Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine – Report on the Prevalence of Human Trafficking in Ohio

Download a copy or view online the Report on the Prevalence of Human Trafficking in Ohio by the Ohio Attorney General, Mike DeWine.

http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/TraffickingReport

Quote – W.E.B. DuBois

“[T]here is but one coward on earth, and that is the coward that dare not know.”

W.E.B. DuBois

Urbana Woman Plans Trip to Help Children Caught in Human-Trafficking Trade

10-14-11 – URBANA — The issue of abused children has always been close to Urbana resident Debra Crabtree’s heart, so she’s heading to Ghana in November to help children caught in the human-trafficking trade.

She’s going with two friends she met through an online book club. There, they will assist a team from Partners in Community Development Programme, which rescues children from slavery, one by one. The organization runs Village of Life, where the freed children live after being rescued.

Crabtree became involved when her book club friends — one in Canada and the other in Michigan — started writing online about their upcoming trip to the west African nation and Lake Volta, the largest manmade lake in the world, and the Ghana site where children are sold into slavery.

“I fell in love with the faces I saw and (felt) heartbroken over the stories I read,” Crabtree said. “I pored over the articles and harsh truths of trafficking in the Volta region of Ghana.”

She said she felt called to the trip when she was looking to serve in a meaningful way, “something that was bigger than me and something that was bigger than being a mom or a wife.”

She wanted to learn, grow and “develop an empathy for others that would be an example to my children.”

Crabtree has worked with children in other countries before. After she and her husband were married in 2004, they served two months in Comitan, Chiapas, Mexico, building water tanks and teaching vacation Bible school.

“It was also the first time that I realized the difference between our poverty and the poverty in less developed countries,” Crabtree said. “It was eye-opening, and changed how I viewed poverty. It changed how I viewed people. I have had a passion since then to help the vulnerable in our world when I could.”

As a part of her efforts, Crabtree is raising money through an organization called Interlink Ministries. Her group hopes to raise $30,000 for a new school for the Village of Life.

“They have run out of room in their current school facilities and need a new school building to allow them to rescue more children from slavery on the lake,” Crabtree said.

She’s also looking for sponsors to help pay for shipping boxes of school supplies and books to Ghana, estimated at $200 each. She now has five boxes to send.

She’s also asking for donations of soccer balls.

“They can be given to both the children in the orphanage and to the kids on the lake,” Crabtree said. “These children live and breathe soccer.”

Crabtree said she believes the Bible instructs people to care for orphans and the innocent.

“My heart breaks to know there are children out there who are not afforded the opportunity to have a childhood and an education,” she said. “The kids on Lake Volta and at the Village of Life have become our children in so many ways and I just can’t not do anything to help them. … If I can help a team get even one child out of that situation, I feel like I need to seize that opportunity. I would hope someone would do that for my children if they knew their rights were being violated.”

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/people/2011-10-14/urbana-woman-plans-trip-help-children-rescued-slavery.html

Video – Human Trafficking Collaborative of Lorain County

Quote – Lucretia Mott

“I have no idea of submitting tamely to injustice inflicted either on me or on the slave. I will oppose it with all the moral powers with which I am endowed. I am no advocate of passivity.”

Lucretia Mott

Quote: Elie Weisel

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Elie Wiesel

J-1 visa participants treated no different than human trafficking victims

October 12, 2011 – WASHINGTON – Over 300 J-1 participants recently protested against the Hershey Company for their slave-like working conditions at a plant in Pennsylvania.

Though the students were visiting the U.S. for cultural experiences, their lives in the U.S. looked more like those of trafficking victims. Despite the deplorable conditions, the US State Department failed to protect the J-1 participants.

The J-1 visa is a cultural exchange program created during the Cold War era to give foreign students an opportunity to experience American culture. Currently, the process of J-1 program involves student employees, the American sponsors and employers, and foreign recruitment agencies under the loose supervision by the State Department.

Instead of visiting historical sites or learning the English language, many J-1 participants spend their days working and living like slaves during their visits. For instance, the 300 students who protested against Hershey’s worked long hours in a remote area, packing and lifting 50 lb boxes of chocolates and living in overcrowded rooms.

Under the regulation 22 CFR 62.10(e), sponsors are responsible for monitoring students’ welfare during their stay and are required to submit annual report the State Department. However, the annual report does nothing to protect students from exploitive employers. The State Department, which oversees the program, has no way to monitor the actions of the sponsors or to ensure accurate reporting.

According to some of the 300 students sponsored by Hershey’s, the company threatened them with deportation when they complained about overcrowded housing and exploitative work conditions.

For employers, the J-1 program offers the easiest way to hire cheap seasonal labors. Though the students have the same labor rights as those of American workers, companies often take advantage of the lax regulation by the State Department and pay the student workers $1 or $2 an hour after deducting housing, uniform, or other fees from their paychecks.

Some employers even force students into working at strip clubs. In December 2010, strip clubs in the U.S. openly solicited students on J-1 program. The students told Associated Press that criminals forced J-1 participants into sex slavery and confiscated their passports.

Other students find themselves deceived by the recruitment agencies from their own countries. Boris, a J-1 participant from Russia, paid $3000 to obtain J-1 visa to work at a bar in Virginia Beach two summers ago. The agency in Russia told Boris that it would arrange a sponsor, housing, an employer, and other necessary paper works to obtain a J-1 visa. When Boris arrived in Virginia Beach, VA, his American employer refused to offer the job to Boris, leaving him without employment or housing.  Other J-1 participants echo Boris’s story.

Many employers and sponsors have taken advantage of J-1 program and exploited foreign student participants for a long time. It’s only recent that the media shed the light on the abuse. The State Department must take steps to protect the students from these employers and sponsors, and it must do so in the near future. Otherwise, the program is only a mechanism to spread the culture of slavery and inequality in this world that this country has fought against for a long time.

Youngbee Dale is a freelance writer, researcher, and human rights advocate. You can reach her at ybdale [at] gmail.com or follow her on Twitter

http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/rights-so-divine/2011/oct/11/j-1-visa-participants-treated-no-different-human-t/

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