Shared Hope International http://sharedhope.org Leading a worldwide effort to eradicate sexual slavery...one life at a time Tue, 26 Aug 2014 21:59:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 USA Today – Study: Soliciting Sex from Minor Nets Little Prison Time http://sharedhope.org/2014/08/25/usa-today-study-soliciting-sex-minor-nets-little-prison-time/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=usa-today-study-soliciting-sex-minor-nets-little-prison-time http://sharedhope.org/2014/08/25/usa-today-study-soliciting-sex-minor-nets-little-prison-time/#respond Mon, 25 Aug 2014 18:01:57 +0000 http://sharedhope.org/?p=8285 “PHOENIX — The crime of soliciting sex from a minor in Arizona carries a sentence of up to 24 years behind bars, but a Phoenix suspect convicted of the crime should more realistically expect a term of three months, according to a new study released by anti-sex-trafficking group Shared Hope International and Arizona State University. The outcome [...]

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“PHOENIX — The crime of soliciting sex from a minor in Arizona carries a sentence of up to 24 years behind bars, but a Phoenix suspect convicted of the crime should more realistically expect a term of three months, according to a new study released by anti-sex-trafficking group Shared Hope International and Arizona State University.

The outcome for a Phoenix convict hovers around the average when compared with the sentences of counterparts nationwide. The median actual time served in D.C.-Baltimore for soliciting sex from a minor was 180 days, 14 days in Portland and 88.5 days in Seattle.”

None of those studied was charged with a sex-trafficking crime.

The study’s results indicate judicial leniency for a crime that is responsible for fueling the sex-trafficking market, said Linda Smith, president and founder of Shared Hope International.

“The research shows that when they’re arrested … at state level, that they’re not facing the full force of the law,” Smith said.

FULL STORY  - Study: Soliciting Sex from Minor Nets Little Prison Time

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#DemandingJustice – Help us Share the News http://sharedhope.org/2014/08/22/demandingjustice-badges/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=demandingjustice-badges http://sharedhope.org/2014/08/22/demandingjustice-badges/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 23:33:48 +0000 http://sharedhope.org/?p=8229 On August 25, Shared Hope International is releasing the Demanding Justice Project Report and an interactive website featuring our research on demand. The Demanding Justice Project is a research and advocacy initiative designed to promote deterrence of demand for commercial sex with children through increased attention and advocacy on demand enforcement. The research report documents [...]

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On August 25, Shared Hope International is releasing the Demanding Justice Project Report and an interactive website featuring our research on demand. The Demanding Justice Project is a research and advocacy initiative designed to promote deterrence of demand for commercial sex with children through increased attention and advocacy on demand enforcement. The research report documents the outcomes of federal and state arrests, charges and prosecutions of buyers of sex acts with children.

The findings of this research will inform advocacy efforts to strengthen anti-demand legislation and enforcement and will be featured on our new website at www.demandingjustice.org. The Demanding Justice Project website will allow you to read this groundbreaking research, see who is buying sex with children in your state, and exposes high profile buyers who are celebrities, athletes, and politicians, among others. This is where you come in. Please consider announcing the release of www.demandingjustice.org with us. This page contains a press kit and social media badges so you can join us in a show of overwhelming solidarity against demand for commercial sex with youth in the United States.  Please join us to Demand Justice! Here’s what you can do:

  • Display a #DemandingJustice badge on your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram profiles for a day on August 25.
  • Use your social media to announce the Demanding Justice Project and join hundreds of other voices across the anti-trafficking movement by supporting our Thunderclap, a social media crowd-speaking platform that helps us proclaim in a unified voice that demand must be stopped.
  • Forward our press release to your news contacts.
  • Share www.demandingjustice.org when we go live on August 25th!

Thank you for being an ally in the effort to eradicate the market force that fuels sex trafficking and victimizes the vulnerable. Together we can defeat demand. We are #DemandingJustice. Are you? 

Display #demandingjustice badges & suggested text for social media on August 25

Download All Images 

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Buyers who Purchase Sex Acts with Minors are Subject of New Study by Shared Hope International http://sharedhope.org/2014/08/18/buyers-who-purchase-sex-acts-with-minors-are-subject-of-new-study/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=buyers-who-purchase-sex-acts-with-minors-are-subject-of-new-study http://sharedhope.org/2014/08/18/buyers-who-purchase-sex-acts-with-minors-are-subject-of-new-study/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 21:27:27 +0000 http://sharedhope.org/?p=8128 Shared Hope International, Arizona State University Release Findings of New Study on Buyers of Sex with Children PRESS RELEASE PHOENIX, ARIZONA – According to a new study which will be released on August 25 by Shared Hope International, in partnership with Arizona State University, buyers who purchased sex acts with minors are avoiding sex trafficking [...]

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Shared Hope International, Arizona State University Release Findings of New Study on Buyers of Sex with Children

PRESS RELEASE

PHOENIX, ARIZONA – According to a new study which will be released on August 25 by Shared Hope International, in partnership with Arizona State University, buyers who purchased sex acts with minors are avoiding sex trafficking charges. The Demanding Justice Report documents the criminal justice outcomes of buyers, with the ultimate goal of identifying gaps in anti-demand law enforcement in order to generate creative solutions to develop effective strategies to combat demand. The report explores national trends in the enforcement of anti-demand laws. The research also tracks 134 cases from arrest to sentencing in four target locations (Phoenix, AZ; Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; and Baltimore, MD/Washington, D.C.) to determine whether buyers are being sentenced to the fullest extent of the law. On the corresponding campaign website, www.demandingjustice.org, users can view convicted buyers in their state and take action to combat demand.

Demanding Justice Report and Campaign Website Release Press Conference

August 25 | 11:30 am MST
Burton Barr Central Library
1221 N. Central Ave., 85004

Speakers:

  1. Congresswoman Linda Smith (1995-99), President and Founder, Shared Hope International
  2. U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, United States Attorney for the District of South Dakota
  3. Commander James Gallagher, Phoenix Police Department and Associate Director of Research Innovation, Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research at Arizona State University
  4. Prof. Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, Director, Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research at Arizona State University
  5. Sex trafficking survivor and advocate

All speakers will be available for individual interviews immediately following the press conference from 12:00-12:30 pm MST.

On August 26, Shared Hope International, in partnership with AZPOST, is hosting a training for law enforcement officers and prosecutors on how to investigate and prosecute the buyer in child sex trafficking crimes.

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Feds Seize Myredbook.com, Threatening Online Facilitators of Sex Trafficking http://sharedhope.org/2014/07/08/feds-seize-myredbook-com-threatening-online-facilitators-sex-trafficking/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feds-seize-myredbook-com-threatening-online-facilitators-sex-trafficking http://sharedhope.org/2014/07/08/feds-seize-myredbook-com-threatening-online-facilitators-sex-trafficking/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 16:18:58 +0000 http://sharedhope.org/?p=7795 The dirty business of child sex trafficking is rapidly migrating to the Internet, due  to the accessibility and anonymity of websites like Craigslist.com, Backpage.com, and Myredbook.com that allow ads for “adult services.” It is well known that these ads mask child and adult sexual exploitation and that big money is being made. Advocates like Shared [...]

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The dirty business of child sex trafficking is rapidly migrating to the Internet, due  to the accessibility and anonymity of websites like Craigslist.com, Backpage.com, and Myredbook.com that allow ads for “adult services.” It is well known that these ads mask child and adult sexual exploitation and that big money is being made.

Advocates like Shared Hope International have railed against the injustice of the protections provided to online facilitators of sex trafficking through the federal Communications Decency Act (CDA) immunities that block civil actions by victims and preempt state criminal prosecutions.  Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) has repeatedly challenged Attorney General Holder to bring federal prosecutions against the online classified giant Backpage.com. Recently  Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO) introduced the SAVE Act and Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) is poised to drop his own version; both are intended to bring liability to online facilitators of child sex trafficking.

The dam may have broken!

Last week the FBI and the IRS shut down Myredbook.com – the fifth highest revenue generator from sex advertisements – while they investigate possible money laundering of cash gained from racketeering based on prostitution. Websites that promote prostitution create a dangerous platform for sex traffickers leaving trafficked children more hidden and vulnerable and drive the demand for sex actsDemand thrives on these websites.

This investigation may be a chink in the extensive armor these companies have built around themselves including  half-hearted efforts at self-regulation  as well as strident opposition to  victim compensation and state laws that would empower state prosecutors to stop trafficking in their own jurisdictions. The Justice Department, stymied from prosecuting these sites for trafficking due to evidence gaps, may have finally found a way to begin dismantling these criminal enterprises.

The reaction of one buyer of the sex acts being sold on these sites (as expressed on usasexguide.info) says it all: “Holy S**t. Look what happened. Try to click on myredbook.com.”

myredbook

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Not All Are Free http://sharedhope.org/2014/07/03/free/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=free http://sharedhope.org/2014/07/03/free/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 18:08:28 +0000 http://sharedhope.org/?p=7749 As a kid, I was always told that “America is a free country.” Every year, people in the United States take July 4th to commemorate the adoption of the declaration of independence in 1776. This moment in 1776 was truly remarkable, and it changed the course of history forever. Founded on the belief that all [...]

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Defender banner

As a kid, I was always told that “America is a free country.” Every year, people in the United States take July 4th to commemorate the adoption of the declaration of independence in 1776. This moment in 1776 was truly remarkable, and it changed the course of history forever. Founded on the belief that all people are created equal, and that all men had the right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness, our country separated itself from the Kingdom of Great Britain in order to truly pursue those values.

Equality. Freedom. Life. Happiness. Independence. These are all values that our country, from its very beginning, has believed in.

Unfortunately for us, every year at least 100,000 children are being robbed of those values. At the Defenders USA, we acknowledge that there is a $9.8 billion dollar industry out there that is robbing children of their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. At The Defenders USA, we are seeking to change that fact.

My name is Ethan Morrow, and I am a Defender with Shared Hope International. Tomorrow is the Fourth of July. I would like to invite you to not only celebrate that moment in history when we were granted independence, but to also acknowledge that even in our own free country, not all are truly free.

For the next few weeks, I want to invite you to join us in raising awareness for those that aren’t truly free. I want to invite you to support the restoration and the path to freedom that we seek to provide. In order to successfully do that, we invite you to do the following things:

  1. Today, we are posting an image and a link to download that image. Its message is simple. “Not All Are Free.” We would like to encourage you to print this out, and take a picture of yourself holding it. Then post it to social media, and tell all of your friends to do the same.
    Not All Are Free
  2. Get at least 7 men in your circle of influence to be on board with you. Have them take the Defenders pledge, and begin to engage with this as well.
  3. Engage with us on Social media. Every day for the next few weeks, we will be releasing new information, maybe some infographics, some videos, and blog content, and even some new challenges that you can participate in. Share that content. Last year, one of our most powerful state grade changes happened through social media advocacy. The more that you share our content with your family and your friends on social media, the more people are going to be aware that not all are free.

The United States is a fantastic country, but everyone needs to know… that not all are free. Join the cause, and engage with us today.

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Thank You Walt Schulcz http://sharedhope.org/2014/07/03/thank-walt-schulcz/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=thank-walt-schulcz http://sharedhope.org/2014/07/03/thank-walt-schulcz/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 16:42:53 +0000 http://sharedhope.org/?p=7747 We would like to take time this month to affirm and recognize a true Defender and an incredibly influential Ambassador of Hope.  Through his actions, Walt Schulcz has shown that he is a true Defender that brings a message of hope to all. Over time, Walt has influenced thousands of people. From schools to churches, [...]

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Defender banner

We would like to take time this month to affirm and recognize a true Defender and an incredibly influential Ambassador of Hope.  Through his actions, Walt Schulcz has shown that he is a true Defender that brings a message of hope to all. Over time, Walt has influenced thousands of people. From schools to churches, and individuals to small groups, Walt and his wife are committed to addressing the issue of domestic minor sex trafficking. Their work is incredible, and for that we are forever grateful. Let Walt be an example to us all.

Walt has shown us that any man can do something about human trafficking. Walt is the perfect example of a Defender who utilizes Shared Hope resources so that he can save the lives of those around him.

In just a small period of time, Walt and his wife have shown countless showings of the documentary Chosen (well over 20 presentations). In just one month alone, they showed the documentary to over 600 teens and adults. In this time, they also got Chosen into a school system for kids in 7th-12th grade. Walt is consistently thinking about how he can reach out and raise awareness about trafficking.

By showing so many screenings of Chosen, Walt has got into his “awareness groove” and he has created an effective presentation style that works for him. Walt is doing lots of effective communication as a result, and he is even working on getting Chosen into his local movie theater!

The list doesn’t end there, however. Walt has also helped identify potential victims of trafficking, he’s made relationships with school superintendents, he has presented to DHS workers—the list goes on and on.

Please, take the time to thank Walt today in the comments section of this blog. Walt, you are truly setting an example, and for that we are grateful. Together, with men like you, we can end the demand for domestic minor sex trafficking.

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Buyer Beware, Or Not. Operation Cross Country Slams Traffickers, Rescues Victims, But Where Are The Buyers? http://sharedhope.org/2014/06/26/buyer-beware-operation-cross-country-slams-traffickers-rescues-victims-buyers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=buyer-beware-operation-cross-country-slams-traffickers-rescues-victims-buyers http://sharedhope.org/2014/06/26/buyer-beware-operation-cross-country-slams-traffickers-rescues-victims-buyers/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 15:18:18 +0000 http://sharedhope.org/?p=7805 One of the most successful national operations targeting child sex trafficking was conducted by the FBI and local, state and federal law enforcement agencies as part of the week-long Operation Cross Country initiative to combat child sex trafficking. Under this initiative, 281 traffickers were arrested and 168 children were recovered. The most recent sting operation [...]

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cross-country-8-map

Source: http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2014/june/operation-cross-country/operation-cross-country

One of the most successful national operations targeting child sex trafficking was conducted by the FBI and local, state and federal law enforcement agencies as part of the week-long Operation Cross Country initiative to combat child sex trafficking. Under this initiative, 281 traffickers were arrested and 168 children were recovered. The most recent sting operation was the eighth of its kind and netted the most victims and perpetrators to date, bringing the lifetime total impact of this operation to 2,600 children rescued and 1,450 perpetrator convictions resulting in lengthy sentences and seizure of more than $3.1 million in assets. And while this operation remains a shining example of how 392 agencies in 106 cities can collectively work to disrupt illicit trafficking operations guised as, still illegal, prostitution businesses, buyers were not represented in official sting statistics. In fact, buyers were barely mentioned despite their role as the root cause for this crime.

The trafficking market follows the basic economic principles of supply and demand. As demand increases, so does supply. In the case of child sex trafficking, as demand for sex with children increases, traffickers strive to supply trafficking victims to those willing to pay. Many buyers operate on a common false assumption that the payment they make to the prostituted victim contributes to the victim’s financial well-being. False. A buyer’s payment is simply handed over to traffickers who use it as incentive to further victimize and exploit more children to meet the demand.

So why did buyers escape exposure for their arguably largest contribution to the crime? Online public buyer forums were abuzz with warnings of police activity in cities around the nation during the sting, sharing news and location information about law enforcement activity to help their mongering peers avoid criminal detection. These apparently invisible offenders seemed to have little to fear as they were a rare mention in operation reports. Perhaps law enforcement agencies prioritized the most imminent threat, traffickers. Or perhaps buyers went unreported due to their underestimated role in the crime. Whatever the reason, it was a major miss in the fight to end child sex trafficking. If the source of the crime is not addressed, it will continue to flourish. New traffickers will realize the economic potential in selling children. New children will be victimized to meet the demands of the buyer. The cycle of supply and demand will continue unabated until demand is recognized and prioritized as the most immediate threat to our nation’s children.

The FBI Innocence Lost Task Force Operation Cross Country initiative has had big wins in the fight against child sex trafficking. Add buyers to the operation focus and Operation Cross Country has the potential to be the anti-trafficking juggernaut, crushing the selling and buying that perpetuates the victimization of children through sex trafficking.

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SAVE Act Targets the Advertisement of Human Trafficking Victims http://sharedhope.org/2014/06/24/save-act-targets-advertisement-human-trafficking-victims/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=save-act-targets-advertisement-human-trafficking-victims http://sharedhope.org/2014/06/24/save-act-targets-advertisement-human-trafficking-victims/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 18:50:15 +0000 http://sharedhope.org/?p=7707 By: Eion Oosterbaan As its use becomes increasingly universal, the Internet has drastically changed the face of human sex trafficking.  Through this medium, criminals have found a way to expand their reach of influence while simultaneously reducing the risk of their detection by law enforcement to a significant extent.  Traffickers, or pimps, have taken their [...]

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By: Eion Oosterbaan

As its use becomes increasingly universal, the Internet has drastically changed the face of human sex trafficking.  Through this medium, criminals have found a way to expand their reach of influence while simultaneously reducing the risk of their detection by law enforcement to a significant extent.  Traffickers, or pimps, have taken their business operations from the streets to the online realm, openly advertising their victims as if they are items for sale on websites like Backpage.com and Craigslist.  This new practice has caused the selling of human beings for sex to become enormously profitable as human sex trafficking now generates $9.5 billion yearly in the United States.  With hundreds of potential buyers from all over the country viewing these ads daily, a trafficker can make anywhere from $150,000 – $200,000 per child victim in a given year.

SAVE-act2Even more surprising is the fact that websites earned a total of $45 million in revenue from prostitution advertising in the United States last year.  In the average month Backpage.com receives $4-$5 million from these types of ads, which often involve underage children.  Legitimate, legal, multimillion dollar corporations are currently profiting from criminal activity and the plight of trafficked children as they generally choose to ignore the fact that their services are facilitating these crimes.  It should be noted that not every corporation has disregarded this issue, however, as Google has recently made a highly publicized decision to remove all pornographic ads and links to sexually explicit websites from their services.

In order to limit the prevalence and profitability of human sex trafficking and to hold services like Backpage.com accountable, Congresswoman Ann Wagner and members of the Republican Task force on Human Trafficking in the 113th Congress have worked to create the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act (SAVE Act).  The SAVE Act seeks to criminalize the advertisement of commercial sex acts with minors and victims of human trafficking by amending Section 1591 of the Federal Criminal Code to include “advertising” to the types of conduct that constitute the crime of federal sex trafficking.  This act would effectively target the traffickers posting the ads in addition to the website organizations where the ads are posted.  The bill has already passed through the House of Representatives with overwhelmingly bipartisan support, and has just recently been introduced in the Senate.

The SAVE Act directly coincides with Shared Hope International’s current activity in its fight to eradicate human trafficking.  Shared Hope has taken a proactive approach to the issue of these illicit advertisements by using its resources to identify, track, and report instances of human trafficking activity on websites like Backpage.com.  The criminalization of human trafficking advertisements would significantly increase the impact of this work.  In addition, Shared Hope International’s Sex Trafficking Identification and Response Training would provide the necessary capacity to deal with these types of advertisements.

*Facts and statistics retrieved from the Family Research Council presentation on the SAVE Act at:

http://www.frc.org/eventregistration/pornography-and-sex-trafficking-stopping-online-advertisers-of-trafficking-victims-with-the-save-act

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My 6-Year-Old Daughter Introduced Me to Sex Trafficking http://sharedhope.org/2014/06/13/6-year-old-daughter-introduced-sex-trafficking/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=6-year-old-daughter-introduced-sex-trafficking http://sharedhope.org/2014/06/13/6-year-old-daughter-introduced-sex-trafficking/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 19:00:18 +0000 http://sharedhope.org/?p=7641 By: Gunnar Simonsen When my daughter was little she received $30 for her birthday that she could spend on whatever she wanted. Of course, we thought she would want to spend it on a stuffed animal or toy. But we were wrong. Very wrong. When her mom asked her what she wanted to spend it [...]

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By: Gunnar Simonsen

557686_10151082325734747_856822376_nWhen my daughter was little she received $30 for her birthday that she could spend on whatever she wanted. Of course, we thought she would want to spend it on a stuffed animal or toy.

But we were wrong. Very wrong.

When her mom asked her what she wanted to spend it on, she asked for the catalog we received from a non-profit humanitarian organization. It was the kind where you could purchase things like goats, chickens, food, and clothing for people in need throughout the world.

We figured she would want to buy some chickens for a family or clothing for a child, tangible items she was familiar with. But as she looked through the catalog, she kept turning the pages until she found what she was looking for.

What she did next, we’ll never forget.

She found the page she was looking for. She decided to spend her $30 to help girls and boys who had been rescued from sex trafficking.

She was 6 years old.

When asked why she chose to spend her money that way, she responded with “as an only child, these are the brothers and sisters I never had. I need to take care of them.”

In that moment I learned that too often the difference between adults and children was simply that children still believe they can change the world.

She went on to raise several thousand dollars to help more children.

Through the eyes of my 6-year-old daughter, this was my introduction to sex trafficking. I would also learn soon after that sex trafficking wasn’t just something that only happened in other countries, it was also happening in my own backyard.

I met up with a friend of mine shortly after my daughter donated her birthday money to aid victims of trafficking. He was blown away by her heart to help others. He then paused, looked me straight in the eye, and said four words…

“Don’t let her down.”

It was like a thousand arrows had simultaneously hit their mark. Those four words still pierce my heart to this day.

It has been ten years since my daughter introduced me to sex trafficking. Ten years since she introduced me to brothers and sisters I, too, never had. Ten years since she opened my eyes to this scourge on humanity.

For me, “don’t let her down” meant that with sex trafficking happening in my own backyard, there was work to do.

Since then, I found myself actively engaged in the fight to eradicate sex trafficking. From the incredible inspiration of many new friends (the brothers and sisters I never had) who have survived being sex trafficked to organizations like Shared Hope International and their work to prevent, restore, and bring justice in this fight, my heart’s cry is that maybe, just maybe, my actions have begun to live up to the impact of those first $30.

For certain, there is much work left to be done and sadly too many who need yet to be freed. And so, because a 6 year old paid it forward with everything she had, how could I not go forth and do the same?

On this Father’s Day, I will look back with thankfulness on these past ten years since my eyes were opened. Certainly what I saw was anything but something to be thankful for. However, because of my daughter, I not only saw the effects of sex trafficking, I was now responsible to do my part in ending the cause of sex trafficking, too. In this, I simply could not let her, and the many brothers and sisters that she and I never had, down.

So it is because of her actions that on this Father’s Day, I truly do reflect back on the past ten years with thankfulness. Thankfulness to a daughter that helped me return to that belief I once had as a child, in that perhaps I too can help change the world.

What about you?

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Unavoidable Destiny | The Abnormal Return Home http://sharedhope.org/2014/06/04/unavoidable-destiny-abnormal-return-home/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=unavoidable-destiny-abnormal-return-home http://sharedhope.org/2014/06/04/unavoidable-destiny-abnormal-return-home/#comments Wed, 04 Jun 2014 17:46:09 +0000 http://sharedhope.org/?p=7593 As a native of Jamaica, my anticipations of returning home are always filled with excitement and joy. I think of visiting family members, activities and events and the food.  While this trip is filled with excitement and joy it is also filled with a bit of nervousness and fear.  For the very first time, I [...]

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jamaicaAs a native of Jamaica, my anticipations of returning home are always filled with excitement and joy. I think of visiting family members, activities and events and the food.  While this trip is filled with excitement and joy it is also filled with a bit of nervousness and fear.  For the very first time, I will witness the effects of human trafficking on my island home of Jamaica.

In 2007, Shared Hope published the Demand Report which is acomparative examination of Sex Tourism and Trafficking in Jamaica, Japan, the Netherlands, and the United States.” Through this report I was exposed to the harsh reality and truth that sex trafficking occurs on the small island of Jamaica.  In addition to the Demand Report, I delved into the Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Report, to further my knowledge on sex trafficking in Jamaica.  The TIP report “represents an updated, global look at the nature and scope of trafficking in persons and the broad range of government actions to confront and eliminate it.”  Although Jamaica was not included in the first two years of the publication of the TIP report, since its inclusion in 2003, Jamaica has fluctuated from a tier 2, to a tier 2 watch list to a tier 3, the lowest rank possible.

As a child growing up, I do not recall ever hearing or even witnessing anything that can be identified as human trafficking. I do remember hearing conversations about “go-gos” which is the equivalent to a stripper, but these were always adult women. In fact, “go-gos” are looked down upon by many citizens of Jamaica.  Since my own trafficking ordeal, I have returned to the island four times and still didn’t see any signs of trafficking.  Based on the two afore-mentioned reports, it is evident that trafficking exists on the island despite me not seeing any evidence. Sex trafficking takes a different form in Jamaica compared to America. In America, we have the standard forms of trafficking: pimp control, gang control, familial and survival sex. In Jamaica, sex trafficking mostly takes the form of familial, survival sex and sex tourism. With Jamaica being a third world country, I will definitely conclude that the major reason human trafficking continues to exist is due to the lack of economic opportunities.  According to the Demand Report, many residents of Jamaica demonstrate and verbalize their belief that the severe economic situation of Jamaica forces a culture of “making do.” This culture of “making do” leads girls into sexual activity at an early age either by the idea of an opportunity or a better life or through force by parents or guardian as outlined in the Demand Report .

This trip, I will be visiting two homes that provides sevices to victims of sex trafficking (funded by Shared Hope International) on the island, in addtion to visiting some of the places where trafficking occurs and speaking with survivors.  I am not sure I am ready to accept this reality. We all know abuse and injustice occurs but we don’t have to deal with it, as we simply place it to the back of our minds.  I can no longer leave it in the back of my mind. I am preparing to accept the weigh of confronting, in person, that my country and my people are being scarred by sexual exploitation and violence.

I am really looking forward to speaking with students and survivors on the topic of “overcoming adversity.” Wether it is being a victim of sex trafficking or facing economic hardship, we are all faced with some forms of adversity.  Many times, young people simply need a little encouragement and support when faced with adverstity instead of being rediculed. Therefore, I am happy to share about my own adversity, examples of how I am overcoming it and some words of encouragement.

foodI am very honored to join Shared Hope in Jamaica as we conduct a site visit to our Jamaician partners.  I will be blogging while I am there so check back as I take this journey of an abnormal return home. Who knows, you just maybe offered a plate of ackee and saltfish (the national dish) and some festival similar to the picture on your right.

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