Human Trafficking

BACKGROUND

As Jews, descendants of those who escaped from Egyptian bondage, we are committed to helping combat Human Trafficking, the modern-day slavery.

Human trafficking is an abhorrent human rights violation and a form of exploitation, generating profits of US $150 billion worldwide. As of 2016, the International Labor Organization reports that 11.4 million women and girls and 9.5 million men and boys were victims of forced labor. Of those, 4.5 million were sexually exploited. Approximately two million women and girls are trafficked each year, establishing a power dynamic in which they are reduced to chattel.

Causes of human trafficking include poverty (some being sold by fathers, husbands, and other family members in need of money) and lack of education.

In past years, women from the former Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries were recruited through registered businesses with promises of visas, international travel, good work, and the chance to help their families. Once recruited, they were often moved over the border, their passports confiscated, and forced into sexual slavery. Additionally, there were co-conspirators within regional and foreign governments.

More recently, victims from South America and Asian countries have included women working in manicure shops, massage parlors, and as domestic workers; and men employed in agriculture, gardening, and house painting. Some victims — Latinx, Eastern European, and Asian — are lured with jobs, but still owe transportation costs that they have to work to pay, sometimes working without breaks.

Some victims go willingly, but, within the United States, children have been abducted on their way home from school. Others have gone with strangers appearing to befriend them in shopping malls. Twenty percent of runaway children, often from foster homes, have been picked up by traffickers. (The average age when the process begins is fourteen.) These victims are forced into a life of slavery and torture in a sex industry often related to organized crime.

Therefore, Women’s League:

  • supports the creation of worldwide websites with further information and resources;
  • urges nations to enact legislation, and to adopt and enforce strong penalties against those who engage in human trafficking;
  • encourages the United Nations to act to combat the practice through agencies such as the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

Women’s League also encourages the media (television, radio, newspapers, social media, blogs, etc.) to:

  • devote public service time to expose this reality, and to provide information to at-risk young people and their families;
  • shame those procuring these illicit services, and to stop the public from demanding them.

We endorse changing the economic models that contribute to unfair labor practices resembling slavery (i.e. WSR: Worker-Driven Social Responsibility model). For instance, asking to see a beauty technician’s license may prevent a consumer from supporting slave labor.

In addition, whereas surges of demand for prostitutes in the United States are related to major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, the victims, some as young as 10 when they are arrested, are often charged with prostitution. If and when the youngsters reunite with their families, they need to undergo physical and mental rehabilitation before they can go on with their lives. Prosecutors and judges must be educated about the plight of young prostitutes as victims.

Therefore, be it resolved, members of Women’s League for Conservative Judaism:

  • Educate the public, including vulnerable groups, and encourage teachers and youth leaders to address the subject appropriately to their age groups; and to sponsor or mentor school clubs that seek to protect children.
  • Encourage school personnel, including administrators, teachers, counselors, nurses, child study team members, food service workers, and custodial staff, to be alert to students who may be victims, and to listen non-judgmentally if the student wants to confide in them. Then, they should seek professional assistance to help the student.
  • Encourage teenagers to go places in groups; teenagers going alone are more vulnerable to abduction.
  • Encourage citizens to notify law enforcement if they see something suspicious. The travel industry is currently educating its workers to identify possible victims and alert law enforcement to check out suspicious persons. Citizens should not confront the parties themselves.
  • Encourage our members within the U.S. to work with The National Human Trafficking Resource Center*, or a local equivalent, to help victims by identifying them and helping them out of their situations.
  • And, to coordinate all these activities, we support the formation of coalitions to fight trafficking in areas where such coalitions do not already exist.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING DEFINITIONS
Sex trafficking occurs when a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person performing the act is under the age of 18. Sex trafficking occurs in a number of venues, including the Internet, street prostitution, illicit massage parlors, containers, and other sexually oriented businesses.*

Labor trafficking occurs when individuals (men, women, and children) are forced or coerced into working against their will. Human trafficking is the second most prevalent organized crime activity in the world, just after drugs and illegal arms trafficking.*

* from Houston Area Council on Human Trafficking.

19 thoughts on “Human Trafficking”

  1. Frances Bokser says:

    Very well written. It is a bit long however it covers so much
    information.

  2. diane friedgut says:

    I particularly feel that PR campaign which educates the public is very important. This issue needs to be out there.

  3. This is an issue I have been concerned about for several years. I have joined with Shared Hope, an organization I read about in my Boston University Alumni magazine. I donate to them yearly. How about volunteer opportunities in san Diego, one or 2 hours a week?

  4. Lauren Wishnew says:

    This illegal money making industry and its grave violation of human rights must not be ignored; thank you for helping to raise awareness that will hopefully result in action.

  5. Alisa Abrams says:

    Please note that UNIFEM has been defunct for a number of years. This UN specialized agency is called UN Women. This agenda is indeed already part of UN Women’s mandate and current operational activities. What is needed is for it to continue and to be as effectively enabled as possible. Therefore this bullet could be enhanced, such as “•encourages the United Nations to act to combat [and share best practices and lessons on the prevention and prosecution of this practice among member nations] through agencies such as [UN Women].”

  6. tobi ruth love says:

    Yes, this is very much needed. I suggest that you also make sure members know of organizations in their area that deal with this problem so that our members have the opportunity to volunteer. I volunteer at Interface in Camarillo, CA.

  7. Celia Rosenberg says:

    This resolution is all well and good, but has the WLCJ created a resolution for the recent alarming rise in anti-Semitism in this country and abroad?
    I would also like the WLCJ to address the abhorrent actions of American Jews such as Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein. By using their power and amassed fortune to take inappropriate sexual action against women, some under-age, they truly cannot call themselves Jews. What can we change, as Jewish women?

    1. Rhonda Kahn says:

      As a Jewish organization, Anti-Semitism has always been a primary concern of ours. You can read our current resolution on the surge of anti-Semitic hate activity here: http://wlcj.org/resolution/anti-semitism/

      While we have no current plans to amend this resolution, we hold firm stances against inappropriate workplace behavior, the mistreatment of women, and everyday harassment so as to protect women from all backgrounds.

  8. Shirley Morrison says:

    This is a timely and excellent resolution and I applaud your efforts to face this ongoing problem. People should be encouraged to volunteer in places that look into this horrendous practice. Perhaps there should be a list of such places put forth as well.

    1. I have written and lectured about this topic for more than ten years. My article on “Jewish Sources and Trafficking in Women,” in Global Perspectives on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking: Africa, Asia, Middle East, and Oceania edited by Rochelle L. Dalla, Lynda M. Baker, John DeFrain and Celia Williamson (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2011): 183-202). I will be giving a paper at the SBL Annual Conference in November in Boston on “Trafficking and the Beautiful Captive Woman” (Deuteronomy 21). It is a serious problem in Israel which is being addressed by Atzum.com and their Task Force on Human Trafficking and Prostitution. The North American Rabbis for Human Rights has some of my resources on their website: http://www.truah.org/documents/final-graetz-cwikel-Jewish-sources-trafficking.pdf “Trafficking and Prostitution: Lessons from Jewish Sources with source sheet and study guide. http://www.truah.org/documents/Graetz_text_sheet.pdf and http://www.truah.org/documents/Graetz-text-study-guide.pdf

  9. Helen & David Aminoff says:

    Focusing on one issue at a time is appropriate–and certainly the one of human trafficking is at the top of the list. All the ills and wrongs in this world in which we are living now cannot be resolved by placing them all under one umbrella.

  10. Bev Dunn says:

    I see that this resolution (and others) of WLCJ refers only to U.S. legislation and resource contacts. Since we are an international organization, would it be possible to include something about “members in Canada” and quote some Canadian Human Trafficking Resources? Of course, if the resolutions are relevant only for US members, then please disregard my comment. Thanks for considering, and any input. 🙂

  11. Joy Perla says:

    The U.N. should spend more of its time fighting human trafficking, instead of excoriating israel. However, the resolution on such an important topic should be shorter and use key bullet points. And it’s a U.S. Problem as well! Start w that.

  12. Francine Abramoff says:

    This issue needs to be out there and WLCJ should certainly enact this resolution to help protect these victims in any way possible.

  13. Marlene Oslick says:

    I appreciate all the suggestions for improving the resolution.

  14. Lisa Goetz says:

    People getting their nails done need to think twice. These places are used to traffic women.

  15. Vivian Leber says:

    Excellent to see WLCJ address this long time problem. I’d like also to see Specific mention of policy actions by US and state governments not just ” worldwide” and “United Nations”. We can work against it within our borders too. You do mention the media and schools which certainly are part of the solution.

  16. Nancy Schwartz says:

    This is a must needed resolution. The awareness and prevention of human trafficking has been a priority of The American Association of University Women for years. Cindy McCain is also chairing an organization for this cause. Now..
    how about a resolution on sexual harassment?

  17. I also feel we should have something about adult women should not be out there by them self’s. I have seen women post they are jogging , rock climbing etc in remote areas by them self’s they should not be doing that to me it is asking for trouble.

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