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!

YOU can make an impact- Let Congress Hear Your Voice

 

Stop modern slavery and human trafficking today- ask your friends and family to do the same!

Right now, Congress has a reputation for not doing much but they’re staying busy with human trafficking. The House of Representatives will be voting on a bill and the Senate is voting on five bills that positively impact victims of trafficking and try to hinder the efforts of exploiters and traffickers.

It is critical that your representatives and senators hear your voice now on these bills.

We need your help!

How you can help:

1. Call your representatives and ask them to VOTE YES on H.R. 2283the Human Trafficking Prioritization Act

2. We’ve made it easy- Contact your senators with this quick form from Shared Hope International and ask them to VOTE YES on the 5 for Freedom!

Reach out to your neighbors, family and friends and ask them to contact their U.S. Representatives and Senators today.

The more noise we can make together, the closer we can be to ending human trafficking

and sex slavery.

 

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!
advocacy@stopmodernslavery.org
Volunteer with our team on communications, blogs, training sessions, etc.!

Learn more about DC Stop Modern Slavery!
http://www.stopmodernslavery.org
http://www.meetup.org/wdcsms
http://www.facebook.org/dcsms

 

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!

 

“3 AM Girls” Film Viewing with DC-SMS at Asbury Church

Commodity. Supply. Demand. Slavery.

These are the words I was left to ponder after the conclusion of the Courtney’s House and DC-SMS coordinated viewing of “3 AM Girls,” a documentary of a sex trafficking strip in Washington DC. The use of economic terms in regards to people seems too distanced and dehumanizing. But perhaps this distance is exactly the eerie and uncomfortable point that needs to be made. There was one study, mentioned by a Courtney House representative, that showed that most male “Johns” who participated in the study truly believe that every guy buys sex. The fact that buying forced sex, particularly from minors, could be perpetuated as a part of our culture is scary. This fear was voiced by several of the audience members who also wanted to know, “What can we do?”

What can you do? These were my main take-aways from the film and the Q&A:

First, be careful with the language you use. Prostitution is not the same as trafficked people and the distinction is important whether you’re talking to law enforcement or your next door neighbor. Second, educate yourself, your family, and your community. Raising awareness and staying informed about how to recognize human trafficking and who to call is by far the most effective, community tool to combat human trafficking. Finally, though the film focused on child sex trafficking, the representatives from Courtney House stressed the important point that sex trafficking is only one type of human trafficking, as well as the fact trafficking is not gender-blind; boys and girls, women and men could all possibly fall victim to human trafficking.

Adult Services Ads Support Human Trafficking

Even though Craigslist shut down their adult services on both their US and international pages, many other web sites still provide a convenient and easy way for the continuation of trafficking.

Sites such as Craigslist provide a way for pimps to post women, men and even children for exploitation. Pictures of those being trafficked are typically posted in the adult services section, often listing the cost and what services were being offered to any customer willing to pay.  This has allowed for a massive flow of online sexual exploitation: those engaging in the trafficking of underage men and women will not even have to leave their home to post a victim online.

If you were to look at these ads you might not even know that the people posted were being forced to perform sexual acts for the profit of someone else.  While Craigslist did take the first steps to stop assisting this trend, there are many other websites that continue to turn a blind eye to the practice.

While the introduction of aggressive new law enforcement measures and concerned citizen outreach has begun to put pressure on these web sites, many still continue to operate their adult services with a measure of impunity. Public and legal action that forced Craigslist to close their adult forum was indeed a success, however, proving that as long as there are people out there willing to fight against online human trafficking – while it may be one website at a time – victory is certainly achievable.

Craigslist Says it Shut Down U.S. Adult Services for Good (Washington Post)

Craigslist Controversy Continues: Adult Services Still Offered Just Across Border in Canada (ABC News)

Adult Services Censored on Craigslist (CNN)

Craigslist Removes Commercial Sex Ads from International Sites (Change.org)

Submitted by Charlotte Buscher

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!

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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.