Welcome to the Rotary Club To End Human Trafficking

Are you an established professional who wants to make positive changes in your community and the world?  Our club members are dedicated people who share a passion for ending human trafficking / modern slavery.  Becoming a Rotarian connects you with a diverse group who share your drive to give back.

I recently had dinner with the former District Governor of District 5950 who was the District Governor when I was President of my local Rotary Club.  Bob was the person who asked me to lead, what became the Rotary Initiative to End Human Trafficking in Minnesota in 2017.  As we were reflecting on what has happened with this initiative which started five years ago as a three-year project in Minnesota amazed us both.


Bob’s wisdom, leadership and commitment gave power and longevity to this important initiative.  It was Bob who had the vision to know that something as important as this initiative would take longer than one year to get going, so he worked with his successors AND three years of leadership in a neighboring District (District 5960) to make a three year commitment to support the work of our team. A year later, District 5580 which serve northern Minnesota, North Dakota, northwestern Wisconsin and part of Ontario joined the effort so we expanded the mission of the initiative which became known as the ”Tri District Rotary Initiative to End Human Trafficking.


Two years ago, knowing that the three-year commitment was completing, I approached our District leadership asking for their assistance.  I knew that work was just beginning, and we needed to establish a model that was more sustainable than the model that had been created for the initial initiative.  THUS the Rotary Club to End Human Trafficking was born with the support and assistance of yet another District Governor, Tom Gump. 


As I now look to end my tenure as the Charter President of the Rotary Club to End Human Trafficking, I am excited to see a club that not only is sustainable but is expanding in its influence within Rotary and in communities around the world.  In the two years since this club was formed, 5-6 other clubs focusing on ending human trafficking have been formed.  Many traditional clubs have also started project in their local communities focusing on educating young people on avoiding becoming victims. We have established a great relationship with the Rotary Action Group Against Slavery (RAGAS) and with other non-profit organizations.  We have members from four continents who are committed to expanding influence in their countries/continents.  And we continue to expand the awareness at Rotary International about this critical human rights travesty.


This will be my last letter to you as I will be ending my tenure as President of the club.  Michelle Seets will become President as of July 1 and I know that this club will continue to grow and thrive under her leadership.  Thank you for the honor of being your President for the last two years.

As many of you have commented on my posts, corruption indeed often plays a major part in the flourishing of the global crime of trafficking – the buying and selling of humans.
Here’s one succinct definition: ‘Corruption is a form of dishonesty or a criminal offense which is undertaken by a person or an organization which is entrusted in a position of authority, in order to acquire illicit benefits or abuse power for one's personal gain.’
Through bribes, many trafficking crimes are able to thrive without interference, and many legal cases don’t go through as officials are paid to look the other way or drop a case.
Corruption can also enable irregular migration by facilitating the passage of victims past border control officers.
There would be much less trafficking if the rule of law was more strictly enforced and more proactive legal systems and procedures were present to address this systemic problem.
But corruption is not something that can be tackled in a short period of time. Solutions need to be found and tailored within existing local systems. Here are 3 typical corruption-related statements I have collected over the years:
‘Whenever the police came to do a raid, we knew about it beforehand. When the team arrived, one of the officers would come to the door. All we needed to do was to hand him an envelope full of money. He would then just turn around, and the problem went away. There is nothing that a wad of money can’t buy. Everyone, I mean everyone, has their price.’ 
~ Brothel owner
‘I stopped doing any human trafficking cases. They never workout. Every time we get close to a conviction, a threat is made or a bribe is offered, or something else. No case in our office has ever been completed. Not one. It is a waste of time. I hate saying this, but it is a sad truth.’ 
~ Barrister in India
‘We know that people are being exploited on (fishing) boats. Everyone knows this. But if we try to fix things, the whole business could be ruined. Who knows what we will find? This wouldn’t be good for our economy. I just wish these newspaper attacks would stop. Other places have this problem too.’ 
~ Government official
Having worked in countries all over the world, I have come to realize that corruption techniques and approaches appear to be universal. I have always been surprised by how much consistency there is related to this criminal endeavor. And it is everywhere – in every country.
Because of the vast amount of money generated by human trafficking, corruption is always going to be a problem. With this in mind, it’s important to find solutions from within existing systems.
Each and every bureaucracy has positive loopholes that can be used to keep the legal system honest and functioning with integrity. Finding them can be a challenge. Once identified, amazing solutions can follow.

June 1st marks the start of PRIDE month, a celebration of all LGBTQ+ members and their identities. This celebration honors the 1960 Stonewall Uprising and its role as a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the 60s. All across the nation, members of the LGBTQ+ celebrate their identities


The Rotary Club to End Human Trafficking also wants to highlight the overlap between the LGBTQ+ community and human trafficking.

Members of this community, more specifically youth, are disproportionately vulnerable to human traffickers. LGBTQ+ youth are disproportionately more likely to be forced out of their homes and be outcasts of their communities due to their sexuality and gender identities. A lack of funding in homeless shelters and the discrimination of the LGBTQ+ community in some spaces, leave these youth with very few resources and safe spaces. A lack of bed spaces and shelters willing to take them in leaves many to find refuge in the streets. From here this homeless population from this community is incredibly vulnerable to traffickers and sexual exploitation. Reports are that within 48 hours of being on the streets, one in three homeless youth will be recruited by a trafficker into commercial sexual exploitation. The individuals captured by traffickers are victims of physical, mental, and sexual abuse. The abuse coupled with a lack of resources and the stigma surrounding same-sex prostitution leads to a continuous cycle of abuse.


The LGBTQ+ community’s presence in human trafficking is often ignored and shunned from the spotlight. This community relies on specialized outreach and support programs, and they need funding.


The Rotary Club to End Human Trafficking wants to highlight organizations and programs to help LGBTQ+ victims of homelessness and human trafficking:

As I continue to post stories related to modern slavery, I have had many people message me directly asking “what can I do?” There are so many things. And many of them can be done very easily. Below are some suggestions.

Continue to learn about today’s slavery and help educate your friends and family. Consult the internet for up-to-date information on this topic. Every person reached potentially adds another soldier to the fight. Even sharing my posts can help raise awareness.  

You can become a responsible consumer. Before buying a name-brand item, go online to see if the company has a policy statement about modern slavery. If so, send a quick email to congratulate them. If not, send an email requesting that they post such a statement. These interactions should be positive. A company under attack often pulls back. Encouragement can open up a company and get them to take the steps needed.

Raising money for the cause ranks as necessary heroism. Even small amounts to the right organization can make a tremendous difference in the life of a trafficked person. For example, it costs between US$2 and US$3 a day – the price of a cup of coffee – to support a deeply traumatized person at a shelter in India. Many organizations, both at home and abroad, fight slavery. Before contributing money, contact the organization and ask them to explain how they will use it.

Volunteering is a great way to contribute. You can work at a local NGO office or from home. To identify an organization, go online and review options. You can find a group that will appreciate your skills and efforts. Here are some examples of how people have become involved:
 - A housewife wrote letters to newspapers, magazines, and television stations to encourage them to publicize human trafficking and slavery issues, and they did.
- A faith-based group ran a songwriting contest titled ‘Battle of the Bands’ to create awareness among music lovers.
- A mother of three convinced her library to make books available on this subject.
- A college student set up a film festival that reached 5,000 students.
- A father of three got the hotels in his city to put the anti-trafficking hotline number in every office.
- A student group sent letters to their state lawmakers, asking them to focus on this issue.
- A fifth-grade class encouraged their local school board to partner with students to include the issue of modern slavery in their curriculum.

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We must use individual talents to fight slavery. Artists can create a human slavery project for public display. Filmmakers can create movies on modern slavery. Writers can write about the issue. Whatever you do, do it in the direction of freedom. Raise your voice if you are a teacher, social worker, doctor, lawyer, or anyone else. It is that simple.

#india #students #people #help #modernslavery, #humantrafficking #compassion #love #school #bangladesh
Two years ago, I received a call from a woman in China who described what happened to her 17-year-old daughter. Her daughter felt insecure and unattractive. To find validation, she joined several online chat rooms. At first, she just simply listened and watched. Then she began to join some of the discussions.
A young man began to initiate more conversation. He described himself as a 17-year-old boy from Kunming, her hometown. Like her daughter, he appeared shy and reserved at first.
Over time, they began to correspond more and their online relationship grew. Whenever she had free time, she would contact her secret friend. He repeatedly told her how beautiful she was. Within 2 weeks, he said he had fallen in love with her. 
She thought the boy was a teenager, but he was actually a middle-aged trafficker. He asked if they could meet for ice cream. When she arrived at the appointed place, the boy seen in the platform photos was there. He was part of the trafficking scheme.
In-person, he seemed less enthusiastic and much different from their chats. But she didn’t care. They were in love! He picked her up from the train station and drove to a small café in the countryside.
Without knowing what happened, she woke up in a hotel room. She had been given a strong sedative that completely knocked her out for hours. The boy revealed explicit photos of them in bed naked. In a menacing tone, he told her that if she didn’t follow his orders, he’d share the photos with her school and her family. He told her she would have to sleep with men now or else.  
This tragic scenario happens to many young girls in China and in fact, all over the world. While many of these victims are forced into prostitution to avoid losing face and hurting their families, in this case the girl straight away asked her parents for help and they went to the police.
They managed to identify the ‘boyfriend trafficker’ and the middle-aged man who was propping him up. This young woman was able to get out of this trafficking trap. 
What I described is called grooming for sexploitation. 

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Here are 3 steps that parents should take to protect their children from online grooming. 

1.     Teach your teenager to keep all personal information private. Do not share a full name, age, gender, phone number, home address, school name, and photographs with strangers. 
2.     Teenagers must be taught about having boundaries and to be guarded about what stories they share about themselves with strangers online. Remind them that even though people they’ve met online might feel like friends they may not be whom they say they are. Details offered can be used to further manipulate them.
3.     Share this post or similar stories, so they understand how predators act and behave. There are many resources available for parents to learn more about this issue.

About Our Club

Service Above Self

We meet In Person
Thursdays at 7:00 AM
Online via Zoom
Eden Prairie, MN
United States of America
We meet on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month at 7:00 AM Central Time. Contact President@endHTrotaryclub.org for the meeting link.
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