A blog by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration about justice and peace issues

Archive for the ‘Human Trafficking’ Category

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“Won’t you celebrate with me…”

February 8 is the National Prayer Day for Victims of Trafficking. This poem from Lucille Clifton (click on image to play on PBS website) and reflection from Nelson Mandela is offered as one way to be in solidarity with the victims and survivors.

clifton_feb 2014

“The time for healing wounds has come.
The time to build is upon us…
We pledge ourselves to liberate all our people from the continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation,
suffering, gender, and other discrimination…
There is no easy road to freedom…
None of us acting alone can achieve success.
We must therefore act together as a united people,
for reconciliation, for nation building,
for the birth of a new world…” Nelson Mandela

 

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Sunitha Krishnan: the fight against Human Trafficking

January 11 is Human Trafficking Day. The U.N. estimates at any one time 2.4 million people are being trafficked. Eighty percent of these victims will be used as sexual slaves. Traffickers earn an estimated $32 billion a year. The average number of rescued victims a year is 100.

FSPA has begun to work on this very important issue, from serving on President Obama’s advisory council to attending the Vatican’s Human Trafficking Workshop. I encourage you to learn more about FSPA’s human trafficking efforts.

To hear from someone working directly on this issue check out the TED talk from Sunitha Krishnan (added above).

And finally, take action!

Anointed to proclaim freedom: human trafficking

This weekend is a “Weekend of Prayer” focused on Human Trafficking.  This is an important issue that touches on issues of  crumbling labor rights, gender, the environment,  and poverty to name a few. A “Weekend of Prayer” is an invitation to spend time with this issue and hopefully become part of the solution.

To get us started I provided a link below to a site that can lead you through the prayer guide for the weekend and article from Truthout that presents a story of human trafficking. Happy journey!

Weekend of Prayer

http://www.weekendofprayer.net/index.html

America’s Shame: The US Government’s Human Trafficking Dilemma

Tuesday, 08 May 2012 09:46 By Joe Newman, Project on Government Oversight | Report

For Vinnie Tuivaga, the offer was the answer to a prayer: A job in a luxury hotel in Dubai–the so-called Las Vegas of the Persian Gulf–making five times what she was earning as a hair stylist in her native Fiji.

She jumped at the chance, even if it meant paying an upfront commission to the recruiter.

You probably know how this story is going to end. There was no high-paying job, luxury location or easy work.

Tuivaga and other Fijians ended up in Iraq where they lived in shipping containers and existed in what amounted to indentured servitude.

Journalist Sarah Stillman told Tuivaga’s story and that of tens of thousands of other foreign workers in acute detail almost a year ago in her New Yorker piece, “The Invisible Army.”

In some cases, Stillman found more severe abuses and more squalid living conditions than what Tuivaga and her fellow Fijians experienced.

But like Tuivaga, thousands of foreign nationals in the U.S. government’s invisible army ended up in Iraq and Afghanistan war zones because they fell victim to human traffickers.

human trafficking spscc 076.1

Let that sink in.

This human trafficking pipeline wasn’t benefitting some shadowy war lord or oppressive regime. No, these are workers who were feeding, cleaning up after, and providing logistical support for U.S. troops—the standard-bearers of the free and democratic world.

In its final report to Congress last year, the Commission on Wartime Contracting said it had uncovered evidence of human trafficking in Iraq and Afghanistan by labor brokers and subcontractors. Commissioner Dov Zakheim later told a Senate panel that the Commission had only scratched the surface of the problem. He called it the “tip of the iceberg.”

In essence, despite a 2002 presidential directive that set a “zero tolerance” on human trafficking, modern-day slavers have been operating with impunity under the aegis of the U.S. government.

Nick Schwellenbach, who until last month was the director of investigations at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), and author David Isenberg also wrote about the conditions some of these foreign workers endured in Iraq.

Nick and David uncovered documents that showed how one U.S. contractor—in this case KBR—was well aware that one of its subcontractors, Najlaa International Catering Services, was allegedly involved in trafficking abuses. From their story:

The freshly unearthed documents show that for several months, KBR employees expressed exasperation at Najlaa’s apparent abuse of the laborers and said the subcontractor was embarrassing KBR in front of its main client in Iraq: the U.S. military. But despite its own employees’ strongly worded communications to Najlaa, to this day, KBR continues to award subcontracts to the company.

Nick later testified before a House subcommittee, outlining reforms that Congress should pass to hold contractors and subcontractors accountable.

Well, it appears that some of the attention focused on human trafficking (including the movie The Whistleblower, the story of  U.N. peacekeeper Kathryn Bolkovac, who blew the whistle on sex trafficking in post-war Bosnia) in the last year may finally be paying off.

Some Members of Congress have introduced measures aimed at preventing human trafficking by government contractors and subcontractors.

The bipartisan proposals (End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act of 2012, H.R. 4259 and S. 2234), which include some of the reforms that POGO has recommended, are sponsored by Rep. Lankford (R-OK) and Sen. Blumenthal (D-CT). Rep. Lankford will likely offer the legislation as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (FY13 NDAA) this month. The legislation would bolster the current laws and regulations governing trafficking by requiring contractors to create plans to prevent trafficking and requiring companies to closely monitor and report the activities of their subcontractors.

The measures also call for penalties, including suspending or debarring or criminally prosecuting violators.

Sen. Blumenthal said current law was insufficient and ineffective and failed to prevent abuses.

“Modern-day slavery by government contractors—unknowingly funded by American taxpayers—is unconscionable and intolerable,” Blumenthal said.

And, really, all of us should feel pangs of guilt for the human rights violations perpetrated by those profiting in the name of the American people. POGO launched a campaign this week urging people to tell their Members of Congress to support the anti-trafficking legislation.

It comes too late to help those workers who were abused during our decade of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But our presence in Iraq, Afghanistan and in military bases all over the world continues. And the invisible army we rely upon to keep those bases running needs this protection now as much as it ever has.

Shadows of the Big Game: Trafficking and the Super Bowl

It has become sadly well documented fact that large sports events tend to increase “opportunities” for the trafficking of human beings, in particular women and girls for sex trafficking.

In advance of the 2012 Super Bowl occurring in Indianapolis Catholic Sisters through the mid-west have joined together to increase awareness while demanding that officials in Indiana do all they can to ensure a safe environment for all who attend the event.

Check out the two articles below about this important work.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rani-hong/human-trafficking-prevention-month_b_1199395.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/18/nuns-concerned-about-human-trafficking-super-bowl_n_1213921.html

I’m not buying it…Human Trafficking and the Super Bowl

Many of us would probably never guess but 100,00 – 300,000 people are trafficked in the United States every year. One of the biggest draws for trafficked girls and women is the Super Bowl which will be happening in two weeks in Dallas.

Besides just celebrating your favorite team or secretly celebrating that the season is over (whichever side of the aisle reflects your interest), we can take this upcoming Sunday to celebrate human rights and take action for women and girls.

Natalie Grant and Tenth Avenue North PSA for Traffick 911 from Nate Bernard on Vimeo.

The link below leads to a great site that has educational materials, videos, a petition to sign and faith-based materials that can be shared. All of the tools will help reduce the risk for women and girls who may be trafficked and forced into sex slavery at the Super Bowl.

I invite you to check it out and share it, too! Let’s celebrate human rights with the same enthusiasm we have for our favorite teams! Peace…

http://www.traffick911.com/

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