The Relentless Re-exploitation of Survivors

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.

 

 

 

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ICE & Survivors

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.

 

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Survivors Must Deal With “Life” In Order To Succeed

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.

 

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Letting our voices be heard! 

Much love to the Cabrini Shrine for letting me speak at the Mass for St. Josephine Bakhita, this is truly a spiritual collaboration ❤️ also many thanks to Abraham & his high school class for taking time out of their Saturday to come & learn about Humantrafficking. 

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2016 Cooking Courses

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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!

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If you or someone you know is a survivor in need of employment assistance, email us at: info@beasister2asister.org

 

 

 

 

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Working In Cairo

imageimageimageimageimageimageIn October Be a Sister traveled to Cairo, Egypt; to offer support and start a new partnership.

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!

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Pivot Project

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:

http://publicpractice.org/wp/?page_id=15

If you would like more information about the Pivot Project, please send an email to:

info@beasister2asister.org

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Immigration & Slavery – You can help!

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.

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Bring Back Our Girls – You can help!

On April 14th 2014, 270+ girls were kidnapped from The Chibok Government Secondary School by Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria. Exactly 1 year later on April 14th, 2015 we came together with our Nigerian sisters and made a call to the Nigerian Embassy to Bring Back Our Girls!!!! We are hopeful that the current government in Nigeria will do just that. We continue to stand with them and use social media to keep the fight going and the movement growing.

Go to the Bring Back Our Girls Website:

www.bringbackourgirls.us

Contact the US Government

WHITE HOUSE: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/write-or-call#call
SENATORS: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
CONGRESSMAN: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
STATE DEPARTMENT: Tweet @johnkerry

Send them a letter:

“Dear [name of leader],

On April 14th, 2014, one year ago, over 276 school girls were kidnapped from their dormitory by the terrorist group Boko Haram. These girls were studying for their exams and in the middle of the night armed men ripped them from their beds. Educated girls will save the world and now we must save them. The future of Nigeria and the world depends on the rescue of all of these girls and the stabilization of the country.

It is unconscionable for World leaders to be silent any longer. We want you to demand that the Nigerian Government take action and rescue the Chibok girls NOW.

Sincerely,
[Your name] (Your Organization)”

Start your own Rally

Help organize a rally/march in your city, email info@bringbackourgirls.us

Message us with the specific location, date, and time you would like to hold a rally, and we will help you to organize and promote. Check out our past events to help figure out how to plan yours.

If you provide us with the info below, we will start an event for you, and promote it:

A. Choose Date, Time, Location. A date that is within the next 5 days is best.

B. Send an email with all the information. We will create an event page and help promote via facebook and on this site. We have visual images that you can use as posters. SEE BELOW.

C. Tell all of your friends to join you in sharing it over social media.

D. Ask people to WEAR RED.

Share this with your friends!

Share the news about the girls with your friends. Keep talking about this issue until all of the girls are rescued. We need to let the media and our world leaders know that we will not stop until these girls are home safely

Download the Bring Back Our Girls poster and handouts. Make them your profile picture on Facebook and Twitter to help raise awareness and get your friends involved. Help keep the call-to-action going. Stay vocal and raise awareness!

Sign the petition:

http://en.minguo.info/wiki/forgotten/schoolgirls/petitions

Twitter Hashtags: #BringBackOurGirls #Stopthekilling

 

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Ladies, We Must Stop Saying “Those Women”

In the United States women and girls are free to get an education and have a career of their choosing whereas women and girls in other countries are not that fortunate. But why is it that when a woman or young girl is seen working in the Sex Industry in the U.S. we assume it was all her choice and that perhaps it’s a viable job? Look, I know a girl’s gotta eat but why does she have to sell herself to do so? In a country that boasts to be the leader of democracy and freedom for all why would a woman resort to this and why do some of us find that acceptable? The oldest profession? You mean the oldest OPPression. Believe it or not ladies these women are just like us-seriously. They have hopes and dreams, they want a future possibly a husband and a family and yes they want an education and a career. I know it’s hard to believe but not any one of us were made to be used in this way.

There are several factors that may play into how a woman or young girl finds herself in this seedy, sleazy industry. The first one is incest. Incest can start at a very young age where a child doesn’t know right from wrong and is doing what the adult is telling them to do all the while making them believe it is acceptable. This adult could be a parent, the father who consumes large amounts of pornography where very young girls are consistently violated, or a close family member. This can cause the young girl to become promiscuous, through no fault of her own, and look for validation through sexual acts. She will also be desensitized to dehumanizing or violent sex acts because they were embedded in her via porn and the actual act itself. The second is emotional and mental trauma. Mental illness has become a topic of discussion in the United States and it affects large numbers of women and young girls. Bipolar Disorder claims the lives of young women before the age of 25. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is know to cause havoc with emotions and dysfunctional behavior, two of the most dangerous behaviors are unsafe sex and substance abuse. There’s also suicidal thoughts and intense mood swings. That doesn’t sound like a person who can make good life choices. The third factor is economic instability commonly known as extreme poverty. Contrary to popular belief there are young women out there in this country who are not able to get an education or a decent job through no fault of their own. With hungry children and no place to live you can be sure a bad decision will be made for the sake not being impoverished. This is also attributed to major cuts in social programs that help women, especially single moms get on their feet. Cam anyone say third world country? The fourth thoroughly insidious factor is the force, fraud and coercion of women and girls trafficked and sold as sex slaves in every facet of the sex industry, everywhere possible. Brothels, Strip Clubs, on the Tracks (the Streets), Hotels, Male house parties, etc.

And the last but most important factors all together but equally disturbing are: Misygony, sexual harassment and abuse, violence and sexual violence against women and girls and a growing hate for women as a whole. The numbers are in ladies, from the 2016 presidential election to your friendly religious leaders and society at large. So my question is, if we have all of this against us, why are we against each other? By deeming it okay that a woman is “allegedly” selling herself or is “willingly” in the sex industry and that it’s work just like anything else is the most dangerous and destructive attitude we could possibly have. If we continue to make these viable solutions for women and girls, that’s where they will be told to go instead of an education and a career. There is no such thing as “Those Women” they’re our girls and we need to fight for them and ourselves because realistically the way they are looked at, we are all looked at the same way.

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