Nine Guatemalans were indicted for allegedly sex trafficking young women and girls from Guatemala into the US, the US Department of Justice announced Thursday. The case against the defendants concerns 12 women and girls -- some as young as 13 years old -- who were lured to the US with promises of legitimate and high-paying jobs. Upon arrival in the US, however, they were forced to work as prostitutes in order to repay exorbitant debts. Authorities say the victims were threatened with violence and harm to their families in Guatemala, the Associated Press reports. The Guatemalan defendants, who pleaded not guilty, face charges of sex trafficking of minors; sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion; violating federal laws prohibiting interstate or foreign transport of minors for prostitution; and importing and harboring undocumented immigrants and harboring them for prostitution, reports the AP.
Thousands of desperate women and children from countries including El Salvador, Korea, Mexico, and China are trafficked into the US annually, according to a Ms. investigation conducted earlier this year. Lured to the US with the promise of a good job and security, many are instead forced into prostitution and subjected to psychological abuse.
The US Department of Justice says that human trafficking is one of its top priorities, though the federal response to the sex and labor trafficking crisis in the US over the last seven years has been inadequate, according to Ms. Despite the trafficking of thousands of women into the US each year, the Department of Justice has only prosecuted 360 traffickers since 2000.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .