We’re Not Just Fighting Against The Slave Trade

We put all of our effort into changing laws, policies and the minds of society while we are battling the sex trade industry. But there are others that are fighting against us. We are not all “united” in this war in ending human trafficking, in fact we have leaks that have turned into gapping holes. With so many women and girls caught up in the commercial sex industry, their voices are being stifled by the shouts of women’s sexual empowerment and entitlement that do not fit every situation. The world of feminism seems to be selective. Then again so does the world of fighting sexual slavery. When posters go up to bring awareness and education to communities about human trafficking, they’re often depicting a young, skinny, attractive white girl. This young woman is either on a floor or a bed, scantily clad or just plain naked. And if that doesn’t make you understand, let’s wrap some heavy chains on her wrists and ankles, that should make anyone want to support the cause. Right? Wrong.

More often than naught the young women that are entrapped in human trafficking are girls of color and they did not get picked up from a model shoot. These are REAL girls, as real as they come. No matter what age they are, they look like your sister, cousin, aunt, mother and grandmother. They’re bodies are not toned and perfect, these are women who have been used over and over again. How toned and perfect do you think a woman will look after been treated like an animal and deemed useless to the world? There has been scrutiny expressed towards these types of awareness campaigns, but to no avail. I still see them everywhere and it’s like people have given up on trying to change that image and all other images that depict human trafficking as a certain “type” of woman. It’s probably because there are those of us that feel it’s better to help the actual girls instead of getting involved in what some think is a petty issue. But that petty issue can poison society as to what a human trafficking victim looks like or how she is treated and in the end my friends, that will make our job that much harder.

Enter Hollywood. This has been the bane of my existence ever since I started working closely with this issue and the women and girls involved. I sometimes have a hard time watching television or even some movies. In just about every tv show there is some inappropriate reference to a woman selling herself and to a man buying her and a “Badass” woman revealing she was a Madame and had girls under her, because you know, it’s funny and cool. And the there’s Hollywood movies. I say this with the most heaviest of hearts and loudest of sighs, Taken 1, 2 and maybe even 3. (I’m sure there gearing up for that so some out of work actors can make a comeback & think they’re fighting a social issue).  The blatant inaccuracies and inequities of these movies are stunning. The only slightly (and I mean slightly) good thing these movies do is open up society’s mind to the issue, albeit not realistically but somewhat none the less. When someone says to me that they saw a movie about trafficking called Taken, first I cringe but then I realize it’s not their fault, then I begin the re-education process. Some get it and some just want to live in the fantasy Hollywood created. Some Hollywood actors who need an image boost or just attention in general, will take up the cause of human trafficking and swoop in as if they are the hero and the ONLY one who can stop the modern day slavery epidemic.  We see people such as Ashton Kutcher speaking on panels he really has no business being on, talking statistics he has no justification for and basically falsifying information that was not approved by law enforcement all the while never hearing survivor voices. Because it’s all about him and look what he did! Some may argue that he’s getting the message out to the generation that doesn’t know. But what kind of message is that exactly? There are grassroots, boots on the ground professionals that actually WORK on the issue filling schools and places where young people are to educate them on human trafficking. Also, survivors are speaking more and more. This is where they should learn about human trafficking. Ashton Kutcher will not be able to tell young girls that they are more at risk for being trafficked and how to avoid it. He doesn’t have the capacity to give workshops on trauma, PTSD and violent relationships. Really? This is where you want young people to get there information from? That’s like a young person learning about love watching pornography. It’s not real and it will damage you severely.

 

Music Industry. There is a lot to say about this and almost none of it is good. It’s important to understand that women who chose to be an artist don’t necessarily sign up to be a sexual object. But that’s the price of fame right? You want to be popular, on everyone’s mind, sell a lot of music and sell out shows so you have to sell yourself as well. Of course it’s not the same for men, they get to wear clothes. Depiction and image has a lot to do with product. If it’s a female music video with a woman singing or rapping she is rarely dressed with other girls wearing even less around her and are considered “less than” compared to her. Image is not the only thing, what she says is just as important. It’s empowering for a woman to talk about how she can sexually please her man while he degrades her and how she’s above all other women. The male music video paints a much darker picture. The women are practically naked and at their feet as is popular with rappers like PitBull, while they talk about how worthless she is and that she is only there to satisfy his twisted sexual desires. And that is just about EVERY music video now. The dehumanization of women and girls in the music industry has gotten more lascivious over the decades. All of this fuels the idea that it’s cool to act like these women in the videos and that they’re really happy. This marketing strategy is not only geared toward young women, it’s young women of color especially those that come from dysfunctional families and poverty. It doesn’t stop at the music, the way the girls are dressed or not dressed in the videos are being sold as fashion in stores. Girl’s are buying it because they want that look, they feel it makes them look beautiful because they’ve never known their own worth. Through no fault of her own she can find herself in a situation of entrapment and not know how to get out. She thinks she looks beautiful but traffickers see something else.  They see a young women who puts all of her worth in her body and using that for attention, so they will look to capitalize off of that. Unfortunately, they usually do.  Fashion and music have been a couple since inception, this pair has become toxic.

Pornography. I think this should be self explanatory. If it’s not then talk to a marriage that has been destroyed by it or a child whose parent, religious leader, family member or friend  molested them because of it.

In this fight we are not just up against a $150 billion industry that is selling the bodies of women and girls, we are fighting systems put in place to feed this machine. It’s a battle to the death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Students of Criminal Justice & Trafficking-Germany

I will be traveling to East Berlin, Germany to speak with students at a university who are studying criminal justice and other social ills that plague our world to better understand how to fight them. Discussions will consist of how the legal system in the US is treating victims of human trafficking to re-exploitation and re-victimization of survivors through non profits and agencies who use survivors as  funding sources. This is a huge problem in Amercia, the same issue that is keeping women, girls as well as boys and men in bondage is the same thing that keeps survivors dependent on these non profits that say they are “helping” them. If haven’t already fingured it out-it’s money. Federal and State funding sources have created a human rights competition between, non profits, NGOs and government agencies for funding that will keep them running and their services going.

When I travel to other countries I find that’s not always the case. I mean sure there are some state entities in those countries that are very closed off to other organizatons, but that’s because they’re usually getting funded by-you guessed it-the United States. I find that there are many organizations that want to mirror the United States because they feel what we do works. But when you are working closely with survivors who went through one of these programs, there is a different picture painted. It’s important that other countries see what’s really happening in America and it’s also important that we listen to survivors. What ever is being shown to them is in stark contrast to what is really going on. Our criminal justice system in dealing with trafficking victims is not perfect and often times doesn’t seem to get it right. So now they’ve created a new program called the Trafficking Intervention Courts. In fairness this is a pretty new program but it is not without it’s flaws. It’s not certain if the flaws are being recognized so that they can be fixed or that the crininal justice system sees nothing wrong with the program.

Every Friday morning bright and early, young women are arraigned in these Trafficking Intervention Courts to determine if they were actually a victim of trafficking. In the courtroom there are various non profit agencies vying for the attention of the judge and the survivor to provide services. It’s like a virtual turf war. The young lady has just come out of a horrific situation and now has to deal with programs that she is not sure are right for her. The problem with these Trafficking Intervention Courts is that everybody and I mean everybody is looked as as a trafficking victim. That’s not always the case. A young woman who is picked up is assumed that she has a pimp and is being trafficked when in reality she chose it. Now there could be a number of reasons as to why she did but the most common one is, economic instability. Giving this person the same services as trafficking victim receives is misguided and harmful. The agencies that provide these services should recognize this as well but they’re looking for clients because more clients equal more funding.

This will be a lesson that a Germany and many other countries should be aware of. It is understood that Human Trafficking is the biggest global scourge of humanity-no doubt about it. But if we don’t look at the complexities as to why so many are pushed one way or another into the commercial sex industry we will be missing out on key factors that show the differences between a trafficking survivor or someone just trying to survive. One thing that must be stressed, especially in countires that have a legal red light district, is that selling your body should NEVER be an option as a viable job for a woman. You will be signing her death certificate, literally. Instead create good sustaining jobs so that they can live a life of freedom and humanity, it’s just good common sense.

 

We Are The Collateral Damage That No One Sees

International Journalists & Correspondents do a really good job of reporting war, conflict and humanitarian crisis. But there is a separate issue within the chaos that claims lives, homes and the dignity of life. Women and girls, some too young to even know what it’s like to be close with the opposite sex are all of a sudden forced to be a women enslaved to male lust and perversion. These are the invisible stories that not many report on and if they do, it’s a one-liner no more. It’s not the fault of journalists but of society’s reluctance to look at the suffering of women and girls outside the famlial scope. There is a complacency that rape and enslavement of women is just a part of war, it’s somehow “natural” and “expected” just like the war itself and therefore cast aside as a side effect of living in a region that is raging in turmoil.

Women are the issue that unless you are an outspoken feminist, doesn’t get covered much if even at all. In the realm of terrorism and the groups that carry out these atrocities, claim the lives of women through coercion, false promises and brainwashing. Women are used as scapegoats and take the blame for terrorist activites and violence while they are under the control of a patriarcal madman. This is when women get A LOT of coverage. No one wants to see the bondage she is in, now this does not excuse the fact that something horrific happened and lives were lost, but the fact that this gets more attention than the thousands of women being raped, tortured and killed is not the right balance. Demonizing women at every turn will desensitize the masses to all of the abuse, exploitation, military sanctioned rape and murder of women.

That’s not to say that there aren’t female journalists out there going to refugee camps, places of extreme danger to reach these women and talk with them. Sitting in their homes or tents receiving their horror story so that the world will know. But this still doesn’t get much attention-unless you Google it. How will we ever understand the humanitarian atrocities of women and girls if it’s not in the world media the same way other disasters are? A country should be looked at by how they treat their women because with out us really, life cannot continue. Think about it.

How Will The Trump Regime Handle Human Trafficking

Every single day we are inundated with Donald Trump and his government cohorts and goons. There is not a single moment that goes by that we are not being told of some obstruction of justice or cover-up concerning the current regime. I say regime because we are not living in a democracy anymore and I fear that we never will again. So far we have seen egregious executive orders targeting immigrants and minorities, a total annihilation of healthcare and women’s issues and discriminatory travel bans that are damaging the United States image all over the world.

And now, as if things couldn’t possibly get worse, it does. Ivanka Trump the daughter of the man who is destroying,well basically everything,  is now tackling the issue of human trafficking. This is a woman who says that if a person perceives something to be true and it’s not, just let them believe it if it works in your favor. Really? So are we to perceive that you know everything that there is about human trafficking simply because you are appointed to a position, that you’re not getting paid for mind you, because it makes you look like you care and you want to “empower” women? Seriously? All you’ve shown us is “Daddy’s Girl” privilege and fake empathy towards women who are struggling. The blindness by Ivanka herself to her father’s misogyny towards women is mind boggling.

There is however one thing Ivanka is educated on, it’s grooming. When a young woman falls victim to trafficking by someone she loves and trusts she is ‘groomed” to do the will of her trafficker. In Ivanka case she has been groomed to make her father look like a progressive, smart, educated business man who wants nothing but to see women succeed. So she is paraded around, much like a victim, saying and doing everything she has been told while telling women she wants to empower them. Conversely when victims are paraded around they are told to make the men who buy them believe that they want to be doing this and they love it and it’s a way to make money. They NEVER see any of the money by the way, their trafficker takes all of it. Ivanka is not getting paid for ANYTHING she doing. Strange right?

If this “political coalition” they’ve put together for Ivanka is going to succeed, they need survivor voices. There must be an understanding of the current legislation on the issue and the needs of survivors. The only people who know what’s good for survivors ARE survivors. Building a coalition of people who have no clue about this issue and probably have never met a real survivor is extremely dangerous for women and girls that are caught up in this. Once again the Trump Regime has managed to undercut and destroy women’s basic human rights of humanity at it’s core.

Human trafficking is a $150 billion industry and it looks like the Trump Regime wants to keep it that way. Sad.

The Human Commodity

One doesn’t normally think of a human being as a reusable commodity but it seems to be the money maker of choice in our globalized society. Arms and drug dealers have now added bodies to their repertoire of services. Why you may ask? Because you can use a body over and over whereas drugs and guns are only sold once making the trade less profitable. Slavery has been with the human race since the beginning of time and has since then become the most inhumane and dehumanizing practice this world has ever seen.

Lets start with sexual slavery. The most immoral, violent and anti-female slavery there is.  I’m not talking about women who have chosen to sell themselves because they don’t see anyway out of their economic situation or other unforeseen circumstances, I’m talking about women and girls who for various reasons had force fraud or coercion hijack their lives. So many factors can lead to this type of deception, here are a few: 1. Promised work in another country only to be sold in a brothel, strip clubs, etc. with all of their papers confiscated and a never ending debt bondage that doesn’t lead to freedom. 2. A boyfriend who manipulates his way in and professes love, stability and a future but hands her sexy clothing and says she must “work” to bring in money. 3. This is not as common but it does happen. Kidnapping leading to forced  prostitution and “home delivery.”

The one thing these all have in common is the break down process. It starts with verbal abuse then graduates to severe beating and mass rape until there is no will left and the spirit is completely broken. That is when the buying and selling of the human commodity truly begins.  She must rely on her trafficker for everything, food, money and basic necessities, if he feels he wants to give it to her. Sleep deprived she must service many to keep the beatings at bay.

Another component of the human commodity is labor trafficking. There are many sectors in various industries that are involved in this kind of slavery. In this case the human commodity is not there to be sold but to bring in a profit by using physical work under horrific conditions in order to keep their “employer” happy and rich. Depravation of food, sleep and basic necessities keep them weak but under control. If they desire to eat they must work longer hours in extreme hot weather or frigid cold with no breaks. They are expected to sleep only a few hours and survive on nothing. They are punished because they are too weak or they cannot keep up with their employer’s demands. Often the the threats are immigration or maybe their life.

The breakdown process here is similar to sex trafficking. Depravation, lack of food and sleep. Beating and punishments as well as sexual assaults (especially if you are a woman), migrant women suffer from this the most.

Every country exploits a neighboring one for sex and labor and if there are some that come looking for work from a country that is not close, they will exploit them too. Some countries look the other way because they see it as a economic boost to their country not considering the damage being done not only to the person enslaved but on the society as a whole.

So what happens when there is war and conflict?

The number of women and children that are being trafficked during this time is staggering. Mostly it is sex that is the choice of the day leaving so many broken and devastated. Rogue militias using children as soldiers to fight for a skewed ideology that boasts brainwashing tactics to turn them against their family and everything they’ve ever known. UN agencies litter these countries trying to fulfill the UN Charter for women but not many make it.

There is no doubt this is a global, health and moral crisis. This is not something that happens in one country, one society, one culture, it happens in them all. From the most farthest regions of the international world to the whitest suburbs in America. The human commodity lives. As long as there is a demand and as long as governments continue to fuel that demand with  faulty legislation, under the table dealings and a wink-wink nudge-nudge approach, the human commodity will never go away.