Read Samantha’s blog post here:
Every single day we are inundated with Donald Trump and his government cohorts and goons. There is not a single moment that goes by that we are not being told of some obstruction of justice or cover-up concerning the current regime. I say regime because we are not living in a democracy anymore and I fear that we never will again. So far we have seen egregious executive orders targeting immigrants and minorities, a total annihilation of healthcare and women’s issues and discriminatory travel bans that are damaging the United States image all over the world.
And now, as if things couldn’t possibly get worse, it does. Ivanka Trump the daughter of the man who is destroying,well basically everything, is now tackling the issue of human trafficking. This is a woman who says that if a person perceives something to be true and it’s not, just let them believe it if it works in your favor. Really? So are we to perceive that you know everything that there is about human trafficking simply because you are appointed to a position, that you’re not getting paid for mind you, because it makes you look like you care and you want to “empower” women? Seriously? All you’ve shown us is “Daddy’s Girl” privilege and fake empathy towards women who are struggling. The blindness by Ivanka herself to her father’s misogyny towards women is mind boggling.
There is however one thing Ivanka is educated on, it’s grooming. When a young woman falls victim to trafficking by someone she loves and trusts she is ‘groomed” to do the will of her trafficker. In Ivanka case she has been groomed to make her father look like a progressive, smart, educated business man who wants nothing but to see women succeed. So she is paraded around, much like a victim, saying and doing everything she has been told while telling women she wants to empower them. Conversely when victims are paraded around they are told to make the men who buy them believe that they want to be doing this and they love it and it’s a way to make money. They NEVER see any of the money by the way, their trafficker takes all of it. Ivanka is not getting paid for ANYTHING she doing. Strange right?
If this “political coalition” they’ve put together for Ivanka is going to succeed, they need survivor voices. There must be an understanding of the current legislation on the issue and the needs of survivors. The only people who know what’s good for survivors ARE survivors. Building a coalition of people who have no clue about this issue and probably have never met a real survivor is extremely dangerous for women and girls that are caught up in this. Once again the Trump Regime has managed to undercut and destroy women’s basic human rights of humanity at it’s core.
Human trafficking is a $150 billion industry and it looks like the Trump Regime wants to keep it that way. Sad.
It’s not a surprise that organizations working on the issue of human trafficking are in dire need of funding. But when that comes at the expense of the survivors you are claiming to help, there is a troubling disconnect. Another troubling aspect is that organizations want their name out there and in order to do that they must reveal the survivor and rework the story to benefit their advocacy and ability to fundraise. What was a story about a relationship gone very wrong turns into organized crime and international discourse. All of this is sprinkled with coaching on behalf of the organization to help the survivor say the right things to make them look good. All of this amounts to re-exploitation and re-victimization for the young woman who gets nothing out of it.
Let’s start by acknowledging that no organization or NGO can be a one stop shop for all survivors. It is literally impossible. But so many claim that they can only to fall short in so many areas. There isn’t one ‘Super Organization” or “Super NGO” that can do it all making it obsolete for any collaboration. And what about the survivor? She in the spotlight-15 minutes of fame in front of the camera, sometimes not realizing she’s being re-exploited. A image that’s worthy of a runway photo shoot complete with hair and makeup-or worse -a video. But at the end of all that, was it worth it? Her story laid bare with glaring inconsistencies, boasting empowerment and freedom with a new life and mended family ties. Even with all of that, the man or men that are accused of trafficking her are out there not yet caught and prosecuted. Where is her safety? They see her face and read the article and see that they are implicated in this crime. How is this okay?
Survivors deserve better and they deserve to be protected. The pettiness, cattiness and competitiveness of organizations needs to stop. There are no Oscars or Academy awards for best Founder, CEO or Executive Director of an organization or NGO. So why are they acting like they’re in Hollywood? It looks like another sequel to “Mean Girls”. It’s not a popularity contest. I would also like to point out that it’s not just women but men who “claim” to be helping survivors, whether they’ve started their own organization or are working for an existing one, re-exploit and re-victimize survivors too. They also want to put themselves in the competitive arena that we call “Women’s Human Rights”. I guess there’s money to be made while being a “good humanitarian” and “progressive male”.
There must be transparency not only with funding but with the well being and care giving of survivors. There are people out there who are giving and truly believe they are making a difference. They trust that the organization whom they are donating to is doing the right thing and getting these women and girls the best help possible. They don’t see what’s REALLY happening and the organizations make sure they don’t. We need to be asking the right questions we must demand safety and protection for survivors because if this doesn’t happen stopping human trafficking will be just as big of a business as human trafficking itself.
In our current world of executive orders and immigration bans where do survivors of human trafficking fit in? They seem to be caught up in both of these scenarios. Trying to work to provide for themselves can be risky for them if they are still on the waiting list for a T or U visa. How are they identified when ICE comes in? An immigrant, a criminal, here illegally NOT making America great again. With all of the education and awareness that is being done even with law enforcement, survivors are still not being identified, unless of course an actual trafficking ring is being investigated and even then….. How did we take ten steps back in protecting survivors?
It starts when a government doesn’t think that basic rights for women should be easily attainable. When women and girls begin to feel a deeper oppression, all of the safeguards that have been put in place to give them protection and rights begin to erode. Rolling back time to force a society to conform to a time when inequality and complete oppression of women and girls were the order of the day and men (White Men) were the ultimate superior race. The winds of change are suggesting a storm with catastrophic destruction and irreparable damage. The victims always, women and girls. Our weapons must be powerful, our resistance must be stronger.
One of the purposes of human trafficking is to look at women of any age as a commodity. They have no feelings, they have no humanity, therefore how can they possibly exist? They are something to be bought and sold and it is a scary thought that a government would feel the same way. What’s more unsettling is that they are categorizing them as common criminals using law enforcement to terrify and torture them. Keeping them in detention centers where they are ALWAYS at risk of being raped by a government officer or even tortured until they die-it depends on how the officers feels that day.
These are not things that people want to hear but they are happening. We are in a system that is spinning out of control and if you can’t hold on the blood in on you’re own hands. Survivors need extra protection, if they are waiting for legal status, papers, visas, work authorizations, they must have a pardon from the United States Government that shows they are a victim of human trafficking, however that looks like. This identification will help ICE know that these women and girls are not here illegally but that they are getting help and services and need to work. And even if they don’t have a work authorization they should at least be granted immunity. Arresting them and sending them back just re-traumatizes them making whatever progress that have made seem worthless. It also means that they could be re-trafficked again.
This doesn’t only stand for women and girls but also migrant workers who are labor trafficked into this country and are identified as such. In all labor sectors whether it’s, agricultural, restaurant industry, farms or street work (i.e. selling inexpensive DVDs or begging). There needs to be extra protections and immunity. These ICE raids and immigration bans are casting a blind net capturing a vulnerable population that thought they were being protected when in reality they are still being viewed as an undesirable.
This country has taken a frightening turn but we must still speak, advocate and fight for our basic freedoms and those that cannot fight for themselves. As the US heads towards marshall law and civil unrest, boots on the ground are still working and even if the government shuts us down we still keep working and never stop. Always keep your ID in hand and your basic human rights in your words.
We all want to be an adult when we’re children. Adults get to do the coolest things like, stay up late, eat ice cream before dinner and make their own decisions. But when we reach that adult stage, we want to regress back to our childhood because we realize that even though we get to do cool stuff, life is just too hard. Of course our parents walk with us and hold our hands while guiding us to a life of self sustainability and independence. There comes a time when the cord must be cut and we are on our own.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing but sometimes it becomes difficult to cut that cord when you’ve been so dependent on others for an extremely long time. When you’ve been denied providing for your own basic needs and having to rely on someone else to provide them. A person that has been in bondage to this and survived will have a very hard time breaking away. The first steps that are taken involve a program that will supply those needs-temporarily. Survivors are tied to a program that promises them continued support-that is until the money runs out or they have been aged out of the program. They have never known how to do for themselves, because they didn’t have to.
This is something that is very dangerous for a survivor of trafficking. If you empower them to move on and become a leader, you should also empower them to be independent and deal with life. It’s one thing to mentor a survivor but if you neglect to show them how to conduct themselves in certain situations or how to provide for themselves without expecting to get a handout, your work is in vain. There are too many survivors out there having a difficult time because they have not learned how to be self sustainable.
Beasister2asister provides nothing but programs to help survivors stay on the path of self sustainability. Sometimes there are programs that are just designed to be the first stepping stone to independence, and that is needed. However, if there is no aftercare that follows it will make the first program invalid. We work with survivors of different programs to provide that aftercare so that other programs can concentrate on the front line of healing. Both of these things do and should go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. We work with many survivors and we see the disservice that is being done to the survivors who are not encouraged to be a part of a self sustainable program, we also see the benefits of those who do go through our program and succeed. We are all in it for the same goal, to help survivors live a productive life filled with joy, peace and love. This can happen if we work as allies and not competitors.
We offer cooking courses a couple times per year to survivors. It’s incredibly fulfilling to watch women begin the class with nerves and little experience, and complete the course with confidence and feeling qualified to apply for work in the restaurant industry.
The Culinary Art program is fully funded by Freedom For All and at no cost to participants. Utensils and ingredients for the training are provided during the class. The participants will receive free public transportation (metro fare for 6 classes), $50 gift card and the certificate of completion. Participants will also receive future employment opportunities.
Angela Williams, the culinary program instructor is a graduate from The Art Institute of New York City in Culinary Art and Restaurant Management. She has seven years working in the hospitality industry. Additional instructors will be directly involved at the training center (commercial kitchen setting) They will teach the participants the essentials needed for future employment.
The classes take a field trip to the supermarket and purchase recipe ingredients. The participants will learn how to read recipes and follow instructions for food preparation, cooking, baking and table setting presentation.
Look at what they made in 2016! Looks delicious!
If you or someone you know is a survivor in need of employment assistance, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Let me start first by saying that I love Egypt! Truly I do. There is nowhere and I mean nowhere in the world like it. There is so much life happening around you it’s hard to feel alone or isolated. You can feel the love and hospitality as soon as you set foot in Cairo. I really couldn’t think of anyplace else I would want to start my international work than there.
Women in Egypt need to know their rights & take full advantage of them. No one should have to live a life of abuse & disrespect. We need to support our sisters.
A few of the highlights from the work started in Cairo:
- I was able to speak with women of various ages to empower them to speak up & speak out against sexual harassment & domestic violence.
- We worked with our partners in Egypt to bring healing and hope to many women and girls to educate & strengthen.
- We offered personal counseling; and ran workshops on self care, health & nutrition.
- We helped raise awareness and shared available resources on human trafficking, FGM (female genital mutilation), child brides, and domestic violence.
We are eager to return and continue our partnerships in Cairo, Egypt!
Beasister2asister is pround to have supported the Pivot Project, a ground breaking project created in 2014 in Washington. This project ia designed to reach women and girls who are trapped in sexual slavery and feel there is no way out. This is a feminine product that hides a very special message for those who are victims but it also offers hope and a way out. This discreetly packaged product looks like and other feminine product you would see at the drugstore or supermarket. It is individually wrapped to it can be easily distributed. We are currently in the process of fundrasing with our partners to put in an order and make New York City the pilot for this innovative creation. We will be working with service providers, safe havens, and community centers to disseminate the product to as many women and girls that are currently being trafficked or are at risk. Watch the tutorial here:
If you would like more information about the Pivot Project, please send an email to:
Immigration and Sexual Slavery
Many times we hear or see women and children being brought to the United States for the purpose of working in the commercial sex industry. This global multi-million dollar business not only oppresses its victims but puts an undue strain on the immigration system. Beasister2asister can reach out in a global way by recognizing the signs of someone who is brought here under false pretenses to work as a sex slave. Here are some indicators from Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security:
1. Does the victim possess identification and travel documents? If not, who has control of these documents?
2. Did the victim travel to a destination country for a specific job or purpose and is victim engaged in different employment than expected?
3. Is victim forced to perform sexual acts as part of employment?
4. Is the victim a juvenile engaged in commercial sex?
5. Does the victim owe money to an employer or does the employer hold wages?
6. Did the employer instruct the victim on what to say to law enforcement or immigration officials?
7. Can the victim freely leave employment or the situation?
8. Are there guards at work/harboring site or video cameras to monitor and ensure no one escapes?
9. Does the victim have freedom of movement? Can they freely contact family and friends? Can they socialize or attend religious services?
These are all questions we should familiarize ourselves with, this is a global outreach campaign in the sense that we can be the whistle blowers for these women and children who are brought here through the immigration system to be treated like animals and slaves to their captors. We can also fight for the freedom of the victims and ensure that their rights and needs are met.
We call on women all over the globe to come together through outlets like social media, art, music, and cinema to stand together as sisters. Especially in times of war and conflict when women and girls are the most vulnerable and victimized. Do not allow governments and state policy to dictate how you should treat one another, this is weapon that used all too many times. Our unity will show that we are stronger than that. Our voice will continue to speak out against injustice done to women and girls around the world including the United States.