All Posts in Human Trafficking Articles
By Marji Iacovetti
ZOE was privileged to support a Human Trafficking Symposium at Camp Scott on January 29th. The theme of this beautiful event was Reclaiming My Journey. The symposium equipped youth at the juvenile detention camp with knowledge about tactics traffickers use to lure and exploit young people.
Trafficking survivor, Tika Thorton, spoke with youth about her experiences. Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean attended the event along with other community leaders. Zonta Club of Santa Clarita provided special food. Angelica Gomez from Journey Out and Dr. Jason Plunkett, ZOE’s Western USA Regional Director, led a training for parents of youth in the camp.
Though human trafficking is a weighty topic, the day was uplifting. Young people were honored at the symposium and the event helped empower them to stay safe. It was a truly inspiring day.
By Ester Yu
In 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that requires human trafficking awareness training in industries where workers are likely to encounter human trafficking victims, including hotel and motel workers. By January 1, 2020, employers must provide at least 20 minutes of training to employees in these industries.
In a national study of more than 1,400 cases of sex traffickers of minors between 2010 and 2015, the most common venue where children were trafficked were from hotel rooms (56.6%).
Hilton Hotel in Universal City invited ZOE Los Angeles to provide human trafficking awareness training to more than 120 of their employees, from housekeepers to the General Manager, sharing about how to identify signs of human trafficking in a hotel setting. We were excited to be able to provide one session in Spanish.
Our team was so encouraged by the Training Manager who worked hard to coordinate this training after she first heard about human trafficking over a year ago. Participants were engaged, asked great questions, and shared what they learned in the training.
Our message to the employees was that this is happening in our communities and that each of us can do our part to look out for one another's children, sisters, and friends.
To help ZOE continue to provide these free trainings to your communities, visit gozoe.org/donate.
The Home Front and the Fight Against Human Trafficking – Part 2: Community Awareness and Action
By Jessicah Ray, PA-C
From Individuals To Communities
In August of 2018, ZOE shared practical tips for individuals to fight human trafficking on the home front by keeping eyes open to the signs of domestic violence, and by speaking up (http://gozoe.org/2018/08/24/the-link-between-domestic-violence-human-trafficking/)when the signs are there. In this addition to the series, we will broaden from the individual to the community - to learn how we can unify individual efforts to generate the greatest impact.
Opening Eyes & Speaking Up = Awareness & Action
Community Is The Key
Entire communities are affected by human trafficking, so it is imperative that the community as a whole is prepared to recognize and react as a united force. This year’s Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) (https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/282798.pdf) emphasized the importance of communities as the key experts to incorporate local context, unique trends, and population-specific needs into their public anti-human trafficking programs (Department of State, 2018). Often, these contextual details are too remote for global initiatives but are nonetheless more effective in addressing human trafficking (Johnstone, 2018). For example, it is globally known that the combination of human vulnerability, high profits, and low risk is the greatest catalyst to fuel human trafficking (UNICEF, 2017), but what does that look like in our communities? Is human trafficking concealed in our nail salons, hotels, or massage parlors? Is it hidden in plain sight by the 13-year-old getting into the car of her older boyfriend on a school day? Is it more obvious when the same child walks around the dark parking lot of a motel? Empowered communities are aware of what trafficking looks like in their area, and can act by activating trained response protocols that utilize local resources and partnerships.
Community Must Target The 3 P's
So how does a community develop an awareness and action plan? Several resources exist to train communities in anti-human trafficking public programs. Successful multilevel anti-trafficking initiatives have confirmed that the critical factors for an effective response must include addressing "the three P's" of protection of victims, prosecution of human traffickers, and prevention of human trafficking globally (Department of State, 2018). Community leaders can focus public development projects on awareness and action on these three P's, especially among the priority groups that are most likely to come in contact with human trafficking victims such as first responders, local authorities, and community resource providers. Trained priority groups must establish strong partnerships with each other to strengthen the community response through shared knowledge and resources. ZOE is privileged to partner alongside these priority groups domestically and internationally to address the three P's.
The TIP report serves as a guide for communities to build awareness trainings and action protocols with several step-by-step tools including how to:
- Build multi-stakeholder partnerships
- Conduct community-focused needs and resource assessments
- Conduct community-wide training and awareness programs
- Develop Response Protocols
Strengthen Community Initiatives Through Research
Numerous anti-trafficking programs have been launched from local to international levels, but we are still learning which strategies are most effective. Evidence-based research is vital to enhance both the awareness and action targets of the three P’s. Through research we can determine the most effective prevention strategies, the risk and protective factors of victimization and survival, the effectiveness of current health care screenings and response protocols, and ultimately the best way to implement human trafficking prevention and intervention programs (Rothman et al., 2017). Community involvement in this dynamic research is critical because of the diverse resource needs of survivors of human trafficking.
National governments and international organizations should welcome communities as valuable allies in the global mission to end human trafficking. At ZOE, we believe communities have the power to serve as an essential advocate and foothold against human trafficking. We are so thankful to all of ZOE's community partners including law enforcement, government agencies, churches, schools, organizations, and families who stand with us in the fight to end child trafficking.
Department of State. (2018, June). 2018 Trafficking In Persons /report.https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/282798.pdf
Johnstone, K. (2018, June 28). The power of local communities in the fight against human trafficking. DIPNOTE. Retrieved from https://blogs.state.gov/stories/2018/06/28/en/power-local-communities-fight-against-human-trafficking
Rothman, E. F. 1. erothman@bu. ed., Stoklosa, H., Baldwin, S. B., Chisolm-Straker, M., Price, R. K., & Atkinson, H. G. (2017). Public Health Research Priorities to Address US Human Trafficking. American Journal of Public Health, 107(7), 1045–1047. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2017.303858.
UNICEF. (2017, January 13). What fuels human trafficking? Retrieved from https://www.unicefusa.org/stories/what-fuels-human-trafficking/31692
By Jessicah Ray, PA-C
Why is a diagnosis of human trafficking important?
Human trafficking is internationally recognized as a public health problem with over 40.3 million victims identified, and with one-quarter of those being children. (Dovydaitis, 2010, Fink-Samnick, 2018).
In response to this global epidemic, hospitals and clinics are joining the mission to end human trafficking as the intercessors and advocates of the most vulnerable by improving diagnostic skills (Andrews, 2018). Because 86% of human trafficking victims are in contact with health care providers during the time of exploitation, multiple health initiatives are being launched to train providers how to identify human trafficking patients, safely report the abuse, and who to contact for intervention resources. (Dovydaitis, 2010). Health care providers have the critical opportunity to intervene by identifying the cause of the abuse with the correct diagnosis, treating the acute medical conditions, and developing a treatment plan with a specialty team. (Dovydaitis, 2010).
An unexpected tool of medical coding (ICD-10 codes) is now aiding the effort to combat these crimes against humanity. To better identify human trafficking victims, specific ICD-10 T codes have been produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and released in October of 2018 (American Hospital Association, 2018; Fink-Samnick, 2018) to enhance the accurate identification and diagnosis of human trafficking, and to distinguish from other diagnoses such as domestic violence, prostitution, or child abuse.
Why is the correct medical code (ICD-10) important?
1) Special care: Human trafficking victims are at increased risk of chronic injuries, complex psychological health problems, and social/legal considerations that warrant long-term multidisciplinary care and comprehensive resources. With the proper diagnosis, those care options are more readily available through established response protocols and automated referral systems.
2) Informing Policy: Human trafficking statistics are notoriously underestimated due to underreporting, misdiagnosis, and the victim’s inaccessibility to health care. Medical codes are used to quantify and validate the needs of patients to better inform health policy where and how funds should be allocated. Data from these codes drives the financing for the needed prevention, rescue, and restoration resources.
Where should you go?
The American Hospital Association (2018) provides a complete list and guide for the new ICD-10 T codes:
What else can I do?
Multiple resources are available for multidisciplinary professionals to learn about human trafficking and improve identification, treatment, and response protocols in their hospitals and clinics. Consider joining an anti-trafficking organization or committee such as with Health, Education, Advocacy, and Linkage (HEAL) Trafficking: https://healtrafficking.org/.
American Hospital Association. (2018). ICD-10-CM coding for human trafficking. Retrieved from https://www.aha.org/icd-10-cm-coding-human-trafficking-resource
Andrews, M. (2018, July 24). Hospitals gear up for new diagnosis: Human trafficking.National Public Radio. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/07/24/631517533/hospitals-gear-up-for-new-diagnosis-human-trafficking
Dovydaitis, T. (2010). Human trafficking: The role of the health care provider. Journal of midwifery & women's health, 55(5), 462-7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmwh.2009.12.017
Fink-Samnick, E. (2018, September 24). Human trafficking: New ICD-10 codes empower efforts to identify and aid victims. ICD10monitor. Retrieved from https://www.icd10monitor.com/human-trafficking-new-icd-10-codes-empower-efforts-to-identify-and-aid-victims
Heal Trafficking. (2018). Homepage. Retrieved from https://healtrafficking.org/
by Abigail Carcich
Fortnite, a wildly popular online video game about survival, was first released in early 2017 by Epic Games. Its second mode, Fortnite Battle Royale, released only a couple of months later, surged in popularity nearly overnight to over 10 million users. Currently, the free-to-play game has an estimated player base of over 100 million.
Players can play solo, or in a groups with friends. The game drops you into an environment where you and your team fight others (up to 100 people total) to be the last man standing, Hunger Games style.
Parents report enjoying the game for the camaraderie it gives them with their children. Kids report loving the game for the epic tales of adventure, survival, and demise.
However, predators are also using Fortnite to gain access to potential victims of sexual crimes.
Many video games include a chat function, in which you can chat with other members of your team, or with other players in your same game. Some video games have built-in functions for live streaming of your game, allowing the general public to view your game on the internet as you play it, and comment or send you private messages.
Predators will chat with their potential victims, and look for vulnerable young people with whom to connect. After a series of messages, predators may request sexual/nude photographs, or send graphic images of their own. They also may request to meet their victims in person, with the intent of engaging in a sexual encounter.
Fortnite is one of the most popular online platforms currently, but it is by no means the only one that contains opportunities for predators. Recently, a sting operation in New Jersey resulted in the arrest of 24 men, all of whom used various online platforms to connect with their victims. These other platforms included chatting app Kik and social media apps Scout and Whisper.
Parents should be aware of which games and apps their children interact with, and should frequently discuss with their children the dangers of talking with strangers online. Good internet practices and rules should be established, such as do not share personal information with someone you meet online, never send personal images, and never agree to meet someone that you do not already know.
Parents should also familiarize themselves with the different apps and games that their children interact with, as well as their security settings, and should ask their children questions about their online or gaming friends, investigating any odd or secretive behavior.
Fortnite -- and video games in general -- is likely to continue being popular with young and old alike. Staying connected to your child and educating them is the best way to guard against online predators.
For more tips about internet safety, view ZOE's Parent Guide to Internet Safety http://gozoe.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/A-parent-guide-to-internet-safety.pdf).
by Ester Yu
In July, an undercover human trafficking operation in Compton recovered 2 girls from commercial sexual exploitation and arrested 36 adults. The 2 girls were 16 and 17 years old and identified as victims of sexual exploitation. One woman who was arrested is actually from Santa Clarita and was trying to recruit an undercover officer to work in commercial sexual exploitation. Read more here: https://ktla.com/2018/07/20/36-arrested-2-girls-rescued-in-human-trafficking-bust-in-compton-lasd
Compton is part of a larger Service Planning Area (SPA) identified by Los Angeles County as having the highest number of referrals for suspected cases of CSEC. (Source: http://file.lacounty.gov/SDSInter/bos/supdocs/121549.pdf) ZOE values our partnerships with community groups, organizations, and churches all over Los Angeles County, especially in the Compton area. By expanding our network, we are able to broaden resources for the youth we serve while also supporting our community partners who serve the most vulnerable children.
For the past several months, ZOE has assisted Los Angeles County's Department of Children and Family Services and Department of Probations in their pilot Parent Empowerment Program by supporting a Compton church partner to provide a nurturing, safe meeting space, child care, and food for the County to teach and lead a support group for parents of children who are survivors of human trafficking.
Recently, ZOE attended the Compton Human Trafficking Task Force meeting with guest Dr. Brenda Ingram who taught about the Intersection of Risk Factors for Black Boys in Sex Trafficking. Boys are at risk to become victims and/or exploiters of human trafficking. It is vital for our communities to invest and pour into the lives of our young men so that they can become allies and protectors of our young women. ZOE's USA Regional Director Dr. Jason Plunkett and Assistant USA Regional Director Ester Yu participate in a workgroup led by Los Angeles County Department of Probations to develop a CSEC prevention/intervention curriculum for young men. While interviewing former exploiters in Chicago, researchers discovered that most of the men who were interviewed were abused and trafficked as children themselves before becoming exploiters. (Source: https://law.depaul.edu/about/centers-and-institutes/schiller-ducanto-fleck-family-law-center/Documents/interview_ex_pimps.pdf)
We know that all of our current efforts, research, and collaboration are equipping ZOE's Los Angeles team to best meet the needs of our youth in Los Angeles County. Please partner with us in our efforts in LA: https://give2.gozoe.org/give/90447/#!/donation/checkout.
The Home Front and the Fight Against Human Trafficking – Part I: Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence
If you are reading this, you are probably already aware of the fight against human trafficking taking place all over the world. However, you may not know what you can do right in your neighborhood, even from your very own home, to join the fight against trafficking.
This is the first in a series sharing some practical tips for fighting trafficking on the home front.
“Domestic Violence.” To most people, this phrase conjures images of a battered wife or child cowering in a corner. Similar to human trafficking, domestic violence is often a “hidden crime,” happening behind closed doors and away from the public eye. Typically, domestic violence, like human trafficking, is defined by an imbalance of power. We see this when a vulnerable person suffers at the hands of someone who controls or manipulates them in a verbal, physical, emotional, or sexual context.
Researchers have identified correlations between the crimes of domestic violence and human trafficking. Two studies from the 1980s, by different research groups, found that between 70-80% of commercially sexually exploited youth had a histories of sexual abuse.1
A more recent London-based study referenced in the U.S. Department of State’s 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report found that almost 70% of adult female trafficking victims experienced domestic violence prior to being trafficked.
After more than two decades, this statistic has remained virtually unchanged. Domestic violence is an indicator of, and directly leads to, vulnerability to human trafficking. As long as domestic violence continues to flourish, it will create vulnerability that human traffickers will exploit.
Domestic violence breaks relationships, leaving fear, shame, and depression in its wake. One trafficker stated in an interview that he would target girls who had “daddy issues,” referring to a broken father-daughter relationship.2 These girls were vulnerable to manipulation, intimidation, and, ultimately, control.
Ester Yu, Assistant USA Regional Director of ZOE International, noted, “Strong similarities exist in the coercive patterns that both abusers and traffickers use to gain and maintain control over a victim. Physical, verbal, and emotional abuse and manipulation are often used to pressure or force a partner into engaging in commercial sex in what is called ‘intimate partner trafficking.’ Traffickers often lure, pressure, or force young girls into child trafficking by first acting as a boyfriend and someone who cares for them. This relationship soon turns controlling, abusive, and exploitative, leaving young girls in a situation where they have no choice and are dependent upon their abuser.”
An estimated 1 out of 4 women experience domestic violence on the level of severe physical violence by an intimate partner during her lifetime.3 However, for female victims of human trafficking, approximately 3 out of every 4 had already experienced domestic violence, before they were trafficked.
Domestic violence doesn’t just create victims of human trafficking, it also creates perpetrators. The study, "From Victims to Victimizers: Interviews with 25 ex-pimps in Chicago," by researchers Jody Raphael and Brenda Myers-Powell, found that 88% of those surveyed experienced physical abuse growing up, while 76% endured sexual abuse. In many cases, the abuse forced them to leave home early and turn to exploiting others to survive.3
As we stand against human trafficking, one very practical action we can take is to keep our eyes open for signs of domestic violence. These signs include5:
- Personality changes, like low self-esteem in someone who was always confident
- Constantly checking in with or overly worried about pleasing a partner
- Skipping out on work, school, or social outings for no clear reason
- Wearing clothes that don’t fit the season, like long sleeves in summer to cover bruises and giving excuses for injuries
- Sounds and signs of domestic violence or abuse
Signs of abuse can also be an indicator of someone who is currently being trafficked. Many human trafficking survivors experience physical abuse that can be visibly seen, similar to domestic violence.
Unfortunately, even when we see these signs of domestic violence, we sometimes lack the courage to act. We may believe the situation will get better on its own. It rarely does. We may believe that, if the person really wants to get out, they can. But in reality, victims are controlled through emotional manipulation as well as physical threats. Many feel fear and guilt. Some fear for their lives, the safety of their children, and even the well-being of their abusers. We may believe the situation doesn’t involve us, since it’s a private issue. But if we don’t speak up, who will?
Sometimes, we simply don’t know what to do or whom to contact (see the information below).
The truth is that you can make a difference. By speaking up, you may save a person from a lifetime of violence and possibly even rescue that person from a future of enslavement at the hands of a human trafficker.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) – online chat option available also
Additional Resources: TED Talk Videos about Human Trafficking & Abuse
Woman who was trafficked for 10 years shares how it started with her running away from abuse at home:
Child bride (a form of human trafficking) shares about abuse and recovery:
Why domestic violence victims (similar to human trafficking victims) don’t leave:
ZOE International, a U.S. 501(c)(3) NGO, has been combating human trafficking on the ground for 15 years in Southeast Asia and is active in Thailand, Japan, Australia, Mexico, and the United States.
1) Bagley & Young, 1987; Silbert & Pines, 1982
2) Nefarious Merchant of Souls movie
by Ester Yu
Last month, ZOE was invited to participate in a roundtable discussion about federal and local efforts to combat human trafficking and the ongoing opioid epidemic. This meeting was hosted by Representative Steve Knight (R-CA) and House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) and included local government officials, state legislators, law enforcement agencies, and representatives from local nonprofit organizations like ZOE.
Opioids is a significant problem in Santa Clarita Valley. In the roundtable meeting, it was discussed that there have been seven overdose deaths this year alone and that Santa Clarita is a “corridor” for drug and human trafficking. The Signal Santa Clarita Valley recently produced a series (https://vault.signalscv.com/addicted) documenting the local opioid crisis.
ZOE was able to suggest some action items related to human trafficking. We appreciate opportunities to learn from, network with, and share our knowledge and experience with those who are on the front-lines combating human trafficking through roundtable and task force meetings such as this one, the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force (LARHTTF), a Human Trafficking Congressional Advisory Committee, and others.
“Human trafficking and the opioid epidemic don’t just affect one region of the country or any specific demographic,” said Rep. Knight “These are national issues that hurt our neighbors in all of our communities. Chairman McCaul and the Homeland Security Committee have been extremely effective in pushing aggressive legislation that will help address many of these most pressing challenges. I want to thank him for his continued leadership and for making the trip out here to bring his expertise to these roundtable discussions.”
“Today’s events were very beneficial and a huge success,” said Chairman McCaul “In order to effectively fight human trafficking and the opioid epidemic, we need to coordinate local and federal law enforcement, engage private sector non-profits, and enact many of the bold policies we’ve been advancing in the House. Rep. Knight brings invaluable experience to these discussions from his career as a police officer and I’d like to thank him for hosting me in California’s 25th District.”
By Vickie McCoy
I am so excited to share with you all a recap of two events that our team here at ZOE was able to be part of.
One of the events was “Toes in the Sand Beach Day” and the other was “Hip Hop and Hair”.
Girls in the process of recovering from human trafficking here in Los Angeles were recently invited to attend these two events. I’m grateful to tell you that ZOE was invited as well. ZOE was asked to help with the events and be part of the planning! These events help expose the girls to new activities and new experiences that can help bring hope and healing in their lives.
We were grateful to spend time with the young ladies, and with the frontline heroes who work with them every day – like Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and employees from short-term residential therapeutic programs (STRTP’s). (Look for future blogs explaining ZOE Los Angeles progress in acquiring our STRTP license.)
"Toes in the Sand Beach Day" was filled with yoga, beach volleyball, a sandcastle building competition and taking in the cool breeze, listening to the ocean waves crash, and sand between the toes. Click here to watch the recap!
"Hip Hop and Hair"–well you guessed it–a day of dance hosted by our very own church supporters, Pastors Tymme and Aury Reitz, from Life150. After dance, we did some hair care training––explaining how to wash, moisturize and brush out your hair. Click here to watch the recap!
Both of these days were over-the-top AMAZING!!!!! The girls loved it and the DCFS staff were encouraged and blessed seeing their girls open up and have fun–from being at the beach and hanging out, to learning choreography and dance, to working on some wonderful hair creations–everyone was blessed.
We were, and are, grateful to work side by side with DCFS and help support them in the work they are doing. Because of you, our ZOE donors, we were able to give Starbucks gift cards, Forever 21 gift cards, shampoo and cream rinse, special hairbrushes, and ZOE bags.
To make it possible for even MORE collaborations in the future, donate today! - DONATE