Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Family is a Forever Solution

After attending a recent conference on Human Trafficking which focused on the shortcomings of State Run Foster Care programs, I performed a progressive Google-image search for the words "Child," then "Adopted Child," and finally, "Foster Child."

I presumed a quick search on Google would reflect an interesting social thought or emotion on the issue. The search for "Child" showed me pictures of innocence and joy; "Adopted Child" gave me mixed-race families and happiness; but "Foster Child" showed me both innocence and isolation, smiles and tears, open arms and fetal positions. Why were negative images mixed in with foster care?
Don’t get me wrong; I realize that a Google search is one step below Wikipedia on information credibility, but my little social experiment got me thinking about the importance of stable families for children.
Many credible organizations, including The National Council For Adoption (NCFA), actively promote the safe, stable, and loving forever families for every child. However they are assembled, loving families provide safety, warmth, love, shelter, support, encouragement, and social interaction-things that all children deserve. That is why organizations like NCFA have a clear focus on the positive, loving permanent placement of children in loving family homes. One of the most compelling reasons for this is the fact that human trafficking iss so common among children in foster care and often occurs among adopted children if appropriate reviews, supports, and laws are not available or enforced.
Keep in mind that perspective is important. Recently, the House Ways & Means, Human Resource Subcommittee held a hearing on "Preventing and Addressing Sex Trafficking of Youth in Foster Care." At the hearing, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter of New York shared that most of the 400,000 children in the US foster care system are in loving and safe family settings. Families who have opened their hearts and homes to children who need them. Without diminishing the weight of this issue, keep in mind we are discussing the thousands of children who are NOT in these "centers of safety" and the dangers they face.
Human Trafficking was also addressed at 43rd Annual Congressional Black Caucus meeting where a presentation entitled, "Modern Day Slavery: Human Trafficking in America" was presented by Representative Sheila Jackson. There, a panel spoke about a system that sometimes fails to protect its dependents, though ironically its primary goal is to remove children from unsafe environments.
While I remain skeptical of all statistics related to human trafficking, some credible research was presented at this forum. For instance, in New York 85% of trafficked minors have either a social services or foster care background, while the national number is close to 60% of trafficked youth. 
One has to wonder if it was the foster system itself that provided a segue for children to become victims of trafficking-or vice versa-if trafficked and high-risk youth were put into the foster care system. Which comes first? The answer is simple: both are true. Remember, this is human trafficking. There are no set rules or "normal" means of engagement.
The unfortunate combination perpetuates the cycle for victims and makes this problem all the more difficult to solve. The entire premise seems to boil down to one descriptor: vulnerability.
Children’s dependency makes them highly susceptible to coercion. Add to that traumatic and sometimes indefinite transitions into placement, and the vulnerability increases. At the "Preventing and Addressing Sex Trafficking of Youth in Foster Care" hearing, Withelma Pettigrew, a previous foster child and trafficked survivor, testified that foster children like herself have difficulty creating meaningful and positive relationships, become accustomed to isolation, and are often not involved in making their own life decisions (location, social workers, schools, activities, friends etc.) A perpetual state of mental and physical transition like this only heightens their vulnerability to manipulative and dangerous exploiters. The foster care system can make it seem normal and acceptable that their lives be unstable and they may accept the dangers of trafficking as one more hard transition – making them far too easy a target. Congressman Erik Paulsen of Minnesota quoted the Chicago Tribune; "Because many girls in foster care feel starved for a sense of family, experts say it is not uncommon for pimps to target group homes."
Of course, many dedicated professionals-representatives, judges, lawyers, social workers, agencies, advocates, and others are beginning to understand this dangerous network and are working to reduce the correlation between foster care and human trafficking. Every effort should be made to keep children safe while in foster care, this is essential. However, while safe foster care is important, it is only an interim solution.
Family is the forever solution. A loving, stable, permanent family and support system are the best protection and the best preventative measure to keep children out of particularly vulnerable environments. It’s important to review, educate, prepare, and support families to ensure that every child not only has a family, but thrives there. A permanent, nurturing forever family is the best solution to Human Trafficking - and many other societal ills. Let's not lose sight of that.

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dubai - Center Of Tourism and Torture

Four women have been sentenced to ten years in a UAE prison for luring a 23-year-old Moldovan woman to Dubai with the promise of a well-paid dancing job.
The convicted women worked in tandem with a fifth person in Moldova who placed advertisements seeking women willing to work as dancers in Dubai a global tourism destination. One of the advertisements was seen by the victim who was working at an internet shopping company for less than $400 a year.
“The ad said the pay was very tempting,” recalled the 23-year-old. She called the number and was told to meet a woman at a restaurant in Moldova’s capital Chisinau for an interview.
“She told me I would dance at a restaurant in a Dubai hotel and would be paid well and provided with accommodation and a driver,” said the woman, who was told she would need to attend dancing lessons.
She then traveled to another Moldovan city where she met "MA," a 64-year-old Russian, with whom she stayed for five days while her visa was arranged. The two women then flew to Dubai on January 27, 2012.
The woman was taken to an apartment in Mutaina where she was introduced to three more women - "AM," a 51-year-old Azerbaijani; "DH," a 43-year-old Ukrainian; "OS," a 49-year-old Azerbaijani – who took her passport and told her she would stay there while they prepared her for work.
The next day she was introduced to a string of men and told she must have sex with them for money.
“I never imagined I would be in such a situation,” said the woman. She cried and begged to be sent back to Moldova, but eventually gave in.
She continued to argue with her four employers and was moved to another brothel where she met two prostitutes who told her there was no escape.
“I was so depressed that I was getting closer to the idea of suicide,” said the woman. She was forced to have sex with at least ten men per day.
After a while she got in touch with police by using the mobile phone of one of her customers, the majority of whom were from Pakistan and Bangladesh. She left a voice message explaining her ordeal.
Police raided the brothel about a week later and rescued the woman, who was found to be suffering from chronic hepatitis which she caught from one of her customers.
The Criminal Court found the four women guilty of human trafficking and other charges including running a brothel and imprisoning a woman against her will.
It ordered all four to be placed under close police supervision during their imprisonment. All will be deported after serving their jail terms.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Fighting For the Victims

Right now, the nonprofit Mainely Girls is trying to raise $100,000 to buy a new mobile forensic van for the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit, which investigates child pornography cases.
This police unit pursues one to four child exploitation targets per week and will likely make 70 to 80 arrests this year. To do its work, it uses two retrofitted vans to preview electronic devices outside homes of suspected offenders. The previewing process allows police to analyze information on devices — subject to the same legal requirements as other crime-scene evidence — to identify which laptops or iPads are downloading or sharing pornographic material of children, so they can collect them as evidence and pinpoint perpetrators.
A new van would pack more electrical power, so equipment doesn’t fail, and it would let investigators search faster. It would also give them room to conduct interviews and do polygraph tests on site, to determine whether the offender is not just watching child pornography but possibly participating in the direct abuse of children. That’s an important step — because child pornography investigations often turn up offenses in which someone has had direct abusive contact with children.
In comparison with the vast, complicated, global problem of child exploitation, purchasing a van for the unit presents one real concrete goal that can be accomplished by concerned Maine residents. The tricky questions remain. How can Maine and the United States crack down on a crime that has exploded as more people have gained Internet access, file sharing technology has improved, and computer memory capacity has grown?
Police across the country are doing more each year to find and arrest those who possess or trade child pornography. (A small minority sell it.) State and local law enforcement agencies reported nearly 10,500 computer forensic examinations for child exploitation investigations in 2007. In 2009, that total nearly doubled to 19,269, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Of course, the number of potential cases is undoubtedly far greater; the Maine computer crimes unit gets more referrals for child pornography cases than it can investigate.
As police nationally do more to advance their technological capabilities, improve efficiency, increase investigative capacity, collect data and update training for investigators and prosecutors, we would also urge them to incentivize local law enforcement to devise ways to better identify victims, so they may be rescued. Until the children are found, they may continue to be exploited. The amount of material makes it a difficult task, as the work must be done by human eyes.
The work is being done to an extent at the national level: The Federal Bureau of Investigation analyzes the audio in videos, looks at furniture, clothing or other items in photos to try to identify where images were taken, and ultimately tries to pinpoint details about the children so they may be rescued. And the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children serves as a central repository for information regarding images of sexually exploited children.
But state law enforcement agencies, like the computer crimes unit in Maine, can be an invaluable resource. Even though the Maine unit’s primary focus when it comes to child pornography is finding those who possess, distribute and make it, investigators have helped identify at least 26 child victims across the U.S. and in Canada. If Maine can do that work on the side, imagine what could be accomplished with a more concerted, collaborative effort at agencies across the U.S.
“My dream would be to set up a nonprofit where all we do would be: Find these kids,” said Lt. Glenn Lang, who leads Maine’s computer crimes unit.
He’s on to something. Last month, 17 veterans were sworn in as part of a one-year pilot program called Human Exploitation Rescue Operative Child Rescue Corps, or HERO Corps. Developed by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Defense and National Association to Protect Children, the trained veterans — under the supervision of Homeland Security Investigations agents in different offices around the country — will conduct computer forensic exams to identify and rescue the victims depicted in child pornography.
It’s an example of one of the pieces of a much larger effort that will require the expertise of many agencies to tackle a crime that’s never victimless.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Parents Attempt to Sell Baby . . . Online

A young couple hailing from the southern coastal Fujian province in China was arrested on Saturday after attempting to sell their baby boy online in the most recent case in a spate of child trafficking incidents in the country.  

According to the local newspaper Southeast Express, the child’s father, going by the pseudonym of "Abin," posted an advertisement online offering up his 1-month-old son for 40,000 Yuan, roughly $6,568, and waited for a buyer. The post happened to catch the attention of a child trafficking volunteer named Zaizai, who engaged Abin in an online exchange, pretending to be interested in purchasing the newborn.

Abin designated a children’s hospital in the city of Fuzhou in Fujian province to make the exchange. Zaizai tipped off local police of the time and location, and authorities were able to intercept the child and his father. Upon being apprehended by authorities, Abin was reportedly unaware of his illegal actions. “I’m selling my own baby,” he allegedly said to authorities, according to the report. “Is that illegal?

According to police reports, Abin later disclosed that he was already a parent to three other children, and had a meager income of just two to three thousand Yuan a month and could not afford to care for another child.
“I had intended to put him up for adoption, but didn’t know how,” he lamented.

Just a month earlier, a different couple was also caught putting their unborn baby up online in exchange for cash. The couple, who were offering their newborn for a price tag of 50,000 Yuan, managed to successfully go through with the sale after the birth of their daughter. Upon receiving their payment, the couple reportedly went on an online shopping spree, which included purchases of an iPhone and other items like expensive sneakers. 

Similarly, the couple also testified in court that they were acting in the best interests of the child, adding that they did not have steady incomes and would have struggled to care for the baby girl. By auctioning her off, they hoped that the child would be given a more stable home and eventually get a good education. “We did not give the baby away for money but to give [the baby] more security,” the couple told the Telegraph.

Unfortunately, illegal child trafficking is not uncommon in China. Due to a variety of factors, like poverty, lack of information and resources, many parents resort to illegally selling their children online or through black market rings.

In August, police in the central coastal province of Jiangsu province broke up a criminal network of illegal child traffickers that extended across four Chinese provinces. According to a report by the China Daily, the group had illegally trafficked 10 boys in under 12 months, and made more than 500,000 Yuan over the past 16 months. The reports said that the babies from impoverished areas of China, like Yunnan and Sichuan, sold their children, while couples in more wealthy provinces like Fujian and Guangdong bought baby boys from traffickers.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Oregon Woman Discovers Note Hidden Inside Halloween Decoration from the Slave Who Made It

A former Chinese labor camp inmate has thanked the Oregon woman who helped expose his plight after finding his plea for help hidden in Halloween decorations. 
The letter about horrendous working conditions at a Chinese labor camp was found by Julie Keith last year, stuffed between styrofoam headstones of a Totally Ghoul decoration box sold at Kmart.
The man named only as Mr Zhang, who spent two and a half years in the notorious Masanjia labor camp in 2008, thanked Ms Keith for her 'righteous action that helped people in desperation'.
He had been freed from the camp by the time the letter he risked his life to write was discovered, but Mr Zhang says he is grateful that Ms Keith helped shine a light on the appalling conditions there.
The mother-of two, from Portland, had originally thought the letter was a hoax but, after reading up on forced labor camps, she tried to publicize Mr Zhang's plight.
Since receiving the note, written in broken English and Chinese, Ms Keith is more careful about buying products from abroad.
'It is quite ironic that it was a bloody graveyard kit that I purchased - knowing that the people who made these kits were desperate and bloody themselves,' Ms Keith said.
'Now I check the labels and try not to buy things I don't necessarily need, especially if it is made in China,' she added.

In his first TV interview Mr Zhang, who was sent to the camp just before Beijing hosted the Olympic Games in 2008, says he is still haunted by his time there.
The follower of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement said: 'For people who have never been there, it's impossible to imagine. The first thing they do is to take your human dignity away and humiliate you.'


If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization. Thousands people here who are under the persicution [sic] of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever.

This product produced by Unit 8, Department 2, Mashanjla Labour Camp, Shen Young, Liaoning, China.

People who work here have to work 15 hours a day without Saturday (or) Sunday break and any holidays, otherwise they will suffer torturement [sic], beat and rude remark, nearly no payment (10 Yuan/one month).

People who work here suffer punishment 1-3 years averagelly [sic], but without court sentence. Many of them are Falun Gong practitioners who are totally innocent people. Only because they have different believe [sic] to the CCPG, they often suffer more punishment than others.
He claimed he was systematically beaten, suffered sleep deprivation and was tortured at the camp in Shenyang, the provincial capital of Liaoning.
'Making products turned out to be an escape from the horrible violence,' he said. 'We thought we could protect ourselves, and avoid verbal and physical assaults as long as we worked and did the job well.'
Mr Zhang came up with the idea of trying to alert the outside world to the prisoners' plight after they were ordered to make Halloween decorations. 
'I saw the packaging and figured the products were bound for some English-speaking countries,' he said. 'I had this idea of telling the outside world what was happening there-  it was a revelation even to someone like me who had spent my entire life in China.'
Using a pen and paper he smuggled into the camp, and writing late at night to avoid being caught by the guards who watched even as inmates tried to sleep under the glare of electric lights, Mr Zhang wrote about 20 letters - one of which reached Ms Keith.
The unsigned note began: 'Sir: If you occasionally buy this product, please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization'
'Thousands people here who are under the persicution [sic] of the Chinese Communist Party Government will thank and remember you forever.'
When the Oregon mother was unable to get a satisfactory response from the agencies she contacted, she alerted the world's press to her discovery, which made the forced labor camps the center of international attention.
She contacted U.S. customs officials who have filed her report, but said they told her there was little they could do. 
A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) declined to confirm the existence of an investigation, but said: 'These allegations are very serious and are an investigative priority for ICE.'
The camp where Mr Zhang was forced to work for long hours has since been closed down as the new leadership in China makes the first steps to reform of its 'reeducation through labor' policy.
A 50-year-old Chinese farmer, who was also detained at the camp, returned to it last month after hearing that the remaining inmates had been released. 
'We had the 4:15 am wake-up call, worked from 6 am to noon, got a 30-minute lunch and bathroom break, and resumed working until 5:30 pm. Sometimes we had to stay up until midnight if there was too much work - and if you couldn't finish your work, you would be punished,' Liu Hua said. 
Ms Liu, who suffered from high blood pressure and malnutrition, said she was denied medical care and guards ordered fellow inmates to beat her for being defiant. 
She lost consciousness during the beating but, when she came round, she was ordered back to work.
'This place was Hell on Earth,' she said.
Chinese officials have acknowledged poor living and labor conditions, but denied the use of torture. 
An official also confirmed that the letter Ms Keith received did come from the Masanjia men's camp. International reports about its discovery caused a stir in the camp.
Alongside the production work there are hours of 're-education classes' involving endless repetition of camp rules or singing of patriotic songs while standing in the sun.
People like Mr Zhang who speak out about the cruelty of the camps can often find themselves severely punished.
Journalist and former New York Times photographer Du Bin, who released a documentary on the Masanjia camp featuring interviews with former inmates has been detained by security officials since May 31, according to his sister.
Most of the products are made for use in China, but inmates say they also made coat linings labelled 'Made In Italy' and Christmas wreaths for South Korea, among other items for export. 
Amnesty International believes there are more than 300 of these camps.
The camp drew press attention again in April when Beijing-based Lens Magazine published accounts by former detainees, in which they described being shocked with electric batons, starved, and beaten.
The magazine quoted the diary of Masanjia inmate Wang Guilan as saying the camp accepted pregnant women and disabled individuals, forcing them to work for up to 14 hours a day, or risk being beaten.
In an interview with Radio Free Asia's Mandarin Service in January, Ms Guilan said that guards at the Masanjia women's camp chained detainees up and tortured them in hideous ways, including sexually.
A Kmart spokesman, said in a statement that an internal investigation uncovered no violations of company rules that bar the use of forced labor. 
The Chinese Communist Party announced this year that it would end the practice by the end of 2013, but said there has been no further public detail.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Google Makes Promise to Protect Children Online

In response to the alarming proliferation of photos and videos containing child pornography on the Internet, Web search giants Google and Microsoft plan to introduce measures to block the content from their search results.
The modifications will prevent more than 100,000 search terms from generating results that link to images and videos associated with child sex abuse and instead trigger a warning that the associated content is illegal. The restrictions, which apply to English-speaking countries, will be expanded to more than 150 languages in the next six months, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt wrote in an article for the Daily Mail on Sunday.
"We've listened, and in the last three months put more than 200 people to work developing new, state-of-the-art technology to tackle the problem," Schmidt wrote. "We've fine-tuned Google search to prevent links to child sexual abuse material from appearing in our results."
Once it's determined that content represents genuine abuse and not innocent bath time photos, the content is assigned a unique digital fingerprint that speeds the detection and deletion process when the images appear in Google's system, he wrote. "Microsoft deserves a lot of credit for developing and sharing its picture detection technology," Schmidt wrote.
Engineers at YouTube have also created new technology to identify child porn videos on the video-sharing site, and the company plans to make the technology available to other Internet companies and child protection agencies, Schmidt wrote.
The effort is the result of a call to arms this summer by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who praised the move as a "really significant step forward."
"Google and Microsoft have come a long way," he told the Daily Mail. "A recent deterrence campaign from Google led to a 20 percent drop off in people trying to find illegal content, so we know this sort of action will make a difference."
The companies have long been focused on eradicating child pornography from the Internet. Google announced plans in June to build a database of child porn images that can be shared with other tech companies, law enforcement, and charities around the world, allowing for greater collaboration toward content removal. In addition to joining the Technology Coalition, which looks at how technology can be used to end child exploitation, the search giant has also donated millions of dollars to nonprofit organizations that work for the cause.

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cartels in Connecticut

A year-long investigation came to a close Thursday as city, state and federal authorities broke up a sex trafficking operation centered in the Hollow neighborhood of Bridgeport, Connecticut in the United States.

Three men were arrested and are facing prostitution-related charges, police said.

Emiliano Alameda-Cabrera, 36, Dardo Reyes, 29, and Patricio Reyes, 33, were all held with bail set at $1 million.

The Bridgeport trafficking group is believed to be part of a larger multi-state ring trafficking in women, mainly of Mexican descent, police said. The ring may have ties to organized crime in Mexico.

Women were rotated in and out of a house in Bridgeport, and new women arrived by train or were picked up from New York about once a week, sometimes more often, police said. While in Bridgeport, the women were not allowed to leave the house.

As part of the investigation, a confidential informant was sent in to pose as a customer, police said. The informant was taken downstairs in the house, shown several girls and quoted a price for sex.

On a second occasion, the informant was handed a business card and told, "I will drive the girls to you. Just call me," according to police.

"This truly is a sad case," said police Chief Joseph L. Gaudett Jr.

On Thursday, authorities executed search and seizure warrants at 246 Lexington Ave. and 204-206 Olive St. and arrested the three men.

Five children were placed in the care of the Department of Children and Families. Two women suspected of being prostitutes were also located and are being provided services by the International Institute of Connecticut, police said.

The investigation remains active in New York and Massachusetts.

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Prostitution Arrests on The Berlin Turnpike . . . But Not For the Men

Police in Berlin, Connecticut have arrested two women on prostitution charges after a raid at a motel on the Berlin Turnpike in Newington.

Detectives ran an undercover operation yesterday and arrested Rehana Brown, 29, of Springfield Massachusetts, and Abigail Claudio, 19.
Brown was charged with prostitution after offering to engage in sexual conduct in exchange for a fee. 
Claudio was also charged with prostitution and second-degree failure to appear after discovering an active warrant.
Were any men arrested? No. The customers, the "johns," the men who buy the women - are enjoying their weekend at home with their families.

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Project Spade: 348 People Arrested Worldwide in Child Pornography Bust

Police have arrested 348 people in dozens of countries on child pornography charges connected with an online video company based in Toronto.
The company, Azov Films, sold DVDs by mail and streamed online videos of naked Eastern European boys ranging in age from toddlers to teens. The company claimed the films were naturist movies.
A three-year investigation found more than 350,000 images and 9,000 videos of child sexual abuse – “some of the worst (officers) have seen,” Inspector Joanna Beaven-Desjardins, head of the Toronto police’s sex crimes unit, told a news conference Thursday.
Company president Brian Way, from Toronto, was arrested in May 2011 after an undercover operation. Police allege he taught people how to create the videos he distributed.
On Thursday, hundreds of customers and amateur filmmakers were arrested – 108 in Canada, 76 in the United States and 164 in other countries, including Spain, Sweden and Australia. Investigators said more arrests are likelyforthcoming.
"Of concern to the investigators was the number of people (arrested) who have close contact with children,”  Beaven-Desjardins said. “The arrests included 40 school teachers, nine doctors and nurses, 32 people who volunteered with children, six law enforcement personnel, nine pastors or priests and three foster parents.”
Along with Project Spade's 348 arrests, 386 children were rescued worldwide.
Toronto police said the youngsters being exploited were mainly from Eastern Europe, the Ukraine and Romania and that adults, including some parents, were paid for videos and images of naked children.
However, detectives believe that many of the parents may have been naive or unaware that photographs and videos of their naked children were wanted for sexual purposes.
Toronto police have been investigating the suspected online pedophile ring since October 2010 and notified police forces around the world through Interpol.
Footage of children was made into films and sold online at azovfilms.com. Detectives seized more than 45 terabytes of data and found more than four million Canadian dollars linked to the company.
Police forces in Ireland, Australia, Hong KongNorway, Spain, Greece, Gibraltar, South Africa, Mexico and the US Postal Service were involved in the investigation.
As part of the investigation, Way's home and a business premises in Toronto were searched.
He was subsequently charged with operating a website that sold and distributed child exploitation films and images to people around the world.
He was also charged with possessing child porn, money laundering and instructing the commission of an offence for a criminal organisation, the first time this charge has been made in Canada in relation to a child exploitation material investigation.

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Unheard Voices: Labor Rights for All People

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

‘Sweetie’ Snags Child Predators

“In a very short period, over 20,000 predators from around the world approached the virtual 10- year-old asking for webcam sex performances.” – Terre des Homes
Terre des Homes (TDH), an international child rights organization, is using Computer Graphic Imaging (CGI) to fight child pornography by creating “Sweetie,” a virtual, computer-generated 10-year old Filipina girl. Through "Sweetie," the organization has been able to track down over a thousand child predators from more than 65 countries.
Hans Guyt, director of campaigns at TDH in the Netherlands, said in an interview with Deutsche Welle, a German online newspaper, discovered that children are being made to work inside internet shops in poverty stricken areas around the world. Guyt said these children are often being forced by their parents.
“We noticed that a lot of child prostitutes had just disappeared from view. They are now working from Internet cafes and that’s how we first got interested in this particular subject. We also found out that more children are actually exposed to this new phenomenon,” Guyt was quoted saying in the report.
“With an innovative technology the virtual character Sweetie was created to be controlled by Terre des Hommes researchers. From a remote building in Amsterdam the researchers operated in public chat rooms. In a very short period, over 20,000 predators from around the world approached the virtual 10- year-old asking for webcam sex performances. While the adults interacted with the virtual girl, the researchers gathered information about them through social media to uncover their identities.”
According to the TDH’s data, United States topped the list of countries where child predators were identified with 254, followed by Britain with 110 and India with 103. The TDH has handed the video footage of the child predators to police authorities.
But, the fight is far from over.
"Sweetie" shows that child pornography is very much real and continues to proliferate across the world. And it often begins within poverty. Children who come from impoverished backgrounds are faced with everyday struggles to survive. They are forced to find sources of income through any means. This vulnerability is being used and abused by sexual exploiters who run cybersex dens and employ these children to perform sexual acts in exchange for a small amount of money.
For instance, a joint inquiry by Transparency International, United Nations and US Department of State, which revealed that 300,000 to 400,000 Filipina women fell victim to human trafficking. Sixty to 100,000 of them are children. Data also showed 80 percent of women victims of human trafficking are below 18 years old. The study identified poverty as the main vulnerability afflicting women and children.
This is clearly a reflection of how a growing number of young girls from are falling prey to cyber prostitution and pedophile syndicates. Adding to "Sweetie’s" credibility as a subject in this project is the reality of poverty that forces women and girls to cyber prostitution.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Veterans Continue to Fight for Justice

An Arizona veteran is joining more than a dozen others from around the country to help combat a familiar problem: child pornography and sexual exploitation. 

This program is through Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Seventeen veterans in eleven different states will have the tough job of combing through online photos and videos, all in an effort to rescue victims. 

"For me, I was trying to find a new mission," said Neil Wiles of Scottsdale, Arizona.

He is a military intelligence officer who has served overseas, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, he'll be serving his country in a new way - by investigating photos and videos of children being raped, looking for clues as to where the victim is so police can rescue the child and arrest the perpetrator. It's a one-year pilot program called HERO Corps.

"He wants to continue serving, he wants to continue helping," said American Legion Post 75 Chief Financial Officer Randy Price.

He said it's important for veterans to have this type of meaningful work. 

"Everybody that comes out of the military has lots of trade-abilities," price said. "They have management, they have leadership."

"We are looking for things that make us feel uncomfortable," said Arizona State University professor Dominique Roe-Sepowitz. "The way that their waist looks, the way their arms and legs are gangling, the fat on their face," she said.

She said they work with a small unit within the Phoenix Police Department, who are thankful help is on the way.  

"There are 23 members and they have a lot of work on their hands," Roe-Sepowitz said. "The idea that there's manpower elsewhere to do some of the work to find those leads is really important."

The training just wrapped up and the program is expected to be fully underway in the new year. For more information visit: http://www.protect.org

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Law Enforcement Using Sophisticated Technology to Catch Child Predators

On July 13, BISD investigators used a Cellebrite forensic extraction device to search a Samsung cellphone owned by Alfredo Hernandez of Brownsville, a former choir teacher at Berta Cabeza Middle School in San Benito who, authorities say, called himself “Freddy Love,” according to court records.
On the phone, investigators found child pornography and text messages to underage girls asking for nude photos, according to documents obtained by The Brownsville Herald.
Last week, Hernandez pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of online solicitation of a minor and four counts of child pornography in 103rd state District Court in Cameron County.
It was the Cellebrite that made the case against Hernandez possible, BISD police Sgt. Patrick Gabbert, one of two BISD officers trained on the device, said.
“Cellphones, especially if they’re Internet capable, are now being used to commit all sorts of criminal activity — solicitation of minors, child pornography, narcotics offenses and harassment to name a few,” Gabbert said.
He added that other Rio Grande Valley law enforcement agencies have reached out to BISD to utilize the Cellebrite. He said Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz has a philosophy that area law enforcement agencies need to work together for the common good and that BISD is already using the device to help other departments.
“We want to make sure our kids are safe, that our community is safe,” Gabbert said. “This is one tool. ... We’re here to work with all agencies.”
He said the Cellebrite is able to extract data from a cellphone or tablet computer’s unallocated memory and that the evidence stands up in court.
“This was a case where our suspect was reaching out to over 300 different girls. At first all we had was names he was searching for on Facebook,” Gabbert said. “It was not until we got a search warrant for his cellphone that we were able to get the evidence of online solicitation and identify the live victims.”
Gabbert said the case shows how important it is for parents to monitor their children’s Internet activity. The parents of the victims “at first could not believe their daughters had been the victim of a sexual predator,” he said.
Gabbert offered parents this advice: “Monitor what your kids are doing online. Know their passwords. Know who they’re in contact with and know how to contact them.
“Talk to your kids about the dangers of the Internet because these sexual predators know how to talk to our kids better than you or I do — and that’s the scary part.”
BISD Superintendent Carl A. Montoya said the Cellebrite is an important tool in keeping students safe.
“As always, our priority is protecting our students and employees,” he said. “We added this new technology to assist in our investigations and it has already proved invaluable. We are also pleased that we have been able to share this important new resource with the local law enforcement agencies that support our schools and district on a daily basis.”
Montoya is the vice chairman of the Texas School Safety Center, which serves as the central location for the dissemination of safety and security information, including research, training, and technical assistance for K-12 schools and junior colleges throughout Texas.
This Story originally appeared in The Brownsville Herald and was written by GARY LONG.

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Pedophiles found using Facebook to trade child pornography

NOTE: This article was originally published in USA Today.

Facebook has become a den for pedophiles.
The popular social network is home to at least 19 child pornography groups and even more predator profiles, uncovered in WND's exposé of the "dark underbelly of Facebook."
Despite Facebook's efforts to censor illegal images, pedophiles are using the network to trade graphic images of children, infants and toddlers forced to have sex with each other, being raped by adults or forced to expose their genitals to the camera, WND reports.
Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes says:
"Nothing is more important to Facebook than the safety of the people that use our site and this material has absolutely no place on Facebook. We have zero tolerance for child pornography being uploaded onto Facebook" ... "We feel we've created a much safer environment on Facebook than exists off-line, where people can share this disgusting material in the privacy of their own homes without anyone watching."
Nineteen groups were uncovered including: Kidsex Young, Young Gay Pics, Love Little Kids and Nude Teens.
Raymond Bechard, co-founder of the website Stop Child Porn on Facebook, told WND that child-pornography traders are profiting from posting links on Facebook to their outside video galleries.
"Many of these guys have hidden galleries and links to videos they have or have taken," he said. "That's the real money for them, in the videos."

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