Friday, September 16, 2011

Woman escapes trafficking in the Congo, Belgium, finds asylum in Chicago

Last month, a judge in Chicago granted asylum to a Congolese woman who was a survivor of sex trafficking. Born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the young woman’s parents died when she was 18. With no other options, she was forced into prostitution by a friend of the family in exchange for shelter. Later, a man took her as his sex slave and trafficked her to Belgium. After enduring rape, being tattooed with his name and brainwashed, she eventually escaped to the United States.

Her story is more important than ever as we gather on Monday, Sept. 19 here in Chicago for the Town Hall Meeting to raise awareness about human trafficking. Ultimately, the goal of the meeting is to raise support for the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victim Protection Act (TVPA). The protections from the TVPA are cited as part of the decision:

In the instant case, the Court finds that the respondent has established through her credible testimony that she is a victim of a "severe form" of sex trafficking under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which defines sex trafficking as "the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act" and lists "sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion" as a severe form of sex trafficking.

Another important facet of the judge’s decision is the recognition that because the young woman had been prostituted in the Congo, the woman faced potential persecution and trafficking if she were to return to her country. We applaud this acknowledgment that her gender, history with prostitution and trafficking would indeed put her further at risk.  

It’s worth reading the whole decision if you have time. Many kudos to the judge, Virginia Perez-Guzman, the National Immigrant Justice Center and pro bono attorneys from the Chicago office of McDermott Will & Emery LLP who all worked on this case. We found out about this through Bender’s Immigration Bulletin.

Please join us for this event to help others who rely on the protections of this law to seek justice.  To learn more about Monday’s Town Hall event, click here.

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