Tag Archives: Child Abuse

Apple Admits Child Labor & Sweatshops Used to Build iPhones

by Amanda Kloer

Yesterday in their annual report, Apple admitted that it had identified at least 11 children working in overseas factories which produce iPods, iPhones, and computers. In addition to the child labor, illegal and exploitative working conditions for adults exist in some of Apple’s factories as well. Surprisingly, Apple made these findings public themselves in their most recent annual report. But are they doing enough to prevent the exploitation of children and workers in their factories?

In addition to the factories that allowed underage children to work there, some of Apple’s other factories have been called “sweatshops.” The company admitted that just over half of its overseas factories ignore the company policy that employees cannot work more than 60 hours a week. And the factories in China, where the majority are located, regularly break Chinese labor laws which prohibit employees from working more than 49 hours a week. Only 65% of factories were paying the wages and benefits due to workers, and 24 factories in China violated minimum wage laws. One factory even fabricated documentation to hide their underage workers and workers’ rights violations from Apple. Apple has now stopped using that factory. Continue reading

Congress Aims to Improve Laws for Runaway, Prostituted Kids

by Amanda Kloer

The prospects for healthcare reform may be chillier than DC weather, but Democrats in the House and Senate are turning their attention to another warmer but still significant national issue: the increasing number of runaway and throwaway youth who are being forced into prostitution. In response to the growing concerns that desperate, runaway teens will be forced into prostitution in a sluggish economy, Congress is pushing several bills to improve how runaway kids are tracked by the police, fund crucial social services, and prevent teens from being caught in sex trafficking. Here’s the gist of what the new legislation is trying to accomplish:Shelter: Lack of shelter is one of the biggest vulnerabilities of runaway and homeless youth. Pimps will often use an offer of shelter as an entree to a relationship with a child or a straight up trade for sex. In the past couple years, at least 10 states have made legislative efforts to increase the number of shelters, extend shelter options, and change state reporting requirements so that youth shelters have enough time to win trust and provide services before they need to report the runaways to the police. Much of the new federal legislation would make similar increases in the availability and flexibility of shelter options.

Police Reporting: Right now, police are supposed to enter all missing persons into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database within two hours of receiving the case. In reality, that reporting doesn’t always get done, making it almost impossible for law enforcement to search for missing kids across districts. This hole is a big problem in finding child prostitution victims and their pimps, since pimps will often transport girls from state to state. The new bill would strengthen reporting requirements, as well as facilitate communication between the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the National Runaway SwitchboardFunding Pilot Programs: Another bill, introduced in December, would fund pilot programs aimed at providing teens in prostitution drug treatment, counseling, and job skills training. Even when child trafficking victims are separated from their pimps, some return to prostitution. In many cases, this return is a direct result of the power and control the pimp exercises over his victims. But sometimes, it’s because the teen lacks the resources and skills to support herself in another way. Programs like these can help children leave prostitution for good. Continue reading

Fair Trade Flowers for V-Day!

by Sarah Parker

It’s V-Day my friends! And like any good last-minute shopper, you know that flowers make a great a gift. Did you also know that those beautiful flowers from your local florist or grocery store may have come from Columbia, Ecuador, or Kenya?

Flowers are flown in from these countries year round, where warmer climates, cheaper labor, and lax pesticide laws allow for low wholesale prices and higher profits. As you can imagine, these conditions are ripe for slave labor conditions. According to The Toronto Star, not only are there concerns about working conditions in the industry, but commercial flowers produced in South America have been reported to be some of the most toxic, chemically-treated crops in the world. Women and children are the main cut-flower workers and can suffer not only from health and safety hazards, but also sexual harassment, abuse, and low to no wage conditions.

Different countries have instituted their own voluntary “green” certification initiatives and fair labor regulations for cut-flower workers; programs like Florverde in Colombia, Sello Verde in Ecuador, and the Kenyan Flower Council. Each has a different set of standards depending on their country’s own regulations. Some of the programs spend more time promoting themselves than they do caring for the workers they supposedly protect. And since kids are harmed by pesticide poisoning much quicker than adults, they need to spend less time on marketing and more time actually meeting the International Code of Conduct. Continue reading

STOP THE TRAFFIK:Take Part in START FREEDOM

START FREEDOM a campaign for young people

Stop The Traffik

A global campaign for schools and young people who will become aware of the issues surrounding human trafficking and realise the power to make a difference. Please go to www.startfreedom.org and download the Start Freedom resources. Teachers, there are great resources here to discuss this important world wide issue in the classroom.

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Texas D.A. Prosecutes Girl, 13, For Prostitution While Her Pimp, 32, Walks

by Amanda Kloer

Patricia R. Lykos, District Attorney

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and the king-sized failures of the justice system are no exception. A Harris County District had a major justice FAIL recently when he prosecuted a 13-year-old girl for prostitution, despite the fact that she’s legally a human trafficking victim and not old enough to consent to sex. And her 32-year-old “boyfriend” (aka pimp) who was having sex with her and likely facilitated her prostitution? Well, he walked off free and clear.

The Texas Supreme Court is hearing the case this week, and it’s unclear whether they’ll decide that a trafficked child too young to consent to sex can be prosecuted for prostitution.

The girl, who media are calling B.W. to protect her identity, was picked up in 2007 when she offered to give an undercover Houston police office a sex for $20. Quickly, the police discovered that she was a minor, and that she had run away from a foster home placement two years earlier, when she was just 11. After running away, she moved in with a 32-year-old man whom she called her “boyfriend.” While staying with him, she used a number of illegal drugs, acquired several sexually transmitted diseases, and had two abortions.

While B.W. never admitted to being engaged in prostitution between the ages of 11 and 13, the high number of STDs and abortions are strong indicators that her “boyfriend” may have been pimping her out, even at that young age. But she did plead guilty to the prostitution charges related to her arrest.

So why is there a legal battle currently raging in Texas over whether or not to charge a young girl, clearly victimized by an older man, with prostitution? B.W.’s lawyers are arguing that it’s just plain ridiculous for a 13-year-old to be prosecuted for prostitution when lawmakers have otherwise determined that a child of that age is legally incapable of consenting to any sex act, much less one that involves an implied contract (minors that age are also too young to legally agree to contracts). They say a prostitution conviction would create an inconsistent legal precedent which states that a child is at the same time both legally capable and legally incapable of consenting to sex.

The D.A., on the other hand, claims B.W. was agreeing to engage in the sex act, which does not require legally-effective consent. Plus, in Texas, state law allows minors to be charged with prostitution, so they claim her consent doesn’t even matter. They also claim that in jail, B.W. will have access to all sorts of educational, rehabilitative, and other services, whereas if she were free, she’d just go back into foster care, run away, and be back on the street.

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BusinessTravellers.org

By: M.G. Jack

BusinessTravellers.org is a new campaign of Stop The Traffik. The campaign’s goal is to educate the business traveler to identify the signs of Human Trafficking as they travel throughout the world. The site contains links to videos, documents, reports on the subject and the ability to report suspected cases of Human Trafficking travelers may encounter. Please click here to visit the site. This is a great resource for not only business travelers but all travels that care about Human Trafficking and Child Sex Tourism.

Note, suspected Human Trafficking and Child Sex Tourism can also be reported to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE) Hotline at 1(866)DHS-2-ICE. ICE is the primary U.S. Law Enforcement agency with authority over these crimes.

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Sex Trafficking of American Indian Girls and Women

by Amanda Kloer

All over the world, indigenous populations are highly vulnerable to trafficking into commercial sex industries. Here in the U.S., the American Indian population is no exception. Unfortunately, sex trafficking among this population is rarely studied. The following is a brief look at sex trafficking of American Indians in the U.S. For a more in-depth analysis, check out this recent report out of Minnesota.

One Native woman, let’s call her Lisa, told a social service agency her story. At the age of 12, Lisa’s mother began selling her to other men on the reservation, to support her mother’s crack habit. To cope with the pain of being raped repeatedly at her mother’s behest, Lisa turned to drugs as well. By the time she was 14, Lisa used the only way to earn money she knew to support her addiction — she began recruiting other young American Indian girls into the sex trade. This system of exploitation rippled through Lisa’s community, until she was eventually able to get out.

Lisa’s story is not unusual. Some advocates claim cultural trauma and a history of exploitation and abuse of American Indians allows traffickers to get a foothold in these communities. Other experts point to a number of risk factors that influence other populations — high rates of runaway or throwaway youth, normalization of sex for children, drug and alcohol addition, and social systems failures. All these risk factors are present in some American Indian communities, and in many cases the problems are acute. American Indians also face many of the same barriers members of other traditionally marginalized communities face, like lack of educational opportunities and cycles of poverty which can be hard to break.

Addressing the exploitation of Indian Americans can be challenging, especially for those living in areas governed by tribal law. Often, young girls living on reservations are taken outside the reservation and sold for sex in nearby cities. Therefore, fighting this form of trafficking takes cooperation between tribal authorities and those from outside the tribal area. Some NGOs are working to train both tribal and city-based law enforcement to recognize trafficking across jurisdictions within the U.S., but more work is needed. Additionally, once traffickers are apprehended, it can sometimes be difficult to determine which authority should prosecute them.

The challenges American Indian women and girls face when it comes to sexual exploitation and trafficking are similar to those other native and indigenous populations face, including those in Australia, Canada, and and other formerly colonized countries. It’s important to consider the unique needs of all native peoples and include them in broad national plans to address human trafficking in that country.

Photo credit: rentonr

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