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How Climate Change Can Make More Children Vulnerable to Human Trafficking

By Colleen O’Day

Hurricane Maria, the worst natural disaster ever to hit Puerto Rico, wipes out the island’s power grid. A heat wave nicknamed Lucifer scorches southern Europe. Hurricane Harvey, the second-costliest Atlantic tropical cyclone in history, submerges Texas and Louisiana under trillions of gallons of rain. Drought again grips East Africa, leaving millions of people short of food and water.

Professor Annalisa Enrile notes that warming
climates may mean more sex tourism.

Natural disasters have always been a part of the weather cycle. But with climate change, the cycles of floods and droughts are expected to grow both more frequent and more severe.

That may well drive more children around the globe into the hands of human traffickers.

Poverty and natural disasters are a recipe for desperation. In 2015, Nepal, where 1 in 5 children under 18 are laborers – one of the highest rates in the world – was rocked by a pair of earthquakes that left some 3 million people homeless. World Vision, GoodWeave, and other nonprofit organizations working on the ground in Nepal found signs that the calamity had led to dramatic increases in child labor and child trafficking.

Global criminal rings exploit any disruption to people’s lives to lure victims into bonded labor, fraudulent adoptions, coerced commercial sex, or outright slavery. Extreme weather exacts the greatest suffering on the world’s poorest people. And children are the most vulnerable of all.

Annalisa Enrile, a professor with the online Doctor of Social Work program at the University of Southern California, sees climate change and human trafficking linked in surprising ways.… Read the rest

Guest Blog: Ending ‘Temporary Protected Status’ May Increase Human Trafficking of Children

By Colleen O’Day

Colleen O’Day, writer and anti-trafficking advocate

 

 

 

With one sweeping announcement, the Trump administration recently began dismantling an almost 30-year-old program that has sheltered some of the nation’s most vulnerable immigrants from being forcibly returned to their homelands.

So far, almost 250,000 adults and children from El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Haiti – most of whom arrived here illegally – have been stripped of their Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and given months to leave the U.S. Begun in 1990, the humanitarian program exempted from deportation people who fled natural and man-made disasters in their countries.

At the same time, the White House has embraced a broader approach to immigration that equates open borders with permitting “drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities,” as President Trump said.

Taken together, the Trump administration’s actions have diminished the U.S.’s historical role as a safe harbor for the world’s refugees. And some of the foreigners denied entry may well fall prey to human traffickers, says Annalisa Enrile, professor at the University of Southern California’s online Doctor of Social Work program.

Some 21 million people around the world are victims of human trafficking, forced or deceived into modern-day slavery and the sex trade. Traffickers exploit poverty and desperation – and children may be most vulnerable of all.

Enrile says people living in nations riven by war, political upheaval, and natural catastrophes are easy targets for traffickers seeking to profit from debt bondage, domestic servitude, or child labor.

Stripping away protected status for immigrants “makes people more desperate,” Enrile says. “You’ll take chances that you normally wouldn’t. And a lot of those chances now include trafficking.”

Enrile, who traveled to the Philippines to study the link between poverty and human trafficking, says –, wittingly or unwittingly – some poor parents turn their offspring over to traffickers for bonded labor.

“In a lot of these developing countries there is this, quote opportunity unquote” for even very young children to earn a living, she says. “The kids will be engaging in the labor force at a much earlier age because they have to help the family.”

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AFT News Release: AFT and Jamaica Teachers’ Association Launch Anti-Trafficking Project

OCHO RIOS, Jamaica—As the number of reported cases of child trafficking increases exponentially in Jamaica and in the United States, the American Federation of Teachers and the Jamaica Teachers’ Association announced today a joint anti-trafficking project to address the issue in both countries.

The pilot project—drawing on materials to be developed by the AFT and the JTA, non-governmental organizations, governments, community groups and others—will raise awareness among students about the dangers of trafficking for forced labor or sexual exploitation, will provide educators with resources to identify children who might be at risk, and will harness community resources to try to protect those children and advocate in schools, government agencies, legislative bodies and other venues on behalf of survivors on behalf of survivors.

The International Labor Organization estimates there are nearly 5.5 million children worldwide involved in trafficking. A recent study found that from 2006-2010, 4,870 children in Jamaica were reported missing—70 percent of them girls. Nearly 60 percent did not return home. The U.S. State Department, the ILO and Amnesty International have found that trafficking of children from rural areas into tourist areas for sexual exploitation is a serious problem in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean. The U.S. Justice Department estimates that as many as 300,000 U.S. children are at risk of being trafficked.

“Teachers have a powerful role to play in ensuring their students are safe,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten after speaking at the JTA’s annual conference. “With the materials that we develop for educators and other school staff, we can help empower students to try to avoid dangerous situations and we can help connect children in need to available services in their community.”

Weingarten said, “This is the kind of union we are—finding solutions and solving problems so we can reclaim the promise of public education for every child in every community.”

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The AFT, a co-chair of the Child Labor Coalition,  represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.Read the rest

On Missing Children’s Day, Murray Pledges Trafficking Bill Passage

By Colleen Quinn

State House News Service

Cambridge- Senate President Therese Murray promised advocates of missing children Monday that lawmakers would pass legislation targeting human trafficking.Cambridge —

The Plymouth Democrat made her commitment as Magi and John Bish, whose daughter Molly went missing in 2000, gathered with a group of parents at the State House to mark something no parent ever wants to make note of – their missing children.

The Bishes returned to the state capitol Monday for the 11th annual Massachusetts Missing Children’s Day. They come every year to bring attention to abductions and to missing children never found. Currently, 38 children are missing in the state, according to the Molly Bish Foundation.

Attorney General Martha Coakley thanked the Bishes for reminding law enforcement about “all the people who are touched by a missing child.” Coakley is pushing for Massachusetts to pass legislation that would establish state crimes of human trafficking in labor and sex. She wants to create a task force to study human trafficking, and increase the penalties for “Johns” to target the demand side of trafficking in prostitution. Massachusetts is one of four states in the nation that does not have human trafficking laws.

“We have this problem right in our own backyard,” Coakley said.

The Bish Foundation presented Murray with a legislative award and Murray said it was important to hold the event annually as a reminder of all the missing children.

“The devastation, I can’t imagine losing your child, and not knowing what happened or where, and that they won’t come back.… Read the rest