Article from Reuters
Sex ads website Backpage shut down by U.S. authorities
U.S. law enforcement agencies have seized the sex marketplace website Backpage.com as part of an enforcement action by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to a posting on the Backpage website on Friday. Groups and political leaders working to end forced prostitution and child exploitation celebrated the shutdown of Backpage, a massive ad marketplace that is primarily used to sell sex. But some internet and free speech advocates warned the action could lead to harsh federal limits on expression and the press. The website posting said U.S. attorneys in Arizona and California, as well as the Justice Department’s section on child exploitation and obscenity and the California and Texas attorneys general had helped shut down the website.
Article from TIME
Feds Seize Backpage.com and Affiliated Websites in Crackdown
Federal law enforcement authorities are in the process of seizing online classified site Backpage.com and its affiliated websites known for listing adult escort services. A notice that appeared Friday afternoon at Backpage.com says the websites are being seized as part of an enforcement action by the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Internal Revenue Service. The notice doesn’t characterize or provide any details on the nature of the enforcement action. It said authorities planned to release information about the enforcement action later Friday.
Article from IndyStar
Who buys a child for sex? Otherwise ordinary men
IndyStar columnist Tim Swarens spent a year investigating the commercial sex trade of children, a lucrative business where more than 1 million kids a year are abused. Tim Swarens asked the men in a court-ordered group for sex buyers if they ever think about the lives of the women and girls they purchased. The question hung in the air. Then one man answered, “I don’t want to know how the sausage is made.” - Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar This is the first of 10 columns in the EXPLOITED series.
Press Release January 23, 2018
Marin on High Alert for Human Trafficking: Board declares ‘awareness month’; DA’s Office works with local coalition
San Rafael, CA – When it comes to the local efforts to stop human trafficking in Marin County, one of the first tasks is to convince everyone that it exists.
During the month of January, which the Marin County Board of Supervisors declared as Human Trafficking Awareness Month at its January 23 meeting, staff from the Marin County District Attorney’s Office and members of the Marin County Coalition to End Human Trafficking are conveying stories that confirm human trafficking is taking place within the county borders. The DA’s Office also is involved in a related fundraising event on March 2 in San Rafael.
California has twice as many human trafficking cases than any other U.S. state. The FBI has identified that three of the top five hot spots for human trafficking in the U.S. are Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. Marin plays an integral role in the Bay Area hub of human trafficking.
In 2017, the DA’s office charged Jeffery Jenkins with trafficking a minor for purposes of prostitution. The case arose when the San Rafael Police Department received information that a runaway juvenile was possibly the victim of human trafficking and was believed to be staying in San Rafael. The San Rafael Street Crimes Unit contacted and recovered the juvenile victim at a local hotel.
Further investigation led to the arrest and conviction of Jenkins, 26, who pled guilty on November 30, 2017, to a felony pimping violation and possession of methamphetamine for sale. Jenkins was sentenced to an aggravated prison term of nine years and four months because of his prior criminal history.
Last year the Marin County Coalition to End Human Trafficking hosted community forums on human trafficking at local libraries and coalition members visited local businesses to distribute posters with hotline information to help encourage individuals to report possible instances of human trafficking. This month the DA’s Office is accelerating public outreach about human trafficking and working closely with the coalition on public education, again distributing posters to businesses that are legally obligated to post human trafficking prevention material.
The coalition has scheduled a March 2 event at Marin Covenant Church auditorium to provide a forum for local human trafficking abolitionists and law enforcement experts. The event will include a screening of the documentary film, “I Am Jane Doe,” which is narrated by Oscar-nominated actress Jessica Chastain. The film chronicles the epic battle that several American mothers are waging on behalf of their underage daughters who were bought and sold for sexual purposes. The documentary, made to debunk the myth that this crime only happens in developing countries, raises funds to help victims of human trafficking.
General admission tickets for the March 2nd event are $25, but only $10 for students. VIP tickets are $100 and include reserved seating and a pre-event gathering. Donations are being accepted on EndHumanTraffickingInMarin.eventbrite.com. The fundraiser begins at 6:30 p.m. Marin Covenant Church is at 195 North Redwood Drive, San Rafael.
From Marin Independent Journal: Sex crimes alliance targets hotels
More than 20 people are set to visit Marin’s 40 hotels armed with information on how to report suspected human trafficking.
Members of Marin County Coalition to End Human Trafficking will stop at hotels, motels and inns on Jan. 30 and 31 with informational posters that must be prominently displayed under Assembly Bill 260, which went into effect Jan. 1. Coalition members, armed with posters promoting resources for trafficking victims, visited bars, liquor stores and other venues last year. They distributed posters at 48 sites in response to a state law passed in 2013 that required the information be posted at select businesses and locations. But the law failed to mandate hotels.
Press Release January 11, 2018
It’s January, and Even President Trump Agrees:
It’s time to Eradicate the Evil of Enslavement!
This month, President Trump reaffirmed President Obama’s anti-human trafficking declaration and proclaimed that we should “recommit ourselves to eradicating the evil of enslavement.” This continues the tradition President Obama began in 2010 when he declared January to be National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
The Marin County Coalition to End Human Trafficking is already committed to doing all it can, as the current proclamation urges, “to end the horrific practice of human trafficking that plagues innocent victims around the world.” In fact, the Coalition was formed with the mission of doing just that on a local level. Marin is part of the Bay Area, one of the largest hubs in the US for human trafficking, sometimes known as modern-day slavery.
A year ago, Coalition volunteers fanned out across the county bringing information and posters to businesses required by law to display them. These posters are designed to raise awareness about human trafficking and connect victims to the national hotline to get help in escaping their traffickers. They also alert customers and staff about this hidden crime and how to report suspicious behavior. Research has shown that displaying these posters significantly increases reports to police departments.
The state of California recently added inns to the list of businesses that are mandated to display these posters, so this year’s outreach efforts will focus on Marin’s hotels and motels. Managers will also be offered on-site training for staff. The Coalition, including its law enforcement members, see this as an especially important sector for reducing the incidence of both labor and sex trafficking.
Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar business that ruins lives and brings crime into even the nicest places—Marin, for example! To even make a dent, we need educated eyes on the look out. We need informed young people who have learned how to avoid entrapment. We need enlightened adults who understand that buying sex or even under-paid labor often has tragic consequences. We need YOU! Please do what you can to prevent human trafficking this month—and every month!
In the news: School Soccer Coach in Sacramento Charged With Trafficking Teenage Girls
From The New York Times: The call came in shortly before 3 a.m. on Christmas Day: A frightened 17-year-old girl, hiding in the backyard of a suburban California home, told the operator that she had been trafficked into prostitution by a man waiting for her in a nearby car.
San Rafael child-sex sting snags 5 suspects
A team of investigators in Marin arrested five men in a sting targeting child prostitution. The sting was held last weekend as part of Operation Cross Country, an annual nationwide crackdown on juvenile sex trafficking. The San Rafael Police Department, the Novato Police Department and the Marin County Sheriff’s Office participated in the local operation.
Marin Panel Sounds Warning on Sexual Predation
Marin District Attorney Ed Berberian delivered a stark message on human trafficking Wednesday during a panel discussion on the topic sponsored by the Marin County Bar Association. “We’re not immune from it in Marin; it’s here,” Berberian said. “In Marin since 2014, we’ve had 17 individuals who have been charged with human trafficking violations.”
Lawsuit: Forced to have sex with 1,000 men, girl now suing the motel that she says let it happen
Lawyers in Pennsylvania say their client was sexually exploited at a motel for years, alleging the teen girl was a victim of human trafficking who was forced to have sex with more than 1,000 men. The teen’s lawyers are using Pennsylvania’s human trafficking law to sue the motel where they say their client was sexually exploited, marking the first civil suit under the law since it was enacted in 2014. The girl, now 17, wants the hotel to pay for what happened to her.
Back Page Sex Ads Are Gone
OAKLAND, Calif. — Since she was 14, Tiffany says, she has been sold for sex, offered via hundreds of advertisements on Backpage.com, a website that grew rich on classified ads for services like escorts, body rubs and exotic dancers. Far from being a marketplace for consensual exchanges, Backpage, the authorities said, often used teasers like “Amber Alert” and “Lolita” to signal that children were for sale.
Ashton Kutcher Speaks to Senate Hearing About Sex Trafficking
Ashton Kutcher delivered a powerful monologue for his latest role Wednesday: Witness at a Senate hearing titled entitled, "Ending Modern Slavery: Building on Success."
Flight Attendant Save Passenger from Human Trafficking
An organization training flight attendants to spot human trafficking victims is already making its mark.Former flight attendant Nancy Rivard founded Airline Ambassadors International, an organization focused on providing humanitarian services by leveraging connections with airlines. One of their main focuses is training airline workers to spot victims of human trafficking.
Kamala Harris, California Senator
NOT FOR SALE: Combating Human Trafficking in the Bay Area and Marin County - SB 1193 Poster Project
Last year, the Marin County Coalition to End Human Trafficking was formed to raise awareness and develop a regional and collaborative approach to ending all forms of human trafficking in this area. The Coalition has plans to get the word out in a number of ways. Its main focus will be getting informational posters into local businesses, like bars and transportation centers, where victims of trafficking may find themselves. The Coalition is also partnering with Marin Libraries to train staff members on how to recognize possible victims and to provide educational workshops for the public in libraries around the county. Click the button below to learn more and for workshop dates and locations.
See article in the Marin Independent Journal, February 20, 2017:
Poster Law: Hidden Problem - Human trafficking campaign to get underway in Marin
Human Trafficking Sweep in San Diego County
More than 400 people were arrested in a three-day statewide sweep aimed at stopping the sexual exploitation of young women and girls, law enforcement authorities in San Diego and other jurisdictions announced Tuesday.
2017 Presidential Proclamation:
National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month
Our Nation wrestled with the issue of slavery in a way that nearly tore us apart - its fundamental notion in direct contradiction with our founding premise that we are all created equal. The courageous individuals who rejected such cruelty helped us overcome one of the most painful chapters in our history as we worked to realize the promise of equality and justice for all. But today, in too many places around the world - including right here in the United States - the injustice of modern slavery and human trafficking still tears at our social fabric. During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we resolve to shine a light on every dark corner where human trafficking still threatens the basic rights and freedoms of others. Click the button below to read entire proclamation.