Another year has passed and today, on International Women’s Day, we should ask ourselves how much progress has been made since last year? Each International Women’s Day, we’re challenged as a global community to honor, empower, and center women in our discussions and actions. And this year, like every year prior, we should ask ourselves what more we can do to advance the rights of women.
No doubt this year’s national discussion will involve the courageous movement of women standing up and speaking out against sexual assault. In today’s #MeToo culture, women are breaking the silence of injustice and making clear that their bodies are their own. We can all agree that it’s past time that abusers are held accountable for their actions and face consequences, but even with this powerful movement underway, we’re leaving behind a tremendous population of women. When we talk about breaking the silence about abuse, we’re still ignoring the issue of sex trafficking.
When we say “time’s up,” it is a demand that sexual assault be recognized as intolerable. Women are refusing to stay silent about assault, harassment, and rape; abusers are being forced to confront a shifting culture that refuses to allow them to continue their exploitation of the vulnerable. So why is it that we don’t afford that same indignation and zeal to the fight against sex trafficking?
Each day, women and girls are being sold and raped against their will. But there’s no #MeToo movement in the mainstream media for victims of sex trafficking. There’s no outcry against the abusers who traffic and buy these victims, that their time is up. Ultimately, we’ve decided that because there’s a commercial component involved in their abuse, these victims are somehow undeserving of being included in the recent dialogue surrounding sex abuse. Instead, the silence persists.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. This year’s International Women’s Day campaign theme is “Press for Progress.” If we’re going to press for progress on the subject of sex abuse, we need to also stop allowing certain subjects like trafficking to go undiscussed. While International Women’s Day should absolutely be a triumphant celebration of the strides we’ve made as a nation and a global community to secure the rights of women, it’s equally valuable to take the time to consider how to raise all women up, and identify where progress can be made. We need to recognize the ways in which trafficking victim’s voices aren’t being raised up, and work to fix this.
This year’s theme opens the door to this kind of discussion; we can’t move forward if some of the most vulnerable women and girls are continuing to be exploited in silence. So here are some ways that you can press for progress this year in an effort to include trafficking victims:
- Help us end the criminalization of juvenile sex trafficking survivors in our Stop the inJuSTice Campaign. Advocate here!
- Ask the Senate to move forward legislation to amend the CDA to ensure that survivors of online sex trafficking receive access to justice. Use our tools to post to twitter and facebook!
- Advocate in your state for laws to strengthen your state’s legal framework to protect juvenile sex trafficking survivors and hold offenders accountable. Use our State Action campaign tools!
By Arrianna Jian-Najar
Intern for Shared Hope International