UNPRECEDENTED COLLABORATION AMONG SEX TRAFFICKING/PROSTITUTION SURVIVORS WORLDWIDE

UNPRECEDENTED COLLABORATION AMONG
SEX TRAFFICKING/PROSTITUTION SURVIVORS WORLDWIDE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            CONTACT:

October 16, 2012                                                       Stella Marr, 832 368-3899

sextraffickingsurvivorsunited@gmail.com

The International Association of Sex Trafficking Survivors United (AKA Prostitution) is holding their inaugural board meeting in Washington, DC between October 17-21, 2012.  This historic meeting of some of the most experienced and effective survivor leaders in the Western Hemisphere and Europe will launch an unprecedented collaborative effort among sex trafficking/prostitution survivors worldwide.  Flying into the US capital from Canada, the USA, and Ireland to attend are:

Trisha Baptie, EVE, Educating Voices, Vancouver, BC

Vednita Carter, Breaking Free, Minneapolis, MN

Kristy Childs, Veronica’s Voice, Kansas City, MO and KS

Tina Frundt, Courtney’s House, Washington, DC

FreeIrishWoman, writer and activist, Dublin, Ireland

Cherie Jimenez, The EVA Center/Kim’s Project, Boston, MA

Stella Marr, Survivors Connect Network, Houston, TX

Bridget Perrier, http://www.sextrade101.com, Toronto, ON

Christine Stark, acclaimed writer and artist, Minneapolis, MN

For various reasons, most survivors have been working in relative isolation within the anti-trafficking movement.  We believe the time is right for us to join forces as survivor-activists to lend our expertise, our voices, our trauma-focused and empowerment aftercare programs, our stories of transformation, and our passion for social change to the larger work of creating a world free of sex trafficking, which is another word for prostitution.  Making distinctions between sex trafficking and prostitution is harmful and misleading.  It marginalizes those that are trapped and suffering.

Our organization will raise funds for survivor-led programs helping women exit prostitution and recover from the extensive trauma.  We will continue educating the public on the reality of sex trafficking/prostitution from those who not only have survived it but are on the front lines with those that are still trapped and still not being recognized as victims.  Additionally, we will urge anti-trafficking organizations to empower survivors by opening doors and funding opportunities, recognizing the expertise that we bring to this movement, and hiring survivor leaders.  Our work will connect survivors, strengthen our voices and put us at the heart of the anti-trafficking movement where we belong.

We’ll also advocate for funds for services to help the victims of prostitution/trafficking and continue to grow our survivors network, while developing a speakers and writers group to help get more survivor voices into the public consciousness.  This combination of raising funds, networking survivors and expanding the voices of survivors will lead to more survivor empowerment, and ultimately more resources to help girls and women exit and recover.

About the International Association of Sex Trafficking Survivors Survivors United

(AKA Prostitution)

The International Association of Sex Trafficking Survivors United (AKA Prostitution)  is a fledging soon-to-be nonprofit organization dedicated to uniting the energy, efforts and voices of sex trafficking/prostitution survivors everywhere while making their work sustainable so we can end sex trafficking/prostitution in our lifetime.  We believe when empowered survivors that have had extensive time in “the Life” understand their experiences and are speaking the truth, along with those that support survivors, the sex trade will truly begin to be dismantled.

Already with 60 members, 25 of whom are running their own effective nonprofit organizations, our coalition provides more services to victims while educating the public  than any single anti-sex trafficking NGO in the USA and Canada.  Additionally, we operate a private network that provides community and support for survivors.  All members of our organization are abolitionists who agree that to end trafficking/prostitution we must address demand and focus on providing more choices and empowering recovery services for the victims.

EMAIL:  sextraffickingsurvivorsunited@gmail.com

CONTACT:  Stella Marr, 832 368-3899, texts welcome

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Protected Innocence Initiative – State Report Cards Released

Veronica’s Voice, Inc. is pleased to announce that our partner, Shared Hope International, will be releasing the results of their comprehensive state by state report from their Protected Innocence Initiative Thursday, December 1st, 2002. The Protected Innocence Initiative is a comprehensive strategy to promote zero tolerance for child sex trafficking. The Initiative provides a blueprint for policy makers to establish the foundational policies needed in each state to create a safe environment for children. As a nation we have made some progress through the TVPRA of 2005. However, many states have made little movement to address this problem in their laws.

Because this issue can seem overwhelming and complex, Veronica’s Voice supports the comprehensive look at the current position of local and state legislation and we believe that legislators will welcome the feedback and support of this focused Initiative. Laws must clearly reflect these children as victims and provide funding to assist in their recovery process, rather than allow for further criminalization. The primary policy issues that must be addressed include, eliminating demand, prosecuting those who benefit from the purchase of sex, having a process in place to identify victims and cooperating with agencies in place to provide access to services and adequate shelter for survivors.

In Kansas, Veronica’s Voice serves on the Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Advisory Board, which has been in place for a little more than a year. We have already begun to make recommendations to the legislature about the needed changes and we expect a positive response from them as they consider the recommendations. We are confident that there will be significant changes during the next legislative session. Some changes have taken place in Missouri through HB 214.Veronica’s Voice and our coalition partners through KC-CASE, were instrumental in crafting the language and providing testimony to the legislature on this bill. While there is still room for improvement, the impact from the work being done has yet to be measured.

Veronica’s Voice has been providing victim services for more than 11 years. We are honored to be joined by a variety of motivated individuals and organizations who understand the realities of what it will take to end this atrocity in our lifetime. While the focus of this Initiative is on the trafficking of domestic minors, our commitment and resolve is to see the laws change for all victims regardless of their age. Reality dictates that we all recognize that turning 18 does not change a victimized child into a consenting adult. Victims are not limited by age, nationality, or the seeming ability to choose their own destiny. Much like domestic violence, these individuals have experienced trauma and brutalization that change the way they think, creating the need for specialized recovery support.

ACTeam Announced for Kansas City

On Monday, July 25th, the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Labor announced the selection of Pilot Anti-Trafficking Coordination Teams (ACTeams) as part of a nationwide Human Trafficking Enhanced Enforcement Initiative designed to better coordinate federal criminal investigations and prosecutions of human trafficking offenses.

The Phase I Pilot ACTeams will be based in Atlanta; El Paso, Texas; Kansas City, Mo.; Los Angeles; Memphis, Tenn.; and Miami, under the leadership of the local U.S. Attorney and the highest-ranking federal investigative agents from the relevant regional FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Department of Labor field offices.

As a member of the Coalition Against Human Trafficking, Veronica’s Voice is pleased to congratulate Beth Phillips, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri and her entire Human Trafficking team for their efforts that allowed the district’s task-force to be selected as one of the Attorney General’s Anti-Trafficking Coordination Teams. We are pleased that the task force has been selected for such an important place in history because of their reputation in creating an environment that focuses on DEMAND.

Notably, Cynthia Cordes, Assistant U.S. Attorney and Human Trafficking Coordinator has been successful at creatively using the Trafficking Victims Protection Act to prosecute offenders. We can all agree that aggressive prosecution of Johns is a key component for Demand Reduction. As a leader in the ongoing efforts to end commercial sexual exploitation in the United States, Veronica’s Voice believes that this focus on Kansas City is a great beginning for all victims in our by-state region and across nation.

It is unfortunate that the law limits the task-force from recognizing and helping many victims and forces them to be geared towards making cases with the full cooperation of victims through a certification process. As advocates, we would like to see these laws change to reflect the current domestic violence environment in our nation where women do not need to prove they are a victim in order for the law to recognize them as such and move forward with charges and prosecution. Despite this need for growth, we recognize that every effort made to stop the commodification of humans as a step forward.

The winds of change are blowing and the work of our partners will continue to support the ongoing efforts of Veronica’s Voice to create systemic change. We will continue to advocate until American women are no longer criminalized for their victimization, and there is a change in the tremendously skewed focus on these women and not the men who buy them.

Talk, Terminology, Verbiage, and Vernacular

Last week (end of June 2011), there was a lot of news, social media, and general “buzz” centered around  Ashton Kutcher’s DNA Foundation, the Village Voice, and their views and comments on the issue that Veronica’s Voice has been working to address for over 10 years, the exploitation of individuals in the commercial sex industry in the United States. I want to give you a little more information on how and why Veronica’s Voice values the very specific verbiage, vernacular, terminology, and talk we use.

First, I am going to quickly summarize the reason for the sudden intense attention on this issue:

Ashton Kutcher and the Village Voice started what can only be described as a “twitter war” regarding a statistic that the Kutchers have used in their awareness campaigns for trafficking of girls, specifically the organization mentioned this statistic to CNN’s Piers Morgan on April 18.

“In just the United States, between 100,000 and 300,000 children are enslaved and sold for sex.” (DNA Foundation)

This statistic is used by many organizations, with one difference that the Village Voice brought to light to make the United States a little less uncomfortable. The research supporting that statistic is actually 100,000- 300,000 American minors at risk for being prostituted. This led to an emotional exchange between the many parties who are involved in this issue, because as many organizations, including Veronica’s Voice, knows that the  ‘numbers’ (aka Americans being exploited every day) are hard to track and that the statistics are scary.  Our estimates are that EVERY American child is AT RISK. We seem to look at every other county’s culture but fail to look at out own.  This sub-culture has become mainstream over the last 20 years.  Look at the music, fashion, commercials and movie industry that has glamorized, glorified and normalized the sexualization, objectification, dehumanization and commodification of our women and children.  Seems it the “hip” thang to do.  Wake up America, pedophiles need to go no farther than you-tube to find little girls, to stir their sickness, through adults that have been caught up in the normalization of objectifying children that have posted them on you-tube dancing provocatively like strippers.

This is an attempt to take a very complicated issue and make it concise for a broader audience. If you are reading this post I am going to save time and effort in explaining certain elements of Veronica’s Voice by assuming you have already read through our Website and our frequently updated Facebook or have some kind of established relationship with our organization.

Please take the time to understand who we are and what we do before you attempt to understand why we do it this way.
This should, in no way, be construed as a comprehensive explanation of this prolific issue. I expect that there will continue to be refinement as you gain better insight into the issue and where Veronica’s Voice fits in the bigger scheme of things.
Human Trafficking is a term that is associated with a legal definition related to commodification of human beings.The TVPRA legislation defines a victim of human trafficking in terms of legal citizenship (international), age (juvenile), or ability to prove force, fraud or coercion. Largely, this term ignores American victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation, especially when the victim is OVER 18 years old, many of whom began being prostituted under 18. This has been Veronica’s Voice target population since our inception.

Our target population are typically, ignorantly referred to as “prostitutes”, primarily because of the social misunderstanding that these women have somehow made a choice to engage in sex trafficking. This, despite the overwhelming evidence the average age of entry into Commercial Sexual Exploitation is 12-14.

Specific to this issue, the general public uses “prostitution” when referring to the domestic trade in women, and prior to 2006 our own children were criminalized for prostitution regularly, while using “sex trafficking” to refer to the global trade. Recognizing that the line between the domestic and global markets is obscure and frequently converges – we often use those terms interchangeably.

We will never refer to a prostituted woman as a prostitute, hooker, ho, street walker or any other derogatory term. We always assume that the individual has been exploited in some way in order to draw them into the supply side of a very horrific industry.  Although we have heard stories, we have never met an individual who has actually had the required skills and resource to support themselves in society but instead chose to trade their body in the commercial sex trade. We are not saying that there is no one who chooses this life for themselves, we are saying that it is rare and should not be considered the status-quo for this issue.  Laws are changed by the majority, not the minority.  We strive to educate others regarding the misuse and misapplication of the term “Human Trafficking” because of the pointed exclusion of the American women who have born the burden of violence and abuse, whose lives have been defined by the dehumanization through their vulnerabilities by lies, brainwashing and the physical as well as spiritual and emotional violence.

Veronica’s Voice proactively assists and offers services to any individual who identifies as being involved in the commercial sex industry (past or present). Our main task has been to embrace and empower, women and girls by educating them about the inner workings of the commercial sex industry, as well as to help them find alternatives to their current situation.

Welcome… Updates coming soon!

Welcome to Veronica’s Voice official blog. Thanks for stopping by!

In the near future you will find posts from Veronica’s Voice written to give insight and information into our mission to end Commercial Sexual Exploitation in the United States.

We also encourage you to respond with your comments and ask questions here, on our blog.

To give you just a little background,  Veronica’s Voice is an organization where the survivors of Commercial Sexual Exploitation are working to reach out to those who are still trapped, tricked, or caught up in ‘the life.’ That means that information that Veronica’s Voice is able to give to you is firsthand knowledge on the issue of commercial sexual exploitation in the United States from the perspective of those who have been there. That is why Veronica’s Voice is the “voice” for the sexually exploited.

We are so thankful for those of you that support us and are always encouraging more people to get involved, get educated on this issue, and support the survivors of commercial sexual exploitation who are the experts on the issue.

“It takes an ignorant and stagnant community to see a prostitute;
It takes an informed and educated community to see a victim;
It takes a responsive and courageous community to make a difference”

Have questions about Veronica’s Voice? Visit our Website and Facebook!