Friday, April 18, 2008

MODERN DAY SLAVERY

A Human Trafficking Conference, Modern Day Slavery, sponsored and organized by the North Shore Branch of AAUW, was held today, April 17, 2008 at New York Institute of Technology. Information about human trafficking, federal legislation enacted and upcoming and the plight of child prostitutes in NYS were discussed, This is an issues in which AAUW NYS has been concerned for several years and has passed a resolution to support legislation on behalf of those trafficked.

Did you know that 800,000 humans are trafficked across international borders annually and that millions are held as slaves within countries? These are large figures but each number added is a person who has lost everything. They leave their homes because they believe they will have a chance for a better life, actually they become people without an identity or a country. Their funds are illegally seized as are their passports and paper. They are brutalized, isolated and subjected to inhuman treatment and more. They become slaves without any rights, or hopes of escape. Human Trafficking is the third largest money maker worldwide for Organized Crime after drugs and arms. The product, a human, cost nothing and can be resold many times which brings in more money. Restriction on borders between nations has lessened making moving trafficked humans easier this reduces the risk of traffickers being caught. Trafficking is a new phenomenon; it has grown in the last decade to immense proportions.

The UN developed a Convention and a protocol regarding Trafficking. It is now international law. The same year the US Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act which provided services and T-visas for victims, penalties for traffickers and sanctions against nations that are not curtailing satisfactorily their trafficking. This act will expire this year. It needs to be renewed. H.R. 3887 The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act would make it easier to prosecute traffickers by removing the requirement that prosecutors prove fraud, force or coercion and higher penalties if a minor is involved. This bill passed the House and now is awaiting a US Senate sponsor. Congresswoman Mahoney has introduced H.R. 3424 which would authorize funds for the IRS to prosecute sex trafficker for violations of tax laws.

NYS passed strong Anti-Trafficking last June, one of the best in the nation. AAUW helped secure passage of this vital law that went into effect November 1, 2007. It provides access to social services and strong penalties for traffickers. However, the law failed to address, children 16 and younger in NYS, who, though born here, are the victims of sex trafficking.

Child prostitution is domestic trafficking in its most insidious form. These children are charged as Juvenile Delinquents and incarcerated. They are really victims of domestic Human Trafficking and need to be rehabilitated, given their childhood back. The average age is 14. There are believed to be between 500.000 and 10 million annually. This sex industry has a monetary value of $14-20 million. Society is in a state of denial that these children are trafficked. They have runaway from abusive deprived homes. They arrive in bigger cities, are vulnerable and easy targets for traffickers. The chances of a child being sexually exploited are greater than the risk of death by firearms, accident, homicides and suicides.

Two weeks ago the NYS Senate passed the Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Act (S6746). It provides that children under 16 picked up for prostitution be provided social services. It provides strong penalties for those who exploit and rape these children. The Act has been passed to the NYS Assembly. If you are a NYS resident please contact Speaker Sheldon Silver and Keith Wright, Chair of the Social Services Committee and ask them both to take action on this Act. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

1 comment:

Diane H. said...

wow! wonderful piece, Nancy.
Diane