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Posts Tagged ‘trafficking’

Slumdog for $400, 000

Slumdog for $400, 000

Apparently $400, 000 can buy you a Slumdog Millionaire actress, at least that’s what a British journalist found out when he posed as a potential buyer from the Middle East according to AP.   This just shows you how much slavery is a problem in India.  They are desperately poor and seem to have little regard with women, a perfect mixture for slavery.

What does it take to end slavery?

A. Political Will

B. People power in the form of a grassroots movement

C. Economic opportunity

D. All of the above

Everyone can join in the movement to end slavery.  We’ve done it before in the 19th century, and we know what needs to be done to make that happen.  It has to start on the ground with ordinary people like you and me.  Be part of the movement today by writing to your state senator about Montigny’s bill which would finally put human trafficking legislation into the Massachusetts lawbooks.

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Workers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers stage a silent silent theater depicting the brutal details of the latest slavery case at the steps of the Old Capitol in Tallahassee.  Photo by Jacques-Jean Tiziou

Members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers stage a silent theater depicting the brutal details of the latest slavery case at the steps of the Old Capitol in Tallahassee. Photo by Jacques-Jean Tiziou

It’s been a whirlwind last few days.  There was the screening of Holly at Suffolk University Law School on Thursday, and then there was Amnesty International’s Annual General Meeting.  Amnesty members staged a rally for immigration rights at City Hall on Friday.  I’ll try to write more when I have time about the AGM.

The main reason why I’m writing is that there has been a major development for the slavery/ trafficking cause in Florida.  The Coalition of Immokalee Workers met with Gov. Crist to talk about the working conditions of tomato and orange pickers in Florida.

After the meeting, the governor told the Naples Daily News that he was “deeply moved by what they had to say and we want to help them as much as we possibly can.”

Later that week, Governor Crist stated his support for the workers in a letter where he makes the following points:

  • “I have no tolerance for slavery in any form, and I am committed to eliminating this injustice anywhere in Florida…”
  • “I support the Coalition’s Campaign for Fair Food, whereby corporate purchasers of tomatoes have agreed to contribute monies for the benefit of the tomato field workers. I commend these purchasers for their participation, and I encourage the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange and its members to participate in the campaign so that these monies can reach and provide assistance to the workers…”
  • “I look forward to working with you and your organization in the future to advance these important causes.”

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is a grassroots organization that has fought for the rights of tomato and orange pickers in Florida.  These workers are mostly Latino men who are at times trafficked into the country to pick the tomatoes for our fast food burgers and fajitas.

They have successfully put pressure on Taco Bell, McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, and Whole Foods to raise the wages of the tomato pickers that are contracted to work on their supplier’s fields.  They are now working on a letter writing campaign targeting Chipolte Mexican restaurants.  Please join in and help fight another form of trafficking by downloading this letter and sending it to your local Chipolte branch.

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I stumbled upon this article this morning, and I just wanted to share it.  This is another example of how trafficking can happen right underneath our noses.

According to boston.com, five women were arrested in a nation wide sex sting operation called Operation Cross Country. “Seventeen FBI agents and plainclothes officers were struggling to arrest two kicking and screaming young women” at the ritzy Boston Marriott Long Wharf on Friday evening. Apparently trafficking is not only found in divey looking motels along Rt. 1, but at high class hotels where weddings and proms are held.

According to the Globe, “the goal of the sweeps, being conducted in over 30 cities, is to target pimps, rescue juveniles, and gather intelligence, according to law enforcement officials.

The Boston sting led to the arrests of five women, ages 19 to 33, who allegedly showed up at the Marriott after agreeing to provide sex for up to $300 an hour to undercover officers. The officers had responded to advertisements posted on the Craigslist website, according to Boston police reports.”

Russell Kleber, a spokesman for the FBI’s Boston office, adding that the arrests were “aimed at combating sex trafficking of children.”

It is commendable that law enforcement officials were able to track down the prostitutes, but they have to determine if the prostitutes are victims of trafficking and are treated as victims and not criminals.  My impression from the article is that the women were arrested and will be treated as criminals which prevents future trafficking victims from stepping forward to be a witness against their masters.  Most of these women did not enter prostitution by choice so they should be treated as victims.

Finding traffickers is often the most difficult part of the operation, and we should not put up barriers for victims to go to law enforcement officials.

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Robin Chan

Concerned citizens write to a number of world leaders and representatives about specific human rights cases during the 2008 Writeathon at the First Parish Church in Harvard Square on Friday night. The writeathon was in conjunction with Human Rights Day which is on December 10. Photo: Robin Chan

I survived my first writeathon over this weekend.  My elbow was soar from doing it, but it was a good soar. I wanted to write a quick post to try to continue the energy and enthusiasm from Human Rights day by asking members of the Boston Firefly Project to help me out with my campaign against trafficking.

During my search for trafficking information, I stumbled upon Massachusetts Senate Bill No. 97.  It is a bill that was drafted to put anti-human trafficking legislation in the Massachusetts lawbooks.  From my understanding, the bill is currently before the Senate Ways and Means Committee and would expire if no action is taken by December 31, 2008.

The bill was put forth by Senator Mark Montigny in 2007.  I would like to request our readers to take fifteen minutes out of your day and write to your state representative and state senator and ask them what is the status of State Senate Bill No. 97 and to encourage them to act before the bill expires.  You may have to use the traditional letter writing approach as my state senator apparently does not accept e-mail. Remember, “all politics is local” as Tip O’Neill once said.  Change starts with you.  Thank you.

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