God, Consent, and Freedom by Chris Ash

a picture the author in her yardOver the summer, I started at a new job, which I’ve decided I can safely describe as a “dream job” – one to which I can bring my full self, and in which I can use all my gifts and strengths. Whereas my old job focused primarily on anti-sexual violence work from an advocate perspective, my new job focuses primarily on sexual violence occurring in the context of human trafficking from an advocate, trainer, and policy perspective. Sex trafficking exists along and as part of the spectrum of gender violence, and yet the history of the modern movements against sexual violence and human trafficking have had very different drives and trajectories.

A few months ago, I attended a training webinar in which Marissa Castellanos of Catholic Charities of Louisville presented on best practices for faith-based organizations involved in anti-trafficking work. She encouraged agencies to use trauma-informed practices, and spoke clearly and strongly against the somewhat common practice of tying services to participation in faith-based activities. “We don’t want to replicate the patterns of the traffickers,” she said, noting that trafficking survivors, by definition, have a traumatic history of being required to do things they don’t want to do in order to have their most basic needs met. When our actions as advocates require survivors to cede their power to our concerns, we counteract any verbal messages we may offer about empowerment, agency, and freedom. Continue reading “God, Consent, and Freedom by Chris Ash”

Human Trafficking by Valentina Khan

Valentina KhanRecently I saw SOLD, a movie based on human trafficking taking place in Nepal and India. Within the first thirty minutes of the movie I was cringing, holding my hands, shrinking into my chair. Naively, I begged the question how families could sell their innocent children to strangers, even if they are fed the lies of working for pay? I am a mother of two children, who are my heart and soul. Deep inside I feel that if we as a family were in desperate times, I would rather sell myself than my children, or I would escape with them, and if we die, we die together. Yes. So extreme. But I can’t fathom letting my children go. Not for any amount of money, no matter how dire times were. I wouldn’t be able to live not knowing where they were, what they were doing, and with who. Just writing this or thinking about it, churns my stomach inside out.

I feel bad to make such statements and appear as if I am passing judgment on these mothers and fathers, who are living in desperate conditions, not knowing what else to do but to sell their flesh and blood to this multi-billion dollar industry. Many are not even aware and might truly believe that their children will go off to earn money for the family. As I write this I have a more informed position, because human trafficking is not a problem concentrated in a certain area of the world, this is a world wide epidemic with mostly women and children being bought and sold not just far away but here in my backyard, Los Angeles, California. Continue reading “Human Trafficking by Valentina Khan”

Passover and the Exodus: A Feminist Reflection on Action, Hope, and Legacy by Michele Stopera Freyhauf

Freyhauf, Durham, Hahn Loeser, John CarrollLast week, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was in the news again, but not for reasons you would expect.  She, along with Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, penned a feminist essay about the Exodus title “The Heroic and Visionary Women of Passover.”  Finding this story was exciting, especially because I am so drawn to the Exodus story (the intrigue and curiosity of which caused me to return to school and study, as one of my main areas of focus, Hebrew Scriptures – along with Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern History).  Now women’s roles in this story are being elevated thanks to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Rabbi Holtzblatt.

Before I discuss the message and the importance this message brings, I think it is important to know an important fact about Justice Ginsburg.  Ginsburg is not observant, but does embrace her Jewish identity.  When her mother died, she was excludedRuth_Bader_Ginsburg_official_portrait[1] from the mourner’s minyan because she was a woman; an event in Judaism that is meant to comfort the mourner, brings a sense of community, and is considered obligatory – a means of honoring our mother/father.  This important event left an impression and sent a loud message that inspired and influenced her career path – she did not count – she had no voice – she had no authority to speak.  No wonder her life and career focuses so much on women’s rights and equality.

As many of us know, the story of Exodus is focused on two things 1) Moses and 2) liberation from the bonds of servitude and enslavement; women are rarely discussed.  In the essay co-authored by Ginsberg, women are described as playing a crucial role in defying the orders of Pharaoh and helping to bring light to a world in darkness.  In the Exodus event, God had partners – five brave women are the first among them, according to Ginsburg and Holtzblatt.  These women are: Continue reading “Passover and the Exodus: A Feminist Reflection on Action, Hope, and Legacy by Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

Marriage as a Commodity (Satisfaction Guaranteed) by Michele Stopera Freyhauf

Freyhauf, Feminism, Religion, Durham, Old Testament, Blogger, Bible, Gender, Violence, Ursuline, John CarrollThis Saturday I will be presenting a paper about Cyberbrides at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.  While my focus for that paper is the impact on mothers and families, my research also revealed how some Cyberbrides (or Mail-Order Brides) are selected from internet catalogues with “satisfaction guaranteed” and how “International Marriage Broker” may be a cloak hiding the agencies’ involvement with human trafficking.

Cyberbrides are essentially mail-order brides, but like pen pals, they can chat and exchange pictures on the Internet and interact through video or instant chat.  There are almost 2.9 million website matches that turn up when Google-ing “Mail-Order Brides” within 19 seconds of pressing the “return” button. With the low cost of social media, a new venue to market and display this “commodity” is available.  Presently,  about 30 Facebook sites exist that advertise “Mail-OrderBrides. Continue reading “Marriage as a Commodity (Satisfaction Guaranteed) by Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

Proposition 35: Prohibition on Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery—Criminalizes the Sex Worker and not the Trafficker, By Cynthia Garrity-Bond

But beyond the sound bites and hyperbole of Proposition 35 resides a poorly written law that further criminalizes and discriminates against sex workers and their consensual adult clients.

The importance of the upcoming November 6 election cannot be overstated. Beyond defeating the Republicans War on Women, maintaining the Affordable Care Act and resuscitating a broken economy, brought on by eight years of Bush’s laissez faire policies, California residents will vote on thirteen propositions. Two of them address criminal justice, Prop 34 “End the Death Penalty” and Prop 36, repeal of the “Three Strikes” law of 1994. Both propositions seek to correct bad laws that are unjust, as well as fiscally exacting on the state.  The “Three Strikes” law, in its attempt to be tough on crime, instead gives life sentences to non-violent offenders.  To date there are 8,800 prisoners currently serving life terms for a third felony conviction—for some, petty theft or drug possession resulted in a life sentence.  The “Three Strikes” law was poorly conceived, written, and implemented, just as Proposition 35, the Prohibition on Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery or Californians Against Sexual Exploitation (CASE ACT) is.  Continue reading “Proposition 35: Prohibition on Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery—Criminalizes the Sex Worker and not the Trafficker, By Cynthia Garrity-Bond”

January 11th is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

This information was originally distributed by WATER:

January 11th is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Human trafficking, referred to as modern-day slavery, is the fastest growing and second most profitable criminal industry in the world. More than 27 million women, men, and children have become victims of human trafficking for labor and sexual exploitation. Trafficking can and does occur in all parts of the world, including the U.S. Large sporting events like the Super Bowl attract human trafficking, especially for sexual exploitation of women. Read Mary E. Hunt’s new article on human trafficking entitled “Women and Children First.”

Stories of Trafficking
Excerpted from www.polarisproject.org

Amanda learned that her cousin was with a pimp who was advertising her for commercial sex on various websites.

A teacher became concerned about one of her students, a 14 year-old girl, and spoke with classmates who directed the teacher to multiple postings advertising the young girl for commercial sex on backpage.com. Continue reading “January 11th is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day”

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