Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Slave Next Door

The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today, written by Kevin Bales and Ron Soodalter,  is dedicated to bringing the stories of slaves around the world to light. Most of the work studies domestic slavery and labor. There is a chapter written about sex-trafficking and sex slavery as well.  I am posting below quotations from the text that I have found to be key stories and information and been thought- provoking for me.

1) This is a story about Sandra, a married mother from Texas, who wanted a maid to do housework so she went to Mexico and scammed a family into employing their daughter, Maria, as a housekeeper. Little did they know, what would happen…. “The work, as described, was much like what Maria was doing already doing at home, and with the promise of education and opportunity, Sandra’s (*Maria’s eventual slave keeper) offer made an enticing package. The face that Sandra herself was Mexican born helped Maria’s parents feel they could trust her, and they gave their permission. Sandra smuggled Maria across the border in her expensive car and drove to her home in Laredo.
On arrival, Maria was dragged into hell. Sandra used violence and terror to squeeze work and obedience from the child. From early morning till midafternoon, Maria cooked, cleaned, scrubbed, and polished. If Maria dozed off from exhaustion, or when Sandra decided she wasn’t working fast enough, Sandra would blast pepper stray into Maria’s eyes. A broom was broken over the girl’s back and a few days later, a bottle against her head. At one point, Sandra tortured the twelve-year old by jamming a garden tool up her vagina. That was Maria’s workday; her “time off” was worse.
When Maria wasn’t working, Sandra would chain her to a pole in the backyard without food or water. An eight-foot concrete fence kept her hidden from neighbors. After chaining her, Sandra would sometimes force Maria to eat dog feces. Then Maria would be left alone, her arms chained behind her with a padlock, her legs chained and locked together till the next morning, when work and torture would begin again. Through the long afternoon and night, Maria would fade in and out of consciousness from dehydration, and in her hunger she would sometimes scoop dirt into her mouth. Like most slaves in America, Maria was in shock, disoriented, isolated and dependent. To maintain control, Sandra kept Maria hungry and in pain.” (Page 3-4)

2) Then in February, the girl was hospitalized for nearly two weeks and diagnosed with AIDS. Shortly after she left the hospital, Evans (her pimp) put her back to work. The government secretly recorded a telephone conversation between Evans and an associate, in which they discussed the girls condition.
Associate: She’s in her last stages, dog. You fucked that girl up, man…When I told you she was sick, dog, don’t put her on the street….you was like, fuck it, I need the money. That whore was too sick, dog.
Evans: Listen. Even though you’re sick, you can still get out there and pull tricks. If you’re so sick where you can’t walk, that’s one thing. But if you are still physically able to walk, she should be able to go get that money.
The child worked for Evans until May 2005, when she was again hospitalized for AIDS treatment. Her body was covered with blisters and sores. She was 14 years old.

 1970 Immigration Act: “allowed the government to deport any immigrant engaging in any form of prostitution within three year of his or her admission into the country.  (page 11)
White Slave Traffic Act: “the federal government could prosecute anyone who transported young women and forced them into prostitution. (page 11)
“Today, there is only a glimmer of an organized response to our need to study and understand the lives of slaves and slaveholders in America. We have no journal, no institute, no accepted body of knowledge, only the first few college courses and a loose handful of experts who are learning on the job and piecing things together as best as they can. The analogy to domestic violence and torture teaches us the sooner we build the institutions that will lead us to a deeper understanding of slavery in the US, the sooner we will be able to crack this crime” (page 26)
 “New York trafficking law, in which the difference between penalties for sex trafficking (a B felony) as opposed to those for labor trafficking (a D felony) Is vast.” (page 113)

Warning Signs of Slavery (page 41 and 163)
“Is this person unable to move freely, or is she being watched or followed?
Does she seem frightened to talk in the presence of other?
Does this person look to be of school age, but is she regularly seen working during school hours?
Are these signs of assault- bruises, cuts, bandages, limping?
Does she seem disoriented, confused, malnourished, or frightened?
Is there no freedom to change employers?
Does the individual control their earnings?

 (lackof) Services for Victims
‘Woomer Deter says “Without a slam dunk case- with barded wire and beating to place before a jury- there is less likelihood of prosecution’ As a result, victims hand in limbo- no social services, no housing or food allowance, no acknowledge paced in the world of people. Victims are like ghosts, they will often simply disappear.” (page 73)

“The treatment of children who have been liberated from sexual abuse and exploitation should be guided by our sense of decency, not by our concerns over government budgets or policy. To require a child who has been raped and assaulted to make mature decisions about participating in a prosecution before he or she gets desperately needed care is both cruel and misguided. To take a child out of violence slavery just to lock her up in a detention center calls into question our humanity. Children are not criminals. Our national response to the needs of enslaved children is disorganized, harmful, and an ineffective way to address this crime. It is time for the lawmakers to fix this mess, as they do so to ask themselves, “what would I do if this were my child?” (page 102)

“Myles states…”and yet when we try to enroll them (domestic sex trafficked victims) in the federal government’s per capita system for serving trafficked victims, we’re told that the system is currently only available to foreign-born victims.” (page 103)

“DOJ model advised that ‘prosecution without victim protection is unworkable.’ Nonetheless, fewer than one fifth of the states ‘provide resources, or make explicit provisions for victim services such as shelter, mental and physical services, translation and legal assistance.” (page 201)
Under the Victim Protection and Assistance section of the Report Card on State Action to Combat International Trafficking,  fourteen states that have trafficking laws in place received an F, while six more earned a D, indicating that the majority of states have done little or nothing to provide help or services for the victim. Again, no state got an A, and only three- California, Indiana and Illinois, got Bs.” (Page 204)
“ A lot of well-meaning NGOs and police want to help, but the services these kids need just aren’t there. You can’t send them home, you can’t put them in foster care, and they don’t belong in jail. They need medical and mental health care, help with substance abuse, counseling to get over relationships with pimps.”  (page 231)

“As the system is now structured, each survivor is allowed the same amount of time and services, regardless of the nature and period of enslavement. This policy is both unreal and severely limited in its effectiveness. “ (page 264)

Differences and Similarities of Trafficked People
“Thousands of women and children are trafficked into prostitution and other forms of sex slavery into the United States. Many are immigrants. They come from every corner of the world, by plane, car, trucks, bus, train, boat, or on foot. They share few outward characteristics. Some are Russian high school graduates; often are Mexican indigenous women who have spent more time in farm fields than school. Others are Cameroonians who main interest is in attending college. Some have legitimate papers, others falsified documents, and still others no papers at al. Yet what they do share is the hope and the promise they felt at the beginning of the journey. In story after story, a trafficker often a relative, offers a better life in America. He or she promises steady work with enough pay to send some back to the family, a good home, maybe an American education; in short, all the things we as Americans assume is our birthright. These women and children share a dream, and when it all goes wrong for them, it usually does so in heartbreakingly similar ways as well. Anyone who has ever felt the sudden cold stab of panic can imagine the first moment when a women or child realizes the true nature and the hopelessness of his or her situation. It is often a moment of brutal shock involving beating or rape, often gang rape, intended to remove any resistance. As the body is subjugated, in shock the psyche follows, leaving the victim without the will to resist.” (page 79)
** “ “There are only thirty- nine beds allocated for sexually exploited children in the entire country!’ “- Lois Lee (Page 100) 
“Domestic violence shelters, sadly, may be the ‘best place’ for these victims, but that says more about our governments pitiful response to the issue than it does about the appropriateness  of domestic violence agencies. In my opinion, our shelters are not a good option for trafficking victims… many of us.. do not have extensive security systems, and other needed protections…. Also we can not allow our very limited resources to be diverted. We already turn away far too many domestic violence victims due to lack of room. “ (page 101)
“ ‘The Cambodian government’, says CEOS trail attorney Wendy Walson,  ‘lacks the resources to effectively prosecute the many foreigners who are exploiting their children’ “ (page 94)

“As the NGO Polaris project regulary points out, from Hollywood to the major record companies, to the front-stoop stories of wide-eyed school children, pimps have acquired a glitzy, dangerous, “outlaw” persona.
“ US attorney Tom Moss: “at any given time, 50,000 predators are prowling for children on the Internet.” (page 91)

“The United States…ranks as the world’s largest destination/market country (after Germany) for women and children trafficked for purposes of sexual exploitation in the sex industry” –Criminal Justice Review
“..80% of those who are trafficked are women and girls, and 70% of these end up as victims of sexual exploitation.” – Norma Ramos, co founder of CATW

“Congress may choose to pass a law that makes prostitution a federal crime. There are many forms this law might take, including the Swedish model that leaves the sale of sex as legal while making the purchase illegal.” (page 112)

To Leidholt, the model recently adopted by Sweden would work best for America. This would result in “decriminalizing all the people who are being prostituted….stepping up services, including health care...developing and implementing strong laws against traffickers, including brothel owners and pimps, and holding buyers accountable through low-level criminal sanctions- and repeat offenders, jail” (page 109)
“at the heart of the debate is whether a woman can freely and truly choose to become a prostitute and should be allowed to continue under meaningful protections, or whether all the pressures that drive her into prostitution should be considered coercion and call for serious corrective legal action. Both sides point to the overarching conditions of poverty, sexism, discrimination, violence against women, and lack of education as factors that push a woman towards prostitution.” (page 114)

Slaves in Plain Sight
“It turns out that slaves are all around us, hidden in plain sight- the dishwater in the kitchen of the restaurant where you and your family dined last night; the kids on the corner of Forty-first Street, selling cheap trinkets for a dollar; the man in gray overalls, sweeping the floor of the big-name department store where you buy your Christmas presents. What they share in common is that their lives are not their own, and they deserve better. “ (Page 13)
“It turns out that all of us are responsible for perpetuating slavery by buying, wearing, eating and using the project of slave labor, from cell phones and laptops, to the fruit and vegetables on our table, to the clothes we wear.” – (page 27)
“American consumers don’t want to have slavery woven into the fabric of their daily lives; but unknown to most, it already is. They drink orange juice in the morning; they eat tomatoes with their burger for lunch” (Page 81)

Why Not Run Away?
 "By watching any one of hundreds of cop films and being told over and over that is represents a true picture of like on America streets, the victim develops a terror of leaving the house, let alone running away.
 Taught to fear the police and courts. The police are corrupt….they will arrest you and beat you and immigration authorities will deport you.
The slaveholder instills the fear of retribution against the victim’s family in the country of origin: “if you run, ill have your daughter killed.” 
Feels like enslavement is her own fault/ feels shame
 Language and geographic isolation: “the victim generally doesn’t speak English, nor does she have any sense of location.
 May form bond with the children of the house (domestic slavery) and the thought of leaving them with the enslavers is unthinkable.
“These four cases are not unusual, and they all raise the question of why slaveholders are consistently given prison sentences far shorter than the time they held their victims in slavery” (page 33). 

Psychology of Slaveholders
“We also know that when a slaveholding couple is having martial problems, there is a greater likelihood of physical and sexual abuse of the victim. “ (page 29)
“We still have a lot to learn about the psychology of slaveholders, but one thing about the enslavement of domestic workers is clear. Like rape, this is a crime of power. The ‘profit’ from enslaving a maid, the wage not paid, the overtime she can be forced to work do not add up to vast sums. It is nothing like the kind of money that can be made from forcing trafficked women into prostitution. The families that hold and abuse domestic slave can afford to pay for the same services in the normal way. For this kind of slavery, at least, the allure is power itself” (Page 30)
Cost of slavery
When an average slave in 1850 would have cost the equivalent of $40,000 in modern money, today’s slave can be bought for a few hundred dollars. This cheapness makes the modern slave easily affordable, but it also makes him or her a disposable commodity.” (Page 6)

Corporate Responsibility
“As the CIW sees it, the true key to ending slavery is to prevent it from happening in the first place by targeting the big corporations that buy the produce because they have power over the growers and their subcontractors…. Many of the current labor violations- including a steep increase in the number of trafficking cases- are indirectly driven by the demand for lower and lower prices by the buyer from the big corporations.” (Page 81)

Slave Labor
“For example most of the fireworks used to celebrate the Fourth of July (my comment: our INDEPENDENCE DAY) come from China and some of India, where child slavery in fireworks is well documented. “ (page 141)

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