depressing things (research but NSFW)

all the trigger warnings

no seriously

i guess the only the most egregious / likely to win cases get prosecuted. but still depressing


https://sherloc.unodc.org/cld/case-law-doc/traffickingpersonscrimetype/usa/2015/case_0715.html?lng=en&tmpl=htms

Case 0715 United States of America Sentence Date: 2015-07-01

[] admitted that although he never personally recruited, groomed, or coerced any of the victims, he benefited financially from the sex trafficking operation. …. [] would charge the pimps and sex trafficking co-conspirators higher rates than other motel guests, … learned that members of the sex trafficking conspiracy physically assaulted women they prostituted, including one instance in which a co-conspirator brutally beat one woman with a large piece of wood while she screamed for help, leaving her with multiple lacerations and what appeared to be a broken arm … [] also saw the damage that a co-conspirator caused to a motel room during a beating, including a broken toilet, a damaged sink, and blood on the walls …. [] agreed not to call the police after the co-conspirator paid him for the damage to the room.

Who came in to clean up the blood…?


From human trafficking textbook: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Wendy_Stickle_Human_Trafficking?id=RLacDwAAQBAJ

“The spread of HIV/AIDS … offers another significant example of how demand influences the portrait of human trafficking. In those regions where HIV/AIDS is still widespread, the demand for younger and younger girls continues to grow.”


From trafficking conference presentation: https://www.traffickingconference.com/

Nazmia Comrie et al.: Hospitality Trafficking: King Case (Florida, 2007)

– Eastern European students on J-1 visas exploited in five-star Hilton resort in Florida Panhandle
– Students had been promised jobs at Disney World
– Instead taken to North Florida and worked as maids in Hilton resort for $2 to $3 an hour
– Perpetrators were Russian organized crime operating with U.S. citizen front man
– Students “recycled” every three to four months
– Hilton places all legal blame on its subcontractor


Then there’s the RM reviews which are also quite awful. One from 2014 was like… “The girl wasn’t enthusiastic about it, and I only got a HJ (handjob) from her. Not recommend.” — and the review indicated he didn’t even pay a tip.

The filthy entitlement of it.


The remaining parts below are less graphic and more just depressing.

I’ve been trying to read up more on labor trafficking cases, since y gut instinct is they might be understudied. https://humantraffickinghotline.org/sites/default/files/Labor%20Trafficking%20Cases%20by%20Industry%20in%20the%20US%20Fact%20Sheet%20FINAL_1.pdf


https://www.urban.org/research/publication/understanding-organization-operation-and-victimization-process-labor-trafficking-united-states Case studies

workers who were paid through a subcontractor often didn’t realize that something was wrong until they received their first paycheck and saw deductions for housing, food, transportation, and in some case medical insurance, and were often left with so little that their earnings would barely make a dent in their debt back home.

also, in many cases, victims had accrued a debt back home (e.g.,bank loans, property collateral)to come to the United States and would face a host of consequences if they were deported and unable to pay that debt back. >>> I’m sure this makes it harder to prosecute..

rather, law enforcement arrived at the traffickers’ household and chose to believe the perpetrators instead of the… The security people show up and of course they’re under orders. … They can stay on the street, but they can’t step over the curb into the curtilage of the residence. So they only stood at the curb … essentially believed everything that he [the trafficker] was telling them. And then they go back in [the] house,and it was that night that he lost his temper and started beating the crap out of her and wound up breaking her finger. … I was like, “Did you ever think about calling the sheriff’s office?” And then he goes. . . “We have to have the homeowner’s permission.” No, you don’t. >>> Well, just, depressing.

of these victims, 46 percent were single and 45 percent were married. Sixty-four percent of the victims had children. >>> Definitely changed my perspective of who is trafficking

With the exception of one worker who was an American citizen, the farm workers were Mexican citizens who entered the country legally in 2019 as H-2A visa holders on a contract to work at Windy Prairie Farm. Plaintiffs’ attorneys said the workers routinely worked long hours but were paid little or nothing and were never reimbursed for pre-employment travel or related expenses. … including allegations that he threatened to strangle the person who complained to the DOL. https://www.theindianalawyer.com/articles/farmworkers-awarded-460k-in-wage-theft-labor-trafficking-judgment >>> The extent that a lot of legal visas are used surprised me. One case read “oh, the visa renewal was denied due to low wages specified. then law enforcement went in, investigated, and arrested the workers”…

had no previous encounters with law enforcement in their home countries or in the United States and were law-abiding individuals. Thus, the threat and fear of deportation, or the mere mention of law enforcement or ties to law enforcement, were enough to keep victims from running away or seeking help. >>> this rings true… what is the case for law enforcement to become known in their communities as positive forces?


It’s kind of tiring to deal with this stuff and then on the other hand read about cases that get dismissed by judges who I assume, charitably, don’t deal with this day-in and day-out and can’t see the patterns.


The following bits are a bit more scattered, I really just wanted to vent above. Now just jotting some general thoughts that are criss-crossing my mind.

A lot of the more egregious examples are made possible because of poverty. I guess honestly in my heart I feel the solution to these extremes is figuring out how to get people out of poverty. Reading about all the people involved fighting so hard just makes it so tiring to think about. But if the economic factors can be fixed… I think witnessing and reflecting China’s growth in my pretty short lifetime really drives that optimism. From hand-pulled rickshaws to gleaming metropolis. Plenty of issues but the sheer economic growth and increased standard of living in the last 15-20 years (from when I spent summers with my grandma in elementary school, to visiting post-undergrad undergraduate) is insane.

When I feed the hungry, they call me a saint. When I ask why people are hungry, they call me a Communist

Dom Helder Camara, Brazilian archbishop, as quoted in Peace Behind Bars : A Peacemaking Priest’s Journal from Jail (1995) by John Dear, p. 65; this is a translation of “Quando dou comida aos pobres chamam-me de santo. Quando pergunto por que eles são pobres chamam-me de comunista.” https://quotes.yourdictionary.com/author/quote/549026

An interested podcast this week (quite short) on this, as part of Black History Month. I really liked the insight.

Peter says that Lewis’s insight [dual-sector model of development] changed our understanding of the ways that poor countries can raise living standards for their citizens

https://www.npr.org/2021/02/16/968412484/unsung-economists-arthur-lewis.

There’s also a brief phrase that resonates with my experience. Not quite same in transcript, recommend listen.

HENRY: Between 1978 and 2014, when China was going through the most miraculous period of economic growth in history

Also reflecting on my changing views on Africa. I forgot that as a kid, Africa seemed like this continent beset by never-ending amounts of civil wars and then the HIV/AIDS epidemic. To where it is now, a promising candidate for growth. As opposed to the stasis and decay of the last years in the United States, looking at Africa now feels optimistic.

Infrastructure a bigger problem than corruption. The need for agriculture tech vs. current sustenance farming. The hope for the model that drove economic growth in China (cheap labor for manufacturing), interrupted by automation (robotics allowing for manufacturing to return to US / may skip Africa).

projects blog (nouyang)