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New Kentucky Law Requires Human Trafficking Hotline in Schools

New Kentucky Law Requires Human Trafficking Hotline in Schools

 

The director of Kentucky’s Center for School Safety applauds legislative efforts to bring more attention to problems associated with human trafficking.   One provision pertains to schools across the Commonwealth.

House bill 524, signed into law last week by Governor Bevin, requires the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to administer a hotline number to be posted in schools. Center for School Safety Director Jon Akers says, students are increasingly breaking the so-called “code of silence.” “With kids talking about it a little bit more and more a friend might be someone who alert officials that their friend or their buddy is being groomed for something like this,” said Akers

For the full news story and audio, please visit weku.fm (image source: shutterstock.com)


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Thai and U.S. Networks Unite in Finding Missing and Exploited Children

Thai and U.S. Networks Unite in Finding Missing and Exploited Children

After signing an agreement in the United States on the Cyber Tipline Remote Access Policy, Thai authorities will now be able to access reports from the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

According to Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman, Busadee Santipitaks, Pol Col Gen Tamask, head of Thailand Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (TICAC), signed the agreement with NCMEC president and CEO, John Clark, at the NCMEC’s office in Virginia on Monday.

As TICAC and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) are setting up the systems to work together, the task force is recruiting and making preparations for officer training, said Pol Lt. Gen Tamask. He also told the Bangkok Post that the TICAC staff will grow from four to fifteen.

TICAC began in 2015, and has already worked with both the FBI and HSI. Previously,  HSI would send about thirty reports to TICAC a year, he said.

Take a look at the ICAC center in Thailand, which opened earlier this year through collaboration and funding from O.U.R. :

 

Those who witnessed for the report signing included the U.S. State Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the HSI, representatives from the Thai embassy in Washington D.C., Royal Thai Police Commissioner of Legal Affairs and Litigation Pol Lt Gen Jaruvat Vaisaya, and the acting deputy assistant director, HSI International Operations David Prince.

Thai ambassador to the U.S., Pisan Manawapat, claims that this agreement reveals the strong partnership between Thailand and the U.S. to end child exploitation and guarantee that criminals are brought to justice.

According to Busadee, this information has brought success to investigations of human trafficking.

For the original news post, visit bangkokpost.com

 

Even in the American Food Industry, Slavery Still Exists

Even in the American Food Industry, Slavery Still Exists

The following article features a new report by Polaris, an organization that fights human trafficking and helps survivors.

Drawn in by false promises of good employment and legal immigration, human trafficking victims are smuggled from different parts of the world into the United States as forced labor for restaurants, bars, food trucks, and everything in between. They are forced to live in terrible conditions, enslaved in debt.

In the same report, Polaris takes the human trafficking that occurs in the U.S. and breaks it down into 25 different business models. Not only does it occur in the food industry, but in salons, hotels, and so on.

“Because human trafficking is so diverse … you can’t fight it all at once and there are no single, silver bullet solutions. You have to … fight it type by type,” Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris, told reporters. “We see this report as a major breakthrough in the field.”

Aiming to identify human traffickers, their victims, and their methods; Polaris has examined 32,208 human trafficking reports as well as 10,085 forced labor reports from 2007 to 2016.

According to Janet Drake, a senior assistant attorney general in Colorado and former prosecutor of human trafficking cases, Only 16% of hotline calls involved labor trafficking. She says, “But now we realize through the work we’ve done that labor trafficking is probably at least as prevalent, if not more so, than sex trafficking. And that’s a real problem we’ve had as prosecutors – being able to identify and disrupt these labor trafficking networks.”

Out of the 25 categories, three were involved in the food industry. Specifically, the categories were restaurants, bars, and agriculture.

Those who were forced to work in agriculture were commonly drawn in with promises of getting paid at an hourly rate- only to be paid significantly less and be denied healthcare, safety in their work environments, and decent living as they suffered in miserable conditions.

In restaurants where human trafficking occurred, 1 in 5 were minors and performed nearly every task.

Some have even been forced into supplying both sex and servitude. Not only were they tricked with promises of good pay and safe immigration, but with intimate relationships. According to Jennifer Penrose, data analysis director for Polaris and co-author of the report, they are required to sell drinks as well as sex at bars or cantinas.

If these victims did not continue to comply, their traffickers threatened them with deportation. At times even threatening to hurt loved ones at home.

“Potentially, restaurant trafficking may be much higher than we’re learning about, but we’re just not getting enough of those hotline calls to be able to describe that,” Myles has noted.

See full article at npr.org

WHAT O.U.R. HAD TO SAY AT THE UNITED NATIONS

WHAT O.U.R. HAD TO SAY AT THE UNITED NATIONS

Last week O.U.R. was invited to attend and present at an event with the Holy See at the United Nations in New York, titled,

“Economically Empowering Trafficking Survivors to Stay Permanently Off the Streets.”

To view the video of the event, click here.

(Presentation by O.U.R. begins at the 33 minute mark.)

Jon Lines, EVP of Operations for O.U.R., spoke as a member of the panel.

Here are some excerpts from the presentation:

Along with our very own Jon Lines, presentations were also given by the following leaders:

Archbishop Auza

Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations

Peter DiMarzio

Victims Assistant Coordinator within the Human Trafficking and Cyber Crime Unit of Homeland Security

Nancy Rivard

President and Founder of Airline Ambassadors

We’d like to thank Archbishop Auza for inviting us to be part of the conversation. It is inspiring to come together in the same room with  other organizations to hear what we are all doing to save, protect, and empower victims of sex trafficking.

(Images courtesy of The Holy See)

Texas Wants to Help Truckers Identify Human Trafficking

Texas Wants to Help Truckers Identify Human Trafficking

WACO, Texas (KWTX) There are over 300,000 people currently being trafficked in Texas, according to the Truckers Against Trafficking. Now, state lawmakers are looking at a bill that could help fight human trafficking.

Texas Senate Bill 128 would require drivers applying for commercial driver’s licenses to complete a training program about how to recognize the signs of human trafficking throughout their routes and stops.

“Traffickers like to brand their victims as property, so if they have a man’s name or a street name tattooed on them in various places or a dollar sign or a money bag, those could be things to look for,” Natalie Garnett, the Assistant National Coordinator at local anti-trafficking organization Unbound, said.

Since the beginning of Truckers Against Trafficking, over 1,500 calls have been made, leading to the rescue of 1,000 victims.

Read the rest of this story at kwtx.com

SLAVERY DIDN’T END WITH LINCOLN

SLAVERY DIDN’T END WITH LINCOLN

ATTN: is a media-based company, bringing us daily content on topics that matter. Such as the need to end modern-day slavery.

They interviewed Tim Ballard on the similarities O.U.R. has to the original Underground Railroad beyond the name.

Watch the video HERE

“Human Trafficking is a $150 Billion industry worldwide.  That’s enough money to buy the entire Starbucks franchise, every team in the NBA, and still have enough to send every kid in the U.S. to college.” – ATTN:

Check out a list of today’s influential leaders who have joined us in the fight.

 The video also highlights clips from WGN America’s TV series “Underground” which follows a group of slaves who plan their escape from a Georgia plantation in the 1850s.

Season Two premieres tonight, March 8, at 10/9c!

Harriet Tubman, the notorious slave stealer, and her comrades made history in their day.

Isn’t it time we follow suit?


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Did you know that 40% of our operation costs are covered by our recurring Abolitionist donors? For just $5/mo you can help us rescue more children.

Undercover in Bangkok: ‘Walking Away Was the Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done’

Undercover in Bangkok: ‘Walking Away Was the Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done’

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by Jason Buttrill, Head Writer/Researcher with ‘The Glenn Beck Program’, about the human trafficking horrors he witnessed in Bangkok.

I recently traveled to Thailand with Glenn Beck to see firsthand the work Operation Underground Railroad is doing to combat human trafficking. More specifically, to see the children who are being bought and sold on a black market that can only be described as pure, unadulterated evil.

I’ve been to most of the corners of the world during my life. I’ve seen pretty much the worst the world has to offer — from my time as a military intelligence agent in Afghanistan and Pakistan, to my time as a researcher covering the atrocities ISIS has left behind in Iraq. None of it compares to what I saw one Sunday night in Thailand.

The following is an account of what happened, as best I can remember it. But I have to warn you — this isn’t for the faint of heart. You’re going to be disgusted and angry. God knows I was — and still am. But there is good news: Heroes are out there on the front lines.

Sunday 8:00 PM • A Remote Village in Thailand

I link up with one of agents from Operation Underground Railroad (OUR) — let’s just call him Bob — and make the long drive out to a remote village. Bob is an impressive dude. At around six feet and 220 pounds of muscle, I pity the fool who tangles with him.

But Bob is more than just a tough guy. Bob is a highly competent professional and a true believer in the cause. He cares for children with conviction, and that’s a trait common with every operator in OUR. They’re willing to trade their lives, if needed, to save a child from slavery and bondage. That is exactly Bob’s demeanor as we pull into the “rally point.”

The Rally Point and Plan

The rally point is a safe location just outside the village where we gather information and gear, as well as get briefed on what we were about to do. The target is a small strip of road within the village rumored to be trafficked with children in multiple brothels. I listen as Bob bluntly lays out the scenario. This is not a safe environment. There are some very bad dudes taking advantage of some very innocent kids. Westerners don’t frequent this part of Thailand, so we’ll stick out. Our height alone will make us suspect.

Our cover is as two lost tourists looking for a good time. If we manage to talk our way into one of the brothels and confirm that underage kids are inside, we can take evidence to the Thai police. The problem is locals turn away anyone not from the village — Thai and foreign alike. If you don’t live there, it’s a no go. Bob explains how we’ll first do a drive by of the entire street. If he estimates the danger as manageable, we’ll park and approach the brothels.

Go Time

It’s roughly 8:30 p.m. and the single lane streets in the village are pitch black. Tiny lights from within shanty houses provide the only illumination. Bob turns down the target street and lowers both our sun visors so they provide some cover for our faces. Pretty soon, the brothels come into view, as well as the prostitutes hanging out on porches and in doorways. There are at least eight or so visible brothels, but probably more hidden away. Halfway down the street is an outdoor market and bar where a group of men drink heavily, blitzed out of their minds. We mentally make note of their numbers, estimating about 10 to 15 men, a potential problem, but one we ultimately decide is manageable. Bob gives the okay and parks down the street.

We begin our walk down towards the string of brothels and immediately get into character, beginning to joke around and act like typical, naive tourists out for a good time. We’re smiling and laughing, but simultaneously calculating everything we see.

Two Curious White Guys

At the first brothel, we approach four prostitutes hanging out on the front porch — all barely look 18. It’s difficult to gauge how old they are, but the goal is to charm our way inside and get eyes on what’s inside. Intel collected by OUR describes children of extremely low age on display in the back. These kids are typically kidnapped and sold into slavery. As Bob begins talking to the girls, I’m now less worried about our safety and more concerned about our success. It hits me like a Mack truck that kids’ lives are at stake here, and we can’t screw this up.

The girls are very friendly. We try to converse with them, but the language barrier is holding us back. It becomes pretty clear they’re speaking with us — two white guys — out of curiosity rather than seeing us as potential clients. An older woman inside whispers something to girl number four and she relays that to girls one through three. All conversation stops. They bury their eyes into their phones and refuse to look up. Failure number one.

Heading down the road, Bob surveys the surroundings. Pretty soon we hear a commotion coming from the drinking men. White people don’t come out here, so this must be an odd change in their nightly routine. Some look hostile, but the majority seems more amused than anything else. We keep tabs on them as best we can, and they for sure keep an eye on us.

FaceTiming Madam

Approaching the next brothel, we hope for better results. Bob’s like a machine, perfectly in character while I try to keep up. Like the last brothel, there are about four girls sitting on the porch. I can see through the front door a bit, and there’s a blue light illuminating the interior with hardly any furniture inside. Again, there’s an older woman inside sitting at a small table. She looks to be conducting business on a cell phone and doesn’t seem to notice us at first. These girls are also very friendly and giggling nonstop, making fun of us more than anything else and having fun at our expense. The older woman inside hears the commotion and walks out.

She’s FaceTiming with someone on her phone and holds the camera up to show the person on the other line our faces. While Bob is trying to communicate and gather information, I glance over at the group of men getting trashed and notice they’re watching us intently. This isn’t looking good.

Eventually the girls decide they’ve had enough “fun” and the older woman gives a similar whisper to one of the girls, everything stops. One of the girls gives me a cold stare and then buries her face in her phone. Failure number two.

Bob and I agree the safety situation is getting worse, and we’ve clearly outstayed our welcome. The playful banter has ceased. The drunken men on the street are eyeing us and yelling, and someone has seen us on the older woman’s phone. Time to leave.

I feel extremely deflated, knowing kids are inside living a nightmare, powerless to stop it. Bob on the other hand is business as usual. This is how surveillance and investigations are done, day in and day out. It’s not always sexy. You’re not always kicking in doors and rescuing innocents every day. It takes time and OUR is on the job 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I have no doubt their operatives will bring down that street of horror.

9:30 PM • Somewhere Two Hours From Bangkok

Bob drives while I struggle to stay awake. It’s been a brutal two days work, with just a handful of sleep. I get a text from Tim Ballard, head of OUR, who informs me that two of his deep undercover operatives are working on several big leads. He invites me to tag along. Soon after, I get another text with an address. Two hours later, I say goodbye to Bob and book it on foot through the streets of Bangkok. I head into the seedy underground of Bangkok and the freaks are out to play. Most of the people in this area are prostitutes and Western men looking to pick them up. It’s disgusting.

James Bond

Now 11:45 p.m. or so, I think I’ve arrived at the location to link up with OUR’s undercover operatives. Let’s call them Agent James and Agent Bond — and let me tell you, their namesake would be very proud. These guys are legit. I’ve worked with human intelligence teams in the Middle East, and these two guys could easily lead any of them.

James greets me and gives a quick briefing on the night. Fifty meters up the street is a group of African prostitutes who promise to deliver a 15-year-old within a minute. I get into my assigned character, playing a role that perfectly fits the story they’re running. Thinking I would only be observing from a distance and getting camera footage, this was a bit of a surprise to me, but I was excited for the opportunity to help. I was also looking to have some success after the earlier “failures” with Bob.

I follow James to the group of prostitutes, immediately surprised that many of them speak English, making negotiating much easier than before. James transforms right in front of my eyes, becoming a jerky American looking for underage girls. As promised, the leader of the group motions a little girl over to us. She is also of African descent. The innocence in her face shows she’s not like the others. She wears skimpy clothing and a ton of makeup — just like the others — but keeps her head lowered the entire time, cowering. She stares at her high heels, clearly inexperienced, and hobbles off balance as she walks. Not once did she look the other prostitutes, or us, in the eye.

James keeps the story running, gathering all the information he can and leaving with everything needed to continue the investigation and move on to the next phase. I’m blown away by his skill.

We turn and walk back about 50 meters to our original meeting point. I think we’re done, but he immediately begins briefing me on the next operation. His partner Bond is working another group around the corner, down a seedy back alley. They had worked a source earlier in the day and arranged for the trafficker to bring proof that he had underage kids for sale. He agreed, claiming to have a 12-year-old and a couple of 14-year-olds.

Under the Influence

The plan is the same. I am to play my role, but this time James tells me to sit next to the 12-year-old girl and talk to her while he gets intel from the trafficker. My first thought is, Oh, hell no. There is no way I can pretend to be one of these monsters preying on little kids. It must be the feeling any undercover investigator or operator goes through initially. I had never experienced it before. All of my experience has been in the military, catching enemy combatants and terrorists. This is completely different.

As we walk closer I begin to see the little girl and immediately get a sick feeling in my stomach. She is clearly on some drug, resting her head on a table. James taps her shoulder to wake up, sliding a chair next to her and motioning me to sit down. I want to throw up. She speaks a few words of English, similar to how I speak Spanish: yes, no, hello, thank you. I try to stay in character while, at the same time, say things that might make her feel better. From my right ear, I can hear James negotiating with the trafficker, who explains he has many more kids as young or younger than the 12-year-old sitting next to me. Apparently he could have brought more — but they have school. I almost lose it right then and there. Win the Battle and Lose the War? Plans of action shoot through my mind. This guy was tiny, as were his bodyguards. I could snap their necks in a heartbeat, and we could rescue this girl and she’d be safe. My adrenaline is pumping . . . fists are clenched . . . leg muscles are ready to shoot out of the chair.

My attention is diverted as Bond starts hooting and hollering across the table with two more girls this trafficker has brought in. My nerve is breaking, but his is strong. Did he notice me folding? I never ask him, but I’m glad he got vocal at that moment. It makes me realize there are two more kids here. Not only that, but MANY more back at a secret location James is learning about. I feel helpless, so I continue small talk with this poor girl.

James finishes and motions for Bond to get up. We begin to walk away and the trafficker grabs me by the arm: I got you covered. Many, many more kids. I take one last look at that girl, turn around and walk away.

Walking away was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’m not speaking in hyperbole. Walking away changed something inside me that I don’t think I’ll ever get back. It’s gone for good.

Baby Steps

James and Bond explain how this was a crucial meeting, an opening salvo in a long process of gathering information and intelligence to build a case. They held their nerve, as I almost didn’t, and the lives of countless children are at stake. James received a treasure trove of information, one more crucial battle in this long fought war.

The night goes on as I follow James and Bond through the darkest, seediest alleys in Bangkok. I watch and listen as they approach potential traffickers. They are clinical. The way they get information from people seems almost effortless, they’re that good. They get at least one more lead from a madam that brought a 14-year old-girl to show to us. She is dressed like a veteran prostitute while simultaneously clutching a teddy bear.

Our night ends around 2:30 a.m. James and Bond hop in a cab, but I decide to walk back to my hotel. I need time to process.

I thought I had seen and known evil throughout my many travels. Turns out, I knew nothing. This was evil in its purest form. This was the worst humanity has to offer. As I write, I’m still struggling to get the image of that little girl out of my head. She remains in a remote, secret location among many more child slaves. But I know something her captors don’t: OUR and their Thai partners are on their trail. The goal? The liberation of every single child involved in this depravity and the evil men responsible to be thrown in jail. I’m counting the seconds.

 

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Did you know that 40% of our operation costs are covered by our recurring Abolitionist donors? For just $5/mo you can help us rescue more children.

 

Glenn Beck talks about his trip to Thailand with O.U.R.

Glenn Beck talks about his trip to Thailand with O.U.R.

 

This morning, Glenn Beck recaps his experience seeing the realities of child sex trafficking in Thailand where he traveled this past weekend with O.U.R.

“As I left [for Thailand], I saw a lot of people on Facebook and Twitter saying… ‘Why is Glenn going to Thailand and why are you raising money for this when there are so many problems at home?’  Let me explain why.”

Glenn saw American men who abuse children there in Thailand, “and here is why it matters [here]. They come back here, and they are worse than they were.” He compares them to an alcoholic’s mentality; as one “drinking vacation” abroad would not satisfy their addiction, then why would they stop when they return to the states?

Beck goes on to describe the condition of one of O.U.R.’s partnering aftercare facilities, and he donated enough money to keep the orphanage open and hire two full-time doctors for the 56 children the orphanage cares for.

We are grateful for Glenn Beck’s grand gesture and all he does to spread awareness to save these children.

Listen to the show segment here:

 

 

 

What can YOU Do?

our_logo

DONATE TODAY

Share this article. Become an Abolitionist.

Did you know that 40% of our operation costs are covered by our recurring Abolitionist donors? For just $5/mo you can help us rescue more children.

Ashton Kutcher tears up as he urges Senate to fight sex slavery

Ashton Kutcher tears up as he urges Senate to fight sex slavery

Ashton Kutcher gave a moving speech to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about ending sex slavery on Wednesday.

“This is about the time, when I talk about politics, that the Internet trolls tell me to stick to my day job,” the actor said. “I’d like to talk about my day job. My day job is the chairman and the co-founder of Thorn. We built software to fight human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children. My other day job is that of the father of two, a 2-month old and 2-year-old.”

Kutcher, 39, shares daughter Wyatt and son Dimitri with wife Mila Kunis.

He then described joining the FBI in raids in India, Russia, Mexico and stateside in New Jersey and New York.

“I’ve seen things that no person should ever see,” he said, tearing up. “I’ve seen video content of a child that is the same age as mine being raped by an American man that was a sex tourist in Cambodia. This child was so conditioned by her environment that she thought she was engaging in play.”

               Ashton Kutcher chokes up.

He continued, “I’ve been on the other end of a phone call from my team asking for my help because we had received a call from the Department of Homeland Security, telling us that a 7-year-old girl was being sexually abused and that content was being spread on the Dark Web … They’d watched her for three years and they could not find the perpetrator, [and were] asking us for help. We were the last line of defense. An actor and his foundation were the last line of defense.”

“I had to say no and it devastated me, it haunted me,” Kutcher said, choking up again. “For the next three months I had to go to sleep every night and think about that little girl that was being abused and the fact that if I built the right thing, we could have saved her. Now, if I got that phone call, the answer would be yes.”

He then recalled the story of “Amy,” a 15-year-old girl from Oakland, Calif., who was forced into trafficking within hours of meeting a man in person she’d first talked to online. “This isn’t an isolated incident. There’s not much that’s unusual about it,” Kutcher said. “The only unusual thing is that ‘Amy’ was found and returned to her family within three days using a tool we created … called Spotlight.”

Kutcher said the tool aids police in cutting investigation time by 60 percent, adding, “That’s my day job and I’m sticking to it.”

It wasn’t all heavy: Kutcher and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had a lighthearted moment after his speech. “You were better looking in the movies,” McCain said.

Kutcher, blowing McCain, 80, a kiss, replied, “My wife says that, too.

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A Thank You from O.U.R. Aftercare

A Thank You from O.U.R. Aftercare

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Loving is easier than it seems. With a little bit of intentionality and partnership YOU can impact the lives of others!

If I were to ask you, “Can you tell me about a memory you have where you felt so much love from another person? Now, can you tell me about a time when you gave love to another?” As we give and receive love we are all encouraged!

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O.U.R. is so grateful for the many volunteers that came out in the middle of a snowstorm for our volunteer event in January to prepare gifts for some of the beautiful survivors here in Salt Lake City! There are many other things that you can do on a snowy Saturday.

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Thanks to doTERRA, many different churches and the nearly 300 incredible volunteers, we were able to hand out 93 bags of hope, blankets and Valentine’s Day cards this past weekend to the incredible women in our own city that have been through so much. Many of the women came up to us with tears in their eyes said, “This has truly been a magical night. Thank you for making us feel valuable and beautiful!” We encourage you today to speak love to your family, a window, a orphan, or a stranger.

You have the gift of change in this world!

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Love Always!

Jessica Mass
O.U.R. Aftercare