We Can Take Action to #FreeCyntoiaBrown. Here's How.

Chances are, you’ve heard the name Cyntoia Brown in the last year. With the help of celebrity buzz from Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, LeBron James and others, public awareness about an old yet seemingly unjust court case has sparked a social media movement crying for justice for Cyntoia. The 2004 trial that sentenced 16 year old Cyntoia to life in prison has people outraged, and rightly so. Here is everything you need to know about trafficking victim Cyntoia Brown, and what you can do to advocate for her early release.

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The Link Between Race & Human Trafficking

We know that anybody can become a victim of human trafficking, but research shows us that African-Americans and other people of color show a higher vulnerability.


According to a UCLA Law Review article, “The Racial Roots of Human Trafficking,” by Cheryl Nelson Butler, “Race intersects with other forms of subordination including gender, class, and age to push people of color disproportionately into prostitution and keep them trapped in the commercial sex industry. Its intersectional oppression is fueled by the persistence of myths about minority teen sexuality, which in turn encourages risky sexual behavior. Moreover, today’s anti-trafficking movement has failed to understand and address the racial contours of domestic sex trafficking in the United States and even perpetuates the racial myths that undermine the proper identification of minority youth as sex trafficking victims.”

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Is There a Difference Between Low-Wage Work and Labor Trafficking

I’m far from an expert on the industry, so I enjoyed all of the readings and discussions we had. The unit started with a focus on sex slavery before shifting into labor trafficking. I quickly found myself in a debate I never expected: Are sweatshops good or bad? Sweatshops had always been presented to me as abusive, low-wage environments that exploited their workers. This was the first time that they were portrayed as a saving grace for areas with large numbers of people seeking employment: “Isn’t some job better than no job? Who are we to discourage exporting labor when it can provide an income for a family in need?

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Homelessness & Sex Trafficking: What's the Connection?

Around two years after I moved to Chicago, I was sitting in a busy Starbucks on State Street when I noticed a young man, not much older than myself. He was standing at the register, counting out change to buy a cup of coffee, wearing dirty clothes with a ripped backpack slung across his shoulders and a pet carrier clutched in one hand. When he turned to the woman behind him to apologize for the delay caused by his small mountain of loose change the barista was sorting through, the woman disregarded him completely. His face fell as he took his receipt and the cup of coffee.

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The Present Roadblocks to Human Trafficking Conviction & Prosecution

One of the greatest barriers faced by those trying to end modern-day slavery is the struggle to prosecute and convict human traffickers for their heinous crimes. From the elusive nature of the industry to the failure of governments in recognizing and reporting the issue, there are a plethora of reasons why prosecutors produce marginal convictions in light of an ever-growing, expansive industry.

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Contract Substitution: A Means of Enslaving the Most Vulnerable

From hastily checking off the terms and conditions agreement on Itunes to eagerly signing our names on Amazon Prime membership renewals, many of us live in a world in which impatience is our greatest discomfort. Many of us have the freedom to be inattentive when signing our names to binding agreements. However, not everyone can afford to be so trusting with the agreements they sign. For some people, signing their name on a document could be the very thing leading them into their bondage or “voluntary” servitude.

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H2 Work Visas: A Hidden Gate to Labor Trafficking in the U.S

When we think about human trafficking, we often think of sex trafficking - and for the right reasons, of course, especially when millions of people are trafficked each year and with many of its cases being related to sex crimes and slavery. But there is another side to human trafficking, one that is less visible: labor trafficking - a systematic exploitation of foreign workers who come to the United States under the nation’s H2 work visas. H2 work visas are also known as the guest workers program, permitting employers to hire foreign workers to come to the United States temporarily for work. The H2 guest workers program is opening doors to labor trafficking, and too many victims are falling through the cracks of the United States’ guest worker system. Since 2007, Polaris has identified 30,000 human trafficking and labor exploitation cases in the United States. In approximately 18% of these cases, Polaris was able to determine that at least one victim of the situation had a temporary work visa.

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The End Modern Slavery Initiative act: A Global Fight to End Slavery

Over the past couple of years, numerous studies have forced us to recognize that the deplorable presence of modern day slavery is a gross reality for the world. Current estimates conclude that there are nearly 40 million people trapped in this horrible industry, which include those who are inflicted by either sex or labor trafficking. As we are confronted with such statistics, it is becoming harder for us to ignore a problem that is only exacerbated by apathy and indifference.

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Atlanta Redemption Ink: The Art of Removal & Restoration

What if the worst moments of your life were depicted in a single mark on your body, forever etched onto your skin? Perhaps you were able to escape the abuse you endured physically, however, the physical manifestation of it on your body prevents you from escaping its wrath psychologically. This predicament haunts those who have endured the branding and scarring that accompanies physical and sexual abuse, and more specifically, those who have endured sex trafficking. Traffickers and abusers often mark their victims with barcodes, initials, and other personalized forms of imagery that symbolize trafficker possession and ownership of their victims.

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A Broken Immigration System: The Story of 1500 Lost Children

Thousands of undocumented children venture across the American border each year, seeking to escape the cartel violence, poverty, and political strife that plague their home countries. Arriving primarily from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, these children leave their parents and friends behind so they can taste the sweet joys of American freedom. These unaccompanied minors, however, are often deprived of the freedom they desire to find once they arrive in America. Upon arrival, these children are often cast aside by border patrol agents and handed over to sponsors who may be human traffickers.  

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Fight the New Drug

Alright fellow advocates, today we are pushing past social norms and speaking about the unspeakable: pornography. What you believed should never be talked about in polite conversation is about to become the main point of this post. Today we are highlighting Fight the New Drug (FTND), an organization that uses science, facts, and personal accounts to fully inform people about the effects of pornography. It then provides great resources to anybody who decides they would like help, or would like to help, with the fight against porn.

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Don't Buy It Project: Stopping Exploitation at the Source

Men. We all know one; maybe you are one. Men make up 50.4% of the population of Earth. 49% of visual artists, 85.7% of taxi drivers, and 61.8% of surgeons are men. 62% of them drink coffee on the daily. They are our fathers, our brothers, our mentors and our friends. Men are awesome, and the world would be a sad place without them. But men are also the driving force behind the sex industry, creating a demand that has to be filled by forced prostitution and sex trafficking. While this may seem like a very negative reality, it also means that men have the power to stop the cycle.

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An Interview with Joy Collins Brodt from Treasures

Joy Collins Brodt first heard about human trafficking in college when a group hosted a showing of the documentary “Not My Life”.

“I went because I wasn’t sure what it was about”, Joy said, “and at the time they were calling it modern slavery and I was like, ‘Well what does that mean? I thought slavery was abolished years ago.’ So I went and I watched this film and my heart was torn wide open. At that moment, my heart was lit on fire and I knew I had to join the movement to combat this.”

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'Liberated: A Sexual Revolution' - A Documentary Review

Liberated: A Sexual Revolution. Liberated follows a group of college guys and two college girls on their spring break trips. These students allowed the documentary team to film them as they attended clubs, hung-out on the beach, and engaged in casual sexual encounters. The documentary focuses on America’s culture of casual sex and tackles what it means to be masculine and feminine in today’s society.

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What is Organ Trafficking?

When we think about human trafficking, we often think of crimes like sex trafficking and labor trafficking but if you're like me, you haven't thought much about organ trafficking. Organ Trafficking is one of the lesser known forms of trafficking mostly because there is a lack of reliable information about it. In the U.S. there has been only one man convicted of this crime back in 2012.  "Despite the general interest in the issue, the crime remains a hidden, underground activity and seems to be greatly underreported," says the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. This type is one of the most difficult to investigate and prosecute because vulnerable victims are oftentimes complicit in the transplantation. 

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Door to Grace: Creating Space

A room full of girls laughing and cracking jokes, the silence of a sincere passing on of truth and wisdom, the warmth of a community gathered around the dinner table; this is hope in Portland, Oregon.

Portland is home to bridges, books, and brews. And since 2011, it has also been home to the Door to Grace Day Home, a space to provide young survivors of commercial exploitation with healing services and a place to call home. I could try and encapsulate all that Door to Grace is in my own description, but I think it is put best in the words of Roxanne Weiner. Roxanne is the Director of Programs and Case Management at Door to Grace, whom I had the privilege of interviewing for this piece.

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Skookum Kids: Providing Hope Through Foster Care

Last week, we explored the link between human trafficking and the foster care system. This blog post is the second part of our series in understanding why this link exists and the innovative programs that are providing hope to the foster care system.

Foster care is harder than it needs to be and Skookum Kids in Bellingham, Washington wants to fix that. There are over 400,000 children now in foster care in the United States served by a small group of heroic families. However, social workers pressed for time to place children and over-burdened families results in children being shifted around multiple times. The average foster child is moved three times, sometimes leaving them with instability and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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