Dear Orland Park Public Library Board of Trustees,
I’m Dan Kleinman of SafeLibraries, and I also have a message below from sex trafficking victim Jacqueline Homan. I’ve been watching the news where the Orland Park Public Library claims to be complying with the First Amendment of the US Constitution by allowing legal pornography on public library computers. I’ve been quoted on this local issue of yours in the Chicago Tribune and perhaps may soon appear in other local media, likely because the author of the Children’s Internet Protection Act [CIPA] has called me a “trusted source” for information about how and why libraries mislead on library law ( http://tinyurl.com/ErnestIstookInterview ).
I am writing to assist you with your understanding of the law regarding the First Amendment, public libraries, and Internet filtering. Jacqueline Homan is writing to advise that the rights of silent sex trafficking victims should not be trampled by public libraries displaying the crimes committed against them and calling it “free speech” or “constitutional protected material.” So let me say a few things, then please contact me if you desire my assistance in any way, given what the CIPA author said about me.
According to United States v. American Library Association [ALA], 539 US 194 (2003) ( http://laws.findlaw.com/us/539/194.html ), “public libraries’ use of Internet filtering software does not violate their patrons’ First Amendment rights….”
That’s it. It’s right there in the first sentence of the summary. Use of software filters does not violate library user’s First Amendment rights. Saying they do is factually and legally false. Besides, even ALA now admits library filters work, work well, no longer block health-related web sites, and claiming breast cancer searches will be blocked is an old excuse ( http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2012/02/ala-admits-library-filters-work-barbara.html ).
And US v. ALA applies whether or not a library accepts federal funding. You see, before the Court found CIPA to be constitutional, it first found using filters does not violate constitutional rights. Based on that finding, it then found CIPA to be constitutional. Let me get the sentence for you, to help you. It’s the first sentence of the case summary. “Because public libraries’ use of Internet filtering software does not violate their patrons’ First Amendment rights, CIPA does not induce libraries to violate the Constitution, and is a valid exercise of Congress’ spending power.”
So even if you do not accept federal funding under CIPA, it is still legal to block pornography from public libraries under US v. ALA. Claims that the 1973 case of California v. Miller on the definition of obscene controls public libraries are merely a means to manipulate people into ignoring the 2003 US v. ALA case. Besides, local laws that create local libraries implicitly exclude porn, and while libraries may act autonomously, they are not empowered to act outside the law. Local governments have the right and duty to force libraries to act within the law or themselves face severe liability. Where libraries do NOT filter, they and their municipalities can and have been sued by librarians for sexual harassment. The ALA does not advise people of that. So it is wise for a library board to comply with the law and filter out porn, or for a municipality to force a library to comply with the law without ever piercing the veil of autonomy to act within the law.
Generally speaking, here is more information about the dogma used to mislead libraries and communities about pornography in public libraries: http://tinyurl.com/ALAdogma If you swallow the dogma, you get embarrassing stories like this: “ALA Supports Orland Park Public Library Stance on Viewing Porn,” by Sean O’Connor, Chicago Libraries Examiner, 5 November 2013 ( http://www.examiner.com/article/ala-supports-orland-park-public-library-stance-on-viewing-porn ).
Lastly, think about the rights of the sex trafficking victims who appear on some of the pornography films displayed in public libraries on the theory that people have the First Amendment right to do so despite what the US Supreme Court said. If you are a library that allows porn viewing, you are contributing to the further persecution of sex crime victims. Here is what one trafficked victim, Jacqueline Homan, told me as a message to public libraries that allow porn viewing:
JACQUELINE HOMAN, SEX TRAFFICKING VICTIM:
My human rights as a crime victim—a victim of sex trafficking whose “prostitution past” includes my rapes being made into others’ “entertainment”—rights which have been abrogated and completely disregarded, are NOT up for debate.
NO ONE would hire me in ANY job at all since I escaped my traffickers at age 17. I am now 46 and face preventable blindness due to having glaucoma but being poor and uninsured and unemployable because of my age and because of having been completely marginalized 100% out of any hope of re-entering society and finding love, social acceptance, or even a chance for a REAL job instead of a fucking blowjob—because of being stigmatized for being a CRIME VICTIM of the CRIME of sex trafficking.
And you want to take away from women like me—sexually exploited and abused women who get no help and no support to rebuild our stolen lives by focusing on the “rights” of some disgusting POS who enacted his hardcore porn fantasies on my body as a homeless, orphaned and trafficked teen? More men than I can count. All before I was old enough to vote. Think about that for a minute.
And since escaping, all I got the “opportunity” for was to go further into poverty w/ $52K in college loan debt I can never repay because my degree failed to open ANY doors for me due to a “past” I did NOT have any control over or choice in the matter.
But hey, let’s not support the REAL victims of the sex industry because it’s just so much easier to defend the “free speech rights” of predators who participate in the destruction of trafficking victims’ lives than to concern yourselves with our rights. Porn users and traffickers’ “free speech” rights end where my right to NOT be sexual chattel (per the 13th Amendment) for others’ “free speech” begins.
You may quote me verbatim, Dan.
Oh, and you can add this:
Thanks so much for taking the side of the johns who raped me, the traffickers who FORCED me and made my gang-rape some porn sot’s “entertainment”—the men who wanked off to my torture and abuse while in captivity because predators have rights while victims are denied ours.
As an impoverished trafficking survivor fighting for human dignity, to abolish slavery and fighting for restorative justice for those of us who are struggling for our lives and basic human rights as victims of an industry of sexual torture, slavery, and the added oppression of stigmatization which has barred me from any employment in post-Welfare Reform America, your support is desperately needed so I may continue my work in educating the public about this very important human rights issue. Please donate to support my work and my quest for restorative justice. Thank you.
Jacqueline S. Homan
This post is saying words I seemed to have repeated too many times, but here's the thing all these words must be repeated until there is true freedom for all the prostituted class.
Here's the thing, our trauma, our pain, our grief and our complete lack of justice can not be healed until these are read, are heard and fully taken on board.
I am full of trauma - but believe to write is to fight for life. So I must write.
My soul has been shattered by so many trafficking and human rights groups being so unable to view the prostituted class as fully human.
I stare in disbelief as those who claimed to care about the prostituted class call us sex workers, say only stigma is the issue not the violence done to the prostituted, and say prostitution is not connected to trafficking.
About this Fukushima. Do you know how bad it has become at this point? I've been following it with a sister and she's been reading me the latest news aloud or viceversa. And we pause periodically to let the wtf sink in, then look at each other with blank stares, and utter in renewed horror that men are running the world, and they did this.
by Jacqueline S. Homan,
author of Without Apology
I am speaking out as a sex trafficking survivor. I was trafficked at age 13 when I was poor, orphaned and homeless back in 1980 and escaped at age 17. Neither the Christian Right nor the Left really cares about poor trafficked women. American victims of sex trafficking are unable to qualify for any benefits available to foreign-born sex trafficked women because American sex trafficking victims are not covered under the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). Nobody is helping us.
Combatting the scourge of human trafficking has become the sexy, trendy newest cause for privileged opportunists in need of their newest feel-good activism fix as they seek to profit by wrapping themselves in the cloak of social justice. Of course, those whom are the very core of this cause—the sex trafficking victims (or exited women) themselves—are without real, adequate and appropriate help in terms of income support, medical care, education, job training and job placement to regain control of their destiny to rebuild their lives and live with dignity while trying to do so.
Restoring trafficked women to “normalized” status in society is an important goal, but there is an enormous resistance to that on the part of society, including many “allies” that will not stop their privilege-clinging and power-overing to actually facilitate restoration. Sadly, even most such “allies” look down on adult prostituted women who started out as trafficked under-aged girls.
The very women and girls whom this movement is supposed to be about are exploited for their stories and then discarded and thrown under the bus by most “allies”, including many well-heeled academics who’ve been enriched with chair endowments and many other social prizes and rewards after prostituted/exited women’s stories of tremendous suffering have helped pave the career paths of those who enjoy all the status, prestige and prosperity in the name of “speaking for” downtrodden, marginalized women.
After decades of throwing the poorest, most marginalized women away with misogynistic laws and policies of “benign neglect” tantamount to social Darwinism, everybody suddenly wants to cash in on the big business of helping trafficked women and girls. How odd, considering that it was this very same male supremacist society that threw away poor marginalized women and girls into the prostitute caste in the first place—first by ripping away what meager, inadequate threadbare safety net that did exist for destitute women in the name of “personal responsibility”, and second by continuing to discriminate against women for good-paying blue-collar “men’s jobs” that don’t require an expensive college education, and third by reaffirming male entitlement to women’s bodies as disposable reproductive goods and sex goods.
There is a serious problem when the public is listening to very people—these “faith-based initiatives” that are the new “pimps”—which are exploiting the most impoverished, marginalized and already exploited population.
The Obama administration has unveiled a plan inviting public participation for helping to fight human trafficking, and part of the plan is to open funding for battered women’s shelters whose funding was recently cut by the 2010 Congress. More troubling is that most of these domestic violence shelters refuse to take prostituted women who want to exit but who are also destitute and have nowhere to go. Funding for emergency shelters that turn away trafficked women and under-aged girls is funding that is not given to shelters run by anti-trafficking groups that actually help the trafficked.
Cash-strapped survivor-run networks like Sex Work Recovery Anonymous (SWA) and Trafficking and Prostitution Survivor Services (TAPS) that are geared towards providing real material help to survivors get no funding from the US Department of Health & Human Services through its Refugee Resettlement Office. Non-profit groups that get the lion’s share of the annual grants from the Office of Refugee Resettlement are nearly all anti-abortion Christian organizations that are huge, deeply entrenched corporations with Catholic Charities and Polaris Project getting the most funds.
This is problematic because faith-based charities refuse to provide abortion care to trafficked women and leave them no choice except to be further physically and psychologically violated by their rapists-johns by forcing them to endure a full term of incapacitating pregnancy and a traumatic, grueling childbirth—thus, continuing the rape and torture. Forcing women to get/remain pregnant against their will when they don’t want to go through it has been the time-honored way that men have oppressed and continue to oppress women, using our vulnerability to pregnancy to keep us from having an equal opportunity to have the same good jobs that are automatically handed to men, denying us full citizenship and equal civil and human rights—which is what fuels the sex trade in the first place because it limits women’s opportunities and rights.
If it’s wrong for women and girls to be sexually exploited, how is it NOT also wrong for them to be reproductively exploited by their “rescuers” for the benefit of Christian adoption agencies and rich, white childless couples who are buying the “right” to further exploit those victims with forced factory-farm reproduction to provide them with babies—free grata?
How does this make them any different than the johns who bought the “right” to first use these girls’ bodies for forced sex to provide him with his precious orgasm?
There is something radically wrong with the system when the non-profit mega corporations (aka “faith-based” charities) that enjoy the backing of well-heeled patriarchal, misogynistic religious powerhouses get all the federal grant money from the US Department of Health & Human Services while cash-strapped secular and survivor-run non-profits started by impoverished exited women who are the real human trafficking experts can’t get funding to help destitute survivors and women who want to exit prostitution but can’t due to nearly insurmountable barriers.
A trafficked teen girl who has no choice becomes that 22 year old drug-addicted woman found in a dumpster with her throat cut from ear to ear because of being thrown away by a bootstrap-happy society that pushed her into the arms of traffickers in the name of “personal responsibility” while refusing to give her real equal opportunities and provide a social floor through which no one can fall.
The Exploitation Continues After Exiting
Now not all men are bad, and neither are all Christians. But the fact remains that the majority are comfortable with the status quo because it privileges them at women’s expense, or else there would NOT be a right-wing War on Women where it is women (especially POOR women) who are punished with gratuitous cruelty for men’s sense of sexual entitlement and greed. And there would not be a pandemic of sex trafficking fueled by male demand secured by female poverty and disenfranchisement due to discrimination backed by 6,000 years of institutionalized patriarchy.
People with privilege really don’t want to upset the status quo—it may mean having to relinquish some of their own privileges that come at the expense of the disprivileged. Even within the abolition movement, there is a LOT of privilege-clinging and power-overing.
Exploiting women as sex goods and as reproductive chattel are inseparable. It’s the same end game: objectification, reproductive enslavement, sexual terrorism and cruelty towards women to support male supremacy and male privilege to benefit men at women’s expense, suffering and misery.
Forced pregnancy/childbirth was the main linchpin that upheld the plantation slavery system in the antebellum South. African slave women were forced to breed. All for men’s sexual AND economic benefit at women’s expense and suffering. And even though not all men are porn-consuming, prostitute-abusing pigs, the fact remains that ALL men benefit from this sadistic, exploitative hierarchical system of unearned privileges in which women are kept economically, sexually, and socially oppressed in the ‘one-down’ position. And poor white women (“poor white trash”) have also been convenient throw-aways into the sex class so that men could have a free license to be sexually sadistic predators.
It’s no secret that most who are thrown away into the sex caste are those who not only lack gender privilege, but also class privilege and/or race privilege. Poor men get offered helping hand up and job opportunities that are denied to women; poor women get told to take our clothes off—that being “only a whore” is the ONLY place in society for us, the only “option” if we don’t want to starve or be homeless. Or end up disabled or dead for lack of health care from abject poverty caused by jobless due to discrimination. This is also how you get so many rescued trafficked women who, out of utter despair, reluctantly return to prostitution when even the few living wage jobs available to women are denied to women who have been stigmatized for their “past”—a past in which they had little choice in making.
Traffickers tell their victims that there is no other place for them, that society won’t accept them and treat them nicely. Unfortunately, the lack of support, help, social acceptance, and a leg up for poor, marginalized exited women faced with no alternative except to return to prostitution gives this credence: Everybody (including many “allies” and “rescuers”) in society proves the traffickers right.
Almost all of the faith-based organizations that get the lion’s share of federal grant money only help a select few kids that make good photo opportunities for their charity’s fundraising PR. What kind of message does this send to trafficked teens and adult women who desperately want to exit prostitution that they were trafficked into before reaching that magical age of 18?
Meanwhile, poor adult women who either have already exited (or who want to exit but feel trapped because they’re physically and/or financially unable to exit) never get anything because there’s this idea that grown women cannot suffer and therefore don’t matter. Adult women are just discarded and written off as having made their “choice.” Almost all anti-trafficking groups focus only on children and ignore the women.
The Cost to Society of Ignoring Poor Prostituted Adult Women
Conservative estimates based on limited data collection place the percentage of sex trafficking victims with HIV at about 25%, but actual numbers may be much higher. According to the Office of the Secretariat of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS, 63% of HIV-positive sufferers aged 15-24 are women.
A 2007 study published in JAMA showed that 38% of a study group of 287 sex trafficked Nepalese women and girls tested positive for HIV. The study also showed that the younger the trafficked girl, the higher the likelihood of being exposed to HIV since johns specifically request younger girls (under age 15) at brothels and johns often refuse to wear condoms and the prostituted women and girls realistically cannot compel them to.
Many other regions have much higher rates than that, such as Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside where 75% of prostituted women and girls are HIV-positive. Women and children who are trafficked for commercial sex experience a tenfold risk of contracting HIV compared to any other subgroup of the population. The average age of entry into the sex trade for females is 12-14 years of age. The US is one of the top three source and destination hubs for sex trafficking.
According to the US State Department, 95% of sex trafficking victims are women and girls and 80% of human trafficking victims within the US are American women and girls, and according to the Harvard School of Public Health study authored by Dr. Jay Silverman, the HIV infection rate exceeded 60% among girls forced into prostitution prior to age 15 from the 2007 sample of 287 Nepalese women and girls. The public health consequence, and ultimately, the devastation to society caused by male demand for commercial sex is astronomical.
“Addressing the widely accepted male demand for commercial sex is critical to ending this modern day form of female slavery,” Silverman said.
As sex trafficking survivor Lisa Bouvet, said: “Saying someone chose to become a prostitute is like saying someone chose to jump off the roof but no one mentioned that the building was on fire.”
Those who manage to exit the sex trade also face a substantial risk of being re-trafficked if they are from a country that lacks adequate social and economic support systems because of the contempt, scorn, derision, neglect and social rejection suffered by the prostituted. Many exited women and girls, out of sheer desperation, re-enter the sex trade when they’re left with nowhere else to go and no real social and economic support because of the criminalization and stigma that comes with being a prostituted woman. And when that happens, chances of being able to re-escape and survive are almost zero.
Many exited women are unable to afford proper medical care and due to total social exclusion and marginalization, they have almost zero employment opportunities and no hope of economically fending for themselves. Almost no one will hire exited women due to the social stigma alone, and finding some middle class Prince Charming to rescue her from utter destitution by marrying her and supporting her so she has a home, food, and medical care is definitely off the table.
As an aside, a study of johns showed that upwards of 60% are married men with families—they bought prostituted women so they could get away with doing to a woman what they would never be able to do to their own wives. If you torture and kill one of the “madonnas”, you will likely get prison; if you torture and kill one of the “whores”, you will likely get a free pass and a pat on the back.
Convicted Child Molesters Get More Social Acceptance and Better Economic Support For Re-entering Society Than Sex Trafficking Survivors
According to Dr. Brian Conway of the University of British Columbia, people who contract HIV—the virus that causes AIDS—can live very, very long and high quality lives without ever developing full blown AIDS as long as their CD4 (white blood cell) count remains well above 200 on medical therapy. But the vast majority of exited women struggle in abject poverty, and in countries like the US and the impoverished regions of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, destitute human trafficking survivors don’t have access to adequate medical treatment or any social income support to be able to live with dignity. Consequently, the sex trafficking survivors who contracted HIV from johns and traffickers are slapped with a cruel, torturous death sentence: slow, painful death from AIDS related complications.
Two major factors that negatively impact CD4 cell count are fatigue and stress. The stress from having to suffer in utter poverty and complete social exclusion due to stigma, compounded by the trauma levels of anyone who survived the amount of violence and torture as prostituted women have, only serves to intensify the agonizing progression of untreated HIV, which is hallmarked by ravaging and unrelenting opportunistic infections such as pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) which causes fatal treatment-resistant pneumonia for which medical intervention does not come cheap.
Untreated HIV is a certain death sentence, but it is a very slow and torturous one that surpasses the level of torture that would be permissible at Guantanamo. Treatment of HIV requires a series of antiretroviral drug therapies, of which there are several classes—each one inhibiting the mutation and multiplication of the HIV virus at different stages of cell invasion in the HIV virus’s life cycle. Often, several classes must be combined to effectively treat this devastating retrovirus which targets CD4 cells, injects healthy CD4 cells with its genetic code (RNA) which is then used by the reverse transcriptase enzyme to build HIV DNA.
The HIV DNA is injected into the CD4 cell’s DNA by the integrase enzyme, establishing HIV infection in the CD4 cell. When the HIV-infected CD4 cell reproduces, the HIV DNA is activated. This is how a retrovirus like HIV destroys the immune system and causes full blown AIDS—by attacking the body’s white blood cells. And this is why multi-faceted therapy drug schedules are needed to treat and subdue or limit the HIV virus’s activity within the body.
None of the current medical technologies for treating HIV can protect an HIV-positive person’s sexual partner from contracting HIV no matter how well the infected person responds to the antiretroviral therapy. So an HIV-positive john with access to good medical care and who is able to improve his healthy CD4 cell count and limit the devastation of HIV in his body, who then turns around and buys rape-on-demand sex from poor prostituted women (and likely refuses to wear a condom) then infects the trafficking victim who is unable to compel him to wear a condom—never mind dictate any other terms and conditions of the sex-for-money transaction. In fact, it is usually in attempting to refuse a particular sexual act that gets prostituted women murdered—if not by the john who wanted to hurt her as part of the “services” he paid for, then by the traffickers in whose eyes a “troublesome” woman’s life isn’t even worth eight cents.
Unlike the traffickers and the johns on sex tourism “vacations” at home and abroad who paid for the “right” to get “you-do-what-I-say” sex from prostituted women and children, poor trafficked and/or exited women that contracted HIV from these self-entitled sexually sadistic men that refused to wear condoms have little to no hope at all of living a long, high quality life if they cannot get proper care due to being from a country in which women do not enjoy equal rights with men, and a country that either does not have the medical technology of antiretroviral therapy available, or that does not provide good medical care to those unable to pay for it because of that country not having universal health care.
To be sentenced to death from full blown AIDS as a direct result of first being forcibly infected with it by cruel, sexually sadistic men that are carriers of HIV and secondly by lack of access to the same quality of medical care to adequately treat HIV that their class-privileged HIV-positive rapists enjoy, meets the definition of torture and crimes against humanity.
In the US, convicted serial killers sentenced to death row get more sympathy and avenues for legal redress and concern for their rights than an adult sex trafficking victim who struggled to exit “the life” against all odds. Regardless of where one stands on the death penalty issue, the fact is that the way the state is permitted to execute a convicted serial killer is restricted by Constitutional laws against cruel and unusual punishment and torture—which is why no one is executed by being drawn and quartered or burned alive at the stake like they were in medieval Europe.
It is also why the state cannot (in theory, anyway) execute someone with biological terrorism, and neither can an individual resort to that under Stand Your Ground Laws. Bioterrorism is precisely what traffickers and johns are doing by deliberately infecting prostituted women with a fatal, incurable STD. Women and children did not enter prostitution with HIV—traffickers and johns infected them with it.
It is a crime against humanity for any other identifiable group to be targeted for death by sexual torture, destitution and bioterrorism—except women. Do the math: 95% of the prostituted are women and girls, 94% of those living below poverty suffering without basic human needs are women and girls. Women comprise 52% of the population yet women have less than 2% of all good-paying blue-collar skilled trades jobs and science careers due to institutionalized sexism and discrimination. Men comprise 88% of the government leadership and lawmaking bodies, and men comprise 98% of the top 1% of the financial elite. Although 5% of the prostituted are boys and men, nearly 100% of the sex buyers are men. Money, privilege and power are gendered. And so is the institution of prostitution.
There are upwards of about 10 million trafficked women and girls trapped in prostitution in the US and only 200 shelter beds nationwide for women and girls who desperately want to exit but cannot. So the final question remains: will destitute exited women get helped with income support to live with a little bit of human dignity while they struggle to heal and rebuild their lives, or will this new anti-trafficking plan by the Obama administration merely serve as a boon for large “faith-based” charity executives? If this country is serious about the sex trafficking problem, then funds for destitute trafficking victims payable to the destitute exited women whether they exited 20 minutes ago or 20 years ago must come first before anyone else’s enrichment.
What is needed is:
- income for destitute exiting/exited women to live with dignity as they try to get on their feet and rebuild their lives
- medical care, dental care, and therapy
- opportunities for advanced educations and/or vocational training
- REAL job placement—guaranteed job slots for poor marginalized and disadvantaged exited women.
I am originally from an impoverished Philadelphia neighborhood but I have lived in a rural northwestern Pennsylvania town since 2002. I first began writing in 2006 during a long, protracted and fruitless job search as a middle-aged woman trying to re-enter the workforce with my Bachelor’s degree in mathematics. Unfortunately, I would have needed a minimum of a Master’s degree and there was no funding available to me to pay for grad school—or law school—so that I could have had the opportunity to become a human rights lawyer like I had always wanted.I picked up a few freelance gigs writing and editing a few science articles for Holocaust author Edwin Black’s online news journal, The Cutting Edge News and began ghostwriting and editing bioethics articles that were published in medical journals, but the pay was not enough to live on by a long shot.
I began speaking out about the injustices of poverty due to classism and systemic discrimination (particularly against poor women in America, regardless of race) and the power dynamics and the price of privilege, which is difficult to write about despite having the lived experience of it as a sex trafficking survivor from the poverty class. Very few people are willing to acknowledge that their comforts, social status, and privileges were paid for by the social and economic deprivation suffered by others.
The disprivilege, isolation, total social exclusion and material deprivation endured by the poorest and most marginalized women—those from the underclass of the underclass whom society discarded and handed over to traffickers—paid for everybody else’s position, comforts, opportunities, and privileges.
Having hidden from the men who trafficked me for 27 1/2 years after escaping, only a tiny few people knew about my “past.” But many others guessed about it—it’s difficult to explain the unexplainable gaps of one’s life spanning from age 13 to age 17, especially when you know you will only be judged, labeled as “damaged”, and stigmatized and punished by everybody else for what others have done to you while the whole world knew the truth and yet remained silent.
Silence is consent.
I was initially very reticent to write about these issues; not because I doubted my own abilities and talent, but because I was very skeptical that it would have an impact—due in no small measure to my own life experience as a marginalized sex trafficking survivor from the American underclass whom no one cared about for as long as I can remember.
It is also an irrefutable fact that the system is rigged in favor of those who have privilege and against those at the very bottom without privilege no matter how talented, ambitious, or intelligent they are. Those who have privilege and power in any society are never willing to cede it or share it peacefully or graciously.
My fifth book which was just published on March 13 2013, Without Apology, tells the main points of my own story, but it is not another lurid piece of “human trafficking porn”—it addresses the underlying social and economic structures that create, perpetuate and maintain a prostitute class as a repository for discarding poor, unwanted ‘surplus’ women into and addresses the ways in which American society reinforces male supremacy with both sexual exploitation and reproductive exploitation as an economy of misogyny.
The world had not been a very kind place to me since I was orphaned and left destitute and homeless at 13. I escaped when I was 17 back in 1984. No one was interested in helping me rebuild my life throughout the entire time after I had exited sexual exploitation hell (at risk of either murder or arrest) while I had to hide from the high-ranking members of an outlaw motorcycle gang who trafficked me for 27 ½ years. Of course, changing your last name and being able to hide was much easier before the Internet and the tracking capabilities in cell phones. But it was extremely difficult, if not impossible, to rebuild one’s life nonetheless.
When someone shows you who they really are, believe them.
It has not gone unnoticed that the very same people who hated poor marginalized women like me for being “only whores” as recently as five years ago now suddenly claim to support making help available for trafficking victims (when they’re not slut-shaming other women for wanting access to birth control and safe legal abortion). Funny how they suddenly “care” when the US Dept. of Health & Human Services doles out tens of millions of dollars to these very same people who have started NGO’s and charities under former president Bush’s “faith-based initiatives” to “fight human trafficking.”
Ever since the human trafficking issue was turned into the newest “gold rush” for opportunists and “issue tourists” with privileges (who always despised poor marginalized women), all these people suddenly care—so long as their “caring” won’t cost them any money or raise poor unfortunate women’s status—leaving the privileged with fewer poor prostitutes to look down on and feel superior to. For the most part, they have done NOTHING but carve out cushy jobs for themselves and lined their own pockets at poor prostitution victims’ expense while offering the victims nothing but empty clichés and useless platitudes oozing with fairy dust thinking.
Nothing is more telling about how genuine people really are than their reactions when confronted with the fact that ending sex trafficking may actually cost them some of their privileges. I have found that for most, the anti-human trafficking movement is just another middle class feel-good activism party of walkathons, high-priced fundraising events, and pot-luck suppers for them to feel good about themselves. It’s never been about the poor disprivileged, marginalized trafficking survivors who have nothing.
The focus of leaders in the anti-trafficking movement has never been about helping the overwhelming majority of sex trafficking victims/survivors who are women struggling with the same deep poverty and deprivation of opportunities that pushed them into the sex trade to begin with who were trafficked and then escaped and lived to tell about it.
Just as they got off on having a prostitute class to hold in contempt, and just as men got off on buying sex from trafficked women and girls, most people in these social justice movements who say they care and want to help really don’t care—they make everything all about them and silence the voices of the majority of trafficking victims who are struggling in poverty. They get off on having us as poor, downtrodden charity cases whom they never wanted to give real opportunities to because they’re privilege-clingers who are only interested in power-overing and keeping poor trafficking victims down as perpetually needy charity cases that are expected to prostrate themselves in eternal gratitude for miserly, inadequate crumbs.
Many people in the anti-trafficking movement approached me offering paternalism cloaked deceptively in the habiliments of “help”, only to not actually provide any real substantive help at all. Instead, their “offers” are mostly something to make them feel good about “helping the poor trafficking victim”—it usually had nothing to do with really helping poor, marginalized women who escaped the sex trade to actually get a leg up and re-enter society.
Based on my own experience and everything I have observed and investigated, I firmly believe most people in the anti-trafficking movement are just using the victims and the issue of sex trafficking to secure their funding stream from the government to benefit themselves and pay for their junkets while poor survivors who desperately need money, job opportunities, and help to rebuild their (our) lives continue to suffer without basic human needs (like medical care to prevent disability and blindness from glaucoma). I have yet to see proof of anything to the contrary. And I refuse to shut up about this.
Polaris got $10 million from US Dept. of Health & Human Services, in addition to all the money they rake in through charity drives and fundraisers. Why did Polaris not provide real help for this trafficking survivor in need of glaucoma treatment and computer training and job placement? They got funding in the name of poor trafficking survivors. But I have yet to meet another American trafficking victim who actually got helped. I know that I never got any help from any of these charities to rebuild my life throughout the entire 28 (and counting) years after I escaped—help like medical and dental care, an income to live on with some basic human dignity, and the opportunity for completing my education through the grad school level or even just some computer programming and web development courses and direct job placement.
And I am not alone. My situation is the norm for poor trafficking victims in America. What is even more tragic is that most poor trafficking victims end up in far worse shape than I did—when I was trafficked and subsequently escaped 30 years ago, it was before herpes and the AIDS epidemic hit. I escaped without any STD’s—which is NOT a likely outcome for most trafficked women and girls today.
All I got slapped with was untreated PTSD and lifelong poverty, social and material deprivation, and total isolation due to the stigma against poor people, especially against poor women from the prostitute class—we are the underclass of the underclass.
[read more here at my Without Apology site...]