A Voice for Victims: Changing Laws
A February 3, 2019, sentencing by Kansas Judge Michael Gibbens has reminded us of the detrimental status of our nation’s non-criminalization laws.
In reducing the sentence of a 67-year-old buyer — and calling the 13- and 14-year-old victims “aggressors” — we see the alarming legal paradox that oftentimes prevents the exploited from being identified and treated as victims of a heinous crime.
Punishing sexually exploited minors creates social and legal contradictions that undermine the fight against child sex trafficking — further harming victims and hindering a needed shift in cultural attitudes.
But where our nation’s laws get it wrong, you are setting it right.
Your loyal and steady partnership has allowed Shared Hope to achieve huge victories. When we first began this important effort eight years ago, only five states had laws on the books protecting trafficked children from criminal penalties for prostitution.
- All 50 states and D.C. now have a sex trafficking law that specifically recognizes the crime of child sex trafficking.
- All 50 states have strengthened the criminal penalties for traffickers.
- All 50 states have criminal penalties for buyers.
- We are one state away from all 50 states recognizing any child under 18 exploited through commercial sex as a victim of trafficking without elements of force, fraud or coercion, recognizing that the vulnerability of the child is the coercion and ensures that the child’s behavior is not put on trial, but rather the perpetrator’s actions.
- 25 states and D.C. have eliminated criminal culpability for the child used in prostitution.
While we celebrate that substantial progress has been made, there is still work to do. A staggering 25 states — half of the nation — can still legally put handcuffs on victims instead of providing protection, safety, and restoration.
Victims today face two paths: protection or jail. It is clear that our work together, as a national leader in the fight from prevention to justice, is greater than ever.
At this moment, Shared Hope is actively working in 12 states to help draft and secure passage of bills that remove children from being labeled and charged with prostitution and other crimes related to their victimization.
With your help, we will continue to press for laws in all 50 states that put victims on a path of restoration: offering safe housing, medical care, social services, and life skills … while protecting them from the trauma of being put in handcuffs.
A Voice for the Children: A Forever Home!
We have great news out of Pune, India, for you!
As you know, our Village of Hope there provides safety, a loving home, and education for children whose mothers are trapped in the brothels. But due to financial reasons and safety concerns, it was forced to move to different leased housing every year.
With your support, Shared Hope was determined to help them obtain a “forever home” for the special children they serve. Wonderful friends like you responded, and funds were raised to purchase a 3.2-acre “dream property” — plus additional funds were provided for construction of a new home. However, after many bureaucratic holdups and delays, the construction permits are still being withheld.
So we prayed, together, that God would move the Pune Village of Hope forward despite the holdups … and He has answered our prayers in a miraculous (and unforeseen) way!
A partially completed home in a nearby village became available for just the amount of money that had been raised to construct housing. We quickly made the decision to purchase that home, which is conveniently located near markets and the children’s school.
Our Pune Village of Hope will also keep the land they now own and use it to create an income stream by purchasing a few Murrah buffalo, known for their rich milk, along with goats and chickens. Shared Hope will be visiting India in early April to review all that has been accomplished and to dedicate both properties.
We thank God — and friends like you — for this great blessing. Please continue to pray for this effort!
A Voice for the Future: Putting Research to Action
We’re gearing up …
Preparing to put years of focused research into powerful, impactful action …
And you’ll be the first to know about it!
In our efforts to continue leading the way in the fight against sex trafficking, Shared Hope will be hosting action-oriented events across the country to engage with the field and convene national experts who will help us chart the course forward for the next decade of the anti-trafficking movement!
At the same time, we will release a special corresponding report that focuses on what’s been learned and accomplished over the last 10 years of the Protected Innocence Challenge — and where we go from here.
A team of experts and professionals will review our research and help us form a framework for action to better protect innocent children and trafficking victims across the country, including in your state.
- The Research To Action events and report will lay the foundation for Shared Hope’s ongoing role in providing highly visible and credible activities that advance justice.
- It will result in the most current and serious collection of information available, clearly relayed to activists like you.
- And, finally, it will motivate our action as we move forward together.
Watch for more information in the days ahead!
A Voice for Justice: Join Us!
Registration is now open for the October 2019 JuST Conference in Cincinnati, OH!
Expected to be our biggest training event ever, this unforgettable and inspiring conference features today’s most pressing issues in the anti-trafficking field.
Presentations and workshops focus on skill-building, survivor experiences, cross-discipline collaboration, task force development, case studies, and lessons learned.
The JuST Conference continues to stand by the motto that each person has a role to play in preventing and ending commercial sexual exploitation, and that a collaborative community response is critical.
What attendees are saying:
- “This was my first time at JuST, and the intimacy of the mix of attendees, the passion, and the comradery was phenomenal.”
- “I had so many educational, beautiful, networking, self-care, and huge ideas as take-a-ways!”
- “Truthfully, I didn’t know what to expect, but every part made a great impact on my perception, understanding, and, most importantly, my hope.”
Learn more at www.justconference.org.
A Voice: Shared Hope in the News!
Shared Hope keeps up fight against sex trafficking: Organization founded by Linda Smith a leader in protecting victims
The Columbian, January 30, 2019
“I thought in this country we’d gotten past slavery. The knowledge that instead we have one of the largest populations of slaves in the world makes me furious. I’m one of those people who believes that once I know something, I have an obligation to try and do something about it. Today, I have as much energy as ever to keep fighting.”
►This excellent article shines a spotlight on Shared Hope’s 20 years of activism as a driving force in the anti-trafficking movement.
Mother tells how daughter became victim of sex trafficking, lost her life
Catholic News, February 7, 2019
“Yvonne Ambrose had one of the worst experiences any mother can suffer: Her daughter Desiree, age 16, was found in a garage on Christmas Eve 2016 murdered by a man who beat her, slashed her throat and left her to die, painfully alone, in the Chicago cold. The internet was the key element that turned Desiree from a happy ‘A’ student to a tragic victim of sexual violence …”
►And so begins this thought-provoking article based on the tragic murder of a 16-year-old victim of sexual violence by a sex buyer. Linda Smith is interviewed, and Shared Hope’s compelling work to combat sex trafficking is highlighted and explained.
Thank you for making all this possible! Your support for Shared Hope is impacting lives on an international scale … and giving women, girls, and boys a new future, one life at a time.