistency of tragedy.
Yes, the board is duty-bound, morally and legally, to examine child deaths, and to do that it must have consistent, complete and verifiable data. If supervisors need a "single entity" to compile it for them, so be it — but must there be a work group, meetings, a charter, an oversight board and a new agency? The supervisors should recall that the county already has an Interagency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect that has been compiling such data for years. There are complications, including legal strictures against premature release of homicide data by prosecutors, interdepartmental rivalries and the board's own overly secretive grip on child death files. But those problems would plague any agency, new or existing. If ICAN is not the proper agency, it's up to the supervisors to articulate why, and to designate another.
L.A. Unified to consider expanding anti-dating violence programs
The proposal comes in the wake of a fatal stabbing in which a high school girl was allegedly attacked by her ex-boyfriend. If approved, it would teach students to recognize when a relationship is becoming abusive.
by Rick Rojas, Los Angeles Times
October 11, 2011
On the heels of a fatal stabbing last month in which a high school girl was allegedly attacked by her ex-boyfriend, the Los Angeles Board of Education is expected to consider a proposal Tuesday that will take on teen dating violence by teaching students to recognize when a relationship is becoming abusive.
Board member Steve Zimmer, who called for the board action, said the Sept. 30 incident at South East High School "punctuates the urgency" for expanding anti-dating violence programs districtwide. Zimmer's proposal has been in the works for months, he said.
Abraham Lopez, 18, remains in custody — his bail set at nearly $1.3 million — in the killing of his ex-girlfriend, Cindi Santana, 17, during a lunchtime attack. Lopez also is accused of stabbing a dean and another student who attempted to restrain him.
If the proposal is approved, the district would hire a coordinator and train a teacher or staff member on school campuses to help students identify when they may be veering toward physical, emotional or verbal abuse and to raise awareness of these issues.
Zimmer said the program could cost about $2 million.
Patricia Giggans, executive director of Peace Over Violence, the nonprofit group that already has programs in some district schools and worked closely with Zimmer on the resolution, said the anti-dating violence program could offer students a knowledgeable adult to turn to if problems arise.
She said dating violence is becoming increasingly widespread. She cited government research that her group assembled: About one in three adolescent girls in the U.S. has been physically, emotionally or verbally abused by a dating partner, and one in 10 high school students has been hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend. Giggans said teaching young people early the warning signs of an abusive relationship — and the tools to develop safe ones — will help set the course for healthy relationships in the future.
Dating problems, she said, have become more serious, with the types of abuse seen in much older couples becoming more common among high school students.
Giggans said that when she began working to prevent dating violence about 15 years ago, she took her message of building healthy relationships to a high school, believing that the students could apply the advice in college and beyond.
After she finished the talk, however, a few of the young women approached her. One told her that her boyfriend had forced her to wear his varsity jacket. When she refused, he had a flash of rage. Is that abuse, she asked?
And another: When the girl didn't call her boyfriend at 7 p.m., he rushed to her house and pounded on the door as her family ate dinner, upsetting her mother. How about that?
Giggans was stunned; she was too late.
That experience prompted Peace Over Violence to begin its education programs much earlier — in seventh grade.
On a recent morning, Trina Greene, manager of Peace Over Violence's Start Strong program, faced a class at Berendo Middle School in Pico-Union and dived into matters of love and control.
She took students through an exercise in which they had to decide whether to leave a relationship. Under one scenario, a girl pinched a boy for looking at another girl. The students said they would end the relationship. But when she bought him a gold chain for his birthday, a number of them wavered, saying they might stay.
Jessica Contreras, a recent West Adams Preparatory High School graduate, said programs like these will make a difference. She said she wished she had learned more about healthy relationships before she ended up in an abusive one.
She was 14, her then-boyfriend was 18. He started pulling her away from her family and friends. He put her down, telling her she was worthless. "One day," she said, "he almost hit me. And that kind of scared me, but I thought it was my fault."
When she returned to school one day and saw him with another girl, she told him off, and he slapped her. The relationship ended. But for almost a year afterward, she said, "I couldn't smile, I couldn't do anything…. I didn't know what to think or how to feel."
Contreras, now 18, is raising her 1-year-old son from another relationship. With counseling and help from programs like Peace Over Violence, she said, she knows how to define boundaries in a relationship and stand up for herself.
Advocate Meeting to Protect Abused and Neglected Children
Doctors, lawyers, police, court workers all came together in Bowling Green to find ways they can better protect abused and neglected children. Judge Margaret Huddleston decided to hold a meeting after seeing a string of child abuse cases.
Over 300 abuse and neglect cases were filed in Warren County from January through August.
Including some with serious injuries like skull fractures and scaldings.
Eighty five Advocates attended the meeting.
Huddleston says she wants those in charge with protecting children, "to focus on what we are doing right and how we can improve."
Sex slavery prevalent in Australia
There are hundreds of legal brothels operating across Australia but elements of the industry have been tied to human trafficking and sex slavery.
The ABC television program Four Corners exposes the criminal underworld that's meeting demands for Australia's big sex industry.
Kathleen Maltzahn - anti-trafficking campaigner
Justine Wang - director for Human Trafficking at Taipei Women's Rescue Foundaton
Pei-Yu Huang - prosecutor in Taiwan
Chris McDevitt - Australian Federal Police Commander
HERBERT: The trade in sex trafficking is growing internationally and Australia is cemented in this business.
BROTHEL WORKER: I give you some information about the shop.
BROTHEL WORKER: Tonight we only have Asian girls working - is okay for you?
REPORTER: Yeah I'll meet them, yeah.
BROTHEL WORKER: Okay, the price is half hour
HERBERT: Hundreds of women say they've been forced to work in Australia as sex slaves.
A woman known as "Rose" moved to Australia to study English at a private language school.
But soon after arriving in Melbourne, she received a phone call from her agent in China - a woman she knew by the name of 'Taiwan Linda' telling her she now had a debt of more than $20,000 and would have to work to pay it off.
ROSE: I went blank in my mind. I was really shocked.
HERBERT: The testimony was provided after a police raid at a Melbourne brothel known as Madam Leona's.
ROSE: I decided to try and leave the flat right then. I moved toward the front door and Kevin physically stopped me from leaving by using his body and arms to stand in front of me.
MALTZAHN: Down the road on the other side of Brunswick Street there is a brothel that hasn't had any trapping to my knowledge but the owner of that was convicted of child prostitution a number of years ago. Beyond that in Smith Street there is a place that has closed down now but at least one person I know, one woman I know was trafficked there.
HERBERT: Kathleen Maltzahn is an anti-trafficking campaigner and believes the cases the Federal Police have uncovered are only a fraction of the problem:
MALTZAHN: No one's really looking, no one's really counting in Australia.
HERBERT: The trail of evidence from many women trafficked to Australia - led Four Corners to the Chinese island state of Taiwan.
Justine Wang represents Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation.
WANG: For that Mrs Chen's case I think she already traffic at least hundreds more than 100 women.
HERBERT: Justine Wang says the woman known as "Taiwan Linda" plays a big role supplying women to brothels in Australia.
WANG: She hired lawyer in China to help those women pass the language test and then apply for student visa and then using their student visa to traffic women into Australia and force them into prostitution.
HERBERT: Pei-Yu Huang is a prosecutor in Taiwan. He says at least 60 girls have been trafficked from Taiwan to Australia but he says Australian police haven't requested the evidence:
PEI-YU HUANG (translated): I don't know how Australia and Taiwan can collaborate on this case but I think it is good if we can share information especially about Yao Yao (phonetic) because she trafficked Chinese girls to Australia and although we have evidence in Taiwan it's out of my jurisdiction.
HERBERT: Chris McDevitt from the AFP warns clients of brothels be warned.
MCDEVITT: If they knowingly go into these situations and knowingly use somebody who is subject to slavery, they can find themselves at the end of a criminal charge, and I would have no hesitation, and indeed would relish the opportunity of locking anybody up that was actually involved in that knowingly.
Man Who Battles Bad Guys on Charlie's Angels Fights Modern-Day Slavery and Human Trafficking in Real Life
October 10, 2011
LONGWOOD, FL -- A martial arts master and weapons expert who appeared on last night's episode of Charlie's Angels hopes that an upcoming tournament in Orlando will help kick up much-needed attention to the problems of human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
Co-sponsored by ISKA world champion and film fight choreographer James Sang Lee, owner of the Fortress Hill martial arts studio in Longwood, and Cory Shea of Central Florida Chrysler, the Fighting Lion Championship is the first tournament ever to be held in a four-story parking garage. Rated as an NASKA "2A" tournament and part of the journey towards winning the national title, the tourney will bring together the best fighters and martial artists in fighting, grappling, weapons, tricking and forms.
Competitors will vie for the impressive "Fighting Lion" trophy brought all the way from Beijing, China. But there's a higher purpose to the melee. Sponsors are using the tournament to strike a blow against slavery and the sex trafficking industry.
The CIA estimates that 50,000 people are trafficked into or transited through the U.S.A. annually as sex slaves, domestic and garment workers, and agricultural slaves.
"Who better to call upon in the fight for freedom than some of the best civilian protectors in the world—modern day martial artists,” Lee explains.
The tournament will be held Saturday, December 3, at Central Florida Chrysler Jeep Dodge, 8675 Commodity Circle, in Orlando. Learn more at www.fightinglionchampionship.com
. Watch James Sang Lee in action on the Charlie's Angels episode “Bon Voyage Angels” at abc.go.com/watch/charlies-angels/SH55126537
. He will appear on USA Network's Burn Notice next month.
About James Sang Lee
The stuntman/fight choreographer has performed all his life in music, the arts, and in sports. Although a student of the American Academy of Music, his first love was martial arts. Lee's background in classical piano and violin was overshadowed greatly by his championship training from martial art masters Wei Kong Koo and Sang Kee Paik. Lee went on to win back to back ISKA World Championships and multiple national martial arts championships in the 1990s. His discovery in 1993 by wrestling star Hulk Hogan led to his notoriety as a film and television villain. Currently a member of the Kahana Stunt Team, Lee is best known for stunts, character villains, and fight choreography in particular in the areas of martial art weaponry and firearms. He is the owner of Fortress Hill, a martial arts studio located in Longwood, Fla. that teaches youth martial arts, MMA mixed martial arts, self defense, weapons and more.
Sex trafficking is a growing threat in D.C. area
WASHINGTON, DC -- It's a growing crime that many in our area can't see -- the sex trafficking of teenage girls and boys.
Dr. Gary Jones, CEO of Youth for Tomorrow, a Bristow, Va., based home and school for at-risk youth, says sex trafficking is on the rise Fairfax, Loudoun, Arlington and Culpeper counties.
"These girls are kept out of the sight of everyone. Other than law enforcement there are very few people that can see this," says Jones.
The FBI has ranked the Washington, D.C. area as the 14th worst place in the country for sex trafficking.
"It's a growing situation. It's like a cancer crawling across our nation," says Jones.
Youth for Tomorrow started a program three years ago that helps rescue sexually exploited teens. Jones says the program is now receiving girls from Maryland, Washington state and Florida.