Thursday, March 17, 2016

Journal #5- “If there’s not a bed, there’s a pimp waiting right outside the shelter who will say, 'Come with me'."

Joural #5

“Reach for the stars with one hand, but leave one hand near the ground to uplift your sisters with you because we’re stronger together”

            Today we were privileged with the opportunity to attend a panel at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations to watch a wonderful panel on girl empowerment. One of our fellows, Maddy Katz, was asked to sit on the panel. Not only was she amazing, but the rest of the panelists were as well. The majority of these panelists were no older than 18 years of age. It was incredible to hear these young women discuss feminism, their experiences and their efforts for gender equality. At their age, I couldn’t event fathom having the understanding of feminism that they have. I also couldn’t fathom making so many strives for gender equality at the age of just 16. Meeting some of these women gave me so much hope for our future.
            After this session, I was able to go to an amazing UN side event on human trafficking. Since I have been to several human trafficking events prior to this event, I was excited to listen to diplomats and representatives of countries talk about this issue as opposed to NGOs. Everyone in the session discussed human trafficking and slavery. I learned that 80% of trafficked individuals are women and 50% are minors.
            I really enjoyed the part of the panel with Emmanuel Caparas, secretary of Justice from the Philippines. He broke down the number of trafficking victims in his county (that they were able to rehabilitate) and it was incredibly interesting. Since the initiate began, they uncovered 621 trafficking victims. 581 were female and 40 were male. 302 were girls (under 18) and 31/40 male victims were boys (under 18). Of all their trafficking cases, 95% were sex trafficking cases.
            I also learned a lot from the co-director of the anti-human trafficking initiatives at New York’s Covenant House. She addressed the trafficking in the United States. When they studied the homeless youth populations in their shelter, they discovered that around 15% of these children met the criteria of being trafficked and nearly 15% more met the criteria for survival sex, in which they traded sex for shelter, food or water.
            I learned about something called a “trauma bond” that often keeps victims of abuse tied to their abuser. In the first session I went to on trafficking, the trafficker told stories of “making the young women fall in love with him” and this was just reinforced by many stories that were told in this session. I heard one story in particular that stuck with me. It was a story of a young girl and her “boyfriend”. Her “boyfriend” was the first person to ever buy her birthday cake. Her “boyfriend” was the first person to ever give her a hug. Her first boyfriend was also her pimp who sexually exploited their “connection” for money. I want to end this blog with another quote (as you can tell I like those).

            “If there’s not a bed, there’s a pimp waiting right outside the shelter who will say, 'Come with me'." Hearing all these stories today and throughout CSW60 have furthered the passion inside me for gender equality and equality in general. This experience has made me want to devote my career to women’s rights even more than when I first began my WomenNC journey.

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