Good and Bad News in Iowa’s Fight to End Trafficking

Trafficking in Persons (TIP) 20th anniversary report

(Link to TIP report)

Trafficking in Persons ReportFor 20 years, the Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report) has demonstrated the United States’ conviction that human trafficking is a global threat necessitating a global response. Traffickers are denying nearly 40 million people their fundamental right to freedom, forcing them to live enslaved and toil for their exploiter’s profit.

The 20th anniversary TIP report was released in June 2020. The report ranks over 100 countries and their progress in fighting modern day slavery. All the world’s nations find themselves confronting a crisis that has reached previously unimagined proportions. While urgency has always marked the fight against human trafficking, the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic have magnified the need for all stakeholders to work together in the fight more than ever. The TIP report underscores that human traffickers prey upon the most vulnerable and look for opportunities to exploit them. Instability and lack of access to critical services caused by the pandemic mean that the number of people vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers is rapidly growing.

Child Sex Trafficking risks are increasing due to Covid-19. Why?

Recent social media posts have led to a heightened awareness of child sex trafficking. However, many of these social media posts contain inaccurate information that misleads the public on how child sex trafficking takes place, thereby harming anti-trafficking education efforts. Indeed, the pandemic has resulted in children being at greater risk of child abuse and sex trafficking. However, the increase in risk is not due to any of the following reasons that have spread on social media: “Snatch and grab” kidnapping or abduction; children wearing masks being more likely to become victims of sex trafficking, or children wearing masks inhibiting the ability for others to notice warning signs of abuse. Tap here to read more.

Wings of Refuge to open survivor transitional living facility

wings-of-refuge-propertyWings of Refuge is continuing strong in its mission to serve survivors of sex trafficking. Recently a partnership with YSS, another Iowa human service agency, formed and through this connection Wings of Refuge was given a property that will enable them to open a second home. The 5,000 square foot home was formerly used as a juvenile group home but needed a major renovation. Tap here to read more

July 30th was World Day Against Trafficking in Persons and the West Liberty Rotary Club raised $1,663.24 to fight Human Trafficking in Iowa

In celebration of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons there were a dozen awareness events across Iowa. The NAHT wants to highlight the trafficking awareness picnic and fundraiser hosted by the Rotary Club of West Liberty. This is a community of 4000 with a 52% Latino population. The small city is near Iowa City.

west-liberty-stickersDuring the two weeks preceding the World Day event, the Rotarians were able to “post” their dual language Rescue Stickers in all the restaurants and gas stations in West Liberty.

The week of their event, the Rotarians published an in-depth article in the West Liberty Index addressing both labor and sex trafficking. On Thursday July 30th, the West Liberty Rotary Club held its Second Annual World Day Event in a local park on the town’s main street. Tap here for more information and photos of the event

YSS receives $500,000 federal housing grant for survivors of Human Trafficking

On August 10th, the Trump administration announced that $35 million in Justice Department grants will go to organizations that provide safe housing for human trafficking. Attorney General William Barr together with presidential adviser Ivanka Trump announced the grants at a White House event attended by human trafficking survivors and organizations that serve them.

The $35 million in Housing Assistance Grants for Victims of Human Trafficking is being given by the Office for Victims of Crime, part of the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs. Barr named human trafficking an “evil scourge”. Barr’s department will not only provide financial support but also do everything possible to “investigate, prosecute, and punish” traffickers.

YSS, a statewide Iowa child welfare non-profit, was awarded a three year, $500,000 grant. The $35 million in grants were divided between 73 organizations in 33 states. The grantees will provide safe housing assistance to human trafficking survivors. Among the other organizations obtaining the grants is Camillus House Inc. in Miami, Alternatives for Girls in Detroit, and the Jordan Community Resource Center in Shaker Heights, Ohio. (For more information about the new YSS program tap here).

Human Trafficking Hidden in Plain Sight

human trafficking hidden in plain sight wall displayThe Johnson County Human Trafficking Coalition has designed an outstanding awareness display at the Coral Ridge Mall located in Coralville, Iowa. The advertisement will be up for 3 months. The cost for renting the space ($1,500 and $1,000 for the graphics) is being covered by a generous grant from 100+ Women Who Care, Hawkeye Chapter. The photo shows a portion of the display which is a mirror entitled Human Trafficking Hidden in Plain Sight. You’ll see the photographer reflected in the sign.

Information, Articles, and Resources

  1. China’s Monstrous Abuse of Uighur Women – Link here
  2. Fact check: Home goods retailer Wayfair is not involved in child sex trafficking – Link here
  3. End Slavery Now Slave Free Buying Guide – Download here
  4. The 17th Annual International Human Trafficking & Social Justice Conference will be virtual. Make sure you are registered so you can learn from over 100 diverse expert speakers and virtually connect & collaborate with thousands of attendees from all over the world! Register here
  5. Protecting the Confidentiality of Survivors with Cognitive and Intellectual Disability – September 22 at 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. PT / 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. ET. This foundational and interactive webinar will help victim service providers to better protect the confidentiality of survivors with cognitive and intellectual disability. We will explain cognitive disability, intellectual disability, guardianship, legal capacity, and confidentiality. Register here.
  6. Gaps in Reporting Human Trafficking Incidents Result in Significant Undercounting – Deficient data on the incidence of human trafficking offenses reflect pervasive issues with incident identification and reporting, a study combining stakeholder interviews and data analysis shows. Link here.
  7. Fact check claim that “On Average Girls First Become Victims of Sex-Trafficking at Thirteen Years-Old”. Download PDF here.
  8. QAnon Followers are Hijacking the #SavetheChildren Movement – New York Times – Link here.