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  • © Holly Craw and Home-School-Community, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Holly Craw and Home-School-Community with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Women’s month highlights achievements of females and ongoing gender bias

Womens' rights means all girls are free to live normal lives in a safe and exploitation free environment.

Rights of women means we win the war. We overcome. We are stronger than the Alpha male because we are the reproducers.”

March has for decades been designated as the month to celebrate women. The International Women’s Day (also known as Women’s Rights Day), March 8, began in 1909 as female factory workers fought for better working conditions and pay. The National Women’s History Month has been in effect since 1978 to foster recognition of women’s accomplishments. These designated seasons stand as beacons of hope that the voices of the female population are being heard.

Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment is the theme for the 2012 Women’s History Month. Females now outnumber males in American colleges, and great progress has been made in the area of women’s rights in many countries. Women around the globe have greater access to education at all levels, career opportunities in areas formerly exclusive to men, and political and decision-making power.

However, Women’s Month also becomes a searchlight exposing the venues of darkness, inequity and loss of freedom that millions of females still endure daily. One enormous area of gender discrimination of our day is human trafficking, of which sex slavery is the biggest piece. Worldwide, an estimated 27 million people are trafficking victims, with 70 percent entrapped in the sex trades. Each one endures physical deprivation and beatings, long hours of work, emotional coercion and degradation, and all manner of sexual defilement so someone else can profit financially. Eighty percent of these oppressed ones are women and 50 percent are children.

Women’s rights include some additions to the body of human rights, specifically the rights:

  • To bodily integrity and autonomy
  • To vote (suffrage)
  • To hold public office
  • To work
  • To fair wages or equal pay
  • To own property
  • To education
  • To serve in the military or be conscripted
  • To enter into legal contracts
  • To have marital, parental and religious rights.

The epidemic numbers of girls who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation have had their rights violated in nearly every area. They are held in hostage-like scenarios and are closely controlled in all they do. They have no freedom to live normal lives, and even when they get out of the “game”, they are often treated by society as second-class citizens or worse. Often the laws criminalize the children who have been victimized (usually females) and are lax or non-existent for the perpetrators (usually males).

Gender discrimination and gender bias are still strongly operating in the United States, and girls feel it, as evidenced in part by the reactive stances survivors of sex trafficking express. The following are comments about Women’s Month and women’s rights from teen girls at StreetLightUSA who are in their recovery process:

You don’t have to depend on no man or woman. I can have my own stuff, a job and a car. I will be living for myself and be financially stable with a stability I created.”

Rights of women means we win the war. We overcome. We are stronger than the Alpha male because we are the reproducers.”

“We have the right to not have a man tell us what to do. Men could not survive without us. Women bring life and peace and make the world turn around.”

We may be used and abused, but at the end of the day, we have something they (the men) want.”

I want money, power and control. I want to be on top (in my profession)—not just some ordinary girl.

The road to health and wholeness after being a sex trafficking victim is long and arduous. When the rights of one person are demolished through enslavement, coercion, and demeaning behaviors, incredible damage is done to the psyche. A host of resources and healthy, compassionate people are needed to restore the individual’s dignity and hope. Awareness of personal rights and empowerment to walk in them can help move a young girl from a despairing victim to successful, confident woman.

Women’s month highlights achievements of females and ongoing gender bias – National sex trafficking | Examiner.com.

Thoughts on child abuse from sex trafficking victims who have been there

 

View the full slideshow »

See full video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVKLX1bgEkE&feature=related

Child Abuse Prevention Month is a time to recognize the harsh reality that millions of children in America are abused each year. It is also an opportunity to talk about ways to prevent abuse. Teen girls who have been rescued from child sex trafficking, and are now residing at StreetLightUSA were asked about their observations on child abuse.

There are many types of abuse: emotional, physical, sexual and verbal.”

“Abuse is inhumane treatment. It is misusing a person or thing for a purpose it was not meant for.

“Abuse is hurting someone on purpose or putting down someone’s self-esteem.”

“Physical abuse is hurting someone [to bring about] obedience.”

Thoughts on child abuse from sex trafficking victims who have been there – National sex trafficking | Examiner.com.

Alexis La Benz: A Girl Scout fights sex trafficking on a national scale – National sex trafficking | Examiner.com

Alexis La Benz of Chandler, Arizona has campaigned against the forced prostitution of children for the past four years, beginning at age 14. Her fight has mainly been orchestrated through informational and inspirational presentations within the ranks of Girl Scouts, teen groups and churches, both at the local and national level. She is now a high school senior who will be starting college in the fall, but the passion for making a difference for the sex trafficked children has not diminished.

She is part of a group called GS GEMS, Girl Scout Girls Empowering and Mentoring with Support, which will continue to raise awareness within the community about the issue. Alexis will transition at some point from a Scout to a troop leader, where her passion and influence can continue to grow.

View slideshow: Being a voice for the voiceless: A teen speaks out for sex trafficked teens.

Through this experience that married Girl Scouting and the championship of a cause, many doors have opened up for Alexis La Benz.

  • She has become good friends with some survivors and collaborated with other Girl
    Scout groups.
  • A pilot program with GSUSA teamed the GEMS members with Girl Guides in Honduras around the issue of sex trafficking. This broadened the perspective of both sets of scouts to see how the problem manifests and is handled in each country. The US girls began making and selling black and white awareness bracelets as their point of entrée for discussion, and the Hondurans prepared and served meals for the same purpose.
  • Alexis was named one of 10 National Young Women of Distinction, the highest award in Girl Scouting by GSUSA
  • She was asked to address 15,000 Girl Scouts and tell about her Gold Award project at the 2011 National GSUSA Conference where she got to meet the GSUSA president, Anna Maria Chavez.
  • She has received several scholarships and will be participating in Arizona State
    University’s Barrett Honors College in the fall of 2012.
  • As part of the 100th year celebration of Girl Scouting, Alexis took part in a ceremony at the Arizona State Capitol in which Governor Jan Brewer and eight other state legislators were given honorary Girl Scout status.
  • Alexis and her fellow GS GEMS, created a training video that other troops around the country can use to develop their own GS GEMS programs.
  • In 2010, she received the GS World Leadership Award
  • She was a Girl Advisor on the Arizona Girl Scouts Board of Directors for 2010-2012
  • Alexis still continues to do speaking engagements and incorporates her website, www.teensontrafficking.org, into her presentations.

What does all this involvement in the sordid world of sex trafficking mean for Alexis?

“It has had a huge impact on my life. It helps the greater good and helps me know about myself, the kind of leader I am. Even though there are really awful things in the world, you don’t have to sit idly by. You can put your foot down and say, ‘This has to be stopped!’ Even though it is a big bad world, we can help each other.”

Alexis will be majoring in Business Communication with a minor in Social Entrepreneurship (non-profit management). Her eventual goal is to be the CEO of GSUSA. In the meantime, she will continue to be a warrior in the fight against commercial sexual exploitation of children and will recruit others to stand with her in the battle

Read more about Alexis LaBenz’s story.

via Alexis La Benz: A Girl Scout fights sex trafficking on a national scale – National sex trafficking | Examiner.com.

Childhood sexual abuse made Barbara vulnerable to sex trafficking ploys – National sex trafficking | Examiner.com

Barbara Amaya has been living with a painful, devastating secret for over 40 years. She was a victim of child sex trafficking decades before there was even a term for such a thing. Only in the last few weeks, at age 55, has she been able to start telling her story. For the first time, she has a voice for her brokenness, and people are listening.

“I feel like I was raised by animals, but they would have treated me better.”

Barbara Amaya

View slideshow: Barbara Amaya today.

Family sexual abuse was not uncommon in the ’60s and ’70s, but it was not really an open matter. When Barbara tried to tell her mother of her ordeals, she was met with denial that anything had happened. Without validation or help or protection from the abusers, the cycle of rapes and molestations continued. At 12, Barbara ran away to nearby Washington, D.C. She was caught, put in detention or reform school and would eventually run again. No one ever acknowledged the abuse or asked her what was going on inside. When she was returned to her home and put in school, she knew her world was so different that she would never be able to fit back in.

Using every kind of drug she could access, the young teen was struggling to numb herself from the horrors of her world. Once, while alone in D.C., a woman befriended her and took the girl home with her. Desperately looking for love and acceptance, Barbara was a perfect target for the next stage. She was forced to prostitute herself on the street corners.

At 13, the woman sold her to a male pimp from New York. He was the “stereotypical pimp with the platform shoes and fancy car”, and he played the role of “boyfriend”. Soon, he, too, forced Barbara to sell herself. She stayed with him for about six years and complied, even though she knew she was risking her life every night on the streets of New York. Raped, beaten, shot and stabbed on numerous occasions, she ran away several times, but her captor would always find her and beat her mercilessly into submission.

When picked up by the police for prostitution, Barbara always lied that her age was 19 or 21, as instructed by the pimp, and the officers never questioned that information. They never offered her any help or alternatives. When she got out of jail, she returned to the pimp as her only option.

Barbara’s drug of choice was heroin, and she was so badly addicted that even the pimp realized she was no longer useful to him. She kept aside some of her trick money so she could buy more drugs and then got beaten up for her lies and deceit. She started staying away from the house until he finally cut her loose and left her on the street.

For two years, she lived as the walking dead, homeless, addicted and desolate. A counselor from a methadone program was able to reunite this young woman with her family, and in 1979, Barbara took a train to Philadelphia to see them. She has never looked back on that life nor been back to New York.

Barbara’s website: barbaraamaya.com

Read the rest of Barbara’s story:

via Childhood sexual abuse made Barbara vulnerable to sex trafficking ploys – National sex trafficking | Examiner.com.

The aftermath of sex trafficking: Dealing with the pain and shame – National sex trafficking | Examiner.com

As a survivor of teen sex trafficking, Barbara Amaya was ready to be done with the life of captivity and mandated sex acts with multiple strangers every night. It is typical for many former victims to feel drawn back into the abuse and sex trades, but this young lady was able to turn away completely and make a new start.

However, the effects of the years of humiliation were not over. Only 21, but having lived a thousand nightmares called life, getting detoxed and clean from the drugs took years. Barbara had left school in 6th grade and had no skills. She had undiagnosed PTSD and panic attacks, and when drug-free had to deal with all the terrors of the past that permeated her mind and emotions. Reconnecting with the family was stressful, for their best course was to put her in a program for the mentally handicapped. At the time, there was little understanding of the effects of sex trafficking.

After time, Barbara did get her GED and a degree in Early Childhood Development. She returned to Virginia where she married, but due to her unhealed wounding, she had a knack for picking alcoholics. Desperately wanting a baby, but unable to conceive because of sexual trauma-induced infertility, she had surgery and was able to bear a daughter.

As a mom, Barbara became intensely protective of her child. She left her husband when the baby was two, and had to work. She was afraid to leave the girl at day care and “started acting crazy”, and realized she needed counseling. She later lost her federal government job when she was fingerprinted, and her record came back with adult prostitution arrests while she had been in New York. Even though she was as young as 12 at the time, she had lied about her age and no one questioned her.

Shame-filled, alone and unable to trust her story to others, Barbara started a daycare in her home. She had a season of not being involved in a relationship, which she credits as the tool that God used for her healing process. Prior to this, she was still looking for love and romance and spent time going clubbing, making poor choices in her involvements with men.

Health issues such as back pain, from being thrown down stairs and out of a car, and abuse-related uterine cancer, resulting in a complete hysterectomy, reminded this young woman of the damage in her body as well as her soul. Times of solitude helped Barbara learn to love herself, but there were lots of “dark, ugly days” of being really depressed as she worked through her past.

Barbara’s daughter ran away from home at 15, and this was the catalyst for the heartsick mom to tell her child about her own childhood. This was a turning point as Barbara’s eyes were opened to see that the abuse was not her fault. She was a deeply wounded child who hadn’t known what she was getting into, and was literally brainwashed from 12 to 19 to be in the life. It was “us against the squares, and this conditioning plays into a young person’s mindset, especially when a girl is searching for love. It is hard to come to mindset that I am one of the normal people”.

Next: A sex trafficking survivor walks in victory, helping other victims

Read the rest of Barbara’s story:

Barbara can be contacted through her website: barbaraamaya.com

via The aftermath of sex trafficking: Dealing with the pain and shame – National sex trafficking | Examiner.com.

A sex trafficking survivor walks in victory, helping other victims – National sex trafficking | Examiner.com

“I needed to stop isolating myself and begin to help others. I want to help runaways.” Barbara Amaya

Barbara Amaya knows what it is like to have been abused to the point of having no self-esteem, living a life of fear and hiddenness. She always thought that something was wrong with her, but she had no way to express it. Currently, she is finding her voice and telling her story about being a sex trafficking victim and now survivor. After 40 years of shame and silence, she has come forward to share her history just in the last few weeks. She applied to work with a DC non-profit, Standupforkids.org, and was asked to speak at their group. She has started a blog about her life, and has been featured on a few news stories. Currently, Barbara is writing a book about her life called, Girls Guide to Survival: Life Lessons from the Street.

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is still Barbara’s nemesis. Flashbacks of the violence and sexual degradation haunt her, and memories can pop up unbidden at any moment. Writing and speaking engagements about her past can stir up nightmares. She is hyper-vigilant, but feels content in life. Her abuse is part of her story, and she knows that she would not be alive now if not for God looking out for her.

So many years of silence and struggle with her identity have given Barbara a heart for others with similar experiences. She wants to set up a forum on her website for survivors who want to talk. Some already reach out to her through email. She encourages others to connect and talk, to look at strengths that have been gained through the circumstances. Even though it has taken decades for her to get to this point, she wants others to be set free.

The biggest goal for Barbara Amaya now is to finish her book and get the story out. She wants to help others and know that she is making a difference. Estimates of children being trafficked number in the hundreds of thousands annually. The damage they suffer is enormous physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Survivors who have come through the process and restructured their lives are invaluable to those trying to break free of the bondage of forced prostitution. Barbara Amaya is ready to be part of the healing process for others.

“A part of me was untouched inside, despite all the beatings, shootings, stabbings and rapes. It has stayed pure. It has to be God. All those nights, I was kept alive and safe. I am very grateful and I feel a calling to tell the story.”

Barbara can be contacted through her website, Barbaraamaya.com .

Next: Child sex trafficking in the US: 40 year comparison of pimps and victims

Read the rest of Barbara’s story:

Childhood sexual abuse made Barbara vulnerable to sex trafficking ploys

The aftermath of sex trafficking: Dealing with the pain and shame

Child sex trafficking in the US: 40 year comparison of pimps and victims

Barbara can be contacted through her website: barbaraamaya.com

via A sex trafficking survivor walks in victory, helping other victims – National sex trafficking | Examiner.com.

Child sex trafficking in the US: 40-year comparison of pimps and victims – National sex trafficking | Examiner.com

There have been many forms of commercial child sexual exploitation in the US, but it is only in the last dozen years that it became an official federal crime. Under the TVPA (Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000), children were identified as victims of sex trafficking if they were sold for sex or coerced into sex acts. Even though this law mainly applied to foreigners brought to the US, later revisions explicitly included American children. Federal penalties for traffickers and customers could be up to 25 years in prison, and provision is made for the minor who was forced into prostitution to be viewed as a victim and not the criminal.

Barbara Amaya was trafficked in the ’70s, first by a Washington, DC couple, and then by a man in New York City. Unfortunately for her, children caught in prostitution were considered as criminal adults who had chosen that lifestyle. She went to jail several times, and actually incriminated herself by lying about her age to appear older. Her story shows that the methods of child sex traffickers and the effects on the victims have not changed in 40 years. This scenario happens daily with a hundred thousand kids across this country.

Barbara was sexually and physically abused in her home as a young child during the ’60s. Recent studies indicate that 70-90 percent of currently trafficked minors report a pattern of abuse from family members, neighbors or respected community people within their circles.

The abuse was not believed nor properly addressed by Barbara’s mother. Greater trauma occurs to children who try to report the abuse and are either penalized for telling or ignored. The child is left vulnerable and the predatory routines continue unchecked. Only 50% of such cases are ever reported to the police or Child Protective Services.

The mental anguish of the lifestyle caused Barbara to run away, and that led first to placement in detention and a reform school. Running from these places led to getting connected with traffickers. Nearly all prostituted children have run away from home and/or from foster placements. One-in-three of these children will be picked up by predators within 48 hours of being on the streets.

Barbara’s male pimp pretended to be her boyfriend, using violence and manipulation to get her to comply. Many of the modern pimps are well versed in control tactics and are called “Romeo or finesse pimps” (the boyfriends) or “gorilla pimps” (those who use brute force without pretending any affinity for the relationship).

Heroin was Barbara’s escape from dealing with the horrors of her life. Although the captors may indulge in street drugs and may use them to bring the girls into compliance, they try to keep the victims from getting hooked. However, substance abuse as a way of coping with the personal devastation is a compounding factor with today’s exploited youth

Both the pimp and the johns treated Barbara with violence. Victims of sex trafficking are considered dispensable, and the crime of prostituting people attracts a number of other criminal mindsets. It is not uncommon for survivors to report beatings, rapes, torture and assault with guns or knives.

Barbara has dealt with compounded physical, emotional and psychological effects of her sexual exploitation for more than 40 years. Sexual assault trauma is intricately layered into the whole of a person. Overcoming it is incredibly painful and can take years and years of work.

The methods of pimps, sexual predators and traffickers show little variation across the decades, and the damage to the victims remains in a constant range of severity. However, the frequency of child sex trafficking activities is increasing, in part, with the ease of buying and selling sex with children on the Internet.

The Internet was not in the picture when Barbara was being exploited, and for that she is glad. She reflects that AIDS was not yet a concern in the late 70s, but came to the forefront a couple of years later. Crack cocaine and crystal meth were also not components of the prostitution scene at the time, and Barbara knows she would have used them if they had been available. These days, teens think nothing of attending Pimp and Ho parties, which glamorize the trafficking culture. They don’t realize that they are being desensitized to a horrific lifestyle that involves every possible degradation of people imaginable.

Barbara does see change coming in the way a lot of people view trafficking of children. Laws are being changed and enforced, healing resources are more available to victims, and survivors such as she are standing in the gap to inform, protect and nurture the next generation.

Read the rest of Barbara’s story:

Childhood sexual abuse made Barbara vulnerable to sex trafficking ploys

The aftermath of sex trafficking: Dealing with the pain and shame

A sex trafficking survivor walks in victory, helping other victims

Barbara can be contacted through her website: barbaraamaya.com

via Child sex trafficking in the US: 40-year comparison of pimps and victims – National sex trafficking | Examiner.com.