Domestic minors fall prey to sex traffickers: Misled, Coerced, and Abused in L.A.

October 11, 2019

BY RAISA OSTAPENKO – Melanie Danae Williams, then 22, danced at an intersection on Gage Avenue in Los Angeles, brandishing a gun in her right hand and rocking her body back and forth to Mozzy’s Anti Freestyle, a hip-hop song blaring through an open car window. This October 2018 footage would be the last that Williams, a California native, would post of herself on her public Twitter account before pleading guilty…

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Flushing Law Enforcement Cracks Down on Immigrant Sex Workers inside Fake Massage Parlors

June 11, 2019

BY YILUN CHENG – Right next to the entrance to the Long Island Rail Road in the heart of downtown Flushing, is 40th Road, a 0.1-mile stretch of pavement, once known as “Restaurant Row.”  The tiny stretch features more than 20 restaurants and food courts, attracting foodies from all over New York City. But ever since the New York Times published an article last April on the death of Yang…

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Child Marriage is a Reality in the U.S.

June 6, 2019

BY TAMARA SAADE – Aliya was 20 when she was pregnant with her daughter and playing with her one-year-old son in her uncle’s basement, in Maryland.  She was trying to persuade her uncle to allow her out of the marriage she was forced into. “The only way you’re going to get out of this marriage is if you die, he told me,” Aliya said. In January of 2002, Aliya, who asked…

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Nepali Immigrants Reflect on the Visa Lottery—a Peculiar Little Part of U.S. Immigration Policy

May 19, 2019

BY LAUREN HARRIS – Each year, for as long as Garima KC can remember, signs for the diversity visa lottery  appeared in shop windows all throughout Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city, the fall registration period often coinciding with the Hindu festival Dashain. During the festival in 2017, KC and her mother walked the busy streets—saturated with Nepali men and women shopping for gifts—and saw a sign posted inside a nearby photo…

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Consumers Continue to Pay for Nail Service from Trafficked Technicians

May 14, 2019

BY MIRA SEYAL – Lien Glankler, born in Laos and raised in Vietnam, held a focus group of potential customers in the summer of 2017 to test her new business plan: a nail salon in Sacramento, California that would break with the increasing dependence on human trafficking to supply workers in the nail salon industry. The reaction to that plan was an unpleasant surprise. The potential customers didn’t find the…

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Egypt Remains Among the Middle East’s Worst Countries for a Woman to Seek Divorce

May 13, 2019

BY MIRNA ALSHARIF – Amina asked her husband of three years for a divorce in Cairo in 2012. He refused. What followed was a process Amina, 35, described as time-consuming, unfair, and humiliating. “My ex and I sat down with the patriarchs of our families and a ma’zun [religious notary] who tried to convince me not to go through with the divorce,” said Amina, who asked that her last name…

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MeToo: Global Movement or American Fantasy?

May 11, 2019

BY RONNIE LI – Japanese student Arika Matsu said the unwanted touching of her breasts at a business meeting two years ago led to her mission to empower women. Matsui has always dreamed of being a contestant a beauty pageant ever since she was young. A full-time student at Trinity College Dublin, Matsui competed in Japan for Miss Universe during her summer break. Always passionate about enhancing gender equality, Matsui…

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In Peru, a Community-Based Radio Program Brings Hope to Survivors of Gender-Based Violence

May 10, 2019

BY GIULIA MCDONNELL NIETO DEL RIO – Mujeres que no se dejan. Women who don’t give up. That’s the name of the community radio program that reaches an estimated 4 million people across Peru. First started in January of 2019 as a way to fight violence against women in the Villa El Salvador district of Lima, the capital, the radio program now reaches eight other districts in southern Peru. Every other Thursday, the radio hosts…

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Researcher Calls for a More Diverse Medical Curriculum in American Universities

May 9, 2019

BY JOY Y. T. CHANG – Khaoula Ben Haj Frej knows what being a minority is like. Ben Haj Frej is one of the only two Muslim students at her university. Born and raised in the United States, she said she had encountered classmates who often were not sensitive to her culture and identity. A neuroscience major and pre-med student who graduated in Trinity College-Hartford, Ben Haj Frej recalled fellow…

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Yemeni Women Push for Peace in Taiz, Despite Threats of Violence and Arrests

May 6, 2019

BY YILUN CHENG – Muna Luqman, a Yemeni human rights activist, has been assisting local women since rebel Houthis took over her city, Taiz, in 2014. Years of advocacy work against war and violence have taught her how dangerous it is for women to take part in peace building. But that does not stop her. “Women are most affected by the war, so we take the most risks,” she said….

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SESTA-FOSTA: A Year Later

May 6, 2019

Both bills were controversial from their creation, but despite the huge effect that they had in the weeks following their passage, sex work advertisements seem to have bounced back online in recent months. They’re much more expensive, however, Robinson notes, and they’re not congregated on a single platform, as they used to be.

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Echoes of Cuban History Still Ring in the Ears of Long Time Cuban Refugees

April 10, 2019

BY JORDAN KISSANE – The walls of Gema Sanchez’ small home in Miami are decorated with crosses and Catholic rosaries, and on this day, Sanchez was thinking of another house in Cuba years ago when she spent Sunday mornings in church and Sunday afternoons cooking arroz con frijoles with her Abuela, or grandmother.        They always sang Celia Cruz songs, she said. “She was like today’s Beyoncè,” Sanchez laughed, remembering the…

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Refugees Resettled in Small Cities and Suburbs Face Transportation Challenges

April 8, 2019

BY LAUREN HARRIS – Salah Kamal, a 30-year old Syrian refugee, has a love-hate relationship with the public bus of his hometown, Grand Rapids, Mich. When he was resettled in 2016 in Grand Rapids, a mid-size Michigan city, the local bus system was his only connection to food, healthcare, work and important immigration appointments. Though riding the bus made such things possible, Kamal says, it didn’t necessarily make them easy….

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Refugees from Anti-LGBTQI Violence in Chechnya Warily Come Out of Hiding

April 5, 2019

  BY RAISA OSTAPENKO – K is one of a handful of refugees from Chechnya’s persecuted LGBTQI+ community who has been bold enough to talk publicly after fleeing the wave of persecution directed against the marginalized group. Some survivors detail abuses endured at the hands of authorities in the Caucasian republic, while others relate the struggles and joys of integrating into the new societies that have granted them asylum. K…

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Somali Refugee Family hides 16 Years in Nairobi Before Living Freely in Buffalo

April 4, 2019

BY YILUN CHENG – The Ali family finally received news after 16 years of staying illegally in Nairobi that their resettlement applications had been approved. Refugees from Somalia, they faced more than seven months of intensive interviews that had paid off at last. They now had a flight to Buffalo, an American city that they had never heard of. Mustafa Ali, now 28 and the lead case manager of Buffalo’s…

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View from Bay Ridge: Syrian With Asylum Looks Toward Home

April 1, 2019

BY TAMARA SAADE – On a warm Friday evening in Damascus in early February 2019, the Al Nahlawi family celebrated a daughter’s engagement with a festive dinner with the fiancé’s family. Far away in New York, through a few family selfies and pictures shared on WhatsApp, Ahmad Al Nahlawi, the father of the soon-to-be bride, could almost pretend he was with them. Having obtained asylum in the U.S., the 55-year-old…

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Once Jailed in China, Human Rights Lawyer Still Fighting For Justice in NJ

March 31, 2019

BY RONNIE LI – Biao Teng, a Chinese human rights lawyer, was walking on a street near his home one day eight years ago when someone came up behind him suddenly, took off his shirt and covered his eyes with it, and then forced him into a car before he could make a sound. Teng was taken into custody and held for about 10 weeks in solitary confinement in retaliation…

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After 27 Years, Attempt at ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ Still Haunts Bosnians

March 28, 2019

People gather at the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial in 2012 / Photo by Mikel Oibar is licensed by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0BY JOY Y. T. CHANG – Muamer Lihic was once close enough to hear the sound of an incoming grenade just as it was about to explode; it was the sound of death. “When a grenade is shot – you can hear it when they shoot it – the sound is faster…

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No Easy Path to Canadian Citizenship For Some Syrian Refugees

March 27, 2019

  BY YEJI LEE – Canada has received international attention for an innovative program that has brought 56,800 Syrian refugees into the country by pairing one refugee family with five volunteer Canadian sponsors for a year. Now, in early 2019, close to 25,000 of those refugees are eligible to apply for citizenship. For those refugees looking to become Canadians, however, more obstacles lie ahead. “I would say around 90 percent…

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Without a Country of Their Own, Stateless People Remain in Limbo

March 26, 2019

  BY MIRNA ALSHARIF – Karina Ambartsoumian Clough was just three years old when her parents started preparing her and her little sister for what was going to be a long trip. “I remember my mother putting multiple layers on us to minimize packing,” said 30-year-old Clough, a Philadelphia resident. “I also distinctly remember a train, a plane, and a boat. The train took us to Germany, where my dad…

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Yemenis Yearn for Home After Fleeing War

March 16, 2019

Kawthar Abdullah was 19 when she fled her home country of Yemen in July of 2015. She left with her sister, who was 15 at the time, on a boat from Aden, a port city on the southern end of the red sea, to Djibouti, a country on the horn of Africa. Her parents, who were in New York, payed $3,000 to smuggle their daughters out of Yemen. Abdullah is 22 now. “We were really on the verge of drowning,” Abdullah said softly in a cafe in downtown Manhattan, while a top 40 pop song played on the speakers behind her. “People took their entire livelihood with them on that boat.”

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