3 ways you can combat sex trafficking

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“I am afraid to go home. My father’s friends used to rape me weekly and said if I told anyone they would bring shame to my family.” This statement was made by a teenage girl I interviewed in India recently as part of my research into rehabilitation processes for survivors of sex trafficking. To escape this abusive home situation, she ran away, and in the process was trafficked from Bangladesh to India. She spent two years in a brothel before being rescued by Rescue Foundation. She was 14 years old.

It is estimated that 27 million slaves are being held worldwide, with the most common form being sexual exploitation of women and girls, according to the US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report for 2012. International Women’s Day marks a time to celebrate the victories of women’s rights across the world, but it is also a call to act together against sex trafficking – around the world and in the United States.

For close to two years, I saw the reality of sex trafficking first hand as I lived in India and worked with an organization that rescued girls from commercial sexual exploitation. When I moved to Harrisburg, Penn. to work at Messiah College, I was surprised to hear that a similar subculture existed in my own backyard. Carlisle, near Harrisburg, is one of the bigger hubs for trafficking in the East Coast of the United States due to a stretch of trucker motels and gas stations off of main highways.

What can be done about this global and complex problem? Here are three key ways that you can make a difference.

1. Get educated

Contact organizations like Polaris Project or the National Research Consortium for Commercial Sexual Exploitation for more information about trafficking issues in your area, and guidance for what is needed to help.

Learn about the factors that foster vulnerability to trafficking such as poverty, unsafe migration, subcultures of gender discrimination, lack of education, demand, and lack of law enforcement. Investigate reputable organizations like International Justice Mission or GEMS, examine their approaches to combat trafficking, and consider volunteering or supporting their interventions.

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2. Get involved

There are many organizations that can suggest ways to get involved in the fight against sex trafficking, both globally and locally. But sometimes, an individual’s best help is to be alert and ask questions.

Eldon Fry, campus minister for Messiah College, told me this story: “We met a person at Harrisburg International Airport from the Philippines via Qatar headed for Pittsburgh. It sounded fishy so we intervened, and she was ultimately rescued by Homeland Security. We have stayed connected, and she is receiving support from the Polaris Project and is waiting for trial against her “employer,” who was poised to traffick her.”

Ashley Sheaffer, a faculty member at Messiah College, monitors Craigslist for Harrisburg, Carlisle, and Philadelphia for advertisements that might be associated with trafficking and reports them to partner organizations that work with law enforcement to rescue women who have been trafficked.

These are two examples of people in ordinary communities doing their part in the fight against sex trafficking.

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3. Organize and take action

If you see genuine needs that you can help with that are not being covered by existing services, organize a team and a strategy with clear objectives. Your strategy should include partnerships with reputable organizations locally or globally to strengthen and coordinate interventions.

Approaches can include intervening in areas where women are trafficked from, through programs like education and micro-economic development to empower vulnerable populations and help with survivor re-integration. Other approaches can include intervening in areas where women are trafficked to, through services like raising awareness, education, advocacy, housing, counseling, legal assistance, and job training.

Reflect regularly on what is working, what is not working, and why. Build in a feedback system to partner organizations for continual learning, guidance, and accountability.”

THE MONITOR’S VIEW: A stop sign for human trafficking

Triveni Acharya, winner of the 2008 Woman of Peace Award and president of Rescue Foundation told me, “Sex trafficking, or modern day slavery, is not only a criminal justice issue, but a human rights issue. It prevents women the freedom to make their own decisions, which is their fundamental right.” On International Women’s Day – and beyond – we should remember that we can all play a part in combating the sex trafficking that strips women of those rights.

 

How do you PREVENT the Sexual Exploitation of Children?

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Last May, the state of Washington passed into law, a directive to all teachers and social service workers to collaborate and provide awareness and training materials for local school divisions on human trafficking, including strategies to prevent child trafficking.

That can sound scary. It sounds like the teachers would have to teach children – even elementary school children – seedy details about pimps and prostitution. But, nothing could be farther from the truth. While the teachers themselves will become educated on the tactics used by these predators, and how they target children, the programs that will be offered to the children will be positive and uplifting.

An article in the Washington Times Communities, details some of the programs and goals which have already been implemented in some of the schools:

Educating Children About Media and Advertising so that the consumerism and fame that are promoted in the media do not become their only values.

Exposing Children to Different Positive Role Models in order to develop their sense of morality and to help them find their own positive voice.

Discussing Personal Health and Etiquette Issues,  like Personal Hygiene and Social Manners, because children who lack this type of guidance at home are often bullied at school.

Teaching Programs that Teach about Bullying, Coping Skills, and Self-Defense. Children who are socially isolated are targeted by the pimps and pedophiles, who start out by giving them love and approval in order to gain control over them. Children need to know what to do, if they find themselves in this position.

Providing Nutrition Education because a healthy body is a requirement for the children to have good mental health

Exploring Different Cultures to educate and engage the children and to make them feel less awkward in the middle school years.

Encouraging Membership in Child-Oriented Volunteer Organizations, like scouting and extra-curricular activities, in order to keep them involved in positive activities.

Connecting Troubled Children with School Counselors. It takes more than a few sessions with a stranger to help  troubled children who are being targeted by seemingly loving predators. It is necessary for them to form long-lasting friendships with guidance counselors. Since the pimps are now targeting children as young as 13, it is imperative to identify and refer the at-risk children to school guidance and mentoring as early as possible, even in Elementary School.

These programs will not only help the at-risk children, but will help every child in their class. We applaud the state of Washington for taking the bold move to require these sorts of safeguards for their children, and we encourage other states to do the same thing.

To read the full article in the Washington Times Communities, please click on the picture associated with this blog entry.

About The Humanitarian Alliance

reching handsWe are an advocate based non-profit organization that stringently supports the SURVIVORS of sex trafficking.

We specialize in getting people INVOLVED through providing knowledge and tools to fight back against human sex trafficking in their own communities. There are more slaves today than at an other time in human history. Sex trafficking of children and women is now the second most ‘profitable’ enterprise in the world and the growth rates are increasing at alarming rates.

Most of the public is unaware of this. This concerns issues of poverty, lack of education, and childbirth, the role and status of women, and harmful traditional practices and sexual violence. Poverty, early marriage, and lack of education place mostly young women in positions of severe disadvantage and do not enable them to be advocates for their own health and well being.

This effort is a nonpartisan union that does support the current administrative efforts in ending human sex trafficking. We are also an organization that deeply appreciates the involvement of all faiths, races, and genders.

PLEASE, PLEASE ENCOURAGE THE ADDITION OF MEMBERSHIP TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN.

Ms. James

Founder

The Prayer of a Sex-Trafficked Child: Escaping the Abuse

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Please be sure to read this compeling story of a little boy who was enslaved by a powerful, sadistic organization of pedophiles; and what it took for him to find the strengthto finally escape from his tormentors.

Click on the photo above, to be taken to this “must-read” article from The Washington Tmes; and then please return to our blog to give your feedback. It will open your eyes…