Sunday, December 30, 2012

Prostitution: Legal or Illegal?

Source: National Geographics

This short documentary looks into the American Escort Services... selling sex.  These services work by offering "the real girlfriend experience" and according to the solicitors, whatever happens beyond that point is extra. However, it is implied that sex is included.  This is how services like these curb their way around the "prostitution" label.  From this video you can see that some women who sell themselves find the idea of "the real girlfriend experience" favorable.  You can also see that there is a negative mental challenge that comes along with a woman selling herself for sex. This documentary also shows the horrors of how sex slavery is tied into these escort services.  I wanted to keep the writing for this post to a minimum and really encourage you to watch this short documentary!  Trust me, it will be time not wasted.

After you watch, please comment and let us know...



Do you think prostitution should be legalized? Why?
Is it legal in your country?




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Friday, December 28, 2012

From Study Abroad to Slavery

"I was watching many TV shows about human trafficking, and could never believe that could happen to me." 
-Katia

As the Christmas season slows down, and thoughts of celebrating the New Year arise, we may find ourselves consumed in thoughts of gifts, family, friends and fun times.  However, it is not like this for all people.  This video shares the story of "Katia," who planned on venturing to America from Russia with a study abroad program.  This wonderful idea of studying in America came to a quick turn when she arrived to the Virginia airport and was told that "plans had changed," and was forced into the sex trade. 
"They used systematic terror to train the girls not to escape. " 
- Attorney, Bridgette Carr

Imagine the thought of an exciting experience of culture and education in a new country, turned into terror of forced sex slavery and terror?
Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Below are some questions I pulled from the video, which are questions we all ask ourselves of this trade.

  1. What if you said no(to your pimp raping you)? The pimp would still force her to do it anyways.
  2. Your mom was back in Russia? There were threats on her life as well
  3. You weren't locked inside the home, why didn't you just leave?  We were really scared, they were physically abusing us and told us stories of what they did to other girls,they bombed their cars.

Thank goodness Katia was able to run away and escape.  This is only one of many stories.  How many more people are tricked into coming abroad?  What is our government doing to help prevent this? What can we do to help prevent this?

I want to hear your opinion!
Source: NBC News


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Monday, December 24, 2012

Typhoons Bring Philippines to Expand Anti-Human Trafficking Laws

.
“Remember that traffickers target the most vulnerable sectors of society and this is the injustice that we must act against."
-Legarda, Chair of the Senate Subcommittee


Just yesterday, the Philippines expanded their laws on anti-human trafficking [
REPUBLIC ACT Number 9208].  This includes amendments to the anti-human trafficking bill to address high-risk victims, ensuring added protection for all trafficked victims.  The affects of typhoons have led to an increased vulnerability of women and children in these areas.  This has lead to an increase in human trafficking. The law also provides a list of acts that promote human trafficking.  The bill, just passed by Congress yesterday is currently awaiting the signature of President Benigno Aquino III.  

“We have seen the need to strengthen the existing law, and we have acted swiftly on it. But human trafficking, and the related problems of the illegal sex trade, forced labor and other forms of slavery, is a complex web. Battling it requires concerted effort from all sectors of society.  We also look forward to the immediate enactment of the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.” Legarda said in a statement issued on Friday.

Enactment of Standard Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, promoted by Sen.. Loren Legarda; PNP Chief Purisima, given the 4th Star Rank [December 23, 2012]


"It is important to realise that the changing climate will have its worst effects on the poorest of the poor, and nowhere is this clearer than in these reports of human traffickers prowling Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental," said Legarda, who also is chair of the Senate committee on climate change. 
"Men, women and children from marginalised and devastated communities are at high risk, and we must do everything in our power to stop these illegal operations once and for all," she added.
Legarda said the problem of human trafficking would only become more pronounced as Filipinos are left vulnerable as a result of disasters.
"We are now seeing the intersecting forces of natural hazards and human greed, and how they threaten those who are already marginalised. This is an issue of utmost importance,"

- Asia One


"More than the horizontal values, we need to inform them that there is going to be a better way of surviving."
-Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman


Sources: InquirerAsia OneLaw Phil


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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

CNN: Freedom Project


"CNN is joining the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on the horrors of modern-day slavery, amplifying the voices of the victims, highlighting success stories and helping unravel the complicated tangle of criminal enterprises trading in human life."
-CNN Freedom Project



Now days what, is the first thing you think of when it comes to slavery? What order of prominence do the different forms of slavery come into your recollection? Human trafficking? Sex slavery? Labor Trafficking? Do you ever think about forced begging?  Depending on what part of the world you live in, you may not have realized begging could be a form of slavery!

The CNN Freedom Project aims to fight against modern day slavery.  Unlike most organizations, this project looks into multiple forms of modern day slavery around the world.  Since they cover so much, I thought I would share a bit with you through this blog and strongly encourage you to visit their site, and learn about the many different forms of trafficking.  I hope thereafter, you can see the realities of trafficking and be inspired to take a stand.The traffickers have found many "creative" ways to capture and bring misery to people who deserve human dignity and the freedom to live, just as we do. It is up to us to use our creativity to find a way to help bring an end to problems like modern day slavery. 


The CNN Freedom Project includes:
Operation Hope 
Stand in the Sinai
Slavery in Mauritania
Chocolate's Child Slaves
Life in slavery
Domestic Servitude



Chocolate's Child Slaves |  This video touches upon child slavery in the chocolate trade.  Question for you as you watch: 
Where does your chocolate come from?
What are you telling companies through your purchase?
What child are you allowing to be hurt with your purchase?


 Operation HopeBelow is a photo of  Okkhoy, a 7 year old boy who was attacked by four men, bound, then hit over the head cracking his skull.  They also slashed his throat and sliced this chest, as shown. Yet this boy is alive today! 
Read and watch his FULL STORY & VIDEO HERE!



Visit the CNN Freedom Project by clicking their URL below!



Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sex Trafficking in America: Melissa Woodward's Story

It's that time of the year again - most of us spend our time worrying about what to get our friends and families and where to buy the nicest turkey. But some people are not so lucky, so it is a good idea to take the time out to do something nice and charitable for those less fortunate. It can often be difficult to understand the pain and humiliation felt by victims of sex trafficking, and this is why we bring you a documentary about the emotional journey of a sex slavery survivor. 



The story of Melissa Woodward is truly terrifying and describes the destructive effect on survivors' psyches. She talks about escaping the world of sex trafficking and how it dehumanised her. This very powerful story is truly eye-opening - take the time out to listen and learn. 

The video was produced by her organisation called For The Sake of One - a valuable source of information and justice. You can visit their website for more information, but let us share their wisdom on the most common misconceptions of sex trafficking.


Myth #1: This does not happen in America.
Reality: An estimated 300,000 children are sold in the United States every year and America is one of the top three destination points for victims.

Myth #2: These children are prostitutes & criminals. 
Reality: First of all these victims are our children and as such they have not the wherewithal to make such a choice. The truth is these children are often won over through false love, warmth, gifts and/or promises of a better life. However, once the trafficker has earned their trust they are often beaten, burned, raped, confined, provided forced drug injections, starved and then forced to perform thousands of sexual acts per year. 

Myth# 3: This only happens to girls. 
Reality: No, in fact boys are very much at risk. The average age for a boy to be sold in the U.S. is 11 years old.

Myth#4: Victims will immediately ask for help and identify themselves. 
Reality: In most cases, the opposite is true. Due to an extreme lack of trust, self-blame, shame, fear of arrest, threats of harm to family and/or other training methods by the traffickers these children may not immediately ask for help.

Myth #5: Sufficient help is available for these children. 
Realty: The stark reality is there is an extreme lack of services available for these children. Each and every report, study or analysis denotes the issue as almost epidemic and each sites a tremendous lack of available help.

Myth #6: Sex or Human Trafficking is a crime that must involve some form of movement across state or national borders. 
Reality: Although transportation may be involved in the crime, and although the word connotes movement, Human Trafficking does not require a person to be transported. Trafficking is a “compelled service” where an individual’s will is overborne through force, fraud, or coercion.

Myth #7 : Human trafficking is the same as human smuggling. 
Reality: Smuggling requires illegal border crossing, human trafficking involves a commercial sex act or labor or services that are induced through force, fraud, or coercion. Moreover, smuggling is a crime against a country’s borders, whereas human trafficking is a crime against a person.

Myth #8: Trafficking victims always come from situations of poverty. 
Reality: Poverty is certainly highly correlated with trafficking because it often provides an environment of vulnerability. However, it alone is not a single causal factor or universal indicator of a human trafficking victim. Trafficking victims can come from a range of all income levels and many may come from families with a high socioeconomic status.

Myth #9: Sex Trafficking only occurs in illegal underground settings. 
Reality: Sex Trafficking occurs whenever by means of force, fraud, or coercion a person is induced to perform commercial sex acts. The crime occurs in legal business settings such as strip clubs and massage parlors. It occurs on the streets and in neighborhoods as well as in the underground markets.

Myth #10: If the victim provided initial consent about the sex act, then it can not be sex trafficking or considered against their will because they “knew better.”
Reality: Consent is not relevant to the crime. A minor receiving consideration or providing consent is not a plausible defense or explanation to this crime.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Day for Celebration!



What | Local Outreach
Host | Amnesty International
Where |  New York, United States
Event | Human Rights Celebration Day

Written by: Christine, BASI Co-founder

Just today, member Dave (above, purple shirt right) and  myself (above, purple shirt left) participated in our college's Celebration of Human Rights Day, held by the organization, Amnesty International.  For this event, I created a tri-fold poster with the center dedicated to BASI's mission, model and outreach and the sides dedicated to facts on human trafficking.  We also had handouts with information on human trafficking, and face paint to write "I Am Abigail" on students!  

Not only did we raised awareness on human trafficking, but we represented our blogger community while collecting votes for the $2 million dollar competition that More Than Me's "I Am Abigail" Campaign has entered (see more below). 

I hope this post inspires you to take your blogging to the next level and make it more than just you.  Remember, behind almost every blogger is a soul that has a passion to connect with others. If this is you, I hope you can take your blogging to the next level, and join us to help bring the world at least one step closer to the end of social injustices(whether you that be in a stilleto or dunks). 


Blog to motivate.
Reach out to raise awareness.
Raise funds to help enforce.
Bring about change.

With love,
Christine

 
 


“Who the heck is Abigail?”

Written by: Gabriella, Advocate Member


Abigail was an orphan in West Point, Liberia. You may have read her letter in a previous article here on the Huffington Post. At six, she was left with prostitutes. She learned to work the streets in order to get access to drinking water and food. Education was not an option.

Then Abigail met Katie Meyler, the founder of More Than Me, an organization dedicated to getting girls off the streets and into schools. Katie and Abigail became fast friends, and More Than Me has raised the money to put Abigail through school. She is learning to bake, and aspires to one day be a Senator, so she can, in turn, help other girls like her.

Abigail could be you. Abigail could be your sister, your niece, your student, or your neighbor. Remember, we live in a global community; there is no “me” without “we”, Abigail is because you are, and you are because Abigail is.



5 Charities. $2 Million.

Chase Bank is giving away $2 Million to split between 5 amazing charities, and the More Than Me foundation is one of the 25 running to win! But this prize is based on online Facebook voting...




How YOU can help win $2 Million!

Take 15 seconds (yes, just 15 seconds) to make the lives of these girls a bit better by doing two very simple and extremely meaningful things:
  1. VOTE NOW through Dec. 4 for Abigail and girls like her at voteabigail.org
  2. Share it with others
  3. Make your OWN “I am Abigail” picture!



Thank you!
Be sure to follow us on Facebook HERE!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

VOTE Abigail because YOU are Abigail!

For those with a heart for change,

Gabriella here!  I'm an advocate member with BASI and am an Outreach Coordinator for More Than Me, an organization that works to lift girls off the street and into school in Liberia, West Africa.


____________________________________________________________________________
We're bringing together 1,000 blogs across the world to make one day - just one day on Nov 30th - a day to spread the word about the dreams of Abigail, one of our students. The occasion is a special on NBC  that we'll be appearing on.  Voting started on Tuesday (Nov 27), so we'd love your help in sharing the word ASAP! This is not for us. This is for a girl who is very real; who is waiting on the other side of the world to hear if she will get the chance to go to school! We're getting lots of exciting buzz around this including people sharing photos on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with "I am Abigail" written on their foreheads to remind us that any one of us could be Abigail, and it's so easy for us to help.


JOIN US NOW!
[blog or facebook]


____________________________________________________________________________


Here is what we'd like you to consider posting:


More Than Me, an education and girls’ empowerment non-profit is gaining notoriety through its guerilla-style marketing, inspiring hundreds of people to write “I am Abigail” on their foreheads and posting the photos on Facebook.

This really begs the question, “Who the heck is Abigail?”

Abigail was an orphan in West Point, Liberia. You may have read her letter in a previous article here on the Huffington Post. At six, she was left with prostitutes. She learned to work the streets in order to get access to drinking water and food. Education was not an option.

Then Abigail met Katie Meyler, the founder of More Than Me, an organization dedicated to getting girls off the streets and into schools. Katie and Abigail became fast friends, and More Than Me has raised the money to put Abigail through school. She is learning to bake, and aspires to one day be a Senator, so she can, in turn, help other girls like her.

So, why are all these people also “Abigail”?

Abigail could be you. Abigail could be your sister, your niece, your student, or your neighbor. Remember, we live in a global community; there is no “me” without “we”, Abigail is because you are, and you are because Abigail is.
____________________________________________________________________________



Join the community. When you’ve done that, help the community grow by spreading our story. And most of all, get inspired.

 

Abigail has a message for all of you:

Dear World,
My name is Abigail.
I'm 13-years-old. I live in West Point, Liberia. I don't know my parents... I was left with prostitutes when I was six-years-old. They took care of me, but life was hard. Often, I didn't have a place to sleep or food to eat. I never went to school. And I would often sleep at a video club so men could find me and then "rent" me for the night. I was abused, both in my mind and body. I didn't feel loved.
When I met the people at More Than Me, my life changed. I have a new home now and food to eat. I'm in school now. I'm happy now. I feel like I have a future now. I feel loved. I've learned how to bake, which helps me earn extra money.
Please help vote for me so I can continue in this new life and stay in school. Your vote is my future. I'll do anything to show you that I'll do my best in school and become something with my life.
Love,
Abigail

____________________________________________________________________________ 


For All People, everywhere...

Take 15 seconds (yes, just 15 seconds) to make the lives of these girls a bit better by doing two very simple and extremely meaningful things:

  1. VOTE NOW through Dec. 4 for Abigail and girls like her at voteabigail.org and... then
  2. Share it with others
  3. Make your OWN “I am Abigail” picture! 

____________________________________________________________________________


- Gabriella
BASI Advocate
Member Outreach Coordinator for More Than Me


Sunday, November 25, 2012

How to Find Local Anti-Human Trafficking Organizations


It is so very important to do more than only spread the word about the problem of human trafficking.  Being aware of the signs so you can report potential human trafficking situations is also very important. Getting involved with local anti-human trafficking organizations is another step you can take to impact the people around you, and more directly fight the problem of human trafficking from both the prevention and rescue sides!

After trying to search online for local anti-human trafficking organizations, I realized that is is quite difficult to know exactly what "key words" to type into search engines to locate anti-human trafficking organizations!

  Today's post will help you find anti- human trafficking organizations in your area!



Step 1: Online Search Engine

Start with a search engine such as Google or Bing.  You want to find a local organization which you can get involved with which works to end human trafficking.  In the search box type in words such as:
  • list of organizations
  • human trafficking
  • anti-human trafficking
  • NGO
  • globally
  • slavery
  • [name of your country/city]
  • initiative
  • coalition
  • task force
Click these two links to view search engine phrase examples:  "List of Organizations Human Trafficking""NGO human trafficking globally"

The three links below lead to sites with compiled lists of human trafficking organizations.  See if one is by you!
Global Organizations | Wikipedia List
United States Organizations by State | Polaris Project List , U.S. State Government

Step 2: Contact
Muster up courage, and call a local organization or send the organization an email.  Know what you are going to tell them before you call. People in anti-human trafficking organizations need people like you to get involved, because there is strength in numbers, and if we do not speak up to be a voice for the voiceless, who will?

Example:
"Hello, my name is Mary, I am a college student, and would like to know how I can get involved in local anti-human trafficking advocacy with your organization.  Do you have any suggestions, or can you direct me to someone who could help me?"


Step 3: Get Involved
Once you find an organization, which may be right in your town or a few hours away, it's time to put your intentions to action!  Find a few friends and encourage them to join you in attending an event through this organization.  If you go as a group it will help create a larger ripple effect, thus spreading awareness even faster.  This can also be a great way to connect with your friends and bring meaning to what you and your friends do!





Human Trafficking Awareness Training 
[U.S. Department of Homeland Security]
>> ENTER HERE <<


Follow us on Facebook HERE!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How To Be an Anti-Human Trafficking Activist

Here at BASI we put a lot of emphasis of educating you about the current issues surrounding the sphere of human trafficking and modern day slavery. But raising awareness among our fantastic readers - you - can only go so far and we believe it is time for us to give you some ideas how you can take the fight for human rights and social justice into your own hands. Just let the story of 8-year-old Vivienne and her Make-a-Stand lemonade inspire you - anyone can campaign for change!

Here is a list of some ideas - these are things you can easily do in your school, university or workplace.

FUNDRAISING


  • Have a bake sale - The classic high school fundraiser. Why not sell some lovely homemade brownies, have a laugh with your friends and raise some money for [free-them] or another charity of your choice!
  • Film showing - Over the past month we have introduced you to several fantastic films about the issues of human trafficking. You could choose "Back to Innocence" if you are looking for a short, lunch-time break piece or a full-blown movie like "Trade of Innocents" or a documentary entitled "The Price of Sex". The options are endless.
  • Social event - If a film showing seems a little too boring to you, you could organise a proper party or a ball and make sure a percentage of the proceeds from ticket sales go towards a charity in your area. You and your friends get to doll up, put on their smart attire and maybe even talk to that boy/girl you have been eyeing in the hallways (it does not really matter whether you are 15 or 51... crushes are crushes!) - all the while contributing to a worthy cause.
  • Sorority/fraternity - If you are a member of a sorority (US), you could try to bring the issue of human trafficking up with your sisters or brothers. In the UK, you could try to society talk to the President of your society and see if he or she would be willing to organise a fundraiser with you.
  • Calendar - This is a bit of a cliche and certainly not for everyone, but many organisations fundraise with the use of calendars featuring scantily clad hotties. At my home university members of the biggest sports teams annually shed their clothes to reveal muscular bodies and raise some money for a prominent charity - needless to say, the calendars completely sold out within 36 hours last year! If you are courageous, this will sure get people talking about the issue (while ogling the models...).


RAISING AWARENESS

  • Human trafficking awareness day - Naturally, raising awareness even without raising money is very important. If you are still in middle or high school, it should not be difficult to organise an awareness day centred around the issue of human trafficking. You could even incorporate a bake sale or a film showing as suggested above. 
  • Write for the school paper - Many high schools and universities have their own publications, to which talented students can contribute their own work. Why not write about the issue of human trafficking? This website should provide you with plenty of information on the topic - do not hesitate to contact us if you would like any materials or help with writing your piece! Help us spread the word and make the world a better place!
  • Post fliers on the school bulletin board - People are often too lazy to read a long article... If you post a colourful flier on the school bulletin board, highlighting the main issues of modern day slavery, you are sure to catch bypassers' eyes without making them put in any effort.
  • Debate - Debating societies often host open-door events, giving everyone a chance to contribute to the discussion. Talk to the person in charge of the next event and suggest that they choose human trafficking as their next topic du jour. This will allow participants to try to find creative solutions to the issue and who knows - perhaps one of them will strike gold?
Schools and universities are a place to get educated - it is not just about learning the things on your syllabus, but about becoming a well-rounded adult with good general knowledge of many useful topics. Help your friends and classmate - or potentially your co-workers - gain a better idea of the issues in our world and raise some money to fight social injustice today!*

Sunday, November 18, 2012

MTV EXIT




"MTV EXIT aims to increase awareness and prevention of human trafficking through television programs, online content, live events, and partnerships with anti-trafficking organizations." -MTV EXIT


FACT: Criminals earn an estimated US$10 billion every year through buying and selling human beings (UN

It takes people to help people.  Such a simple concept that is very easily looked over.  Who exactly combats this problem?
  • Non-Governmental Organizations
  • Anti-Trafficking Police
  • Human Rights Lawyers
  • People like You and me!
MTV EXIT (end exploitation and trafficking) is an MTV organization which stakes a stand against human trafficking.  Being a music television channel, MTV EXIT strongly encourages artists to use their talents to help bring awareness, educate, and fight human trafficking.  This can be through concert to raise awareness or funds.  You can also create pieces of art that make the viewer stop and think.  Reaching over 500,000 people, MTV EXIT has held 29 admission-free concerts across the Asia-Pacific region to educate on safe migration!  


"We are pleased to bring together again a few prominent local and international artists to inspire more young people to join in the fight to end exploitation and trafficking in Indonesia, "said Matt Love as the MTV EXIT Campaign Director. - Rolling Stones Indonesia


 Indonesian group d'Masiv partnered with MTV EXIT to raise awareness on the issue of human trafficking.


Have no fear, if art is not your calling there are still many other ways you can help end human trafficking!  You can join local anti-human trafficking organizations, host movie screenings, or simply start a conversation on the issue and the signs of human trafficking. Find out more about how you can use your talents to help combat human trafficking HERE!

What will you do with your talent to raise awareness?




Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Signs of Human Trafficking

These videos were created for Californians to vote Yes to Proposition 35, to expand human trafficking laws in California:


" I was thinking the worst... and the worst to me at that time was thinking she was dead... until she was recovered and we found out what had happened to her."

  

These victims stories show that whether a person is "developmentally disabled and vulnerable" or "straight A's and at the top of your class,"  they can still be victims of human trafficking.  It is easy for victims to blend into our every day lives.
 This is why it is important to recognize the signs.



Know the signs.  It is important to be able to recognize potential human trafficking situations.  Human trafficking takes place across all economic classes and among people of nations across the globe.  If you see suspicious activity that seems like it could be a human trafficking situation DO NOT try to approach the situation yourself.  Instead, CONTACT your local anti-human trafficking task force.  This can be either a non-government organization or part of your local police force.  Read more below to become aware of the warning signs of a potential human trafficking victim!

Common Work and Living Conditions: The Individual(s) in Question

  • Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
  • Is under 18 and is providing commercial sex acts
  • Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp / manager
  • Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
  • Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
  • Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work
  • Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
  • Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work
  • High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)
Security: Keep people in or keep people out?


Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior

  • Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid
  • Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement
  • Avoids eye contact
Behavior: Fearful, anxious, submissive, tense, avoid eye contact


Poor Physical Health

  • Lacks health care
  • Appears malnourished
  • Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture
Physical: Signs of physical restraint, torture, malnourished


Lack of Control

  • Has few or no personal possessions
  • Is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account
  • Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport)
  • Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)
Control: Few possessions/identifications, does not speak for themselves


Other
  • Claims of just visiting and inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address
  • Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or do not know what city he/she is in
  • Loss of sense of time
  • Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story
-Polaris Project 2012


Look, Listen & Be Aware



Sources: Polaris Project