Monthly Archives

October 2013
Our friend Stella Marr, on behalf of The organization Sex Trafficking Survivors United (STSU) sent me the following press release this weekend. It asks for the recognition, support and respect sex trafficking survivors surely deserve. It is sad to see yet another area of human rights work that has become politicized over the impulse for credit and the fight for funding. At 3 Generations we have sought to find an ecumenical path through the issue and to do our work IN SUPPORT of existing NGOs, not in competition. We are proud that we have done so, and it has not always been easy. Survivors of sex-trafficking are the experts on the subject. They have far more than their stories to contribute to lasting change. We are happy to share this call from STSU and look forward to a long cooperation with them.
N.B. Danielle Douglas, featured survivor of our upcoming documentary TRICKED is a member of STSU.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 26, 2013 An Open Letter to the Anti-Trafficking Movement

Sex Trafficking Survivors United (STSU) is a survivor-led and survivor-founded international nonprofit organization. Our 130 members include sex trafficked women and men who have escaped their traffickers, often with no assistance, and who have banded together to raise awareness and assist sex trafficking victims. Though other survivor organizations exist, STSU is the first International organization that was conceived by and is made up of sex trafficking survivor leaders.

We have been disturbed and disappointed to see that large organizations having no survivors in their upper ranks are leading the anti-trafficking movement. It is astonishing to us that these groups receive the vast majority of anti-trafficking funding, while long-term survivor-led organizations working directly with victims struggle to stay afloat. Our experience with many of these organizations has been exploitative. We have found that though they often seek us out, their interest is in our personal stories, which they present as examples of the horrors of sex trafficking. We are also often invited to speak at conferences and events, but offered fees far lower than those of non-survivor speakers. Sometimes, we are offered no compensation at all, even though our professional credentials are equal or superior to other speakers. We have been asked to share our program curricula, methods and other educational materials, only to find that those requesting such assistance quickly adopt and promote these as their own, competing with us rather than partnering with us.

Most importantly, we do not receive invitations to lead or partner with other organizations in large anti-trafficking education and policy initiatives despite our extensive knowledge and experience in regard to sex trafficking operations and victims’ needs. We are not saying that only survivors of sex trafficking should be doing this work, but using us to promote agendas which we had no role in developing sends a destructive message to us. This situation is amplified by the many unqualified “experts” in the field. If one is not a survivor, or has not been classified an expert in a court of law, or has not had any experience in front-line or management positions working with vulnerable people in the sex trade, or has no formal education in organized crime, trauma victims or counseling, they are not an expert over ‘our’ life experiences. We are deeply concerned that anti-trafficking initiatives promoted by non-survivor organizations often fail to recognize or acknowledge important truths about domestic sex trafficking operations, or the full range of victims affected. This contributes to further harm for those still trapped.

Despite popular stereotypes depicting sex trafficking survivors as too damaged to be competent and effective partners, STSU’s members include executive directors of survivor-led organizations providing direct services to minor and adult victims, medical doctors and other health professionals, social workers and family therapists, crime victim advocates, and college professors. Not only have we experienced and escaped the complex world of sex trafficking and healed, many of us have earned college degrees, founded small businesses, established nonprofit victim services organizations, and earned other professional credentials.

As survivors of sex trafficking, we drew on our own pain and suffering to raise awareness of victims’ experiences. Being exploited by individuals and organizations claiming to be our allies and protectors is something with which we are very familiar, and it is emphatically wrong. Supposedly we are fighting for the same cause. We challenge the individuals and organizations leading the anti-trafficking movement to recognize and correct their own privileged actions, and to work with us rather than against us.

www.SexTraffickingSurvivorsUnited.org

SexTraffickingSurvivorsUnited@gmail.com

joyce

By: Jane Wells, Founder and Director of 3 Generations

Back in 2010, we met and interviewed Joyce Arndt, a Native American grandmother, artist, nurse and survivor. She had been taken from her mother at 21 months and moved into a series of foster homes. For one reason or another foster parents took her into their homes and then gave her back. One family nurtured her for close to decade and one day decided she was a difficult teenager and sent her away. (Painfully for Joyce they also had adopted children who they kept). Her next foster father was abusive and she eventually ran away.

Her story was rattling to say the least. Most parents have at one time or another wished they could “send their kids back,” and teenagers frequently wish they could conjure up different parents. But we cannot and do not. To me it seemed a savage indictment of the foster care system, and gave me renewed admiration for those who adopt children.

There are surely many saintly foster parents out there, but recently we have been hearing of more and more horrific abuses of children through the foster care system. Abuses that disproportionally impact Native children and send unacceptable numbers of already disadvantaged children onto the streets and into the arms of pimps and predators.

Finally the world and the government seem to be sitting up and noticing, as they should because the numbers and details are disturbing. To learn more, check out USA Today’s recent column about sex trafficking and foster care and be sure to watch our interview with Joyce.

 

maskedjohn

It’s official! We’re happy to announce that our ground-breaking documentary, TRICKEDwill officially premiere on December 13th, 2013 at the Quad Cinema on West 13th Street, NYC. The film will have a week-long run at the legendary theater, so you’ll be able to see the film even if you can’t make the premiere. To get VIP passes to the premiere and party, visit our donation page.

Info about other screenings coming soon.

Billy Mills (far left) crosses the finish line.

Billy Mills (far left) crosses the finish line.

By: Dawn Bjoraker, Lakota Nation

October 12th. The day an unknown individual took the Gold Medal in the men’s 10,000 meter race at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. This individual was the only American to ever take the Gold in that race. He was born in 1938. He was born four years after Columbus Day was declared a federal holiday by Franklin Roosevelt’s administration.

The Individual who took that gold? Billy Mills. An Oglala Lakota born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. It’s safe to say that all know about Columbus Day, but few know about Billy Mills. Why is that? When Billy Mills took his victory lap, it consisted of U.S.A. being brandished across his chest, with a flag of the United States over his shoulders. The victory of Columbus? Selling his men 9 and 10 year old indigenous girls to do with as they wish. Filling his ship with 500 Arawak men, women, and children so they could be brought back to Spain to be sold into slavery (roughly 200 of the Arawak died in transport).

In the words of Columbus, “They…brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks’ bells. They willingly traded everything they owned… . They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features… . They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane… . They would make fine servants… . With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

Subjugate. This was his first idea. This is who we honor in this country by declaring every second Monday in October Columbus Day. How do we explain the justification to our children? Do we lie to them? Do we omit historical facts to make them feel better about this day? How do I explain it to my children? We are indigenous, like Billy Mills, we too are Lakota.

Concerning the Indians, Columbus also reported, “are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone…”

In the words of Billy Mills, “I was constantly told and challenged to live my life as a warrior. As a warrior you assume responsibility for yourself. The warrior humbles himself. And the warrior learns the power of giving.”

We are warriors. We are not conquistadors. We do not explore others. We explore ourselves. We do not take. We give. We do not celebrate the exploit and genocide perpetrated against indigenous men, women, and children. We also choose to not ignore it. We are not doomed to repeat history, because we choose not to ignore it. Are you?

Clouds over Reykjavik.

Clouds over Reykjavik.

Icelandic hospitality and creativity are legendary. The 10th Reykjavik International Film Festival was a showcase for both as well as an impressive roster of films Icelandic and International.

In addition the festival included a mini-conference Earth 101 at which selected documentary filmmakers met with some of the finest minds in sociology and climate change. One particularly fascinating panel was “Climate Change and Cinema – Reaching Out to the World”. Three world-renowned scientists Michael Mann, Stefan Rahmstorf and Peter Sinclair succinctly helped explain the limitations of narrative films in showing the slow but inexorable advance of climate change. Documentaries like Stephen Smith and Julia Szucs’ Vanishing Point and Patrick Gambuti Jr’s Greedy Lying Bastards can help give realistic dimension to a problem so huge it is hard to convey accurately in a 90 minute blockbuster.

Two of the talented filmmakers at the Festival, Anne Aghion and Simon Brook, are old friends of 3 Generations’. They were each invited to screen their respective films My Neighbor, My Killer and Indian Summer, reflecting RIFF’s ecumenical approach to telling “the biggest story of our times”. From Rwanda to India, from genocide to fighting cancer with Ayurveda, well-told documentaries are a way to cross borders and inform us all on a global scale. It is no coincidence that a country in the arctic north would so ably embrace the looming threat of climate change and that its signature film festival would focus on this issue. I was impressed and honored to be there. There is much to learn and much to do. Check out Peter Sinclair’s blog Climatecrocks.com and Michael Mann’s book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars.

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