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!

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.

From the UK: Girl, 14, forced to be prostitute in Greater Manchester

A 14-year-old was forced into prostitution and sexually abused by a series of men after going missing from her home in Greater Manchester.

Nine men were convicted in connection with the abuse, which took place in February and March 2008.

The girl, described as vulnerable, was “used as a commodity” for sexual activity with the men, police said.

Supt Paul Savill, of Greater Manchester Police (GMP), said she had been through an “absolutely horrifying ordeal”.

Police said the girl, who first went missing on 16 February 2008, had been abused by a number of different men “as she went from one vulnerable situation to another”.

In each case the men identified her vulnerability to take advantage of her.

In a statement issued following the convictions, the girl said: “These people exploit young girls, introduce them to prostitution, feed them drugs and alcohol and tell them they love them.

To read more, please follow this link to the BBC article.