Hard data on commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC) in the United States is difficult to obtain. One reason is that studies that count the number of exploited child victims and describe their characteristics are expensive to undertake. The population is well hidden. The lack of data undermines our work to protect victims of sex trafficking. There are some research studies on CESC, but they are often criticized for their methods of estimating the number of CSEC or they are based on extrapolations from known populations, not on hard data.
The FBI has a database with a great deal of information and statistics about sexually exploited people, both adults and children, who have been murdered; information that could be helpful when policy makers devise programs and policies for the protection of children. The FBI’s Highway Serial Killer Initiative (HSK Initiative) has been gathering data since at least 2009. The FBI has spoken to the press about the database, including names and details about victims. Beginning in 2010, ECPAT-USA sought information from this database, under the Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), to use it to advocate for better and more specific protection programs for children. Our request is not seeking information that is confidential or would compromise law enforcement efforts to combat human trafficking or solved cases in the HSK Initiative. The FBI has repeatedly denied our requests. Our efforts, and the need for the information have been discussed with Oregon’s Senator Ron Wyden who wrote a letter to the Director of the FBI on our behalf, seeking release of the requested information. We are grateful for Senator Wyden’s support of our efforts to obtain this information as well as his long-term commitment to combat CSEC and provide services to survivors.
Coincidentally, yesterday the FBI announced their latest nationwide sting operation that resulted in the rescue of 79 sexually exploited children, from ages 13 to 17, and the arrest of 104 pimps. While of course we are happy that this large number of children were found and rescued, it also highlights the information that is being kept out of the public view. What about all the youngsters who were not rescued? We are pleased that the FBI continues to track down pimps and help the victims. Without these efforts some of the children who were rescued could have ended up on the long list of victims in the HSK Initiative. Just as the FBI released information about the recently rescued victims, we ask them to release information about those victims who were not as lucky. We ask this in the interest of protecting every child’s right to grow up free from commercial sexual exploitation.
Operation Cross Country is a nationwide recovery effort to rescue the child victims of prostitution and trafficking. In a three day law enforcement action the FBI, in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies, were able to rescue 79 child victims of prostitution and arrest more than 100 pimps.
Click hear to read the FBI’s official statement.
After requesting the statistics on child sex trafficking from the FBI through the Freedom of Information Act, and being repeatedly denied, ECPAT-USA has found an ally once again in Senator Wyden, one of if not the most supportive senators in the federal government.
Click here to read the article or listen to the interview.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child met with representatives of ECPAT-USA and other NGO delegates from the United States this week in Geneva, Switzerland. The Committee’s job is to offer recommendations to governments to improve their efforts to stop the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. This week, the Committee was reviewing the United States government. As part of that review, NGOs submitted information for the committee to take into consideration so that it is fully informed when it offers recommendations to the U.S. government.
The NGOs submitted three different reports.
1) Sixty two organizations submitted signed on to an “Alternative Report” developed by ECPAT-USA.
2) The Children’s Studies Center of Brooklyn College in New York City submitted a separate report specifically measuring how New York State complies with the commitments made by the U.S. government to eliminate the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
3) The Center for the Human Rights of Children at Loyola University Chicago and the Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights at the University of Chicago submitted a report about the sale of children for labor.
The U.S. government had previously reported to the Committee about its efforts to protect children. After this session, the Committee sends additional questions to the U.S. government. In January government representatives will meet with the Committee face to face and then the Committee will make its recommendations. ECPAT-USA uses those recommendations as guidelines for our advocacy for the protection of children. Please click here for more information about the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and what it does.
Pictured from left to right: Maria Woltjen, Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, Katherine Kaufka Walts, Loyola U. Chicago Center for the Human Rights of Children, Jonathan Todres, Professor of Law at Georgia State University College of Law, Gertrud Lenzer, Director of the Children’s Studies Center at Brooklyn College, and Carol Smolenski, Executive Director of ECPAT-USA, in front of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Real Hospitality Group (RHG) has become the first hotel management company in the United States to enter the fight against the commercial sexual exploitation of children by signing the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct.
“The issue of commercial sexual exploitation of children is abhorrent”, says Rick Day, Chief Operating Officer. “As a leader in the hospitality industry, Real Hospitality Group is proud to use our sphere of influence to do whatever we can to protect the most vulnerable. Responsibility to our communities demands a public stance on this issue and we are pleased to partner with ECPAT and publically sign the Code of Conduct.”
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, a national leader in the fight against sex trafficking, spoke out at the signing ceremony about the importance of private sector involvement in stopping human trafficking.
“With sex tourism, and more specifically the sexual commercial exploitation of children, reaching epidemic proportions, today’s announcement marks an important step. I applaud ECPAT for developing the Child-Protection Code of Conduct, which establishes important safeguards against trafficking to be adopted by good corporate citizens in the tourism and hospitality industries, and I salute the Real Hospitality Group on becoming the first hotel management company in America to sign on to the Code. I encourage other companies to
follow suit, and look forward to the day when the Code reflects industry-wide standards and practices. We know that law enforcement authorities cannot, by themselves, win the struggle against human trafficking, the twenty-first century form of slavery; and that’s why enlisting the support and active participation of the private sector in this critical effort is so important.”
Click here for the entire press release
From left to right: RHG Chief Operating Officer Rick Day, Congressional Representative for NY-14 Carolyn Maloney, ECPAT-USA Executive Director Carol Smolenski
Mark you calendars, Project Girl Performance Collective debuts TRAFFICKED!
Trafficked tells the story sex slavery and child exploitation through the eyes of fifteen young women across the globe. In an ensemble devised performance constructed by interviews, research and media, the cast puts a name and face to the thousands of undocumented girls and boys who are trafficked into the billion dollar sex industry each year.
Cost: $18 General Admission (Proceeds will be shared with ECPAT-USA & GEMS)
Friday 6/8/12 – 6:00pm = Performance #2
Sunday 6/10/12 – 5:30pm = Performance #3
Saturday 6/16/12 – 4:30pm = Performance #4
Thursday 6/21/12 – 5:00pm = Performance #5
Saturday 6/23/12 – 1:30pm = Performance #6
(A few dates will have celebrity guests)
Bleecker Street Theatre (Upstairs)
45 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10012
Transit: Bleecker St (4 & 6)
Broadway – Lafayette St (B, D, F, M)
Prince St (N, R)
PURCHASE TICKETS ONLINE HERE
TRAFFICKED in Huffington Post!