The faces of human trafficking in the United States

Many people sit down each weekend with their coffee and Sunday paper to read about sports, gardening, weekend events and maybe even to peek into the comics section.  This weekend, Seattle Times readers were shown something different: The Face of Human Trafficking.

The photo on the front page was of Yasmin Christopher, currently a law student, who was brought to the United States from Bangladesh when she was four years old, along with nine other family members.  They were put in a small house with no electricity and eventually brought to a farm where they worked long hours with no wages, were barely fed and were physically and sexually abused.  They were told that they could not leave and that if they tried, they would immediately be killed because ‘Americans hate Muslims.’

Involved in the story is a man.  A well-spoken man with a doctorate degree.  He is from a good family, a violinist with the Bellevue Philharmonic and a consultant with the United Nations.  He is also Yasmin’s father, her trafficker and her abuser.

When Yasmin’s mother was 12 she was sold to this man for marriage in exchange for a piece of land with a pond. At the time, the man was 47.  He promised to help her family and took 10 of them to Washington state using forged documents. This is where their nightmare began.

One week ago, the Senate passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act as an amendment to the Violence Against Women Act.  This bill funds programs to prevent trafficking and strengthen prosecution- The man who trafficked Yasmin and nine other family members was sentenced to a mere four years in prison and released after 18 months.

Read the full Seattle Times article, which shares more about human trafficking in the United States and what it looks like and call your member of Congress and ask them to reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act

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