Category Archives: Human rights

Substantive Blog Post #5

How do policies on immigration create an environment in which migrants can be targeted for human trafficking?

Italy is at the forefront for facing and combating human trafficking. They are impacted more heavily than other Member States of the European Union because of their proximity to the most frequently migrating countries. In addition to adopting the UN protocols. The Italian government has been more active than its fellow Member States in its enactment of the protocol and setting up legislation which is considered to be more advanced within the field of protecting victims. This legislation introduced a special program to assist victims of human trafficking as well as a residence program for social protection. This special program receives funding in order to provide adequate accommodation, board and healthcare for a limited time. A major benefit from this is to provide a temporary escape and protection from the dangerous situation.

Through this study in particular, the aim was to use Italian policies as a case study to gain a better knowledge on how effective their policies are for protection and assistance for victims. In order to know how to work towards preventing and helping victims with recovery, it is important to have detailed studies on human trafficking, which unfortunately, is lacking. There are significant gaps in data on the scale of the phenomenon, characteristics of victims, trafficking trajectories, and effectiveness of the policies implemented. This research aims to alleviate those gaps. The most recent legislation observes protection and assistance to victims as a priority and Italy is above the other European countries in terms of them working the hardest to implements those types of policies. Within their conclusions they see encouraging results but offer critiques as well which would only benefit from obtaining additional and continuous knowledge.

Caneppele, S., & Mancuso, M. (2013). Are Protection Policies for Human Trafficking Victims Effective? An Analysis of the Italian Case. European Journal On Criminal Policy & Research, 19(3), 259-273. doi:10.1007/s10610-012-9188-9

Op-Ed: A Call to Authenticity: The Plight of Transgender Refugees

Evander Jennings  

Picture this: You are looking out upon a scorched desert, humming the song your mother used to sing you to at night when you couldn’t sleep. As you hum this tune you realize there are many more sleepless nights ahead. You remember last night, like so many others. The memories flood back as you dab at the swollen eye you received from the men who beat and raped you, again. This is what you were running from; where you come from, people who are different, people like you, are better off being dead in most cases. Because you break down the barriers between man and woman, like your mother’s song, firm and unbreakable, yet soft and sweet. Because you are this other, Transgender, you were told to kill yourself or risk being killed by those you thought you could trust. Continuing on your journey you travel by foot across an endless desert to a neighboring country. The country of endless possibility, prosperity and most of all, safety. But sadly, this is only the beginning of your journey.

Transgender men and women already face impossible odds. They must steel themselves against wave after wave of hate, physical and emotional abuse, neglect, poverty, sickness, harassment and discrimination. They face a world that has no love for them, yet they cling to authenticity like a prayer. Transgender individuals in several countries across the globe are faced with the threat of death simply because they are living as their authentic and true selves. These individuals are unwelcomed within their home countries and in some vehemently criminalized, simply for trying to live as they are; as men and women. By increasing our knowledge about the issues transgender refugees face and trying to adjust the broken systems and laws that do this harm, we can play an active role in saving the lives of thousands of people coming into our country.

Transgender asylum seekers, immigrants, and refugees all share a common and pronounced threat to their wellbeing, mental, and physical health. Not only are they subjected to inhumane treatment when being processed into the country, once allowed in they are subjected to horrors such as forced sterilization. Transgender refugees are detained for months and sometimes years at a time, as stated by the International Detention Coalition. Harassment, rape, and physical violence run rampant in the detention centers whilst they await processing into the country. They are often housed with those of their birth gender meaning for example, trans-women are housed with men, leading to sexual harassment and often physical abuse. There is often abuse from officers that are supposed to protect refugees into the country as well. One account from a woman named Tania Cordova from Michoacacan, Mexico stated:

“They didn’t have no place to house me, and they decided that if I wanted to be in general population, I was going to be housed with males,” she said. “I remember one day I went back to detention, and there was a female officer there who was supposed to search us, but not see us without clothes. She wanted to see what a transgender looks like.”

The way the system is as of now, the government is more willing to repatriate or relocate individuals back to their home countries than to allow them entrance into the country. Senior Director for Programs at the Women’s Refugee Commission Dale Buscher explains that many LGBT persons are relocated instead of gaining the asylum though there are “76 United Nations (UN) Member States criminalize same-sex acts among consenting adults and seven of those states (Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, and parts of Somalia and Nigeria) maintain the death penalty for consensual homosexual acts.” In short this means there are potentially thousands of lives that have been lost due to repatriation, and relocation because authorities are not taking the possibility they are LGBT into consideration.

LGBT individuals that could potentially seek asylum are usually too frightened to reveal their identity due to fear of being turned away or discriminated against by officials. If asylum seekers are interviewed in a group setting, and it seems this is common, they may hide their identities due to this mixture of shame and fear. As Buscher states; “LGBT refugees risk having their claim denied if they are not able to speak openly about their sexual identity, how they were treated in their home countries based on that identity, and how it led to their flight.”. The fear that is a constant in the lives of these individuals doesn’t go away with leaving their hometown or village. Transgender people especially tend to be noticeably LGBT and yet are still turned away or repatriated back to their home countries. There seems to be a shift in blame towards the asylum seekers because of them hiding their identity, however this is an issue that needs to be addressed by those with the power to help instead of victim blaming.

These populations are overlooked and not taken care of in a proper way that shows them any human decency or respect. Until we change the way or immigration systems are set up and operated, more lives are going to be lost and shattered. We need to put legislators into office that don’t overlook or demean Refugees and asylum seekers coming into the United States. They are fleeing their oppressive countries to try live safely in the arms of this great nation and we are turning a blind eye to a people in need. They are being murdered, prosecuted, beaten, and raped because they are a little different from the norm. They are autonomous, emotional, human beings, simply because they look differently, sound differently, dress differently does not negate the fact they deserve basic human rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


Evander Jennings is an Anthropology and International Studies double major with a focus in global diversity. Upon graduation he hopes to either work internationally, or on the home front to provide safety, aid, and support for those within minority groups.



Singing to Freedom: Op-Ed 2

Singing to Freedom

“I like to sing and write songs and poems and dance (badly).
I also like to talk about things that are uncomfortable, because they are usually important.” – Mary Lambert from

On March 19, 2018, East Carolina University students and faculty members were fortunate enough to witness bold, beautiful, and talented Mary Lambert perform about topics such as LGBTQ, body image, mental illness, self-love, and acceptance.

Making Light of Heavy Situations

Lambert freely and vulnerably spoke of her life experiences that helped shape the woman she is today. Starting with stories of being a Christian lesbian, she shed light on what it was like being in her shoes as a young woman attending church. She frequently experienced situations where she felt unaccepted, leading to her questioning herself and her identity. Lambert also began feeling depressed and started secluding herself from the world.

In many readings we have come across in sociology this semester, including that of Lennox and Waites (2013), we learned how acceptance is not an issue merely Americans in the LGBTQ community deal with, but people all over the globe. In many countries, LGBTQ individuals face marginalization, generalization, stereotyping, and are subjected to jail-time. It is those types of cruel behaviors that stigmatize and dehumanize LGBTQ individuals and individuals they feel do not fit their norm.

Many of Lambert’s songs also consisted of lyrics covering the topics of body image. One of her songs used a metaphor of fitting into a prom dress to describe the stigma’s women feel about having to look a certain way for society. Not only that, but society also tries to shape the behaviors of women, including trying to obtain a level of perfection that does not exist. Although we do not specifically talk about body image, Cathryn Goodchild (2017) discusses society in her article about abuse. She discusses how perpetrators are made and not born; they are shaped by society. I think that is one point Lambert was getting at. Society has shaped people to be accepting or un-accepting of factors that benefit society, rather than individual people.

Free From the Chains of Society

By the end of the show, Lambert performed songs emphasizing being comfortable in your own skin, embracing flaws, and sharing secrets with the world. Unfortunately, the world may always be filled with discrimination. At the end of the day, people must decide when to stop letting society control their happiness or unhappiness. Society will always want you in chains. Sometimes we just need to sit back, laugh a little, realize that “they tell us from the time we’re young, to hide the things that we don’t like about ourselves, inside ourselves, I know I’m not the only one who spent so long attempting to be someone else,” but “I’m over it” and scream..

“I don’t care if the world

knows what my secrets

are, secrets are- I don’t

care if the world knows

what my secrets are,

secrets are- So-o-o-o-o




Goodchild, Cathryn. 2017. “Why Does He Abuse? Why Does She Stay? Social and Cultural Roots of Domestic Abuse.” Pp. 221-238 in Women, Law and Culture: Conformity, Contradiction and Conflict, edited by J. A. Scutt. London: Palgrave-MacMillan.

Lambert, Mary. 2010. “Secrets.” Retrieved from

Lennox, Corinne, and Matthew Waites. 2013. “Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity in the Commonwealth: from history and law to developing activism and transnational dialogues.” Pp. 1-59 in Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in The Commonwealth: Struggles for Decriminalisation and Change, edited by C. Lennox and M. Waites. London: Institute of Commonwealth Studies.

Abuse & Divorce

Hey everyone! So this popped up on my Facebook timeline yesterday. I was shocked. Since we have recently been discussing the roles between men and women in our class, I thought I’d share this example for certain (hopefully unpopular) opinions in American culture. To recap (and for those not in our class), we recently read about gender in Islamic family law and the middle east. A few things we learned included: 1) Age requirements for marriage are 16 for boys & 15 for girls in Jordan, can be under 14 in Iraq, 16 for boys and 15 for girls in Kuwait. BUT, judges of the court in these places may allow marriage under 18; 2) A husband must maintain his wife (provide clothes, food, housing, etc.) and in return the wife must obey the husband; 3) In many of those countries, husbands can divorce without justification, but a wife who wants a divorce needs to provide proof of physical or mental harm. So relating this back to the Facebook post-

I scratched out any personal information about this person, but I went to high school with them and they are 23 years old. This person is in college, so I am assuming (although I may be wrong), that most of the people in their class are around their age. I found it very hard to comprehend the fact that someone probably around my age has that mindset, especially in America. There aren’t strict marital laws here, as people are given the freedom to gauge the importance of marriage on their own terms. Although I think marriage is an important commitment, I think it is the right of all humans to step out of that commitment if it is detrimental to their well-being.

The comments were mainly positive towards the person who posted and negative towards the person they were speaking about, which is great, but is anyone else surprised by this encounter? How do we change the way people perceive these issues? Why is divorce rate even something valued by any one person in America? Could it be driven by religion?

The Wrong Debate: Substantive Blog Post #3

How do policies on immigration create an environment in which migrants can be targeted for human trafficking?


This article observes the complexities behind feminism and the distinction of women that are trafficked. The author argues that the word “force” is currently the primary factor in determining trafficking and the loose term benefits traffickers because many are often only prosecuted in extreme examples of human trafficking. While there are extreme and violent cases of human trafficking that deserve real attention, many are less “exciting” and involve more “routine power and control relationships.” Trying to create a divide between human smuggling and human trafficking leads to the ignorance of the often similar fates of both. Just as it occurs with human trafficking, the lives of the individuals being illegally smuggled into countries are at the mercy of their smugglers, who are often also traffickers. Many try to make the distinction between smuggling and trafficking by assuming that the women that are smuggled and end up prostituting, do so purposefully as their initial intention for moving to the country. The counterargument would be that it is unlikely that these women are moving to far away nations from often high poverty, simply to be a sex worker. Additionally, because these women are coming from poverty, it is unlikely that they are able to pay the smugglers outright, forcing them into whatever forced labour the smugglers/traffickers desire; often prostitution. The point of this argument is to say that each individual circumstance is hard to determine.


It is also important to note that the concept of “choice,” in terms of women choosing to migrate illegally is arguable due to the living circumstances of women in their countries of origin. This includes high female unemployment, sexual harassment and discrimination. While trafficking and exploitation is a huge problem for women coming from outside borders, the author points out that is also becoming an increasing problem within the borders of the EU. While many may view the definition of trafficking as a debate within politics and academia, a more inclusive definition serves to protect the victims that are marginalized by the current definitions that are limited to the use of “force” as a determining factor of trafficking.


An underlying question that contributes to this debate between those smuggled and becoming sex workers and those that are sex trafficked, is whether or not the sex industry exploits women. More so, under what conditions is it considered exploitation. One theory contributes any willful sex worker to be linked to previous abuse and the sex as a coping mechanism. Another looks to the deep gender inequalities and lack of opportunity as an additional reason for women to get involved in prostitution.


A solution proposed is to focus on gender equality as a primary concern in hopes that in turn, feminists will fight to create more equality and ultimately, create environments in which this exploitation would not be allowed to occur. Additionally, creating a more gender equality society would reduce the need for the disadvantaged women to migrate in the first place. If a common ground was met amongst feminist to focus on developing a more feasible framework in which women and girls are assisted in their integration or return to their country of origin, they could be left less vulnerable to traffickers.


This piece brings up a good point about the way that policies are worded and developed. Wording can limit or expand the way that a policy is enforced. By using the word “force” as a precursor for determining if a person is sex trafficked, the author argues that cases that are prosecuted are often those of extreme cases where “force” can be easily observed. This word neglects to really encompass other forms of abuse and confinement. This article takes a feminist’s standpoint which gives more of a perspective of the reason why women and girls are trapped by traffickers. By trying to have a better understanding of why this is, law makers will have a better understanding of how to combat the problem and who should be included as victims.



Kelly, L. (2003). The wrong debate: Reflections on why force is not the key issue with respect to trafficking in women for sexual exploitation. Feminist Review, (73), 139-144. Retrieved from

Umoja – a village with no men

Umoja is a village in Kenya, I had seen a video on Facebook and decided to do a little more digging into this village. The name of the village in Swahili means “unity”. This village has banned men from itself, it was founded in 1990 by female survivors of rape and sexual violence, but also is a safe haven for women who flee these situations; they also welcome women who are fleeing genital mutilation and child marriage but also anything that causes harm emotionally or physically to women. The village only consists of 20 women and 200 children.

Umoja has inspired other women-only villages within Kenya.

“Building community through peace, love and understanding rather than fear and violence.”


Personally I thought this video was amazing, to find out that these women, even what they’ve been through have found strength to fight to get their lives back and help other women in Kenya and other fleeing women to do the same; it’s inspirational.

For the Greater Good: Abolishing Internal Sexism in the Battle Against FGM

A Brief Foreword

Before engaging in this conversation, we must first understand that the terminology surrounding the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has traditionally presented challenges for those engaging in its discourse. Debates have been hosted in an effort to determine the legitimacy of the term “mutilation” in comparison to the term “circumcision.” It has been suggested that the term “mutilation” implies severity and, therefore, is biased against the practice; in contrast, “circumcision” has been submitted as a term that seeks to lessen the tones of brutality associated with the practice, paralleling it to male circumcision. However, throughout this particular conversation, I will employ the acronym “FGM” (understanding the use of the term “mutilation”), accepting fully its implications and nuances. This is done in an attempt to relay the true severity and violence of the practice. I have contended the necessity of this terminological consideration elsewhere (Beasley, 2014).

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has long existed as an issue of human rights among various communities of the world. Specifically, high prevalence has been identified in countries such as Somalia, Egypt and Mali (EndFGM, 2009). However, research has also identified the prevalence of the practice in industrialized settings, as well (i.e. U.S., U.K., etc.). As the battle to end this practice continues to wage, it has been made apparent that women – more often than not – stand at the front line of the struggle. Various explanations for this occurrence may exist. First, granting consideration to the notion that FGM is largely a product of patriarchal influences on the terms of cultural identity, it is perceptible that men (in those particular settings) have defended such practices as a continuation of cultural identity. Uniquely, FGM has been claimed as a practice existing to readily identify women of certain communities. Scholars have also noted the sexist, (arguably misogynistic) role of FGM as well, functioning as a way for men to control sexual stimulation, pleasure, and infidelity among women. Ethnographic work has demonstrated that, in many instances, FGM varies between ethnic groups and communities within the same regions; this may be in an effort to continue that element of cultural identification. Because of this position, men are often viewed as a hindrance to the processes involved with removing and replacing FGM with safer, healthier rights of passage for womanhood–some communities have introduced educational models to replace the traditional rights of passage (see, Ending Female Genital Mutilation – Why Education Works). 

A recent piece in Reuters, Female Genital Mutilation Is A Man’s Issue Too: Kenyan Maasai Activistnotes that men in some settings are being brought to the front lines of the battle, as well. The significance of such an effort resides in the aforementioned thought–that such practices are rooted in patriarchal influences on culture identity and rights of passage. Speaking out against FGM alongside of women reinforces the necessity of reform for such aged, dangerous rights of passage. As the culture surrounding such ideas shifts, men must remain vocal in their support of such shifts. In societies where patriarchy prevails, men acknowledging the invalidity and danger of such practices further emphasize the need for abolition. Among the Maasai, for example, women who were “uncut” would not be married, and their children would be seen as illegitimate within the community. Men, now showing their support for the abandonment of the practice, implicitly (and hopefully, explicitly) address the legitimacy and acceptance of “uncut” women. Of course, this will help future generations. Yet, we must also consider those individuals who have been shunned or displaced in the past because of their unwillingness to undergo the cutting. I am interested in your thoughts on this: Do you believe that we will see these communities welcoming previously shunned women back into their fold?



Batha, E. (2018, February 6). Female Genital Mutilation is a Man’s Issue Too: Kenyan Maasai Activist. Retrieved from Reuters:

Beasley, T.M. (2014). The Station of Female Genital Mutilation in the Yorubaland Belief System. East Carolina University: Greenville, NC. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Wodon, Q., & Leye, E. (2017, February 6). Ending Female Genital Mutilation – Why Education Works. Retrieved from Global Partnership for Education:


Using Fashion To Keep Women From Sex Trafficking

After traveling to India and meeting women who were forced to sell their bodies in order to provide for their families, Shannon Keith decided to invest $25,000 of her own money to make a change. Embracing the beautiful patterns of the culture in India, she created a business model that would employ these impoverished women and give them an opportunity to live a different life. While the original intent was to provide sewing jobs, the company has developed into so much more. Through partnerships, the company, Sudara, has been able to provide training for careers in nursing, IT, cosmetology, custom tailoring, and others. These opportunities has allowed the women to move up in the company and even become entrepreneurs themselves.


Without any prior experience in the fashion industry, Shannon Keith created a platform to give women in India an chance to escape the brothels and a second chance to live life. She is an inspiration as a female entrepreneur with a business model aimed at uplifting women in a country ridden with sex trafficking and slavery.


Taylor Hilliard

I Am Jane Doe PSA to Amend the CDA


January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and this short video briefly describes the issue of websites that knowingly profit from sex trafficking advertisements of children. It calls viewers to action by asking you to contact you senator to ask that SESTA be passed to close the loophole that allows this heinous criminal activity to continue.

Congress passed the Communications Decency Act (Title V of the Telecommunications Act of 1996) to protect children from exposure to Internet pornography.  The act included a defense, Section 230, for Internet providers, protecting them from liability for material posted to their sites by third parties. Thus, if pornography or other illicit material is posted to a site by someone not associated with the site operator, the site was to be held harmless.

In Volume 17, Issue 1 of the Berkley Technology Law Journal, Paul Ehrlich discusses the Communications Decency Act in depth and describes the results of Section 230:

“Congress passed the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”)’ in 1996 to address the myriad problems surrounding the regulation of obscene, illegal, or otherwise tortious content found on the Internet. Many of the CDA’s provisions regulating decency have been struck down by the courts as violations of the First Amendment. One of the surviving elements is a congressional grant of immunity from suit to ISPs [Internet service providers] and other interactive computer services for content originating with third parties. The text of the statute relies on terms of art from the law of defamation, formally protecting interactive computer services from treatment as “publisher[s] or speaker[s].’ However, while defamation law recognizes a distinction between liability as a publisher and liability as a distributor, courts have unanimously read Section 230(c)’s grant of ISP immunity as covering both publishing and distribution liabilities. In doing so, courts took Congress’ desired balance between the competing interests of decency and efficiency and tipped the scales decisively towards efficiency. The effect of these rulings has been the emergence of a comprehensive immunity from suit for ISPs so long as the suits are based on content not authored by the ISP. Whether or not Congress intended this result, ISPs and other interactive computer services have used Section 230 as a complete defense against recent suits…”

Ehrlich continues in footnote 5 of this section, “Publishers are presumed to have more control over material disseminated and are therefore subject to strict liability. Distributors are subject to liability under a knowledge or negligence standard.” This interpretation would make it seem that once a distributor of third party information is made aware that there is a problem of defamation or otherwise illegal activity that then the distributor could be held responsible. Conversely, this is not the case.

Amending Section 230 is not an issue of free speech. This is an issue of illegal activity occurring in a public forum. Section 230 was well intentioned, but it has been used by companies as a place to advertise illegal conduct such as sex trafficking of women and children.  Congress likely never intended this result, yet some courts have ruled that the 230 defense provides, in effect, blanket website immunity for all material posted by third parties on the sites.

In The Children’s Legal Right Journal, Abigail Kuzma eloquently explains these issues in her “A Letter to Congress: The Communications Decency Act Promotes Human Trafficking.” Kuzma describes the issue in great detail, provides substantial evidence for the need to amend the CDA, and also proposes possible amendments. She writes, “…it is critical that legislative action be taken to require all hosts of adult services sections to take preventive action against the posting of abusive ads. Such a bill could be drafted as an amendment to the CDA itself, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), or as a state law amendment that could be called the Internet Protection Against Child Trafficking Act (IPACT).” Please refer to her letter to learn more about the issues of human trafficking as a crime and human trafficking via the internet.

Business owners claim that illegal activity on their websites is not their responsibility because of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Businesses that profit from these types of advertisements are using ignorance as an excuse so that they can claim they have no role in either prostitution or human trafficking. In order to stop human trafficking, we must take action to make access to this crime more difficult. The ISPs will do nothing to help modern day slaves as long as they believe that they are not an accessory to the crime because they have no liability or legal responsibility. However, if they knowingly profit from crimes such as human trafficking they are in fact aiding and abetting those crimes. Section 230 needs to be amended—not so that free speech is tarnished or diminished in any way, but so that people who are being used and sold can have a voice separate from their abusers.

-Kari C.


Ehrlich, Paul. “Communications Decency Act 230.” Berkeley Technology Law Journal 17.1 (2002). web. 11 Jan. 2016.

Kumez, Abigail L. “A Letter to Congress: The Communications Decency Act Promotes Human Trafficking.” Children’s Legal Right Journal 34.1: 23-58. Web. 2 Feb. 2016.


Are Women of Color being left out of #Metoo?

Published on January 2, 2018, this article by the Huffington Post discusses the conversation around the movement #Metoo and the place Women of Color hold within the movement. According to the article, women of color feel as if their voices and stories are being drowned out or not heard, even though this movement was created by a black woman. In my opinion, this could be due to the fact that the movement has gotten bigger and white women (especially celebrities) are at the forefront of the movement. This can easily make other groups seem forgotten. The article makes a point to mention that Women of Color have higher rates of sexual assault and harassment compared to white women. With statistics like that, you would think there would be more stories from women of color being heard. The article reveals stories from Women of color on the sexual harassment and assault they have faced in the past. Some of their experiences are some that I have experienced myself.  From being told to cover up in front of men so I don’t drawn attention to myself to being groped in public by men. This behavior has become normalize by society. When will it end?  Another point in the article that I agree with and is something that we touched on in class is that certain issues are not considered a problem until it affects the white community. This is when people begin to have conversation which can be frustrating because people of color have been saying it has always been a problem.

What are your thoughts?

-Haita Toure


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