Working against human trafficking in the Rochester area.
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Vol.1, No.2                                                                                 September, 2015                                                                                          
Our Mission: The Rochester Regional Coalition Against Human Trafficking (RRCAHT) is dedicated to eliminating human trafficking in our communities through education, advocacy, and networking with individuals and organizations.  
Legislative News

Membership: Have You Joined?

RRCAHT Training Available for Hotels and Motels
Worker Justice Center of NY: Beyond the Chains: Tuning into the Full Spectrum of Human Trafficking

How did RRCAHT Begin?

News From the Launch Pad

Event to Share?

Upcoming Event

January 11, 2016
(Save the Date)
Legislative News
"Stand Up and Act"
from Polaris Network Newsletter
by Bradley Myles, Revised
Many people who harvest the cotton to make our clothing or work on the ships that fish for our seafood or mine the gold in our jewelry are victims of labor trafficking -- working long hours for little or no pay in horrendous conditions while their employers use violence, debt bondage, or psychological control to keep them in modern slavery.
     But there's something we can do about it. There's a new bill in Congress that would require companies to disclose the steps they're taking to stop the trafficking and exploitation of workers within their supply chains. The Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2015 (H.R. 3226, introduced by U.S. U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) will increase the transparency about what companies are doing about trafficking, and it will empower everyday consumers to make informed decisions about the companies they choose to support.
Tell Congress that you want companies to take action to stop the trafficking and exploitation of workers.
     The United Kingdom and even the state of California have already passed similar legislation. Congress needs to follow suit. The U.S. is the largest importer in the world. We're in a unique position to demand that companies work to root out trafficking in their supply chains and ensure fair, humane conditions for workers.

Membership News

Are you a member of RRCAHT? If you join by December 31, 2015 you will be honored with the title "Founding Patron." Your membership dues will last until December 31, 2016. For membership information, click on this link.
RRCAHT Training Available for Hotels and Motels
by Judy Weinstein,Chair,
RRCAHT Hotel Committee
With the use of online classified ads, child trafficking is moving off the streets and behind the closed doors of local hotel rooms. Traffickers believe that hotels are anonymous and risk-free, with no systems to protect the victims. Hotels and motel managers may be unaware that their location is being used for sex trafficking, and even if their employees do suspect that something is wrong, they don't know what to do.
     The Rochester Regional Coalition Against Human Trafficking is working to change that in our area. Our Hotel-Motel Initiative seeks to secure the partnership of all hotels and motels in the Rochester region in preventing and limiting the use of hotels, motels, and their facilities for sex trafficking.
     We will train management and employees of hotels and motels on how to recognize the signs of human trafficking, and actions to take when trafficking is suspected. Hotels that have completed training will receive a certificate to display and will be featured on our website.
     Any hotel management personnel interested in discussing training may send an email to

Beyond the Chains: Tuning Into the Full Spectrum of Human Trafficking
by Gonzalo Martinez de Vedia
Human Trafficking Specialist, Worker Justice Center of New York
A pair of shackled hands. A body branded with a bar code. A woman
behind bars. These are the images I have to walk audiences back from
at every training we lead through the Human Trafficking Program here
at the Worker Justice Center of New York. For as much as global
awareness campaigns have gained on the shock value of this imagery,
and as much as the sensationalism does to galvanize communities, it
has done more to misguide them into stereotypes, myths, and damaging
responses, e.g. good Samaritans calling law enforcement on behalf of victims before checking in with them to know if they areready to talk to law enforcement.

Although there do exist tragic instances when persons are abducted and
sold for sex, or chained and beaten for labor, click-bait media and
relevance-seeking initiatives have a tendency to over-represent such
scenarios. These “worst of the worst” stories may command attention in
the short term, but only at the long-term expense of desensitizing
audiences to the more nuanced and at times banal reality of the
average human trafficking case.

Chains are much more likely to be psychological than physical. Rather
than brutal violence, trafficked persons more often face a brutal lack
of options. If audiences were to look for real life examples of the
images that come up on a Google search for “human trafficking,” they
might stare off at a neighbor’s darkened basement window while a
trafficked domestic worker walks out the front door, smiles and waves,
undetected, unconsidered in their everydayness. Never mind if that
person's documents are being withheld, a debt is lorded over them, or
their family is under threat. Those considerations are beyond a
tabloid imagination.

Thought leaders in the field of trafficking have a responsibility to
challenge caricatures of the “victim in distress” and broaden our
expectations of where trafficking may surface: among laborers who
bring harvests to supermarket shelves, or a migrant crew ending a
12-hour shift at the county fairgrounds, or with an out-of-school
child behind the neighborhood restaurant kitchen door.

The outreach team here at the Worker Justice Center of New York has
never needed special access or privileges to approach the spaces where
we know trafficking to take place. We walk up to rural trailer doors
and small town businesses with the same right as every neighbor and
customer. The crucial difference is that we are ready to ask difficult
questions about power and control, personal finances, manipulation and

We are also ready to find answers that may not stand out or shock: a
series of false promises, a deal gone bad, a fear instilled over many
years. Rather than break chains or knock down doors, our staff is
trained to tune into the fine print, follow our intuition, and prepare
for the long-haul. At its best, our team gets to offer perspective and
options to people for whom both have run dry. With more grounded
awareness and media messaging, that could become the everyday work of
whole communities.
Google Image results for the term "Human Trafficking" (left) are often dramatic compared to the everyday reality for many workers.
How Did RRCAHT Begin?
by Phyllis Tierney, SSI

How did RRCAHT begin? Like many other groups it began when a particular event brought together a group of people who were already interested and working in their respective areas to educate a segment of their community. For the Sisters of St. Joseph the catalyst was an education day held for the Sisters in the spring of 2013, where the keynote speakers were Kathy Cannon from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Renan Salgado, Human Trafficking Specialist at the Worker Justice Center for New York. Kathy spoke about sex trafficking and Renan spoke about labor trafficking.
     In November of that year, the film "Not My Life," a story of child trafficking directed by Robert Bilheimer, was shown at the Little Theatre. Sister Phyllis met Heidi Ostertag, senior producer of the film and found that she was extremely interested in founding a local group to work on the issue. One of the attendees said that the social ministry group at Temple Sinai under Rabbi Amy Sapowith's leadership was working on it. Sister Phyllis and Rabbi Amy made contact and set up a planning meeting in January with Heidi. The result was a convening of interested persons at the Sisters of St. Joseph Mother house on French Road, Rochester, on March 13, 2013.
     At the end of the day, participants decided to continue meeting in order to further the collective work in combatting trafficking, particularly in the Rochester / Monroe County area. The Rochester Regional Coalition Against Human Trafficking (RRCAHT) evolved from this meeting.


News from the RRCAHT Launch Pad
by Gina Horowitz, Coalition Member
Although the RRCAHT has been meeting regularly for about two years, we have not yet officially announced our existence to the Rochester area community. We have a website, a newsletter, and a hotel training program. We have shared a movie, “Not My Life,” conducted a Coalition-sponsored education/awareness event at a major medical conference, and gathered and distributed emergency packages to people living on the streets or on their way to leaving street life.

Starting in January of 2016, our launch will begin. We have chosen that day because it is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day and we’ll kick off our launch with a press conference so that the whole community can learn about us and our coalition partners.
The kick-off press conference will be followed by a series of speakers on local, national and international issues around trafficking, educational material pertaining to legislation awareness, print materials including brochures and posters created in conjunction with RIT’s information design classes, and an art show (in the spring) highlighting trafficking survivors who have thrived after their ordeals.
Our December newsletter will contain details of dates and times but please consider this article an invitation to you to join us in planning these events. Write to us at and we'll be happy to get you connected to a great committee.

Do You Have An Event to Share?
If you have an event that you would like to have considered for inclusion in the calendar on our website please send a note to us at
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