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Washington DC Peace & Security Forum

Washington DC Forum: Human Trafficking and Poverty, a Critical Connection

Washington DC, USA - A Peace and Security Forum on the topic "Human Trafficking and Poverty, a Critical Connection: Creating a Culture Free of Slavery" took place at The Washington Times in Washington DC, USA, on Nov. 6, 2013. The forum was co-hosted by the UPF Office of Peace and Security Affairs-Washington, D.C., the Women’s Federation for World Peace-USA, Seraphim GLOBAL, and Trafficking in America Task Force.

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This 2013 forum was a follow-up as a result of the 2012 forum, “The Face of Human Trafficking in America,” that addressed the domestic issues of human trafficking and how the USA is affecting it around the world.

As new research arises in the anti-human trafficking movement, we have come to realize that by putting the majority of our efforts into affecting the demand (at a root cause level), we will have a greater opportunity to actually make substantial reductions in modern-day slavery. And, as a strategic plan, we must include addressing the head of this issue – the trafficker’s mind-set – the distribution and commercialization of bodies, at a root cause level – hence a cultural shift is a must.

Host – Dr. Antonio Betancourt, Director, UPF Office of Peace and Security Affairs opened the forum by welcoming the guests. He introduced Cynthia Turner, Executive Director of Seraphim Global, and Yvonne Williams, Co-founder and President of Trafficking in America Task Force (TIATF) and recognized them as co-moderators for the event.

(Excerpt from Dr. Betancourt’s remarks) The work of the UPF, which was founded by Dr. Sun Myung Moon and Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon, comprises four principal areas: interfaith peacebuilding / marriage and family / humanitarian service / and peace and security. Our core values are based on the belief that we are one global human family created by God and individual families are the “schools of love and peace.”

Human trafficking is a crime against the individual and a crime against humanity; it is a crime against God. It is a crime against the social fabric of each community, city, state, nation and region. Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims. 

Human trafficking has many forms including forced labor, sex trafficking, child sex trafficking, debt bondage, and involuntary domestic servitude. In many ways, human trafficking is modern day slavery. It affects men, women, and children alike. It takes place in the poorest slums of the least developed countries as it does in our own backyard in Washington, D.C. Most human trafficking is facilitated by transnational criminal organizations, who have integrated networks, connections, and resources which allow for their activities to go under the radar. Human trafficking is usually coupled with many other criminal activities such as the trafficking of money, drugs, and arms.

Today we will discuss one of the most important elements (and root causes) of human trafficking – poverty. During the planning for today’s roundtable, I was reminded that poverty is not just about economic deprivation. On a broader level, there are, in fact, five categories of poverty that victims or survivors of sexual and other human rights abuses often experience:

  1. Spiritual poverty – lack of harmony, a spiritual relationship with a Divine Power
  2. Emotional poverty – lack of a safe, nurturing environment/support system, inability to deal with emotional hurt
  3. Mental poverty – lack of development caused by lifestyle
  4. Economic poverty – absence of resources or means of support
  5. Physical poverty -- engaging in high risk behavior ranging from poor diet to substance abuse – now or during period of trafficking

All are hindrances to healing.

Another aspect of our discussion is the multi-disciplinary role that corporate America has in the global fight to prevent human trafficking. In fact, President Obama has created an Interagency Task Force to monitor and combat trafficking in persons and issued an Executive Order that strengthens protective measures against trafficking in persons that prohibits federal contractors from engaging in trafficking related practices such as misleading or fraudulent recruiting practices. It has also been reassuring to learn that several major American corporations such as Delta Air Lines, Microsoft, Exxon Mobil, to name a few, are implementing anti-trafficking/modern slavery prevention programs. Corporate policies, cultures and structures are being customized to incorporate human rights policies with respect to modern day slavery.


Angelika Selle, President of the Women’s Federation for World Peace, USA spoke briefly about what they are doing to strengthen families in an effort to eradicate human trafficking.

(Excerpts from President Selle’s remarks) It is my great honor and pleasure to co-host this second round of the Forum discussion on Human Trafficking with our sister organization which is one of the most hideous crimes of humanity.

Last year I noted that it would be very hopeful if also men would be joining the panel since both parties are involved and the solution also needs come from their side and with their input.

As you might know WFWP USA deals with this issue more from the angle of creating awareness and healing, which occurs during our annual national assemblies and also in our local chapters. Last year for example, Mrs. Cynthia Turner and Mrs. Yvonne Williams both spoke at our national assembly in last Vegas - The Turning Point - and we continue to do so, also in the area of healing. Most of all, however, we strongly promote healthy families with one man, one woman and healthy relationships.

With regards to Human Trafficking I would like to read a poem of a panelist of this year's assembly here in MD, Mrs. Jennifer Jean, who is a poet and writer. In fact I will ask my dear husband Bob Selle to read it...

We can see from this poem, that indeed the issue of Human Trafficking has not been around since yesterday or recently, but from the beginning of time. And it is my great hope that in this forum we will be able go even a bit deeper in terms of unraveling the cause of the problem and come up with solutions.

(This poem was originally published by Amirah, an advocacy group for sex-trafficking survivors. I wrote it after hearing a survivor’s testimony at one of Amirah’s benefit concerts—the event was held in a church, hence the biblical imagery. The poem is about how pimps coerce girls into “the life,” as well as provide girls with false justifications for their actions.)

Power Play by Jennifer Jean

                        Now, the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field… ~Genesis 3:1

The first sin was a pimp lie to a girl dazzled
by the glamour love
of a god—by the glamour
of a grown up rave—
of knowing, that is having,
it all.

Then the pimp made Adam
into Eve’s first drake. Knowing
these facts—you know history…
But I should spell it out:
the players—repeat
get shit, then
justify. “If you want to
sell yourself,” says the snake
of her shattered soul, “That’s empowerment.”

And the snake’s got something—
she could be the Power! The new knowing
leaning into Adam, hissing,
“Who’s your daddy now.”

But, Adam can’t think or feel
he’s helpless, so he smacks her.

Jennifer Jean is an award-winning writer who has published four collections of poetry—her most recent book is: The Fool (Big Table, 2013). Her poems, essays, and book reviews have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including: Drunken Boat, Tidal Basin Review, Denver Quarterly, Caketrain, Poetica, and The Mom Egg Journal. Jennifer is a volunteer blogger for Amirah, an advocacy group for sex-trafficking survivors; she’s a principal organizer of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival; and, she is a professor of Creative Writing at Salem State University. Jennifer lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two children. To find out more about her work with Amirah, or to purchase her books, visit: 

Cynthia Turner presented on the topic of Poverty and the Human Trafficking Connection.

(Excerpts from Ms. Turner’s remarks) While over the past two decades, the American public has become increasingly concerned about the problem of human trafficking and sexual violence, the reality is that America has always regarded itself as a champion of human rights. But even with the legislation that has been passed to prevent sexual violence and exploitation of women, human trafficking still affects approximately 27.3 million people around the world (including communities here at home) and generates over 32 billion dollars in revenue. It is regarded as the second most profitable criminal business just behind drug trafficking. So the question of the hour is – how much progress has America made since Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation to advance human rights and protect those most vulnerable to exploitation and abuse and we ….. as fathers/mothers/sons/daughters and parents, what would our report card say about our effort to keep the moral and spiritual fabric of society strong.

The theme – Human Trafficking and Poverty: A Critical Connection is a familiar one to Seraphim GLOBAL as we work on behalf of men, women, and children who have no voice. Those who live in the shadows of poverty and violence, who are victims of forced labor, commercial sexual exploitation, and debt bondage as well as other forms of trafficking. Breaking the cycle of violence and exploitation in all forms and ensuring economic security and mental and spiritual well-being for survivors are development challenges that Seraphim addresses every day.

Now with an understanding of this social epidemic – what do we do to bring an end to the egregious crime of human trafficking. Greater commitment is needed by the political, social, economic, and faith-based communities to develop and implement policies that prioritize bringing an end to human trafficking. We all have a moral obligation to protect those who cannot protect themselves.

So what are the challenging recommendations before us.

  • Restore the moral and spiritual values in our home, in our business, in our community
  • Build strong families: be generously involved with your children, listen to your children, treat them as your most important blessing because they are ……….
  • Create and encourage the use of a system that protects confidentiality in reporting sexual violence without fear or stigma
  • Mobilize more task forces around the globe to detect trafficking
  • Advocate for laws that protect children from those who sexually buy or sexually abuse children
  • Make certain American tax dollars do not contribute to human trafficking
  • Enforce the trafficking laws already in place to prevent trafficking of people at major sporting events and in entertainment hubs
  • Improve access and quality of mental health and other restorative services and providing ongoing support to all ages and gender because trafficking victims are affected for life

Yvonne Williams presented a brief overview of the 2012 forum (the full report was distributed in October 2012), “The Face of Human Trafficking in America,” and then on mass media and how it is fueling human trafficking. Highlights of her presentation are as follows:

The vision of TIATF is to help eliminate the human trafficking of women, men, and children in America; To provide a culture for our children free of sexual exploitation and slavery, where people know their own intrinsic value. She stated that in order to accomplish this we must affect the culture in America so that the climate for such blatant inhumanity changes.


Mass media fueling supply and demand through: Movies, Television, Music, Internet, Print

Corporations are increasingly creating commercials for their products with sexual undertones and expletives.

Music and entertainment: Our youth look up to those that entertain them with music and dancing. We must find a way to reach both the entertainer and the audiences.

Internet and social media: The most subtle of all traffickers are those that run the large social media conglomerates such as Facebook,, pornography producers, etc. Mainstream mass media (television, internet, music, print, and movies, commercials) are increasing their portrayals of sexuality to its audiences. Mass media has become a primary medium in promoting certain attitudes and ideologies about sexual behavior. She stated that the most commonly searched word online by adults across gender lines is ‘sex’. Traffickers are using the Internet to lure vulnerable youth into meeting them and then using force and coercion to turn them into trafficked victims.

Print media: The rise in pornography addiction is in part due to the Internet and the availability of it in our own homes. A man or woman no longer has to go into a store to risk being seen in order to buy a pornographic product.

Some statistics regarding pornography were presented: 20% of men access porn at work. 17% of women access porn at work on the Internet; 40 million US adults (over 20% of our adult population) regularly visit Internet porn websites. 1 in 5; 53% of Promise Keeper men admit they have looked at a porn websites; 47% of Christians say they have a problem of porn in their home. 72% of males and 28% of females visit pornography sites. There are over ½ million porn websites on the internet today! Most of the porn websites today are dedicated to certain niches to meet the changing appetites of consumers.

We are just now starting to see its effects now that an entire generation has grown up on line. The Internet is the crack cocaine of the sex addiction. It is ruining marriages and ruining lives.

The magnitude of pornography: The pornography industry is larger than the revenues of the top technology companies combined: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, Apple, Netflix and EarthLink (source -

Stats say there are 100,000 new victims each year who are used sexually 10 times a day on the average so that requires over 1 million men a day each year added to the total number of victims in the country today; Stats range from 600,000 to 4.3 million total sex trafficked victims in America today (includes labor trafficking that also rapes the women). If there are only 600,000, then that means there are 6 million men each day contributing to paid rape (50% under the age of 18).

The John Next Door: The notion of the "john next door" has been perpetuated in pop culture, and even in some recent studies. But new research drawing on a large-scale nationally representative sample of men shows that frequenting prostitutes is not actually all that ordinary in the United States. About 14 percent (43,680,000) of American men said they paid for sex at some point in their lives, but just 1 percent (3,120,000) said they visited a prostitute in the past year (2010), according to the study, which is, in part, based on data collected as part of the General Social Survey by researchers at the National Opinion Research Center. (Megan Gannon, News editor:

Production , Distribution, and Consumption: U.S. leads the way in porn production throughout the world, but falls behind in profits Pornography is a 97 billion dollar industry world-wide (Pornodemic Documentary). According to Adult Video News, an estimated 11,000 hard-core porn movies are produced in the United States annually, many of them in California's San Fernando Valley, where modern porn was born; Phoenix, AZ is the 2nd largest producer of porn in the US.

Findings are based on the number of X-rated DVDs bought, rented or streamed, as compiled by; the number of adult entertainment stores per city, as monitored by; the rate of porn searches, via Google; and the percentage of households that subscribe to Cinemax, the bluest of the cable movie networks. Source is Men’s Health Magazine.

The Top 10 Cities for Consumption in the United States: Orlando, FL, Las Vegas, Wilmington, DE, Raleigh, NC, Charlotte, NC, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Tampa, FL, Anchorage, AK, Austin, TX.

Pornography, Sex Crimes, and Human Trafficking: The FBI’s statistics show that pornography is found at 80 percent of the scenes of violent sex crimes, or in the homes of the perpetrators”. (

The University of New Hampshire did a study that showed that the states with the highest readership of pornographic magazines like Playboy and Penthouse, also have the highest rape rates. Baron, L., & Straus, M. (1984). Sexual stratification, pornography, and rape in the United States. In N. M. Malamuth & E. Donnerstein (Eds.), Pornography, sexual aggression (pp. 185-209). New York: Academic Press. The Michigan State Police Department found that pornography is used or imitated in 41 percent of the sex crimes they have investigated. Campbell, M.C., & Campbell, J.M. (2005). The Engines of World War III. Retrieved January 2011.

Dr. Victor Cline did research that showed how men who become addicted to pornographic materials begin to want more explicit or deviant material and end up acting out what they have seen. Cline, V. (2009).

“Pornography’s Effects on Adults and Children.” Retrieved January 2011

Ted Bundy, one of the nation’s most notorious serial killers, on the day before his execution, Bundy said that the “most damaging kinds of pornography are those that involve sexual violence . . . The wedding of those two forces, as I know only too well, brings about behavior that is just, just too terrible to describe”. Anderson, K.J. (2003). “Pornography”.

Two doctors noted in their research-based book, Pornography and Sexual Aggression, that “Certain [aggressive] forms of pornography can affect aggressive attitudes toward women and can desensitize an individual’s perception of rape. These attitudes and perceptions are, furthermore, directly related to actual aggressive behavior against women.” They also found that adult pornography was connected with each of the 1,400 child sexual molestation cases in Louisville, Kentucky, and child pornography was connected with the majority of them. Malamuth NM, Donnerstein E (Eds) (1984): "Pornography and Sexual Aggression." New York: Academic Press.

Catherine Mackinon, a professor at Harvard Law School, says that “consuming pornography is an experience of bought sex,” and thus it creates a hunger to continue to purchase and objectify, and act out what is seen. Mackinnon, “Pornography as Trafficking.”

In a very literal way, pornography is advertising for trafficking, not just in general but also in the sense that traffickers and pimps use pornographic images of victims as specific advertising for their “products.” Farley, Melissa. Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada: Making the Connections. San Francisco, CA: Prostitution Research & Education, 2007. Print, 153.

Many women and children who are being sexually exploited and trafficked are also being used for the production of pornography. Sometimes acts of prostitution are filmed without the consent of the victim and distributed.

On other occasions victims are trafficked for the . In today’s era of webcams and chatrooms, the lines between interactive pornography and virtual prostitution websites have been blurred.

Citings for the above can be found at

Pornography production and distribution are ILLEGAL in the United States. Only 2 states are allowed to produce adult pornography and that is only if body fluids do not touch. So why aren’t we prosecuting?

Davina Durgana, Adjunct Instructor and PhD Candidate at American University, School of International Service who presented on Recent Efforts towards a Slave-Free USA. Ms. Durgana gave a thorough list of efforts that are being conducted across the United States that can serve as tools for every citizen that wants to become engaged to do so. Some of these academic efforts and conferences being held across the USA are: University of Nebraska-Lincoln 5th annual Interdisciplinary Conference on Human Trafficking; Freedom Center in Cincinnati, OH; New Graduate Programs.

Slave-Free Supply Chains Events: Humanity United; Free2Work; Ten Thousand Villages.

Awareness-Building Events: Passion 2013 in Atlanta for Youth; IJM’s North Star Student Leadership Conference; MTV’s EXIT Campaign; MTVu’s Against Our Will Campaign – Slavery-free campuses; CNN’s Freedom Project; TIATF (Trafficking in America Task Force, Inc.) May 2013 Conference

Polaris Project NHTRC Advertising: Mandatory Hotline Posting Laws; Las Vegas Billboard Campaigns

Academic Efforts: UNL 5th Annual Interdisciplinary Conference; Historian Conference at Freedom Center in Cincinnati, OH; University of Kansas – leading new pilot programming; New Master’s Degrees Programs – online at the University of Hull with Kevin Bales and in Georgetown’s SFS; New undergraduate and Master’s courses at: George Washington, American; Protection Project database of syllabi and Professors; Slave-Free Consumerism; Humanity United’s Slavery Footprint App; and DOL’s ILAB Child Labor List; Popularity of new free-trade and survivor craft venues such as Ten Thousand Villages; Failure of: H.R. 2759 (112th): Business Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act; Success of: Transparency in Supply Chains Act of California.

Other National Campaigns: Text Messaging available and New Las Vegas Billboard Campaign of the NHTRC; National Human Trafficking Hotline Postings; DOS Know Your Rights Pamphlets for Visa-Holders; 22 states have passed legislation requiring all establishments with a liquor license and lodging establishments cited for nuisance violations to post the hotline – Texas was first with over 35,000 establishments posting hotline; DOS A5 Visa-Holder Orientations;

Additional Ways to Get Involved; Fellowship programs with anti-trafficking service providers, advocacy groups or community-based affiliates; Volunteer your services – legal expertise for vacating charges, providing pro bono legal assistance for visa applications through service providers, teaching ESL or GRE classes through service providers; Learn more about this issue – stay current and take classes, or participate in train-the-trainer programs; Create unique intersections to this issue between actors you already engage with: Volunteer Firefighters, National Court-Appointed Special Advocates, EMTs, Big Brothers Big Sisters, etc.

A QUESTION and ANSWER SESSION took place following the last speaker. This proved to be a very engaging session for the audience. Questions were thought provoking and challenged our sense of responsibility in relation to being and living as a free society. Do we simply say that freedom is letting anyone do what they want? Or, do we recognize that with freedom comes a sense of responsibility for the weakest among us?

CONCLUSIONS and ACTION STEPS: In concluding, the primary root causes fueling human trafficking are:

  1. Poverty (financial, moral, ethical, spiritual).
  2. Corporate America’s unethical methods in the labor trafficking arena (includes the degeneration of a sound capitalistic system that creates a more even spread of wealth, therefore causing a greater divide in the wealthy and the poor in America).
  3. Mass media in all venues: Movies, Television, Print, the Internet concluding that pornography is the major contributor to sex trafficking with America being the #1 producer of the product across the world. And that America is illegally distributing pornography (as cited in the presentation according to US law).
  4. Suggestions for taking action steps include but are certainly not limited to: Accepting and taking responsibility:
    1. As a Nation – we as citizens created this issue and we need to end it.
    2. As Individuals – everyone can do something within their sphere of influence, including making positive changes in our own actions; becoming fully educated; volunteering with organizations in our communities; create “refuse to buy” campaigns to end labor trafficking in the creation of over 130 products, etc.
    3. As Parents – working to bring the family together, keeping a watch on our children’s lives (their friends, their internet activity, etc.)
    4. As Educators – curriculum in schools ( is a new source for educators regarding curriculum for all grade levels from first grade to senior high)
    5. As the Church – youth groups, fatherhood initiatives, family initiatives, etc.)
    6. As Corporations – stop illegal use of children for slave labor, begin to pay better wages to current employees, become educated and accountable for product development
    7. As the Entertainment Industry – we as citizens can contact media producers for the purpose of removal of programming that is destructive to youth and children.
  5. We must become a pro-active society


Mr. George Achimbi
Mr. Christopher Adkins
Ms. Betty Barr, former prosecutor, Colombia
Ms. Maia Bartaia, Consul, Embassy of Georgia
Ms. Bari Berger
Mrs. Beverly Berndt
Dr. Antonio Betancourt, Director, UPF Office of Peace and Security Affairs, Washington, DC
Ms. Emelyn Besem, Action for Disable and Vulnerable
Dr. Felicia Buadoo-Adade, SeraphimGLOBAL
Dr. George Contis, MSCI
Ms. Evangeline Covington, Chair, Eradication of Slavery and Human Trafficking Committee, National Congress of Black Women
Ms. Linda Dixon, Program Manager, DoD CTIP, Department of Defense
Ms. Davina Durgana, Adjunct Instructor/PhD Candidate, American University
Ms. Kayla Eaton, student, American University
Mr. Louis Etongyu
Prof. Diane Falk, Research & Outreach Specialist, WFWP-USA
Ms. Kathleen Gaffney
Mr. Alex Georgiades, MSCI
Ms. Ximena Gilles, Nao College
Ms. Srishti Gupta, Student intern, Wilson Center
Min. Amar Nath Gupta, head priest, Capitol Hindu Temple
Rev. Santosh Kumari Gupta
Ms. Cindy Gustafson, DC Stop Modern Slavery
Mr. Louis Johnson
Bishop Christiana Johnston
Mr. Nanthanakmone Keovongvichith, Embassy of Laos
Ms. Bless Ketum
Ms. Marie Kinyock
Ms. Stephanie Kridlo, student, American University
Ms. Becca Lamb, student, American University
Ms. Alexandria Lane, intern, Heritage Foundation
Ms. Grace Leahey, student intern, Wilson Center
Ms. Danielle Lohan, interim chair, The Maryland Rescue and Restore Coalition
Ms. Rafael Marymon
Minister Chi Mauuso, owner, Afrikan Women’s Networking Group
Ms. Patience Mbassa
Mr. Adrian McNamara, Seraphim Global
Ms. Dahlia Migarez, Washington Internship Institute
Ms. Alison Mitchell, congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, Embassy of Canada
Ms. Mary Moody
Ms. Jesse Morrou
Ms. Kathleen Murray
Ms. Florence Ntoh
Ms. Samantha Pfaff, Seraphim Global
Ms. Rebecca Poole
Ms. Jessi Pore, program support coordinator, Migration and Refugee Services Program, US Conference of Catholic Bishops
Ms. Eileen Quigley, MSCI
Dr. William Selig, Deputy Director, UPF Office of Peace and Security Affairs, Washington, DC
Mrs. Angelika Selle, president, WFWP-USA
Mr. Robert Selle
Ms. Amanda Slade, scheduler, Congressman Alan Lowenthal
Ms. Elizabed Tchagalidze, BA International studies, American University
Ms. Cynthia Turner, Executive director, Seraphim GLOBAL
Ms. Elizabeth Asaha Ufei, president, African Women Human Rights Group
Mr. Rusty Wilbur, The Samaritan Women
Ms. Yvonne Williams, executive director, Trafficking in America Task Force, Inc.
Bishop Nancy Womble, clergy
Ms. Andrea Ximena, attorney, Colombia


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