Category Archives: Random facts

Human Trafficking Awareness Day

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Being that I work overseas, you might expect that I would use today to talk about Trafficking in Persons in the country I live in currently (Albania). Or, the country I just came from (Kazakhstan). Or, the country where I did research on human trafficking (Chile). Or, the country where I knew children who were trafficked (Moldova). But, today I won’t do that. I want to talk about human trafficking int he country I call home (USA).

The sad truth is that human trafficking continues to be a problem in the US.  Yes, in large cities: New York, LA, Boston.  But also in rural areas of the country, small towns, suburbia.

A few jobs ago, I worked with some victims of human trafficking.  Men who were lured to the US with promises of jobs and money to send home and instead ended up working in slave like conditions in Middle America with their passports confiscated and the door to the house they lived in padlocked from the outside.  After several months, someone put in a tip and they were freed.  They were freed, but they weren’t compensated for their losses.  They were free, but they still had to explain to wives and children what happened to them.  They have been free for years now, but I am sure their experience still haunts them.  Honestly, their stories still haunt me.

An estimated 14,500 to 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into the United States each year. The number of U.S. citizens trafficked within the country is even higher, with an estimated 200,000 American children at risk for trafficking into the sex industry. (U.S. Department of Justice Report to Congress from Attorney General John Ashcroft on U.S. Government Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons)

These numbers are staggering and the realities are bleak. However, in the US, there are places you can report suspected cases of trafficking.  Polaris Project suggests:

If you see any of these red flags, contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-3737-888 to report the situation. Click here to learn more about reporting potential human trafficking situations. This list is not exhaustive and represents only a selection of possible indicators. Also, the red flags in this list may not be present in all trafficking cases and are not cumulative.

Common Work and Living Conditions: The Individual(s) in Question

  • Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
  • Is under 18 and is providing commercial sex acts
  • Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp / manager
  • Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
  • Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
  • Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work
  • Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
  • Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work
  • High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)

Poor Mental Health or Abnormal Behavior

  • Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid
  • Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement
  • Avoids eye contact

Poor Physical Health

  • Lacks health care
  • Appears malnourished
  • Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture

Lack of Control

  • Has few or no personal possessions
  • Is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account
  • Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport)
  • Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)

Other

  • Claims of just visiting and inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address
  • Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or do not know what city he/she is in
  • Loss of sense of time
  • Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story
To request assessment tools and for more information about reporting trafficking click here. For resource packs on human trafficking and how to recognize the signs click here.

Hypersexualation of America’s Youth

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There is so much that I could say about the hypersexualization of our youth that I am not even sure where to start.  When did kids stop getting to be just kids?  When did they start doing this?

Yes, I know a lot of you are all thinking that this is harmless fun.  And, a lot of times, it is.

I admit, after going to the ballet as a child with my parents, I used to pirouette around the kitchen when no one was looking.  I imagined growing up to be one of those skinny, long-haired, graceful women on the stage.  As a child,  I was seduced by the glamor and the beauty of it all.  And, even at a young age, I was acutely aware that my body type did not fit the role of ballerina.

So… these little girls.  What are they 7? And beyond dancing, what are they doing?  What are they learning? Are they learning that they are objects of sexual desire?  Even if they don’t know that sex is, are the learning that being ogled at is desirable?  Are they learning that gyrating their bodies and wearing scantily clad clothing gets them attention?

In a country where sexual abuse of children is  a real problem, I do worry about societal acceptance of hypersexuality of children: both because of the impact on the children and because of what is says about what we are willing to accept. In the United States 7% of girls in grades 5-8 and 12% of girls in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused. 3% of boys grades 5-8 and 5% of boys in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused. Girls ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. (info from Department of Justice Statistics, found here)

Sexual abuse, even at very young ages, has life long consequences (from above).

Effects of Rape

Victims of sexual assault are:7

3 times more likely to suffer from depression.

6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

13 times more likely to abuse alcohol.

26 times more likely to abuse drugs.

4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.

Here is some additional (although some old) information from Prevent-Abuse-Now.com:

Impact of Child Sexual Abuse
It is estimated that there are 60 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse in America today.
Source: Forward, 1993. Approximately 31% of women in prison state that they had been abused as children.
Source: United States Department of Justice, 1991.

It is estimated that children with disabilities are 4 to 10 times more vulnerable to sexual abuse than their non-disabled peers.
Source: National Resource Center on Child Sexual Abuse, 1992.

Long term effects of child abuse include fear, anxiety, depression, anger, hostility, inappropriate sexual behavior, poor self esteem, tendency toward substance abuse and difficulty with close relationships.
Source: Browne & Finkelhor, 1986.

Guilt is universally experienced by almost all victims. Courtois and Watts described the “sexual guilt” as “guilt derived from sexual pleasure”
Source: Tsai and Wagner, l978.

Sexuality is regarded not simply as a part of the self limited to genitals, discrete behaviors, or biological aspects of reproduction, but is more properly understood as one component of the total personality that affects one’s concept of personal identity and self-esteem.
Source: Whitlock & Gillman, 1989.

Sexual victimization may profoundly interfere with and alter the development of attitudes toward self, sexuality, and trusting relationships during the critical early years of development.
Source: Tsai & Wagner, 1984.

If the child victim does not resolve the trauma, sexuality may become an area of adult conflict.
Source: Courtois & Watts, 1982; Tsai & Wagner, 1984.

There is the clinical assumption that children who feel compelled to keep sexual abuse a secret suffer greater psychic distress than victims who disclose the secret and receive assistance and support.
Source: Finkelhor & Browne, 1986.

Early identification of sexual abuse victims appears to be crucial to the reduction of suffering of abused youth and to the establishment of support systems for assistance in pursuing appropriate psychological development and healthier adult functioning . As long as disclosure continues to be a problem for young victims, then fear, suffering, and psychological distress will, like the secret, remain with the victim.
Sources: Bagley, 1992; Bagley, 1991; Finkelhor et al. 1990; Whitlock & Gillman, 1989.

Adolescents with a history of sexual abuse are significantly more likely than their counterparts to engage in sexual behavior that puts them at risk for HIV infection, according to Dr. Larry K. Brown and associates, from Rhode Island Hospital, in Providence.
See Medscape

Adolescents with a history of sexual abuse are significantly more likely than their counterparts to engage in sexual behavior that puts them at risk for HIV infection, according to Dr. Larry K. Brown and associates, from Rhode Island Hospital, in Providence. Inconsistent condom use was three times more likely among youths who had been sexually abused than among the 55 who had not. A history of sexual abuse was also significantly associated with less impulse control and higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases. According to Dr. Brown, “These results suggest two things. Abused kids need adequate counseling around abuse issues. A lot of these kids keep re-experiencing the anxiety and trauma for years.” The second issue, he said, is that “most therapy does not address current sexual behavior” and the anxieties that sexually abused adolescents experience.
Source: Larry K. Brown, M.D., et al, American Journal of Psychiatry 2000;157:1413-1415.

Young girls who are forced to have sex are three times more likely to develop psychiatric disorders or abuse alcohol and drugs in adulthood, than girls who are not sexually abused. Sexual abuse was also more strongly linked with substance abuse than with psychiatric disorders. It was also suggested that sexual abuse may lead some girls to become sexually active at an earlier age and seek out older boyfriends who might, in turn, introduce them to drugs. Psychiatric disorders were from 2.6 to 3.3 times more common among women whose CSA included intercourse, and the risk of substance abuse was increased more than fourfold, according to the results. Family factors — parental education, parenting behavior, family financial status, church attendance — had little impact on the prevalence of psychiatric or substance abuse disorders among these women, the investigators observe. Similarly, parental psychopathology did not predict the association between CSA and later psychopathology.
Source: Kenneth S. Kendler, M.D., et al, Medical College of Virginia Commonwealth University, Archives of General Psychiatry 2000;57:953-959.
Also see review at Medscape

Among both adolescent girls and boys, a history of sexual or physical abuse appears to increase the risk of disordered eating behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting or use of laxatives to avoid gaining weight. Among those at increased risk for disordered eating were respondents who had experienced sexual or physical abuse and those who gave low ratings to family communication, parental caring and parental expectations. In light of these findings, the researchers conclude that “strong familial relationships may decrease the risk for disordered eating among youth reporting abuse experiences.”
Source: Dr. Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, et al, University of Minneapolis, International Journal of Eating Disorders 2000;28:249-258.

Young girls who are sexually abused are more likely to develop eating disorders as adolescents. The findings also add to a growing body of research suggesting that trauma in childhood increases the risk of developing an eating disorder. Abused girls were more dissatisfied with their weight and more likely to diet and purge their food by vomiting or using laxatives and diuretics. Abused girls were also more likely to restrict their eating when they were bored or emotionally upset. Wonderlich suggests that abused girls might experience higher levels of emotional distress, possibly linked to their abuse, and have trouble coping. Food restriction and perhaps other eating disorder behaviors may (reflect) efforts to cope with such experiences. The report also indicates that while girls who were abused were less likely to exhibit perfectionist tendencies (such as making extreme efforts to avoid disappointing others and a need to be ‘the best’), they tended to want thinner bodies than girls who had not been abused.
Source: Stephen A. Wonderlich, M.D., et al, University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Fargo, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 2000;391277-1283.

US Healthcare system missing most mentally ill children and adolescents. More than 7 out of 10 American adolescents with mental health problems are getting no care, according to data released today at the Surgeon General’s Conference on Children’s Mental Health. See Medscape

Thanks to Huffington Post for pointing this out.

Not just sweatshops anymore

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From Tanzanian tobacco to Thai shrimp; from Argentine grapes to Tajik cotton, products all over the world are made from child labor and forced labor. The Department of Labor has been compiling a list of goods around the world that are made with child labor and forced labor; they also defined these and how they did their study. For several years, the DOL has made this list but not released it. Earlier this week, they finally released the list in a publication entitled: The Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor.

Bet ya didn’t know that…

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Yet another internet meme is floating around– this one on facebook. My friend Lisa, who does not have a blog but does have a dent above her left temple, tagged me.  I, however, am taking a page from Liza‘s book and filling it out on my blog.

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things about you.

  1. I think of Indian Pilau as an integral part of any Thanksgiving meal.
  2. Which of course, had to be my first thing, because it was food related, and I am nothing if not food-obsessed.
  3. That said, I like HGTV and housing reality shoes more than cooking shows.
  4. Except for sometimes Iron Chef.
  5. And the show Red hot and Green really annoys me – although I like the concept and want to like it.
  6. And, while I love cooking for others, I am way too lazy to make a big intricate meal for myself.
  7. I am also too lazy to make my bed.
  8. This will be an on-going issue in my up-coming marriage.
  9. Growing up I lived with my grandmother who made my bed and cleaned my room.
  10. She also moved furniture around in the night time when she couldn’t sleep.  Big pieces.  Beds. China cabinets.
  11. I learned to turn on the lights when coming downstairs in the middle of the night in case there was a new large piece of furinture where a clear path to the cookies used to be.
  12. She was my best friend.
  13. And made the best cakes.  There is a place here in Milwaukee, McCoy’s, that has really good cakes.  Kind of like hers. Almost like hers. Definitely like homemade. But still, not quite grandma’s.
  14. I am a huge fan of cookies as well.
  15. I speak a lot of languages (Spanish, English, Romanian, Japanese – well).
  16. I dabble in several others (German, Russian).
  17. Most recently I have been trying to teach myself French.
  18. I am hoping that it will help me last a job.
  19. I have been looking for months. Unsuccessfully.
  20. I just bought Paul Krugman’s The Return of Depression Economics to try and understand the economy better.
  21. I have heard him on NPR and can understand him.
  22. Plus, anyone who goes on NPR has to be cool. Right? Because I think NPR is cool.
  23. My fiance says his favorite thing about me is that I am more of a nerd than he is.
  24. I still am amused that in Spanish they say “nerd” as in “por dios, no puedes ser tan nerd”.
  25. I would be more amused if Spanish had more puns. That way I could grow up to be my mother. You know. Punny.

And… I am tagging all the chile bloggers, including Fned who just blogs with us, and Lauren who just had a baby, also Creating Motherhood and Mongkol because their list swould be awesome. Plus the Facebook people I tagged and any one else who wants to.

As a voting woman in the US…

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As a voting woman in the US, it is important that I understand how the presidential nominees for president and vice president have supported or failed to support women in the past.

Today, I tried a little experiment to see what would happen: I went to The Library of Congress THOMAS which holds all the records of what goes on in the senate. It has a search engine where you can choose key words and specific senators as co-sponsors/sponsors of bills. I chose to look at each of the candidates who is in Senate and see what bills they have sponsored or co-sponsored that include the word “woman” during the 110th congress session (most recent). Here is what I found:

Barack Obama, Democratic Presidential hopeful sponsored or co-sponsored 60 bills or resolutions that included woman as topic. These included (but were not limited to):

  • A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that Harriett Woods will be remembered as a pioneer in women’s politics.
  • A resolution celebrating the accomplishments of title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, also known as the Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, and recognizing the need to continue pursuing the goal of educational opportunities for women and girls.
  • A resolution honoring the sacrifice of the members of the United States Armed Forces who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • A resolution supporting legislation promoting improved health care and access to health care for women.
  • A bill to expand access to preventive health care services that help reduce unintended pregnancy, reduce abortions, and improve access to women’s health care.
  • A bill to require that health plans provide coverage for a minimum hospital stay for mastectomies, lumpectomies, and lymph node dissection for the treatment of breast cancer and coverage for secondary consultations.
  • A bill to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to prohibit discrimination in the payment of wages on account of sex, race, or national origin, and for other purposes.

His running mate, Joe Biden (the sponsor of the first Violence Against Women Act in 1993), came out of the search with 45 bills or resolutions sponsored or co-sponsored, including:

  • A resolution supporting the goals of “International Women’s Day”.
  • A resolution designating October 19, 2007, as “National Mammography Day”.
  • A resolution urging the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to overturn the sentence of the “Girl of Qatif”.
  • A resolution commemorating and acknowledging the dedication and sacrifice made by the men and women who have lost their lives while serving as law enforcement officers.
  • A bill to empower women in Afghanistan, and for other purposes.
  • A bill to amend title 39, United States Code, to extend the authority of the United States Postal Service to issue a semipostal to raise funds for breast cancer research.
  • A bill to establish a domestic violence volunteer attorney network to represent domestic violence victims.
  • A bill to combat international violence against women and girls.

Republican presidential hopeful, John McCain, has a mere 19 bills or resolutions sponsored or co-sponsored by him. These include:

  • A resolution commemorating the 25th anniversary of the construction and dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
  • A resolution congratulating the University of Arizona Wildcats for winning the 2007 NCAA Division I Softball Championship.
  • A resolution congratulating the Arizona State University women’s softball team for winning the 2008 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Softball Championship.
  • A bill to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2008 for military activities of the Department of Defense, to prescribe military personnel strengths for fiscal year 2008, and for other purposes.
  • A bill to protect the public health by providing the Food and Drug Administration with certain authority to regulate tobacco products.
  • A bill to amend the National and Community Service Act of 1990 to expand and improve opportunities for service, and for other purposes.

The thing is– this is not a partisan study. You can repeat it yourself by going to: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/thomas

As for Sarah Palin, I think I have already made it clear that I do not support her because I believe that she and her policies would move American women back not forward. However, I think this video highlights some of the reasons I do not support her.

Please, if you are voting woman in the US, get the facts. Obama/Biden have a clear history of supporting women.

Day light saving time

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Did you know that day light savings time happens in the opposite dirrection in some parts of the world?

For example, when I arrived in Chile, there was a 1 hour time difference with my parents and friends in WI and MO respectively.  However, as Spring advanced, a couple weeks ago, Chile sprang one hour forward making the difference 2 hours.  Today, the US fell back as winter is on its way, so we have a 3 hour difference.  Weird, huh?

Admittedly, this is a less than inspired blog posting, but I am less than inspired myself. Mostly, I am tired.  But it is still November, to the best of my recollections, and I am trying not to mess up this whole NaBloPoMo thing right at the kick off. Why am I so tired?  Well, last night was my friend Arlette’s wedding.  I promise one of the photos alone with tales of the night will be the Photo Wednesday shot this week.  Until then, I can tell you that the church was really far from the fiesta, tons of delicious food was served, I danced and danced, the bride was radiant, and I have never seen the couple so happy.  Moreover, I can tell you that I got home late, stayed up longer, and today am exhausted.