“ ... we believe that all children depend upon adults for safety and security in a world that does not always value children;
All children are affected first and most deeply by those things that work against health and wholeness:
where there is war, children are frightened and without a safe place ... ”
(A Vision for Children and the Church, adopted by the 203rd General Assembly, 1993)
In times of war or armed conflict, the most vulnerable depend upon adults for safety and security. But in many war-torn parts of the world, children are not only frightened and without a safe place, they are forced to engage in warfare as child soldiers. Child soldiers are considered to be victims of human trafficking when they have been recruited unlawfully through force, fraud, or coercion. Many children are abducted to fight on the front lines. Others are unlawfully made to work as porters, cooks, guards, servants, messengers, or spies. Young girls can be forced to marry or have sex with adult soldiers. Both girls and boys are often sexually abused and are at high risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
Hilton’s Tepid Response to PC(USA) Call to Prevent Child Sex Trafficking at World Cup
Faith-based investors recently partnered with South African churches and child advocacy organizations to raise awareness about child sex trafficking during the World Cup. Major companies with hotels in South Africa were asked to undertake robust efforts to combat the exploitation of children for sexual purposes through policy declarations, education of staff and customers and increased interaction with local officials charged with protecting children.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), through its Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee (MRTI) and Presbyterian Women, coordinated the approach to Hilton Hotels. However, the company did not respond, a pattern it has displayed with previous contacts about this important issue.
MRTI had been in touch urging Hilton to endorse the Code of Conduct, an industry driven initiative for responsible tourism in partnership with ECPAT International, funded by UNICEF and supported by the UNWTO. The Code provides a set of standards and programs to assist the travel and tourism industry in addressing child sex trafficking.
While Hilton Hotels stiffed the churches, it did respond to an inquiry by the Business and Human Rights Resource Center. Unfortunately, Hilton ducked responsibility for its hotels outside the United States and provided no information on what it was actually doing. Fortunately, other hotel chains were more cooperative. Accor (Novotel, Mercure and Sofitel) and Carlson (Radisson and Country Inn and Suites) provided comprehensive responses on their programs, staff training and public education efforts.
U.S. State Department recognizes Laura Germino of CIW as anti-trafficking “hero”
Ten years ago, with the passage in Congress of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (the law used to bring criminal charges of slavery against employers in the U.S. today), the U.S. State Department began issuing a yearly report on trends in international slavery and efforts to combat it, called the “Trafficking in Persons” (TIP) report.
As part of the annual TIP report release, the State Department recognizes the efforts of a handful of individuals from around the world who have shown extraordinary commitment and leadership in the fight against slavery, TIP “Heroes” as the State Department calls them.
This year, Laura Germino, the CIW’s Anti-Slavery Campaign coordinator, has been chosen to receive this terrific distinction, and when she does, she will be the first U.S.-based recipient to receive the recognition. Further, the State Department has requested that the CIW’s Modern-Day Slavery Museum serve as the backdrop for the 2010 TIP report ceremony.
The prophet Isaiah reminds us that God desires we “let the oppressed go free and break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:6b). We give thanks for Laura and the work of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, for the thousands of farmworkers they have assisted and for the way in which they have helped the PC(USA) bear witness to God’s intention of well-being for all people.
President Obama Declares January National Human Trafficking Prevention Month
January 2010 – Insisting that fighting modern-day slavery is a shared responsibility President Barack Obama urged all Americans to educate themselves on the signs and consequences of human trafficking, declaring January to be National Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
His stirring pronouncement made on January 4 begins, "The United States was founded on the principle that all people are born with an unalienable right to freedom — an ideal that has driven the engine of American progress throughout our history. As a nation, we have known moments of great darkness and greater light; and dim years of chattel slavery illuminated and brought to an end by President Lincoln's actions and a painful Civil War. Yet even today, the darkness and inhumanity of enslavement exists. Millions of people worldwide are held in compelled service, as well as thousands within the United States. During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we acknowledge that forms of slavery still exist in the modern era, and we recommit ourselves to stopping the human traffickers who ply this horrific trade ...” Read the full statement
Human Trafficking Awareness Training is available to presbyteries. Learn more.
Human trafficking awareness training available to presbyteries
The gentle morning light streamed through the arched windows of Mulberry Presbyterian Church, warming the wooden pews of the sanctuary, where more than 150 FBI agents, Presbyterian clergy, social workers, law enforcement, human services college students and medical professionals gathered for a day-long training on human trafficking in early September. Sponsored by the Presbytery of Charlotte and the PC(USA), the training was led by the Freedom Network Training Institute, whose leaders from the fields of social service, law and community-based organizations have been on the front lines of investigating cases, assisting victims and working with government and law enforcement to prosecute these crimes.