Posts by: Liz Rush

Fighting the Demand with Val Richey

Val Richey is King County’s Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney and he’s fighting trafficking starting with the demand.

He told us a story about a 15 year old girl who was selling sex out of her parents house while they were away. The girl had a man come over for sex, stole his money and shut the door on him. The cops were called and came. They ended up returning the man’s money and arresting the 15 year old girl. The man went free. Industry is driven by demand and by failing to prosecute the people generating demand for commercial sex we are failing to properly combat the problem.

Richey pointed out that in order to help fight demand we need to educate the public about the myths surrounding the act of prostitution. Most people who buy sex think the person selling it is making the choice to do so for themselves. The reality of course is that the prostitute is being forced into the act.

The language involved in prostitution cases casts blame on the seller and not the buyer, this needs to change. Prostitutes are actually victims and “John” are actually exploiters.

Finally criminals will be less likely to buy commercial sex if faced with harsh punishments, being labeled a sex offender and public shaming.

Huge Trafficking Sweep Results in Massive Arrests!

According to this article 61 children were rescued last week and over 250 arrests were made in an online sweep that lasted over 5 weeks.

Some sexual predators were blackmailing children into sending increasingly graphic images or video through the act of what is being called “sextortion.”

The article further states that of the arrests made nine of the suspects were teachers and three were members of the clergy.

By Jared Stewart

Sex Trafficking & Seattle’s Hotel Industry

We were very fortunate to hear from Mar Smith last night. She said that the “worlds of human trafficking and hotels are closely tied.” She went on to point out signs that hoteliers can look for in order to spot trafficking victims such as anyone who appears fearful or disoriented, paid for the room in cash, is being restricted from moving or communicating, shows signs of physical abuse or has a significantly older boyfriend.

According to Smith one of these signs may not be indicative of human trafficking but if a few or more are displayed it may be worth contacting law enforcement.

Don’t confront the pimp yourself in this situation, always contact law enforcement.

Read more about Mar Smith, her organization BEST  here.

By Jared Stewart

Youth Sex Trafficking in Seattle

We were lucky enough to hear Dr. Debra Boyer speak to us about youth sex trafficking in Seattle last night.

She stated that there are between 300-500 youth in Seattle engaged in prostitution. Since these youths are not old enough to consent to sex they are considered trafficking victims. According to police the numbers stated are a low estimate. So at the very least the city of Seattle should have services and resources available to accommodate these numbers and we simply are not their yet.

Dr. Boyer wrote the groundbreaking 2008 report “Who Pays the Price: Assessment of Youth Involvement in Prostitution in Seattle.” Which you can read here.

By Jared Stewart

Breaking the Cycle of Human Trafficking

The interfaith event “Breaking the Cycle of Human Trafficking” was held last night at Herzl Ner Tamid .

We heard from a very special guest speaker, Urmi Basu.

Basu is the founder of the New Light Center in Kolkata, India. The New Light Center works to promote gender equality as well as fight violence against women, children and young people in the Kalighat red light district of Kolkata.

Basu spoke to us about the state of trafficking Kolkata and shared her plans to open a home for boys as part of New Lights mission to break the cycle of human trafficking.

Basu was also featured in Half the Sky and is an expert on trafficking, child rights and social justice.

A special thanks to the events co sponsors, the Herzl Ner Tamid Jewish Congregation of Mercer Island and the Mercer Island Presbyterian Church.

Homeland Security Investigations: Arresting Traffickers & Empowering Victims

Todd Rignel from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) came all the way from Bellingham to give a presentation for us!  HSI is a part of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and they handle cyber crimes, smuggling, and human trafficking investigations.
Agent Rignel shared about cases involving agricultural trafficking, housekeepers kept as slaves, and sex trafficking of foreign victims in the U.S. He also explained how difficult it can be to reach victims to share information about their rights and resources available to them, regardless of immigration status. He even explained the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and the “T” Nonimmigrant status (no easy task).
HSI is one of the groups who collaborates in WashACT, the Washington Advisory Committee on Trafficking that brings together law enforcement, service providers, government officials and community groups. For more info on their work, check on his presentation: HSI Presentation.

Wisconsin Women Accused of Trafficking a Minor

An odd human trafficking case is unfolding in the mid west where two women from Wisconsin are being charged with forcing a young girl from Illinois into prostitution.

According to police reports the two women were advertising on Backpage.com under escort services.

Backpage was involved in a legal battle last year with Washington state over a law that required people advertising sexual services to verify their age.

Currently Backpage still allows ads by third party publishers that promote the sexual exploitation of children to appear on their website.

By Jared Stewart

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

The President has declared January National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. It’s really great that the issue is getting all this attention and hopefully one day the problems of slavery will be eradicated.

Sadly though the scope of human trafficking is still unknown, even with all the attention the issue is receiving.

We have a long way to go in the fight against slavery. How will you honor this month?

By Jared Stewart

Department of Labor Introduces New Toolkit to Fight Child Trafficking

“The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that there are 215 million children in child labor worldwide, 115 million of them in hazardous forms of work. It also estimates that 21 million people are in forced labor, six million of them children.” – Department of Labor

Every year children are forced to work in fields, factories and homes as slaves. The Department of Labor has introduced this tool kit to help you or your company fight child trafficking. Please take time to check it out.

By Jared Stewart