Welcome to the conversation!

Welcome to the conversation!

Harriet Beecher Stowe's (1811-1896) best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), made her the most famous American woman of the 19th century and galvanized the abolition movement before the Civil War.

The Stowe Center is a 21st-century museum and program center using Stowe's story to inspire social justice and positive change.

The Salons at Stowe programs are a forum to connect the challenging issues (race, gender and class) that impelled Stowe to write and act with the contemporary face of those same issues. The Salon format is based on a robust level of audience participation, with the explicit goal of promoting civic engagement. Recent topics included: Teaching Acceptance; Is Prison the New Slavery; Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North; Creativity and Change; Race, Gender and Politics Today; How to be an Advocate

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Event Recap: How to Fight Human Trafficking

Salons at Stowe
November 15, 2012

Harriet Beecher Stowe fought to end slavery, yet it still exists today.  Human sex trafficking is the most common form of modern-day slavery.  Estimates place the number of its domestic and international victims in the millions, mostly females and children enslaved in the commercial sex industry for little or no money.  The terms human trafficking and sex slavery usually conjure up images of young girls beaten and abused in faraway places, like Eastern Europe, Asia, or Africa. Actually, sex trafficking happens locally in cities and towns, both large and small, throughout the United States, including here in Connecticut.

Featured guests:
Steven Ferraro, Director, Loving Our Children, has been a Volunteer Abolitionist since 2009. He’s been the Connecticut State Co-Director for Not For Sale Campaign with Karen Herbert for 2 years. He also works with Truckers Against Trafficking. By training Steve is a Manufacturing Engineer employed as Director of Engineering and Quality at a local manufacturer.

Tammy Sneed is the Director of Girls' Services for the Department of Children and Families (DCF) Academy for Family and Workforce Knowledge and Development. She’s a national expert on Gender-Responsive Programming for adolescent girls, and specializes in programming for youth in the legal system.  She has developed and implemented a training model on how to work with traumatized adolescent girls for police departments resulting in significant arrest reductions.
Recently, she has focused on DCFs response to Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST). 
Tammy is also a foster/ adoptive mother. She has developed training for foster and adoptive parents and has been a mentor for forever families. 

Opening Remarks:

Steve Ferraro, Volunteer Abolitionist
  • Became a volunteer abolitionist four years ago when he became impassioned about the issue and the idea that slavery should not be happening.
  • First volunteered for Not For Sale, an organization based in California working to educate about and combat human trafficking, eventually becoming a co-director of the Connecticut chapter.
  • Wherever he went to speak about human trafficking, people wanted to hear from the experts. He learned that the only experts are those enslaved, survivors of slavery, or those working on the front lines of the issue.
  • Learned that while there are limits to what people can know or do, everyone can do something.
  • Left Not For Sale, which has an international focus, to focus on human trafficking in Connecticut and US
    • Truckers Against Trafficking effectively educates truckers about what they need to look for and who they should contact to take action. Question posed:  Do you know the signs of human trafficking?  Do you know who to call?  Truckers are ranked number 8 of all groups who call the national trafficking hotline.
    • While training a group of truckers in Knoxville, TN, a trucker was able to identify a young girl who was being trafficked and contacted police to rescue the girl.
  • Steve hopes to develop an information card like the one that Truckers Against Trafficking distributes that can be adapted for local communities to help save children.
  • The “demand side” is rarely discussed.  Within our sphere of influence we all know someone who pays for sex, goes to strip clubs, or paid sex websites.

Tammy Sneed, DCF
  • Runs a small department within the Department of Children and Families.  The staff is small and workers share priorities, as no funds are exclusively allotted for this initiative.
  • Need is great with few resources, parents with children as young as 11 years old have asked her to come and speak.
  • The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2008 (TVPA) covers all forms of human trafficking.  This national law, which guarantees all victims certain rights, is up for renewal and President Obama has said it is a priority. http://www.justice.gov/olp/pdf/wilberforce-act.pdf
  • 100,000 to 300,000 youth are victims of domestic trafficking. 20,000 international youth are trafficking victims in the US.
  • Connecticut DCF child victim data:
    • 108 victims of sex exploitation under the age of 18
    •  Age range of children is 11 to 185 of the reported were boys
    • Nationally the percentage of boys trafficked is 20% and boys are less likely to disclose they have been trafficked because of sexuality questions.  They are more embarrassed.  We need to do a better job identifying male victims by asking better questions.
    • 99% have long histories of neglect and abuse before they are trafficked according to DCF records
  • CT is ahead of other states in laws regarding trafficking. 
  • Trafficked youth under 16 can be arrested, but not prosecuted.
  • Reference slide on Domestic Sex Trafficking
  • Local examples of trafficking:
    • Boyfriends selling their girlfriends at private parties
    • Gang related trafficking where the fear factor prevents the sharing of information
    • Girl convicted with legitimate identification saying she was in her 20s, but in reality she was under 16 years old
    • Pimps responding to ads for escorts during Super Bowl (national problem)
    • Pimps seeking young girls and boys
    • Pimps even try to solicit the help of other girls who were rescued and living in Congregate Care facilities.
    • A mother became suspicious that something was wrong with her daughter and discovered she was lured into sex trafficking after meeting the wrong people at a party. She discovered a list of johns in her daughter’s diary.
    • A teen girl (who had been abused and neglected as a child) was found to be trafficking a transgender boy.
  • Suggested everyone watch Very Young Girls, by GEMS (Girls Educational Mentoring Services). While very difficult to watch, it is very informative and Tammy uses it as teaching tool.
  • DCF work includes DCF Director meeting with police chiefs from around the state training them that police should call DCF if they suspect trafficking.  They discovered information was not moving down through the ranks. DCF has done “roll call” trainings with police officers and trainings with EMS workers.
  • Education is needed. Once people are educated, the calls to DCF come in.  People need to be educated that those trafficked are victims, not “just a prostitute” as Tammy has even heard a nurse say.
  • Steve reminded us that police officers serve the public and that it is important that we call, write and visit our local police departments and ask them to request the training that DCF offers for our police officers.
  • Tammy is training 500 police officers from West Hartford and surrounding communities.
  • Any young person can be a victim, including those children that have never had any connection to DCF.
  • Physical signs of youth being trafficked: tattoos that are identical to those of a pimp, branding by a pimp. -Victims don’t always want police, EMS, or DCF help and may not see themselves as victims
  • DCF Careline is 800-842-2288
  • Multicultural Director Bill Rivera works with Tammy on a three-day certification offered monthly that anyone can take.
  • Non-profit organization Love 146 has developed a program for high school students.  The 10 week program is called My Life, My Choice and educates teens about signs of trafficking and how to avoid it and help their peers. It is offered without cost to schools, and they are developing a program for middle school youth.
  • Parents must be educated so that they can educate their kids. Steve wants to develop more community training.Trafficking issue is where domestic violence issue was years ago.  People didn’t understand why the victim didn’t just leave.  Officer Deborah Scates, from the Hartford PD, noted that people don’t realize that victims are “groomed” or “charmed” into the life and then they can’t get out.
  • Tammy and audience members emphasized that there should be a movement away from the language used.  Not using “prostitute” acknowledges that the girls and women are victims.  There is a reason why they are on the streets.  There is a reason why they are an escort.  Begin to see all as victims.  Even the adults usually have records that can be traced back to DCF cases where they were neglected and abused.

Group discussion:

Why do women (who are on the “supply side” of the issue) get their pictures put in the paper and men don’t?
  • Steve:  Men are the minority at this program and are at most trainings, even though they are the problem. There are never more than 25% in the room. For every john arrested there are 50 women arrested. A john that is arrested is wrongly treated like he is the victim because people consider that his wife, children, and co-workers might find out. Ignorance causes a lot of this attitude.  If there were no men buying sex there would be no people selling it.
  • Steve quoted Stowe: “Women are the real architects of society.” Women who have boys in their care have to teach them to be respectful men.  Talk to the males in your life. Give your sons a positive expectation. Tell them you don’t ever want to see them in a strip club. 
  • Respect everyone.
  • Tammy: Her son, in his 20’s, was asked to secure an escort for a boss who was traveling. He didn’t do it, but discovered from colleagues that the boss’ request was very common.

Is there a curriculum for boys?
  • Love 146 integrates training for boys in their program. And DCF has a 10 week program called “Man Up.”
  • Steve: Watch Truckers Against Trafficking video and Very Young Girls.

What about legalizing prostitution?
  • Draw the line between minors and consenting adults who are prostitutes. 
  • Steve:  “No child should be commercially sold for sex.  And remember most prostitutes are in the life because of force, fraud, or coercion.  We love our own children, but we need to love each other’s children as much as we love our own.  Know the kids in your neighborhood—who waits for the bus, what are their names, who are the parents that wait in their cars.  Pay attention and learn to recognize when something isn’t right.
  • Tammy: Young people share a lot of information on Facebook and the internet.  Respond right away when you see something inappropriate on the internet.

What are the efforts to stop human trafficking?
  • Audience member has interviewed more than 300 johns over the last 16 years. Community Court hears these cases and has a program for johns where they pay a fine and enter a program with classes that educate them about trafficking.  Their pictures are in the paper and their fine goes to women’s programs.  If they are arrested a second time they go to jail.  Many johns believe that the women want to be with them and learn otherwise for the first time in these classes.
  • Community Court also has a program for women.  The problem is that these programs are funded by grants and Officer Scates said they may be losing the money for these programs. 
  • Audience member noted that we should call trafficking what it is.  Stowe called slavery what it was (in Uncle Tom’s Cabin). We need to change the way we talk about trafficking.  Say “To be prostituted.”  This language changes the paradigm.  Focus is what is now on what is being done to the victim.

  • Closing
  • Steve: For a full day, try to think of everyone you see as a person.  Not the person who cuts in front of you in traffic, or a poor or homeless person, or an old person.  No labels.  Just a person.  This would help us see a trafficked girl as a victim.  No one was born to be a slave of another person.  That is not what they were intended to be.

Inspiration to Action:
  • Educate yourself
  • Organize your groups, community, church, etc. to work together to stop trafficking
  • Visit: www.truckersagainsttrafficking.com
  • Advocate at Legislative Office Building (LOB)
  • Watch Showtime documentary “Very Young Girls” (purchase through Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS))
  • Talk to your local police department about importance of  training on trafficking
  • CT DCF Careline (800) 842-2288 http://www.ct.gov/dcf/cwp/view.asp?a=2556&q=314388
  • Organize a workshop at your school. Educate parents so they can educate kids
  • Take the DCF three-day training or Love 146 training
  • Educate boys and men about human trafficking – it is never ok to exploit women/children
  • DCF “Man Up” curriculum
  • Respect – break down myths about prostitution
  • Start small, pay attention
  • Know the names of the kids in your neighborhood and what cars should be at the bus stop, etc.
  • If you hear or see something, do something
  • If you see something on a child’s Facebook or website, do something – TAKE ACTION
  • Pay attention to what you and your loved ones are doing online
  • Be aware of how you talk about prostitution and human trafficking
    • Don’t romanticize prostitution
    • Refer to trafficking as “to be prostituted” rather than “prostitute”
  • Look at people without labels
  • Find everybody that is about to be lost
  • Live your life differently and you can make a difference in the world

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