California Against Slavery has just launched their petition campaign to get their initiative, California Against Sexual Exploitation Act, on the November 2012 ballot.
If passed the CASE Act will
-Increase prison terms for human traffickers. ( the maximum sentence is 8 years. they are seeking a maximum of life.)
– Increase fines for human traffickers, up to $1.5M to fund victim services
– Remove the need to prove force to prosecute sex trafficking of a minor. (By federal law, a minor involved in commercial sexual exploitation is a human trafficking victim, regardless if force, fraud, or coercion were or were not involved.)
– Mandate human trafficking training for law enforcement
– Make sex traffickers register as sex offenders
– Require all sex offenders to disclose internet accounts
– Prohibits use of sexual history to impeach or prove criminal liability of trafficked victims.
See full text here.

We need volunteers in the Central Valley to help gain enough petitions for the initiative to make it on the November ballot. If you are interested in getting involved in any way, please sign up on the California Against Slavery website.

Human trafficking is exploitation of vulnerability.
That is the unofficial definition articulated by Dr. Lauran Bethell, who has worked for decades with individuals trapped in modern slavery.
Dr. Bethell shared her wisdom and experience at our Lead To Freedom event on Thursday, November 3.
Modern slavery is happening in our very communities, trapping our own children and neighbors in an emotional,physical, and psychological prison of abuse and exploitation.
Traffickers prey upon vulnerabilities their victims possess.
These vulnerabilities include, but is not limited to, experience of childhood sexual abuse, poverty (which not only may include lack of material resources, but lack of support systems and other resources), lack of understanding of rights, and vulnerability to grooming.
Regarding this last point, Dr. Bethell explains that sex traffickers sometimes get their victims by posing as “loverboys” or “Romeos.” They pretend to show interest in a girl, showering the girl with attention and affection. They tend to look out for girls who display some level of low self-image, she said, in some cases by complimenting passing girls in a public place and watching their response. They play on the girl’s need to be valued, desired, and appreciated. The girl is drawn into what she perceives as a romantic relationship. When the girl is deeply emotionally invested, and the relationship becomes sexual, the “loverboy” at some point begins to coerce her to engage in sex acts for money, often, at first, assuring her that he loves her and it’s not a big deal, and eventually becoming more forceful, controlling, and more aggressive in abuse.
Regardless of her complicity at any point, the girl is a victim of human trafficking, as defined by federal law.
What we need to realize is that this could happen to a child in our neighborhood, in our church, in our family, no matter the demographics. It IS happening in our communities, and as a community these are OUR children.
The victim may not have experienced any of the other “red flags” of vulnerability. In an example in “In Our Backyard- A Christian Perspective on Human Trafficking in the United States” by Nita Belles(highly recommended), the victim was a girl in a middle- class Christian family.
As Dr. Bethell pointed out, girls commonly struggle with self-image in their teens, and she noted that if she was preyed upon in this fashion, she just as likely could have been a victim.
We want to encourage you today to seek God in how to stand for the vulnerable in our community. There are other who are being exploited in different situations, such as immigrant workers, but our call is the same. The church is send to partner in protecting the vulnerable and bringing freedom to the oppressed.
One of the first steps is awareness of what is happening in our communities and educating our youth. Also, do not underestimate the power of affirmation you can give to a child.
Contact us about how you can get involved.

CVJC wants to thank all those who attended our Lead To Freedom week. We are truly encouraged and excited about the partnerships that are continuing to build and the opportunities ahead of us.
We also want to thank Dr. Lauran Bethell for coming to the Central Valley just for our event and sharing her wisdom and experience regarding modern slavery.

Dear partners in abolition. A news story on ABC30 came out about a prostitution bust in massage parlors in Clovis yesterday. Unfortunately, these may be cases of sex trafficking, which means that any victims are being criminalized rather than cared for. Even if this were not the case, it perpetuates the public idea that women in these massage parlors are criminals rather than possible victims of commercial sex exploitation. Please be praying and contact you city leaders to ask them to address human trafficking in massage parlors.
We have recently posted resources to help you speak up to your local representative: Helping With Massage Parlor Policy
In light of the news report, We encourage writing respectful letter to the Clovis PD, asking them if them about their awareness of human trafficking and any tools they used to determine if there was human trafficking occurring. They should have a victim’s advocate present to help determine the presence of human trafficking victims. See our sample letter.
We also recommend that you speak to you Fresno or Clovis officials, asking that your city help effectively deal with human trafficking in way that leads to rescue of victims and protection of potential victims.

By B.N.

Read 1 Colossians 1:1-23, 2 Cor. 5:14-21
“For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross.”
Spend some time in Colossians 1:1-23. Savor all that it says. Consider the reality of Christ, creating and sustaining all things.
Jesus came to proclaim, in word and in action, the good news of the Kingdom of God. (Luke 4:43)
The good news of His superior justice. The good news that He was sent to make things right. The good news of His work of reconciliation that is currently going on.
He was sent to reconcile all things to Himself, for the glory of God. All things includes all people, creation, systems, communities, and every other created thing.
In his ministry of reconciliation, things that were broken are made new, whole, and heal, and what they were made to be.
Within the world of human trafficking is much that is not right. There is, within, brokenness in relationships with one another, with the community, with God, and a brokenness of how each person sees themselves.
We are called to that ministry of reconciliation, according to 2 Corinthians 5:14- 21.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” (vs. 18-19)
We have the extraordinary opportunity to partner in Jesus’ work of reconciliation in the lives of victims/survivors, buys, sellers, and the communities that support or promote the work of oppression. We partner in His work of healing and mending the brokenness of the community, of individuals, of relationships, so that they came be healthy, thriving, and all they were made to be. We partner in His work to reconcile the church to the relationships it was made for in its community and bring His justice so that the church and its members live fully in all we are called to be. We partner with different groups in the community, including law enforcement, to make this possible, respecting their authority and roles, recognizing their part in God’s work of justice.
This is an expression of the good news and the work of ambassadors of Christ in the ministry of reconciliation.