September 3, 2020
Words Do Make a Difference
By Kris Wade, Executive Director of The Justice Project KC, and Member of the USCSAHT Survivor Services Working Group.
As awareness of present-day slavery expands, more attention is being given to human trafficking through prostitution. Prostitution is often viewed as a “victimless crime.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Hazards include rape, robbery, assault, exposure to sexually transmitted illnesses, and most unfortunately death at the hands of violent tricks, drug dealers, or pimps. Because of their poverty, homelessness, hunger, and /or addiction, many of the women served by the Justice Project KC have been exploited, victimized, and severely traumatized through prostitution.
As law enforcement, courts, and service providers begin to attack this devastating crime and interact with survivors, it is apparent that a quick tutorial on terminology is needed. Words have power, and the labels and descriptive language we use contribute to our perceptions of commercial sex trafficking and the victims produced by this terrible crime. Prostitution is one of the most harmful manifestations of human trafficking. The importance of proper terminology when addressing this issue can not be underestimated. Words make a difference in how those used in prostitution are perceived. Harmful labels lead to misunderstanding and bias toward those who have been used in prostitution. Negative labels also contribute to low self-esteem and self-hatred in those who have been harmed by experiencing prostitution. As a survivor organization, we feel the sting of these labels and see the harm inflicted by such words.
The word “prostitute “is generally perceived as negative and derogatory. It implies that someone is “dirty” a “whore” a “slut”, a bad person who is unworthy, and a social outcast. It does not take into consideration that the individual is a human being, one who may be someone’s mother, daughter, sister, or brother. The word dehumanizes this population and perpetuates negative stereotypical labels. At the Justice Project KC we only use “prostitute“ as a verb. Prostitution is something a person does, not who that person is. We view prostitution as an exploitive form of violence against persons, and a human rights violation. We advocate for the use of other terms like “prostituted persons,” “persons used in prostitution”, or “sexually exploited persons.” These terms do not stigmatize victims and describe prostitution as an abusive experience, not a personal characteristic of an individual.
Two other terms frequently seen as “politically correct” we do not use are “Sex Work and Sex Worker.” These terms are now widely used instead of “prostitute” by those working in trafficking abolition. While these terms may be well-intentioned, it is our belief they infer prostitution is somehow “work” an occupation, a job. This tends to imply a normalization of prostitution as a career choice. Sex trafficking through prostitution is human slavery. It is not “work.” As survivors we have a keen understanding of exploitation.
When discussing prostitution and its survivors please remember to use phrases like “prostituted person” “sex industry survivor” or “victim of commercial sexual exploitation.” These terms relay the idea that persons used in prostitution are entangled in an inherently dangerous, traumatizing, exploitive system that victimizes human beings. They are girls, boys, men, and women who have been dehumanized not only by prostitution but also by the terminology used to describe them. They are individuals who deserve dignity, respect, compassion, and mercy just like anyone else.
March 16, 2020
CRAWFORD COUNTY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) — Michigan State Police officers converged on a Crawford County home Friday and arrested James Jarrell and Jeffrey Kobel, two men police said are accused of holding a woman prisoner.
“She’d been there for a few days and she believed her life was in imminent danger she believed she was going to be murdered,” Michigan State Public Information Officer Lt. Derrick Carroll said. “She took an opportunity when she saw the door and she thought she could make her move, that’s when she ran outside of the home and stole the vehicle.”
Michigan State Police said the two 50-year old men met the woman through an acquaintance and brought the woman to northern Michigan from Ypsilanti.
“We have a woman who’s brought up here for the sole purpose of prostitution human trafficking,” Carroll said. “She was a victim so if you don’t think this is going to happen in northern Michigan or around the country, you’re wrong and everyone should look for the signs. “She convinced them to stop at a rest area as her intention at that time was to flee, however, one of the men followed her to the restroom and waited outside the door and walked her back to the vehicle.”
Kristi Cogswell works at the Woman’s Resource Center in Traverse City and she said awareness on human trafficking is important.
To read the full article by Kathryn Halvorsen on Up North Live: Click Here
October 7, 2019
Survivors of the crime of Commercial Exploitation of Children (CEC) are today aiming to become top-notch lawyers. They have different stories. Some were child brides sold into prostitution by their husbands, some were sent away by their families as domestic helps into unknown houses.
But they all seem to have one thing in common, the one thing that pushes them to aim for the best.
They want justice.
They want to study law to become public prosecutors to stop crimes against our girls. They are backed by the School for Justice. This is no ordinary school. They’ve collaborated with the top law colleges in the country. I spoke over the phone with their incredible and candid Francis Gracias, the CEO of Free a Girl Movement India.
How distressful is the picture of the Commercial Exploitation of Children in India?
Francis Gracias: There’s this study by ECPAT which was conducted in 2014 that tells us how 1.2 million children are the yearly survivors of this crime in South Asia. And the strangest thing is that the number is increasing year after year! But there’s only a fractional number that gets reported. In 2014, there were 3345 cases reported out of which only 384 went to court. Of the 384, there is a minuscule 10%-14% conviction rate. Would you believe that?
There’s no fear of this crime. When this negligible punishment is doled out, impunity develops around the crime. Had there been more cases and convictions, there would’ve been more distress in the criminals. Unfortunately, that doesn’t exist currently.
When it comes to convictions, enforcement of the law is the problem. Laws like the POCSO, ITPA are in place, but their implementation is not good. Sometimes it is due to the lack of will of the police, sometimes it is the genuine lack of resources.
Can you explain it with an example?
Francis Gracias: There are these specialized units that are supposed to be deployed in each district called Anti-Human-Trafficking Units. On paper, they are supposed to be cracking down on Human Trafficking – but they are not funded or well-equipped. To further reduce their specialty, they are given regular cases, too. In many districts, they aren’t deployed at all!
Thankfully, they do exist in major urban centers, but there, they have to deal with political pressure.
Infrastructure dedicated to CEC is in very bad shape. There is an immense lack of resources, a backlog of pending cases, overburdened authorities and a lack of specialized courts.
Did you have to face risks and threats as you challenge this massive trafficking and prostitution mafia?
Francis Gracias: In my early days, before I founded the School of Justice, I did. Especially when I was involved in the ground investigation, when I visited the Red Light areas I ruffled a lot of feathers. I had to act as a whistleblower against their owners and I got into some trouble.
But I, sort of, was aware of the consequences of what I was doing. I knew that usually when I was intimidated, it was an empty threat. They couldn’t attack men, they could only try and scare me. And that wasn’t going to work.
Thankfully, since we’ve founded the School of Justice, I’ve never faced any threats. But, I am sure as we enroll more girls and make a lot of noise; we’re going to get into all sorts of troubles.
The stories of the survivors are just heartbreaking. Tell us about the trauma the girls are going through and how they are dealing with it?
To read the full story by Keshav Khanna on IndianWomenBlog.org: Click Here