Amanda is a self-professed geek and full-time abolitionist of seven years, which pays about as well as you think it does. She has created reports, documentaries and training materials on human trafficking in the United States and around the world. In 2009, she was awarded the "Best Blogger Ever" award by her mother, who pronounced her work "just wonderful, dear" and presented her with a ceremonial forehead kiss. In addition to creating change via the interwebs, Amanda works on human rights, HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, genocide, and LGBT projects for a trade association.
FTD: Offer Fair Trade Flowers That Aren't Picked By Exploited Workers
Fresh cut flowers are a wonderful way to show the special people in our life we love them. But did you know that beautiful bouquet you bought for your sweetheart, your mother, or your friend might have been picked by exploited or enslaved workers? The cut flowers that large florists like FTD sell often come from countries in Central and South America and Africa -- where beautiful blossoms grow year round, but workers' rights aren't always respected. On Kenyan flower plantations, workers reported being forced to work 8-12 hour days for less than a dollar a day, handling dangerous chemicals without protective gear, and living in cramped, unsafe conditions. In Colombia and Ecuador, which are the main countries that supply the U.S. flower market, over half of female workers have been sexually harrased or assaulted on the job, and mandatory 70 to 80 hour work weeks without overtime pay are common. Exploitation and abuse of workers in the cut flower industry is rampant. As one of the largest flower companies in the world, FTD has tremendous power to reduce exploitation in the cut flower industry. But currently, they only offer two Rain Forest Alliance certified arrangements, no Fair Trade certified arrangements, and don't provide information about where their flowers come from. It's time FTD stopped being part of the problem of human trafficking and exploitation in the cut flower industry and started being part of the solution.
Ask 1 800 Flowers to Offer Fair Trade Flowers That Aren't Picked By Exploited Workers
Fresh cut flowers are a wonderful way to show the special people in our life we love them. But did you know that beautiful bouquet you bought for your sweetheart, your mother, or your friend might have been picked by exploited or enslaved workers? The cut flowers that large florists like 1-800-Flowers sell often come from countries in Central and South America and Africa -- where beautiful blossoms grow year round, but workers' rights aren't always respected. On Kenyan flower plantations, workers reported being forced to work 8-12 hour days for less than a dollar a day, handling dangerous chemicals without protective gear, and living in cramped, unsafe conditions. In Colombia and Ecuador, which are the main countries that supply the U.S. flower market, over half of female workers have been sexually harrased or assaulted on the job, and mandatory 70 to 80 hour work weeks without overtime pay are common. Exploitation and abuse of workers in the cut flower industry is rampant. As one of the largest flower companies in the world, 1-800-Flowers has tremendous power to reduce exploitation in the cut flower industry. But currently, they don't offer a single Fair Trade certified stem or provide information about where their flowers come from. It's time 1-800-Flowers stopped being part of the problem of human trafficking and exploitation in the cut flower industry and started being part of the solution.
Tell Vermont to Make Human Trafficking Illegal
Vermont is one of the few states without a law criminalizing human trafficking, which means victims often go un-identified and traffickers get away with slavery. A report from the Vermont Attorney General's office found that while human trafficking data was very limited, there was a definite trafficking problem in Vermont. Over a quarter of the service providers surveyed claimed to have worked with people who would be considered human trafficking victims under the new law. However, most of the service providers surveyed said they were "not well informed or unaware" of human trafficking, indicating that some victims could be going un-identified. The report also noted a lack of public awareness and basic education about human trafficking, even among law enforcement and service providers. A law criminalizing human trafficking, especially one that provided resources for training and education, could help identify and aid victims. If the Attorney General's recommendations are incorporated into the new law, the legislation would include human trafficking training for law enforcement and service provider organizations. It would also provide full immunity from prosecution for children 18 and involved in the commercial sex industry and limited immunity for people 18 to 23 years old. And finally, the law would include a civil right to action, allowing victims to sue their traffickers. Tell Vermont lawmakers to criminalize human trafficking today!
Tell Mauritania to Free Imprisoned Anti-Slavery Activists
Slavery has been illegal in Mauritania in 2007, but the laws against slavery are rarely enforced. That's why a growing group of activists are demanding that the Mauritanian government actually enforce the ban on slavery and hold human traffickers accountable. But six of these activists have now been imprisoned for asking the police to investigate allegations of child trafficking. Anti-slavery activist Biram Dah Abeid and several colleagues have been imprisoned in Mauritania since December 13, after they protested outside a police station. Prior to their arrests, Abeid had escorted two girls, ages 9 and 13, to the police to report what they had told him -- that they had been forced to work as servants. However, the woman whom they accused of trafficking them into domestic servitude was family to the local police commissioner. An argument that injured Abeid took place, and he and his colleagues were charged with assaulting a police officer. Now, the activists are awaiting trial and the possibility of a prison sentence intended to keep them from advocating for any more victims of slavery. Sadly, situations like these are not unusual in Mauritania. Almost 40% of Mauritanians are slaves or have relatives who are slaves. And these men, women, and children are not just mistreated or underpaid -- they are slaves in the truest sense of the word. Despite a 2007 law which made slavery illegal in Mauritania, cultural, religious, and tribal practices continue to recognize the legal ownership of some human beings by others. And the government has yet to actually convict and sentence someone for the crime of slavery, despite growing reports from alleged victims. Tell the UN and the Mauritanian government to free the imprisoned IRA activists and set up protections to ensure anti-slavery activists are safe to protect trafficking victims and demand justice for those who enslave them.
Tell Univ. of Hawaii to Denounce Professor's Push to Legalize Child Porn
Update: The University of Hawaii denounced this recommendation after receiving letters from 250 Change.org members. Thanks to everyone who signed!A recently released study from a retired University of Hawaii professor recommends legalizing child pornography as a technique to reduce child sexual abuse and child prostitution. The study not only makes a dangerous recommendation that could lead to the assault of millions of children, it forgets one critical thing: child pornography is a form of child sexual abuse. Milton Diamond, a University of Hawaii professor who retired in 2009, still used his university credentials when he published his recent study Pornography and Sex Crimes in the Czech Republic. In it, he studies the legalization of adult pornography in the Czech Republic and concludes that when adult pornography was legalized, sex crimes against adults did not increase. It also claims that when child pornography was made legal, sex crimes against children decreased. Therefore, he reasons, child pornography should be made legal -- for the good of children. However, the study fails to consider that child pornography is child sexual abuse. Child pornography is nothing more than pictorial or video evidence of a child being sexually exploited and harmed. So not only does child pornography not reduce child sexual abuse, it includes child sexual abuse in its production. Furthermore, child pornography is used to groom children for trafficking, and traffickers' threats to send dirty images to kids' families have kept them there. Since Diamond used his University of Hawaii credentials to publish his recommendation to legalize child pornography, the university is implicated in this dangerous suggestion based on fuzzy science. Tell the University of Hawaii to publicly denounce Diamond's policy recommendation that child pornography be legalized and let the world know his views are not their own. No credible academic institution should support facilitating the rape and abuse of children through legalizing child pornography.
Tell Amazon.com to Stop Selling Pedophile Instruction Manual
Update: After just 24 hours of pressure, Amazon pulled their pedophile guide from the Kindle store. They have not yet issued a statement. Amazon.com is currently selling a Kindle book entitled, The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure. According to the product description, the book actually gives directions to adults on how to rape children. Here's the product description: This is my attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certain rules for these adults to follow. I hope to achieve this by appealing to the better nature of pedosexuals, with hope that their doing so will result in less hatred and perhaps liter [sic] sentences should they ever be caught. Pedophile situations cannot be made "safer" for the children involved in them. Molestation harms children, whether or not the molester is paying for that privilege, as in situations of child trafficking. The rule adults should follow is not to engage in sexual activity with children. The only sincere part of the description seems to be the last -- that this guide is helping pedophiles learn how not to be caught. Ask Amazon.com to stop selling a guide book on pedophilia.
Tell the UN to Stop Child Trafficking via Bacha Bazi in Afghanistan
Update: For the first time ever, the UN and Afghan government have worked together to develop a National Action Plan to investigate bacha bazi, prevent young boys from being trafficked into the industry, and hold the men who buy and sell them accountable. The National Action Plan comes as a result of a year of hard work from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the Afghan government and civil society, and after nearly 4,000 Change.org members wrote to the UN asking them to make fighting child sex trafficking in Afghanistan a priority. The bacha bazi tradition, which literally means "boy play" has deep roots in Afghan culture. For centuries, wealthy men have been buying orphans or boys from poor families, dressing them in women's clothing, and paying them to sing and dance for entertainment. After the bacha party, the boy is auctioned off to the highest bidder or shared by several men for sex. When the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, they banned the practice, and it remains illegal today. But since the Taliban was ousted, the tradition has been revived and is growing. Bacha bazi boys are usually teens, but many are as young as 11. Most of them come from very poor families or are orphans from the war. Boys are lured off the street or bought from family members by businessmen. Then, they are usually kept in a house with other boys, trained sing, dance, and play musical instruments. They are also introduced to the commercial sex industry, ususally by being raped by the men who train them or sold for sex out of the backseat of cars. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of bacha bazi is how quickly the practice is being revived in Afghanistan and how little police and security forces are doing to stop it. In fact, uniformed Afghan police officers have even been witnessed procuring young boys in broad daylight. And according to a recent report from UNICEF, many of the men who participate in bacha bazi work for the Afghan government, including those who publicly denounce the practice. But even the Afghan authorities who aren't actively participating in bacha bazi are refusing to broach the taboo subject or arrest and prosecute those who commit bacha bazi. Tell the UN it's time to crack down on bacha bazi in Afghanistan. Security and police forces should never being involved in child trafficking.
Ask Gov. Schwarzenegger to Release Human Trafficking Victim Sara Kruzan with Time Served
Update: On January 2, 2011, Gov. Schwarzenegger commuted Sara's sentence to 25 years to life. While it wasn't the release many advocates were hoping for, his decision to grant clemency means Sara now has a hope of being released from prison. Thank you to everyone who supported her and participated in this campaign. Sixteen-year-old human trafficking victim Sara Kruzan was sentenced to life in prison without parole when, in a desperate act to escape captivity, she shot her pimp. When Sara met G.G., the 31-year-old man who would become her pimp, she was only 11. G.G. groomed Sara two years before he raped her. By then, his control was complete and he forced her into prostitution. Sara and the other girls who G.G. exploited were out on the streets from 6pm to 6am, every night. Twelve hours a night, seven days a week, for three years, Sara was raped by strangers so G.G. could profit. After three years, she snapped, and she killed him. Now 32, Sara has spent half her life in prison as a model prisoner, and has asked Gov. Schwarzenegger for clemency. Sara was arrested and tried in 1994, before anyone was using the term "human trafficking" and when the country was still struggling to understand issues like domestic violence and pimp control that give one person coercive control over another. So there was no expert witness at Sara's trial to explain how her years of repeated rape, trauma, and abuse had affected her actions. There was no expert to tell the jury that with counseling, support, and care, Sara could heal from her traumatic past and grow to be a strong and moral woman. Sara's clemency plea has been submitted to Gov. Schwarzenegger, and the decision of whether or not to release her with time served rests solely with him. Sara Kruzan deserves hope. She deserves hope that she didn't survive being raped and sold for three years for nothing. She deserves hope that the darkest chapter of her life has passed, and a horizon lies ahead. She deserves hope that she can change, grow, and flourish as a woman. But in life without parole, there is no hope. Tell Gov. Schwarzenegger that human trafficking victims deserve support and care, not prison. Ask him to release Sara with time served.
Ask Craigslist to Stop Advertising Human Trafficking Outside the U.S.
Update: On December 18, Craigslist removed their commercial sex ads from all their international sites. The company has not released a statement about this move. Thank you to everyone who participated in the campaign to end Craigslist's advertising for child sex trafficking on their site. Online classified ad websites like Craigslist have become the largest marketers of children trafficked into the commercial sex industry. The steady stream of exploited children for sale on Craigslist has had anti-trafficking groups demanding change for years. In the past 12 months, a trafficking survivor whose pimp forced her to advertise for her own statutory rape on Craigslist at age 11 wrote an open letter to Craig Newmark asking him to remove the “adult services” section where she was sold. Cash-strapped nonprofits rejected donations from the Craigslist Foundation as tainted money. And 10,000 Change.org readers signed a petition asking Craigslist to stop profiting from child sex slavery. After years of increasing criticism for their facilitation of child sex trafficking, Craigslist recently blocked the “adult services” section link to ads in the U.S. However, their “adult services” section continues to operate outside the U.S. Take one minute to help protect women and children outside the U.S. from sex trafficking via Craigslist.
Tell Hilton to Prevent Child Prostitution in Their Hotels
A Hilton Hotel in southwest China lost its five star rating this week after an underground brothel was found to be operating out of the hotel last month. While law enforcement hasn't released the ages of the persons identified in the underground brothel, similar brothels have contained children and human trafficking victims. And this isn't the first time an underground brothel has been operating at a Hilton Hotel. In 2008, a brothel was being run out of a Hilton in Ireland. And Consumerist named the Hilton in Washington DC the third most prostitution-friendly hotel in the city, based on the phone records of the DC Madme. I would hope that with so many brothels being operated out of their hotels, Hilton would take pains to ensure that none of them involve children. Companies like Hilton have the power to help prevent the the forced prostitution of children on their watch. Please, ask them to do so.
Amanda hasn’t coached any petitions yet.