Tag Archives: collaboration

Two Important Human Trafficking Grant Opportunities

This is important if you have an interest in obtaining federal funding for a Human Trafficking Task Force, or for serving victims of trafficking. The two grants listed below are the largest grant programs in the country. This year they have been released earlier than usual! That means the deadline for submissions are earlier – late February!!

The Enhanced Collaborative Model to Combat Human Trafficking grant is the “task force” grant; it funds a local law enforcement agency and a local victim services provider for a total of $1.5 million for three years. You must have MOUs with the USAO, and either the FBI or HSI. Submission Due: Feb 27th

The Comprehensive Services to Victims of All Forms of Human Trafficking funds a service provider up to $750,000 for three years. Submission Due: Feb 21st

Please excuse a little self-promotion: Since 2012 I have been a peer-reviewer on the Enhanced Collaborative Model grant (that means I’m scoring them). One of the most common errors (and, consequently, loss of points) is due to the writer’s lack of understanding of many general issues within human trafficking, particularly on the issue of statistics. If you, or your grant writer, needs to enhance your knowledge of trafficking, I recommend you read my book, The Essential Abolitionist: What you need to know about human trafficking & modern slavery. The Kindle version is 50% off during January. It will help you write a much better submission.

So if you want to get federal funding (or continue your funding if you are already a part of either of these programs), get to work! Time is very short this year!

Best wishes for successful submissions!

John

Human Trafficking Estimates: Local is Best, Part 2

StatisticsIn the past weeks we have examined how trafficking estimates can be flawed, and the challenges in obtaining local or regional estimates. With this understanding, let’s focus on exactly what we need to know (and share) to answer this question: How much human trafficking is occurring in our community?

But before we begin, two caveats: First, laws (along with agency protocols) dictate what type of information can be shared with other persons and agencies. This is commonly referred to as confidentiality. Confidentiality laws also protect certain persons — for example, case managers and attorneys — from disclosing certain information in court. Do not violate confidentiality; when in doubt, do not share information. But, as we will see, we should be willing to share generalized information that helps us understand the prevalence of trafficking.

Second, we must be willing to accept that the silos of data regarding human trafficking victims and incidents are difficult to keep nice and neat; more often, we must be willing to accept (and explain to others) the complexity of trafficking. We are not professional researchers; we are just trying to collect information from a variety of anti-trafficking stakeholders from our community.

What information really needs to be shared? We do not need names, specific age, or other personally identifiable information. We need basic information regarding victims: gender; age range (5 year segments are good); type of exploitation (labor or commercial sex) and perhaps a category, such as domestic servitude, agricultural labor, forced prostitution, etc., and; nationality. If partners are willing, it is also useful to know what country the victim is from. That’s it. No additional information is needed. A specific victim cannot be identified based on this information. When we realize this is all the information we need to share–not names or other identifying information–sharing becomes much easier.

When collecting this information, steps should be taken to avoid a victim being reported more than once. For example, if a victim has received assistance from more than one service provider, the providers should ensure the victim is not reported more than once. This can be avoided in a couple of ways: The victim will usually have one case manager, so they can help avoid duplicate reporting; in addition, case managers and agency attorneys usually are protected by confidentiality laws, so the case manager and attorney can share details in private to avoid duplicate reporting.

Information regarding traffickers who have been arrested is usually public information, but for basic information to be shared in public, track the same information as for victims.

What categories should we use?

1 – Potential Victims of Trafficking: This is a good term for describing those who we believe are victims, yet we lack statements or evidence to clearly classify them as victims. For example, if police conduct an operation at a brothel, locating five persons whom they believe are working against their will, but all five are too afraid to disclose their victimization, count these as five Potential Victims. From the victim services perspective, this could be an individual who sought assistance for another reason (e.g., domestic violence or sexual assault) but whom the service provider believes is also a victim of trafficking. Yes, this is a vague category based upon our observations and perspective, but count them! Just be careful to avoid over estimating the number, and never combine this estimate with others categories, below.

2 – Identified Victims of Trafficking: This is a person who has either received services as a victim of trafficking from a service provider, or who has been identified by law enforcement as a victim of trafficking. This person has been exploited via forced labor or sexual exploitation through force, fraud, or coercion. This is the number which will be most beneficial to estimating the level of trafficking in a community.

3 – Suspected Incidents of Trafficking: This category reflects instances where law enforcement examined a situation for the elements of human trafficking, but were unable to find them because they either didn’t exist, or victims chose not to cooperate. In the above example where police investigated the brothel, this could count as one Suspected Incident of Trafficking, with five Potential Victims. Again, this is far less precise than the categories below, but is shows that law enforcement is looking for trafficking!

4 – Trafficking Suspects Arrested: This number should reflect individuals who have been arrested on the specific charge of human trafficking.

5 – Trafficking-related Suspects Arrested: The most common example to illustrate this category is a pimp/trafficker who is arrested for pimping and pandering, but not for the specific charge of human trafficking. There are many reasons a law enforcement agency would arrest on pimping charges but not human trafficking, but they are too numerous to explore now.

6 – Trafficking Charges Filed: A prosecutor has filed the specific charge of human trafficking against a suspect.

7 – Trafficking-related Charges Filed: See #5; this is the prosecution equivalent.

8 – Convictions: Again, these should also be separated by specific charges of trafficking, and trafficking-related charges. Frankly, this number can be abused. A prosecutor’s office may count convictions of pimping, pandering, and assault against the trafficking victim as three convictions of “human trafficking,” when the specific trafficking charge was never filed and, obviously, only one person was convicted.

When a community of anti-trafficking stakeholders share minimal information with each other, we all begin to see the bigger picture, and the value of combined efforts. These numbers are critical for agencies seeking grant funding. Collecting these numbers illustrate that partnerships and trust already exist and, that based on these numbers, realistic performance targets can be established. Even better, those responsible for educating the public are not forced to use estimates of questionable origin.

Wouldn’t it be great to stand before an audience and say, “Based on the efforts of all our collaborative partners, we have identified and served 173 victims. They included 143 adult women, eight adult men, and 22 victims under age 18. 57% were victims of commercial sex exploitation, 43% victims of forced labor, including domestic servitude, agricultural labor, and work in local restaurants. 22% are foreign nationals, from South America, Africa, and Asia.  We have made contact with another 332 individuals whom we believe are victims but who, for a variety of reasons, we are not able to classify as victims. 32 cases have been investigated by our law enforcement partners, with over a dozen traffickers arrested. Three have been convicted on charges of human trafficking, and two suspects are awaiting trail.”

At first, the numbers will be much smaller, but don’t worry about that! Your local numbers are best! Your community will understand the challenges of data collection if you educate them about the hurdles you face. And they will support your efforts. In any case, it is always better to have your own numbers than to tell your audience, “Ah, we just don’t really know.”

Are the partners in your collaborative efforts sharing numbers so you all have a better understanding of the level of trafficking in your community? If not, why not?

Human Trafficking Statistics: What Numbers to Use

In my last blog post I discussed why anti-trafficking organizations must be careful using and promoting statistics: most of them are flawed. The post received a lot of positive feedback, illustrating that many of us in the anti-trafficking community are concerned with this issue. Using dated or poorly researched estimates Pie Chartcan hurt an organization’s credibility. And while I believe we should place more focus what we are doing (more on that later), there are times when we need solid estimates to share for awareness, educational, or fundraising purposes. So what estimates can we use?

Two estimates I routinely use come from the International Labour Organization. The first is the ILO 2012 Global Estimate of Forced Labour, in which the ILO estimates the worldwide number of trafficking victims at 20.9 million people.

The second is the ILO’s 2014 report, Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labour. Here we find some interesting estimates:
Estimated worldwide profits from trafficking: $150 Billion
68% of victims are exploited via forced labor
22% of victims are exploited via forced sexual exploitation
(10% of victims are state-imposed forced labor)
Of particular interest, we see that while the vast majority of victims are exploited via forced labor, 2/3 of the profits (estimated at $99B) come from forced sexual exploitation.

I use these estimates because the ILO is an agency of the United Nations, their reports include their methodology, and they will update the reports in the years to come. (I also make sure that I list the ILO reports as the source when I offer these estimates. Estimates or statistics promoted without the source listed is big red flag.) I realize there are other estimates, including some from very knowledgeable professionals. But if you want to give global estimates, you cannot do much better than these. And, in any case, these are estimates: we really don’t know the exact numbers.

When addressing victims and incidents within the United States we can only, at best, piece together disparate sources of data, and some of these sources are seriously flawed. Better to say we just don’t know.

What are the best estimates to deliver to your audience, especially if you are a local anti-trafficking organization or task force? You should be promoting statistics and data from your own work!

For example, if you are serving victims, you should be sharing the number of victims you have assisted, their forms of exploitation (i.e. sex or labor trafficking), and some basic demographic information, such as their gender, nationality, and age range. (None of these elements violate confidentiality protocols.) Law enforcement statistics can include: the number of incidents suspected (an incident can be initially suspected to be trafficking but then proves to be something else, but capturing this number illustrates law enforcement are looking for trafficking cases); the number of incidents investigated as actual trafficking; cases brought before a prosecutor; cases in which charges were brought against suspected traffickers, and; convictions. Obtaining this data is not that difficult: many organizations and task forces have this information readily available.

But too often, organizations and agencies don’t take the time to gather this data. They pass it off as too much work to do; a complex process involving many reporting agencies; or push back on data sharing as a breach of confidentiality. Sometimes I’ve been told, “We don’t have many victims or cases and we will look like we are not accomplishing anything.” Well, every service agency had to have their first client (i.e. victim). Every law enforcement agency had to have their first human trafficking case. Don’t hide from the complexity and difficulty of fighting modern slavery, inform others about the hard work you are doing!

Audiences want to know about your organization’s accomplishments and challenges. And if they are donating, they should be given an honest picture of your work. Also, when you educate others about the difficult work you are doing, you are highlighting the commitment and passion of those doing the work; your staff! Even more important than sharing your stats is sharing stories of commitment by your organization. And share success stories of the survivors you have served.

Don’t focus on big numbers, focus on work you do!

In my next post I’ll explore how to conduct a basic community assessment to gather data on trafficking and response efforts. If you are interested in more information on the problems with many of the commonly-quoted statistics, they are addressed in The Essential Abolitionist: What you need to know about human trafficking & modern slavery.

The Essential Abolitionist: The story behind the book

IMG_1844With The Essential Abolitionist: What you need to know about human trafficking & modern slavery now on sale, I’m often asked about the writing and publishing process. Most often, I’m asked, where did I get the idea to write the book? This is the short story behind the book.

Since 2006 I’ve been involved in the response to human trafficking when I was tasked with managing the San Jose Police Department’s Human Trafficking Task Force. We were part of a nationwide program of task forces funded by the U.S. Department of Justice. When the program was launched in late-2005 it was the first effort to create and sustain multi-sector task forces involving local law enforcement, federal law enforcement, and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) who provide services to victims of human trafficking. Being a brand new effort, each of the task forces was left to design their own plan to achieve the program’s four goals: Identify and rescue victims of trafficking; prosecute offenders; train local law enforcement, and; raise public awareness.

Our task force launched an aggressive campaign of educating the public (mostly by speaking at public events), and creating training programs for law enforcement and victim services providers. So from the start we were being asked lots of questions about human trafficking and how best to respond.

For me, this led to more and more opportunities to speak, train, and advise, usually with partners from other anti-trafficking sectors. What I began to realize over time was that people were usually asking the same questions, regardless if they were the general public, students, community activists, or even professionals with a role in the response to human trafficking.

About two years ago the idea came to me that the most-often asked questions could be condensed into a book, written in a style any reader would find engaging and valuable. What would set this book apart from many of the other excellent books focusing on human trafficking would be my experience putting this knowledge to work, and my experience helping other organizations enhance their response efforts. The book would focus on real-world challenges faced every day by those actively responding to modern slavery. After drafting an initial list of about 100 questions, I asked several colleagues their opinion of the book’s concept and the draft questions. I received enthusiastic feedback about the potential value of the concept, and most of my colleagues told me that they were routinely asked the same questions!

HOW TO MAKE THE BOOK EVEN BETTER?

There is one indisputable fact when it comes to fighting human trafficking: No single sector, no single organization, and certainly no single individual can do the work alone. Effective collaboration is critical. (Collaboration is also one of the greatest challenges faced in the response to human trafficking.)

So, again, I reached out to colleagues from across the country, each with expertise in their own area of responding to human trafficking. I will always be grateful that every contributor I invited to join me on the project quickly agreed. How much better is the book than if I had written it alone? It is immensely better! The contributors come from almost every sector involved in the response to trafficking. And though some of their topics seem focused on a particular sector, they crafted their contributions in such a way that every reader can gain knowledge, and a better understanding of the challenges faced by all. You can read the biographies of the contributors here.

The writing and editing process reduced the original list of 100 questions to 78; each a topic of value to anyone interested or involved in the response to human trafficking. The questions address the essential knowledge we should all possess.

So now you know the story behind the book!

Let me know what questions you have about the book, the writing process, or human trafficking in general. I’ll try to answer them in the comments or in a future blog post!

John

Are You an Abolitionist?

What does it mean to be an abolitionist? Are you comfortable describing yourself as an abolitionist? In yet another example of the complexity one can find in the anti-human IMG_0531atrafficking community, this word is troublesome for many, well, abolitionists.

The use of the word “abolitionist” is alarming to some who see the word as either implying a religious connotation to their stance against slavery, or they link the word with an entirely different subject; the abolition of prostitution. While writing my book The Essential Abolitionist: What you need to know about human trafficking and modern slavery, I have been questioned about my use of the word, and in the past have met many individuals who–thought deeply committed in the fight against slavery–prefer to avoid being labeled an abolitionist.

A search of several dictionaries repeatedly offer the same definitions of “abolitionist:” someone who is opposed to a law or practice, or someone who opposes (or opposed) slavery.

While the first definition can be applied to someone supporting the abolition of prostitution, this linkage doesn’t appear in several dictionaries I examined. Neither does a link between religion and abolition appear. So what is the source of this confusion?

During the American debate on slavery in the decades leading to the Civil War, many abolitionists used Christian values and Bible verses to support their stance. At the same time, there were self-described abolitionists who based their arguments against slavery on constitutional grounds, or moral grounds without invoking religious beliefs. Both secular and spiritual abolitionists fought to end slavery then, just as both sectors do so today.

The linking of the word “abolitionist” to the abolition of prostitution appears mostly in academic circles, where a mutual understanding among those discussing the topic exists. A web search of these words together will lead to articles on this subject. Coincidentally, those who have asked me if my use of the word implies a stance on prostitution have always come from the academic sector. This is a narrow use of the term, and one not usually recognized by the pubic.

In my book I address the question, What is a “modern-day abolitionist”? Today’s forms of slavery–and its victims–differ from the slavery of the antebellum United States. Today we address two broad forms of trafficking (labor and commercial sex), while also recognizing the many types of victims; women, children, men, persons of color, domestic and foreign national, native populations, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ, and others.

Today’s abolitionist is opposed to all forms of slavery, and seeks justice for all victims. It is actually pretty simple: If you oppose slavery, the best term to describe yourself is “abolitionist.” Be comfortable using the word, because it is a good–and the proper–word. I’m an abolitionist, are you?

Why is Fighting Slavery So Difficult?

Everyone opposes slavery, right?

Okay, those who are enslaving over 21 million people worldwide don’t oppose it, but assuming the vast majority of people do oppose human trafficking and modern slavery, you might think that fighting slavery would be fairly straight forward. But it isn’t. In fact, it can be quite difficult and frustrating. The United States Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) 15 years ago, making profound changes in how human trafficking is viewed and defined; how victims of trafficking are perceived, served, and assisted as they adapt from being victims of slavery to survivors; and how law enforcement agencies should respond to trafficking. Yet, those who have been involved in the fight against trafficking for years, and those new to the fight, experience frustration that so little seems to have improved since 2000. So why is fighting slavery do difficult?

First, modern slavery isn’t the slavery of old. It does not fit the traditional American view of slavery that was black and white – both in the literal sense, and in the moral sense where slavery was either accepted or reviled. The 13th Amendment may have outlawed slavery in the United States, but it did not abolish enslavement either domestically nor globally. In the modern slavery, victim and enslaver (or trafficker) more typically look alike, sound alike, and share Geo-cultural backgrounds. In addition, the slavery of old is understood by most Americans as either field labor or domestic service – images cast in school books and movies. The exploitation of today is limited only by the imagination and coercive skill of the trafficker: Once a trafficker determines how to profit from another person’s labor, they need only determine how best to make their victim perform that labor  through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. (In the commercial sex trade, engaging in sex is the labor.) In short, the whys and hows of modern slavery are far more complex than in the past.

Second, in this new paradigm of slavery, most slaves do not view themselves as slaves! (In a decade of anti-trafficking work I recall only one case in which a man walked into a police department and said, “I need help. I’m a victim of human trafficking.”) Victims engaged in forced commercial sex often do so because their “boyfriend,” who “loves them,” doesn’t have a job and the only way to eat and have a roof over their heads is by her engaging in sex several times a day.

Globally, 68% of human trafficking victims are exploited through forced labor or services, not the sex trade. Many are, more accurately, victims of debt-bondage, paying off a debt owed to their enslaver – often with unpayable interest rates – and either unable to leave for lack of better job opportunities, or afraid to leave due to threats of violence to the victim or their family. Foreign nationals trafficked within the United States often believe deportation awaits them if they come forward but, in fact, the TVPA offers protection to foreign national trafficking victims. Victims, lacking this understanding, are afraid to report their victimization for fear of law enforcement viewing them as criminals. Also, cultural norms often dictate a debt must be repaid no matter the conditions of repayment; another tool of coercion traffickers utilize. Not surprisingly, few victims of trafficking self-identify, adding another element of complexity.

The complexities of the new slavery, and how victims often perceive themselves, exponentially increase the complexity of responding to human trafficking. No single agency or professional sector (e.g., law enforcement, victim services providers, community organizations) can respond to trafficking alone and be effective in mitigating modern slavery. The “4 P Paradigm” is a model recommended for the comprehensive response to slavery and consists of Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, and Partnership. The first three Ps bring their own challenges, but the fourth is most daunting of them all. Collaboration among various agencies and organizations, each involved in different Ps, requires patience and humility on the part of the individuals involved, and long-term commitment from the leadership of the various organizations involved. Effective Partnership requires both institutional commitment, as well as specific skills and traits on the part of the individuals doing the collaborative work. Often, the person chosen to engage in this collaborative work doesn’t yet possess basic knowledge on aspects of trafficking and the response critical for their success, so training is a never-ending process. And, unfortunately, institutional leadership often sees the fight against slavery as merely the latest topic of community interest to be leveraged for political gain.

The struggles of fighting slavery go beyond these three, and each of the topics addressed could merit their own book! But while it may appear to some that little has changed since passage of the TVPA, the truth is far more encouraging. A decade ago friends asked, “What’s human trafficking?” when they learned of my work with a human trafficking task force. Today,  a more likely response is, “Tell me more,” as people are familiar with the term – if not the complexities. Today, more law enforcement officers have been trained; more prosecutions occur; more victims have more agencies and shelters ready to serve them; more communities cry out to help victims within their home towns. Colleges and universities offer courses addressing human trafficking and other social justice issues. Much good work has been done!

But the work continues, and part of the work in fighting slavery includes continuing to learn how to best do the work of fighting slavery. Understanding – and embracing – the complexity is the first step, and the second, and the third… Right now, 21 million people are enslaved worldwide. And they are awaiting our response.

(Interested in learning more about Human Trafficking?   View the Kickstarter campaign supporting The Essential Abolitionist book. Also, visit The Essential Abolitionist Facebook Page.

The Essential Abolitionist: Supporting a Tool for Freedom

(Portions of this post also appear in the Updates for my Kickstarter campaign, The Essential Abolitionist.)

A week ago today I launched the crowdfunding effort to publish my book The Essential Abolitionist: What You Need to Know About Human Trafficking & Modern Slavery. Frankly, it’s an emotional roller coaster every day, with lows accompanying little activity, and then the thrill of receiving alerts from Kickstarter that we have another backer! This was expected, of course, when you launch a project whose success is dependent upon so many others.

I’ve been very involved in the fight against human trafficking for almost a decade, since January 2006, and have been exceptionally fortunate to work with a wide variety of individuals and organizations as a speaker, trainer, consultant, task force manager, and professor. I’ve met some great people along the way!

In 2006 there were very few resources for learning about human trafficking, and most people had not even heard the phrase ‘human trafficking.’ Today, most people have at least heard the term, but there is still much confusion about the topic and, in particular, how best to respond. That’s the core concept behind The Essential Abolitionist; if you want to be knowledgeable you need to be introduced to both the macro view of trafficking (e.g., how is trafficking defined, who can be victimized, how do traffickers control others) while also understanding the micro aspects (e.g., what challenges do local law enforcement face, what are the unique needs of trafficking victims, is the Super Bowl is largest trafficking event in the country). Each of these topics relate to each other in ways unique to the fight against slavery. The Essential Abolitionist addresses about 100 of these macro and micro issues that are essential to a more comprehensive understanding of the response to human trafficking. No other book has previously taken this approach, and the book will be an asset to abolitionists for years to come. Here are some additional thoughts after the first week of the campaign to fund the publication.

First, I want to thank all of my backers during the first week of this campaign! Many of you I know and are long-time supporters in the fight for freedom. Others I don’t know, but I look forward to getting to know in the future.

As of this morning we are 28% funded, which is great news. On the other hand, Kickstarter (and all crowd funding) campaigns are well known for dropping into a lull between the excitement of the campaign start and the urgency near the end. So how to mitigate this expected lull?

I’m continuing to email every person in my Contacts list, and post frequently on both my personal and book Facebook pages, along with my Twitter site. I’m also working on other plans to engage potentials backers.

What can you do? First, please continue to share this project with friends and family and ask them to support the project. A personal “I think this is a valuable project, please support it” attached to your Facebook post or email carries a lot of weight with your friends!

Second, ask the civic, faith, or other groups you belong to for their support; many of these groups are looking for good causes to support and this is great project to back! Any person or organization backing at Level 6 or higher will be included in the Acknowledgements section of the book, receiving credit for bringing this project to life! Level 8 backers will have me travel to their location to talk about human trafficking and the fight for freedom – another way these organizations will gain recognition for their support.

Remind your friends that the reward structure allows additional donations. For example, if a backer only needs two books but wants to help this book become a success, they can support at Level 4 (two books) but also donate any additional amount. (This is also how an organization can support us at any amount they wish.)

Thank you all again for your generous pledges! (And those of you reading this who have not pledged, please do so now!) The work doesn’t end with your pledge, please keep sharing this until the final day.

John