Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Films on Human Trafficking

If you haven't read Christine's post on the recent [Free Them] walk, please do! This post was inspired by learning about Christopher Bessette's film "Trade of Innocents" while at the [Free Them] walk.
I was raised on my father's passion for justice. He worked long and hard on the streets and in the office, and on the evenings I had the opportunity to see him, he might show us a documentary or movie related to his career. Some of the movies were also shown out of a strange parental way of showing he cared about our welfare.

The following are a list of films related to human trafficking (of course, there are SO MANY others). Movies provide a look into experiences of the victims, law enforcement, and traffickers. They allow us who have much to imagine a life with little.

Streetwise Kids - Romania (1996) - Directed by Journeyman Pictures
Modern Heroes, Modern Slaves (1999) - Directed by Marie Boti 
Trading Women (2002) - Directed by David Feingold
Human Trafficking (2005) - Directed by Christian Duguay
All the Invisible Children (2005) - Directed by Joh Woo
Daryl Hannah's human trafficking documentary (2006) 
Border War: The Battle Over Illegal Immigration (2006) - Directed by Kevin Knoblock
Taken (2008) - Directed by Pierre Morel
Redlight (2009) - Directed by Guy Jacobson, Adi Ezroni and Charles Kiselyak
The Whistleblower (2010) - Directed by Larysa Kondracki
Nefarious: Merchant of Souls (2011) - Directed by Benjamin Nolot
And Free the Slaves' video library

If you have free time and are tired of reading through the mass of text on your computer, learn more about human trafficking by watching a film or documentary. Always learn more. And remember after watching, "You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know" (William Wilberforce). 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

[Free-Them] Freedom Walk 2013: End Human Trafficking

Exactly one week ago, the Bloggers Against Social Injustice- Buffalo Team traveled nearly 100 miles from Buffalo, New York to Toronto, Canada to join our spotlight charity of 2012-2013, [Free-Them], in their 4th Annual Freedom Walk!  Over 500 people from across Canada congregated to hear and learn from from survivors, front-line rescuers, community activists, and police officials proceeded by a 4km walk for freedom.  This walk brought in a record breaking $45,000 which will benefit Walk With Me Canada Victim Services! Scroll below to read and see what it was like to go to #FreedomWalk2013 with the BASI-Buffalo Team!  I hope you feel like you were there with us!

Why Walk for Freedom? 

[Written By: Christine, founder and co-editor of BASI]

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2013- Our team woke up as the sun rose and left for Canada shortly after.  Upon arrival to the Fairmont Hotel, we were able to stop for some group pictures on the [Free-Them] purple carpet and backdrop before entering the banquet room for the pre-walk seminar.  As we entered the room, we looked over a sea of over 500 people dressed in purple and a fair-trade market place set up in the back.  The room was buzzing and packed, to say the least...

Before I move on, I want to remind you how prevalent human trafficking is in our world today.  It is estimated that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking in the world at any given moment.  This includes but is not limited to victims of sex trafficking and labor trafficking of all ages, genders, nationalities, and sexual orientations.  All people can be susceptible to human trafficking, which is why it is important to raise awareness so that people can recognize a possible human trafficking situation to avoid and report it.  This lucrative trade, which pulls in an estimated $32 billion annually, is present in virtually every country around the globe. 

"If it can happen to young girls, boys, women and
men, it can happen to each of us.  We are walking
for freedom and for justice!"

This message was shared with us by Veronica Chail, who hosted this year's Freedom Walk.  Chail then thanked Member of Parliament (MP) Joy Smith, Canada's leading anti-human trafficking advocate, on behalf of [Free-Them] and all of Canada.  Since 2007, Smith has mobilized the Canadian government to take action to create networks across the country and "connect the dots" to prevent and abolish human trafficking in Canada.  As the room rose for a standing ovation she sat in her seat undeniably humbled as she smiled and shook her head.  When the applause died down, MP Chris Alexander came on stage and described the struggle to push for human trafficking eradication legislation and action.  Alexander shared,

"[Human trafficking is] such a vast problem that 
I didn't know how or where to begin or how to 
put our arms around the problem."

With the efforts of MP Alexander and MP Smith along with a combination of many agencies, MPs, and integrated law enforcement teams, Canada is one of the only countries in the world to place victims at the center of discussions to combat human trafficking.

MP Joy Smith
MP Chris Alexander

"If you do nothing, nothing will happen.  
Four years ago I decided to do something,
and all of us are here today."

This was shared with us by Shae Invidiata, the founder of [Free-Them].  Invidiata began the Freedom Walk 4 years ago with the intent to "do something" and make a difference in the fight against human trafficking.  As she stool on stage, she shared with us a story about a brick.  Even if a brick is just a brick, sitting alone and unused, it still aspires to be something.  Invidiata told us that like that just like a brick that aspires to become something magnificent, like a skyscraper, we too are coming together to do something grand and bring about change.  Following Invidiata, Katrina McLeod shared her story.  In a group for abused women, she was preyed upon by a pimp.  Katarina McLeod was 21 years old when she entered the sex industry and for the next 10 years, she was invisibly caught in the sex trade.  Now she is an overcomer and founder of Rising Angels.

"People think its a choice, but it isn't.  We need to
not allow legalized prostitution [in Canada].
It will allow pimps to bring more girls and drugs."

When Katarina McLeod said this and shared her story, I realize how important it is for first responders (doctors, people at the end of hotlines, and assault groups) to be aware of human trafficking and potential predators.  Did you know one victim in the sex trade can bring in $280,000 per year for a pimp?  It is devastatingly sad AND UNACCEPTABLE that any person should have to feel obligated to sell their bodies, feel a loss of dignity, and be subjugated to abuse (verbal/physical) under the force and/or coercion of a pimp!

Shae Invidiata, founder of [Free-Them].
Katarina McLeod, founder of Rising Angels and overcomer of sex trafficking.

Lepa Jankovic and Christopher Bessette were also present.  Lepa Jankovic is a Royal Canadian Mountain Police whose efforts brought down 36 pimps, in Canada's largest human trafficking case! Christopher Bessette is the writer and director of the film "Trade of Innocents". He described his process in bringing this movie to life; from his journey to Cambodia for research, to becoming teary-eyed while filming one scene of the movie, 

"I thought about what a little girl looking 
[out of the Pink Room for young virgins] 
would have thought, looking at the other kids and
asking herself, 'Why can't I play outside'"?

At one point while directing "Trade of Innocents,"  Bessette wished he could have done more, but was reminded that this movie is raising awareness, which is making a difference.  Like Bessette, I feel like it is our duty to use whatever talents we possess to help raise awareness to end human trafficking.  Following Bessette, we heard from founder of Walk With Me Canada Victim Services and overcomer of sex trafficking, Timea Nagy.  

"It took me 13 years to find my voice and start to regain my dignity."

Nagy offered us a challenge.  The challenge was to take 15 minutes of our day and in those 15 minutes ask permission for everything.  This included; asking to eat food, asking to cry, asking to fight back if you were hurt, asking what color shirt to wear, and everything in between.  Now imagine being told "no" to every single request.  This is what Nagy said it is like as a victim of sex trafficking, only worse and in every waking moment.  She also told us that sometimes it is hard to think that just a few years ago she was actually in the sex trade.  It was discomforting to think that people standing in the same room as myself were suppressed to such conditions, and to think that there are millions of others out there currently in that situation is blatantly unacceptable.  This is why it is up to people like you and me to take a stand and do something!

Before the 4km walk, [Free-Them] surprised Bloggers Against Social Injustice and JQ Fitness with the 2013 iStand Award, thanking us for our local and online efforts to help abolish modern-day slavery.  I began to cry as I went on stage because I was so surprised and humbled.

RCMP Lepa Jankovic
BASI-Buffalo Team with writer/director Chris Bessette
Me (Christine) accepting the iStand Award on behalf of BASI

And now for photos from the 4km Freedom Walk! We were able to help pass out flyers on human trafficking to pedestrians, and water and snacks to walkers.  A BIG thank you to everyone who went out and walked!
Christopher (left) handing out information on human trafficking to a pedestrian.

Oncoming freedom walkers chanted:
"People are not for sale! People are not for sale!"

Susan, alerting the walkers with a smile!

After the 4km were complete, the entire group of +500 gathered for a photo!

Click this box below to see news coverage from #FreedomWalk2013

Before we left back for the United States, we were able to snap a quick picture with Shae Invidiata and Randy, of [Free-Them].

I hope you felt like you were there with us, I wish you were! Whatever you do, remember, ever action makes a difference, including raising awareness through a community walk.  Do it for those who don't have a voice to be heard.

Thank you [Free-Them], Walk With Me, and every person, donor, and organization there in body and in spirit for helping bring Canada one step (times over 500) closer to abolishing human trafficking!

We appreciate your efforts and each of you!

Christine :)

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Eliminating Demand

I want to make sure Peace's two posts on Wednesday had been appropriately read and thought about. Sabina's post on "Stop the Traffik" is also an important contribution on how we and victims can effectively spread the word on human trafficking. So please, if you have not read the last few updates, do!

The Woodrow Wilson Center hosted a panel discussion on "Combating Sex Trafficking by Eliminating the Demand." View the panel below:

Many important points are made during the panel. Social justice and dignity should be given to all. Sex trafficking is a complex phenomena that requires community and international collaborative efforts to combat. The lucrativeness of human trafficking however makes the industry hard to crush, but because the demand is still present. What I want is everyone to listen to the panel, and let the discussion sink in.

Demand and supply go hand in hand. We cannot say that if we stop the middle-men, trafficking will disappear. An increase awareness of not only the risks, but of what makes up common decency must be raised to realize a world in which everyone does not even consider trafficking, slavery, and rape as possibilities. The intersectionality of human trafficking requires a multi-angled analysis and approach. With poverty, do not only think of individuals with little money in a low-income area, but also those who may be living in the most international and richest areas of the world. Economic growth attracts migrants and immigrants, and specifically the susceptible population of sex trafficking, to countries basking in increased opportunity. For example, Brazil now undergoes change in preparation for the Olympic Games, with protests and unrest as consequences, but banking on huge economic returns when the games begin. With it may come the rise of more sex tourism. Non-regulated prostitution is already legal in Brazil, but organised activities around the practice like brothels and pimping are illegal. Further, Brazil does not comply with all the elimination of trafficking standards. 

Broadly, the standards include:
- Adequate promotion and protection of human rights
- Identification of trafficked persons and traffickers
- Research, analysis, evaluation and dissemination
- Ensuring an adequate legal framework
- Ensuring an adequate law enforcement response
- Protection and support for trafficked persons
- Preventing trafficking
- Special measures for the protection and support of child victims of trafficking
- Access to remedies
- Obligations of peacekeepers, civilian police and humanitarian and diplomatic personnel
- Cooperation and coordination between States and regions

Trafficking of Women, scaled 2007; Woman Stats

Trafficking of Women, scaled 2011; Woman Stats
Today's post will hopefully provide materials to develop our knowledge on sex trafficking.

Resources and Sources:

Woodrow Wilson Center:
Inter Press Service:
Ref World:
Woman Stats' Maps:
United Nations' Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking:

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A visit to an orphanage. A call to you to do something - anything

This article is surely different from the other's that are posted here on BASI, But I feel really Strongly about Sharing it with everyone here. It's Call to Us all to remember to help those that are not as fortunate as we are.


I and few of my friends embarked on a visit to an orphanage home today.
As the gate of the home opened, we were greeted with smiling faces of children, they all eagerly looked to see who had come into your abode.
As we proceeded to the reception to drop the items we went with and to get any information or rules we need to know and adhere to while we are there, a couple of the children ran to some of us and just hugged us (oh what Joy I know we all felt).

After the permission to play and interact with the kids were granted, we gathered around the kids, asked for their names and introduced ourselves. We then proceeded to play a few games with the kids.

The Joy that radiated from the kids touched me deep now, I saw how much of a home they had,filled with lots of brothers and sisters. They were eager to play games, to answer questions, they all wanted to be carried and played with -given special attention.
They did fight and quarrel, much like we all do with our siblings at home.
Miracle is one Boy I got really fond of, he was actually the first to hug any of us. He's in Primary one and about 6yrs old. He's smart and willing to be interacted with. I bet that boy would have lots of Friends. He didn't want to let any of us go, continually gripped my hand or someone else's why we were there.

Doris, an exceptional girl. Cute and very smart. She loves phones, immediately I got out my phone she took hold of it and began snapping everyone, she also played snake game with my phone. We talked a lot, also argued - hehe. she is one amazing child. Takes instructions immediately, then comes right back and does what you corrected her for :D.

Susan, a girl affected with down syndrome. She doesn't talk, only smiles. She's very fine even with her deformity. I couldn't help but weep in my heart.

Mercy, another child with an infirmity. She's fat,dark and fine. Always smiling, loves to play. She's hears very well but doesn't Talk, instead her words comes out as sounds (that one could be understood though). She loved my hand band, kept looking at it, then when I gave her, her smile broaden.

There was Jeremiah, Angel, Success, Deborah, lynda, osahon and a few others.

They all were kids full of smiles,without a care in the world. Eager to play and even to pray (As when we wanted to share biscuits for them, we gathered around each other and almost every one wanted to Bless the food and to Ask God to Protect and Guide us).


As we left the Home, a thousand thoughts played and fought for pre eminence in my head, a thousand words wanted to burst out of my mouth in expression of my feelings, but yet, Nothing came out. Yes! I was overwhelmed.

•This was my first visit ever to an orphanage home and it has left a lasting imprint in my heart.•


As I lay down I write this, I'm Grateful for what I have. I'm thankful for my family, for my parents, For Me - just being me,as I am.

So many times, I complain about my parents, about my background, but looking at those kids today, I'm Grateful.

••I Know my biological Parents, I live with them, they Pay my Fee's, clothe me and feed me.
No matter how my relationship with them maybe, the issue is I have a Relationship with them. I know them and they know me and we are concerned about each other's welfare.

••Many times, I complain Life is unfair, because things don't Go the way I want. Yet! I know I have a future. I go to school and I know I'd be something great. I have HOPE for a better tomorrow.

••I get pissed when I don't find a particular food to eat, or when I don't have a particular clothe to wear. Yet, I'm not starved or naked.

•••Today,I discovered that most of these kids in orphanage homes, ain't certain of a future. They live each day as it comes and are glad when someone steps in for a visit, for they know Food, clothes or gifts has come.
~Today, I am reminded of the children who didn't have the opportunity of knowing their parents, I'm reminded of the children who were dumped or who lost their parents at birth or very early in life.
~I am reminded of people,who live from hand to mouth. Who live each day hustling for food for that day.
~I am reminded of those kids that hawk. Those who steal,prostitute,smoke because they know no other way to live. Those kids who sleep under the bridges,and in uncompleted buildings. Those kids who are trafficked and can't come out of it because them being trafficked gives them food and shelter.
~I am reminded of those kids who live with their parents but yet haven't seen the four walls of a school before - Due to lack of finance.
~I am reminded of the widows who do not know what to do, because their husbands who is the bread winner has died.
~I am reminded of the young girls and boys who are into prostitution, armed robbery, kidnapping etc because they never had someone to give them advice, offer them kind words or give them hope.
~I am reminded of those kids who die in the process of hustle and yet never had someone preach the Gospel to them.
The list goes on and on.

•As I'm grateful for what I have, So have I decided to give these people Hope, to continually try and put smiles on their Faces, to Inspire and Motivate•

Be grateful of what you have, they are people that wish they had what you have.
You life is a bed of roses to someone out there.

I urge you, yes you reading this to Please, HELP SOMEONE TODAY.
~Reduce the size of your wardrobe and give those clothes to people who need them more.
~share your food
~Donate something, anything to an orphanage.
~Pay a visit and just put smiles on the less privileged faces.
~Help send someone to school.
~Get someone out of the street.
~Say A Prayer for Those who lack the little you have.
-Help support an NGO or a project that focuses on the people in slums, the orphans, the maltreated, The hawkers, The widows, the Less privileged.
-Volunteer, lend a hand.
-Give and idea
-Inspire, Motivate.
-say a kind word
-give a tip
-smile at someone
-Just DO something, Anything.

•your little effort could mean the world to someone•

The world would be a better place if we all agree to help our neighbours that we are better than.

•Our purpose as Christians on earth is to actually to serve God and help other people, to do good deeds.

¤Please, Quickly Check eph2:10; james1:27; heb10:24¤

•Love your neighbour. You can't love without helping, Without giving.•


        Peace Itimi

Stop human trafficking

It's heart breaking the number of stories on human trafficking we hear everyday. This is just two stories to enlighten us more and to appeal to our consciences.

Story 1

Thandi never planned to become a prostitute. Who does? But, she did need a job. A friend returned from Cape Town and told her a beauty parlor was looking to hire a receptionist. He gave the pretty nineteen year- old the advert in the paper and helped her make the call. On the phone, she is told there’s no experience necessary! With the recommendation from her friend, she’s hired right on the spot!

Thandi’s new employers pay for her bus ticket and promise her a place to live. She packs her small bag, kisses her family goodbye and heads off to her new life in Cape Town with a smile on her face.
When Thandi arrives in Cape Town, she is given a “work” wardrobe and a room in a flat, which she is to share with five other girls. Her first day at work, Thandi is driven with her roommates to her new place of work, a massage parlor. It only takes a matter of minutes for her to realize she’s in a brothel. Many of the girls working there are from foreign nations, China, Eastern Europe and Thailand, and all the girls are all prostitutes.

Thandi will clean and work as a receptionist, but she won’t be paid what she was promised. In addition, she now owes the massage parlor bus fair, money for her new clothes, room and board. She is not allowed to quit or return home until she works off this debt.
The only way to pay this debt and still make enough to survive is to perform sexual favours for the clients.

Thandi and the other girls are never left alone, driven to and from work every day and not allowed to have contact with anyone outside of the massage parlor.
Thandi considers calling the police, but realises quickly, the brothel pays several of them to keep quiet. The owner threatens to hurt her family back home if she tries to escape.

But, Thandi is a strong, bright girl and refuses to perform sexual acts as part of her job. Eventually, her owners grow weary of her protests. She is subjected to rape and torture until she finally agrees to sell herself. Then, she’s forcibly addicted to drugs to keep her subservient. In a few short months, this bright student is addicted to ‘tic’, on call twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, and sleeping with up to thirty men per day. When she is no longer considered fresh, her life of slavery will not end. She will be sold from the upscale massage parlor she works in now, to a pimp and will work the streets.


Story 2

Saida*, who had a good life and a fiancé in South Africa, was excited about the offer from a family friend to cater a traditional meal for a South African- style wedding in the United States.  Believing she would return home in two weeks, Saida set off for America.  After the event was over, instead of receiving payment and a return ticket home, she was forced into domestic slavery. 
Saida worked without compensation for 19 hours every day of the week— cooking, cleaning, babysitting, shoveling snow and toiling at the homes of her traffickers and their friends.  They told her if she tried to call for help, the police would intercept the call, arrest her and throw her into jail indefinitely.  Isolated, sleep- deprived, impoverished and terrified, Saida felt hopeless and was in tears every day.

The State Department received a tip and reached out to Safe Horizon, which operates the largest program on the eastern seaboard for human trafficking victims.
With our help, Saida moved to a Safe Horizon shelter, where she was not only offered food, clothing and safe place to sleep, but she was also able to speak with a case manger and immigration attorney who specialized in working with trafficking survivors.  Most importantly, she was able to contact her family and friends at home who hadn’t heard from her in months.

With Safe Horizon’s help, Saida returned home, where she continues to cooperate with the FBI to prosecute her traffickers and fight for justice.  Her Safe Horizon case manager connected Saida with educational and job training in South Africa before her departure.  A few months later, she was thrilled to receive a wedding invitation from Saida.  After a two-year separation, Saida and her fiance's wedding was both a celebration and a homecoming.

* Client names and identifying information have been changed to protect their privacy. Images used are representations of Safe Horizon’s clients.


Uhm,  Some people get out of it, some are not so lucky enough to get out.
My mind can't even begin to imagine nor comprehend the heartache,the emotional and psychological trauma these girls go through. Aaaah! Lord Have Mercy.

I Publish this post here today in faith that somebody that know's someone that's been trafficked,abused or molested will cry out and seek help for the person. I'm Hoping this post would get to those who traffick and abuse and that some how they'd be touched enough to stop what they are doing.

Those stories are about African girls,but I'm pretty sure girls in other continents can relate to this.

Please,let's keep Trying, Let's Keep Helping, Let's keep Praying For those people in situations beyond their control.

Stay Blessed.

Peace Itimi

Monday, September 9, 2013

Stop The Traffik - Red Light District Awareness Campaign

A charity called Stop The Traffik came up with a creative way of raising awareness of human trafficking. Duval Guillaume Modem created a clever campaign involving one of the most sought-after commodities - yes, to many people they are merely commodities - a group of attractive young women. A group of female dancers was stationed in the heart of Amsterdam's red-light district, displaying themselves in the large windows which allow customers to view the "goods". After the women captured the attention of passersby with an impressive dance routine, the following message appeared on a large billboard on top of the building:

Every year, thousands of women are promised a dance career in Western Europe. Sadly, they end up here. 

I hope this creative project will inspire some of you in your fight against social injustice.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

[Free-Them] Freedom Walk 9/14/13

On Saturday, September 14th, 2013, Canada's leading anti-human trafficking organization, [Free-Them] is hosting their 4th Annual Freedom Walk in Toronto, Canada!  The purpose of this walk is to raise awareness and funds to help end human trafficking.  

Bloggers Against Social Injustice(BASI) has been working with [Free-Them] this past year by helping with promotion and outreach.  Last year, the BASI-Buffalo team attended their 3rd Annual Freedom Walk (see post HERE) and we had an amazing time while being motivated and inspired to continue our work helping to pass laws and raise awareness regarding human trafficking.  We are all very excited to connect and learn from others who are making a difference and raising awareness!  So, what will you be doing next Saturday?

If you are in the Ontario, New York, or Pennsylvania area, myself and 7 others from the BASI-Buffalo team urge you to come join us and many others to take a stand against human trafficking!  Each ticket is $12, which you can pay when you arrive. The ticket includes a "freedom walking kit", and if you desire you can also fund raise.  Last year, our team raised $660 in 14 days!

Will you be there?

Fairmont Royal York
100 Front St. W Toronto, ON M5J 1E3, Canada

Saturday, September 14th, 2013
9am-1pm (estimate)

Online Registration

Below is news coverage from last year's walk.
Be sure to register now for the 4th Annual Freedom Walk! 

See you there!

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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Still Learning

Hello everyone!!! It is your co-editor Safra here!
So I'm only about a month old to BASI Team and am very thankful to each member for accepting me, but I didn't really expect myself to become so emotionally involved with wanting to provide public awareness about human trafficking. And over the course of the past couple of weeks the information centers in my brain have been through this constant positive feedback loop. The more I learn about the principles governing slave trade and the laws that surround human rights the more difficult it becomes to not speak about it. My roommate knows about that all too well. There is has not been a single moment throughout our recent days together that I have not mentioned something new I learned. Then seeing her reaction I can tell that the topic itself is very uncomfortable. Everyone gravitates to helping others in their own way, but educating another about something important is not impossible. So with that I would like to introduce all of you to something that you should watch:

Not My Life 
directed by Academy Award Nominee, Robert Bilheimer

The trailer above advertises the first documentary to depict the crude practices of slave trade on an international scale. It was filmed on five different continents and informs the audience about the different organizations that have been founded in effort to combat human trafficking. Such organizations that support the cause can be identified as:

But don't think for one second the movie serves as a depressant because without delay it strives to be encouragement for others by showing that victims or OVERCOMERS can move past the abrasion of their masters to live extraordinary lives.

To find out more about the movie visit the Not My Life website. I highly encourage you all to watch what might be a life-learning experience.

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