sex trafficking

Human Trafficking Awareness : What you CAN do.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and for some of us the truth of this issue may be common knowledge. To others, even today, the reality of human trafficking still comes as a shock. 

Regardless of our familiarity with the issue, to be confronted with the statistics is overwhelming to all of us: 

40.3 million people living in slavery today**.

29+ million of those being women and girls. 

403,000 people in the US alone.

The average age of entry into forced prostitution worldwide is under 17 years old.

The complex trauma related to human trafficking and exploitation is very difficult to overcome.

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These daunting facts can stun us and keep us complacent, static, or frozen- too overwhelmed to do anything. We may ask, “How can I impact such a BIG problem? Is it even possible?”

The truth is WE CAN make a difference. 

YOUR VOICE MATTERS. 

Your actions matter, and your choices matter. 

This is really good news in the face of one of the most horrible realities in human history.

We at Free The Girls love the fact that we get to invite you into the work of supporting survivors of human trafficking in real, tangible ways. With our unique model, we are seeing women regain independence, empowerment, and hope. 

In honor of Human Trafficking Awareness Month, we’d like to invite you to join our Export Freedom Project. As we’re getting ready to send a huge shipment of bras to the continent of Africa, you can join in and follow the boxes of inventory - from our warehouse in Indiana, across the ocean into the hands of survivors in Mozambique! There are many steps in the process of getting your donated bras into the hands of women. Once they receive them, each woman will sustain her business with those bras! 

And the most beautiful part? 

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Not only is she creating a business, she’s creating a life - a life of freedom and hope. 

As we think about the journey of a bra… we can’t help but think about the journey of survivors of sex trafficking. It’s a journey from horrific trauma and oppression to reintegrating into the life they were meant to live - within their own family and community. The dividends of your impact are realized not only in women victoriously leading and providing for themselves, but also for generations to come. 

Through holistic reintegration programming and the economic opportunity to earn a safe income- we’re seeing survivors free to be restored to who they were designed to be- 

WHOLE,
WORTHY,
POWERFULLY FREE.

In order to join our Export Freedom Project, we’re inviting you to create your own Facebook fundraiser* for Free The Girls and invite your community to join in. We’re asking each person to set a goal of $200 -and when you reach your goal of $200, you’ll be added to our insider group of Export Freedom Partners! In this private Facebook group, you’ll be getting exclusive updates, photos, and information about our Mozambique program and the women in it. 

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By joining the Export Freedom Project, you can literally SEE your impact. And not only will you be inspired by the difference your impact can make, but you’ll be able to share the inspiration and impact with your friends and family who have joined you in your fundraiser. 

This opportunity is an exciting way to move from paralysis or being slightly engaged in this issue to making a tangible impact and to SEE results. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

*If you don’t have Facebook, don’t worry! You can still join in! Here’s another way you can participate. Once you start your fundraiser, just send us an email and us know you want to join EXPORT FREEDOM!

THANK YOU.

Thank you for taking a stand. Thank you for caring.

Thank you for choosing to make a mark on this issue of human trafficking.

IT MATTERS.

**https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/forced-labour/lang--en/index.htm

Honoring the Mothers in our Lives

Mother's Day is a time to honor and show our gratitude for the mothers we've been blessed to have in our lives. You may be celebrating your own mother, a mother-in-law, or someone who has been a mother to you. Maybe she's a sister, and aunt, or a friend. 

You could give flowers as a token of appreciation (we love flowers, too) or maybe a little gift, but what if you could give a gift that honored mothers in other parts of the world? What if your gift could bring joy and blessing to more than just one mother? 

For some of the women in our program, their children are their proudest accomplishment. I'm sure if you're a mom, you would most likely agree. The relationship of mother and child is one of the deepest and truest bonds - and it's something to celebrate! As we consider the women in our program and what they've been through (sexual exploitation, gang violence, poverty, injustice, to name a few...) we are amazed at the strength and tenacity they show in providing a safer life for their children. The love and support they give their children despite their circumstances is inspiring to us all. 

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Honoring our mothers and theirs. Give the gift of freedom today!

By giving a gift in honor of the mother in your life, you're bringing freedom and hope to a survivor in our program. Your gift helps our mission of holistic reintegration for survivors of sex trafficking.  

We'd love to take this opportunity to invite you to give the gift of Freedom for Mother's Day. If you make a donation to Free The Girls in honor of a mom (and the mothers in our program), you're supporting our mission to provide safe economic opportunity and holistic reintegration to survivors of trafficking - many of which are mothers striving to give the best to their kids. 

We'd be honored if you'd give a gift in Mom's name today! 

Happy Mother's Day to you and yours! 

If you'd like a downloadable card that you can gift to mom on Mother's Day, just get in touch! We'll send it right away. E-mail Abby at media@freethegirls.org 

 

Being a Woman in El Salvador (Part III)

“Violence is an obstacle that prevents women from developing their own initiatives, and economic activities.”                       

-Ana Elena Badilla, UN Women representative

 

This is a guest post from our wonderful partner program in El Salvador. You can see the original post along with Spanish translation over at Mission To El Salvador's blog

You can also read Part I here and Part II here

"In El Salvador, violence is a significant risk factor for women and a very real obstacle to their personal and economic development. The gangs which control so much of the country, plus the deeply entrenched machismo, create an environment where women are not safe in their own neighborhoods.

Gang control is so pervasive in neighborhoods around El Salvador, that many girls are forced into sexual slavery as girlfriends of local gang leaders. The girls have no choice in the matter…they must join the gang or be killed. The problem has become so grave that young girls are fleeing El Salvador, and other countries in the region, with the hopes of finding safety in Mexico or the United States. According to this article, 32,142 females fled the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) in the first 9 months of 2016. One out of every 3 of those females were girls under the age of 18. Since 2014, 15,000 girls under 18 have been detained by immigration officials. Violence is a major factor in their decision to leave. There is truly a refugee crisis fueled by the real threat of sexual slavery facing underage girls in Central America.

Forced sexual exploitation by criminal gangs is nothing more than modern day slavery. Urmela Bhoola works with the U.N. to combat human trafficking and she had this to say about the issue, “The forced recruitment of girls and young women into gang-related activities, and especially being forced into prostitution through providing ‘conjugal visits’ to gang members in prison, are extreme forms of sexual exploitation and human degradation that involve exercising powers akin to the right of ownership over these individuals.”

Is there a future for these women that have suffered such violence? Is there healing to be found for families and communities? We dare to hope that the answer is yes.

Some women who have been exploited by gangs eventually find their way out, and begin to walk a path toward freedom. These women are now our clients and we are honored to serve them. In our partnership with Free The Girls, we work to provide economic stability for women who are survivors of exploitation.

Every woman has a different story…maybe she aged out of the gangs, went to jail, or was able to get away from the situation. We have also found that every woman has a different dream.

Ingrid* got pregnant at a young age at the hands of her “boyfriends” and after a few kids found herself aging out of the gang. She also found herself with no job, and no economic security at all. She started selling bras, and gained enough confidence and sales experience to eventually find full-time work.

Carmen* was recruited as a young girl into her neighborhood gang. Saying “no” was not an option and before she knew it, she was in jail because of the gang lifestyle. That eventually proved to be her ticket out. She started selling bras, and she was really good at it. Today she has her own place, supports her children, and does it all completely on her own.

The road to freedom is a complex one.

Economic stability for these women is absolutely key as they are at a high risk of being re-trafficked. But they also need a supportive environment, access to counseling, and opportunities to learn how to manage finances and care for their children in a healthy way. We are working to provide these things and give these girls the best possible chance of success.

Being enslaved and exploited is not the dream that girls have in El Salvador. Too often, it has become their brutal reality. But we know that even out of the darkest ashes beauty can rise, and we have been privileged to see these women take on the difficult task of working toward their own freedom in every sense of the word.

As we wrap up this blog series, we thank you for supporting these women through our work. We ask you to pray for these women as they fight so strongly and bravely for their freedom. Watching them heal and grow is truly a beautiful thing to see."

*Name has been changed.