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>

News Round-up February 20th, 2015

Domestic Violence Fatality Rate Drops in New York City:

  • On February 2, The Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence released a report showing that domestic-violence homicides, also known as family-related homicides have declined 36% in the past decade. The report is the result of efforts by the Fatality Review Committee (FRC), established in 2005. The FRC is chaired by Rosemonde Pierre-Louis, the Commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, and the staff is comprised on members of ten city agencies, two representatives from social services agencies and two survivors of domestic violence. The FRC provides the opportunity for various city agencies to work together to combat domestic violence by reviewing statistics and making recommendations on where to improve.
  • In 2013, there were 62 domestic violence homicides, which accounted for almost twenty percent of homicides reported in New York City. The report shows that Brooklyn and the Bronx have the highest rates at 36% and 25% respectively, and that homicides tend to occur more frequently in areas with high poverty or other “low socioeconomic indicators.”
  • The decline in domestic-violence homicides can be attributed in part to the NYPD’s response to 284,660 domestic violence incidents, and also the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence’s initiatives: New York City Housing Authority Domestic Violence Response Team (NYCHA DVRT) and the Coordinated Approach to Preventing Stalking (CAPS). NYCHA DVRT provides rapid responses to high risk domestic violence situations and promotes awareness by outreach programs with partners such as the New York City Family Justice Centers.
<Read More>

Innovations In The Fight Against Human Trafficking Symposium: Introduction and Panel 1

By: Nicole Chamra


Introduction to the Topic – Innovation at the Front Lines

Florrie Burke, Founding Member and Co-Chair of the Freedom Network

Judge Pamela Chen, United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of New York

Panel I – Innovations Now! Developments in the Field of Practice

Patricia Medige, Senior Attorney, Colorado Legal Services, co-founder and President of the Board of Directors of the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network

Alexandra Patino, Director of the New York City Family Justice Center in Queens

Anita Ramasastry, Professor of Law, University of Washington School of Law

Dan Werner, Supervising Attorney, Southern Poverty Law Center

Moderator: Florrie Burke, Founding Member and Co-Chair of the Freedom Network


As an introduction to this day-long symposium, Florrie Burke and the Honorable Pamela Chen discussed the history of human trafficking cases. Judge Chen briefly touched upon a 1997 labor trafficking case in New York, and a 2003 sex trafficking case, which occurred in Mexico. These cases demonstrated that the United States was ill equipped to deal with trafficking cases. However, with today’s advances in technology, databases are used to file cases based on the type of trafficking activity. Judge Chen explained the difficulties associated with identifying victims and cooperating with other countries.

The focus is now on the survivors of trafficking and how they must not be ignored as human beings. The trafficking victim is not the “other.” Judge Chen closed her discussion by urging personnel to stop asking victims to tell their stories; instead, she said the focus should be on life after trafficking.… <Read More>