Monday, August 27, 2012

States are Passing Laws to Combat Human Trafficking

CONTACT: Megan Fowler,
Majority of States Actively Passing Laws to Combat Human Trafficking
Polaris Project 2012 Annual Ratings Show Massachusetts as Most Improved, Wyoming as Faltering

CHICAGO, IL (August 7, 2012) – More than half of states have passed laws to combat human trafficking, punish traffickers and support survivors in the past year, Polaris Project announced today during the launch of its 2012 Annual Ratings Map on state human trafficking laws. Twenty-eight states (55%) passed new laws in the past year. A law passed last November in Massachusetts catapulted the state from the worst tier to the best, earning a “Most Improved” distinction. South Carolina, West Virginia and Ohio were also applauded for their improvements. Wyoming has yet to pass any law against human trafficking, making it one of Polaris Project’s “Faltering Four” with Arkansas, Montana and South Dakota. “Passing strong state laws is a critical step to increasing prosecutions of traffickers and providing local support for survivors,” said Mary Ellison, Polaris Project’s Director of Policy. “It is exciting to see so many state policy makers actively seeking ways to stop human trafficking, but using these new laws to save lives and hold traffickers accountable is what we are ultimately striving for. While states like Washington and Massachusetts are clearly at the top of the pack in our ratings, every state can and should do more to improve and implement their laws.” 

Polaris Project rated all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on ten categories of laws that are critical to a basic legal framework that addresses this crime and human rights abuse. Each state is placed in one of four tiers based on whether it has passed legislation in each of the ten categories. Twenty-one states are currently in the top category, Tier 1, up from 11 states in 2011. Only four are in the bottom category of Tier 4, down from nine states in 2011. One-third of states increased their rating by at least one tier. Washington had the highest point total, with 11 out of 12, while Wyoming is lowest with -2 points. Massachusetts and West Virginia particularly stand out for passing their first human trafficking laws in the past year.   “Massachusetts has taken major steps to combat the egregious crime of human trafficking, and we are pleased that this report recognizes those efforts,” said Attorney General Martha Coakley.  “We continue to work towards a successful implementation of the new law through investigations, prosecutions, and policy change and look forward to working with stakeholders to end the exploitation of people in our Commonwealth.”

Despite improvements in laws across the country, few states passed “Safe Harbor” laws. These laws state that children under the age of 18 who are involved in commercial sex acts should not be treated as criminals for acts to which they can't legally consent, but instead should be recognized as victims of sex trafficking who are in need of services and support. Strong Safe Harbor laws grant immunity from prosecution or divert the child from juvenile delinquency proceedings, as well as offer protection and access to child welfare services. Only eight states received full credit for having a Safe Harbor law which includes provisions to protect children and also to provide services for the victim.
More than a decade after the passage of the federal anti-trafficking law, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), 47 states and D.C., have sex trafficking criminal statutes, and 49 states and DC have labor trafficking criminal statutes.  Although the TVPA has been reauthorized 3 times by bipartisan majorities, Congress allowed the Act to expire in September of 2011. The current Senate bill, S. 1301, has 46 cosponsors. “In every state in our country, as well as globally, traffickers are enslaving victims by forcing or manipulating them to work or perform commercial sex acts,” continued Ms. Ellison. “We look forward to continuing to work with state legislators to develop tools to stop this horrendous human rights abuse. And we encourage Congress to pass the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act and other anti-trafficking bills to ensure that our federal laws stay strong.”

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline, operated by Polaris Project since December 2007, has received more than 57,000 calls from every state in the country, and connected more than 6,700 potential victims to services. Incidences of sex and labor trafficking have been reported to the hotline in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in the U.S. in the last two years. Twelve states have passed laws requiring or encouraging the posting of the national human trafficking hotline.  To report a tip, connect with anti-trafficking services in your area, or request information, call The National Human Trafficking Resource Center at: 1-888-3737-888.
The state ratings map and methodology, as well as tailored state-by-state reports, are available at

About Polaris Project
                                Polaris Project is one of the leading organizations in the global fight against human trafficking and modern-day slavery.  Named after the North Star "Polaris" that guided slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad, Polaris Project is transforming the way that individuals and communities respond to human trafficking, in the U.S. and globally. By successfully pushing for stronger federal and state laws, operating the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline (1-888-373-7888), conducting trainings, and providing vital services to victims of trafficking, Polaris Project creates long-term solutions that move our society closer to a world without slavery.  Learn more at

P.O. Box 53315, Washington, DC 20009
                                Tel: 202-745-1001, Fax: 202-745-1119

Saving our Children from Sexual Slavery


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Safe Horizon

Dear Supporter,
Today, you can take action to help pass legislation that would recognize and rescue child victims of trafficking – and it will take just 10 minutes for you to make it happen.

The Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Human Trafficking Act of 2011 (H.R. 2730) is a lifesaving bill that would help agencies identify and respond to victims of child trafficking. Safe Horizon supports H.R. 2730 – and we need your support to make sure this critical legislation gets passed!

Here’s why H.R. 2730 is so important:
  • It’ll help state child welfare agencies through guidelines on how to prevent, recognize, and address child sex and labor trafficking.
  • It’ll produce best practices for child protection agencies to identify victims of child trafficking.
  • It’ll develop licensing guidelines for residential agencies on how to best serve child victims.

The Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Human Trafficking Act of 2011 ensures that state child protection agencies put greater focus on children who’ve been trafficked, collecting information about their progress that would help improve recognition of child trafficking and response to helping child victims. It’s a lifesaving legislature that’s also a vital step in ending the brutal and unconscionable practice of child trafficking in the United States.

Please join us today and let your representative know that the Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act needs to become law – and tell your friends and family so they can support this important bill, too.

Thank you for making a difference and for helping us work toward the end of human trafficking.


Avaloy Lanning
Senior Director, Anti-Trafficking Program
Safe Horizon


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Keisha Head, Sexual Slavery Survivor

Keisha Head says she is a survivor because she survived her pain, not because she escaped something horrific.
“I am not a survivor because I escaped something horrific,”  “I am a survivor because I allowed my pain and losses to transform me into God's instrument of greatness.”  She has worked with a number of organizations, includeing Polaris Project, the Boys and Girls Club, Juvenile Justice Fund, the Law and Society Association and Job Corp.

In April 2012, Keisha stood with other survivors to deliver closing remarks at the U.S. Department of Justice Trafficking in Persons Symposium in Salt Lake City, UT.

“I was very angry, shy, and withdrawn,” said Keisha, “I used to call myself unlovable - I felt like I was different from my peers.”
Keisha was born in Atlanta Georgia.  Her homelife was unstable because her mother suffered from schizophrenia and couldn't care for her.  Keisha's mother cannot recall who Keisha's father is due to her mental disease.  For that reason Keisha doesn't know who he is either. 

Keisha was removed from her mother's home when she was 12 years old and has gone through many foster homes and group homes.  She ran away often because she never felt love from any of the people she was placed with.  By the time she was 16 years old, Keisha was a mother with a newborn baby.  She of course was forced to give away custody to her boyfriend's family since she was unable to care for the child.   She dealt with the pain by running away from child protective services.

Having no place to go, she turned to a childhood friend who thought she could help her.  Keisha's childhood church friend introduced her to Charles Pipkins, a pimp known as "Sir Charles".  At this point, the nightmare began for Keisha.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Stop Calling It Adultery and Call It Abuse

Jack Schaap was the pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, the largest Independent Fundamental Baptist church in America. If you do not know his name, you may know the name of the church's founder and his father-in-law, legendary fundamentalist, Jack Hyles.

Schaap has been caught up in what many are calling an "adultery scandal" and was fired this week. Yet, what many are missing is particularly important and requires immediate change.
It is time to stop calling this "adultery" and time to call it what it is, "abuse."
If you're not familiar with the situation, here's a short recap from The Chicago Tribune:
An evangelical megachurch pastor has lost his job and is being investigated by the Lake County, Ind., Sheriff's Department after admitting that he had an "improper relationship" with a young woman, a spokesman for First Baptist Church of Hammond said.
A board of deacons decided to fire Jack Schaap on Monday night and then reported allegations to the Sheriff's Department on Tuesday because it was unclear whether the woman was a minor, spokesman Eddie Wilson said.
The sheriff's office confirmed in a statement released Wednesday that the inquiry involves "alleged misconduct with a juvenile" and said the FBI is also investigating.
The church, which claims 15,000 regular attendees, posted a news release on its website stating that Schaap was dismissed "due to a sin that has caused him to forfeit his right to be our pastor. ... Our church grieves over the need to take this action and the impact it will have on our people."
Wilson said that Schaap admitted to the deacons that he had an adulterous affair with the young woman, initially believed to be 16.
Reuters explains a key legal point:
Adultery is grounds for dismissal under the church's bylaws, and Schaap was fired on Monday following an internal investigation, Wilson said. Schaap and his wife are trying to reconcile their marriage, he said.
The age of consent in Indiana is 16. However, authorities are investigating whether Schaap may have taken the girl across state lines to Illinois -- where the consent age is 17 -- when she was 16, according to Wilson. The girl is said to now be 17.

Schaap is 54 and news reports quote church officials as saying the girl was 16. If the church is correct, that is a 37-38 year difference depending on Schaap's age at the time. He is old enough to be her grandfather.

Several people are referring to this as "adultery" because they haven't determined exactly which state the sexual contact took place. While it obviously is sex outside of marriage, this is not just adultery. This is abuse. I don't care what state it was in. Some have tried to compare this to other moral failures-- it is not the same thing and you should not trivialize such abuse with invalid comparisons.
A 54-year old pastor taking advantage, both sexually and emotionally, of a 16-year old girl goes far beyond the bounds of desecrating the marital bed and making immoral choices. This is a prime example of abusing the power and trust of an office. It was part of the problem at Penn State, and it is the problem in this situation.

If you are a pastor, you should not just be sad, you should be outraged-- and you should speak up. You don't need to wait until the FBI figures out in which state a 54-year old pastor had sex with a 16-year old girl-- you can (and should) call it sexual abuse-- right now.
It is not adultery, it is abuse. It does not matter if it was in Indiana, Michigan, or Illinois, it matters that it is abuse and we call it that. Pastors/shepherds are supposed to protect their members, not prey on them.

Adultery is bad but you have to protect children by calling abuse what it is-- if we call this adultery it arms predators and endangers the next generation. Stand up and speak up for what it is-- sexual abuse of a child. Defending this based on which state this occurred in is bizarre, yet that is exactly what is going on from some pastors.

Speak up, Independent Fundamental Baptists, speak up! Jack Schaap spiritually and physically abused a teen in his pastoral care. That is what matters most now.
Do I care for Jack Schaap? Yes, I do. I prayed for him and his wife-- I pray he gets counseling for the issues that would cause him to abuse a 16-year old girl in his care. But, I am much more concerned about the girl he victimized. I hear little about her-- and too many people talking about "adultery."


Don't say, "But it is legal for a 54-year old to have sex with a 16-year old in Illinois." Listen to those words before you say them. Consider your daughter.
In many states, this is considered sexual abuse or molestation. Whether that is the case legally, it appears, is still to be determined, but it is the case morally. Sixteen-year-olds do not commit adultery with 54-year-old pastors. They are abused by them.

Say it:

She is a child.

This is sexual abuse.

Stop calling it adultery and call it abuse. Act like men and speak up, Independent Fundamental Baptists.

This morning, I talked to one young leader in the movement who said, "Why is no one speaking up?" I agree. Those who justify enable more such scandals and endanger more children.
IFB friends, your movement has had way too many scandals, and many of you have expressed concern about such-- so speak up now. (There are plenty of lists of such scandals already.) Secrecy and circling the wagons breeds this kind of behavior and is destroying children and your movement. Your young pastors are leaving and your children are in danger.

It is abuse.

It must stop.

And it must stop now.

Speak up.

By Ed Stetzer, Christian Post Guest Columnist
August 4, 2012 9:33 am

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Walk The Track - Oakland Ca 8-4-12

It took place on 8-4-12.  Hundreds came out to protest and walk in support of those who have been forced into sexual slavery.

Supporters of Abolishing Human Trafficking

From the Mind of Rev Harry

Overcast weather didn't stop the faithful

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Reverend Barbara Jim-George of Girls Rite of Passage

Our own dynamic Streets Disciple, The Reverend Barbara Jim-George, who also heads the Girls Rite of Passage Program, sits down with the Reverend Sandra Hasenoeur who is Associate Executive Director of Women's Ministries for the American Baptist Churches USA to participate in their National Mission Project's "In Their Shoes" podcast series.

Rev Jim-George speaks about her call to the ministry and the work she is doing with Girls Rite of Passage Program.  For her doctorate she's working to answer the question if faith based rite of passage programs can reduce the chances of a girl being lured into the human trafficking industry.

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