Free the Captives: Fighting Human Trafficking in Houston

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A Law Enforcement Sweep Picked up 69 Children Being Sold for Sex on the Internet, Street

November 8, 2010

http://abcnews.go.com/News/law-enforcement-child-prostitution-sweep-picks-69-children/story?id=12087740&page=2

Sixty-nine kids who were being sold for sex on the Internet and on street corners are in custody today after a nationwide "Innocence Lost" prostitution sweep.One girl picked up in the sweep was just 12 years old, authorities said.

The undercover, 40-city operation was conducted by the FBI and state and local law enforcement over the weekend. Sixteen juveniles were taken off the streets in Seattle alone. In all, 884 people were arrested, including 99 men suspected of being pimps.

The undercover action was dubbed "Operation Cross Country V," and worked like this: local authorities checked websites, truck stops, casinos and streets to identify suspected prostitution operations, focusing especially on those that appeared to be offering underage girls. Then stings were set up, with undercover officers or FBI agents acting as potential customers. Once the bust occurred, the suspects were questioned, and the information gleaned often uncovered prostitution rings that operated across many states.

Related

What happens to the underage girls arrested is up to local authorities. The girls are often placed in protective custody to immediately remove them from the influence of a pimp or madam. Meanwhile, local officials try to locate the social services that can help these girls get off the streets. But typically, authorities say, resources to help these young victims are scant.

One group involved in trying to get young kids out of a life of prostitution is the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. "These kids are victims. This is 21st century slavery," Ernie Allen, the President of the Center said.

"We are proud to be a part of this extraordinary partnership to rescue children, save lives and bring the pimps and operators to justice."

The prostitution sweep over the weekend was just the latest in a series of operations to combat child prostitution. Since 2003, the 39 Innocence Lost Task Forces and Working Groups have recovered over 1,200 children from the streets. The investigations and subsequent 625 convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including multiple 25-years-to-life sentences and the seizure of more than $3.1 million in assets.

"Child prostitution continues to be a significant problem in our country, as evidenced by the number of children rescued through the continued efforts of our crimes against children task forces," said Shawn Henry, Executive Assistant Director of the FBI's Criminal, Cyber, Response and Service Branch. "There is no work more important than protecting America's children and freeing them from the cycle of victimization."

 

Houston's illegal massage parlors just reopen with new names

November 1, 2010
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7272500.html
 

A blot Houston can't erase

Despite constant raids, illegal massage parlors just reopen with new names

By YANG WANG
HOUSTON CHRONICLE

Nov. 1, 2010, 8:02AM

It has been called VIP Spa, King Spa, Montage Massage & Day Spa and now, Du Soleil — although it has no sign marking it as a massage parlor, just some curtain-covered windows in a storefront strip mall and a red and blue light declaring it "OPEN."

On 14 visits to this non­descript establishment over the past two years, vice officers have arrested 23 women for agreeing to sex dates. Yet the Richmond Avenue enterprise is open for business - one of at least 550 massage parlors that have operated illegally in the city of Houston, according to court documents, data and public reports.

A Houston Chronicle analysis found 292 establishments have been cited by police for compliance violations, including operating without a state license, hiring unlicensed workers, operating during prohibited hours or engaging in vice crimes.

Another 260 advertise their services but don't appear in state licensing records.

"There are so many that open and close so fast, change names and change ownerships," said Sgt. Mark Kilty of the Houston Police Department Vice Division. "We definitely can't keep track of all of them."

Many are suspected of serving as fronts for prostitution, authorities across the county say.

"They bring all the sex addicts to the neighborhoods. They are not safe for the families, for our children," said Karen Kristopher, the director of Houston Area Association for Decency. "These 'massage parlors?' Give us a break."

Among those with the most violations is the business at 9413 Richmond.

Last year, the Houston city attorney issued an injunction against the property owner, who, in turn, evicted the King Spa (previously known as VIP Spa). It opened again with a new name, first as Montage Massage & Day Spa and then as Du Soleil, with a new owner in the same spot in the same strip mall from which it was evicted.

"This is the kind of quandary we get stuck in," said senior assistant city attorney Nirja Aiyer. "You close them up, they think no one is looking, then they go right back at it."

Neighbors complain

The city of Houston provided the Chronicle with a list of 30 massage parlors, spas and modeling studios that have been closed down over the past two years, mostly for posing a "public nuisance." And yet a simple Web search found five advertising "grand openings" in online classified ads this month.

The newly named Du Soleil advertised a grand opening on Oct. 21 featuring nearly bare photos of what the site called "Latin Beauties."

Deputy Gerald Hull, of the Harris County Precinct 5 Constable's Office, told the Chronicle they have received multiple complaints from neighbors.

"People in the opposite side of the spa said they see repeated customers coming in and out the place after midnight," Hull said.

Regulating massage parlors is a dubious task. They often change names and ownership, if they register with authorities at all.

The job of licensing and inspecting them falls to Texas Department of State Health Services, but the state relies heavily on local police to enforce the regulations. There is just one full-time state investigator assigned to routine inspections of licensed businesses. Five investigators, shared with other state programs, review and investigate complaints against licensees.

But department spokeswoman Christine Mann said it's likely the state will cut the massage licensing program to meet budget requirements.

"One of those options is to eliminate our massage therapy licensing program, worth $1.5 million over the 2012-2013 biennium," Mann wrote in an e-mail.

More than 150 establishments have been cited by the police for prostitution since 2008; 70 of them have been raided three or more times, records show. Many, if not most, are still operating.

Parade of owners

On North Beltway 8, for example, the Golden Beach Spa - known now as the Essence Spa - has been targeted seven times and seen the arrests of 15 women ranging in age from 20 to 41.

It has had at least three owners, according to Harris County records. The first, Xiao Fei Li, was convicted of operating Green Haven Spa, a different business, without a license in March.

The latest registered owner is Johnna Boyd, who also is the registered owner of Bluelite Adult Video next door. She says she no longer owns the spa but doesn't know to whom she sold it.

The business owner for the Richmond Avenue VIP spa was 43-year-old Long Xiu Zhao until 2008. In March 2009, he was charged by Harris County constables with operating yet another spa without a license.

The state health department also took his Litz Massage Therapy Spa, another business in Katy, because of sexual misconduct and other violations in August 2009.

The Richmond business has never been registered with the state.

A warrant has been issued for Zhao, who could face up to one year in Harris County Jail and a $4,000 fine. Public records show he has lived in Houston, New Orleans and New York.

"We get a triangle here. They come from New York, California. They rotate every few months," said Hull, of the Precinct 5 Constable's Office.

Most of the places that have been cited by law enforcement officers are concentrated in the Montrose-Midtown area and in southwest Houston.

But Capt. Skip Oliver of the Precinct 4 Constable's Office said after the city passed stiffer ordinances in 2007, officers began seeing an influx of the establishments onto county roads like FM 1960 and Texas 6.

"There are so many unoccupied strip mall centers that are certainly less expensive than the city, so they are looking to do anything to rent the space," said Oliver.

Drag on local economy

The influx has further depressed the economy of the community, local business people say.

"The more the business degraded, the fewer people move here. It's hard to do business here," said Larry Lipton, who owns an insurance agency on FM 1960.

The city has an ordinance prohibiting massage parlors from operating between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m., but the county does not.

In 2009, the Precinct 4 Constable's Office established a Regulatory Enforcement Division to specifically target illegal massage parlors.

Most of the time, it's the women who work in massage parlors who get arrested. One 29-year-old woman has been fined four times for "practicing massage therapy without registration." She pays a $350 fine every time the court calls her in.

City changing tactics

But police say the women don't seem concerned about fines.

"Losing money is part of the business," said Cpl. Ernest Gonzalez, with the Precinct 4 Constable's Office. "The fine is nothing compared to what they make."

Another 32-year-old woman has been fined five times but has paid nothing so far.

"They do not want to run a legitimate business. They want to make money and do it quickly," said Linda Geffin, division chief of special prosecutions with the Harris County Attorney's office.

Among the 526 license violation cases filed in Houston Municipal court, more than half were dismissed. Most of the time that was because the police officer who was called to testify did not show for court. Cases that involve a prostitution arrest get higher priority, authorities say.

"With prostitution arrests, it's easier for us to turn around and shut these places down," said David Feldman, the city attorney.

He said the city is now looking at a shorter path - closing down the illegal ones as public nuisances rather than waiting for criminal convictions.

"We will become more aggressive to these places," said Feldman.

yang.wang@chron.com

 

Sex Trafficking Arrests low in NY

October 31, 2010

http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2010/10/26/sex-trafficking-arrests-remain-rare-in-new-york-city/

By Kristi Oloffson

New York City is believed to play a significant role in international sex trafficking as both an entry point for smugglers and place where trafficking victims are put to work as prostitutes. While comprehensive statistics on the crime are unavailable, one metric underscores the challenges faced by local law enforcement officials: the low number of arrests and prosecutions of traffickers.

As The Journal reported earlier Tuesday, the nonprofit organization Restore NYC is set to open the first safehouse in New York City dedicated to women  who have escaped the global sex trade. These women victims are undocumented immigrants, often lured to the U.S. with the promise of jobs and then coerced into prostitution. The safehouse, located in Queens, will open Nov. 1.

While there’s no way to quantify how many women are smuggled into the city to work as prostitutes, Restore NYC’s Faith Huckel says that her group alone has worked with some 100 victims since 2009.

But the number sex traffickers arrested for the crime remains far smaller, and prosecutions are rare and slow.

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services has recorded 29 arrests for sex trafficking in the state from January 2008 through September 2010; of those, 25 of the arrests have been in New York City, according to spokesman John Caher. During that span there have been eight people sentenced for sex trafficking in the state. Five of the eight people sentenced were based in New York City.

“This is a problem that happens in the shadows and it happens in the shadows for a reason,” said John Feinblatt, the criminal justice coordinator tapped by Mayor Michael Bloomberg earlier this year to lead the city’s anti-trafficking task force. “Because that’s where people want it.”

Sex trafficking was added to New York City’s penal code in 2008. Since that time the New York Police Department has recorded 32 arrests for the crime, according to Det. Cheryl Crispin. Before the charge was added, suspected traffickers were often charged with promoting prostitution, forcible kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment or rape solicitation.

The most recent Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, released by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime last year, counts just 172 people convicted for sex trafficking in the U.S. between 2005 and 2007. Data on victims remains hard to reach because “the responsibility for identifying victims is spread among multiple agencies,” according to the report.

Few trafficking cases reach conviction, though Feinblatt believes recent efforts to build awareness of the problem may lead to more enforcement. He said the city is working to train police officers and emergency workers to recognize sex trafficking and to distinguish those cases from prostitution.

Officials are trained to look specifically for evidence of force, fraud and coercion, he said. Other possible indicators of trafficking cases include underage sex workers, those who don’t know the language, and situations in which many women have the same address, he said.

“You can hear the difference between someone who’s been in a trade of prostitution versus someone who was smuggled into this country,” he explained. “Sometimes you see such people living in such adverse conditions that they are essentially living as prisoners.”

Feinblatt hopes a rise in sex trafficking awareness among law enforcement officials will mirror rising awareness of domestic violence decades ago. “I think if we looked at the stats 30 years ago, there was no such thing as a domestic  violence bureau in a district attorney’s office,” he said.

 

Safe Haven Opening in NY for victims of international sex trafficking.

October 31, 2010

New Aid for Sex Victims

An unmarked building in Queens will open its doors next month to a handful of women ensnared in the global sex trade, becoming New York City's first safehouse dedicated to victims of international sex trafficking.

The victims are part of the city's population of undocumented immigrants, often lured to the country with the promise of jobs and then coerced into prostitution by their smugglers.

The safehouse, which would give victims a stable place to live after they leave prostitution, comes on the heels of other local efforts this year to combat sex trafficking. Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently launched an anti-trafficking task force, and Gov. David Paterson signed a law allowing sex-trafficking victims to clear convictions from their criminal records, which eases the path to employment and permanent residency.

New York is believed to be a major U.S. entry point for human smugglers, although recent statistics aren't available. A 2004 State Department report on sex trafficking estimated that 14,500 to 17,500 people are smuggled into the U.S. each year. And as far back as 1999, a Central Intelligence Agency report identified Kennedy International Airport as a gateway for human trafficking.

"[Sexual] slavery today is at a point that we have never seen," said Faith Huckel, the founder and executive director of Restore NYC, the group opening the safehouse and currently offering counseling, medical advocacy and legal assistance to sex-trafficking victims in the city.

The safehouse will host women at no cost for up to two years. The precise location of Restore NYC's safehouse, which opens Nov. 1, will be disclosed only to clients, volunteers, employees and organizations approved to work with the victims. An electronic-security system will be used to monitor the premises.

Restore NYC has four full-time employees, including two social workers who speak Korean and Mandarin, a reflection of the source countries of many women smuggled into New York City. Two additional volunteers with Mandarin- and Korean-language skills will live in the house with the women. The nonprofit organization has raised about $645,000 since 2007, according to Ms. Huckel.

The group's goal is to help its safehouse clients live independently and gain legal status in the U.S.

Since February 2009, Restore NYC says it has worked with some 100 sex-trafficking victims in the city. Its clients' current living situations are transient and unknown even to case workers, Ms. Huckel said, and women who lack a safe and affordable place to live risk falling back into prostitution. Many sex-trafficking victims stay in shelters, with friends or even in brothels, she said.

"There are very little options in general for these women," Ms. Huckel said. "When someone is escaping a brothel or coming out of that type of enslavement, they really do need a safe place to go. And then from there, you can sort of start to piece together all the things that they need. But you can't really do that necessarily if they can't feel safe."

Sex trafficking was added to New York City's penal code in 2008. Since that time the New York Police Department has recorded 32 arrests for the crime, according to Det. Cheryl Crispin. Before the charge was added, suspected traffickers were often charged with promoting prostitution, forcible kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, rape, or solicitation.

The most recent Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, released by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime last year, counts just 172 people convicted for sex trafficking in the U.S. between 2005 and 2007. Data on victims remains hard to reach because "the responsibility for identifying victims is spread among multiple agencies," according to the report.

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services has recorded 29 arrests for sex trafficking in the state from January 2008 through September 2010. Of those, 25 of the arrests have been in New York City.

One of Restore NYC's clients is a 43-year-old woman from China. In an interview, she described being offered the chance to move to New York City for a job at a restaurant. Upon arrival, however, she said the men who smuggled her into the U.S. demanded $50,000 plus interest, and forced her into prostitution to repay the debt. Her account couldn't be independently verified.

"I had no idea that I was a victim. If I knew, then I could have found the courage to do something about it," the woman said through a translator. "I didn't know any English. I didn't know the law."

The woman said she worked as a prostitute for three years. Court records show she was arrested twice—first in July 2006 and again in November 2009—and charged both times with prostitution, a misdemeanor. After her second arrest, she was referred to Restore NYC through a judge at Queens Criminal Court in Kew Gardens. The nonprofit provided counseling required by the Queens district attorney's office and helped her find an immigration attorney, according to a document submitted to the court by Restore NYC.

Restore NYC said the woman is now working to obtain a visa recognizing her status as a victim of trafficking. According to Restore NYC, the visa would allow her to stay in the U.S. legally and expand her employment options.

 

U.S. Companies Join Coalition Against Human Trafficking

October 15, 2010
http://blogs.state.gov/index.php/site/entry/bcat
About the Author: Ambassador Luis CdeBaca leads the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.


In our commitment to preventing human trafficking, the world is moving beyond poster campaigns to more innovative solutions that harness the private sector to end the demand for modern slavery. I wanted to share some new developments on that front.

On October 1, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act (the Act) into law. The Act requires certain major companies to publicly post their efforts to eradicate trafficking and slavery in their direct supply chains. By acknowledging both the prevalence of modern slavery in consumer goods and the interest of the state in enabling consumers to make educated choices, Senator Darrell Steinberg crafted a piece of legislation that has the potential to fundamentally change how corporations engage on this issue.

In the past, forward leaning companies hid their best practices out of fear of being a brand associated with modern slavery, while irresponsible companies excused their inaction by pointing to impossibilities that simply aren't. Modern day slavery exists in the shadows, but corporate policy should not.

Together, civil society, local government, and federal government must ensure that the information is acted upon AND leveraged, making today's best practices tomorrow's industry standards, and building opportunities that move us closer to comprehensively addressing trafficking in persons throughout our supply chains.

That's why I'm heartened to see companies like LexisNexis lead before they are asked by pulling together businesses who have always led on this issue and those who stand to break new ground within their industries. In its inaugural meeting yesterday, the Business Coalition Against Human Trafficking (BCAT) began to explore how business can engage in real ways to combat both sex and labor trafficking and establish business protocols that build upon rather than undercut rule of law.

I look forward to watching these efforts unfold and wish them great success.
 

How to raise human trafficking awareness during Halloween

October 10, 2010

http://traffickingproject.blogspot.com/2010/10/halloween-and-human-trafficking.html

Halloween and Human Trafficking

With Halloween quickly approaching, October is a particularly opportune month to raise awareness about the use of forced labor, child labor, and other exploitative labor practices in the chocolate industry. A number of organizations are hosting campaigns to help community members raise awareness about these issues and to encourage the chocolate industry to continue to address these abuses in the industry.

The Dark Side of Chocolate
The International Labor Rights Forum, along with Global Exchange, Green America and Oasis USA, are organizing screenings of The Dark Side of Chocolate all across the country. This new documentary exposes the ongoing use of child labor, forced labor and trafficking in the cocoa industry in West Africa. It is a great resources for increasing awareness of this critical labor rights issue.

As part of the Raise the Bar Hershey campaign, they are asking concerned individuals to host screenings in their communities throughout October 2010, especially during a national week of action from October 25 through October 31.

For more information, please contact Tim Newman at Tim.Newman@ILRF.org or 202-347-4100
To watch the trailer, click Here
To download a community screening toolkit, click Here

Reverse Trick-or-Treating
Ten to twenty thousand groups of children will hand chocolate back to adults during their regular neighborhood trick-or-treating rounds this Halloween. The children will distribute Fair Trade certified chocolate attached to a card explaining the labor and environmental problems in the cocoa industry globally and how Fair Trade provides a solution. The event, Reverse Trick-or-Treating, was launched to raise awareness of the pervasive problem of child labor, forced labor and trafficking in the cocoa fields, to empower consumers to press the chocolate industry for more fair cocoa sourcing policies, to shift the industry toward sourcing Fair Trade certified cocoa, and to inform consumers about Fair Trade companies that are leading the way to industry reform. Fair Trade standards prohibit the use of abusive child labor, contain extensive environmental sustainability protections, and enable farmers to escape poverty.

To learn more, click Here
To order a kit, click Here
 

Selling sex is not illegal in Sweden, but buying is

September 25, 2010
STOCKHOLM — Selling sex is not illegal in Sweden, but buying is — a radical approach to prostitution that faced ridicule when it was introduced nine years ago.

Now, while Americans are preoccupied with the downfall of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer in a prostitution scandal, some countries are considering emulating the Swedish model, which prosecutes the client but views the prostitute as an exploited victim.

Officials say the changed approach has reduced the demand for prostitutes and reshaped attitudes toward the sex trade.

"We don't have a problem with prostitutes. We have a problem with men who buy sex," said Kajsa Wahlberg, of the human trafficking unit at Sweden's national police board.

She said foreign law enforcement officials and politicians are coming to Sweden in droves to learn more about its 1999 law.

On Friday, Wahlberg was meeting with police officials from the Netherlands, where prostitution is legal but where authorities have closed some brothels in a crackdown on organized crime in Amsterdam's red light district.

In January, a high-level British delegation came to study the Swedish approach as Britain reviews its own prostitution laws, which prohibit soliciting and loitering for sex, but not buying sex.

Norway's government plans to propose a Swedish-style prostitution law after Easter.

Under Sweden's so-called "Sex Purchase Law," paying for sex is punished by fines or up to six months in prison, plus the humiliation of public exposure. A handful of Swedish judges have been caught up in prostitution scandals, including a Supreme Court justice who was fined in 2005 after admitting to paying for sex with a young man.

Pimps and brothel keepers are also prosecuted, but not prostitutes, because they are viewed as victims, treated as commodities in the sex trade.

While authorities judge the new system a success, critics question whether it has really reduced prostitution or merely pushed it off the streets into more isolated and dangerous surroundings. Wahlberg concedes that accurate statistics are hard to obtain, but estimates the number of prostitutes in Sweden dropped 40% from 2,500 in 1998 to 1,500 in 2003.

She says police know from eavesdropping on human trafficking rings that Sweden is considered bad business because of its tough stance.

"They are calculating profits, costs and marketing and the risk of getting caught," Wahlberg said. "We're trying to create a bad market for these activities."

Conscious of the international interest, Sweden's government is planning a thorough review of the effects of the law, expected to be ready next year.

Petra Ostergren, a writer who has studied prostitution for a decade, does not think it has worked well.

"Sex purchases have not decreased, many young women sell sex temporarily over the Internet to fund university studies," she said.

A 46-year-old escort who is a vocal opponent of the law said it had left prostitutes more vulnerable to violence. "If a sex worker seeks to establish contact with a client on the street, and police are waiting around the corner, she's going to jump into the car without making a security assessment," she said.

The mother of two, known to the public by the pseudonym Isabella Lund, said authorities never consulted sex workers on the change.

The Swedish law took effect at a time when many European countries were moving in another direction. Neighboring Denmark, for example, decriminalized prostitution in 1999 after quietly tolerating it for two decades.

Most European countries prohibit pimping and running brothels, but tolerate prostitution and penalize neither prostitutes nor clients. Brothels are legal in Holland and Germany provided they have business licenses.

Marianne Eriksson said she was ridiculed by fellow lawmakers when she first proposed the change in the European Parliament in 1997.

"To them it was the most absurd thing they ever heard. Many of them roared with laughter," recalled Eriksson, who has since left Europe's elected multinational legislature to chair the Stockholm branch of the opposition Left Party.

Today, she said, she feels the Swedish model has "a very strong response" in other European countries, even if many of them ultimately decide against adopting it.

The view of prostitution as a legacy of a societal order that subordinates women to men is universally accepted among major political parties in gender-conscious Sweden.

The urge to set things right led Claes Borgstrom, Sweden's equality ombudsman, to propose that the country boycott the 2006 soccer World Cup in Germany, because of an expected surge in prostitution during the month-long tournament. The idea was immediately rejected by the Swedish soccer federation.

 

Six-Month Report: Domestically Sex-Trafficked Minors on the Rise in Key States Read more: Six-Month Report: Domestically Sex-Trafficked Minors on the Rise in Key States

September 16, 2010

http://www.bizjournals.com/prnewswire/press_releases/California/2010/09/15/CL65421

PR Newswire

SAN FRANCISCO,  Sept. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- As Deborah Richardson, chief program officer for Women's Funding Network, is testifying today in Washington, D.C., before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security about the issue of "Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking," the results of a new study – also released today – indicate Internet classifieds were the predominate hub for trafficking young girls in three states over six months. The ongoing study, commissioned by Women's Funding Network (WFN), also finds more girls were exploited in August than February of this year.

Conducted by The Schapiro Group, an independent, third-party research firm, the study seeks to quantify the number of adolescent girls victimized by domestic sex trafficking in New York, Michigan and Minnesota, where statewide efforts are ramping up to stop this crime under the leadership of WFN's local member funds – The New York Women's Foundation, Michigan Women's Foundation and Women's Foundation of Minnesota.

"Our research is imperative to understanding the pervasiveness of this atrocious, abusive crime," says Chris Grumm, CEO and president of Women's Funding Network. "It objectively validates that Internet classifieds, without question, are the leading source for criminals to find girls for sex in these states. Understanding the hubs where criminals congregate – and the scope of their victims – drives the development of geographic-specific strategies that give girls access to rehabilitative services while taking sex traffickers off our streets."

The total number of girls trafficked through Internet classifieds and escort services increased in double-digit percentages in the three states studied over six months:

  • New York: 20% increase
  • Michigan: 36% increase; and
  • Minnesota: 55% increase.

The study included the most popular outlets for domestic minor sex trafficking – the Internet and escort services – and revealed state-specific insights.  For example:

  • In New York:
    • 3,454 girls were domestically sex trafficked in August – up from 2,880 in February (20% increase)
    • 3,415 girls were trafficked through ads posted on Internet classifieds in August – up from 2,830 in February (21% increase)
    • Monthly domestic sex trafficking in New York is more pervasive than the state's annually reported incidents of teen suicide (54 instances); self-inflicted injuries (1,222 instances); or women of all ages killed by breast cancer (2,715 instances)

  • In Michigan:
    • 159 girls were domestically sex trafficked in August – up from 117 in February (36% increase)
    • 142 girls were trafficked through ads posted on Internet classifieds in August – up from 102 in February (40% increase)
    • Only 20% of girls advertised on Internet classifieds in Michigan still appeared in ads two weeks later, which was the lowest "tenure" rate of domestically sex trafficked minors among the three states studied
    • Monthly domestic sex trafficking in Michigan is more pervasive than the state's annually reported incidents of suicide among females under age 25 (31 instances); infants who died from SIDS (46 instances); or females under age 25 killed in car accidents (106 instances)

  • In Minnesota:
    • 124 girls were domestically sex trafficked in August – up from 80 in February (55% increase)
    • 112 girls were trafficked through ads posted on Internet classifieds in August – up from 68 in February (65% increase)
    • The percentage of girls advertised on Internet classifieds increased most dramatically in Minnesota among the states studied during this six-month period
    • Monthly domestic sex trafficking in Minnesota is more pervasive than the state's annually reported incidents of teen girls who died by suicide, homicide and car accidents (29 instances combined); infants who died from SIDS (6 instances); or women of all ages murdered in one year (37 instances)

"While each state has its own unique situation, this crime is nationwide and deserves national attention," Grumm says. "Action at the federal and state levels, combined with unwavering support from advocates and everyday citizens, ensures our children are protected from criminals seeking to profit from their innocence."

About the Study:  Adolescent Girls in the United States Sex Trade – Tracking Results for August 2010

The August tracking study is designed to count adolescent girls using scientific probability methods when they are encountered through two sources: ads on Internet classifieds websites and escort services.  These are two of the main sources through which johns find girls. The August results are part of a multi-year quarterly tracking study that began in February 2010.

For the counts, researchers called, tracked and calculated all escort service listings, in addition to methodically evaluating placed ads featuring young girls on popular Internet sites being used by johns looking for commercial sex with adolescent girls.

About Women's Funding Network

As a global network and a movement for social justice, Women's Funding Network accelerates women's leadership and invests in solving critical social problems -- from poverty to global security -- by bringing together the financial power, influence and voices of more than 160 women's funds. Learn more at www.womensfundingnetwork.org.

About The Schapiro Group

The Schapiro Group is a strategic research and consulting firm based in Atlanta that serves a variety of clients, including corporate, government and nonprofit organizations.  For more information, visit www.schapirogroup.com.

SOURCE Women's Funding Network



Read more: Six-Month Report: Domestically Sex-Trafficked Minors on the Rise in Key States
 

Demand Study of the commercial sexual exploitation of girls

September 16, 2010
View the DEMAND STUDY on the commercial sexual exploitation of girls in the state of Georgia.
http://www.womensfundingnetwork.org/sites/wfnet.org/files/AFNAP/TheSchapiroGroupGeorgiaDemandStudy.pdf
 

Craigslist says it won't resume adult services

September 15, 2010
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/15/AR2010091505041.html
By JIM ABRAMS
The Associated Press
Wednesday, September 15, 2010; 5:18 PM

WASHINGTON -- A Craigslist official told lawmakers Wednesday that the classified ad website has no plans to resume its adult services section and defended the company's efforts to stop the sexual exploitation of minors.

But William Clinton Powell also told a House Judiciary Committee panel that people seeking to advertise adult - or sexual - services will now simply migrate to other Internet sites.

He said the decision by Craigslist earlier this month to shut down the adult services section "may be a step backward in terms of addressing the core causes of the issue."

Craigslist was responding to demands from state attorneys general and anti-child trafficking organizations to end adult services because it had become a favorite conduit for illegal ads.

"I have not had a girl who was not marketed online and most of them were marketed on Craigslist," said Linda Smith, a former member of Congress who heads Shared Hope International, a group that rescues women and children trapped by sex traffickers.

Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., agreed that "the Internet has opened a whole new front in the war on trafficking, allowing demand to run free without practical obstacles."

Powell, director of law enforcement relations for the nation's largest classified advertising service, said Craigslist has been aggressive in working to stop child exploitation. He said the company encourages users to report suspected trafficking, features law enforcement and reporting hotlines, participates in the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children tipline and manually reviewed every adult service ad prior to posting.

"Craigslist has been virtually alone among the many advertising venues carrying adult ads in vigorously combating exploitation and trafficking," he said.

Ernie Allen, head of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, agreed that the focus must now be broadened beyond Craigslist. "The goal is to destroy the business model for those who sell children for sex over the Internet."

Lawmakers and witnesses said at least 100,000 minors are exploited by the commercial sex industry in the United States every year. Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., chairman of the crime subcommittee, cited estimates that 450,000 minors run away from home every year, and about one-third of those end up being forced into prostitution.

Despite that, it appears that the United States spends more to combat sex trafficking overseas than it does in the United States, said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., who is sponsoring an anti-minor sex trafficking bill with Smith.

The Maloney-Smith bill would authorize up to $50 million over four years for grants to provide shelter and care for young victims and ensure adequate resources for law enforcement and prosecutors.

Many young people are treated as criminals instead of victims, and there are nationwide only 50 beds in shelters to address the needs of 100,000 victims, Maloney said.

 

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