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Friday, February 5, 2010

Advocates Hope To Rescue UnderAge Superbowl Sex Slaves

   'The Super Bowl is obviously a really big deal for prostitution,' says Sandy Skelaney, a program manager at Kristi House, a program for sexually abused children.

Advocates hope to rescue underage Super Bowl sex slaves


'The Super Bowl is obviously a really big deal for prostitution,' says Sandy Skelaney, a program manager at Kristi House, a program for sexually abused children.
Two dozen volunteers from around the country gathered inside a Miami conference room earlier this week to prepare for the Super Bowl.

They're not here for the game, though. They will spend several days fanning out through the city to rescue underage girls who have been trafficked to South Florida as sex workers.

``The Super Bowl is obviously a really big deal for prostitution,'' Sandy Skelaney, a program manager at Kristi House, a program for sexually abused children, told the group.

``We have a bunch of girls being brought down by pimps.''

Just as police, hoteliers, restaurateurs and retailers have prepared for the big game, so too have children's advocates. For weeks, volunteers have printed fliers, prepared scripts and organized outreach teams in an effort to identify -- and, with luck, rescue -- girls who are being forced into prostitution.

Last year, when the Super Bowl was held in Tampa, the state Department of Children & Families took in 24 children who were brought to the city to serve as sex workers, said Regina Bernadin, DCF's statewide human-trafficking coordinator.

``Miami is known as a destination city for human trafficking, and sporting events are generally recognized by the experts as magnets for prostitution,'' said Trudy Novicki, who heads Kristi House.


Under normal circumstances, Florida -- and Miami in particular -- draws more than its share of underaged sex workers, lured by large numbers of transient men, the glitz of South Beach and a steady stream of conventions, authorities say.

The Super Bowl is expected to generate as much traffic for prostitutes as it does for bartenders and bookies.

And though the girls on South Beach and in Downtown Miami may seem to be there voluntarily, authorities say they almost certainly are former runaways or foster kids who fell prey to human trafficking. Some are barely out of puberty.

Ernie Allen, who heads the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said girls typically enter prostitution at age 11 or 12.

``This is truly an example of supply and demand,'' Allen said. ``They use these kids as commodities for sale or trade, and go to where demand is the greatest, and where they can make the most money. That's why they follow events like the Super Bowl.''

Allen called child prostitutes ``21st-century slaves.''

Throughout the year, Miami-Dade police hold between 15 and 20 operations targeting underage prostitution. For major events, such as the Super Bowl, the department works with the FBI's Innocence Lost Task Force.

``At large events such as this, we increase our presence . . . with the ultimate goal being that no children are sexually exploited,'' Maj. Raul Ubieta, who works with the department's Strategic and Specialized Investigations Bureau, said through a spokesman.

At Kristi House Wednesday night, where the volunteers gathered, fliers sat on a desk with pictures of four missing girls, ages 14 to 17.

``What we're trying to do tonight is plant a seed of hope for someone,'' said Brad Dennis, a director with the Klaas Kids Foundation.

``Last year during the Tampa Super Bowl, the largest number of tips came in from hotel owners,'' he said.

The outreach workers are organized into eight teams, divvying up the Spanish-speakers and trying to have one man each. In teams of two, three or four, the volunteers -- who came from as far as New York City and Alabama -- spread out across Miami-Dade -- from South Beach to Hialeah to Downtown Miami.

The goal is to look for missing girls and underaged sex workers. When they find a promising candidate, they hand out a card with a rescue hotline number on it.

The volunteers have a script: ``I'm a volunteer that works with kids who are in the life. I know you may not have a lot of time, but this is our card in case you or someone you know needs help. It has a hotline number discreetly listed. This is so no one knows. Is there anything you need tonight?''

And general rules: Try not to approach big groups of girls. Don't walk up to anyone near a pimp.

Outreach workers carry a small, glossy pamphlet filled with the pictures of missing teenagers.

They are black, white and Hispanic, blonde, auburn and braided. The booklet includes a short introduction from the family of Amber Dubois, a 15-year-old Escondido, Calif. girl who vanished on Feb. 13, 2009, a short distance from her high school: ``I am a football fan, but this Super Bowl, the champions will not be the Colts or the Saints for me. It will be your search team. For every girl you find and rescue, it will be a game-winning touchdown all over again.''

The message was written by 70-year-old Sheila Welch, Amber's grandmother.

``To think that something that is supposed to be all-American, the sport of our country, actually has an underground of sex trafficking is horrible,'' Welch told The Miami Herald.

The girls pictured in the handbook ``all look like babies,'' Welch said. ``But they are not babies anymore. They lost their childhood.''

For the volunteers, reaching their targets is not an easy job. Novicki calls them ``a tough crowd.''

Said volunteer Eddy Ameen, the executive director of StandUp For Kids -- Miami: ``We are not seen as saviors.''

The girls the group encounters are streetwise, distrustful, hardened and fearful of strangers -- who can get them beaten if the girl's pimp feels threatened.

Some girls view their pimps as family: someone who fed them, clothed them, loved them when no one else would.

``Nobody is saying, `Thank goodness you came and saved me,' '' Novicki said. But on a good day, a girl may take the group's card and hang onto it. Some time later, she said -- maybe after a beating or a night of particularly rough sex -- a girl may find the card and use it.


The National Center estimates there are between 100,000 and 150,000 underaged sex workers who generate billions of dollars in revenue for their pimps. The girls can travel around the country in ``circuits.''

In May, DCF began identifying through the agency's hotline children who fell victim to human trafficking. To date, they have recovered almost 85 children -- the largest number, 17, last month, said DCF spokesman Joe Follick.

Shared Hope International, a research and rescue group, reported in May 2009 that during a five-year period of servitude, an underaged prostitute might be ``raped'' by 6,000 men -- assuming a five-night-a-week schedule.

And if the everyday job description of a child prostitute is bad enough, times of ``peak'' demand, such as a sporting event, are particularly disturbing.

``Children exploited through prostitution typically are given a quota by their trafficker/pimp of 10-15 buyers per night,'' the Shared Hope report says, adding, ``though some service providers report girls having been sold to as many as 45 buyers in a night at peak demand times, such as a sporting event or convention.''

For Carrie McGonigle, Amber Dubois' mother, finding her daughter as a sex worker would be a blessing, because all the other possibilities are arguably worse. ``It would be good news,'' McGonigle said. ``I've already dealt with what that would mean if we find her.''

Miami Herald staff writer Jared Goyette contributed to this report.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Superbowl & Sex Trafficking in Miami

Super Bowl weekends in Miami have been remembered for Vince Lombardi’s final game, Joe Namath’s successful guarantee, Lynn Swann’s memorable catch, Jackie Smith’s memorable drop, Montana-to-Taylor, Steve Young and Peyton Manning’s first and only Super Bowl championship victories. They’ve also been remembered for various off-the-field criminal activities — from Stanley Wilson’s late-night cocaine binge to Eugene Robinson’s attempted purchase of an undercover police officer for oral sex. The National Football League loves Miami as a Super Bowl site for its abundance of entertainment options and its warm-weather climate during a cold winter in most of the country. Miami brings nightlife fun whether on South Beach or in Fort Lauderdale that can be harmless for tourists and residents alike. However, a drive down Biscayne Boulevard at 3am can offer vices that even athletes preparing for the biggest game of their lives fail to resist.

Miami’s criminal activity is not unique amongst metropolitan cities in the United States nor is its increased criminality during large sporting events (i.e. the Super Bowl, Olympics, or World Cup). Sex trafficking, however, is one crime more prevalent in Miami because of its attractiveness to potential buyers and its place as a hub for international business/immigration. Miami houses many immigrants (more susceptible to traffickers), both legal and illegal; some reside in unassimilated areas like Little Havana or Little Haiti, while others live in wealthy areas like Miami Lakes or Coral Gables. Business between US firms and firms in Latin America/Caribbean takes place in Downtown Miami/Fort Lauderdale which brings businessmen in and out of the cities on weekend trips with secret perks like massage parlors or street prostitutes.

Many victims of sex trafficking in South Florida are homeless or runaway children who fall into the hands of child predators, pimps and traffickers. StandUp For Kids Miami identified 2300 homeless youth in Miami-Dade county alone. Contributing to that number are missing foster children that should be monitored by the Florida Department of Children and Families, but have been lost over the last decade (See Rilya Wilson case, 2002). Urban poverty also contributes to trafficking in South Florida in communities such as Liberty City and Overtown where citizens have been priced out of expensive housing developments and were forced to live in shantytowns as late as 2007. Regardless of their background, one thing is clear: These children that end up on the streets are immediately targeted for the commercial sex trade. For these reasons, Kristi House, Stand Up For Kids, and KlaasKIDS Foundation will be out in the South Florida community on Super Bowl weekend to bring awareness of potential trafficking to area hotels, businesses, and citizens. By raising awareness of such a crucial issue, lives can be saved. Hopefully, Super Bowl XLIV won’t be the only memorable event from this weekend.

Source: Shared Hope International

Superbowl is Hot Spot Offering Sex For Sale in South Florida

Super Bowl is coming soon so are the traffickers

Super Bowl is a big event for most Americans whether they are madly in love with football or not. This year, the national event will take place in Miami Florida, where people know how to party and have fun. Many people are currently looking for the tickets to attend the game at the very last minute. Tickets are sold for more than 1500 dollars a piece along with the tickets at an exclusive clubs and bars for late night party.

By the way, do you know what else is will be going on in Miami? Sex trafficking and prostitution of women and children. Experts are well aware that big sports event like this is always coupled with increase in sex trafficking and prostitution. They are particularly concerned that this year may be worse than others as Florida is a hub of sex trafficking and child prostitution.

You can argue that sex should be treated just like alcohol, a method of entertainment. You may even go further to say that sex industry should be treated like any other industries. But, here is the thing; the products, commodities, or the people who are sold in the sex industry are different from a bottle of Vodka or beer. They are human, not commodities, with mind and soul. Whether they chose to enter the industry or not, it is damaging to them in every way, and the damage lasts for a long time. They suffer through psychological and physical problems including, depression, insomnia, Post-Traumatic Disorder, distorted liver system, sexual organs, or even joint pain as a result of being a commodity in the sex industry. They feel the psychological and physical pain when the customer throws her away out of frustration, whereas a bottle of Vodka will be broken but with no pain suffered by the Vodka itself.

So, dear sports fans, I hope that you have as much fun as you can on the day of Super Bowl. But, I wish you do so responsibly. When someone offers sex in Miami, consider my argument and think for a second to see if you would want anyone to treat your sister, mother, or even yourself as a bottle of Vodka or beer– a thing that can be possessed, abused, thrown away, and trashed at the end for the sake of your entertainment just because you paid for it. You may not think that your purchase for sex will not change a bit about human trafficking and sex industry in the U.S., but you, by doing so, become another person to set a trend that a big sports event is coupled with increase in prostitution and sex trafficking in the future.

To check out more articles on human trafficking written by Youngbee Dale, visit Norfolk Human Rights Examiner.

Source: Restore. Minor grammar edits to original article.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

FGCU Update & Upcoming Events/VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

Dear friends, family & slavery abolitionists,

We very much enjoyed meeting so many new people at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) last week and I apologize it's taken me a week or so to respond, especially to those of you who signed up to volunteer. For those of you who submitted your 'One Thing' to be said on behalf of the victims, THANK YOU! The university event evaluations revealed the they LOVED hearing from YOU and it was my honor to be your voice.

FGCU's Student Abolitionist Movement has invited me back to speak for 90 minutes on March 25th 5:30-7pm & we couldn't be more pleased with how the week of events went. My self portrait of Jesus holding me, Rescued: Saved by Grace & In His Grip, was placed front & center of the Not For Sale presentation the first night featuring David Bastone. How cool was that?! We had a freshman student approach me after the second evening I spoke that is a survivor of domestic minor sex trafficking that we've embraced and are now working with.

We currently have 4 women in restoration residential programs and are assisting 4 others in higher education pursuits through the Rahab's Hope Fund, not to mention the 40-50 women I work with weekly in addition to numerous men that Steve is working with that have or currently are struggling with porn addiction. We also are working with victims of human trafficking that have been incarcerated. We're blessed to see their growth weekly and are hopeful they will have the courage needed to become key witnesses to bring about the prosecution of their perpetrators.

I was interviewed twice last week with MSNBC for a documentary they are doing on sex trafficking and the Healing Today Show ran their 30 minute interview with me Monday. You can view it on our YouTube channel.

We are amazed at the open doors & exposure of BFA that God has provided so early in the year and are in desperate need of help with managing what God has entrusted to us. We have plenty of areas in which you can serve, including the following:

Internet/Social Networking
Gift Assembly/Shopping
Event Coordination
Case Management

We have TEAM MEETINGS the first Saturday of each month, that include inventorying beauty supply donations (from an national company/chain). We will have one this Saturday, February 6th from 9am - noon.

Additionally, we will be having a NEW VOLUNTEER ORIENTATION MEETING combined with our Valentine's gift assembly on Monday, February 8th 5:30 - 8:30 (dinner included).

Every Monday from 5:30 - 8:30 we have a BIBLE STUDY that includes dinner. We currently are studying Rick Warren's Life's Healing Choices and will resume the 2nd week of the curriculum on February 15th.

Please RSVP attending as I need to know a head count & have to call in visitors to the guard house in the gated community we meet inside of. Address and directions will be provided when you RSVP.

Our next STRIP CLUB OUTREACH is Saturday, February 13th 7-10pm. If you can prepare a dish, please contact me. We have the entree covered (beef stroganoff...thanks Donna!) and are in need of a salad, bread and dessert. We typically serve 20-25 people. We also have an outreach on February 27th we'll need comfort food prepared for.

If you can't make the upcoming meeting(s) and are still interested in serving along side us, please contact me.

If you can't give of your time and want to give financially, we are still offering our Child of God CD for a minimum donation of $35 plus $5 shipping as a way to say thank you. To give online securely online, CLICK HERE or send cash, check or money order to 5100 S. Cleveland Avenue, Suite 318-148, Fort Myers, FL 33907.

On February 21, 2010, churches around the world will be praying for those held captive in honor of the first ever Freedom Sunday. Please join in this worldwide day of reflection by preaching about the freedom Jesus brings, singing songs of redemption. For more information on this Not For Sale event CLICK HERE

If you're interested in scheduling myself and/or our team to speak or exhibit at your church, meeting or event, please contact us at or call 239.939.9218. Remember, awareness leads to intervention & prevention of human slavery!

I look forward to hearing from you and partnering together to reach, rescue & restore victims of sex trafficking. Together we are better and are making difference!

In His lavish love & fire,
Pastor Julie Shematz & the FREEdom™ Team

Beauty From Ashes™ Ministries
Where Victims Become Over-Comers
877.4BFA SOS (423.2767) International Toll Free Help Line