Human trafficking in recent weeks, dare I say months, has become the single non-partisan issue we as a country can rally behind. We can’t all get behind the idea of wearing masks, preventing gun violence, or re-imagining the police because their entire existence is based on racism, but we can get behind the idea that selling human beings is wrong, especially children. But there is more to human trafficking than child sex slaves. Sex trafficking regardless of age, gender, race, religion, country of origin is wrong, labor trafficking is wrong, child soldiers, forced marriage, and indentured servants are wrong.
In recent months, human trafficking has become a popular thing to rally behind between Jeffery Epstein’s nefarious affairs and with the whole WayFair debacle and the QANON Save OUR Children conspiracy. I’m hoping to clarify some actual Human Trafficking Facts not political talking points.
Recently our President announced more than $35 billion in housing grants to human trafficking victims, SOURCE. While the things I agree with this President on are nearly none, I agree we should do more for human trafficking victims. And while this is a great step, this is just the beginning of the work we need to do.
We need to stop using the these words and phrases:
- child prostitute – There is no such thing as a child prostitute, children cannot consent. They are rape victims, sexual assault victims, or survivors.
- underage woman – There is no such thing. An underage woman is a child.
- sex with [minors, underage women, etc.] – It is rape. So call it rape.
- non-consensual sex – is a polite weasel-wording for rape and rapist do not deserve your politeness. Their victims deserve validation of what they have been through.
Re-Distribute local funds from over-policing to social services to enhance communities to PREVENT and INTERVENE in human trafficking before it happens, well as services and organization to help with HOLISTIC AFTERCARE those victims without jail time.
Prevention – this includes more after school programs for kids, a livable wage for single parents so children don’t feel burdened to work or sell themselves to make ends meet. Create safe places for kids to feel loved and valued in the community, many girls are trafficked because an older partner shows them affection after being told they are worthless or useless for much of their lives and will do anything to please him/her.
Intervene – those who are most at risk, low income, children in foster care, children from low income and single-parent households, Black, POC, LGBTQ, and Trans kids are at a higher risk. Here are two articles on the relationship between race & trafficking, Here & Here.
Immigrants are also at a higher risk of trafficking because in a new country they typically don’t know the language. And are often denied basic human rights by traffickers including healthcare, time off, and access to their papers and if they seek help from authorities are often arrested for being there illegally. We should be more upset at the traffickers in the US than those being trafficked.
Holistic Aftercare – fund organizations helping to restore victims and get them an education, skills training, and provide trauma support. Remove all crimes committed due to trafficking from their records so they can live a full life not burdened by the acts they had to make when being trafficked. Many young women in the US have fought back over the years against their traffickers, at times killing them, and have gone on to be imprisoned for the crime. When there is no other way out of trafficking how else do victims escape?
One of these girls is Cyontia Brown, who at the age of 14 killed her trafficker and served 15 years of a life sentence before being granted clemency by the state of Tennessee. Is it wrong to kill someone? Yes. Is it wrong to treat the victim of human trafficking as a criminal in an effort to escape her trafficker and abusive clients? Yes. Shockingly human trafficking victims don’t often have a say in who they will serve. Sources Here & Here
Another example of prosecuting victims of human trafficking in the US is the story of Chrystal Kaiser. Chrystal’s story is especially heartbreaking and shows us how systemic issues associated with poverty and single-parent households leads to trafficking. She wanted to make some money to be able to buy school supplies, she ended up shooting and killing her trafficker after a year of sexual abuse and violence. It is not easy for a trafficking victim to escape, often traffickers insert themselves deeply into their victim’s lives. Source Here
Human Trafficking Fundraisers & Awareness I participate in
10 Free Days is a 10 day fundraiser for Our Daughters International an organization dedicated to rescuing girls from Nepal from trafficking. The 10 Free Days fundraiser is relatively young, 2020 was our second time fundraising ever for the organization. I think most people appreciate the shortness of this fundraiser while I think I am able to make a larger impact through longer fundraisers like the month long Dressember campaign.
Dressember is a month long style challenge and fundraiser for human trafficking organizations here in the US and Globally. I have been participating in Dressember since my first December in California in 2014. Back then we had just arrived to the state and knew no one. I didn’t have a job and was looking for something to occupy me. I became facinated with Dressember, ethical fashion, and human trafficking. If being a concious consumer when buying clothes could make an impact in the world what would it look like to be a concious consumer for everything we buy?
For my 7th year participating in Dressember I set a goal to raise $700, Donate Here.
To ensure a lasting impact on human trafficking globally Dressember has identified 5 key criteria for vetting grant partners:
1) Collaboration – Partners who understand the complexity of the issue and seek to empower others and work together toward an end to this injustice
2) Cultural Sensativity – Partners who seek to understand and work with locals who understand an area’s nuances and culture on a deeper level
3) Measureable Impact – Work that is proven to protect victims, increase convictions of perpetrators, and/or prevent the spread of slavery
4) Innovation – Work that uses creativity to dismantle a shrewd and manipulative industry
5) Sustainability – Work that is structured to last, and has a long lasting impact
Dressember’s vision is a world without slavery where all people are free to live vibrant, autonomous lives. The testimonies below tell the powerful stories of Dressember’s impact. We could not be prouder to partner in the work of education, prevention, rescue, and restoration across the world.
I’ll be sharing more about Dressember and their grant panrtners in the coming months. It is something I look forward too each fall and winter season, it challenges my style creativity, and I have an overwhelming opportunity to share why the heck I am wearing a dress on a 20 degree day.