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Monday, March 11, 2013

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Third of girls in 42 countries forced in to child marriages
More than one-third of all girls are married in 42 countries, according to the U.N. Population Fund, this in reference to females under the age of 18. The highest number of cases occurs in some of the poorest countries, the agency figures show, with the West African nation of Niger at the bottom of the list with 75 percent of girls married before they turn 18. In Bangladesh the figure is 66 percent and in Central African Republic and Chad it is 68 percent. Child marriage is not common in South Africa, where prosecutors are investigating what charges can be brought in the case of a 13-year-old epileptic girl who was forced to leave school and marry a 57-year-old traditional healer in January. Reducing child marriages is key to achieving U.N. millennium goals to improve child mortality and reduce maternal deaths, according to Malawi's Health Minister Catherine Gotani Hara. She said teen pregnancies accounted for up to 30 percent of maternal deaths in that southern African country.

Human-trafficking bill clears key hurdle in Kentucky legislature
A House bill that would stiffen state penalties for human traffickers and provide more services to trafficking victims, recently took a major step toward becoming law. The measure would add more teeth to Kentucky's 2008 human trafficking law. It would provide more training for law enforcement on human trafficking, allow police and prosecutors to seize assets of those involved in human trafficking, and earmark money from the seized assets to pay for victim services. The bill also allows human trafficking victims to receive treatment rather than jail time, a provision sometimes referred to as safe-harbor protection.

The proposal also would require people to report human trafficking to authorities, an essential provision of the bill, said the bill's sponsors, Rep. Addia Wuchner, R-Burlington, and Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris. Since 2008, advocates have treated 101 human trafficking victims, but there have been only 18 prosecutions — 16 using state law and two using federal law. The vast majority of those cases involve the selling of Kentucky children for sex by someone they know.

MS-13 Gang Members Sentenced to Prison on Sex Trafficking Charges
Jonathan Adonay Fuentes, aka “Cheesy” and “Crazy Boy,” 21, of Clinton, Marlyland, was sentenced to 120 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for sex trafficking a juvenile female as part of a prostitution enterprise operated by the violent street gang Mara Salvatrucha Thirteen (MS-13). According to court documents, Fuentes assisted his fellow MS-13 gang members from the fall of 2009 through the spring of 2010 run a prostitution ring that specialized in selling juvenile girls for commercial sex. Fuentes admitted in court that he transported a teen girl within Virginia and Maryland to engage in sex with clients.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, with assistance from the Fairfax County Police Department and HSI, all of whom participate in the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force. Assistant United States Attorneys Zachary Terwilliger and Patricia T. Giles are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

Support bills to fight human trafficking in Connecticut
Connecticut is moving on several parallel tracks when it comes to serving children. Medical, legal, housing and social services are provided through a number of state and non-profit agencies. Several organizations are raising awareness of trafficking with the general public and training law enforcement officials, judges, school officials and others to recognize and report possible cases of human trafficking. And in recent years Connecticut's Legislature has responded by passing several laws related to the care and custody of child victims.

With three bills in total being pushed, one is Senate Bill 45, An Act Concerning Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking, is sponsored by Sen. Martin Looney of New Haven. Among other things, it calls for the, "... superior court to freeze the assets of an accused trafficker and require truck stops and liquor permit premises to post the telephone numbers for state and federal anti-trafficking hotlines." 79 cases of potential human trafficking incidents at truck stops across the country were reported in 2011, the latest year for which statistics are available. Although Connecticut is not among the top five states for trafficking incidents at truck stops, all you have to do is travel up and down I-95 in the early morning hours to realize the number of truckers that can be reached with prevention information.

Senate Bill 149 and House Bill 6136,  are the other two bills which appear to be legislation that remit harsh punishment for those persons who are victims of human trafficking. Considering that many of the participants involved in these actions are young and unaware as to how to escape, these bills are an attempt to offer them an escape and new life. All the bills stated are waiting for public hearings to be scheduled.

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