None So Brave

February 4, 2016
PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Lieutenant colonel Jeff Cantor, Civil Affairs Team Chief, 353rd Civil Affairs Command, shakes the hand of an Afghan boy outside Bagram Air Force Base in Janquadam, Afghanistan on Sep. 25. Lt. Col Cantor was assisting the Kentucky National Guard Agribusiness Development Team with conducting a quality control inspection of a local vineyard. The Team has been in Afghanistan since July working four providences throughout Afghanistan assisting local governments in agricultural development, animal husbandry and land use. (Photo by U.S. Spc. Matthew McKinny, Task Force Cyclone, 38th Infantry Division)

(Photo by U.S. Spc. Matthew McKinny, Task Force Cyclone, 38th Infantry Division)

“De Oppresso Liber” (To Liberate the Oppressed) ~~Motto of the U.S. Army Special Forces

A poignant Afghan proverb declares, “Cowards cause harm to brave men.”

This ancient Pashtun adage reflects the shocking story of U.S. Special Forces Sgt. Charles Martland; Martland is the brave man, a soldier who saved the life of an Afghan boy who was abducted, held, and abused as a sex slave by an Afghan police chief, Abdul Rahman, the vicious, powerful, and arrogant coward. The incomprehensible harm to Martland resides in the inexplicable action taken by the U.S. Army. The Army disciplined Martland, relieved him from his duty post in Afghanistan, and is now seeking to involuntarily discharge him from military service.

What was the dreadful and dischargeable infraction by the highly decorated Green Beret Charles Martland?

In 2011, Martland and his Special Forces Captain Dan Quinn (who has since resigned from the military) physically assaulted Abdul Rahman, after learning that Rahman had abducted a boy, chained him to a bed, repeatedly abused him as a sex slave and beat up the boy’s mother when she sought to find and rescue her son. The Green Berets intervened when they discovered that the boy was being raped and held as a sex slave. According to the Martland and Quinn, the Afghan villagers were pleading with them to do something about repeated sexual assaults against children by the Afghan police.

Here is the dirty, not so little secret of Afghanistan: The sexual abuse of children is widespread and embedded into the Afghan Pashtun culture. There is scant prosecution of child sex exploitation in Afghanistan. American military have long been saddled with the knowledge of the Afghan practice of “bacha bazi,” translated as dancing boys. Bacha Bazi is the ancient and widespread practice of Afghan men who abduct and lure poor boys into the grisly world of child sex slavery where they are raped and exploited by Afghan men. Frontline exposed this lurid child sex trafficking trade.

U.S. Military stationed in Afghanistan experience the hideous reality that children are expendable in the feckless Afghan criminal justice system. Cultural mores trump human rights among the tribesman of Afghanistan.

This wasn’t the first time that Martland and Quinn experienced inaction from the Afghan government for serious child sexual exploitation crimes committed by the Afghan police force. Martland and Quinn knew that two Afghan commanders were not prosecuted nor punished for the rape of a 15 year old girl and the honor killing of an Afghan commander’s 12 year old daughter who kissed a boy. Martland who was fed up with the ongoing sexual exploitation of children by Afghan officials said, “I felt that morally we could no longer stand by and allow our Afghan Commanders to commit these atrocities.”

Since when is a highly decorated Green Beret who confronts a violent child sex predator and trafficker and woman beater, punished and involuntarily discharge from the military?

What happened to the greatest military and force for moral good on the face of the planet? Isn’t Martland carrying out the very anti human trafficking policies promulgated by the Obama Administration?

Obama’s administration, including his Pentagon, endlessly promotes and spends millions on sexual assault and human trafficking programs, policies and media messaging. The very human rights violations perpetrated upon innocent Afghan children are the ones which this Administration is demanding action to enforce zero tolerance:

1.U.S. Department of Defense Policy Against Human Trafficking. In the press release praising the ongoing military awareness training of human trafficking, the Army media alert highlights the annual training and progress for DoD’s military as “driving home the department’s ‘zero tolerance’ for slavery and human trafficking.”

Apparently, that DoD zero tolerance policy doesn’t apply to Captain Quinn and Sgt. Martland. Is it simply awareness, but no action to stop human trafficking and sex slavery? Zero tolerance means stopping the cultural and systemic abduction and sex slavery of young Afghan boys. Is the DoD training report mere lip service and media hype to convince Americans that the U.S. military fights human trafficking and sex slavery?

The DoD press release ends with the ironic caveat that “military leadership also plays a critical awareness role in preventing such crimes.” Sgt. Martland and Captain Dan Quinn are military leaders who ‘prevented’ further human trafficking crimes and are now paying for it with their military careers.

2.President Obama’s Speech to the Clinton Global Initiative

President Obama reiterated his administration’s zero tolerance policy for human trafficking during a speech at the Clinton Global Initiative. “[i]t ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name–modern slavery…We’re shining a spotlight on the dark corners where it persists…We will have zero tolerance. We mean what we say. We will enforce it….” “Our fight against human trafficking is one of the great human rights causes of our time, and the United States will continue to lead it.”

Contrary to President Obama, ‘we don’t mean what we say’ when it comes to zero tolerance for human trafficking, if the U.S. Military punishes its soldiers for trying to stop modern sex slavery of children and protect them from further abuse.

3.U.S. Department of State Human Trafficking Report on Afghanistan-2013

Secretary of State John Kerry’s Statement about Human Trafficking: “When we bring victims out of exploitation, we are helping to create more stable and productive communities. When we stop this crime from happening in the first place, we are preventing the abuse of those who are victimized as well as the ripple effect that caused damage throughout communities into our broader environment and which corrupt our global supply chains. We all have an interest in stopping this crime. And that’s why, as Secretary of State, I will continue to make the fight against modern-day slavery a priority for this Department and for the country.”

Sgt. Martland confronted a powerful child predator who fostered and perpetuated child sex trafficking. Martland rescued an Afghan child who was abducted and kept as a sex slave. His brave actions saved a life and prevented further child molestation. By exposing the perpetrator, Martland’s heroic action fostered to use Kerry’s words ‘a more stable and productive community and brought a victim out of exploitation.’

4. U.S. State Department’s Afghanistan Country Report: 2013 Tier Two Watch list.

The U.S. State Department highly criticized the cultural practices of child sex slavery and the inability of the Afghan government to prosecute these crimes. It described the lawlessness in Afghanistan and the utter failure to stem human trafficking and the systematic abuse of children. “The Government of Afghanistan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Government officials’ complicity in trafficking remained a serious problem. The level of understanding of human trafficking among Afghan government officials remained very low.”

The State Department Trafficking Report condemned in very strong terms the total breakdown of Afghan legal authority to end child sex slavery. Yet, Martland is punished for taking action to protect children from Afghan predators in the police force?

“The majority of Afghan victims are children subjected to human trafficking in carpet-making and brick kiln factories and domestic servitude, and in commercial sexual exploitation, begging, and transnational drug smuggling within Afghanistan and in Pakistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Some Afghan families knowingly sell their children for forced prostitution, including for bacha bazi— where wealthy or influential men, including government officials and security forces, use young boys for social and sexual entertainment.” “Government officials, including law enforcement and judicial officials, continued to have a limited understanding of human trafficking.”

Despite the State Department’s Afghanistan country report which paints a very dismal and highly dangerous environment for vulnerable children, our military must acquiesce in the face of brutality of women and children, but remain powerless to stop the ongoing exploitation?

Due to the advocacy of Congressmen Mac Thornberry and Duncan Hunter, the Army has delayed the discharge of Special Forces Charles Martland for another 60 days to file an appeal. Representative Hunter wrote to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, “Martland stood up to a child rapist. I trust that you will give this case the attention it demands.”

The dirty secret is now exposed. The widespread abusive pederasty and sex slavery of Afghan boys can no longer be ignored. The motto of the Special Forces is to free the oppressed. None are more oppressed than innocent Afghan boys who are abducted from their homes, chained to beds and sexually brutalized at the cruel hands of powerful Afghan officials. Quinn and Martland freed that little boy from oppressive brutality and a childhood of unspeakable horror.

Captain Quinn and Sgt.Martland should be awarded Army medals commendations, not discharge papers for freeing the oppressed and exhibiting heroism and standing up for zero tolerance for the violation of greatest of human rights, the protection of the innocent.

Please consider signing this Petition in support of Sgt. Martland and send a strong and united message to the U.S. Army that Sgt. Martland is a hero for rescuing children from sex slavery in conformity with international human rights laws and U.S. State Department policy. Here

Elizabeth Yore is an international child rights attorney who rescued missing and abducted children around the world. She has served as General Counsel and Director of the International Division of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.


Peddlers of Panic

May 1, 2015


The Boston Globe covers my speech in Rome on the upcoming environmental encyclical. The unholy alliance between the Vatican and the United Nations is troubling on many levels.

Questions for Suspected Human Trafficking Victims

June 28, 2014



If you suspect someone might be a victim of human trafficking, here are some helpful questions to ask. Also, watch for eyes lowered, or other indications of fear and deception.

Can You Leave Your Job if You Want?

Can You Come and Go as You Please?

Have You Been Hurt or Threatened if You Tried to Leave?

Has Your Family Been Threatened?

Do You Live With Your Employer?

Where Do You Sleep and Eat?

Are You in Debt to Your Employer?

How did you arrive at this destination?

Do You Have Your Passport/ID? If Not, Who Has It?

On the Backs of Children: U.S. Complicit in Human Trafficking

June 16, 2014



“It is not permissible for us to go on destroying the family life when we know that we are destroying it.”

~Alan Paton, Cry, The Beloved Country

Pay attention when the administration won’t let officials take photos or talk to the press. It’s a sure sign of a catastrophe in the making. An ignorant public is a compliant public.

Despite the administration’s widespread censorship of information, photos and news about these smuggled children, and a few details are leaking out through various sources.

Make no mistake about it the 90,000 unaccompanied minors who are being smuggled into our southern border are here to stay. The federal law mandates it. As every human trafficking expert knows, porous borders facilitate human trafficking, and our doors have swung wide open ushering in the most unimaginable child humanity crisis ever known in the U.S. history. This man-made disaster should never have occurred in America. Endangering children, at the expense of a political agenda is supposed to happen in third world countries where unsecured borders encourage the migration of vulnerable children during civil war or famine.

What are the clueless U.S. diplomats doing in Central America?

U.S. diplomats working in foreign countries are the eyes and ears of the U.S. government as outlined in the State Department website: “Mission staff report on political and economic issues that affect bilateral relations and possibly impact the U.S. directly.” How about alerting the Secretary of State about the tens of thousands of foreign children being smuggled to the U.S. by criminal cartels? Sounds like an economic issue that would impact the U.S. directly.

Is this catastrophe, yet another the Benghazi Boondoggle?

Did U.S. personnel in Central America send urgent cables to the State Department regarding these security issues, which went unanswered and ignored? How did our government not know that this was happening? The answer is either incompetence or collusion. Are administration officials exploiting innocent and vulnerable children whose parents recklessly and ignorantly hand them over to criminal smugglers to achieve a political aim? On the backs of helpless children?

The financial and human cost to the United States will reverberate for generations, if this child smuggling isn’t stopped now.

These trafficked children are on the federal tax rolls already. Over $1 billion in emergency federal aid has been transferred to facilities to feed and house them, but it is just a drop in proverbial federal bucket. Ultimately, these smuggled children will become foster children with State courts declaring and adjudicating them “abandoned” by their parents or “dependents” on the State. In the meantime, during this complicated and elaborate legal process, the children will be assigned free legal representation, as the already overburdened legal system tries to locate foreign birth certificates, parents, medical and educational records. While this highly complicated and elaborate legal process continues, the children will be housed in detention centers and be fed, educated, and given extensive medical and if needed, psychological care.

Here are a few facts which illustrate the financial and personal costs of the summer smuggling tsunami.

Every year in the U.S. 40,000 abused and neglected children enter foster care. Foster care costs the federal government (not including state costs) nearly $22 billion a year which computes to $40,000 per child. With the unanticipated influx of the smuggled children of Central America, the number of children entering into foster care has increased 200%. You do the math.

Today, the taxpayers of California care for 60,000 children in foster care. News reports have leaked out that thousands of the new influx of smuggled children are now moving into military bases and other facilities in California, Texas and Arizona. Get ready, California, Arizona, Texas! Your foster care population is going to explode.

It’s reported that some of these children have been sexually abused by their traffickers and already falling victims to sex trafficking rings. This tragic and avoidable disaster should hardly be a surprise to the administration. Sex trafficking is big business for smugglers, cartels, and organized crime. Human trafficking generates $32 billion worldwide. With the welcome sign on the southern U.S. border, traffickers take advantage of poor vulnerable families and innocent children to create a new pool of sex victims. When laws are not enforced and borders are not secure, criminals fill the void by exploiting weaknesses and opportunities to commit crimes and make money.

The cost to taxpayers will be staggering, ever increasing, and long term. Yet, the more disturbing trend will be the chaos on American streets. Foreign born children, abandoned by their parents, into the hands of strangers, many of whom are criminal smugglers who make money exploiting vulnerable humans, who travel over a thousand miles to a strange country, living among strangers, are severely traumatized children. These traumatized and abandoned children are without any familiar people, things, or places. It is inevitable that their lives will not be better for having been abandoned by their parents. These children will experience the same problems plaguing American children in foster care.

Expect these conditions, and more, for the smuggled and abandoned children of Central America:

Nearly half of all children in foster are have chronic medical problems.

About half of children under 5 years old have developmental delays.

Up to 80% of all children in foster care have serious emotional problems.

A recent study of arrested youth in prostituted found that nearly 60% had spent time in foster care.

50-80% of commercially exploited children had been involved with the child welfare system.

So hang on to your hat and wallet, America! The transformation of American into a Third World Country that facilitates human trafficking is underway. Not much to do but cry, for our beloved country.


© Elizabeth Yore-2014 All Rights Reserved. Elizabeth Yore is an international child advocate and human rights lawyer. She served as Special Counsel at Harpo, Inc., as Oprah Winfrey’s Child Advocate. Elizabeth was General Counsel of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services where she worked on a number of Unaccompanied Minor cases.She served as the General Counsel and Director of the International Division at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.


May 19, 2014

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ~Edmund Burke images

If only the 275 Nigerian girls were abducted by plane! 29 countries would be looking for the schoolgirls instead of the handful of countries talking about the Boko Haram abduction. Remember, the 29 countries organized as a global coalition to look for the Malaysian Airliner in the bottom of the Indian Ocean? If only Boko Haram flew the hostages out of Chibok, perhaps the world would provide over 57 ships and 48 aircraft, defense assets, powerful new sophisticated technology to look for the innocent girls abducted from their boarding school. No expense was spared to look for the 227 Malaysian Air passengers, as dozens of military ships and thousands of international military and defense personnel were deployed to search for Flight 370 passengers buried some 2 miles down in the vast ocean. So why haven’t 29 countries joined forces to look for the poor Nigerian girls?

Tragically, no such worldwide cooperation or massive effort is underway to look for 275 poor Nigerian girls whose only mistake is going to school. Instead, the world whines about lame complaints about the difficult terrain in the forests of Borno state ruled by Boko Haram. The U.S. provides pathetic excuses that the abuses of the Nigerian army prevent the U.S. from full engagement to actively look for the girls, although the abuses of the Chinese government and the Pakistani governments didn’t prevent the U.S. from joining forces in an international flotilla to look for the Malaysian plane within the vast Indian Ocean. The Nigerian and U.S. government provide plenty of reasons why this is a difficult case, i.e. the schoolgirls have probably been separated, and disbursed or sold into slavery. Or the girls are no longer kept together in a group of 275, or have been trafficked into other countries, so it is much more complicated to find them. So what? They talk and they hashtag while the girls are trafficked, exploited, beaten, raped, genitally mutilated, and forced into marriages. Excuses abound and the girls are not found.

The hottest topic on the world stage is human trafficking. Everyone is talking and concerned about the scourge of modern slavery. Yet, when the world sees human trafficking in action by Boko Haram who reports that it will “sell the girls in the human market” the world sits idly by with diplomatic and military excuses. Millions embraced social media and hashtagged their outrage in 5 seconds worth of key strokes. All done, now. Everyone has done their part for humanity’s latest tragedy.

Wars won’t be won, nor terrorists defeated with social media. The Islamic terrorists of Boko Haram have already killed 12,000 people and maimed and injured over 8,000 others. Boko Haram is surely laughing over the feckless global social media campaign. These violent terrorists are raging war in Northern Nigeria, burning down churches, burning alive over 50 schoolboys and terrorizing everyone in their wake. In the last week, they killed over 300 civilians in a village in the State of Borno. Apparently, the hashtag revolution hasn’t intimidated or stopped Boko Haram from its killing spree.

Terrorists only succumb to one reality:  a strategic, coordinated, and overwhelming military force which strikes at the heart of the violent terrorist organization. Senator John McCain and Sen. Bob Corker recommended U.S. Special Forces to rescue the girls. Weren’t U.S. special forces deployed to rescue aid workers who were abducted by Somali terrorists?  Why hasn’t the U.N. deployed its UN Special Combat fighting team to rescue the girls as it did in 2013 to fight rebels in the Congo? What are they waiting for? Sorry, folks, hashtags may make you feel better but they provide no comfort to the school girls who are waiting and hoping for someone to rescue them. The world waits like the frightened and apathetic appeaser, who talks, but never acts. The cautionary words of Winston Churchill are especially apt, “an appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”

Remember that the next time that Boko Haram strikes. It will be worse. Don’t bother to hashtag.

© Elizabeth Yore-2014 All Rights Reserved. Elizabeth Yore served as Special Counsel at Harpo, Inc., as Oprah Winfrey’s Child Advocate. She is an international child advocate and lawyer who has successfully recovered many children involved in international abductions. She served as the General Counsel and Director of the International Division at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Hiding in Plain Sight

December 2, 2013



by Elizabeth YoreImage


 On the flight over to Rome to attend the Pope’s Conference on Human Trafficking last week, I recalled the long running Broadway play and movie, A Funny thing Happened on the Way to Forum, starring the great actor Zero Mostel. This farcical comedy is based on an ancient play set in B. C. Rome, where a slave named Pseudolus tries to negotiate his freedom from his slave owner, Hero. The famous line in the movie goes like this: 

Hero, the Slave Owner: “People do not go around freeing slaves every day.”

Pseudolus, the Slave: “Be the first. Start a fashion.”

Ironically, in 2013 A.D., Pope Francis is compelled to call a conference of global experts entitled, “Trafficking in Human Beings: Modern Slavery” to address the alarming increase in the trade in human beings as one of the pressing political social and economic problems associated with globalization. 

Freeing modern slaves has not yet become fashionable.  So much for progress!

Pope Francis specifically requested that the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Sciences convene a working group to study modern forms of slavery, including the trafficking of people for sex and labor, and trafficking of human organs. Francis personally greeted the assembled global anti trafficking experts.  Clearly, he understands the tragedy of human trafficking from his days as Cardinal Bergolio of Buenos Aires where there are 60,000 women in 8,000 illegal brothels, and the highest consumption of cocaine in Latin America, with 2.6% of the population being addicted or a consumer of cocaine run by the Mexican and Colombian cartels. The Pontiff challenged the conference participants that  “the Church as a whole isn’t sufficiently aware of the problem or hasn’t focused deeply enough on how serious a problem.” 

This Pope leads with his heart. He is a man of the poor in the streets of Argentina and around the world. He knows the suffering poor, the disenfranchised, and the enslaved. Modern day slavery is not a distant notion for him. Cardinal Bergolio would often come in the “dead of night to help women escaping violent Buenos Aires brothel owners find shelter.” 

 Yet no country is free from human trafficking. The rich countries create the demand and the poor countries provide the supply.   This heinous crime against humanity knows no political or geographic boundaries, crosses all cultures and defies quantification. 

 What is the scope of this global problem? Here’s the sad reality: No one really knows. This is a covert crime carried out in the shadows with terrified and silenced victims, so hidden and disguised that they can’t be counted, tracked, and seldom rescued. The best estimates are that nearly 30 million people live in modern slavery across the globe, many of them women and children who are trafficked by organized crime gangs for sexual exploitation and forced labor. 

 Human trafficking thrives because it is a lucrative trade, generating roughly $32 billion annually and its fungible product is hiding in plain sight. Why is human trafficking becoming more lucrative and desirable than guns and drugs? Guns and drugs can be sniffed out by dogs, and are easily identifiable as contraband. Humans are not. Certainly human trafficking victims do not self identify as victims, because they are coerced, threatened, lied to, beaten into silent submission. Once drugs are sold, they are used and gone.  Yet, a woman or child can be sold repeatedly.  

 Traffickers now have an immediate hotline to contract their illegal business deals, the Internet. With 2 billion people around the world now connected to the Internet, access by criminals is instantaneous. Email orders, message boards, and texts advertise children and women for sex, and deliver them through the Internet marketplace.   These criminal organizations operate without impunity because investigations and prosecutions of traffickers are very complex, and sadly, rare.   Experts believe that 87% of the trafficking is for sex and the remainder for forced labor.  Both venues prey on vulnerable women and children. 

 Sex Trafficking is a thriving business in the United States. In the U.S., it is estimated that 2 out of the 3 trafficked victims are underage girls. Some 300,000 American children have been forced into sex trafficking, most of them vulnerable children who have run away from foster care and dysfunctional homes. 

American citizens also fuel the demand for sex trafficking as child sex tourists. The global anti trafficking NGO, ECPAT estimates that 25% of child sex tourists are from the U.S. and Americans constitute 80% of child sex tourists in Latin America. 

 The Catholic Church provides the choke points in the supply and demand chain of human trafficking. She is the holy boots on the ground preventing, intervening and rehabilitating human trafficking victims. With the missionary church serving victims in cities, towns and villages around the world, the Church is uniquely situated to provide global leadership on this issue. At the heart of the scourge of human trafficking is the violation of the dignity of the human person. 

The prevention work of the Catholic Church, through thousands of lay and religious missionaries ensures the freedom and dignity of the individual. The work of the Catholic Church builds a safety net around potential trafficking victims through its church run schools, charity programs, adoption, and foster care work. Prevention cannot be measured in data. Yet, trafficking is stopped when Catholic faithful labor in the vineyard running schools in the African bush, orphanages in the slums of Calcutta, shelters for Argentinian street prostitutes, and the countless inner city churches and schools. The Church builds a powerful protective firewall of social services which prevent trafficking exploitation of vulnerable people.  

The work of the Church is always more effective and lasting because her labor begins and ends with prayer and is grounded in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Canossian Sisters Daughters of Charity attended the Pope’s conference. These Sisters work with trafficking victims in Italy and around the world. They asked Pope Francis for a worldwide day of prayer and fasting against trafficking to raise greater awareness in the Catholic Church about the issue. The Pope was very interested in the suggestion and the Sisters asked him to declare a day of fasting and prayer on February 8th, the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese slave, who was sold and resold, but found freedom in Italy and became a nun in the late 19th century.  St. Bakhita was canonized by John Paul II in 2000. The words of St. Bakhita, remind Catholics of the message of loving service and joyful evangelization which is the recurring theme of Pope Francis:

“The Lord has loved me so much: we must love everyone… we must be compassionate!”

 It’s time for all of us to start loving and noticing the victims hiding in plain sight.


 Elizabeth Yore has spent 30 years in legal child advocacy and fighting human trafficking in the U.S. and abroad. Recently, she served as Special Counsel at Harpo, Inc. as Oprah Winfrey’s child advocate. Previously, she was General Counsel at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services for 8 years and the General Counsel at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Virginia.



It isn't Islamophobia when they really ARE trying to kill you


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Elizabeth Yore

Elizabeth Yore