Welcome to the Bridge to Freedom Foundation Blog

Thank you for visiting the Bridge to Freedom Foundation (BTFF) blog, where we look forward to bringing you inside information on the inner-workings of BTFF, inside information on our volunteer team and leadership, in-depth coverage of BTFF and partner events, news and happenings from across the globe and so much more.

Learn more about Bridge to Freedom Foundation and how you can help on the BTFF website. We do hope you will subscribe to and follow our blog and please e-mail us at blog@btff.org if you have any feedback, ideas or contributions.

Thank you for your support!
Cassandra Clifford
Executive Director and Founder of BTFF

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year

From everyone at Bridge to Freedom Foundation we wish you a prosperous and joyous New Year. May 2014 Bring you more than you imagined and we look forward to growing with your support as we enter this crucial year of our success! Without you we would not be able to break into the the year reveling in our our accomplishments and dancing for the successes to come!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Modern Slavery News Round-up

Report: 20 cases of child trafficking investigated in Kentucky in four-month period
A first-of-its-kind report by Kentucky’s state health agency has found authorities in the Bluegrass State investigated 20 allegations of human trafficking involving 25 children over only about a four month period in 2013.

US authorities are investigating “human trafficking” charges in the Indian diplomat case
Sangeeta Richard, the domestic helper from India at the center of the recent US-India diplomatic debacle, remains in the US on an immigration status given to victims of human trafficking, indicating that is the charge US authorities are investigating in the high-profile case.

Human Trafficking Outpaces Drugs, Guns As World's Fastest Growing Criminal Industry
Massachusetts and Rhode Island are two of several states that have established task forces to confront what has become the fastest growing criminal industry in the world — human trafficking. The smuggling of human beings for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation outranks drug smuggling, and is tied with illegal arms sales, according to a United Nations study. Task forces consisting of federal immigration officials, prosecutors, local police, the FBI and non-governmental organizations are pooling resources, knowledge and experience to deal with trafficking in southern New England. They are looking both worldwide and close to home for lessons that might help in better understanding the dimensions of the problem.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Fact: Minorities are the Main Victims of Human Trafficking

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) charged a total of 118 defendants in forced labor and adult sex trafficking cases, representing a 19 percent increase over the number of defendants charged in the previous year and the highest number ever charged in a single year. The same year DOJ prosecuted 125 total human trafficking cases (including sex trafficking of minors) and convicted 70.

In 2011, the combined number of federal trafficking convictions—including cases involving forced labor, sex trafficking of adults, and sex trafficking of minors—totaled 151, compared to 141 in 2010.

Of confirmed sex trafficking victims whose race was known, 26 percent were white and 40 percent were black.

Of confirmed labor trafficking victims, 56 percent were Hispanic and 15 percent were Asian.

Of these incidents, 82 percent involved sex trafficking allegations, of which, nearly one-half (48 percent) involved allegations of adult prostitution and 40 percent prostitution or sexual exploitation of a child.

Most confirmed sex trafficking victims in cases investigated by federally funded task forces were female (94 percent). Of the 63 confirmed labor trafficking victims, 32 percent were male and 68 percent were female.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Modern Slavery News Round-up

South Orange Recognizes Human Trafficking Awareness Day
In honor of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, which is Friday, January 11, The South Orange Board of Trustees presented a proclamation to the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking during its Dec. 9 meeting.

NJ coalition warns Kearny pols about human trafficking at Super Bowl
The New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking is gearing up to fight what a representative called “modern day slavery.” At a recent meeting of Kearny’s governing body, Jersey City resident Stephen M. DeLuca told officials that large sports events like the Super Bowl are breeding grounds for human trafficking in the form of prostitution and forced labor. An estimated 30 million people worldwide are victims of the practice, according to DeLuca.

Labor and sex traffickers practice modern slavery in Colorado
The FBI's Rocky Mountain Innocence Lost Task Force rescued 59 teen prostitutes from flesh peddlers in the state this year, up from 49 in 2012. In July, Operation Cross Country, a nationwide sweep that targeted victims of underage prostitution and their pimps, recovered 105 juveniles and bagged 150 pimps in 76 cities. Denver ranked fourth in the number of teens rescued, with nine juveniles, fewer than only San Francisco, Milwaukee and Detroit. These are chilling statistics that indicate modern-day slavers continue to ply their trade in Colorado.

Sudan: UN strengthens support to combating human trafficking, smuggling
The United Nations refugee agency is working with the Government of Sudan and partners to reduce the number of kidnappings and incidents of trafficking and smuggling in, through and out of the country. “Those most vulnerable are the newly arrived asylum-seekers, mainly of Eritrean origin, who cross the border into Eastern Sudan,” according to a joint news release by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The strategy, which strengthens the capacity of the Government, also provides care and psychosocial support for victims, and builds awareness of risks among the families in camps and urban areas.

Maine joins national effort to combat human trafficking
Maine has joined other states in asking Congress to fund anti-human trafficking measures. Maine Attorney General Janet Mills and attorneys general in 46 other states sent a letter asking Congress to fund a measure passed in 2000 designed to protect human trafficking victims and help prosecute people doing the trafficking. The letter says human trafficking is tied as the second largest and is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, generating roughly $32 billion each year. According to a study of Department of Justice human trafficking task force cases, 83 percent of sex trafficking victims identified in the United States were U.S. citizens.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Fact: Statistics on Violence Against Women and Girls

Between 15 and 76 percent of women are targeted for physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime, according to the available country data. Most of this violence takes place within intimate relationships, with many women (ranging from 9 to 70 percent) reporting their husbands or partners as the perpetrator.

- In Guatemala, two women are murdered, on average, each day.
- In India, 8,093 cases of dowry-related death were reported in 2007; an unknown number of murders of women and young girls were falsely labeled ‘suicides’ or ‘accidents’.
- In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, between 40 and 70 percent of female murder victims were killed by their intimate partners.
- In the State of Chihuahua, Mexico, 66 percent of murders of women were committed by husbands, boyfriends or other family members.

Violence and Young Women
- Worldwide, up to 50 percent of sexual assaults are committed against girls under 16.
- An estimated 150 million girls under the age of 18 suffered some form of sexual violence in 2002 alone.
- The first sexual experience of some 30 percent of women was forced. The percentage is even higher among those who were under 15 at the time of their sexual initiation, with up to 45 percent reporting that the experience was forced.

Harmful Practices
- Approximately 100 to 140 million girls and women in the world have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting, with more than 3 million girls in Africa annually at risk of the practice.
- Over 60 million girls worldwide are child brides, married before the age of 18, primarily in South Asia (31.3 million) and sub-Saharan Africa (14.1 million). Violence and abuse characterize married life for many of these girls. Women who marry early are more likely to be beaten or threatened, and more likely to believe that a husband might sometimes be justified in beating his wife.

- Women and girls are 80 percent of the estimated 800,000 people trafficked across national borders annually, with the majority (79 percent) trafficked for sexual exploitation. Within countries, many more women and girls are trafficked, often for purposes of sexual exploitation or domestic servitude.
- One study in Europe found that 60 percent of trafficked women had experienced physical and/or sexual violence before being trafficked, pointing to gender-based violence as a push factor in the trafficking of women.

Sexual Harassment
- Between 40 and 50 percent of women in European Union countries experience unwanted sexual advances, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at work.
- Across Asia, studies in Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and South Korea show that 30 to 40 percent of women suffer workplace sexual harassment.
- In Nairobi, 20 percent of women have been sexually harassed at work or school.
- In the United States, 83 percent of girls aged 12 to 16 experienced some form of sexual harassment in public schools.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Lisa Kristine Donates Photo for National Global Human Trafficking Awareness Day Poster

We are delighted to announce that Lisa Kristine, world renowned humanitarian photographer, has donated the rights to use one of her human trafficking images on our 2014 National Global Human Trafficking Awareness Day Poster.

Awakening compassion and igniting action in a worldwide audience with powerful, broad-sweeping images of courage and tender, intimate portrayals, Lisa elevates significant social causes-such as the elimination of human slavery and the unification of humanity-to missions. Lisa has gained broad recognition for her collaboration with the NGO Free the Slaves. This breathtaking body of work, illuminating human enslavement, is brought together in Slavery, published in 2010. Lisa has received global attention for shining a light on contemporary slavery across media platforms, including CNN and Reuters, speaking at TED events, museums, NGO's, business conferences, colleges and universities.

 Last month, Lisa was honored with a Lucie Award for her work as a humanitarian photographer. Bridge to Freedom Foundation is privileged to be able to use one of her moving images of modern slavery, so please stay tuned as we will unveil the 2014 NGHTAD poster in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please visit -and share- Lisa's website to see some of her remarkable work.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

U.N., U.S. Call for Investigations into Thai Trafficking of Rohingya
Following a Reuters report of Thai involvement in the transport of Myanmar refugees into human trafficking organizations, the United Nations and the United States demand investigations of the situation. The plight of the Rohingya, a Muslim people residing in Myanmar but not recognized as citizens, has remained largely unnoticed by the international community until recently. Clashes between the Rohingya and the ethnic Rakhine Buddhists have placed the former in an extremely vulnerable position and their attempts to flee to a safer location have made them the perfect target for established trafficking rings.

Russia Launches Criminal Inquiry into U.S. Child Exchanges
Russia’s Investigative Committee has indicated that it is looking into whether Russian children adopted by American families were illegally trafficked in the United States. The probe comes in response to a Reuters series that showed how U.S. parents have used Internet bulletin boards on Yahoo and Facebook to offload children they adopted but no longer want.

Human Trafficking Bill Aims to Save More Children
The Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Human Trafficking Act, sponsored by Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was introduced in the U.S. Senate this past Friday, December 13, and would help develop a uniform treatment toward minors who are victims of human trafficking or at-risk for being targeted by traffickers. The bill would also help officials understand the scope of the problem.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fact: Many Trafficked Women from Eastern Europe Have at least a High School Education

It is a common practice for many activists to promote access to education as the one certain way to pull vulnerable groups -such as women and young girls- from the constraints of repressive environments.  Education serves as an empowerment mechanism and provides needed skills and knowledge to climb out of poverty, suffering and inequality.However, it could only be effective if enough employment opportunities exist for the educated population to take advantage of.

As surprising as it might be for many, a large number of trafficked women from former socialist states in Eastern Europe have at least a high school education, and many even have college and university degrees or some kind of vocational training. Lack of education is not what makes them vulnerable; what increases the likelihood they will be exposed to the tactics of opportunistic traffickers are the economic decline and the high unemployment rate that have plagued their native countries following the break up of the Soviet Union. Unable to find channels for the acquired education and skills, many, especially women, make the difficult decision to leave family and friends behind to search salvation in foreign nations. Often, these women are aware of the risks associated with responding to various job advertisements promising easy money, but with no other options, they fall into the trap set by an elaborate system of recruiters and traffickers.  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

New RCMP Unit Being Created to Fight Human-Trafficking: In Canada, the federal Public Safety Minister, Steven Blaney, indicates that a new Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) unit has been created with the main goal of collaborating with law enforcement partners to fight human trafficking locally and internationally. A major task of the RCMP is to spread awareness of the issue among the younger generation and members of indigenous populations.

Eritrea's Military is Trafficking the Nation's Children, Report Says: In the Human Trafficking Cycle: Sinai and Beyond, a report compiled by Dutch and Swedish researchers, the authors shed a light on a nefarious practice targeting Eritrea’s most vulnerable: “Eritrean youths are being kidnapped by senior military officers, smuggled into Sudan and held to ransom.” The victims are tortured and their screams played to families on mobile phones. Some are able to raise funds and are freed, but others are not so lucky and end up being sold to Bedouin traffickers in Sinai.

Men Freed after 'Slavery' Raids in Bristol Area: In a pre-planned raid of eight properties in three travelers’ sites near Bristol, England, law enforcement agencies have rescued three men believed to be victims and arrested seven persons on suspicion of trafficking, three women and four men. The operation is viewed as an example UK’s commitment to fighting the crime of modern day slavery.

How Text Messages Help the Polaris Project Zero in on Human Trafficking: A few months ago, a worker monitoring a hotline for the Polaris Project, a nonprofit group dedicated to combating human trafficking, received a text message from an 18-year-old woman in distress. The woman, a sex-trade worker, was trapped in a motel room with her pimp and she secretly used his mobile phone to send a text seeking help. The Washington-based group moved quickly to alert authorities, who ultimately arrested the pimp.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Fact: All I Want for Christmas are Fairtrade Gifts

According to Fairtrade International, “there are now 827 Fairtrade certified producer organizations in 58 producing countries, representing over 1.2 million farmers and workers.” Products under the Fairtrade mark range from popular items such as coffee and chocolate to less known items such as
flowers, which happen to be the fastest growing Fairtrade product. Proceeds from fair trade sales allow individual producers to meet sustainable costs of production and are often distributed to local communities for use in community development. Fairtrade International estimates that six million people directly benefit from Fairtrade.

Fair trade products can now be found in grocery stores around the United States and some companies known for their continued commitment to the Fair Trade movement include:

For specific information on fair trade products in the U.S., please visit Fair Trade USA.

To help survivors of modern day slavery, please consider purchasing a gift for your loved ones from Better Way Imports. At checkout, in the comment box, enter "for Bridge to Freedom Foundation” to ensure a percentage of your purchase is donated directly to our programs.  Happy Shopping!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Award recognizes impact of anthropologist’s work on human organ trade
Nancy Scheper-Hughes, an anthropologist at UC Berkeley, was honored by the American Anthropological Association with the first ever Anthropology in Public Policy Award for her trailblazing work shedding light on the dark practice of human organ trafficking. Scheper-Hughes was instrumental in founding the Berkeley Organ Watch project, an endeavor focused on monitoring the organ-transplant trade for abuses.

Nigeria frees 16 girls, women in ‘baby factory’ raid
Police in Owerri, the capital of the Imo State in Nigeria, raided a home and rescued 16 girls and women, ages 14 to 19. All were in various stages of pregnancy and allegedly being forced to have the babies sold. The male owner of the home had registered it as a non-governmental organization promoting women’s and children’s issues.

US: Human trafficking a worry in post-typhoon Philippines
Thousands of women and children in the Philippines risk falling prey to human traffickers in the aftermath of last month's catastrophic typhoon, lawmakers and the chief US aid agency warn. Natural disasters are events that greatly contribute to the great supply of vulnerable people who are in danger of being exploited by opportunistic traffickers. This is why it is integral to create safe spaces for women and children affected by typhoon Yolanda.

Human trafficking victim speaks out
A gripping firsthand account by a young woman of her long and challenging road from captivity to freedom and growth.

Protests as France debates Bill on Prostitution
Protesters both for and against an anti-prostitution bill that would decriminalize prostitutes but fine their customers continue to demonstrate outside France's National Assembly as lawmakers debate.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Plight of Domestic Workers a Concern for Anti-Human Trafficking Activists

On November 6, 2013, the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at the John Hopkins University hosted the Protection Project Eighth Annual Symposium on the issue of trafficking in persons. The focus of this year’s symposium was the plight of domestic workers. In the course of four panel discussions, a plethora of experts shared basic statistics to illustrate the scope of the problem, highlighted particular aspects that place domestic workers in vulnerable situations, debated with whom the responsibility for addressing the problem lies, and offered suggestions and recommendations on what needs to be done.

To read an entire post on the symposium, please visit The Korbel Report.

Monday, November 25, 2013

International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women

The presence of domestic violence mars the reputation of any nation regardless of how far in terms of women’s rights that nation has come. Nevertheless, as the U.N. points out, the problem “continues to be a global pandemic” and “up to 70 percent of women experience violence in their lifetimes.” Indeed, it is abundantly clear that “violence against women is a consequence of discrimination against women, in law and also in practice, and of persisting inequalities between men and women.” Gender, therefore, matters because differential treatment based on the variable is still very real even today, years after the movement toward equal rights has commenced. It matters because many still consider it relevant in the determination of one’s personal characteristics, abilities, and behavior. Most importantly, gender matters because it is still quite common for mistreatment, objectification, and violation of women to be considered acceptable ways of promoting a service, selling a product, or gaining an audience.

A closer look at the messages in many commercials and advertisements, for example, reveals that sexual violence and aggression exhibited by men is what every woman wants even if she says no. Such messages contribute to the myth that a woman who wears a certain dress, or a skirt, or a shirt, a woman who uses a specific perfume is non-verbally asking for a man to assault her. Allowing these contagious messages to infect generations of young people facilitates the development of common beliefs that a heinous crime such as a date rape is in some way solely the girl’s or woman’s fault and therefore, must not be acknowledged as a global or societal problem. The recent date rape case in Steubenville, Ohio indicates that violence against girls and women is often seen as a joke or a way to exhibit one’s manhood. To successfully address the issue and bring a resolution, therefore, we must involve both men and women in the fight for equality, but we also need to engender a paradigm shift—a meaningful change in the way society as a whole views, addresses, and treats women.

Today, the world honors the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, but it is important to remember that this is an issue that must to be addressed every day. It is not an issue at the personal level; it is not an issue at the national level; it is an issue at a global level because violence against women ultimately threatens progress and development. It could also contribute to the financial hurdles of a nation; as highlighted by the U.N., “the cost of intimate partner violence in the United States alone exceeds $5.8 billion per year: $4.1 billion is for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion.” Such facts emphasize the comprehensive and deep impact of violence against women and demand decisive actions toward a resolution.

To help empower women to achieve freedom from fear, violence, and discrimination, please consider sponsoring a free Violence Prevention Workshop for survivors of modern day slavery and human trafficking

Modern Slavery News Round-up

Coast Guard rescues 3 women from human trafficking in Zamboanga Government operatives this week rescued in Zamboanga City three Filipina would-be victims of human trafficking bound for Sabah. The operatives arrested the suspected traffickers identified as Benhar Mukin and Estrella Hasan, both from Zamboanga City. According to the three victims, one Shon Joon Sin recruited them in Pampanga and promised them decent jobs with good salarie in Sabah.

Subway Owners Arrested After Human Trafficking Investigation Married couple Amrutlal Patel and Dakshaben Patel were arrested on Tuesday for allegedly harboring and employing illegal aliens in their four Subway Restaurants in Lexington, Ky. The arrests were made after a 3-month human trafficking investigation. One of their Subways was raided shortly after they were taken into custody, as reported by local NBC affiliate WLEX-TV. Three of the Patels' employees, all Indian nationals illegally in the United States, were brought to the Lexington Police Department for questioning, according to official court documents obtained by The Huffington Post.

Cindy McCain, Christie to talk human trafficking
Cindy McCain slammed the National Football League on Wednesday for not being “willing to deal” with the issue of sex trafficking at the Super Bowl. “Everybody else has been very helpful, the NFL’s not willing to deal with this issue, and I can’t answer why, I don’t know why,” McCain said during POLITICO’s Women Rule conversation series, co-sponsored by The Tory Burch Foundation and Google, which was hosted at The Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Report includes 19 indicators of sex trafficking in Maine
PORTLAND, Maine — The national Polaris Project released a report Thursday dissecting data gleaned from calls placed to its human trafficking hotline, a help number that has seen a sharp increase in contacts over the last five years. In Maine, the organization reported that its hotline netted 19 of what Polaris Project defines as high- or moderate-level indicators of trafficking in the most recent year. However, local experts say that number is just the tip of the iceberg and that a continued push to provide comprehensive services to victims is necessary.

Vital 'golden hour' after human trafficking victims are rescued
The delicate moments after suspected victims of human trafficking are rescued are so important they are known by care workers as "the golden hour". The Salvation Army holds the government contract to help trafficking victims for the first 45 days of their release and organizes an interview room in a church, council office or other under-used building. According to Ann Reed, the charity's anti-trafficking response coordinator, here the victim can shower, eat, see a doctor, put on some new clothes and speak to a non-uniformed police officer for an hour or two to give an overview of their experience.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fact: 88% of human traffickers had grown up in homes where domestic violence was present

Domestic violence is commonly considered a “push factor” for human trafficking. Due to the increased vulnerability caused by an abusive relationship, victims of domestic violence can find themselves isolated and without access to the financial and emotional support needed to leave to a safe situation, which puts them at high risk for exploitation. Domestic Violence can also be a push factor for those who become traffickers. According to a recent study, 88% of the traffickers interviewed indicated that they had grown up in homes where domestic violence was present.

Human trafficking and domestic violence can intersect in even more profound ways. Intimate partners can force their partners into highly exploitative situations. A partner can also be a human trafficker. Intimate Partner Trafficking is not a type of trafficking that has been researched, prosecuted or discussed to the extent as other trafficking trends we see – but it does happen. However, much like intimate partner rape, it is likely that this type of exploitation is highly underreported. Familial Trafficking is another way that trafficking and domestic violence come into direct contact. While it is difficult to believe that a mother, father, brother, sister could force a relative to engage in commercial sex or forced labor, this is a trend that we see in forced commercial sex situations as well as domestic servitude.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Modern Slavery News Round-up

New Nevada fund to fight human trafficking gets kick-start
Donations totaling more than $3,500 were delivered Thursday to state officials for deposit in a newly created fund to combat human trafficking in Nevada. The new fund was created by Assembly Bill 311 from the 2013 legislative session. The bill was sponsored by Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle, D-Sparks, John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, and others, to create a vehicle for the state to accept donations to fight human trafficking. The money will be used to establish or provide programs or services to help victims of human trafficking.

Maryland Gets C Grade for Human Trafficking Laws
Currently Maryland has a "C" grade, but a representative of the organization 'Shared Hope International,' which issued the ranking, says the state has seen marked improvement and is ranked higher than almost half the states in the country. What can be done to improve Maryland's grade was one of several topics discussed as advocates and law enforcement officials gathered at University of Maryland law school in Baltimore to discuss efforts to protect victims of the sex trade.

Turkish Pastor Arrested on Human-Trafficking Accusations
Pastor Orhan Picaklar, a Turkish Protestant pastor arrested by police in the Black Sea province of Samsun this week is accused of involvement in prostitution and the human trafficking of refugees. The 42-year-old pastor was detained until Wednesday evening in a police investigation led by the Morals Bureau of the Public Order Division. The criminal case was reportedly based on a telephoned complaint from an unidentified person.

Fresno Council Member Clint Olivier's proposal addresses human trafficking
Fresno City Council Member Clint Olivier wants to fight human trafficking by giving police investigators more time to hunt down the exploiters. Olivier plans to introduce an ordinance at next Thursday's council meeting that changes the way therapists at massage parlors are licensed. The Police Department currently does time-consuming background checks on massage therapists before issuing them a license to work. Under Olivier's ordinance, massage therapists would still need a license but it would be issued by the California Massage Therapy Council.

Christian business gives sex-trafficking victims in Mumbai a new start
According to the think tank report, “A Business Takeover: Combating the Business of the Sex Trade with Business as Mission,” the private sector is in a unique position to fight sex trafficking. By working with NGOs and charitable organizations, businesses are able to create jobs that allow survivors of trafficking to find employment, support themselves and their families, and learn valuable skills, including saving, budgeting, and working in a professional environment. One business built on this model is International Sanctuary, or iSanctuary, which has operated in Mumbai, India since 2007 and Orange County, Calif. since 2010. In Mumbai, iSanctuary works with girls as young as 14. The women in Orange County tend to be a bit older, and come from all over the globe.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tips for Law Enforcement to Efficiently Detect, Prevent, and Deter Human Trafficking

  1. Train personnel on the indicators of human trafficking and on effective interviewing of potential victims who, in most cases, do not self-identify. 
  2. Educate the public about human trafficking and concentrate on the vulnerable populations of the community. 
  3.  Develop government and non-government partnerships to achieve a unified enforcement action against human trafficking while providing aftercare for the victims. 
  4. Collect information and intelligence to identify the criminal networks, traffickers, persons of interest, locations, and financial aspects involved in the illegal trafficking operations. Investigate those people and locations linked to human trafficking and explore prosecution for any subsequent crime. 
  5. Target high risk areas for human trafficking to better utilize limited resources while tracking and assessing activity and enforcing laws. 
  6. High risk areas include brothels, strip clubs, escort services, and massage parlors. 
  7. Use proactive enforcement during the peak hours in and around locations linked to human trafficking.
  8. Develop informants from individuals who are arrested and use the information to further the investigation into trafficking networks. 
  9. Explore the use of modern technology and science to aid in the investigation, evidence collection, and prosecution efforts. 
  10.  Seize assets to hinder and disrupt individuals and organizations involved in human trafficking. Prosecute the defendants and publicize success stories. 

 Read more: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/speaking-out/2013/oct/30/ten-tips-law-enforcement-decrease-human-traffickin/#ixzz2kYi7fuev

Monday, November 11, 2013

Modern Slavery News Round-up

Immigration Reform Will Deter Human Trafficking, Not Increase It
A recent Department of Justice report illustrates the connection between immigration policy and labor trafficking, in particular: It found that fully 95 percent of labor trafficking victims were foreign-born; of those, more than 70 percent were undocumented. Traffickers prey upon individuals who, in their desperation to enter the U.S. to escape extreme poverty, believe too-good-to-be-true promises of work and educational opportunities, only to be sold into slavery or prostitution and made to work under force, fraud or coercion. The State Department estimates that as many as 17,500 foreign-born individuals are trafficked into the U.S. in any given year.

FBI Raids Cleveland Massage Parlor Suspected of Prostitution, Human Trafficking
Cleveland FBI agents on Wednesday raided an East Side massage parlor in an attempt to find evidence of a regional sex-trafficking ring. No arrests were made during the searches. The FBI would not disclose what evidence, if any, was taken from the massage parlors. Last year, authorities in Warren shut down eight massage parlors suspected of prostitution, but made no arrests.

Report: Utah Increasing Efforts to Stop Child Sex Trafficking
When it comes to protecting children against sex trafficking, Utah is improving but could do better, according to a new report. Shared Hope International, a nonprofit group that works to eliminate child sex trafficking, gave the state a C grade for its efforts. Out of a possible 102.5 points, Utah received 74.5. That’s an improvement over the previous year, when the state received a D, and in 2011, when it got an F.

Pope Francis Steps Up Modern Slavery Fight
Pope Francis wants action against modern forms of slavery including forced labor and prostitution, the Vatican said Monday after a meeting of experts called by the pontiff to debate the problem. The pope was heavily invested in a subject he knows well from his years in Latin America and had even invited two experts on human trafficking that he knows from Buenos Aires.

Modern slavery must be abolished
On Oct. 17, CNN reported that nearly 30 million people around the world are currently living as slaves. The Global Slavery Index, published by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation, ranked 162 countries based on three factors that include estimated prevalence of modern slavery, a measure of child marriage and a measure of human trafficking in and out of a country. According to the Walk Free Foundation index, there are 29.6 million people in modern slavery globally. India leads the world, followed by China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh. These 10 countries account for 76 percent of the world’s modern slaves. These numbers reflect the chauvinistic nature of the countries.

Modern slavery must be abolished
On Oct. 17, CNN reported that nearly 30 million people around the world are currently living as slaves. The Global Slavery Index, published by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation, ranked 162 countries based on three factors that include estimated prevalence of modern slavery, a measure of child marriage and a measure of human trafficking in and out of a country. According to the Walk Free Foundation index, there are 29.6 million people in modern slavery globally. India leads the world, followed by China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh. These 10 countries account for 76 percent of the world’s modern slaves. These numbers reflect the chauvinistic nature of the countries.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fact: 15 & 76% of women are targeted for physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime

Between 15 and 76 percent of women are targeted for physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime, according to the available country data. Most of this violence takes place within intimate relationships -this can include relationships with traffickers or pimps-, with many women (ranging from 9 to 70 percent) reporting their husbands or partners as the perpetrator (UNWomen).

Awareness and Prevention -as well as ending the demand for sex and gender discrimination are all keys to ending all forms of gender-based violence.  However as the statistics show women must seek to take back their control and never be surprised for surprises -it can happen to anyone and anywhere.  Therefore Bridge to Freedom's Violence Prevention Program not only seeks to empower survivors of modern slavery, but equip all women and girls to avoid, prevent, deescalate and/or counter such threats or attacks. Help us change these statistics today by participating in and supporting our Violence Prevention Program here!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Violence Prevention Workshops A Fighting Success

As you may have recently read on our blog, website and other social media outlets Bridge to Freedom Foundation recently launched a new Violence Prevention Program.  We have been excited to be able to bring the life saving techniques of Krav Maga -a real life self-defense system- to survivors of human trafficking.

Our first survivor workshop was held just last month in Kansas City, Missouri, and we are excited to announce that they were a fighting success!   On October 24rd, I traveled to Kansas City to run our first official Violence Prevention Workshop Fundraiser for the community. Which  I am very excited to report back to you that it was a great successes and funded the next phase of  my journey to train local survivors of sex trafficking.  This trip was important in so many ways, one I was getting to return back to my hometown and begin to see my dream and life's work go full circle.  It was also exciting -and a bit nerve racking- to finally be able to share my love of Krav Maga with many of my family and friends.  It was defiantly an interesting experience teaching a class with siblings, parents, childhood friends and all their friends, but so great to let them see first hand what I have been talking about and training so hard on.  Not to mention I want to ensure that everyone has access to true and easy to implement self-defense training, as my motto for self-defense -and much of life- is "Don't be Surprised for Surprises"!

On that note I am without words to really tell you how excited I am to report back that our first workshop(s) with the amazing survivor lead organization in Kansas City, MO, Veronica's Voice on the 24th of October, was an amazing success.  First of all I have to thank everyone at Veronica's voice for all the hard work you do everyday and allowing us to be part of your family and for seeing the value in every aspect of survivors lives -including their personal safety.  Most of all I have to thank the amazing women who spent the day learning, laughing, sharing, bonding and most of all learning some...well shall we say it....Kick Ass Self-Defense techniques!  These life saving skills we hope will keep all of these women out of harms way and empowered to fight should they have to!

Our mission at BTFF is to see that all survivors of modern slavery have the tools and resources to lead thriving lives and we know that this includes developing the mental mindset of a fighter.  Our Violence Prevention Program, does just that and we hope you will help support us on this journey and consider sponsoring a survivor or workshop here: http://www.razoo.com/story/Violence-Prevention-Self-Defense-Workshops.

If you are a survivor and would like to inquire about free training or would like to book a self-defense workshop for your clients or outreach team, please contact us at info@btff.org and we will contact you with more information and to schedule your training.  Additionally if you would like to host a community self-defense workshop and not only ensure your community is equipped for any situation, but also raise funds for free survivor training please contact us to book a workshop.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Demand Change in the Heartland

It is with great pleasure that I was able to travel to Kansas City, Missouri in October to not only conduct Violence Prevention Workshops, but to attend the Demand Change in the Heartland Conference. The conference was hosted by Veronica's Voice and featured a survivor only led panel. This amazing panel of determined, courageous, inspiring and spirited group of fighters not only shared their stories, but more importantly focused on the hurdles that victims and survivors face on the road to recovery and to lead thriving lives.

Veronica's Voice's, Demand Change Conference truly amazed me in so many ways that I don't think I can even share enough with you.  I was immediately awoken from my early morning daze and incredibly proud of the power of change that begun to kick off in the early morning on a a Saturday in America's Heartland -and my hometown.  Hometown pride has a whole new meaning now...as does the true unbreakable spirit of a Midwestern girl -no one can hold a flame to the ladies that sought to bring this house down!

As an organization that is newer and who's mission is to bring those victimized by modern slaver from a point of surviving to thriving, I personally and professionally see survivor informed services as the only way forward.  Bridge to Freedom Foundation is about the future not the past, and while we may hear many survivor stories along the way we let the survivor lead and never ask, "what happened", therefore this conference held a great deal of meaning for us and sought to ensure we continue to learn and grow from the survivor community.  BTFF strives to ensure we never forget who it is we work for and why.  Kristy Childs Founder and Director of Veronica's Voice, ut it best; "Let survivors share their story and what they want to share. Be mindful, have compassion without the details. That is dignity!.  Childs also added, "...when we see some as worthy victims an others as unworthy, we are causing great harm."

One of the day's key topics was the re-victimization of victims and the labeling placed on them, including that treating and arresting as criminals and using victimizing words such as "prostitute".  "Prostitution is an extension of slavery" added Vednita Carter of Breaking Free.  Many survivors have criminal records, including felonies following arrests for prostitution charges and vacating such crimes is not easy nor possible in call states.   Tina Frundt, Founder and Executive Director of Courtney's House broke down the harsh realities of labeling and the continual harm it causes as she spoke with unfiltered dynamism; "...what now at 20...22...I'm worth nothing because you didn't help me at 9?"

The harsh reality so many do not want to face or turn a blind eye to was not swept under the rug and even if you wanted to turn a blind eye you were too paralyzed to do so as the rooms power, inspiration, passion and leadership took you in and the heartfelt and intimate stories of the survivors took hold of you.

Brenda Myers-Powell , Founder of the Dream Catcher Foundation, spoke about her journey with a vibrancy and yet painstakingly sharp honesty that one so rarely hears on any stage; This was "...not something I got into it was something I was almost born into... All I waned to do was be shinny, but the shine kept getting taken away from me teach time I was molested."   Myers-Powell was not alone on this stage sharing often painful intimate details of their path from victim, survivor to a empowered thriving woman, and all of these remarkable leaders filled the room with the loudest voices of truth one can find.  Christine McDonald, who's book "Cry Purple", is one of the most heartwarming stories of courage, survival and triumph; showed that innocence does not have to be lost as she infected the room with her contagiously sweet laugh in the midst of telling stories that would have broke so many before they began.

The event put forward so many valuable lessons in a frank and feasible manner, that makes one question why we have not been talking like this (or listening) and resolving these issues all along.  Survivor informed and led services are key to breaking the cycle and ensuring that those abused by the chains of human trafficking are enabled to lead thriving lives with dignity.  "We need to be more than well- intended, we must be intentional!" stated, Dr. Karen Countryman-Roswurm.  Intention to see one thrive and lead their own journey requires many steps and all must be informed, as Rowena Mathews, Alumni Member of Breaking Free stated; "We need a lot of little things before we are able to walk on our own."

 The event even hosted a powerful dance performance;  "The Game" by Erin Murphy, featuring the words and stories of survivors from Veronica's Voice.  Like the performance this conference was truly a one of a kind inspirational event that drives you to act in an intentional and sustainable manner with the survivors needs at the center of it all.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Modern Slavery News Round-up

Police say 24 children rescued from human trafficking scheme
PALM BAY — Two dozen Orlando children younger than 18 were crammed into the back of an older model Chevrolet work van, driven to Palm Bay on Friday and dropped off to spend more than 10 hours selling cheap items door-to-door, Palm Bay police said. Police arrested two of the men behind the operation, which authorities said provides a window into a growing trend of human trafficking: luring children and young adults with the promise of an honest wage, transporting them in often unsafe conditions and sending them off to conduct unsupervised sales in unfamiliar neighborhoods.

London's 'shadow city' of human trafficking
Andrew Boff, who leads the London Assembly's Conservative group, published his report arguing for more and better tackling of a largely hidden form of criminality and exploitation in all its forms. Boff believes that amnesties should be extended to victims who are irregular migrants in order to encourage more disclosure of what appears to be a largely invisible form of criminal abuse.

Two survivors recall human trafficking nightmare
After Barbara Amaya escaped from her family where she was sexually abused, she was trafficked in D.C., and beaten, raped, robbed, and forced to sell her body in New York. The nightmare started when she was 13, and lasted for 9 years. The other victim, Shandra Woworuntu, was trafficked when she was 25. After losing her job in Indonesia, Woworuntu responded to an employment promising a position in Chicago. After she arrived to the U.S., her passport was seized; then she was forced to perform sexual favors in brothels. Two months later, she escaped her kidnappers by jumping out a bathroom window.

Human Sex Trafficking of U.S. Minors
Reuters reported just last week, “Some 30 million people are enslaved worldwide, trafficked into brothels, forced into manual labor, victims of debt bondage or even born into servitude.” About 14,500 to 17,500 girls from other countries are smuggled into the U.S. and exploited in sexual slavery.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fact: Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Often Happen to the Same Victim

We have quickly been flying through the Fall season, also the season football and awareness months. October is, was, Domestic Violence, established in 1995 when several organizations, including the Family Violence Prevention Fund and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence united to raise awareness against this growing -and most often silenced- problem.

Why is a human trafficking organization talking about domestic violence? Human trafficking and domestic violence can occur on a continuum of violence, and the dynamics involved in human trafficking are frequently interwoven with those of domestic violence. This occurs mo Individuals who have suffered violence and discrimination in their countries of origin based on their sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or dysfunctional family situations are often more likely to overlook the risks of unsafe migration, thus increasing their vulnerability to human trafficking. Traffickers also frequently exploit the already lowered self-esteem of trafficking victims who have experienced abusive family lives. Conversely, trafficking survivors are often vulnerable to future incidences of domestic violence.

The following are examples of cases where domestic violence and human trafficking can manifest together on the basis of the same set of facts:

  1. Involuntary servitude in marriage: Cases where traffickers force their spouses to perform services and labor, such as domestic work, working at family businesses, or sex work. These traffickers may also physically and sexually abuse their spouses, as well as threaten them with immigration and legal consequences. 
  2. Forced prostitution and sex work: Cases where individuals are recruited into sex trafficking by traffickers feigning love interest in them. The cases may involve fraudulent courtship, sexual assault, and then a distinct pattern of domestic violence to control or convince the victims to engage in sex work. 
  3. Other forced labor: Cases where individuals are trafficked by other family members (besides in

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Upcoming Event: Violence Prevention Workshop in honor of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Do you walk alone? Don't be surprised by surprises! The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is just 25 days away. In honor of this day, we will be hosting a Violence Prevention Workshop at First Defense Krav Maga in Herndon, VA.

Our Violence Prevention Program is taking off very well, and we are excited to be hosting more workshops. Anyone can benefit from attending this workshop, which is aimed at preparing you both mentally and physically for a surprise attack. Not only will you be equipping yourself for such an unfortunate event, but by attending one, you are also enabling BTFF to host free workshops for survivors with the money raised.

Apart from individual registration, we also have great buddy and group rates. Click here to register for this event.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Modern Slavery News Round-up

Raleigh police charge man with human trafficking involving 
17-year-old RALEIGH — Police arrested a man early Monday on a human trafficking charge, saying he kept a minor in sexual servitude for a week earlier this month, and with using a handgun to rob a woman of an iPad and a cell phone two weeks ago. Police spokesman Jim Sughrue said the case involved prostitution of a 17-year-old female victim. Perry was being held in lieu of $450,000 bail for a court appearance Monday afternoon.
Proos talks human trafficking
LANSING (WKZO) -- Efforts to combat human trafficking are ramping up in Michigan. State Senator John Proos says that he recently talked with the Michigan Women's Commission about legislation he's introduced that would allow victims to sue their captors for human trafficking, and also give them an avenue to have criminal convictions for things like prostitution cleared from their records. Usually, human trafficking in the United States involves forcing someone into prostitution. Experts say it's the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the nation, and currently ranks third, only surpassed by drugs and guns.
Bill would clear prostitution convictions for victims of human trafficking in Maine
AUGUSTA, Maine — A bill proposed by a Scarborough lawmaker would allow Maine’s courts to vacate prostitution convictions from the records of those who are victims of human trafficking. Complete language for the bill has not yet been drafted, so it’s not yet clear exactly how a victim would appeal for a conviction vacancy, or what proof he or she will be expected to provide. Requirements vary in states that have enacted similar laws.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fact: “Hey! Did you know that October is also…..”

Pink whistles for the referees.
Pink gloves for the linemen, for the quarterbacks.
Pink cleats for the kickers.
Pink ribbons for….everyone.
Pink ribbons on cars in the parking lot...pink...pink...everywhere you turn you see pink!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and the NFL and the fans are all joining the party on the fields of America’s favorite fall past time.

I am glad we see pink on the football field. Even so, there are equally insidious assaults against women unknown to the stands of fans and fields of players. Yes, breast cancer kills, and it is terrible and no woman should ever have to go through it. However no woman, girl or child should ever go through physical or sexual assault or abuse.

Did you know; however, that October is also Domestic Violence and Fair Trade Awareness Month?  If you are shaking your head no, do not feel badly. Feeling guilty is not going to help. What will help is getting the word out. If even half the money that goes into Breast Cancer awareness campaigns also went into domestic violence, Fair Trade and Human Trafficking it would no longer be a a hush hush conversation or a shock to ones ears.

The fight against domestic violence and the cruel brutality of modern slavery -human trafficking- can be just as big as breast cancer.  We have so many stories of hope floating around breast cancer survivors, and they are there thanks to the prominent pink ribbons that everybody knows what stand are for.  That same effort, money and commitment that made such a difference and has led to even more survivors could also be poured into the fight to end violence and discrimination against so many who fight under a cloak of darkness and silence in homes, on streets and in fields across the country and globe.

The tables can turn. You can help. Talk about it. Tell your friends…
“Hey! Did you know that October is also Domestic Violence and Fair Trade Awareness Month!"  So lets turn the tables today!

Check out an article I wrote more ineptly on Domestic Violence Awareness Month for the Examiner here: End the Cycle of Violence: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Monday, October 21, 2013

Modern Slavery News Round-up

Europe cycle raises awareness of human trafficking A team of passionate anti-trafficking campaigners has just returned from an 11-day cycle that took in some of Europe's human trafficking routes. The Freedom Challenge cycle started on October 6 in Sofia, Bulgaria and took in 10 countries, finishing on Wednesday afternoon in Westminster. The purpose of the cycle was to raise money and awareness for the A21 campaign against human trafficking ahead of anti-slavery day today. The cyclists hope to raise 210,000 euros for A21 shelters and victim assistance programs.

Human trafficking an American problem, experts say at forum Wednesday
The average American is largely unaware of how prevalent human trafficking is across the country, trafficking experts said Wednesday. “Often people think it’s an international issue, but primarily it’s a much bigger issue here in America,” said Jaime Meyers, managing director of Children at Risk. Undercover Dallas police officers pose as buyers online to target trafficking sales online. The program, called “Operation Brick and Mortar,” rescued six children from June of last year to August, said Lt. Alfred Diorio of the Dallas Police Department’s High Risk Victims and Trafficking Unit. The unit has made 118 arrests in the past year, many of which resulted in “significant sentencing” for the perpetrator, Diorio said.

 Maine efforts to combat human trafficking get federal funding
Advocates for homeless teenagers and young people with disabilities in southern Maine say a $400,000 federal grant will help dedicate resources for young people who have been coerced into trading sex for money or a place to sleep. The two-year grant from the Department of Justice to Preble Street allocates funds directly to help victims of human trafficking. The social services agency in Portland, which also operates a teen center, will administer the money to agencies in Cumberland and York counties. The money will also be used for health and mental health programs for victims, for legal assistance to vulnerable immigrants, and for protective orders.

Palawan intensifies campaign against human trafficking
In an effort to intensify campaign against trafficking in persons in Palawan, the provincial government spearheaded the holding of a seminar-workshop attended by members of the provincial Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).The two-day activity discussed salient features of Republic Act No. 9208 or “Anti-Human Trafficking in Persons Act” and the recent Republic Act No. 10364 or the “Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012,” which was enacted for a stronger anti-human trafficking measure. Under the RA 10364, disclosure of the identities and circumstances of human trafficking offenders is already allowed. It also looked at the present situation of trafficking in persons in the national level and to zero in on the provincial situation. Palawan and Puerto Princesa City have had human trafficking cases particularly in southern Palawan taking the so-called “backdoor” to Malaysia.

Thailand must do more to end human trafficking
According to humantrafficking.org, Thailand is a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking: ‘It is a destination-side hub of exploitation in the Greater Mekong sub-region, for both sex and labor exploitation.’ The majority of Thai trafficking victims are trafficked to the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bahrain and China, for both sexual and labor exploitation. It also said that the Mekong region, compared to many other parts of the world, contains very diverse patterns of human trafficking – internal and cross-border; highly organized or small-scale; sex and labour, through both formal and informal recruitment mechanisms.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fact: UK Anti-Slavery Day, October 18th

Today the United Kingdom celebrates, Anti-Slavery Day, which falls on 18 October each year. The day provides an opportunity to draw attention to the subject and to pressurize government, local authorities, public institutions and private and public companies to address the scale and scope of human trafficking.

The Anti-Slavery Day Bill became law in 2010. It was introduced in Parliament as a Private Members Bill by Anthony Steen MP for Totnes, South Devon, in 2010 and passed through both Houses, unopposed although amended. The bill defines modern-day slavery as child trafficking, forced labour, domestic servitude and trafficking for sexual exploitation.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Walking for Freedom

The DC UNBOUND Stop Modern Slavery Walk has become somewhat of an institution within the local anti-slavery movement. This event brings together survivors, activists and non-profit professionals, corporate partners, as well as interested members of the general public. Hosted on the grounds of President Lincoln's Cottage on October 5th, this year's walk created a remarkable environment to interact with people who already find themselves deeply invested in the cause, or who are interested in getting involved. How apt for this anti-slavery event to take place in the gardens of the President most remembered for the emancipation of slaves?

From moving personal accounts by survivors to professionals who have fought in this arena for many years, this event was proof of the fact that this movement has no shortage of devoted warriors. Captivating modern dance and percussion performances made for an enjoyable day. At the BTFF promotional table, we had some great interactions with people from all walks of life. We had the opportunity to touch base with survivors, other non-profits in the field, as well as to recruit new volunteers who are excited about the work we do. The enthusiasm and drive to end modern slavery displayed left one positive about this movement and the great strides that will be made in the future.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

FBI: Houston raids targeted human and sex trafficking operations HOUSTON-- Referring to the raids in Houston on October 10. Federal, state and local agents and deputies served search and arrest warrants in a coordinated sweep of almost a dozen locations. The FBI disclosure that some raids were on suspected human and sex trafficking operations. The victims were held against their will. Three of those victims, they say, are 15-year-old girls. An indictment obtained by Eyewitness News names 14 people who allegedly forced girls and woman from Mexico into prostitution at Houston area bars that also served as brothels. It goes on to say that the victims were locked in rooms and beaten if they didn't perform.

Human trafficking's impact hits home
"The women's stories all look very similar," said "Kindsey," Selah Freedom's coordinator, who asked that her real name not be used to protect the work she does on the streets of Sarasota and Manatee counties. "Their stories all started when they were 3 to 4 years old and they were sexually abused. "This is about reunderstanding the problem, that they're not just prostitutes who chose this. They are actually victims of sexual exploitation, and standing behind them is always a pimp or trafficker making a lot of money." Selah Freedom has been working with Sarasota and Bradenton police for about two years and is now focusing on expanding its efforts into the unincorporated areas of the two counties, where sex brothels can more easily hide because of looser regulations. The group is also planning to open the area's first-ever safe house for survivors of the sex trade. "These are just red flags," "Kindsey" said. "It doesn't mean human trafficking is definitely happening. But they are red flags, and we encourage you to open your eyes a little more."

Scotland's human trafficking bill could make it a 'beacon to the world'
MSP Jenny Marra points out there are more trafficking victims in Scottish jails than perpetrators, as she launches consultation. Most disturbing of all is the fact that many victims, when they are found by our authorities – usually in brothels or on cannabis farms, or indeed stealing from high street shops – are not being referred for support. Instead, they are charged and convicted for the crimes their exploitation forces them to commit. The Anti-trafficking Monitoring Group, set up to assess the government's response to the phenomenon, estimates there are 10 young people serving time in Scottish prisons for crimes traffickers forced them to commit. That is double the number of traffickers we have jailed.

MILAN: State Rep. helps introduce human trafficking legislation
State Rep. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, joined colleagues from the House and Senate for a press conference at the Capitol on Sept. 26 after introducing a bicameral bill package dealing with human trafficking. Zorn authored House bill 4209, which increases the penalties for subjects who directly or indirectly solicit, accost, or invite people ages 16 to 17 to commit prostitution or to do any other lewd or immoral act from a misdemeanor to a five-year felony and/or $10,000 in fines.

Human trafficking on radar of Greater Cleveland 
RTA Human trafficking and how to spot its signs is the focus of a new awareness push by the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. RTA said it has trained more than 100 transit police in recognizing flags that can indicate someone may be trapped in prostitution or another situation where they're bought, sold and smuggled like modern-day slaves. The agency posted information about its awareness campaign Thursday on its website, and announced an iWatch program, a free app that lets customers communicate anonymously with transit police on iPhones or Droit smart phones.

Friday, October 11, 2013

International Day of the Girl Child

Today Bridge to Freedom Foundation (BTFF) is proud to celebrate the second annual International Day of the Girl Child. Enacted by the United Nations in 2011, this day offers an opportunity to highlight gender inequality and the fulfillment of human rights for all women and girls -including the elimination of violence.

The International Day of the Girl Child provides not only everyone at BTFF a greater platform to raise our voices and improve the lives of women and girls around the globe, but for you to join us and make your voice heard. It is that reason BTFF is proud to announce the launch of our Violence Prevention Program on this very special day dedicated to girls around the world. Please help us ensure that girls are not only able to lead thriving lives, but are able to walk through their daily lives aware and empowered to fight against violence!

We hope you will join us in honoring the Day of the Girl Child, as well as October being Domestic Violence Prevention Month, by donating to our Violence Prevention / Self-Defense fundraising campaign.  Please click here to see how you can sponsor a free 3 hour workshop for a survivor.

Happy Fair Trade Month for Halloween

The Global Exchange and Equal Exchange are holding a 31 days of fun ideas and games that provide eating Fair Trade bananas, hosting movie screenings, baking delicious Fair Trade goodies, recycling Halloween costumes, and giving out Fair Trade chocolates to trick-or treaters.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

92 Children and 2 Female in China were Rescued from Human Trafficking
Chinese policy uncovered a human trafficking case on September 27 2013. There were 92 children and 2 female victims were rescued. From Xinhua News Agency, the police officers from 31 provinces arrested 301 suspects. The suspects stole children from Yunnan and Sichuanprovinces, and sold them to richer places. From an international news agency, human trafficking children is a serious issue in China; because of the strict one child policy as well as the tradition of preferring boys than girls, human trafficking children cases increase in recent years. Chinese government plans to formulate relevant regulations to punish the buyers and sellers selling their children.

POEA Chief Gives 13 Tips to Detect Human Trafficking
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration head Hans Leo Cacda gives 13 tips to define a human trafficking victim: 1. Does the person appear disconnected from family, friends, community organizations, or houses of worship? 2. Has a child stopped attending school? 3. Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior? 4. Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts? 5. Is the person disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse? 6. Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing? 7. Is the person fearful, timid, or submissive? 8. Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep, or medical care? 9. Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers, Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation? 10. Does the person appear to be coached on what to say? 11. Is the person living in unsuitable conditions? 12. Does the person lack personal possessions and appear not to have a stable living situation? 13. Does the person have freedom of movement? Can the person freely leave where they live? Are there unreasonable security measures?

Virginia Governor holds Summit on Human Trafficking
Human trafficking, or modern-day sex slavery, is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the U.S., in the world and in our area, and many of its victims are children. It's something that happens right in front of us but in the shadows. And that's a major part of the problem. Bob McDonnell, Virginia Gov., held the first statewide governor's summit on human trafficking and created an anti-human trafficking panel to combat this growing but insidious problem. The summit was held in Richmond on Thursday and Friday.

Sex Trafficking Victims Gather, Share Stories at Capitol Mall
Their stories are heart wrenching. Tonight they gathered at the Capitol Mall to share their stories and reasons for fighting against human sex trafficking. “My daughter was missing for eight pain-staking days.” Five years ago, Vicki Zito’s heart was broken when her 17-year old daughter, Kaci Klinner, got snatched from a grocery store and swept into human sex trade. “Within five hours, her trafficker had posted pictures of her for sale on Craigslist and in 12 hours was trafficking her from the bay area,” Zito said. Kaci was eventually rescued. Leah Albright-Byrd, a then-runaway, says she too was a victim of human trafficking. “Traffickers in our community preyed on our vulnerabilities and exploited me. I ended up on the street for about four years and then got out at 18,” Albright-Byrd said. Ever since tragedy hit in these women’s lives, both say they have been on the front lines fighting what they call “evil”. “I then became a mom on a mission to do something to end trafficking because I thought it’s not good enough that my daughter is home safely. I want for everyone’s daughter to be home safely,” said Zito. “To see this level of community amongst a bunch of different service providers is significant. We’re a united front against sex trafficking. Not one organization alone can do the work,” said Albright-Byrd.

League of Women Voters Luncheon to Include Talk on Human Trafficking
The League of Women Voters Oakland Area is hosting its annual fall luncheon, 12 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14, at the First Baptist Church of Birmingham, 300 Willits Street. The guest speaker is Oakland County Sheriff’s Lt. Wendy Reyes, who will present the following topic: “Human Trafficking: Is it in your neighborhood?” Reyes serves on the Michigan Human Trafficking Force. Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of reproductive slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, or a modern-day form of slavery. The luncheon and speaking engagement are open to the public. To attend both the luncheon and speaker is $25. To hear the speaker only is $7.

Paving the Way for Collaboration

In 2012, the CDC reported that 19% of undergraduate women experienced either attempted or completed sexual assault since entering college, making this a matter in need of drastic action. September was National Campus Safety Awareness Month, and PAVE: Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment hosted a National Campus Sexual Assault Summit at Georgetown Law on September 27th. The summit, which was also broadcast live to more than 300 colleges, forms part of the Safe Campus, Strong Voices campaign, a partnership between PAVE and the Clery Center for Security on Campus.

Male survivors, Title IX legislation, and the interests of the underrepresented (such as the LGBT community) are some of the themes that were expertly covered by the speakers. The summit succeeded in bringing together an interesting array of contributors, from academics, to activists and survivors. The following speakers led the discussions:

  • Angela Rose, Survivor and Activist, and Founder of PAVE 
  • Laura Dunn, Survivor and Activist, PAVE
  • Wendy Wyler, Survivor and Activist
  • Nancy Chi Cantalupo, Research Fellow at Victim Rights Law Center and Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown Law
  • Jen Luettel Schweer, Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Services Coordinator, Georgetown University
  • Chris Anderson, Executive Director, MaleSurvivor 
  • Anya Lakner, National Training and Policy Attorney, American Bar Association’s Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence 
  • Rhett Walker, Sexual Assault Prevention Specialist and Former Campus Training Coordinator, Men Can Stop Rape 
  • Tim Stephens, Alumnus and Former Inter-Fraternity Council Vice President for Judicial Affairs, Delta Tau Delta and George Washington University 
  • Sarah Rice, Survivor and Activist, and Former Star of The Real World: Brooklyn 

The PAVE summit highlighted that there is a strong need for collaborative action in order to reach a larger audience and represent all survivors. It is clear that the survivor community has many faces. One often makes the mistake of associating sexual assault with women, omitting the large number of male survivors, as well as other underrepresented groups who often find it harder to come forward or even seek help after being assaulted. A united front that brings together all of these perspectives and interests is most certainly a step in the right direction. In the past few years, PAVE has lived up to its name in not only promoting awareness, but also empowering victims. Its founder and sexual assault survivor, Angela Rose, has established herself and the organization as a beacon of hope for survivors. The BTFF team gained a lot of insight on assault specifically on campuses at the summit. This is especially useful as we have just started our Violence Prevention Program, which is aimed at mentally and physically preparing individuals for a surprise attack

BTFF Executive Director, Cassandra Clifford, with fellow Krav Maga
Instructors, Mike Coffin (left) and Mike Burkhouse (right). Mike Coffin
is also the PAVE's Board President.