There are few other human rights abuses on which there prevails such widespread ignorance than the scourge of 21st Century slavery. More persons are in bondage today, an estimated 27,000,000 worldwide, than at any time when indentured servitude was overtly legal. As those who attended a recent Pasadena, California forum learned, this is not a growing menace limited to the far-away killing fields of Africa or the sweatshops of Southeast Asia. According to the forum's speakers, there are likely thousands of individuals currently in brutal slavery in Southern California communities and neighborhoods alone.
Honoring United Nations Human Rights Day, Youth for Human Rights International sponsored the December 11, 2010 human trafficking forum at the Church of Scientology of Pasadena, as part of its ongoing campaign to raise awareness about this widespread and growing rights abuse. YHRI's anti-slavery efforts in recent years have included educational seminars, conferences and media briefings in countries including Ghana, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan and the USA. The event was organized and hosted by Tim Bowles, YHRI International Development Director.
Vital information on human trafficking from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was shown to forum participants
Forum speakers included Rohida Kahn, Victims Assistance Coordinator for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Brad Dacus, Esq., President of Pacific Justice Institute, Robin Sax, Esq., author, media commentator and anti-slavery advocate and Logan Clarke, Clarke Investigations International, a veteran rescuer of youth from the international sex trade. Phil Ludwig, President of Teen Rescue, also briefed the assembly on his group's efforts to care for teens lucky enough to escape from trafficking rings based in the U.S.
Robin Sax, Esq. presented the truth about sex trafficking and
teenage "prostitution" at the Pasadena forum
Ms. Rohida Kahn,
Victims Assistance Coordinator for the U.S. Department
of Homeland Security
Attorney and author Robin Sax previewed the documentary Project Playground on the U.S. sex trade. Executive producers of the film include George Clooney and Steve Soderbergh. "There is a vast operation of teenage 'prostitution' in the U.S.," Ms. Sax pointed out. However, she explained that the public commonly views "prostitution" as implying some degree of consent by the persons selling their bodies. Ms. Sax observed that the entire sex trade for underage teens is slavery/trafficking by definition since it is legally impossible for such girls and boys to give consent for such activity. Ms. Sax called for wider and more effective training of law enforcement for the ability to spot such sex trafficking.
YHRI International Development Director Tim Bowles
and Brad Dacus, Esq., President of Pacific Justice Institute
at the trafficking forum in Pasadena
Constitutional litigator Mr. Dacus covered the "supply and demand" realities of human trafficking and cautioned against monetary "incentives" for traffickers to give up those they hold in bondage (i.e. buying slaves for the purpose of freeing them) as an inadvertent means to increase demand, rather than reduce it. He called for criminal consequences of engaging in trafficking that will motivate even the "bad guys" to get out of the business.
Mr. Logan Clarke, veteran rescuer of youth from the international sex trade, describes human trafficking at the Pasadena, California forum
From his decades of experience as an investigator combating the international and domestic slavery trade, Logan Clarke labeled human trafficking as the most despicable human rights abuse of our time. Mr. Clarke provided a detailed "on the streets" view of teen sex exploitation, including trafficker methods to imprison and subjugate young girls into the most dehumanizing conditions imaginable. He also described the methodical, sometimes dangerous means necessary to rescue such children from such bondage.
According to Mr. Clarke, there are as many as 100,000 underage teens brought into the sex trade each year in the U.S. alone. Clarke urged the audience to contact their government representatives about this human rights abuse, with "volumes of old-school letters and faxes that cannot be overlooked by their very bulk," and to strive to educate and motivate others to do the same.