Hope for the Holidays


Join DC SMS, Love 146, and the Clarendon Ballroom as we present “Hope for the Holidays”! Experience the season of giving with this special celebration featuring food, drinks, and entertainment while crossing off your holiday shopping list with survivor-made goods. The funds raised from this event will support local anti-trafficking organizations.

Click here to register, start a team, sponsor, donate, share! 

Registration Levels

Abolitionist () – Event entry, hors d’oeuvres, two drink tickets 

Abolitionist Jr. () – Event entry, hors d’oeuvres **For those under 21 years old** 

Sponsorship Levels

Basic Sponsorship (0) – includes logo featured on marketing materials and during the event

Table Sponsorship (0) – includes logo featured on marketing material and reserved table at the event 

Take Action Today to End Demand

Contact your DC Council Member and let them know that you support ending demand in DC.

DC Stop Modern Slavery has introduced the End Demand law to DC City Council and now we need YOU to let them know that DC residents want to put an End to Demand.

The End Demand campaign seeks to strengthen consequence for the buyers of sex with minors in Washington, DC:

  • Distinguish between consequences for purchasing sex with an adult versus sex with a minor;
  • Eliminate the “mistake of age” defense so that buyers/renters of youths’ bodies cannot get away with saying that they thought the minors were over the age of 18;
  • People convicted under the new subsection shall be required to register as sex offenders – this goes for the traffickers as well as those who are the renters/buyers.  They will also face longer jail time and much larger fines.

Join us as we put an End to Demand and the sexual exploitation of DC’s youth!

Join Norma at The Finish Line on Sunday at noon!

  • Norma and DC SMS

    Sunday, May 4th at 12 PM next to the Smithsonian Metro Stop in Washington, DC

    We will be on the National Mall between 8th and 12th Streets NW with the Cinco de Mayo Celebration.

    Dear DC SMSers and Be Relentless supporters,

    Thank you so much for showing interest in Norma Bastidas and the Be Relentless film crew as we arrive to Washington D.C. on Sunday, May 4th at noon on the National Mall (between 8th and 12th Street). This message contains information on how to get involved, stay connected, and be an integral part of the grand finale as we celebrate reaching the finish line of the world’s longest triathlon in your town!

    Norma Bastidas, survivor of sexual violence, abuse and attempted human trafficking, is currently on the last leg of her record-breaking triathlon. She began her journey of 3,700 miles swimming, biking and running through Mexico and the U.S. on March 1. Her goal is to prove that anything is possible and to inspire and encourage people to take a stand against human trafficking here and everywhere. Be Relentless is the bilingual, feature-length documentary currently following and recording every step of her journey. The film, which will premiere late 2014/early 2015, will capture the stories of Norma, other survivors, activists, politicians, prosecutors, after-care specialists, as well as the thousands of victims who are transported along Norma’s triathlon route into the U.S. to be sold as slaves. Norma’s story of survival, hope and determination will draw people everywhere in join the fight against human trafficking and you can be a part of it!

    Here’s how you can join:

    1. Stay in the loop:
    Join our Constant Contact email list to stay up-to-date with news on our arrival and learn how you can be a part of the Be Relentless movement. As some important details are still being determined, please sign up to stay current on Norma’s arrival information.

    *VIEW THE DC FINISH LINE PAGE & SIGN UP HERE: http://berelentless.iempathize.org/dc-finish-line/

    2. Share your support: Like iEmpathize on Facebook and help us get to 6,000 followers before we reach D.C. & follow @BeRelentlessMov and @UltraRunWild on Twitter. Share this message with your friends, families, neighbors and colleagues.

    3. Donate your support:
    Sponsor a mile at GoNorma.org and inspire others to do the same.

    4. Wear your support: Buy your Be Relentless T-shirt (proceeds directly benefit the film, which directly benefits survivors).

    5. Run and support: Pledge to run the last 3 miles with Norma and cross the finish line with her on May 4th. Runners will meet near the Arlington Cemetery Metro Station on the Virginia side of the Arlington Bridge.

    *SIGN UP TO RUN WITH NORMA HERE and invite others to join as well!

    This project has already proved it has tremendous potential for sparking social change and growing the army of people everywhere who are combating this human rights violation that happens in every country across the world. Won’t you join us in fighting for the countless victims and survivors?

    -Brad Riley
    Founder/President of iEmpathize
    Producer/Director of Be Relentless, an iEmpathize campaign

    ***DC SMS is privileged to support the Be Relentless campaign and iEmpathize, as it is to support all anti-trafficking stakeholders in and around the DC area.


End Demand Campaign: Sitting Down with Cindy Gustafson

Cindy Gustafson is no stranger to standing up for what she believes. In the 1990s, after learning about the issues that lead to prostitution, she worked with her police department and community members to close down the largest strip club in her county. It was then that Cindy got her first glimpse into the world of human trafficking.

Years later, when Cindy retired in DC, she realized that first glimpse had stayed with her. “I remember seeing the ages of prostitutes getting lower and lower”, she says, recalling when she first volunteered with DC Stop Modern Slavery. “I started coming to meetings and learning about how huge an issue this is.”

Cindy has since been with DC Stop Modern Slavery for four years, and is currently leading  the Advocacy Team in its End Demand Campaign.  The campagn is forming a coalition of local community members, anti-trafficking NGOS and other supporters to lobby the D.C. City Council to strengthen D.C. anti-trafficking law.  In particular, the campaign seeks to strengthen the Demand Laws that affect the buyers of sex, known as “johns.”  Once these laws are strengthened, the campaign will focus on helping ensure they are fully enforced.

“The lesson I learned was it always comes back to the buyer.

If there is no demand, you don’t need a supply.

Cindy Gustafson, Advocacy Team Leader
Cindy Gustafson, Advocacy Team Leader

Currently the laws have minimal penalties for purchasing sex from an adult, or even a minor. Cindy has spoken to police officers who have told her that, if they pick up a john on Monday morning, there is a good chance that they will pick up that same john again on Tuesday, and perhaps again on Wednesday—all for the same reason. The current laws are not reducing demand.

The goal of the End Demand Campaign is to end demand for human trafficking in our nation’s capital through a three part plan: 1) Inform the community, 2) Reach city council members, and 3) Change municipal legislation.

If the changes proposed by the End Demand Campaign were to pass, along with being required to register as a sex offender on the first conviction and potential asset forfeiture, a buyer’s name and photo would be posted in newspapers and the internet, and the individual would receive both longer jail time and much larger fines.  The increased fines would then be used for victim services. These proposed changes are supported by research that shows that 72% to 83% of johns would be deterred from buying sex if penalties were increased.

Louisiana, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington have all introduced demand laws to their legislatures – Washington, D.C. would not be the first to do so. All of these demand laws have been modeled after a law that dramatically curbed the demand for human trafficking, the Swedish Kvinnofrid law. We will discuss more about this law in further detail in our next blog post.

We need YOU to help the END DEMAND Campaign!
Learn more about the human trafficking issue!
Are you a D.C. resident? Contact DC-SMS, tell us your Ward number or your address
so we may add you to our roster of End Demand Campaign Supporters.
We will then be able to contact you when it is time to lobby your City Council Representatives to end Demand!
Volunteer with our team on communications, blogs, training sessions, etc.!

Learn more about DC Stop Modern Slavery!


Nefarious: Merchant of Souls – Film Viewing

As National Slavery and Human Trafficking Month (January, initiated by President Obama in December 2011) came to a close, DC-SMS and CapCity College at George Washington University teamed up for a film viewing of the documentary Nefarious: Merchant of Souls.

I was drawn in by the humility of the filmmakers; their purpose was to learn about a topic in which they were not experts, rather to present or lecture. Through interviews, the documentary provided an impressive interweaving of perspectives – survivors, families, ex-traffickers, journalists and researchers, psychologists, and activists, to name a few. Bit by bit, we followed the team as they began to unravel the mystery of modern slavery.

They began in Moldova, a smaller Eastern European country located between Ukraine and Romania, often considered to be the epicenter of human trafficking. The team then moved on to the red light district of Amsterdam, where prostitution is legal; but as they discover, legality is sometimes hard to recognize through a store window. The film switched gears for a bit to southeast Asia, specifically in Thailand and Cambodia, where they learned more about family-fueled human trafficking situations. Nefarious brought it home to Las Vegas, U.S.A., for the next section, emphasizing important similarities and distinctions between human trafficking in the United States versus other countries they had explored. To wrap it up, the film briefly highlighted Sweden, where the purchase of prostitution was criminalized in 1999.

Here are a few points, statistics, or anecdotes that struck me while watching Nefarious:

  • Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry. It is profitable second only to drugs.
  • Wherever the filmmakers went, they encountered girls trafficked from Eastern Europe.
  • In Amsterdam, 60% of prostituted women report being physically assaulted.
  • Industries need two things to survive: money and government (or some form of authoritative) support. Where human trafficking thrives, it has both.
  • In regards to human trafficking, is poverty certainly a correlation but not necessarily causation.
  • In the United States, it was more common for women to admit they were lured by the glamour and prosperity of prostitution, and then later trapped in a trafficking spiral.
  • The average age of entry into sex trafficking in the United States is 12-14 years old.
  • The woman who sat next to me spoke with me briefly following the film and she shared that what surprised her the most was the statistics on parental complicity, particularly in Cambodia, where 80-90% of families sell their daughters as a source of income.

The film ended with a few William Wilberforce quotes that clearly meant a great deal to the filmmakers and the documentary’s message:

“If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.”

“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say you did not know.”


Overall, this was a successful event for both DC Stop Modern Slavery and CapCity. We had to find more chairs so people could sit down!


National Victims Rights Week April 10-16

The week of April 11th-17th is National Crime Victims Rights Week, also referred to as NCVRW.  Awareness of victims rights includes recognizing victims of human trafficking.  NCVRW was established by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) back in 1981, and has been a tradition ever since.

You can review OVCs calendar here, which provides locations all over the country that are speaking out about the rights for victims of crimes.  The purpose of NCVRW week is to help other communities in the U.S. establish fair’s, community events, give awards, and allow for speaking venues where people can be educated about victims rights.  The OVC website has everything that a community would need from a resource guide to multimedia tools to hold an event during this week.

OVC’s website also has a page dedicated solely to human trafficking.  Please check out this site and take a look at the publications and videos posted about modern day slavery.

Additional Information:

OVC on Human Trafficking

Global Centurion Hosting Walk Sign-Up Happy Hour

Global Centurion is hosting an event at the Mad Hatter on 1319 Connecticut Ave NW on Wednesday, October 20th from 6 to 9 PM to promote additional sign-ups for the DC Stop Modern Slavery Walk on October 23rd! One free drink will be given for those who have not yet signed up, and the entire upstairs area has been reserved for all attendees. Hope to see you all there!

Abolitionists Bike to Raise Trafficking Awareness

We at DC – Stop Modern Slavery are proud to announce today International Justice Mission’s 5 Weeks for Freedom campaign!

Led by Venture Expeditions, a non-profit organization devoted to supporting charitable work through cycling and climbing events, 5 Weeks will follow fifteen ordinary people from all over North America as they embark on an 1800-mile bike journey from Mobile, Alabama to Buffalo, New York to retrace the steps taken by slaves fleeing the pre-Civil War South on the Underground Railroad. While state-sponsoredslavery was abolished in this country long ago, few realize that the institution continues. The Underground Railroad will be used once again as a beacon of freedom, this time as a vehicle for showing the public the truth behind modern-day slavery.

The riders, Andrew Nelson, Brittney Andrist, Clara Caruthers, David Nanne, Deborah Go, Elien Bruex, Joanne Barrow, Kyle Reiter, Laura Ranieri, Lisa, Rudzik, Margie Gordner, Merry Chadwick, Michael Bowerman, Mike Barrow, and Nathanael Hostetter come from many different walks of life, backgrounds, and regions of this continent – in one case, coming from as far as Alaska. They are students, teachers, small business owners, nurses, and engineers, and they have all taken a break from their daily lives to engage in this unprecedented project to promote advocacy and awareness of the 27 million people who, today, cannot go home.

The serendipitous nature of the meeting between IJM and Venture Expeditions came down to the simple placement of information booths. At a recent Urbana – a faith-based student ministry to encourage and support positive world change – conference the two booths of each organization were situated next to one another. As one began speaking to the other, the first glimmers of what would become 5 Weeks for Freedom began to emerge.

The riders for 5 Weeks will be followed by GPS to eight stops along their route, including Birmingham, Alabama; Nashville, Tennessee; Louisville, Kentucky; and the cities of Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland, Ohio, where events will include concerts, rallies, speeches, and screenings of the documentary At the End of Slavery. During their journey, each of the fifteen biking abolitionists will record their thoughts, impressions, and hopes as they come across what will surely be thousands of people and discuss the existence and prevalence of the human slave trade.

“We want to capture people’s hearts,” Daniel Li, Senior Developer and Web Strategist of the IJM explained during a recent interview. “So many people [out there] don’t know that there are 27 million slaves.” With his own interest in ending modern day slavery beginning with the help he provided his sister in establishing a campus charter for slavery awareness and outreach work, Li will be accompanying the riders along the way on what is one of IJM’s “largest projects initiated to date… (Using the Underground Railroad) is a great way to tangibly access the history of America’s abolitionist movement to make a difference again.”

As the campaign draws to a close in July, we will be back with further information and interviews with the freedom riders about their experiences from the field and the IJM’s upcoming push to establish an easy-to-implement house gathering kit for abolitionists to screen the At the End of Slavery documentary to their family and friends.

We wish the riders a safe and exciting journey, and we look forward to the stories of your experiences!


For those of you interested in attending a 5 Weeks for Freedom event in one of the above listed cities, or if you would like more information on the participants, please check out the campaign’s website at www.fiveweeksforfreedom.org

For more information on the International Justice Mission, check out IJM’s web page here.

The trailer for and more information on the documentary film, At the End of Slavery, can be seen here.

Venture Expeditions is committed to humanitarian support through the mobilization for cycling and climbing tours. Their website can be viewed here.