February 2020 Trafficking News, Including 2 Iowa Conferences, 15 News Article Links, And Much More

Rotary recognized for Iowa anti-trafficking projects

The Network was Iowa’s first, and remains the only, statewide volunteer organization devoted exclusively to ending trafficking in all its forms. The NAHT is a non-profit organization, totally dependent on your donations. The NAHT receives no state or federal funding.

In 2019, the Network’s largest single donation came from the Rotary Clubs of Iowa City and West Liberty. They not only carried out trafficking awareness projects, but also raised money to support the printing of Network educational materials and Rescue Stickers. areas.

Alka Khanolkar represented Rotary District 6000 at the Governor’s Proclamation signing. She was asked to stand for recognition by George Belitsos, Board Chair of the NAHT, who served as MC for the January 16th Proclamation event. Alka is statewide Rotary governor elect for 2021. At the event, Alka shared her goal to call on all 65 Iowa Rotary Clubs to become educated on the growing human trafficking problem. She also encourages clubs to take up anti-trafficking projects in their local Rotary Club’s community. The undeniable truth is that both sex and labor trafficking are found not only in Iowa cities, but also small towns and rural areas.

Rotarians are joining the fight against trafficking, not only here in Iowa, but across the USA and around the globe. Rotary is the world’s largest service club, with 1.2 million members in over 90 countries.

Local anti-trafficking prevention and survivor service organizations are encouraged to contact their local Rotary Club with project ideas and requests for assistance. One great example of this is a request made by Dorothy’s House in Des Moines.

“The Rotary Club of Des Moines responded by awarding its annual community service grant for $40,000 to Dorothy’s House, a safe place for teen and youth girls whose lives have been severely damaged by sex trafficking and exploitation. “We are so pleased to make an impact on our community in this way, by supporting the excellent work of Kellie Markey and the team at Dorothy’s House. Our support will help their expansion efforts to provide care and a safe place for more young women and girls who have lived through sex trafficking,” said Rotary Club of Des Moines Grant Committee Chair DeAnn Thompson.

Another great example is the new education and awareness project the West Liberty Rotary Club just now completed. They arranged for a teacher training program for 150 local school district faculty and staff. The “Any Kid Anywhere” Iowa teen sex trafficking documentary was shown with training provided by Braking Traffik counselors.

The presentation was a great success with positive feedback from the WLCSD faculty, as stated by Diego F Giraldo, Superintendent, “It is essential to start with awareness and learning how to support our children, families, and community.”

Rotary can open doors for local anti trafficking providers and this partnership initiated in West Liberty Iowa should inspire other non-profit anti-trafficking groups to partner with their local Rotary Club.

For more information or project ideas, contact Iowa’s representative to the Rotary Action Group Against Slavery, George Belitsos at gbelitsos55@gmail.com or go to the RAGAS website https://ragas.online/.

New Trafficking Awareness & Prevention Services case manager to specialize in labor trafficking

The Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Services (TAPS) program is now offering case management services and trainings! Julissa Ponce has been hired as the Case Manager for the TAPS program and is now available to provide case management services to survivors of human trafficking located within a 100 mile radius of Des Moines. Julissa has extensive knowledge in cultural humility and trauma-informed advocacy.

Prior to joining the TAPS program located at the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Julissa worked as a Comprehensive Bilingual Survivor Advocate for an Iowa-based nonprofit serving survivors of human trafficking and is also a certified sexual assault and domestic violence advocate. She has provided training for local law enforcement agencies on human trafficking with a focus on labor trafficking and wide-spread community education on labor exploitation. She is a member of the Migrant Seasonal Worker Taskforce, Anti-Labor Trafficking Association (ALTA), and the Iowa Work Force Development Migrant Outreach team in Iowa. Julissa can be reached at jponce@uscrimail.org or 515-528-7525 ext. 2512.

In an effort to address the issue of human trafficking, and labor trafficking in particular, TAPS training is prepared to respond to community needs! To schedule and discuss a training that is right for you, please contact TAPS Program Coordinator, Jessie Johnson, for more information. She can be reached by email at jjohnson@uscrimail.org or 515-528-7525 ext. 2513.

Symposium on Iowa child sex trafficking now open for registration

The Mercy College of Health Sciences has announced that the website is live/official and that registration is now open for the Research Symposium on Child Trafficking: Issue and Challenges to take place on Monday, April 6, 2020 from 12:30-4:30 PM.

Purpose: Participants will learn about the key issues and challenges of child trafficking in the United States and in Iowa, encouraging a multidisciplinary approach to the prevention, investigation and treatment of exploited children and the implications for the larger community.

Speakers include:

  • Stephen Patrick O’Meara, JD – Significantly Reducing the Incidence of the Trafficking of Children in Iowa for Commercial Sex: The Law and Enforcement as Part of an Holistic Approach
  • Jordan Greenbaum, MD – Keynote: Child Trafficking in the United States: A public health approach to combating exploitation
  • Teresa Davidson, ARNP, MSN, MA – Child Trafficking Survivors: A Trauma-Informed Approach and Case Studies

To the right is the Save the Date flyer. Unfortunately, registration will be limited to the first 250 people, but there is no cost to attend. Click here for the Research Symposium Agenda (PDF)

Porn Epidemic Two-Day Iowa Conference

The Siouxland Coalition Against Human Trafficking has opened registration for “The Porn Epidemic” conference. The two-day conference is scheduled for Saturday, April 25, 6:30-8:30 and Monday, April 27, 9:00-3:00. CEUs are available, and registration is now open with early bird pricing in effect ($10 for Saturday, $30 for Monday – includes lunch). To learn more, go to https://siouxlandagainsttrafficking.org/. Address questions or requests for flyers to thepornepidemic@gmail.com.

The Set Me Free Project expands into Iowa

The Set Me Free Project is 7 months into their expansion into Iowa, and they can now boast of having a prevention/education team serving the three states of Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. They received several grants and donations last December that have propelled them through 2020. Their goal is to bring prevention education to schools. They want traffickers to lose power.

The Set Me Free Project educators are available to come to Iowa schools and communities. They offer curriculum tailored to both youth and adults. The education they provide empowers youth to value themselves and to protect themselves and others from trafficking and social media dangers. They also empower adults to protect youth in these areas.

Pictured above from left to right are Madison Kuhn, District Lead Educator of Central Iowa; Yolanda Harden, Regional Director of Iowa; and Stephanie Olson, CEO of Set Me Free.

Trainings offered include sex trafficking, social media safety, healthy relationships, and value, image and empowerment. Set Me Free presents on these topics in ways that will accommodate every grade level. They provide trainings for educators, parents, and community organizations.

To contact the Set Me Free Project, reach out to Yolanda Harden by calling (515) 612-9300 or emailing yolanda@setmefreeproject.net. Their website can be found at https://www.setmefreeproject.net/. Their office phone number is (402) 521-3080.

Office to Combat Human Trafficking 2019 Annual Report

Kevin Winker, Director of Investigative Operations for the Iowa Department of Public Safety, attended a recent Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking and Slavery board meeting and provided an update on the activities of the Office to Combat Human Trafficking. Funding for the office remained the same as 2018, with an appropriation of $150,000 (this is half of the original appropriation). The largest portion of these funds goes to a Human Trafficking Intelligence Analyst within the Division of Intelligence and Fusion Center. In calendar year 2018, the office received 47 Polaris tips and another 9 tips from other sources. Although calendar year 2019 tip totals are not available yet, it is expected they outpaced 2018 reporting. Also in 2018, a review of court records showed human trafficking cases being disposed of in the following counties; Black Hawk, Dallas, Dubuque, Johnson, Linn, Polk, Pottawattamie, Scott, Warren and Woodbury.

In fiscal year 2019, the Department’s Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) played a significant role in 4 human trafficking investigations and so far in fiscal year 2020, has already participated in one human trafficking investigation. The DCI is the investigative arm of the Department of Public Safety and any request for investigative assistance regarding human trafficking is referred to the DCI. These cases are then worked in partnership with the local law enforcement agency having jurisdiction.

A complete copy of the Office to Combat Human Trafficking Annual Report 2019 can be found at https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/publications/DF/1070336.pdf

How we can eliminate child sexual abuse material from the internet

Below is a link to a TED Talk from THORN, the anti-trafficking organization founded by Ashton Kutcher. It gives a disturbing insight into the vastness and devastation of child porn today, but it also provides hope in the work they are doing with law enforcement and businesses to identify and rescue many child victims.

https://www.ted.com/talks/julie_cordua_how_we_can_eliminate_child_sexual_abuse_material_from_the_internet

April 28th Human Trafficking Conference

The Johnson County Human Trafficking Coalition has joined forces with the DVIP to host “40 Years Forward,” a conference celebrating how far the Domestic Violence Intervention Program has come in the past 40 years. “40 Years Forward” will focus on looking to the future of community engagement and education on the subjects of domestic violence and human trafficking. The conference will take place on April 28 & 29 and will be held at the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. The first day will open with keynote speaker, Timea Nagy, who will introduce the day’s topic from the survivors’ perspective: human trafficking. Tickets are on sale now. For more information about the conference, click here.

Fifteen Recent Trafficking News Articles

1. Iowa man convicted of child sex trafficking, methamphetamine and firearms offenses https://globegazette.com/news/iowa-man-convicted-of-child-sex-trafficking-methamphetamine-and-firearms/article_767ccfea-d6f2-512b-ad13-e1e1fb526e6f.html

2. He was sexually abusing underage girls. Then, police said, one of them killed him https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/local/child-sex-trafficking-murder/

3. Abuse Exposed by Bangladeshi Women in Saudi Arabia Leads to Action https://www.freedomunited.org/news/bangladeshi-women-in-saudi-arabia/

4. Fake Nonprofit Lured Minors into Sex Trafficking
https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article238352778.html

5. TAKE ACTION: Tell Hotels to Act to Prevent Trafficking
https://www.freedomunited.org/advocate/hotels-take-action-against-slavery/

6. 629 Pakistani Girls Sold as Brides to China
https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/12/04/ap-exclusive-629-pakistani-girls-sold-as-brides-to-china/

7. Unproven Claims About Human Trafficking Spread Fear Across U.S. Via Social Media https://ktla.com/2019/12/04/unproven-social-media-posts-about-human-trafficking-spread-fear-across-u-s/

8. TAKE ACTION: Take Forced Labor Out of Palm Oil Products https://www.freedomunited.org/advocate/blocktaintedpalmoil/

9. Human Trafficking Lawsuits Allege Hotels Ignored Problem
https://www.sistersagainsttrafficking.org/2020/01/20/human-trafficking-lawsuits-allege-hotels-ignored-problem/

10. Native American Women and Trafficking
http://www.endslaverynow.org/act/action-library/learn-about-missing-and-murdered-indigenous-women

11. More Than 100 People Arrested in Florida Human Trafficking Sting
https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/crime/os-ne-more-than-100-people-arrested-in-florida-human-trafficking-sting-20191118-vcv4ybhkvrhpphlxawg3espuk4-story.html

12. 6,000 men pledge to end sex trafficking in Milwaukee
https://truckersagainsttrafficking.org/6000-men-pledge-to-end-sex-trafficking-in-milwaukee/

13. Modern-Day Slavery: The Public Markets Selling Young Girls for $14
https://www.ozy.com/around-the-world/modern-day-slavery-the-public-markets-selling-young-girls-for-14/94386/

14. UPS to train delivery drivers how to spot signs of human trafficking
https://www.wgal.com/article/ups-to-train-delivery-drivers-how-to-spot-signs-of-human-trafficking/30662228

15. WIT students raise labor issues with college
https://siouxcityjournal.com/news/local/education/wit-students-raise-labor-issues-with-college/article_7b6487f0-c8e1-51a1-8d57-72fb182bd6ca.html