Our story began in 1998 when U.S. Congresswoman Linda Smith traveled into the heart of the brothel district in Mumbai, India. The brutal sexual slavery and exploitation of women and children she witnessed there inspired her to establish Shared Hope International to help bring healing to devastated lives. Our dynamic story of prevention, restoration and justice initiatives has continued unbroken, as you will see as you scroll through the timeline that follows this brief video. (Alternatively begin at the bottom to watch our history unfold.)
Shared Hope founder, Linda Smith, released a new book “Invading the Darkness: Inside the Historic Fight against Child Sex Trafficking in the United States”. An eye opening inside look at the historic movement to stop the injustice of sexually trafficked children in America. Invading the Darkness highlights who these modern-day abolitionists are and how their strategic work shaped the fight to stop the injustice of child sex trafficking in our nation.
In 2018, 4 states raised their grade. Most improved were South Carolina and Alabama. Since the Challenge started in 2011, 48 states have raised their grades.
The Nation’s Leading Conference on Juvenile Sex Trafficking
Close to 1,100 people were empowered and trained at our JuST Conference in San Diego. We convened, trained, and equipped professionals, advocates, and 70 survivor leaders through 81 sessions, including 77 workshops and four plenary presentations.
This year 9 states raised their grade. Most improved were West Virginia and California. Since the Challenge started in 2011 the national grade average has risen 23%.
Shared Hope launched our JuST Web Series with 545 attendees. This new e-learning series spanned six weeks following our JuST Conference, providing 12 trainings focusing on a variety of critically important topics.
The Nation’s Leading Conference on Juvenile Sex Trafficking
860 attendees from 45 states, Canada and France, including 175 police officers and 100 survivors of sex trafficking, came together in New Orleans.
Shared Hope launched our Stop the Injustice Campaign to end the criminalization of child sex trafficking victims by fighting for justice for children who are falsely labeled as prostitutes.
SHI is co-host of briefing and attends the D.C premier of this brilliant film that features mothers of children sold for sex on Internet sites and argues that Internet Content Service Providers (ICSPs) should be held accountable for being facilitators of this criminal activity.
Congressman Chris Smith–Lifetime Pathbreaker; Michelle Guymon, Director of Child Trafficking Unit, Los Angeles County Probation Department; Margie Quinn, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Protected Innocence Challenge
Year 6- Report Cards are released at the National Foundation for Women Legislators Conference in Florida. More than half of the states have raised their grade above a B since the beginning of the Challenge in 2011, but there is still much to do.
The 2016 conference is again held at the Gaylord National Harbor and continues to grow, with attendance topping 750. Nearly 70 survivors of sex trafficking participate and many receive scholarships to attend. The JuST Response Council releases a peer-endorsed publication settling the definition of DMST and the position of non-criminalization of minors.
Ernie Allen, Special Advisor
SHI welcomes Ernie Allen , widely recognized expert on child protection and former CEO of both the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and its international counterpart, as Special Advisor to the President.
Village of Hope, Pune
SHI purchases 3 acres of land outside Pune, India as a location for future permanent home for SPARSH (“touch”), our partner in that city. Founders have provided a home for children of the Pune brothels, but without their own housing, they must continually move.
JuST First Response Conference
SHI’s second 2016 conference is held in Mesa, AZ and targets professionals in law enforcement, healthcare, restoration services and emergency response. The conference features the release of i:CARE, a Health Care Practitioner’s Guide to Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking.
JuST Faith Summit
This conference, designed to equip the faith community to fight child sex trafficking is the first of three JuST conferences for 2016. Held in Orlando, SHI hosts 425 faith leaders at Northland Church. Each attendee leaves equipped with the Faith In Action Kit, a toolkit to enable faith leaders to propagate prevention and restoration efforts.
Thomas Dart, Sheriff, Cook County IL; Alexandra (Sandi) Pierce, PhD, Founder and President of Othayonih Research; John Cotton Richmond, Special Litigation Counsel with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
This event becomes the premier anti-child sex trafficking event and moves to the Gaylord National Harbor to host 700 attendees. Sixty survivors of sex trafficking attend, many receiving scholarships from SHI donors. Policy paper on Third Party Control Barrier to Identifying Juvenile Sex Trafficking Victims is released with approval of JuST Response Council.
SHI files an amicus brief in conjunction with the case brought by three minor victims of sex trafficking against Backpage.com. Our anti-demand efforts that began in 2006 with the DEMAND report are continuous and persistent, particularly targeting Internet sites like Backpage.com that facilitate child sex trafficking.
Demanding Justice Arizona
SHI releases a field assessment of demand deterrence and enforcement and justice afforded to victims in Arizona. Law enforcement training is held in conjunction with the release at Arizona State University as well as a second meeting of the JuST Response Council.
A devastating earthquake badly damages Asha Nepal, but thankfully no lives are lost. Shared Hope immediately responds with financial and engineering resources to repair the buildings and residents pitch in to help their community recover.
JuST Response Council
SHI establishes this council, made up of leaders in the anti-child sex trafficking movement and government observers, and organizes first meeting in Washington, DC. This group will provide guidance on policy recommendations to government and advice to the field. At the meeting the JuST Response State System Mapping Report is pre-released, providing a review of current statutes, systems and service responses to juvenile sex trafficking. The JuST Response Council goes on to create several resources for policy makers and field experts available at sharedhope.org/justresponse.
Pathbreaker Award Recipients
Congressman Frank Wolf—Lifetime Pathbreaker; Rev. Dr. Marian Hatcher, Project Manager at the Sheriff’s Women’s Justice Programs for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office; Brendan Johnson, U.S. Attorney.
A second National Colloquium is convened in partnerships with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and Casey Family Programs to dig deeper in systemic barriers to juvenile sex trafficking. This report summarizes discussion and provides valuable insight on current trends for state child serving agency response to domestic minor sex trafficking.
SHI’s first Juvenile Sex Trafficking (JuST) Conference is held in Washington, DC for approximately 400 attendees. During pre-conference, the JuST Response Congressional Briefing is held on Capitol Hill in conjunction with the Victims’ Rights Caucus.
Shared Hope celebrates 16 years by hosting four young people who have grown up in the care of our partner, Asha Nepal. Their mothers were lost to the brothels, but these young adults now are heading for advanced education and careers in banking, teaching and social work. They are the stars of Night of Hope events in Washington state, Florida, and Washington, DC.
Demanding Justice Report
Deeper research on demand (Section 2 of Protected Innocence Challenge) is released in the form of this report and accompanying website, www.demandingjustice.org. The project examines the criminal justice outcomes in prosecutions of buyers of sex acts with juveniles from 2008 to current period.
Gang TRAP and Chosen Gang Edition
In response to the rising trend of gang sex trafficking, Shared Hope produces Gang TRAP , a 4-part training DVD for professionals to identify and respond to gang trafficking. Chosen Gang Edition is a 12-minute video with accompanying resources to teach teens the dangers of gang involvement, including sex trafficking.
SHI and Brunner ad agency in Atlanta team up to launch a live “Children are Not Playthings” exhibit on the streets of Washington, DC to raise community awareness on the issue of sex trafficking. It was awarded a Gold ADDY for innovative non-profit advertising.
CHOSEN Youth Sex Trafficking Prevention Resource
SHI releases one of the first youth sex trafficking prevention video and resource packages. The film tells the true stories of two teenage girls who were tricked by traffickers. The accompanying resource package includes additional tools to further discussion, learning and action. CHOSEN is featured on MSN News and thousands of copies are distributed within the first year.
Pathbreaker Award Recipients
Congressman Judge Ted Poe; Vednita Carter, Founder and President, Breaking Free; Cynthia Cordes, Assistant U.S. Attorney.
Montana Sees a Billboard
Over 200 first responders and community members attend Do You Know Lacy? in Kalispell, Montana and a billboard is erected to warn drivers that sex trafficking is a prevalent issue in their community.
Training Jamaican youth
Shared Hope staff visits partners in Montego Bay and Negril, Jamaica. The team meets with government leaders in Kingston to introduce them to local nongovernmental anti-trafficking organizations and encourage collaboration
Florida Victim Identification Strategy
Shared Hope International enters a strategic partnership with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice to conduct a pilot project using Shared Hope’s intake tool INTERVENE in three juvenile assessment centers.
Over 1.5 million people a day pass Shared Hope’s billboard advertisement in Times Square. The ad reminds viewers that sex trafficking can happen to anyone, anywhere.
National Colloquium: Shelter and Services Evaluation for Action
Experts convene from around the nation at the U.S. Capitol for a gathering hosted by SHI, the Congressional Caucus for Victim’s Rights and the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues. The resulting report distills perspectives from over 100 provider, survivor, government, advocacy, and funding experts on trends and barriers to secure restorative shelter and services for juvenile sex trafficking victims.
Ernie Allen, Founding Chairman of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and President and CEO, International Center for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC); Amy O’Neill Richard, Senior Advisor to the Director in the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons; Drew Oosterbaan, Chief of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) of the U.S. Department of Justice; Deborah J. Richardson, Executive Vice President of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
Political Convention Campaigns
Shared Hope International launches billboard campaigns in Charlotte and Tampa in conjunction with the Democrat and Republican National Conventions. Shared Hope partners with the Zonta Club of Pinellas County to launch nine billboards in the Tampa area. A mobile billboard drives through the convention area in Charlotte displaying the anti-demand message.
Pathbreaker Award Recipients
Attorney General Greg Abbott (TX); Attorney General Martha Coakley (MA); Attorney General Rob McKenna (WA).
SHI releases the Protected Innocence Challenge , a groundbreaking legislative analysis and report card to hold states accountable for state laws related to domestic minor sex trafficking. 26 states fail the Protected Innocence Challenge.
First Do You Know Lacy? Community Training
This training on child sex trafficking is first hosted in two locations in Washington state. The 5-track format offers specialized instruction in the identification and response to trafficking for law enforcement, juvenile service providers, youth advocates, community members and Defenders. Subsequent Do You Know Lacy? training events are held in Montana (2012), Oregon (2013) and Washington DC (2013).
Shared Hope International hits the training circuit hard. Within four months, Shared Hope presents to over 1,000 advocates in Arizona, California, Texas, Maryland, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
First U.S. Pathbreaker Award Recipient
Sergeant John Chapman, Vancouver, WA Police Department.
DMST Field Assessments
Private sources fund field assessments in South Florida (2009), Arizona (2010), and Washington (2011).
INTERVENE Practitioner Guide and Intake Tool
This innovative training course developed with assistance from a multi-disciplinary committee of experts and survivors in the field of service provision for victims of domestic minor sex trafficking makes its first appearance at training events for first responders in the state of Washington and later becomes the foundation for statewide intake assessments in several states.
National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking
SHI releases the first study on child sex trafficking in America. The report introduces into common use the term Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking and the abbreviation, DMST, and helps change how a U.S. child sex trafficking victim is viewed. This report, along with the DEMAND Report, is entered into the Congressional record.
Kids Are NOT For Sale
Kids Are NOT For Sale, SHI’s community awareness campaign, launches in Las Vegas with public advertising, rallies, marches, and candlelight vigils to remember the victims who lost their lives to sex trafficking and the survivors who need a voice. Kids Are NOT for Sale campaigns subsequently are conducted in Washington, DC (2009), Chicago (2010), Oregon (2014) and Virginia (2015).
Renting Lacy, a story of America’s prostituted children written by Shared Hope International founder Linda Smith, is published.
Village of Hope, India
Several small apartments in Mumbai serve as immediate shelter. Working with Bombay Teen Challenge, SHI finances construction of a major portion of the 72-acre, village-style development comprised of housing, a central facility for meals and fellowship, and a vocational school. The facility is named Ashagram (Village of Hope)
Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST) Research and Technical Assistance
Shared Hope, with funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), coordinates with DOJ-funded human trafficking task forces to conduct assessments in 10 U.S. locations.
DEMAND Report and Documentary
Funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, SHI releases this investigation of the commercial sex markets in Jamaica, Japan, the Netherlands and the United States.
Training Resources on Child Sex Trafficking in the U.S.
SHI creates educational resources that provide a baseline understanding of domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) to anti-trafficking task force members and first responders who work in the field.
U.S. Mid-Term Review for the World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children
SHI spearheads the U.S. Mid-Term Review bringing together leaders from across the USA to assess progress made combating the sexual slavery of children in America. Later, SHI convened a regional review with leaders from Canada joining those in the U.S. resulting in a report to the World Congress held in Brazil. SHI was part of the official U.S. delegation to the World Congress.
Ganga is Married
One of the first girls rescued to Village of Hope in India is married. Linda and Vern Smith host and join in the wedding celebration in India as honored ‘auntie and uncle’. Many other marriages follow in coming years as trafficked girls heal and find worthy husbands.
Shared Hope and a local partner purchase and remodel a compound to house women and children abused by gangs and the sex industry in Capetown. The facility provides a safe place to heal, nutrition, medical help, and education.
In collaboration with local law enforcement, local government officials and public disclosure, SHI’s Predator Project captures over 150 hours of interviews in 14 countries of predators and their victims. Evidence gathered is presented to key stakeholders and contributes to the increase of laws of prosecution and greater services for victims in more than six countries.
The first Sharing the Hope takes place in Washington, D.C., bringing together hundreds in support of SHI’s mission to eradicate sex trafficking of women and children. Sharing the Hope is held again in three later years before transitioning into the conference-style JuST Conference.
SHI helps purchase 40 acres of land and erect buildings for a restoration facility in Fiji. The WIN program includes a commercial bakery and flower growing.
Next Steps Conference
The first of six international ‘Next Steps’ Conferences is held in Chisinau, Moldova as a follow on to the World Summit. Five other Next Steps Conferences are subsequently held–in Santo Domingo (2003), Johannesburg (2003), Mumbai (2003), Batam, Indonesia (2004), Singapore (2005). These two-day conferences brought together law enforcement, government and service providers to explore strategies related to prevention, restoration, and justice.
Shared Hope launches the award-winning ‘Esmerelda Campaign,’ a public awareness campaign against sex trafficking that airs throughout the Dominican Republic.
First World Summit
WATA and U.S. Department of State host the first World Summit, ‘Path Breaking Strategies in the Global Fight Against Sex Trafficking,’ convening activists from 114 countries to discuss practical solutions to the problems of sex tourism and trafficking.
HIV/AIDS Clinic Opens in Mumbai
SHI helps fund opening of physician-staffed facility in the heart of Mumbai’s red light district, providing anti-retroviral treatment to infected women free-of-charge.
SHI partners with Teen Challenge, Jamaica to create much needed services for victims of sex trafficking.
Linda Smith initiates the formation of WATA, an effort to coordinate regional and international efforts to fight sex trafficking worldwide. Other leaders in the alliance include International Justice Mission, Salvation Army, USA, and the Johns Hopkins School of International Studies-Protection Project.
Village of Hope, Nepal
SHI helps girls trafficked from Nepal to India return home to begin a new life and establishes housing for them. The name chosen is Asha Nepal (Hope Nepal).
Women’s Investment Network (WIN)
WIN program is established, training women to enter the work force and empowering them to achieve financial independence. Established as a program at SHI headquarters and becomes a key component to all SHI partnerships.
Mobile services in Mumbai
Mobile HIV/AIDS clinic and food van launched into hard to reach brothel areas of Mumbai.
Exploitation in Mumbai
While still in India during her first visit, Linda Smith raises the money to start Shared Hope International and begin restoration services in Mumbai with partner Bombay Teen Challenge.