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Super Bowl Campaign: Hold Sex Buyers Accountable

On the eve of Sunday’s Big Game, the Anti-Trafficking Coalition has launched a campaign to educate the public about the epidemic of human trafficking and highlight the penalties for those who buy sex. The Super Bowl comes just one day a year, but sex trafficking is a 365-day a year problem.

Children are exploited across New York and nationwide; up to 300,000 kids are at risk everyday of being targeted by traffickers. It is the most hidden form of child abuse in our country.

Major sporting events like the Super Bowl with a large male-attendance will result in incidents of human trafficking. The demand created by the influx of men – men who may order women “for delivery” from backpage.com, who may go to massage parlors for timed sex sessions, etc. – is a demand that pimps are willing to step right up to meet.

The demand created by men looking for paid sex is so great that we have to import women and coerce American kids to take part – taking advantage of our most neglected, poor, run-away and already sexually abused kids.

Sex buyers need to be held accountable by all of us. We’ve turned a blind eye to the millions of adult men who create the demand because they believe they have the right to purchase another human being. Our great challenge as a society with human trafficking is to change attitudes and to stigmatize going “to a prostitute.” If we don’t stem the tide of demand for young girl’s bodies, that demand will continue to be met by coercion, violence, force and exploitation.

Buying Sex is Punishable in NJ:

A first conviction for soliciting prostitution could mean six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. For every subsequent offense, a conviction carries up to 18 months in prison and fines up to $10,000. Offenders could also lose their driver’s license and, if convicted, may need to register as a sex offender. Megan’s Law requires those convicted of specific sex crimes to register their personal information with their local community.

NJ Coalition: Super Bowl Countdown

Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, just minutes outside of NYC, will be hosting the next Super Bowl. The New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking is facilitating trainings for volunteers to reach out to the hotels in the area of the Super Bowl and ask them to join in the effort to recognize trafficking situations and how to effectively handle those situations. For more information on how you can join the team on this effort, please visit www.njhumantrafficking.org

Sex trafficking case shows need to pass Women’s equality bills

After the rescue of 105 teens in “Operation Cross Country,” a nationwide sweep targeting child sex trafficking, Senate Co-Leader Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Centre, called on the Assembly to return to Albany to pass the Women’s Equality Act.

The ten-point legislation was first introduced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in June with the help of the Women’s Equality Coalition, a group of 850 organizations hoping to end gender discrimination across the state. One provision of the Women’s Equality Act would create an affirmative defense to a prostitution charge that the individual was a trafficking victim; increase penalties across the board for human trafficking and labor trafficking; create new offenses for johns of aggravated patronizing a minor; and create a civil action for victims of trafficking against their perpetrators.

Read the full story at the Legislative Gazette

Victory in New York in the fight to end sex trafficking!

On June 22, 2013, the New York legislature passed a bill extending Safe Harbor to 16- and 17- year old trafficked boys and girls. The Safe Harbor laws make it so minors arrested for prostitution are treated as victims of sex trafficking and provided with the services they need to rebuild their lives, instead of jail time and a criminal record that keep them vulnerable to exploitation.

Thank you to the 110 organizations of the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition who worked tirelessly to pass this bill and to sponsors Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and Senator Andrew Lanza.

Human sex trafficking bill introduced in Albany

A bill that would hold sex traffickers accountable for their heinous acts and beef up prosecutions in New York state was introduced by Albany lawmakers Tuesday, including state Sen. Andrew Lanza.

“New York should be on the forefront of this issue,” said NOW-NYC president Sonia Ossorio. “A strong law lets the people of New York know we care about human rights and it lets traffickers know … their free reign on our streets is over.”

Read more

We Were Slaves: The Jewish Community Unites Against Sex Trafficking

Monday, April 22, 2013 | 8:30 am – 5:00 pm

Join the UJA Federation of New York’s Task Force on Family Violence for an all-day conference to explore our history and our obligation to combat sex-trafficking. This conference is open to all and will provide essential information for social-service, legal, and medial professionals; Jewish clergy, rabbinical students, and educators; lay leaders and all those interested in learning more about this form of modern day slavery.

Featured speakers include:
Rabbi Levi Lauer of ATZUM, a leading voice in Israel’s fight against sex trafficking
Isabel Vincent, author of Bodies and Souls: The Tragic Plight of Three Jewish Women Forced into Prostitution in the Americas
Rabbi Rachael Bregman, The Temple/Open Jewish Project, Atlanta
Rachel Durchslag, Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Eploitation
Susie Stern, President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

For more information: Lyudmila Liberchuk at or 212-836-1633
UJA-Federation of New York
Seventh Floor Conference Center
130 East 59th Street (between Park and Lexington Ave), NYC

 

Human Trafficking: Its Impact in the Hispanic/Latino Community in New York State

Saturday, March 23 | 2 – 3:30 PM
Huxley Auditorium | New York State Museum | 260 Madison Avenue, Albany, NY

Focus and Purpose
The focus of this presentation will be on how Human Trafficking is impacting the Hispanic/Latino community in New York State.  While Hispanics are the fastest growing minority group in the United States, this demographic continues to be underrepresented in all aspects of society, suffers from high poverty rates, highest High School drop out rates, and also disproportionately affected by Human Trafficking.  The purpose of this presentation is geared at educating the Latino community about not only how to identify a potential situation but also how and where to seek help.

Presentation
Speakers will address Federal and State Law and how modern-day cases can be found in least-thought of places – not just in NYC but across NYS.  The audience may be able to ask questions if time permits, with guided time limitations.

Issues to be addressed

  • Impact in the Hispanic/Latino Community
  • Ways to combat Human Trafficking in our community
  • Resources available to organizations and victims

Human Trafficking in New York

  • Between 2000 and 2010, 11,268 trafficking victims were provided with social and legal services in New York City alone (of these, 6,580 were minors).
  • Last year in NYS nearly three times as many people in prostitution, many sex trafficking victims, were arrested as johns.
  • In 2011, 3,893 people in prostitution were arrested in New York State.
  • Director of Midtown Community Court identified 70% of the people arrested for prostitution in 
their court as trafficking victims.

More information

In March, Government Contractors will face new Executive Order on Trafficking

Eliminating Human Trafficking from Government Contracting
On September 25, 2012, President Obama signed his landmark executive order aiming to eradicate trafficking from all federal contracts and subcontracts. By this March, the Federal Acquisition Regulation will be amended, requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to be able to report that their supply chains have a clean bill of anti-trafficking health (note that “trafficking” is defined broadly to include coerced labor, indentured servitude, etc.; no movement of the person is required). These new regulations will also require self-reporting and full cooperation with investigators.
[Source: InsideCounsel]

Gov Cuomo to Increase Penalties for Traffickers & Help Victims

Cuomo State of StateGovernor Cuomo unveiled the Women’s Equality Act in his State of the State address yesterday.  The plan includes policy changes that will increase penalties for the crime of human trafficking and make it easier for sex trafficking victims—especially minors— to avoid being unfairly prosecuted for prostitution. Learn more. For more details on the Coalition’s proposal to end trafficking in New York, click here.

Judge Hears Arguments in Backpage.com Lawsuit

By GENE JOHNSON Associated Press
SEATTLE July 20, 2012 (AP)
The website Backpage.com and a nonprofit group that runs a popular archive of Internet sites asked a federal judge on Friday to block a Washington state law that would require classified advertising companies to verify the ages of people in sex-related advertisements.

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the law, which passed the Legislature unanimously, to cut down on child sex trafficking. Officials hope it will become a national model for dealing with the pernicious problem; they say an estimated 100,000 juveniles are victimized by child prostitution in the U.S. every year.

The law allows for the criminal prosecution of anyone who knowingly publishes or causes the publication of sex-related ads depicting children, unless they can show they made a good-faith effort to confirm that the person advertised was not a juvenile.

Backpage, which is owned by Village Voice Media and makes millions of dollars a year operating an online clearinghouse for escorts, is a main target of the law and has come under pressure from public officials around the country to shut down the ads.

In a room packed with middle school teachers who were at the Seattle courthouse for a civics course, Backpage lawyer Jim Grant asked U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez to issue an injunction preventing the law from taking effect.

“Exploitation of a minor, sex trafficking, human trafficking of any kind is abhorrent,” Grant said. “No one in the courtroom disputes that.”

But, he added, “Backpage doesn’t believe it’s an effective way to confront the problem and doesn’t believe it’s consistent with free-speech principles.”

Grant said the law will backfire by driving such advertisements underground or to websites based overseas, where police will have a tougher time investigating them.

Backpage also argues that the law is pre-empted by section 230 of the federal Communication Decency Act, which protects interactive online services from liability for material posted by other people, and which expressly blocks “any state or local law that is inconsistent with this section.”

Backpage was joined in its request by The Internet Archive, a nonprofit organization that runs the “Wayback Machine,” which preserves content that has appeared on the Internet — currently more than 150 billion web pages. The Internet Archive says it could be liable under the law because it maintains versions of websites that might advertise child escorts.

However, other digital-rights organizations, including Free Press and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, criticized Backpage’s position as unethical.

“Village Voice Media needs to remove human trafficking from its business model,” Timothy Karr, senior director of Free Press, said in a written statement.

The plaintiffs argue that the law could also extend to dating sites, blogs and social media sites such as Facebook, should such escort advertisements migrate there.

Lawyers for Washington state and for its county prosecutors, who are named as defendants, insisted that the law is not pre-empted by the Communications Decency Act because it’s consistent with the purposes of that act. Furthermore, argued David Eldred of the King County Prosecutor’s Office, the law also applies to print advertisements, which would not be covered by the act.

If Washington’s law is constitutional in some cases — as with requiring proof-of-age for print advertisements — it should not be struck down as unconstitutional, Eldred said. And because Backpage has not been prosecuted under the law, he argued, it lacks standing to challenge the law in court — something the company disputes, given that the Legislature identified it as a target when the law was passed.

In court documents, a Seattle police detective provided an example of why the state says the law is needed. On June 7, he wrote, Backpage received a tip that a girl advertised on its site might be underage. The company forwarded the tip to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which relayed it to the FBI, which relayed it to local law enforcement.

Four days later, the girl, 15, was arrested in the Seattle suburb of Federal Way, along with a 29-year-old man who agreed to pay her for sex. That same day, the Seattle detective found another advertisement, for the same girl, using the same photographs and contact phone number, posted under a section for escorts in Wenatchee, east of the Cascade Mountains.

The detective contacted Backpage to have the ad removed. Backpage complied, the detective said, but her ad was soon reposted — more than a half-dozen times. Eventually she was arrested again.

“The measures in place are insufficient,” Eldred said.

Martinez said he expected to rule by the end of next week.

“The proliferation of these types of ads on all of these different sites is very troubling,” he said. “It’s a fascinating argument from a legal perspective, but the sexual exploitation of children on any level is a real human problem.”

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