- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.fBBcEurs.dpuf Casa de Sion: July 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

From Sex Trafficked Child To Child Advocate: Transition

With this blog I moved from being a child whose father was molesting her to being a child who was being molested by many. I believe the people who came to these child molesting parties were paying and the ones giving them were traffickers. The part that hurt the most in my recovery was not being able to talk about it to my church group as if I had something to be ashamed of. To this day, I can talk about it on facebook groups easier than with church "friends". Sad that we do not take care of our lost sheep any better than this.


By October Vicki recognized she was pregnant again.  This was a miracle after a series of miscarriages and for sure would be her last.  It was special even in Vicki’s busy life, but at 40 years old she recognized that she would not be able to make the long trip to see Isaac every other week, especially after the winter weather arrived.  Vicki loved her group therapy and with Isaac’s approval found another group of sexual abuse victims that was only an hour away.

Things were still unsettled at home but not as bad as when the memories were surfacing regularly.  Our regular family activities like hikes at the park, which had been sparse, were again in our schedule.  But  on the whole we were disappointed:  With all the memory work and therapy she had done we had expected a healing curve to begin—for her fears to attenuate.  But even with the new insights that Vicki had about her past she was unable to feel safe in her present.  And it was puzzling.  Why hadn’t she been unable to let some of these things go?  And sadly, our church had been of little help.  Any mention of her abuse brought gasps and withdrawal from these people we had worshipped with for years.  Finally, the church authority over 10 different churches had come to tell her personally not to talk about it in church.

 It was hard for everyone including me to understand, but my fears were worse not better.  I felt on the verge of a nervous breakdown all the time.  Not that I had ever had one, but I knew how strung out I was.  I desperately needed someone to talk to and Jody was mad at me much of the time for not having conquered "my problems."  Therapy once a week brought up more issues than it resolved and the only other people I associated with were at church.  What an emotional downer to not be able to talk about what was happening with folks we were supposed to be sharing our burdens with.

Vicki’s new therapy group was led by a social worker with her MSW and her co-facilitator husband who was equally educated.  All of the victims were women and it was designed to support them in their healing.  General topics included flashbacks that might have occurred since the last session and strategies for dealing with the emotional deficits that were common in victims.

After attending several meetings, Vicki reported: “The leader’s husband is in pretty bad shape.  He may actually be in worse shape than I am.   If certain topics come up, he quickly exits the room.”  Vicki later found out that he too was a victim but it was a more severe type of abuse his wife referred to as ritual abuse.   Neither one of us had heard of the word before and soon discovered his had to do with the practice of Satanism.  We didn’t know whether to believe in it or not.

After a dearth of memory work, Vicki had a strange new one:  She was in Hawaii, driving alone in the car with her father at dusk.  She was anxious, sitting in the back seat as they traveled out into the country past the huge pineapple fields, past the stand where they often stopped after church on Sundays to eat fresh pineapple.  Her father turned off the paved road onto a dirt path that took them into an increasingly isolated area.  Soon there were bonfires and as their car slowed there were frightful animals peering into the car windows.  Her father got out and animals continued staring inside.  These were strange, exotic animals and it was terrifying.  Next, she was an unwilling participant in wild group sex.  Sorely abused and crying, at the end of the memory she sat before the leader who chided her saying that real women like this.

To Vicki this memory had the same quality as all the other ones she’d had previously.  It was the content that was so bizarre.  We decided that the animals peering into the car might have been adults wearing masks, but to a fearful five year old they could easily appear real.  I realized as an adult that the animals were really people with masks.  I am sure they wore masks because they knew I would recognize them as co-workers of my father.  The women at this meeting did not wear masks but wore revealing clothing and heavy make-up--I  think  they were probably prostitutes .  They were meaner than the men.  Imagine me, a 5 year old brutally raped and a quivering mass of physical and emotional pain , being told I was not a "real" woman because I did not enjoy sex like these "real" women did.  To this day, I cannot stand to be in the presence of skimpily clad, painted- up women.I think that the kids who were at this group were being trafficked. That the people who abused them were paying for the privilege to do so.

Where did this memory come from?  Had she been subconsciously been picking up information from her new group?  Was she somehow making all this up?  When she reported this memory to her new group, the co-facilitator quickly exited the room and did not return.  Vicki later learned that he had had similar experiences.  Where was this going?  And was it real?  This was the most upsetting thing of all for Vicki.

Several weeks later Vicki remembered an incident when she was three years old and lived in Atlanta.  Her father brought her outside behind the car and showed her the dead family cat.  “If you ever tell, the same thing will happen to you.”   My father, apparently had killed my pet cat.  My sister had a white one and I had a black.  The black one was laying dead in his arms.  I got the message and it had stayed bottled up in me.  The easiest way not to tell was just not to remember and that's what I had done all those years.  But suddenly I was not only remembering but also telling and I'm sure that was the root of much of my fear.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Child Trafficking and Guatemala

One of the things I plan to do on this next trip to Guatemala in a few weeks is look into the incidence of child trafficking, both labor and sex.
I know both exist. I decided to google this and found the following research done just a couple of weeks ago. Seems the indigenous are at high risk of this and Lake Atitlan is on of the top cities for child sex tourism. Here is te research.

Title2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Guatemala
PublisherUnited States Department of State
Publication Date19 June 2012
Cite asUnited States Department of State, 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Guatemala, 19 June 2012, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4fe30cc62d.html [accessed 6 July 2012]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Guatemala

Guatemala is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Guatemalan women and children are exploited in sex trafficking within the country, as well as in Mexico and the United States. Guatemalan men, women, and children are subjected to forced labor within the country, often in agriculture or domestic service. Guatemalan men, women, and children also are found in conditions of forced labor in Mexico and the United States in agriculture, the garment industry, and in domestic service. During the year, 19 Guatemalan women and one man were subjected to domestic servitude in Jordan and Israel. Indigenous Guatemalans are particularly vulnerable to forced labor. In the border area with Mexico, Guatemalan children are exploited for forced begging and vending on streets, and forced labor in the majority of municipal dumps throughout the country. Women and children from other countries in the region, including El Salvador, Honduras, Colombia, and Nicaragua, are exploited in sex trafficking in Guatemala. Child sex tourism is prevalent in certain tourist areas such as Antigua, Puerto Barrios, Rio Dulce, around Lake Atitlan, and in Tecun Uman on the Mexican border. Child sex tourists predominately come from Canada, Germany, Spain, and the United States. According to NGOs and government officials, organized crime networks continue to be involved in some cases of human trafficking, and gangs recruit children to commit illicit acts, sometimes using force or coercion.
The Government of Guatemala does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the reporting period, Guatemalan authorities maintained anti-trafficking progress, particularly through continued law enforcement efforts and the sustained funding of a dedicated shelter for adult trafficking victims. The government also launched a program to provide specialized services to victims of trafficking and sexual violence. Investigative units, however, remained under-funded, many judges and law enforcement officials were poorly informed about human trafficking, and official complicity continued to impede anti-trafficking efforts.
Recommendations for Guatemala: Vigorously implement the anti-trafficking law and statutes prohibiting child sex tourism; continue efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, especially suspected cases of forced labor and domestic servitude, and convict and punish trafficking offenders; proactively investigate and prosecute public officials complicit in trafficking; improve victim referral mechanisms to ensure that all victims, including victims of forced labor and domestic servitude, are referred to appropriate services, including shelters; enhance the availability of specialized victims services throughout the country, including through partnerships with civil society; continue to conduct training for judges, police, immigration officers, and other government officials on how to identify and assist victims; and increase funding for anti-trafficking efforts, particularly for the country's dedicated prosecutorial and police units.
The government maintained its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the year. Article 202 of the Guatemalan penal code prohibits the transport, transfer, retention, harboring, or reception of persons for the purposes of exploitation, including forced prostitution, sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, begging, slavery, illegal adoptions, or forced marriage, in addition to other prohibited purposes. Penalties prescribed under Article 202 are from eight to 18 years' imprisonment. Such penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Anti-trafficking police and prosecutors suffered from a lack of funding, human resources, and training, and NGOs reported that most cases were reactive responses to NGO complaints, as opposed to proactive investigations. The dedicated anti-trafficking police unit within the national civil police department for the investigation of sexual crimes, trafficking in persons, and disappeared children had only four trafficking investigators to cover the entire country. The government also maintained a small prosecutorial unit to investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases; this unit had only five prosecutors and 10 assistant prosecutors and had insufficient funding and staff. Much of this unit's work focused on crimes such as illegal adoptions and child kidnapping and disappearance, which do not fall within the 2000 UN TIP Protocol; therefore, officials could not indicate how many of the 107 criminal proceedings initiated during the year were for forced labor or sex trafficking.
During the reporting period, authorities convicted five sex trafficking offenders using the anti-trafficking law; sentences ranged from eight to 16 years' imprisonment, plus fines the equivalent of between $39,000 and $52,000. In comparison, during the previous year, the Guatemalan government reported 10 convictions for human trafficking offenses, two using the anti-trafficking law and others using different statutes, with sentences ranging from three to five years' imprisonment.
Some judges reportedly dismissed trafficking cases or acquitted trafficking offenders due to a lack of understanding of the crime, and NGOs noted that some officials do not understand that forced labor is a crime. Credible reports from international organizations, NGOs, and several government officials continued to indicate that corrupt public officials impeded anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts and facilitated trafficking activity by accepting or extorting bribes, falsifying identity documents, leaking information about impending police raids to suspected traffickers, and ignoring trafficking activity in commercial sex sites. The government did not report investigating, prosecuting, convicting, or punishing any officials complicit in human trafficking. Guatemalan authorities held numerous anti-trafficking workshops and conferences aimed at educating and building capacity among judges, police, prosecutors, immigration officers, and other government officials; most trainings were conducted in partnership with civil society and with funds from foreign governments or international organizations. Authorities were attempting to coordinate with Jordanian officials on a joint investigation at the end of the reporting period.
Although the government largely relied on NGOs and international organizations to provide the bulk of victim services, it maintained a specialized trafficking shelter for adult victims and, during the year, launched a program to provide services to victims of trafficking and sexual violence. While the government reported employing standard operating procedures on how to assist sex trafficking victims, it does not employ procedures for identifying forced labor victims among vulnerable populations, and labor inspectors did not have sufficient training or resources to identify victims. Most NGOs remain critical of the government's ability to identify and refer trafficking victims effectively. While authorities reported identifying hundreds of victims, it was unclear how many of these victims were children involved in illegal adoption and how many were counted multiple times by separate government entities. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs facilitated the repatriation of 50 trafficking victims returning to Guatemala from abroad, as well as the voluntary repatriation of five Colombians from Guatemala. During the year, 10 victims stayed in the government-operated shelter, which had a capacity to care for 20 victims. Child victims could be referred to three NGO-operated shelters dedicated to girl trafficking victims, or could be referred to a government orphanage where they could receive specialized care. The absence of an effective referral mechanism appeared to impede the government's ability to provide victims, particularly adults, with care services. With international organization funding, authorities launched a program to provide client services to victims of trafficking and sexual abuse, although they did not report how many trafficking victims received services through this program during the year. NGOs did not receive government funding to provide services to trafficking victims.
Although Guatemalan authorities encouraged victims to assist with the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers, most victims did not file complaints due to fear of violence or reprisals, lack of faith in the judicial system, and the limitations of the government's witness protection program. Guatemalan law allowed for victim testimony via video. While Guatemalan law established that convicted traffickers should provide restitution to victims, there were no reports that this occurred during the reporting period. The government did not detain, fine, or otherwise penalize identified victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. Guatemalan authorities reported that all identified foreign trafficking victims were sent directly from the immigration detention center to the government-run shelter for adult victims. However, victims may not have had their victim status recognized by Guatemalan authorities before being deported as undocumented migrants. Guatemalan law provides legal alternatives to removal of foreign victims who may face hardship or retribution upon repatriation. The authorities offered these alternatives to foreign trafficking victims but reported that no victims had accepted.
The Government of Guatemala maintained prevention efforts. The Secretariat Against Sexual Violence, Exploitation and Trafficking in Persons (SVET) was responsible for coordinating government efforts, as was the interagency anti-trafficking commission, which met six times during the year. Some officials and NGOs indicated that SVET was a weak coordinating body. Authorities continued public awareness campaigns, including distributing information pamphlets through its consulates abroad. Officials reported re-launching a trafficking hotline in January 2012. The independent human rights ombudsman published a report on the trafficking situation in Guatemala. Despite continued reports of child sex tourism, which is prohibited by Article 195 of the penal code, there were no reported prosecutions or convictions of child sex tourists. Authorities provided training on human trafficking to Guatemalan troops prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.