News Round-up March 6th, 2015

 

New York’s Campus Sexual Assault Hotline:

  • In keeping with Governor Cuomo’s initiative to stop sexual assaults on college campuses, the New York State Police have created a 24 hour hotline to take reports of sexual assaults on college campuses. The hotline covers SUNY’s 64 campuses across New York State and the investigations will be handled by the State Police. In May 2015, the SUNY Implementation Task Force will have completed its new on-campus police training effort aimed at educating students, staff and faculty in sexual assault prevention and awareness.
  • The hotline is one aspect of Governor Cuomo’s “Enough is Enough” campaign. The other initiatives under this campaign include: adopting an affirmative standard of consent, amnesty for victims of sexual assault from being punished for alcohol or drug abuse, and the Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights, which included a list of resources to help victims. Currently this only applies to SUNY schools; however, Governor Cuomo has discussed introducing legislation to make this all apply to private institutions as well.

The number is (844) 845-7269.

 

Suicide Prevention for Veterans Law:

  • Last month, President Obama signed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act into law. Clay Hunt, the law’s namesake, was a Marine Corps veteran who killed himself in 2011 after suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Hunt served in Iraq and Afghanistan and volunteered in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. While he tried to work through his struggles, he did not have access to adequate resources; the waiting list to see a psychiatrist was months long.
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Innovations In The Fight Against Human Trafficking: Considering Sex and Labor Trafficking Together– Open Source Innovation Development Session

By: Hayley Pine

During the Open Source Innovation Development portion of the Innovations in the Fight Against Human Trafficking symposium, a number of attendees spoke about ending the bifurcation between sex and labor trafficking. This idea is based on the concept that sex and labor trafficking are intertwined. Sex work should be viewed as labor. Part of the horror of sex labor trafficking is that it involves sexual exploitation as a means of maintaining control. Also, many trafficking experiences involve multiple forms of labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Therefore, the distinction between the two should be eliminated.

Society responds to labor trafficking and sex trafficking differently, so it may seem logical to separate them. However, one of the major differences between the two, which helps create this dichotomy, is the criminalization of sex work. Criminalizing sex work also creates other issues. Many of the problems associated with sex trafficking remain in the shadows because individuals involved in it are afraid to come forward for fear of criminalization.

In contrast to sex trafficking victims, labor trafficking victims have some level of recourse, because if they come forward with the work that they have been doing they will not be penalized. Women engaged in sex work also have little resources available to them because of the criminalization of sex work. There are resources that are available to victims of trafficking, but who falls into that category is often narrowly defined. Many women, unfortunately, are not included in that category, because they either: engaged in sex work voluntarily after being trafficked, or they entered into sex work voluntarily and were then trafficked.… <Read More>


Innovations in the Fight Against Human Trafficking: Perspectives and Proposals – Open Source Innovation Development Session 1

By: Sara Nassof

 

During this first session, the participants addressed ideas and innovations for continuing forward in the fight against human trafficking. Participants split into different groups to discuss various topics covered during the day. Some of the topics included: reforming law enforcement certifications, making changes to immigration policies, ending the demand for trafficking, organizing the community and lawyers, providing criminal restitution and immunity, and collaborating among organizations. After the small group discussions, all participants returned to the larger group to report back on ideas and highlights.

There were a number of common themes discussed in the breakout sessions, including the need for education, collaboration, creative approaches, and analysis.  Some of the ideas highlighted were:

(1) Providing resources to grassroots organizations: Grassroots organizations are in need of funding and resources for sustainability. These organizations need to network within the community and come together to fight against human trafficking.

(2) Identifying rhetoric versus reality: targeting how the media feeds the rhetoric about trafficking.

(3) Preventing marginalization of different groups and institutions.

(4) Partnering: Also, providing a balance between private law and pro bono work.

(5) Identifying harmful immigration policies that influence and permit trafficking.

(6) Ending the practice of criminalizing victims of trafficking.

(7) Thinking “outside the box”/interdisciplinary approaches.

(8) Identifying the underlying problems and root causes.

 

Two articles featuring specific topics discussed during these break-out sessions will be posted later this week.… <Read More>


Innovations In The Fight Against Human Trafficking: Perspective and Proposals – Panel 3

Roundtable: Forging New Paths for Our Future

By: Molly Rogowski

 

Panelists:

Denise Brennan, Professor of Anthropology, Georgetown University

Kathleen Kim, Professor of Law, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles

Kate Mogulescu, Supervising Attorney, Trafficking Victims Advocacy Project, Legal Aid Society

Ivy O. Suriyopas, Director of Anti-Trafficking Initiative, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund

Juhu Thukral, Director of Law and Advocacy, The Opportunity Agenda

 

Moderator:

Melynda Barnhart, Professor of Law, New York Law School

 

This panel discussed the next steps that need to be taken in order to continue the fight against human trafficking. The panelists started their discussion by giving a recap of the day’s events and reviewing some of the topics that came up over and over again throughout the symposium. The first panelist, Denise Brennan, challenged the group by asking everyone to think about the small shifts that can be taken both in practice and perception of what human trafficking is that can bring about change. According to Ms. Brennan, in order to really make a difference, discussions and actions combating human trafficking need to take into account victims who are sometimes left out of the anti-trafficking movement, for example, migrant workers. She spoke about how the movement to gain protections and rights for migrant workers needs to put those who are struggling every day at the very core of that movement. Ms. Brennan stressed the importance of day-to-day organizing and prevention and how we need to push for anti-retaliation protections so that workers can organize and advocate for their rights.… <Read More>


Innovations In The Fight Against Human Trafficking: Perspective and Proposals – Keynote

Lunch Keynote – Putting Survivors First: Innovative Legal Strategies in Human Trafficking Cases

By: Fema Birch

Speaker, Martina Vandenberg, Founder & Director of The Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center, 2012 Fellow of Open Society Institute

 

Trafficking in persons occurs in many forms. The two predominant forms of trafficking are for the purposes of labor and sex. As a prosecutor, the goal is to stop instances of trafficking by convicting those responsible for the crime. Because sometimes the prosecutor’s primary goal is obtaining the conviction and the prosecutor does not represent the victims, the victims can be without a voice. These victims are often displaced and are financially unable to go home. In many cases, the victims face potential immigration consequences. In these matters, victims are unable to afford representation and one is not appointed for them.

Martina Vandenberg stated that trafficking cases should not just be centered on the convictions for the criminal but the victim of the crime. In many instances when a victim is not represented by an attorney the restitution judgment is low and may not be enough to help the victim. Only 60% of trafficking victims receive restitution. Generally restitution is considered when the prosecutor asks for it, and in many cases the prosecutor may not ask for restitution especially in cases when the victims are not represented. On average, the restitution for sex trafficking cases is $213,000 and $46,000 for labor trafficking cases, which must be divided amongst the victims. In U.S.<Read More>