Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Coming Soon....

The CSEC Project at Kristi House is preparing to launch the Girls are Not for Sale outreach campaign spearheaded by GEMS and using the documentary film Very Young Girls . Watch the trailor below and check out the links and the following article to find out more. Contact Sandy at 305-547-6800 if you are in South Florida and you would like to schedule a training on CSEC.

Village Voice - July 2, 2008
Feminist Law Professors Blog

New York Sun – July 3, 2008
New York Times – July 4, 2008
“Very Young Girls” trailer – You Tube

A Look at the Harrowing Lives of Child Prostitutes

The New York Times - City Room
July 3, 2008
By Sewell Chan

A scene from “Very Young Girls,” David Schisgall’s documentary film about child prostitution and sex trafficking in New York City. (Photos: Swinging T Productions)

Dominique ran away from her home in the Bronx at 13, fleeing domestic violence. She quickly fell under the sway of a man who soon had her circling the blocks of Hell’s Kitchen, looking for johns. She explained the pimp’s influence this way: “He used to get into bed with me and used to, like, hold me like I was his kid. … He took care of me.”

“Very Young Girls” is an 83-minute documentary film that opens on Friday at the IFC Center in Greenwich Village. This is the film’s first commercial release; it received critical acclaim at its premiere last September at the Toronto International Film Festival. (See a review by Jeannette Catsoulis of The Times.)

The film offers a vivid and disturbing look at the sexual exploitation and trafficking of teenage girls in New York City. The average age of girls when they enter the sex industry is 13. The girls interviewed in the film — all identified by their real first names, except for one given the pseudonym Nicole — were participants in a New York-based nonprofit advocacy group, Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, which was established in 1998 by Rachel Lloyd, a former prostitute, originally from England, who has dedicated her career to combating human trafficking and sexual exploitation of girls. GEMS now works with about 200 girls a year.

The first part of the film intersperses interviews with the girls with scenes shot by two brothers, Anthony and Chris Griffith, who taped their exploits in the New York area as pimps for what they hoped could become a cable television series. (The brothers were ultimately convicted of trafficking minors across state lines and were sentenced to 10 years in federal prison; the videos were used as evidence.)

Among the girls interviewed are Shaneiqua, a former A student who craved affection and described her first time having sex with her pimp in this way: “I thought that was the best thing that ever happened to me — the best, best.” Soon the man, nearly 20 years her senior, told her, “I would love you a lot more if you brought in more money.” After the first time she had sex for money, she said, “My whole body just felt dead.”

Another girl, Shaquanna, 15, is shown on a hospital bed, ingesting liquid medication that had been injected into a cup of Jell-O for her. She had been found on the side of a road, unconscious; she could not remember who had attacked her. Yet even in her painful condition — bruised, bloodied, her front teeth missing and chipped — she expresses relief. “I was praying for a situation to happen so that I’d be able to go home.”

The filmmaker, David Schisgall, said he had been making films about young people in war zones for MTV’s “True Life” series. “International sex trafficking was on our list of topics,” he said in a phone interview. “In the course of our search we found that there was trafficking going on in the United States that nobody was talking about.”

Mr. Schisgall, 40, who grew up in the Maryland suburbs outside Washington, said the “audience response has been overwhelmingly positive.” He said the film would be broadcast on Showtime in December.

He said he believed that the criminal justice system treated child prostitutes as criminals, rather than as victims. “It struck me as a great scandal,” he said, “and also as a great story.”
The girls make clear why leaving the men who exploit them is not easy. As one girl, Kim, tried to pack her suitcases, she recalled, her pimp “told me the next time I leave, he’s going to put me in a suitcase.”

Another former prostitute, Martha, put it this way: “I am his investment. I am his way of getting money. At the end of the day, if you think about it, a pimp does nothing more but collect the money.”

But the emotional ties are even stronger, in some cases, than the threat of violence and the relationships of economic dependence.

Ms. Lloyd, who was an executive producer for the film, says in the film: “Our primary competition is pimps. They’re spending 110 percent of their time and energy on recruiting, on brainwashing, on making this girl feel loved and special, and pulling her back in every time that she almost leaves. This has been four years of her life, from 12 to 16. He’s 35. He basically raised her.”

Ms. Lloyd is shown winning a human rights award from Reebok, the athletic footwear company. In her acceptance speech, she says that many Americans recognize sexual exploitation in countries like the Philippines, Thailand and Ukraine, but not in their own backyards. “When it’s happening two blocks away from this auditorium, when it’s happening in Bedford-Stuyvesant or Hunts Point or Queens Plaza, we look the other way.”

Dominique says in the film that she ran away from her family at 13 because of domestic violence. She quickly fell under the influence of a pimp.

The film pulls few punches. Though it portrays the girls as victims, it does not hide the consequences of their actions. “Can you sit back and think about that, of what your mother must have felt?” Miranda, Dominique’s mom, asks her, describing her daughter’s actions as “despicable.”

The film provides only a fleeting glimpse at the men who patronize prostitutes, showing a scene from the “Brooklyn John School,” a program in which men arrested for patronizing prostitutes complete an educational course and have their charges dismissed if they stay out of trouble for six months.

Several of the girls in the movie made it out of the sex trade. Mr. Schisgall said that Shaquanna, the girl who had been beaten and hospitalized, recently graduated as the valedictorian of her high school class in New York City.

Other girls had less certain futures. One, Ebony, became a prostitute at 15 and moved to Miami to be with a pimp. Despite Ms. Lloyd’s efforts to save her — including tracking her down during a vacation to Miami — Ebony ultimately returns to the street life, in part because she cannot stand the disapprobation and stares of her neighbors during a brief return to New York.

“I’d rather have him beat me than being over where people are looking at me sideways,” Ebony says, adding, “I have a home in Miami where I can go back to with no problem.”

The shoes of “Nicole,” who was arrested at 14 on prostitution charges. Her lawyer said Nicole’s pimp expected her to have sex with 30 men over four or five days.

Region Needs To Wake Up To Teen Sex Trafficking

The Tampa Tribune
July 13, 2008

Last month, FBI Director Robert Muller announced a nationwide sweep of pimps who trade in the most abhorrent form of prostitution - child prostitution.

Tampa was one of the 16 cities mentioned by the FBI. That may be shocking to some, but authorities say child prostitution is common, if little noticed, in the region.

Tampa's inclusion on the FBI's list underscores the need for a concerted local effort to wipe out this vicious crime.

The local office of the FBI is tight-lipped on the case that was included in Muller's announcement of Operation Cross Country.

Officials say only that one child was recovered in a joint investigation with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. The FBI says the investigation is continuing into what might be a case of multiple pimps and multiple victims.

The local child was one of 21 rescued nationwide during Operation Cross Country, and one of 433 rescued in the five years of the FBI's Innocence Lost initiative.

The law does recognize the pimping of children - formally known as domestic minor sex trafficking - as a serious offense. It's considered human trafficking in federal law, and Florida law has made it a first-degree felony to recruit, transport or coerce a child into prostitution.
But the laws have been inconsistently enforced.

This spring, Shared Hope International released a report on child sex trafficking in the Tampa Bay area that concluded teen prostitutes were largely hidden from view and the legal system tended to consider them criminals, not victims. The organization, headed by former U.S. Rep. Linda Smith, concluded there was "an acute lack of awareness" that allowed pimps to ply their trade and victims to go unnoticed.

Smith says the biggest problem is that the law enforcement and social workers most likely to encounter young prostitutes have not been viewing them as victims, but as individuals who have chosen to break the law.

The reality is many of the youngsters are brainwashed by their pimps, dependent on them for drugs and have been taught not to trust authorities.

Local court systems are not particularly punitive to teen prostitutes - most plead guilty to lesser charges and are released. But they often return to their pimps, and Smith says law enforcement generally hasn't focused on bringing charges against the pimps or traffickers.
And the teens aren't getting the kind of counseling and rehabilitation services they need to break free of their pimps, Smith says.

So for now, the practice of prostituting minors goes largely unchecked. Yet the victims are not hard to find: They are the boys and girls being ferried up and down Florida's highways, where they sell their bodies at truck stops. They are brought to town for major conventions and sporting events. They are even sold to tourists, who don't have to go all the way to Thailand to sexually exploit a child.

Consider the case of Wayne Banks Jr., an Ohio man who was arrested in Florida after beating up one of his teen prostitutes. He is now serving an unprecedented 40-year sentence for child sex trafficking.

"They were like a traveling sales company: city to city to city," Escambia County Sheriff's Detective Troy Brown told the Toledo Blade. "They'd been to Tampa, Miami, Atlanta."
Law enforcement agencies are notably aggressive when it comes to protecting children from child pornographers or from predators who try to entice victims via the Internet.

But the youngsters working the streets and truck stops are often viewed with less sympathy.
It is easy to forget they are only children - and children worth saving. Tampa's place on the FBI's list should alert us all to the need to furiously combat the vile trade that sells their bodies and steals their souls.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Justice Department, Blind to Slavery


By JOHN R. MILLER (July 11, 2008 - Washington)

PRESIDENT BUSH has won support abroad and bipartisan praise at home for his efforts to combat human trafficking, the slavery of our time. But now that work is imperiled by his own Department of Justice.

At the United Nations in 2003, Mr. Bush denounced the sex trafficking of women and girls around the world. A little more than two years later, he signed into law a bill that included a broad array of measures to reduce the domestic demand for sex trafficking.

Sex slavery is not the only modern incarnation of this ancient institution — factory slavery, farm slavery and domestic servitude are still with us — but it is the largest category of slavery in the United States. People who have spoken with the president say that he wants the fight to end modern slavery to be one of his legacies as president.

From 2002 to 2006, I led the State Department’s efforts to monitor and combat human trafficking. I felt my job was to nurture a 21st-century abolitionist movement with the United States at the lead. At times, my work was disparaged by some embassies and regional bureaus that didn’t want their host countries to be criticized. I didn’t win every battle, but the White House always made it clear that the president supported my work and thought it was important.

Imagine my surprise, then, when the Justice Department started a campaign against a new bill that would strengthen the government’s anti-human trafficking efforts. In a 13-page letter last year, the department blasted almost every provision in the new bill that would reasonably expand American anti-slavery efforts.

Should the State Department’s annual report on trafficking, which grades governments on how well they are combating modern slavery, consider whether governments put traffickers in jail? The Justice Department says no. Should the Homeland Security and Health and Human Services Departments streamline their efforts to help foreign trafficking victims get visas and care? No. Should the Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, State and Justice Departments pool their data on human trafficking to help devise strategies to prevent it? Amazingly, no.

In its letter, the Justice Department even opposes authorizing the president to create new awards for the international groups that are leading the struggle for abolition. It also doesn’t want the State Department to be required to give the names of American anti-trafficking phone lines to visa applicants at American consulates overseas. It doesn’t want a citizen task force to help develop an information pamphlet for victims.

Some objections like these are, regrettably, to be expected in a Washington turf battle. But the Justice Department is consistent — it opposes changes to expand its own efforts to combat human trafficking, too.

Should the department prosecute the American sex tourists who create demand for adult human-trafficking victims in foreign countries? No. Should Congress make clear that there should be increased penalties for Americans who sexually abuse children abroad? No way. Should we give our courts jurisdiction over Americans who traffic human beings abroad? Certainly not. Should the attorney general include information in his annual report on his department’s efforts to enforce anti-trafficking laws against federal contractors and employees? No. Too “burdensome,” says the Justice Department.

The department strongly objects to a provision that would make it easier to prosecute pimps, the chief slaveholders in the United States. The Justice Department opposes taking away from pimps the defense that they did not know a child’s age. And it opposes easing the requirement to prove force, fraud or coercion in order to prosecute a pimp for human trafficking.

How did President Bush’s Justice Department come to these positions? In conversations, department employees emphasize the threats of diversion of federal resources and intrusion on state and local rights.

But it is hard to believe these are the reasons. After all, the Justice Department knows that it will prosecute only the biggest pimps just as it goes after only the biggest drug dealers. It knows that pimping has long been recognized as an interstate activity with a federal role. And the Justice Department knows that the states have had very limited success when trying to convict traffickers.

A culture clash, I suspect, is the real reason for the Justice Department’s opposition. This isn’t the usual culture clash of right and left, religious and secular. In this case, the feminist, religious and secular groups that help sex-trafficking survivors are on one side. And on the other are the department’s lawyers (most of them male), the Erotic Service Providers Union and the American Civil Liberties Union — this side believes that vast numbers of women engage in prostitution as a “profession,” by choice.

As one Justice Department lawyer put it at a meeting I attended, there is “hard pimping and soft pimping.” The department’s letter hints at this view. Adult prostitutes who are transported across state lines, in violation of the Mann Act, should not receive grants under the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 because they “do not meet the legal definition of ‘victim,’” the letter states.

Both sides agree there is a small group of expensive call girls — the kind paraded in recent political scandals — who may choose to engage in prostitution. But that’s where agreement ends. Those who work with trafficking victims and those who have interviewed survivors believe that most prostitutes are poor, young, abused, harassed, raped, beaten and under the control of pimps against their will.

Put me on the side of those who have worked with the victims. I have talked with survivors all over the world, including the United States, and I share the view that these women and girls — the average age of entry into prostitution is 14 — are not participating in the “oldest profession” but in the oldest form of abuse. They are slaves.

It is hard to believe that the Justice Department’s perspective reflects the man at the top of the Bush administration. Yet the unusual anti-slavery coalition that President Bush helped to forge now finds itself battling the president’s own Justice Department.

The department lost the battle in the House, which passed the new anti-human trafficking bill almost unanimously, by a vote of 405 to 2. Unfortunately, the department seems to have more influence with the Senate, where the bill is stalled in the Judiciary Committee. And Senator Joseph R. Biden, Democrat of Delaware, has introduced a bill that largely complies with the department’s views.

The president may never have seen the Justice Department’s letter. But Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Democrat of New York, and Deborah Pryce, Republican of Ohio, two of the leaders of the Congressional Caucus on Human Trafficking, have been unable to arrange a meeting with the president to express their concerns to him.

President Bush should meet with them — and his own Justice Department — before he loses his legacy and his leadership on the abolition of modern slavery.

John R. Miller, a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center and a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute, is the former State Department ambassador at large on modern slavery.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Changemakers Competition for Anti-Trafficking Initiatives

We were notified about this competition too late to submit a proposal, but there are a couple other initiatives from Florida listed, including, Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking and Miami Movement Against Human Trafficking, and they need your vote to win. Good luck!


Google Alerts

If you don't already know about this Google service, you should.


You can submit your favorite search string and everytime new things are posted on the internet matching your search string, Google will deliver them to your inbox.

Try submitting "human trafficking" "child trafficking" "commercial sexual exploitation" and variations on that theme to get all the breaking news and initiatives in the field.

Resources for Working with CSE Youth

Please follow these links for a few resources I have found very helpful to working with commercially sexually exploited youth. One thing I have had to repeatedly emphasize to people is that our services and approach need to be youth-centered. People don't respond well to being forced to do something, even for their own health. Change needs to come from within, and our role as people working with youth, is to help youth to articulate and understand the goals and dreams they have for themselves and assist them in developing thier own plan to achieving their dreams. Often, especially in the case of CSE youth, this means that changes will need to be made, but if we are patient and skilled and refrain from inserting our own agendas, emotions or expectations, we will be able to assist the youth in recognizing and acting on this change for themselves - in their own way and with their own agenda.

This is the Positive Youth Development philosophy that is a hot catch phrase right now to describe "Youth Participation", a concept that has been prioritized in the fight against CSEC since the the First World Congress Against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Sweden in 1996. Motivational Interviewing is one tool that can be used to help facilitate that process. There are many other resources available through a simple google search. Here are some that I have found useful:

Positive Youth Development Toolkit 2008
Motivational Interviewing Assessment: Supervisory Tools
The Psychosocial Rehabilitation of Children Who Have Been CSE
The Psychosocial Rehabilitation of Children Who Have Been CSE - Study Guide

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sexual Exploitation Bill in Governor's Hands (CA)

This really is groundbreaking! This is the only law on the books in the entire country like this one, and it won with a landslide. (New York's version, the Safe Harbor Act, didn't pass last year.) How exciting that finally we are getting a state law passed that DECRIMINALIZES prostitution for minors!! I would like to say that Florida is next but the reality is that we've only just begun to even see the issue, much less address it. You never know.


Legislation would decriminalize actions of children involved in sex trade, instead treating them as victims.

By Kamika Dunlap
Oakland Tribune

OAKLAND — Potentially landmark legislation that would decriminalize the actions of minors involved in the sex trade and instead treat them as victims, reached Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk Tuesday to be signed into law.

Assembly Bill 499 this week cleared the Assembly 66-0 after passing the Senate 73-1 last week, with bipartisan support along the way. Lawmakers' voting indicates the need to address the growing number of sexually exploited youths in the Bay Area who have been forced into prostitution, child pornography or human trafficking. During the past several years, the sexual exploitation of minors has exploded in Oakland, with children as young as 11 peddled on the streets and over the Internet for sex, authorities said. In addition, the city has become a stop on the sex-trade circuit in the Bay Area and Las Vegas.

"Unfortunately, commercially sexually exploited minors are currently arrested and processed through the criminal justice system as offenders," said Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Oakland, who sponsored the legislation. "These youth do not receive the services necessary to protect them from harm, with the result that many repeatedly fall victim to the same predators upon release."

Schwarzenegger has until Sept. 30 to sign the bill into law, otherwise it will automatically become law.

Currently, if a minor younger than 18 is picked up for prostitution, she is charged as a criminal and sent to juvenile hall.

However, social service workers and law enforcement agencies are hoping a new law would change that and connect them with the services they need. The law also would help girls who want to bring charges against a pimp.

"It is a moral imperative that we act quickly to rescue these children and track down the violent predators who are the true criminals," Swanson said.

The outcome of AB499 will help to crack down on pimps, prosecuting them with maximum sentences, Swanson said.

Recently, authorities in Oakland rescued four child victims of human trafficking and arrested 12 people in connection with child prostitution charges, according to FBI officials. The arrests by the Oakland Police Department were part of a larger federal sweep that lasted five days and targeted 16 cities nationwide. Called "Operation Cross Country," a Justice Department-led effort, recovered four children in Oakland June 18, the most children recovered in any location that night, FBI spokeswoman Patty Hansen said.

Oakland police also conducted their first citywide sweep last month to make sure several hundred registered sex offenders were in compliance with state laws, including verifying residency and having DNA samples on file with authorities. Operation Compliance Check 2008 resulted in 231 compliance checks, which netted 12 arrests and the collection of DNA from five registered sex offenders.

"The biggest problem is the issue of awareness," said Lt. Kevin Wiley, commander of the Special Victims Unit for the Oakland Police Department. "(AB499) brings everyone to the table, makes it everyone's problem, and gives them the opportunity to solve the problem through education, training and awareness."

Reach Kamika Dunlap at 510-208-6448.

AB499's provisions:

**Increase coordination between government, law enforcement and child advocates working with sexually exploited children to ensure they are treated with similar types of care to that received by victims of domestic violence, which includes access to shelters and counseling.

**Create a pilot program in Alameda County to implement a uniformed training curriculum to properly treat sexually exploited minors as victims of coercion and not criminals of intent. The curriculum also would train law enforcement, prosecutors and public defenders to properly recognize the signs of sexual exploitation of children.

**Require that the training curriculum be available to area law enforcement and criminal justice agencies.

Other links to AB499:

Advanced Techniques in Interviewing of Adolescents

Conference presented by Kristi House featuring
Dallas Police Department, Child Exploitation Squad

Monday & Tuesday, July 28 & 29, 2008
University of Miami Campus, Coral Gables

Organized for service provider and law enforcement professionals in Miami-Dade County, this two-day, intensive training will focus on adolescent victims and sexual abuse, and will be led by two experts who have conducted thousands of interviews of high risk victims. The goal is to provide specialized education and skills for working with populations of vulnerable and victimized teens, in particular runaways, the seemingly compliant and those commercially sexually exploited. These adolescents have traditionally been among the last to receive help or services, and are frequently further victimized by systems of justice and care that should be protecting them. Through presentations, mock interviews and case studies, the training will advance the skills of those dedicated in Miami-Dade to punishing perpetrators and helping children escape abuse and recover.


July 28:
8-8:30 a.m. Registration / 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Training

July 29:
8:30-5:00 Training

(12-30-1:30 Lunch on your own both days)

To register for this conference, please visit the Kristi House website at http://www.kristihouse.org/conferenceinfo2008.php.