Posts tagged human trafficking

Slaves Freed from Brick Factories in India

I had my composition students watch the trailer of the documentary “Dark Side of Chocolate” yesterday. I am happy that the full 45 minutes is up on YouTube.  I also had them watch a Ted.com video of Sheryl WuDuun talk about what she knows of human trafficking.  She and her husband Nicolas Kristof co-authored a book titled “Half the Sky.” Both clips certinaly got the attention of my students.  The following should stir the students’ blood after reading this latest blog from IJM (Intl. Justice Mission). I have seen similar stories or read somewhere about the brick factories in India and how people are tricked into working there…very sad!

IJM Bangalore: A Runaway Brother’s Call For Help Brings Rescue

Fri, 03/01/2013

IJM Bangalore helped rescue the children trapped in forced labor slavery
The siblings were enslaved in a brick kiln outside Bangalore, far from their home village in a neighboring state.

BANGALORE, INDIA – This week, a family of six was set free from slavery in an Indian brick kiln. Over the last couple of weeks, several of the siblings had escaped, making the brick kiln all the more dangerous for those who were left behind.

Tricked Once, Trapped For Good

On February 11 2013, IJM Bangalore got a desperate call for help. The caller was a young man named Prasham.* Prasham had escaped from a brick kiln where he and his siblings had been held captive for about six months.

Prasham relayed a terrible story. The three brothers and their sister were lured into the brick kiln with a hefty advance – a large amount of money that was more than their family had ever dreamed of. The siblings agreed to repay it through their work, but when they arrived they quickly realized they had been tricked. They were paid pennies for their work – about $5 a week. They were trapped.

The labor intensive process of baking clay bricks under the hot sun was back-breaking. Prasham told of a time when his sister was sick, and yet the owner forced her to keep working. He said one of the owner’s men, a watchman, beat his sister, and threatened Prasham when he tried to stand up for her.

Prasham said that the brick kiln owner let the brothers and sister take a short leave in January, to go home for an important Indian holiday. When the siblings didn’t return to the kiln, the owner traveled to their village to track them down. Prasham and his sister successfully hid themselves, but his little brothers, 9 and 13, were taken by the owner.

The two young boys were locked up in a small shed every night, let out only to work. They were forced to work even if they were sick, and if they spoke of illness they were kicked. But somehow, the boys managed to escape.

Two Brothers Escape, Another Held Hostage

At the end of February, IJM learned that situation in the brick kiln had worsened. The brick kiln owner allegedly went to a nearby brick kiln and kidnapped Prasham’s older brother. The brash owner locked them up and threatened to keep them hostage until Prasham and his brothers returned. Prasham said that the owner and his managers called him, telling him that they would “break my brother’s hands and legs if we don’t return back to the brick kiln.”

IJM moved quickly and took the case to the government official who has the authority and responsibility to root out forced labor slavery in his district. Within two days, on February 26, 2013, IJM staff and government officials were en route to the brick kiln.

The brick kiln owner at first denied that he was harboring Prasham’s older brother. But when the government official leading the operation demanded that the owner produce the young man at once, the owner changed his story. The owner said the young man was on his way back to the brick kiln. But the IJM and government rescue team found the young man on the road, being led away from the kiln.

Freedom At Last

The government official heard the stories from all of the brothers and sister, including the older brother who had been locked up for two days. The official determined that all six deserved release certificates, legal documents that declare them free and entitle them to certain government benefits.

A police report was also filed, to ensure the siblings remain safe while evidence is collected to build a case against the brick kiln owner.

An IJM social worker escorted the family back to their village, in the neighboring state, and they will now join IJM’s aftercare program. IJM will follow up to make sure they remain safe and are able to restart their lives in freedom by getting back to school or finding good jobs.

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Extra Credit for my Comp I students

We are into Week 7 of our Composition I classes which to me feels like mid-point for the semester. The students are now putting the finishing touches on their second paper and we are looking into materials that relate to human trafficking.  Paper #3 will involve this horrible topic and cover different subtopics of the following where victims of trafficking can be found throughout the whole world:

1) tobacco and cotton fields

2) building construction

3) begging in the streets

4) child laborers

5) child soldiers

6) pornography

7) prostitution

8) forced marriages

9) surrogate maternity

10) harvesting of organs

In order to improve their percentage grade, my students have been given the following options in order to get more emotionally involved in this assignment.  I know human trafficking is a tough one but not one to be avoided because it is unpleasant.  I will encourage them to do something in their sphere of influence.

1)     Read the book on-line – Two Kyrgyz Women” by Marinka Franulovic and write 500 word reaction to one or the other story.  The first is about a mother with her baby working as a slave laborer in the tobacco fields of Kazakhstan.  The second is about a woman who was prostituted, taken from her four children. Both women were restored to their families but are not telling anyone in their village of the dangers they were in.  Very much a taboo topic in Kyrgyzstan.

http://www.free-ebooks.net/ebook/Two-Kyrgyz-Women#ixzz1z5pbxEsN

(25 points for each story, 50 points for whole book)

2)     Read the book on reserve at the UMC library “Not For Sale” by David Batstone and write 100 words summarizing each chapter for 10 points each (read what chapters are of interest to you)

3)     Check out and watch movie “Changeling and write 300 words about your impressions about it and how it might relate to your Paper #3 (25 points)

4)     Check out and watch movie Taken” and do the same as above (25 points)

5)     Read my blog entries about human trafficking from this Kazakhnomad blog site for 10 points each and write 150-200 words OR read this other blog which is very current and posted from India written by Katy Westrom:

http://katywestrom.theworldrace.org/?filename=bleeding-red

6)     Take the Slavery Footprint survey to find out how many slaves work for you.  Do the finetuning to get a more accurate score.  Write 150 words telling about the results and what surprised you the most about this inventory?  (5 points)

http://slaveryfootprint.org/survey/?gclid=CM69yfrr1LUCFe4-MgodkUQAzQ#where_do_you_live

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Part II – Minnesota girl’s plight about being trafficked

The following is a continuation of what I posted yesterday.  More awareness needs to be raised about this problem of human trafficking…

Missing child

At age 11, Kayla began attending her old school again. One day she didn’t come home.

“I went through the streets looking for her,” Lauren said. “I just went through hell.”

Six days later, police officers found her at a community center.

Kayla said a classmate had beaten her up, and then taken her home, where the girl’s mother forced her to sell drugs and have sex with strangers.

Other young girls were being prostituted there too, Kayla said.

After police, acting on a tip, questioned the woman, she arranged for her daughter to leave Kayla at the community center.

Movies and television tend to portray pimps as black men sporting flashy jewelry, driving fancy cars and hanging out on street corners. But in reality anyone can be a pimp. Often they’re women.

“Times have changed,” said Sgt. John Bandemer of the St. Paul Police Depart­ment. “There are way more female pimps right now than male pimps.”

Another time, Kayla took her dog for a walk and didn’t come home for five days.

Again, Lauren reported to police that she was missing. Eventually, Kayla called to ask Lauren to pick her up on a street corner several miles from their home.

Kayla had been with a girl she met when she had been kidnapped before. The girl’s mother, another trafficker, drove Kayla around to several houses, where she was repeatedly raped. One of the men who raped Kayla during that time is the father of her baby, Lauren said.

“[Kayla] was so violent after that,” Lauren added. “She had been totally reprogrammed. She was talking to police officers about the ‘great family’ she was with.”

Traumatic bonding

Traffickers apply a potent mix of loving care alternated with violence, threats and dehumanizing behavior to control victims like Kayla.

They offer a false sense of security and love to establish a “trauma bond” with victims, according to Shared Hope International, a nonprofit organization in Washington state that works to prevent sex trafficking.

Trauma bonds are similar to Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological response where hostages become attached to the perpetrators and later defend them, a report from the organization explains.

One expert declared traffickers “the most brilliant child psychologists on the planet.”

When Kayla was seven months pregnant, she disappeared again. “I just had this horrible feeling,” Lauren said.

The next day, Kayla asked Lauren to pick her up at an apartment building. During the drive home, Kayla told Lauren she had been with “a bunch of pimps.” One of them wanted to be her boyfriend, she added. She said he had taken her shopping and bought her lingerie from Victoria’s Secret.

Then Kayla told Lauren she was going to move in with him.

At home, when Lauren blocked the door to prevent Kayla from leaving, she yanked Lauren’s hair, hurling her to the floor. Lauren raced to a neighbor’s house to call the police, who arrested Kayla for assault. “It might have saved her life,” Lauren said.

Later, Lauren learned that the pimp who wanted to be Kayla’s “boyfriend” controlled a massive interstate trafficking network.

Pimps often pose as a child’s “boy­friend,” building a romantic relationship to secure the child’s trust and allegiance, even after the relationship changes into one of violence, torture and abuse, according to Shared Hope International.

All children are at risk

To many, Kayla’s story might seem extraordinary. But it’s a story that plays out day after day in cities and suburbs throughout the United States. And it can happen to any child, regardless of socio-economic background or ethnicity, said Linda Miller, executive director of Civil Society. The St. Paul organization provides legal and other assistance to sex trafficking victims, including Kay­la.

“I’ve read a lot that these girls come from bad homes and they’re runaways,” Lauren said. “This isn’t a bad home. [Kayla] has had some issues in her life, her mother was a drug addict, but she’s been given nothing but love from me. I wasn’t a bad parent.”

Despite the trauma and abuse Kayla has experienced, Miller said she holds hope for Kayla’s future. Since October, Kayla has been receiving treatment at a residential center for girls with emotional and behavioral problems.

Parents need to educate children about the dangers of sex trafficking before it’s too late, Joy Friedman of the St. Paul organization Breaking Free said at a June forum on human trafficking. Friedman herself was a sex trafficking victim.

“We need parents to get involved,” Friedman said. “We need you to speak up and say you want [sex trafficking education] in your school so your kids can learn the facts that suburban life is not this shelter box. You do not get exempt because you live out in the suburbs and your mom drives a Mercedes and you have a wealthy background and you were raised right and you went to church. . . .

“Traffickers don’t care who you are,” she added. “Like they say: ‘8 to 80, blind, crippled or crazy, you’re still sellable. Because all we need are your parts.’”

Warning signs of child sex trafficking
» Truancy
» Declining grades
» Delinquency
» Curfew violations
» Running away from home
» Signs of violence and/or psychological trauma
» Underage drinking or drug use
» Unaccounted for time
» Unusual or secretive cell phone or computer usage

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Minnesota girl’s plight highlights problem of human trafficking

The following is something I got off the Civil Society website, more people need to be aware of the problems in Minnesota AND North Dakota and also Kazakhstan.

Minnesota girl’s plight highlights problem of human trafficking

An estimated 100,000 to 300,000 American children become victims of sex trafficking every year, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Photo illustration

Kayla thought she was going to a church service. She couldn’t have been more wrong.

The 10-year-old asked her grandmother, Lauren, if she would drive her and her friend Jasmine to a house in the suburbs where the service was to take place.

An hour later, when the girls emerged from the house, Jasmine had her arm draped around Kayla, who was crying. Lauren asked what was wrong. Not to worry, Jasmine replied, Kayla had just fallen.

What Lauren didn’t realize then was that, inside that house in the suburbs, her granddaughter had indeed fallen — into the shadowy underworld of human trafficking.

Human trafficking is the illegal trade in human beings for commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor. It is modern-day slavery.

An estimated 100,000 to 300,000 American children are sold for sex annually, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Minnesota ranks as one of the top 10 states for sex trafficking, experts say. It is the portal to the “Minnesota Pipeline,” a series of states through which victims are channeled to New York. Under federal law, however, trafficking, despite connotations, does not require movement of victims.

A person can be a victim of sex trafficking without ever leaving home.

“Human trafficking is a horrific crime against the basic dignity and rights of the human person. All efforts must be expended to end it,” the U.S. bishops said in their 2007 statement “On Human Trafficking.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has played a key role in providing education, advocacy and services for survivors of human trafficking.

Since 2002, the USCCB has assisted more than 2,600 trafficking victims and their families. It also founded the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking.

“In the end,” the bishops said, “we must work together — church, state and community — to eliminate the root causes and markets that permit traffickers to flourish; to make whole the survivors of this crime; and to ensure that, one day soon, trafficking in human persons vanishes from the face of the earth.”

Kayla’s story

At her home on a quiet, tree-lined street in the Twin Cities, Lauren told the story of Kayla, now 13, whom she is raising along with the girl’s 6-month-old baby. She said she hopes her story will help other parents keep their children safe from predators.

To protect the victim’s identity, all names in this article have been changed.

Kayla’s story began in 2006, when Jasmine, who is four years older than Kayla, befriended her at church. The girls’ age difference concerned Lauren, she said, but she didn’t interfere because the friendship was “under a spiritual guar­dianship, so to speak.”

Before long, however, Lauren noticed disturbing changes in Kayla’s behavior.

“[Jasmine] dressed in a real sexual way, and I noticed [Kayla] started picking this up too,” Lauren said.

That wasn’t all. “Her language started changing, she started using more slang and swear words, talking street lingo. And she started being defiant towards me and rude,” Lauren said. “She’d go into rages, she’d throw things, she’d beat on walls. I couldn’t understand where these rages were coming from.”

Kayla’s life hadn’t been perfect. Her father was absent. Her mother, who died when Kayla was 12, was a drug addict. At times Kayla rebelled, but never before had she been violent, Lauren said.

One day, Kayla told Lauren that Jasmine wanted her to steal thong underwear from a Target store. “And she said I have to have sex, too,” the 10-year-old disclosed to her grandmother.

“I was just shocked,” Lauren said. When she asked Kayla how Jasmine had tried to convince her to do things that Lauren had taught her were wrong, Kayla replied: “She said it’s OK to steal because the grown-ups in this society have stolen our future anyway. . . . And, she said that most girls have already had sex by the time they’re my age.”

‘The game’

The average age at which girls first become victims of prostitution is 12 to 14, according to a 2001 national study. But many traffickers begin “grooming,” or gaining the trust of, their victims when they are even younger.

Instructional books that teach aspiring traffickers how to successfully groom a child for commercial sexual exploitation — referred to as “the game” — are widely available for purchase on the Internet.

In one such book, a pimp with a criminal record writes: “You’ll start to dress her, think for her, own her. If you and your victim are sexually active, slow it down. After sex, take her shopping for one item. Hair and/or nails is fine. She’ll develop a feeling of accomplishment. The shopping after a month will be replaced with cash. The love making turns into raw sex. She’ll start to crave the intimacy and be willing to get back into your good graces. After you have broken her spirit, she has no sense of self value.

“Now pimp, put a price tag on the item you have manufactured,” he adds.

Pimps target their victims at schools, recreation centers, parks, churches, shopping malls, on the Internet — anywhere children can be found.

Often it happens in communities where there is a lot of trust. Or, the trafficker is a family member or acquaintance of the child.

“Gradually,” Lauren explained, “they start teaching the children: ‘The adults in your life are your enemies; you shouldn’t listen to them. This is your new family.’”

Traffickers train older girls — like Jasmine, who was trafficked herself — to groom younger girls.

“The girls that are doing this grooming — and it usually is girls — are trying to get them into this life, saying it’s a great life,” Lauren said. “They work on them gradually, kind of like a pedo­phile does. And they don’t just groom the children; they groom the whole community” by presenting themselves in a positive light.

“Once you’re groomed, you’re blood in the water,” Lauren said. “You’re easy prey.”

Downward spiral

Lauren decided that Kayla wasn’t going to see Jas­mine anymore. She also began home schooling Kayla and taking her to a counselor. Despite Lauren’s efforts, however, Kayla continued to spiral out of control.

Lauren had no idea why her granddaughter remained so troubled — until one day she blurted out that she had been sexually assaulted at the house in the suburbs where she and Jasmine had gone for the children’s prayer service.

Kayla had believed she was attending a prayer service that day, she told her grandmother. But as soon as the girls stepped foot into the house, Jasmine snatched Kayla’s prayer book and tossed it over her shoulder.

Jasmine disappeared with an older boy into a bedroom. Another boy attempted to rape Kayla while shoving a pillow over her face to muffle her screams.

Lauren reported the incident to the police; however, no arrest was made in the case, she said. Often it can be difficult for police to gather enough evidence to arrest “johns” because victims are unwilling to cooperate in investigations. Fed­eral and state laws actually make it easier for police to arrest prostitutes, who are usually victims of sex traffickers.

Around the time Kayla revealed that she had been sexually assaulted, Lauren also discovered that she secretly had maintained contact with Jasmine, despite having lost her cell phone privileges. Kayla would sneak off to a nearby community center to call Jasmine on a pay phone, Lauren said. “It was like she had to check in with her.”

(to be continued)

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Seamy Side of the Super Bowl Underbelly

Besides watching the steamy performance by Beyonce, which I could have done without, the Super Bowl was good entertainment from start to finish.  The unexpected second intermission due to half the lights going out after a 109 yard run by the Ravens was another interesting surprise. Two half-times in a row.  I do think that Beyonce could have done better without all the hair flinging, weird dance moves and smoke and fire.  Her act must have tripped up the electric wires with all her sizzle. The sad part of the Super Bowl is that a LOT of the sex trafficking goes on during these big events, traffickers bring young girls in. Sick, sick, sick.  Beyonce does not help in creating such an atmosphere that continues to victimize young women.  Okay, enough about the Super Bowl in New Orleans and all those problems.

The following is something that is a little closer to home.

Collaboration to Fight Explosion of Human Trafficking along Minnesota Roads to North Dakota Oil Fields

North Dakota oil fields may be a new market for sale of humans for sex

and labor. Victims are driven along I-90 and then north on roads which

are normally deserted. Trafficked victims, both international and

domestic, are being transported for labor and sex trafficking in the

North Dakota oil fields.

In response to these crimes against victims of human trafficking, a

collaboration of organizations, including law enforcement, sexual and

domestic assault advocates, educators, shelters, and attorneys plan to

travel to a conference in San Francisco to receive training in

collaborative efforts. Attendees will then train other collaborators.

Collaboration members will work together to provide safety and victim

centered services for sex and labor trafficked victims. Those victims

will be empowered to testify against traffickers to interdict the flow

of sex and labor trafficked victims along Minnesota corridors and the

stem the tide of victims being transported north to North Dakota oil

fields.

_____________________________________________________________________

_________

Background:

Recently, police stopped a speeding vehicle along I-90 in Minnesota.

The police saw a little girl in the back seat of the car huddled as far

away from the driver as possible. Police questioned the driver who did

not speak the language of the girl. The police determined that the

driver did not know enough about the little girl to be transporting

her.

Aliandra (pseudonym) from central america, had only a bottle of water

and the ragged clothes on her back. She was shivering both from fear of

the driver and the cold. She looked to be about 12 years old.

The driver of the car told the police that two men were to meet him at

the next truck stop to pick up the girl and that they should know more

about the kid. The police said, “Let’s go.”

When the police met the two men at the truck stop, they determined that

neither one of the men spoke the girl’s language. The two men could not

tell the police enough about the child to be in control of her.

The child was brought to a temporary foster home placement. The foster

mother’s heart broke when the child whimpered and clung to her.

The enlightened county attorney and judges appointed a guardian ad

litem and social worker who contacted Civil Society, a not for profit

organization providing legal and case management services for human

trafficking victims. They contacted Civil Society by calling the

Minnesota Human Trafficking Crisis and Tip Line at 1-888-772-3324.

Civil Society was able to begin to work with the guardian ad litem and

social worker who had never encountered a child in these circumstances

before.  They were anxious that the child would be deported.

Authorities found that the child had been transported and marched to

the U.S. from central america across horribly rough terrain at night,

with little or no food and water. They also suspect that the child had

been abused along the road trip to Minnesota. All those dealing with

the child realized that she would probably be trafficked again and be

forced to make the same dangerous trek again if she were deported.

Law enforcement has noted increased transportation of this same ethnic

group along I-90 and then north toward North Dakota in the last year.

There is help under the Trafficking Victim Protection Act for this

child. The federal government also provides psychological counseling

for victims by culturally appropriate experts, knowledgeable in the

human trafficking of children.

The girl is from an ethnic group which has been designated one of the

most vulnerable to trafficking by the Trafficking in Persons Report,

http://www.state.gov/g/tip<http://www.state.gov/g/tip>.  This is because of

the group’s abject poverty, isolation (they don’t even speak Spanish)

and because they have a cultural practice of going into trance-like

states. Thus, when they are abused, they may dissociate rather than

recognize the abuse.

Poor villagers in central america are threatened that they be killed or

will lose their small plots of land if they don’t send their daughters

to work.  Many of them don’t realize or are fooled into believing that

their daughters will be working in the fields in the United States like

they work in the fields at home. However, children who are labored

trafficked are usually also sex trafficked. When villagers receive

money from the sex or labor trafficking of their daughters, they often

use it to send their younger children to the U.S. to gain more money

for the family.

Civil Society

1st National Bank Building

332 Minnesota Street

Suite E-1436

St. Paul, MN 55101

Phone: 651-291-0713

FAX: 651-291-2588

http://www.civilsocietyhelps.org<http://www.civilsocietyhelps.org>

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Slavery in the 21st Century in Kazakhstan

Many sad photos from Kazakhstan accompany this article. Since I’m not able to pull them off to put in this blog, please go to the Vox Populi website yourself to see real life that goes with each tragic story. http://www.voxpopuli.kz/en/post/view/id/607

“Slavery in the 21st Century” (32)  From Vox Populi March 2, 2012

Human trafficking is a billion-dollar industry and a global problem in the 21st century, still existing in practically every country around the world. Sexual exploitation and human trafficking in Kazakhstan have grown to appalling levels in recent years. Cases of slavery don’t happen just in the far off corners of our country, but also close to home, even in trouble-free Astana. For three years, the Komek Rehabilitation Center has been helping victims of labor and commercial slavery, protecting their rights and providing medical and psychological care.

1. Five years ago, the center’s director Anna Ryl didn’t have thoughts of social work on her mind.

“Somehow I was asked to take this one teacher to a lawyer, whose drug-addicted daughter was accused of theft. The day we were supposed to meet with the lawyer, it rained. Waiting for me, the woman stood along side the road, hurriedly eating a Samosa. She was crying and on top of that she didn’t have an umbrella which explained why the client looked even more depressed. Seeing that touched me deep in my soul. Her situation forced me to reconsider what was important in life and I started getting pulled more in social work. Now, six years later, I run a shelter for victims of labor and commercial slavery.”

2. The Komek Center was created with funds from Korgay Astana under an initiative by the Ministry of Justice in 2009. The center is a non-profit organization which offers specialized services to victims of human trafficking. From April to December of 2011, 58 people have passed through the center’s doors.

“There are 7 people working in our organization,” says Anna. “All of them are highly-qualified specialists in various fields: psychology, jurisprudence, etc. Our employee salaries are small, just 35,000 tenge (~ $235/month). The place where we work is in my apartment, which I remodeled into an office.”

3. “Before entering the shelter, the girls must sign an agreement that they are voluntarily coming to the rehab center, fill out a questionnaire, undergo testing and a full medical examination including screening for mental illnesses.”

4. According to the annual quota, the shelter is designed to take in 24 people a year. Rehabilitation takes 6 months and can be extended to 9 months as required and at the request of the victims.

5. According to UNICEF research done in Kazakhstan, sexual exploitation is most prevalent in teenagers between the ages of 15-17. When interviews by journalists, most girls request that their faces not be shown as most often relatives are not aware of what has happened to them and they themselves try not to talk about it much.

6. “We try to create a comfortable and friendly atmosphere in the home,” says Anna. “This helps the girls to gradually return to normal life and overcome their frights of closed and dark spaces and to trust people.”

7. “The Ministry of Justice finances all costs of the center: rental of the shelter, meals, clothing, transportation fare home after rehabilitation, professional courses for the girls, and staff salaries.”

8. “Every girl receives a new standard kit when they arrive: a towel, sheets, hygienic items, a t-shirt and pants. Many of them don’t have winter coats and in winter, there is no way to go outside without one. That’s why we collect whatever is possible, clean them and distribute them among those who need them.”

9. Within the center, girls can get help from doctors, lawyers and psychologists. There are various additional courses as part of the 6-month rehab program. Girls can take classes on hair and nail styling or cooking.

“The biggest problem is replacing documents lost long ago or they just don’t have,” says Anna. “Without these documents, people cannot get benefits, be placed on the wait-list for social housing, get a job, or get benefits for children born while they were in slavery.”

10. “Many girls come from disadvantaged families and can’t read, write, or know what hygiene is. We teach them the basics, like how to brush your teeth.”

11. Creative development is also a part of rehabilitation. The author of this piece already finished the course and now has a full-time job.

12. The shelter has certain rules that the girls has to follow: clean up around the living area, help with chores, no swearing, no raising your voice, provoke arguments, leave the territory without written permission and accompaniment of a center staff worker, or use cell phones.

“Cell phones are forbidden in the center for obvious reasons,” says Anna. “Girls can call their friends are tell them where the center is, making it unsafe for others. They can always call their relatives from the center’s telephone.”

13. “Pregnant women are not uncommon at the shelter and more often than not the babies’ father are the clients. After having argued with her parents, one girl left Astana together with her fiancé, who then sold her to a brothel. She came to us already quick with child. After a few months the girl gave birth to a healthy baby. Somehow the pimps reached the parents and told them what she had done and that she had given birth. At first, the parents refused to accept her, but we managed to convince them to come to us and hear the girl out. Along with the parents, all of her family came too. On that day when they came to pick her up, everyone here cried.”

14. “It’s rare when victims of the slave trade are educated and from good families,” says Anna. “But we had one such case. Ainagul from Karaganda was studying finance, fell in love with a boy and moved to Astana with him. The rest is the typical story: the guy soon sold her into slavery, where she spent a year.”

15. “Most victims of commercial slavery are girls from disadvantaged families or girls with mental illnesses from orphanages. Mentally handicapped girls are especially in demand and are more expensive. These girls are gullible and aren’t aware of what is happening to them and don’t really resist. One of the highest-profile criminal cases, and the only time to date when exploitation in this category of victims, was successfully proven not long ago. Over two years, four traffickers removed 15 girls from Temirtau and other villages in the Karaganda Region. The traffickers went around the villages, looking for mentally retarded girls. They drugged the girls with Diphenhydramine [a hypnotic sedative], moved them to Astana and sold them. The traffickers were caught, convicted, and sentenced to 4-12 years in prison. All 15 of these girls underwent rehab with us. According to the girls, they were taken to an apartment, beaten, raped and forced to serve up to 10 clients a day.

16. “Commercial slavery is a very profitable business for traffickers and pimps. Human slaves cost anywhere between 10,000 and 300,000 tenge on the black market and pimps make 20,000 tenge and higher a day. A family business associated with trafficking is the most fail-safe option. There have been instances where the wife is the pimp, the husband is the driver and nephews work as overseers or guard the girls. Girls are usually recruited from the streets, lured and deceived with offers of work as waitresses or nannies and then are forced into the car and brought to the den.”

(to be continued)

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Being Proactive about Human Trafficking in Astana, Kazakhstan

73350_483556798352833_1587163499_nThe following is something I read on Facebook where I’m getting most of my news these days.  I’m busy working on a book so I am feeling isolated from the rest of the world. That’s why I thought I would share these photos because I am so encouraged by people DOING something. I’m glad that expats continue to be pro-active by raising awareness in Kazakhstan about Human Trafficking especially in Astana.

“On December 9, 2012 Center for human traffic victims Korgau-Astana supported by the Netherlands Embassy in Astana organized an event in the framework of the International Human Rights Day. The main purpose of the event was to raise general public’s awareness on human trafficking and spread the contact information for those who know about or can become potential victims. The event was organized in one of the busiest entertainment centers of Kazakh capital Khan Shatyr and gathered big attention from the general public and press.”

248771_483557958352717_798962127_n27267_483555995019580_1408194383_nMy Russian isn’t that good but I can read what was projected on the screen and understand that people are made to work as slaves against their will for the dollars generated: ladies, men and children.

THIS MUST STOP!  Awareness and knowing where to go to get help is part of the solution. How ironic that this show was staged to attract attention from shoppers in Khan Shatyr with dancers. It was only seen by the elite among those in Kazakhstan.  Unfortunately, the warning should be sounded loud and clear in the Central Asian countrysides where the vulnerable people are, desperate for a job.  They will believe any lie given to them about moving to the BIG CITY!

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