Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Scourge of Human Traffiking

Written by an Ethics student at Midway University
Midway, Kentucky

Human trafficking in the United States can be reduced and possibly eliminated through education, awareness, and government intervention. Through these means, this illegal form of modern day slavery might finally be stopped.

The illegal trade and exploitation of human beings for forced labor, prostitution, and reproductive favors is termed human trafficking. Human trafficking is a transnational phenomenon and is second only to the international drug trade in relation to organized crime. By some estimates, it is a multi-billion dollar business affecting several million people in virtually every country across the globe. It is equated with a modern day version of slavery (US Department of State, 2011).

Human trafficking has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. The issue of human trafficking has many layers and is complex. Human traffickers can be individuals working for large trafficking networks such as the Chinese, Columbian, Mexican, Russian, Ukrainian, and the United States’ own cartels, or they can be small, one man, mom and pop operators or inner city pimps. A major challenge in human trafficking is data collection. If you cannot measure a problem, you cannot solve the problem. Most law enforcement officials and congressional leaders do not have accurate statistics reflecting the increase in demand trafficked victims. As a result, it is easier for them to sweep the problem under the rug, not lobby Congress for state and federal funding, and be free of the responsibility and accountability to the court of public opinion. Some government officials even claim the problem is vastly exaggerated or does not exist at all (Sarnoff, 2016).

Educating the public about human trafficking is essential to ending this modern day slavery. Everyone is needed to identify it where it hides and bring it to the attention of law enforcement. Misconceptions about human trafficking thwart efforts to stop the practice. One major misconception is the idea that only women can be its victims. Men can also become victims, especially of labor trafficking. Men often have a harder time identifying themselves as trafficking victims and they have access to fewer emergency resources, like safe houses, than women have. Another common misconception is that human trafficking is only sex trafficking. Labor trafficking and domestic servitude are major forms of trafficking. Generally, victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor. Identifying victims can be a challenge, especially for the public. However, some indicators that human trafficking is occurring include restricted or controlled communication; signs of fear, anxiety, depression, submission, tension and/or nervousness; not being in control of one's own identification documents; and performing odd tasks at odd hours. Working and living environments also tend to have very poor health and safety conditions, and often have peculiar security precautions such as bars on the windows or being surrounded by barbed wire. Many community members want to help end trafficking, but do not have the tools or resources to do so (Ortiz, 2011).

Awareness is the first step to preventing human trafficking and prosecuting the traffickers is therefore to recognize the complexity of the crime, which cannot be tackled in a vacuum. Anti-trafficking strategies have to be embedded in every policy area, from improving female education in source countries so that girls are less vulnerable to trafficking, to increasing police pay in destination countries so that officers are less susceptible to bribery (Dearnley, 2012).

Government intervention varies—while some countries are creating policies that work for their cultures, others are lagging behind with no counter-trafficking laws at all. There are also some international standards: In 2003, the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons established a universal trafficking definition and set a goal for countries to prevent and combat trafficking and assist victims. The United States Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report offers suggestions for nations to comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. These efforts are challenging, however, as there is no one way to address the variations in trafficking across the world. Differing cultures, economics, and religions all make laws complicated to implement, and corruption, cultural interpretations, and different systems of justice make them even more difficult to enforce. Another thing that should be noted is that many of the laws worldwide focus on sex trafficking as opposed to labor trafficking (which is more widespread), partially because sex trafficking is talked about in the media more (Gulledge, 2015).

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) was authorized in 2000 and was the first federal law to address sex trafficking and labor trafficking in the United States. The TVPA focused on the prevention and protection for trafficking survivors, as well as prosecution for traffickers. The TVPA was reauthorized in 2003, 2005, and 2008 as the Trafficking Victim’s Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), and each reauthorization offered positive changes. For example, the TVPRA of 2008 required the Department of Labor to publish a list of products produced by child labor or forced labor. However, the TVPRA expired in 2011, and is in need of an update to keep up with the rapidly evolving landscape of human trafficking. This year (2016), a bill to reauthorize the TVPRA has been reintroduced to Congress. It holds government contractors accountable for using foreign labor recruiters that use exploited labor, helps law enforcement prevent and prosecute sex tourism, and creates a grant-making program to prevent trafficking in humanitarian crises (such as in the case of Haiti or Syria). On the state level, while there has been vast improvement in some legislation, a few states have a long way to go. Massachusetts, rated one of the most improved states created a Human Trafficking Task Force, which strengthens protections for victims of trafficking and makes using the internet as a trafficking tool a punishable offense. On the other hand, there are states like Wyoming, where until January 29; no state law existed to punish traffickers. The just-passed House Bill 133 adds human trafficking legislation to the law books, and the bill will now go onto the Senate, which is a step in the right direction for the state (Jesionka, 2013).

In conclusion, Human Trafficking may seem too big to tackle, but for the thousands of people caught in this dangerous world, there is hope and ways people can help. Anyone can join the fight against human trafficking. Education, awareness, and government intervention are of utmost importance. Human trafficking awareness training is available for individuals, businesses, first responders, law enforcement, educators, and federal employees. Be a conscientious and informed consumer. Trafficking victims, including undocumented individuals are eligible for services and immigration assistance. Volunteer and support anti-trafficking efforts in your community. 

Be well informed. Provide jobs, internships, skills training, and other opportunities to trafficking survivors. Several organizations are helping victims start new lives. The Living Water Center, which is a safe house and rehabilitation center for human trafficking victims. It also helps survivors graduate from high school and apply for college and/or job placement. Wellspring Living provides a safe house, education, and therapy for underage victims. It also offers independent living programs, which includes continued education and job skills training. 4 Sarah is an intervention program that reaches out to women working in strip clubs and informs them about the risks of the human trafficking industry. Learn the indicators of human trafficking so you can help identify a potential trafficking victim. People are talking, communities are rising, global networks are being forged, and governments are responding to the united message that human trafficking must end. Only with a concerted effort by governments, private companies, non-governmental organizations, and above all communities, can we hope to end the horror of human trafficking.


Dearnley, R. (2012, February 1). UN Chronicle. Retrieved July 24, 2016, from The Magazine of the United Nations, http://unchronicale.un.org/article/prevention-prosecution-and-protection-human-trafficking/

Gulledge, J. (2015, July 23). Ways to help sex trafficking victims in the U.S. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/15/world/iyw-how-to-help-victims-of-human-trafficking/

Jesionka, N. (2013, February 1). What’s being done to stop human trafficking? Retrieved July 24, 2016, from https://www.themuse.com/advice/whats-being-done-to-stop-human-trafficking

Ortiz, D. (2011, March 30). Ending Human Trafficking. Retrieved July 24, 2016, from Opening Doors, http://www.openingdoorsinc.org

Sarnoff, C. (2016, June 21). Is there an end to child sex trafficking? Retrieved July 24, 2016, from http://dailycaller.com/2016/06/21/is-there-an-end-to-child-sex-trafficking/

US Department of State. (2011, February 15). Diplomacy in Action. Retrieved July 24, 2016, from http://www.state.gov/j/tip/id/help/

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Priceless Manuscripts Saved

Timbuktu has become a byword for the farthest corner of the earth. But it was once an important cultural and artistic center

In 2012, jihadists—armed to the teeth with weapons seized in Libya after the fall of Muammar Qaddafi—overran northern Mali and established a brutal, sharia regime in Timbuktu. Once a center of learning and culture, the city housed a priceless collection of manuscripts: volumes of poetry, encyclopedias, and even sexual manuals that invoked the name of Allah. Threatened with destruction, the manuscripts were spirited out of the city to safety in a thrilling, cloak-and-dagger operation.

Speaking from his home in Berlin, Joshua Hammer, a former Newsweek bureau chief in Africa, recounts the tale of The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts—and explains how the Timbuktu manuscripts disprove the myth that Africa had no literary or historical culture, why Henry Louis Gates had an epiphany when he saw them, and why the jihadists found them so threatening.

In the chaos of the uprising against Qaddafi, the jihadists raided the armories of Libya, took the weapons into Mali, and quickly swept across the northern part of the country, occupying all of the major towns in the north, including Timbuktu. They imposed sharia law and began to destroy every symbol of moderate Sufi Islam that almost all residents of modern Timbuktu subscribe to. Shrines to Sufi saints were destroyed; whippings and amputations were carried out in the public squares of the city; and, of course, the manuscripts were threatened.

Read it all here.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Areas of Ethical Conversation

Philosophy 301 students will find this glossary of Ethics helpful.

Bioethics: concerns the ethical controversies brought about by advances in biology and medicine. Public attention was drawn to these questions by abuses of human subjects in biomedical experiments, especially during the Second World War, but with recent advances in bio-technology, bioethics has become a fast-growing academic and professional area of inquiry. Issues include consideration of cloning, stem cell research, transplant trade, genetically modified food, human genetic engineering, genomics, infertility treatment, etc.

Business Ethics: examines ethical principles and moral or ethical problems that can arise in a business environment. This includes Corporate Social Responsibility, a concept whereby organizations consider the interests of society by taking responsibility for the impact of their activities and operations on customers, employees, shareholders, communities and the environment, over and above the statutory obligation to comply with legislation.

Environmental Ethics: considers the ethical relationship between human beings and the natural environment. It addresses questions like "Should we continue to clear cut forests for the sake of human consumption?", :Should we continue to make gasoline powered vehicles, depleting fossil fuel resources while the technology exists to create zero-emission vehicles?", :What environmental obligations do we need to keep for future generations?", "Is it right for humans to knowingly cause the extinction of a species for the (perceived or real) convenience of humanity?"

Legal Ethics: an ethical code governing the conduct of people engaged in the practice of law. Model rules usually address the client-lawyer relationship, duties of a lawyer as advocate in adversary proceedings, dealings with persons other than clients, law firms and associations, public service, advertising and maintaining the integrity of the profession. Respect of client confidences, truthfulness in statements to others, and professional independence are some of the defining features of legal ethics.

Media Ethics: deals with the specific ethical principles and standards of media in general, including the ethical issues relating to journalism, advertising and marketing, and entertainment media.

Medical Ethics: the study of moral values and judgments as they apply to medicine. Historically, Western medical ethics may be traced to guidelines on the duty of physicians in antiquity, such as the Hippocratic Oath (at its simplest, "to practice and prescribe to the best of my ability for the good of my patients, and to try to avoid harming them"), and early rabbinic, Muslim and Christian teachings. Six of the values that commonly apply to medical ethics discussions are: Beneficence (a practitioner should act in the best interest of the patient, Non-maleficence ("first, do no harm"), Autonomy (the patient has the right to refuse or choose their treatment), Justice (concerning the distribution of scarce health resources, and the decision of who gets what treatment), Dignity (both the patient and the practitioner have the right to dignity), Honesty (truthfulness and respect for the concept of informed consent).
Information Ethics: investigates the ethical issues arising from the development and application of computers and information technologies. It is concerned with issues like the privacy of information, whether artificial agents may be moral, cyber ethics, how to behave in the infosphere, and ownership and copyright problems arising from the creation, collection, recording, distribution, processing, etc, of information.

Virtue Ethics (or Virtue Theory) is an approach to Ethics that emphasizes an individual's character as the key element of ethical thinking, rather than rules about the acts themselves (Deontology) or their consequences (Consequentialism).

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Canada Grants Right to Active Euthanasia

Canada’s Senate passed Bill C-14, the euthanasia and assisted suicide bill.

The Senate first passed Bill C-14 a few days ago with seven amendments from the original bill that was passed in the House of Commons on May 31.
Yesterday, the House of Commons removed a controversial amendment and a protective amendment in the Senate version of the bill and then sent it back to the Senate for approval.

This morning the Senate considered an amendment that would have referred the terminal illness provision in the bill (natural death is reasonably foreseeable) to the Supreme Court of Canada, but that amendment was defeated.

The controversial issue was the requirement that a medical or nurse practitioner could approve a lethal injection if the person’s “natural death is reasonably foreseeable.” Parliament insisted that this requirement remain in the bill while the Senate argued that the Supreme Court did not state that a person must be “terminally ill.”

The final bill maintains that “natural death must be reasonably foreseeable.”

I was disappointed that House of Commons withdrew the amendment that prohibited a beneficiary from participating in a persons assisted death or signing the person’s request for assisted death. This was an amendment that protected people from a greedy beneficiary or an unscrupulous family member.

The final bill allows a beneficiary to participate in the act, even to lethally inject.
The Senate then passed Bill C-14 by a vote of 44 to 28. The response from parliament was to declare a summer recess.

The bill that determines how Canadians will kill Canadians was passed on the last day of the parliamentary schedule in time for the summer recess.

Bill C-14 now goes to the Governor General to be signed.

No attempts were made to amend the most grievous parts of Bill C-14.

1. Bill C-14 provides medical practitioners or nurse practitioners legal immunity for decisions or acts that contravene the law.
•Section 241.3 states: Before a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner provides a person with medical assistance in dying, the medical or nurse practitioner must: (a) be of the opinion that the person meets all of the criteria set out in subsection (1);
• Section 227(3) states: For greater certainty, the exemption set out in subsection (1) or (2) applies even if the person invoking it has a reasonable but mistaken belief about any fact that is an element of the exemption.
These sections of the law ensure that a medical or nurse practitioner will never be prosecuted for decisions or acts that contravene Bill C-14.

2. Bill C-14 allows anyone to cause death by euthanasia or assisted suicide.

• Bill C-14 – Section 227(2) states: No person is a party to culpable homicide if they do anything for the purpose of aiding a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner to provide a person with medical assistance in dying in accordance with section 241.‍2.

• Bill C-14 – Section 241(3) states: No person is a party to an offence under paragraph (1)(b) if they do anything for the purpose of aiding a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner to provide a person with medical assistance in dying in accordance with section 241.‍2.

• Bill C-14 – Section 241(5) states: No person commits an offence under paragraph (1)‍(b) if they do anything, at another person’s explicit request, for the purpose of aiding that other person to self-administer a substance that has been prescribed for that other person as part of the provision of medical assistance in dying in accordance with section 241.‍2.

No jurisdiction in the world offers legal immunity to anyone who does anything for the purposes of assisting death. Bill C-14 is the most wide-open bill in the world. It is even worse than the Belgian law. Recent studies from Belgium indicate that more than 1000 assisted deaths occur without request each year.

Alex Schadenberg, the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, writes, "I cannot understand why people remain so blind about the implications of the language of Bill C-14. The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition will resist the cultural acceptance of euthanasia and assisted suicide." You can read his blog here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Child Trafficking Verdict in Sarasota, Florida

The first human trafficking guilty verdict in Sarasota Florida was handed down last week, to Ronald McBride III, 22, for six felony counts, one of which was human trafficking. After the jury’s conviction, McBride could face up to life in prison. It is a milestone case for the Sarasota Police Department.

According to news reports the trafficker began “grooming the victim in November 2015, on how to trade her body for drugs and money.” The young woman was in her twenties receiving counseling for drug addiction at the time she met McBride. Instead, McBride got the victim hooked on heroine and crack cocaine.

The girl told the Sarasota police, “If she didn’t make a certain amount of money for a sexual act, McBride would beat her or have another girl beat her. I have to give all the money I make to McBride because he says he owns me.” On the day she escaped, December 29, 2015, McBride beat her with a gun and told her he would come back to kill her.

Read more here.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Ethics of Addiction

The ethical debate centers on questions of individual freedom, autonomy, self-determination, and control. What passes for individual freedom to chose a way of life may be simply delusion - a non-freedom. In a conflict between the individual and the state, where should the individual's autonomy end and the state's right to intervene begin? Must we regard freedom of self-medication as a fundamental right?

There are many excellent articles on the ethics of addiction in scholarly journals, many of which are not accessible to the public. Much good information on this topic is available at blogs. Here is a list of blogs that I recommend to students who are writing papers on the ethics of addiction.

The Hurt Healer

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Islamic Extremism and Iconoclasm

2000-year-old temple in Palmyra, Syria
destroyed by IS in August 2015

In early June 2016, Islamic State (IS) insurgents posted a video on the internet showing a 3,000-year-old temple being blown up at the Assyrian city of Nimrud in northern Iraq. This is the latest example of radical Islamic iconoclasm. The Nabu Temple is one of the world's archaeological and cultural treasures.

The United Nations confirmed in a statement that satellite imagery showed "extensive damage to the main entrance" of the temple of Nabu, the Babylonian god of wisdom.

Nimrud was a 13th century BC Assyrian city located about 20 miles south of the modern city of Mosul. Islamic State militants took control of Mosul in June 2014.

The IS video also shows scenes of bulldozers razing the ancient Gate of Nergal, part of the historic Nineveh city wall in Mosul. The fanatical Islamic group considers all pre-Islamic culture idolatrous, along with any religion outside its own radical interpretation of Sunni Islam.

IS has systematically destroyed many sites of archeological and historical importance. Islamic State militants destroyed the 2,000-year-old temple of Baalshamin in Palmyra, Syria in August 2015.