Human Trafficking and Massage Parlors

Moriah Schmidt, Class of 2018
What do you think of when you see a massage parlor? Hot rocks? Relaxation? Spa days? Human trafficking?

Odds are, human trafficking is not what jumps to the forefront of your mind when you see a massage parlor. The stark reality is that these places are a top spot for human trafficking legal or illegal immigrants, many of whom cannot speak English and have no way of escaping this unwelcome lifestyle. This issue has touched the Hampton Roads area, with arrests being made on human trafficking counts from raids at massage parlors just this year. I had the privilege of working on a project with the Virginia Beach Justice Initiative which evaluated the laws and ordinances of the seven cities in the Hampton Roads area to determine what measures they are taking to crack down on human trafficking at massage parlors.

The good news is, some of the seven cities have good ordinances made to ensure that massage parlors are being operated safely and humanely, for appropriate purposes. If more cities took it upon themselves to update their zoning ordinances and local laws to provide stricter regulations for massage parlors, we would be taking steps in the right direction.

However, this is a problem not likely to go away even with stricter regulations. In my home state of Ohio, human trafficking at massage parlors has been recently discovered as a prevalent monstrosity. Raids have become commonplace. Many people are shocked to find that trafficked people have been trapped in their hometowns, sometimes just down the street or across the road. Ohio’s law enforcement has realized that even when catching traffickers and shutting down massage parlors in one place, they just spring up someplace new with a slightly different name. We cannot just force these places closed and end this trade by mere efforts. This evil requires something more.

As Christians, we have a major weapon in prayer. We can attack this battle in the place where it really originates – the spiritual realm.

I believe an Ohio detective said it best:

“In order to attack demand, you’re going to have to attack a culture and society in terms of how women are viewed and how prostitution is viewed. When we start to do that, that’s when it’ll start to change.”

The Center for Global Justice works alongside organizations like Virginia Beach Justice Initiative in researching laws and ordinances to see where the law can change in order to fight against atrocities like human trafficking. But one thing we can all do – and must do – is pray. This is more than a legal battle. It’s a cultural battle, a spiritual battle, and a battle with our human nature. But by the strength of God, nothing is impossible. We can win this war.

(Sources and quotes from “The Stubborn Cycle of Human Trafficking” The Columbus Monthly, Justin McIntosh, May 2015,

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice student staff member.  The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice. 

Strengthening Sex Trafficking Legislation

Chelsea Mack, '17
My project this semester was assisting Shared Hope International with analyzing the efficacy of certain statutes relating to child sex trafficking.  

This project was quite the task.  Those of us on the team learned very quickly that we no longer understood the meaning of words because every time we thought a word meant something, then we would look at another statute in a different state and discover that the statute implicated a different definition.  

Reviewing multiple statutes in fifty-one jurisdictions (including Washington D.C.) provided a broad perspective of legislation in the United States.  I was surprised that certain states that hold larger populations possessed statutes containing weaker, or simply broader, language regarding child sex trafficking than other states with smaller populations.  

This project definitely pushed me to a new level of legal analysis than I expected at the beginning of the project.  

I hope and pray that Shared Hope will be able to utilize our summaries to communicate with legislators around the country to amend existing statutes and pass new ones to effectively criminalize and prosecute more individuals who offer to buy sex with minors.

Chelsea Mack, '17
CGJ Student Staff Member

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice student staff member.  The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice. 

Fighting for Constitutional and Human Rights in Africa—Free Speech and Freedom of Religion

Linda S. Waits-Kamau
I have had the privilege of serving with an amazing team of student volunteer staff this semester at the Center for Global Justice, which has inspired me to work on a full-time basis for human rights in Africa.  During the summer, several Regent Law School interns will be going to Uganda and South Africa to work on projects involving citizen’s rights.

Many African states have elaborate Constitutions that spell out most of the rights of individuals that are also represented in documents such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights  (ACHPR) as well as the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which most African states have also become signatories.  What happens when their rights are ignored or worse trampled?

My concern has been for citizens whose rights need to be protected based upon their own state Constitutions or in the ACHPR as well as the UN treaties states have signed.  In some cases, free speech and freedom of religion have been thwarted but can be defended under the human rights of the state’s Constitution and/or the ACHPR and ICCPR.

One such case in South Africa that a CGJ student intern had worked on the previous year involved a young South African student who was a student council leader and deprived of her right to free speech and freedom of religion.  The student made a comment on Facebook that had nothing to do with her school or even her country.  She was making a statement about her faith, not out of hatred, but out of concern.  She expressed an opinion, which under South African Constitutional Law was her prerogative, as well as under AUPCR and ICCPR.  As it turned out those who opposed her opinion, which was not at all directed to any other student or persons in particular, broke into her student office and posted lewd pictures of themselves online basically trying to humiliate her.

They demanded that the student’s position as leader of the student council be taken away.  If advocates had not helped her and defended her rights to free speech and religious freedom, these students who posted hateful photos and desecrated her office by breaking in and causing havoc would have been allowed to express ‘hatred’ for her when she was not expressing ‘hatred’ but a religious opinion on an issue.  The case never went to court, but without legal advocates she would have lost her scholarships and maybe even dismissed from her position as a student council leader.  A South African MP who had joined in berating this student decided to publicly apologize after the events about the break-in to her office and online antics were exposed as hateful acts of vengeance.

This case inspired me to fight for the rights of those whose voices are being silenced just because they are speaking about their faith or what they believe without defaming anyone.  Actually, the student was being defamed and harangued.  The freedom to believe and the freedom of expression and free speech must be protected.

by CGJ Student Staff Member Linda Waits-Kamau

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice student staff member.  The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice. 

Student Staff Update from Olivia Graef

Olivia Graef, '17
At the Center for Global Justice, I have learned that “fighting for human rights” often looks different than the glorious pictures we conjure up in our imaginations. The students at the Center do not make raids out in the field or physically go out and rescue those who are enslaved. But we are hard at work nonetheless. We provide research so that countries can implement better legal systems, which will better serve justice and protect people. We write briefs to defend laws to hold criminals accountable. We compose manuals so that municipalities know how to preserve a safer environment for people. We conduct legal research for cases to ensure violent criminals are convicted.

How you “fight for human rights” will probably look different from our work. But I have realized that a fight so broad requires every effort whether that is donating, volunteering, writing letters to legislatures, or making a meal for a victim of injustice. It even includes sharing stories and ways to contribute on social media or setting up an Amazon Smile account so that a percentage of your purchase price goes to an organization fighting for to protect people from injustice. Please join us regardless of what it looks like.

Olivia Graef, '17

Student Staff Project Update: So Heon Park

So Heon Park, Class of 2017
I joined the Center for Global Justice (Center) student staff in August 2015. The Center provides free legal work to NGOs that defend the poor, the oppressed, and the abused in the world. My experience with the Center helped me develop legal skills such as researching and writing legal memoranda by working on projects in different countries. Moreover, it is such a privilege to be a part of the Center with men and women who recognize the importance of human rights and have compassion toward people who are in need.

This semester I am working on a project for Handong International Law School (HILS). HILS is located in Pohang, South Korea, and HILS shares a similar mission to that of Regent University School of Law. The project involves a religious liberty issue in Mongolia. In Mongolia, the government bans proselytization in religious institutions and requires them to register with local authorities. However, the registration procedure is not clear, and local authorities have great discretion in the registration process. There are only approximately 2% of Christians in Mongolia, and Mongolians view Christianity as “foreign” religion. Christians face difficulties to share their faith even in Christian schools.

To support religious liberty in Mongolia, I have been researching the Mongolian Constitution, international laws, and international human rights cases, which protect the human right to manifest one’s faith. Although the Mongolian Constitution and international human rights laws, which Mongolia is bound by, protect the freedom to manifest one’ religion and share one’s faith, in reality, such freedom is taken away by local authorities. I pray that our work could influence, and hopefully change, the current Mongolian system so that Christians in Mongolia can freely share and practice their faith without any restrictions. 

So Heon Park, Class of 2017

April 2016 Quarterly Update

Our April 2016 quarterly update is here!

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Administrative Director's Greeting

Greetings from the Center for Global Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law! I trust all of you had a great Easter, marveling anew at the death and resurrection of Christ. As I reflected on Passion Week, I was reminded of how unjustly Jesus was treated and of His amazing response. As 1 Peter tells us, “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly." (1 Peter 2:23.) Indeed, what greater injustice could have been committed than the murder of the Son of God? But the beauty is that because Jesus experienced the ultimate injustice, suffering as the only truly innocent one, He can bring meaning and hope to those who are now suffering great injustice. We at the Center for Global Justice seek to be this extension of Christ's ministry.

Internship Program: Seventeen Students Set to Travel the World to Fight Injustice

As the semester draws to a close, we are preparing to send out seventeen interns across the globe through our internship program. Placements this summer include International Justice Mission, Uganda; Department of Public Prosecutions, Uganda; Advocates International, South Africa & Bulgaria; the Jerusalem Institute for Justice, Israel; the National Center On Sexual Exploitation, Washington, D.C.; Youth With A Mission (YWAM), General Counsel's Office; and many others. We still need funding to cover the costs of these internships. Through your giving, students receive great legal experience and provide valuable support to organizations fighting for the oppressed, all without having to take out additional debt. Please give

To learn more about the program and hear from students how the internships change their lives, please watch our intern video »

Project Highlight: Young Ugandan Girl Rescued from Kidnapping, Torture, and Child Sacrifice

This semester we are working with Kyampisi Childcare Ministries, a Ugandan non-profit organization that combats child sacrifice, on a case involving a nine-year-old girl named Hope who was kidnapped and tortured for sacrificial purposes. Thanks to the great advocacy work of Kyampisi Childcare Ministries (KCM) and legal support from the Center for Global Justice, the perpetrator was charged with “Kidnapping or Abducting in order to subject a person to grievous Harm, Slavery,” a crime that carries a significantly greater penalty than the crime for which the perpetrator was originally charged.

In 2008, Hope was kidnapped. The perpetrator tied Hope with ropes, kept her on his shrine for over one year, repeatedly drained her blood, cut her tongue, removed her teeth, and fed her virtually nothing. Hope was found alive but utterly disabled. The perpetrator was a fugitive for the past eight years, but thanks to an undercover sting operation by KCM and the Ugandan Police, he was recently apprehended. To make sure this case received sufficient attention, we drafted a detailed letter to the prosecutor that discussed the seriousness of the case and recommended various charges. Thankfully, the prosecutor amended the charges to include “Kidnapping or Abducting in order to subject a person to grievous Harm, Slavery,” a charge that carries a sentence up to fifteen years in prison under the Uganda Penal Code. Please pray that justice will be done in this case.

Center Events
Women's Rights Symposium
The Center has been quite busy this semester putting on a number of special events. On March 4th, we, in partnership with the Journal of Global Justice and Public Policy, hosted our fifth annual symposium entitled, Women’s Rights: 50 Years After Griswold v. Connecticut. The symposium concluded with a banquet dinner called Justice for the Unborn. Abby Johnson, Former Planned Parenthood Director turned pro-life advocate, spoke at the dinner. Abby shared her incredible story and challenged us to believe that God can redeem.

To watch Abby’s presentation, go here »

Professor Jim Gash

On February 15, the Center hosted Jim Gash, Professor of Law and Director of Pepperdine’s Global Justice Program, who spoke about his new book, Divine Collision: An African Boy, An American Lawyer, and their Remarkable Battle for Freedom, which details his incredible work of helping imprisoned juveniles in Uganda. 

Read more »

Guardian ad Litem CLE

On March 24, the Center hosted a 7-credit CLE course required for all attorneys seeking to receive their certification as Guardians ad Litem in Virginia. This year, eight students and thirteen attorneys attended.

FBI Special Agent Talk

On March 28, FBI Special Agent Michael McMahon joined us for lunch and discussed Department of Justice investigations of civil rights violations. Special Agent McMahon discussed investigations relating to “Color of Law” (i.e., investigations of police officers who abuse their authority), human trafficking, and hate crimes.

Find all our events at »


As always, please pray for us. In John 15:5, Jesus reminds us that “apart from Him we can do nothing.” And what better way is there to “abide” in Jesus than to be in constant communion with Him through prayer? Please pray for our staff, our students who are graduating, and the upcoming internships.

In Christ,
S. Ernie Walton, Esq.
Administrative Director

P.S. For anyone interested, CNSNews recently picked up one of my blog posts regarding the dangers of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

For additional updates on all the work the Center is doing, please visit our social networks and website

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Dr. Christopher Whelan, Oxford University: United Nations - Mission Impossible?"

Journal of Global Justice and Public Policy in association with the International Law Society was very pleased to sponsor recently an excellent presentation by esteemed professor Dr. Christopher Whelan, Oxford University, entitled "United Nations - Mission Impossible?"