Tag Archive for: child trafficking


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. One example is child sex trafficking, when minors are offered for sex to locals and travelers from abroad.

Global warming increasingly has blurred the change of seasons. More cities and countries, she notes, have become year-round warm-weather destinations.

“Climate change is incorporated into the tourism industry,” Enrile says. Places with hospitable climate, such as the Philippines, draw tourists all year, “which means you have sex tourism all year. We often don’t think about that in terms of trafficking.”

Activist groups say action on climate change and human trafficking are irrevocably intertwined. A quarter of the world’s population lives under threat of growing storm surges and tsunamis, according to Oxfam International. More than 40 million people suffered flooding in just the second half of 2017. An average of 400 “extreme weather events” occur annually – more than one a day.

Enrile is an expert on human trafficking. She says the period following earthquakes, typhoons, and other cataclysmic events is a particularly perilous time for the youngest victims.

Children are left orphaned or get separated from their families, as happened in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. In Ethiopia and other places of dire poverty, human traffickers and adoption agencies fraudulently pass off some children as orphans. Or desperate parents give up their offspring in exchange for false promises of better care.

Enrile says the chaos that follows natural disasters allows traffickers to swoop in and make off with their victims.

“What happens in all this confusion is it provides the opportunity for traffickers to come in and say, ‘Hey, that kid is mine,’” she says.

According to UNICEF, trafficked children can meet many fates. Some are forced into prostitution. Others are held in domestic servitude. Some are conscripted to fight wars, or toil in mines and other dangerous places for little or no pay. The United Nations says girls and women make up the vast majority of victims of sexual exploitation, which in turn accounts for four-fifths of all forms of human trafficking—about one fifth is labor trafficking

Freedom’s Journey, a resource on human trafficking from USC, notes that children make up a third of all the people who are trafficked. One powerful antidote, the report says, is greater awareness and familiarity with the signs that someone may be a victim.  Once we are aware the crime of trafficking has been committed, it’s incumbent upon us to act. As the great British abolitionist William Wilberforce once said, “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”

Colleen O’Day, Senior Digital PR Coordinator. Colleen supports community outreach for 2U Inc.’s social work, mental health, and speech pathology programs.



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.”


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.

Contact: Janet Bass/202-879-4554/jbass@aft.org



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. I can’t imagine it,” Murray said.

Speaking to the trafficking bill, Murray said, “God we will pass that human trafficking” bill.

Magi Bish said she comes year after year and relives the horror she went through when her daughter was abducted and murdered because she wants lawmakers and law enforcement officials to recognize the dangers that exist for children. Bish said she would tell every parent to make sure their children know there are people who could hurt them, and teach them how to protect themselves.

“You need to have your child have awareness, to be smart,” she said. “We need to give them the tools to be safe.”

During the summer of 2000 Molly Bish was taken from Comins Pond in Warren where she was working as a lifeguard. Her mother had just dropped her off for work. Her body was found three years later, but her killer was never caught.

“Eleven years ago we decided we needed to do something. We need to work with the Legislature to make sure our children are safe,” said Bish, who launched the Molly Bish Foundation to advocate for tougher laws surrounding child abduction and child abuse.

Another parent of an abducted child, Bob Curley, said his son was taken from his East Cambridge home and murdered in 1997. Jeffrey Curley was a 10-year-old boy who was sexually assaulted and murdered by two men who promised him a new bike if he went with them. His body was found days later in a river in southern Maine. The two men were convicted and sent to jail. Curley said he felt “more fortunate” than other parents of abducted children because his son’s body was found, and he was able to “bring him home.”

In the fall of 1997, Curley’s murder ignited an emotionally-charged debate to reinstate the death penalty in Massachusetts, which came one vote shy of passing. The Senate had approved a bill that would have allowed prosecutors to seek the death penalty in 15 categories of first-degree murder. But the House doomed the capital punishment bill in a tied 80-80 vote. Former Rep. John Slattery (D-Peabody) flipped his vote at the last minute, and prevented the measure from passing. At the time, Gov. Paul Cellucci slammed Slattery after discovering the death penalty lacked one vote of support.

During Monday’s Missing Children’s Day, one particularly emotional moment came during the event when the mother of a young girl kidnapped 10 years ago collapsed on the floor crying. She was helped to her feet by Gov. Deval Patrick, who tried to comfort her.

After a short pause in the ceremony, Bish told those assembled, “Our hearts are quite broken. They never quite heal. Keep us in your prayers.” Patrick then hugged Bish for several moments before he left the event.

A few minutes earlier, Patrick relayed a story from his own life when one of his daughters, Sarah, disappeared for a few minutes when she was 4 years old. They were waiting for a relative at Logan Airport when he turned around for a minute, and when he turned back she was gone, Patrick said.

“It was 10 minutes, maybe 15. I had no idea where this little girl was,” Patrick said, adding he found her sitting under a security desk, where a security guard told her to wait while they looked for her father.

“That 10 or 15 minutes left an incredible hold in my heart and my soul. I cannot even imagine what it is like to carry that around for months, for years,” Patrick said. “That ache has got to be just as fresh after a long period of time as it was in that first 10 or 15 minutes.”

Patrick called the Missing Children’s Day a “sober” but important occasion and promised the families that lawmakers would do whatever they could to make sure children are safe.

Sen. Stephen Brewer (D-Barre), who represents the area where Bish was killed, said he was forever changed the day she disappeared.

“It is seared in our memories. It is part of who we are. It is always in our consciousness,” said Brewer, who hosted the group.

Brewer told the parents that lawmakers “are resolute in this building and in Washington D.C.” in trying to better protect children.

Read more: https://www.heraldnews.com/archive/x1303843525/On-missing-childrens-day-Murray-pledges-trafficking-bill-passage#ixzz1NUN0A0nC


Foreign Tourists seek Children for Sex in Acapulco

Acapulco, Mexico (CNN) — It’s early in the evening and they’re already on the streets looking for customers.They are all very young, some still in their teens. One teenage girl wearing a tight, revealing, deep pink dress walks by while prying eyes follow her every move. At La Noria Street in downtown Acapulco, this is part of daily life. It’s supposed to be illegal, but it’s not hard to find underage girls offering sex for money here.

This is Acapulco’s dark secret and the reason why the Mexican beach resort has gained a sad notoriety with tourists seeking children for sex. Read more