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alice

Remembering Alice

By Karine Shnorhokian

My childhood, like many Armenians in America and around the world, involved an understanding and a shared pain that something tragic and unforgettable happened several decades earlier to our ancestors. April 24th- the day Armenians around the world commemorate the Armenian Genocide- is a day not only of remembrance, but an ongoing battle to have the Government of Turkey take responsibility for these crimes, and stop their ongoing campaign of genocide denial. Whether it is attending a commemorative church gathering, protest, lecture, walk, or lobbying with members of Congress, April is an active time for Armenians. Year round however, we continue to seek justice for our ancestors and pay tribute to those who suffered and perished 99 years ago during the Armenian Genocide- the first genocide of the 20th century.

I remember during my youth, the first several rows at Armenian Genocide commemorative events were reserved for the survivors. The seats were filled, and during the night, these survivors were recognized, received flowers, and applause from community members. In our eyes they were our fedayees, our soldiers, and their stories were immortalized in our communities. Decades later, the first several rows are still reserved, but the seats are now empty. The survivors are not forgotten, but time has passed, and they have passed on. We read about their obituaries, and saddened to hear that the last genocide survivor in a well-known city has passed on. Their stories however live on through us, and although denialists- like the Government of Turkey- think that time will erase history, our Diaspora is too strong and too proud to move on and forget our past. We console and unite with others who have suffered genocide, and continue to educate anyone who will listen. We always find a way to tell our story.

My husband’s grandmother Alice was a resilient woman. Succumbing to illness in 2011, she was 98 years old when she passed away, and was determined to make her story known. In 2008, she made one of her final journeys to Washington, DC to meet with members of Congress to discuss the Armenian Genocide and the ongoing denials by the Turkish Government. She remembered her story clearly; how she and her brother rode in the side baskets in a donkey during the deportations and how luckily, right before the death march through Der Zor, they were saved. I was very fond of Alice and though my time with her was limited, I appreciated the time I did have with her. Honestly, I was quite intimidated when I first met her, being that she was a much respected woman within the Armenian Presbyterian community. I had heard she was quick to judge and had no intention of holding back her feelings. When we first met, however, we had an instant bond. Perhaps it was that we were both nurses or that she was excited that her grandson was dating an Armenian girl or she was fond of my extreme passion for educating others about our history. I knew she had a story, and she knew I wanted to hear it. Like many grandmothers, her cooking was exceptional, and it was an insult if you didn’t have seconds. She was known for her Sou Boureg, an Armenian dish made with sheets of pasta like dough and stuffed with a cheesy filling. She tried to teach me how to make it, and gave me much grief when she learned I did not know how to use a rolling pin.
So many people with similar ethnic backgrounds can relate to Grandma Alice. She was a proud woman who ran her household like a tight ship. She was well educated and was very knowledgeable on various topics. Always exercising her mind, body, and spirit, she went to Church every Sunday, had plenty of friends she visited with throughout the week, and she loved to cook. As a survivor of genocide, she wanted to tell her story and talk about what happened. She pleaded that the truth be uncovered and one of her final requests was “for justice of this great country and for the world to not forget the tragic suffering and terrible genocide of the Armenians.”

As I was writing my conclusion to this blog, I had an encounter that I feel compelled to share. It was a little after 1:00am on April 24, 2014, and I was anxious to get home from the airport after a long day of work and travel. My taxi driver was curious and asked me my ethnicity as I got into the town car at Newark Airport. Not even thinking twice, I told him Armenian. In return I asked him what he was, and he said Turkish. You could tell he was a little defensive in his response, however, very pleasant. Throughout the course of the ride home we discussed the history of the genocide, which he was unable to accept. He pleaded that he has never really “investigated” this topic. Whether it was shame, guilt, or the unfortunate consequences of the Turkish government’s forced teaching of genocide denial in public schools – he was simply unwilling to face the truth. Obviously it made him uncomfortable being that I was his client and the topic was sensitive, but it made me realize that the denial doesn’t just exist in Turkey, it exists here in America as well. For whatever the reason, it made me think of Grandma Alice – and her lifelong vigilance to speaking the truth. I know I will follow in her path. I, like so many other Armenians, will continue to be fedayees for our cause.

Watch the re-cut version of Alice Khachadoorian-Shnorhokian’s interview here.

Screen shot 2014-04-17 at 3.23.49 PM

A few months ago, after returning from filming with Syrian refugees in Jordan,  I attended a small Human Rights Watch event where I met Lama Fakih, the Syria and Lebanon researcher at the HRW Beirut offices.  She gave a talk outlining her current projects, missions and goals.  Both my colleague and I were floored by her intriguing stories, her tenacity, and her remarkable eloquence.  Immediately, I knew she had to become part of 3 Generations’ End of Atrocity series, where leaders and activists share their vision for a world free of crimes against humanity.

Unfortunately, Lama’s trip to New York was short, and we didn’t have a chance to film her.  However, I couldn’t let this opportunity get away.  End of Atrocity needed an infusion from an energetic young person who is active in the fight against crimes against humanity.

Using my connections in Beirut, I found a camera crew, a producer, and set a time to interview Lama.  I had no idea how this was going to work, but early in the morning on a Friday in late March, everything came together.  My good friend and talented producer, Joe Mokbel, was on hand at the Human Rights Watch offices in Beirut and, despite Lebanon’s famously atrocious Internet, was able to video-call me using Skype. It was like I was there in the room.  We did a 30 minute interview, the cameraman sent me the files via an online shared server, and we downloaded them here in New York to cut together what I think is a fantastic addition to our series.

Take a look at the result: a powerful two-minute video of Lama Fakih’s vision for a world without atrocity.

Thank you Lama, Joe, and the whole Beirut team.

-Elizabeth Woller

lama
 Sasha_GirlsGirlsGirls

Want to raise awareness about sex trafficking effortlessly AND fashionably? We do! That’s why all of us at 3 Generations are thrilled to announce the re-launch of our partnership with prinkshop!

prinkshop designs advocacy campaigns for not-for-profits and silk screens them onto tshirts, totes, notebooks, posters and stickers. prinkshop’s got a lot of issues to be passionate about: the protection of Roe v Wade, supplying under-supplied American classrooms, the obesity epidemic, dyslexia, producing in the USA and getting the under-employed employed.

Their Keep The Girls Safe design copies the iconic language of “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “XXX” and pastes it out of context to turn heads and raise the alarm for sex trafficking in the USA. They hope the design will help spread awareness in the same manner TRICKED does.

Go to www.prinkshop.com and order a t-shirt today! 30% of the profit will go to 3 Generations!

 keep the girls safe

Phoebe 4

Over the past 20 years, New York Times journalist and human rights advocate, Nicholas Kristof, has documented and reported the stories of hundreds of sex trafficking victims and survivors from all over the world. His most recent column entitled He Was Supposed to Take a Photo, however, hit particularly close home.

The article details the horrifying story of Raven Kaliana, a child abuse activist whose parents began selling her body to child pornographers around the age of four. Fortunately, Kaliana was able to escape her parents’ grasp once she left for college and has since moved to the UK where she works to fight child abuse through theater and film. Sadly, this story was one that was all too familiar to us. Three years ago, 3 Generations interviewed Phoebe; a young mother whose six year-old daughter became the victim of sexual abuse and trafficking during Phoebe and her husband’s divorce. The trafficker was Phoebe’s former husband; her daughter’s father.

Three years later, Phoebe’s daughter continues to struggle with PTSD. Like many survivors of trafficking, her road to recovery will likely be life-long. In the meantime, it’s hard to say how much progress law enforcement has made. The rapid expansion of the internet and the ‘deep web,’ where the majority of child pornography dealings occur, have tested the abilities of domestic and international law enforcement agencies to contain the booming child pornography industry.

Fortunately we can all lend a hand. Take some time today to read Nick Kristof’s article, Phoebe’s story, and Jane’s Huffington Post piece here and be sure to learn how you can spot the signs of sexual abuse.

The slight 30 year-old can’t be taller than five feet, with delicate bones and pale skin.  But despite her apparent fragility, Yasmine is about to prove her strength.  She enters the small office where we are meeting for the first time with a timid smile.  We’re in a city in northern Jordan, close to the border, interviewing Syrians who’ve sought refuge from the catastrophic violence that’s engulfed their country.

Yasmine covers her face for our interview.  Her in-laws are still in Syria, and speaking to media puts them at risk for retribution, especially with what she is about to tell us.  Yasmine is from eastern Ghouta, which some will recognize as the location of the horrifying chemical weapons attack that put Bashar Al-Assad’s regime under intense pressure from the international community and the U.S.  Up to 1,700 of victims died in Ghouta on August 21st, 2013, including hundreds of children and babies.  Her own husband was killed by the gas while trying to take a neighbor’s son to the hospital.  Yasmine tries to describe the chaos and death, calling that night “Judgment Day”.  She and her two children escaped the non-stop shelling and managed to find their way to Jordan.

Six months later, she’s still ravaged by grief, but hasn’t allowed herself to be weighed down with anger at the unfairness of her husband’s death.  Instead, every day she goes to work, recording the deaths of refugees family members.  The organization she is part of has amassed a catalog of thousands of deaths, complete with photos of injuries and detailed descriptions of the event.  They aim to collect this evidence so Bashar can be put on trial and will have no way to deny his crimes.  To the hundreds of refugees in Jordan that she’s helped, Yasmine is a blessing.  There is relief in knowing that the deaths of their loved ones are being recorded and acknowledged, and will not be forgotten if their killer is tried.  Despite her own losses, she is helping an entire community cope with theirs.

Help give Yasmine a platform to tell her story.  Donate to our project.

Yasmine cuYasmine

What do you think of when you wake up in the morning?

Me? I don’t even sleep, I don’t sleep. I stay awake all night and when I sleep I wake up very, very tired and all I think of is going back, but I have a sick husband and there aren’t hospitals there. I’m forced to stay here, though I actually can’t stand still here. When I wake up in the morning, I want to explode. That’s my situation in the morning.

Aisha, mother & grandmother from Dara’a, Syria. Her son disappeared into Syrian prison, so she covered her face during our interview to protect him from retribution. We interviewed Aisha as part of our project recording the stories of Syrian refugees.

Aisha, 46, is a Syrian mother and grandmother living in Amman, Jordan.

Aisha, 46, is a Syrian mother and grandmother living in Amman, Jordan.

1779331_10152140456640862_1242850034_nLast week was a big one for TRICKED, with the Super Bowl leading to a fresh wave of press interest in human trafficking. On Thursday Jane and Danielle appeared on the Katie Couric show,  HuffPo Live AND Al-Jazeera America to discuss the issue. They also appeared on PBS NewsHour, MSNBC Live, BBC Radio Sportshour on Saturday, AND on CBS News on Sunday!  Jane and JK were interviewed by PBS, and the film was also mentioned on Newsday and Deadspin. If you missed any of this, take a look!

Nasir- An aspiring actor prior to the war; now paralyzed due to a sniper bullet.

Nasir- An aspiring actor prior to the war; now partially paralyzed due to a sniper bullet.

The Syrian refugee crisis was 2013’s favorite humanitarian headliner: 6.5 million displaced, the Middle East’s coldest winter in 100 years, dozens of underfed and unequipped camps. As death tallies and displaced persons estimates sky rocket, however, numbers have begun to lose meaning. What does a country look like when nearly one third of its population has been displaced? What does it feel like to be without a home?

Coverage of the Syrian conflict has been extensive but as the media endeavors to provide comprehensive coverage of the issue, suffering becomes quantified and we lose sense of what the conflict means to the people most affected by it. In essence, we forget to see Syrians as humans. Last week, our colleague, Elizabeth Woller, traveled to Jordan to film the stories of Syrian refugees now living in Jordan. When she returns, we will piece these stories into a short film that will aim to depict humanity, joy and community in the lives of five refugees. Take a look at her daily notes to see how things are going-

Day 1

We finally got some internet access and I’m now prepping for tomorrow morning. We’re leaving around 9 to go up to a town in the north call Mafraq where we will interview an injured FSA (Free Syrian Army) fighter in the desert. He has to get a pass to leave the hospital and we only have 2 hours with him, so we’ll see what we can get!

We met the camera operator today. He knows what we are looking for and seems creative. Anyways, gotta go!

Day 2- First Interview

We had a great shoot today.  We picked up Sultan, a Free Syrian Army fighter from a hospital about an hour outside of Amman.  He was shot in the leg three times and is now in a hospital near the Syrian border where he was taken after spending time in a field hospital.  He badly needs surgery; he has external plates on his leg and part of the wound is wide open and stuffed with gauze.  He was able to secure a two hour pass and we took him out into the desert, where our sound engineer (Mo) knew an old abandoned stable where someone once kept their goats.  It was a lot of broken down concrete buildings with an open roof.  He sat on some stairs in front of a door frame, so we could see the sky and the white walls.

Sultan was super charismatic, detailed and emotional while he told his story.  We didn’t have to ask too many question because he answered them all in a beautiful way with little prompting.  A total natural.  He’s also very good looking with light, light green eyes that we contrasted against the sky.  I think we could make a full film just from him.  We bought him a carton of cigarettes to thank him and it was a lot of work to get him to accept them.  He truly has a unique and generous personality.  He used the word “karama” a lot, which means dignity.  A lot of people use that word to talk about Syrians here, because they have lost of much of their dignity.  They’re living in squalid conditions and are completely dependent on the government, organizations, and the good will of others for their most basic needs.

Tomorrow we’ll shoot in the apartment of a family of refugees.  We will interview a grandmother who serves as the matriarch, a daughter who has lost her husband and her four-year old who has lost his father.  She also has a 1-year old baby.  The four-year old is traumatized by his father’s death, telling his mom he wants to be buried and he wants to kill her so they can be with his father.  I don’t know what we will get from him, but our local fixer and translator Maha knows him very well so I’m hoping he will talk to us.

Day 2- Second Interview

Today was very hard. We interviewed Um Ali, a 48 year old mother of a 6 year old, as well as the grandmother of a 4 year old and a 1 year old. They are the children of her 22 year old daughter, whose husband was killed fighting in the revolution. The 4 year old has major trauma and is asking to be killed and buried to be with his father. The 6 year old tortures him by asking where his father is, and through his mother, Um Ali, has become obsessed with watching videos on YouTube showing torture and killing in Syria.

Um Ali veiled her face for the interview because one of her sons was arrested 1.5 years ago and has been missing since. She fears he could be killed if she is seen speaking out. Her son was in the prison that was in the news last week for having killed 11,000 detainees during the course of the conflict. Human Rights Watch called the family today and said his name will be on the list that they present at Geneva, as they seek confirmation of detainments and deaths.

Um Ali started the interview with an almost inaudible voice, but grew increasingly emotional and upset throughout. Although we could only see her eyes, it was very moving. She then interviewed her six-year old son about what he misses about Syria, what he thinks is happening, what he things is going to happen, etc. He told some remarkable stories and made some very strong and touching statements.

The rest of the family declined to be on camera out of fear of retribution for their brother. Tomorrow we will talk with Nasir; a 22 year old aspiring actor who was paralyzed by a sniper.

Day 3- Third interview

Today we started late because Nasir doesn’t wake up until 11 or so. He’s staying with two friends in Amman in a small apartment, and most days doesn’t leave his twin bed in the room he shares with two others. He was paralyzed by a sniper’s bullet in his hometown of Dara’a last year. Before the Syrian civil conflict, he was an aspiring actor who started acting with a folkloric group and unexpectedly won a major role in a local play.

The house is cloudy with cigarette smoke when we arrive. Nasir is in the bedroom with three friends, two who were fellow former Free Syria Army fighters, and one who ahd been a nurse in a field hospital. We have to ask him to move into the living room onto a couch. After a year he has recovered enough that he can use crutches instead of a wheelchair, but he still struggles to get from place to place. His legs are visibly atrophied, and I’m told he is no longer able to afford physical therapy. His depression is obvious as soon as he settles onto the couch. He self-consciously hides the catheter bag that is plainly a source of embarrassment. In spite of his physical and mental pain, he smiles confidently and turns out to be a natural on camera. He has clear skin and sleek features that make him almost more beautiful on the monitor than he is in life.

We start out with general questions, asking about his country, the people, the revolution. Slowly I move into more personal questions. His responses sound rehearsed and I can see him catching himself as he answers. Our sound guy turns to me and whispers, “He’s not being honest.” I make him go through three takes just talking about his acting. He’s finally on a roll, getting more open and emotional and we turn the subject to the painful history we’re dancing around. He drops his professional voice. He goes in depth about his injury, how it affects how people treat him, what it’s like to be dependent on others for your care. I don’t understand everything he’s saying but the bits I catch are heartbreaking. He says that when he arrived in Jordan, he expected to be ignored by his Jordanian neighbors who don’t want Syrians in their neighborhoods. Instead he was greeted with open arms, food, care, offers of assistance. I ask if he’s happy. He says there is still happiness inside of him, but melancholy overcomes his face as soon as I ask the question. We wrap the interview, with everyone in a quiet mood. We do our “video portrait” shots and take b-roll. His friends sing and make coffee in the kitchen, joking loudly that he does nothing to help them. It’s clear they care for each other a great deal.

TRICKED, A Documentary About Sex Trafficking In America, Premieres In New York

It’s been a crazy few weeks, but it’s about time for a TRICKED wrap up!

As you may already know, 3 Generations hosted its first film premiere on December 13th at the Quad Cinema in New York City. The night began with a screening of TRICKED and was followed by the presentation of the Malone Prize; a new initiative from 3 Generations. Each year, it is our plan to honor the work of three members of law enforcement who commit themselves to leading the fight against sex trafficking. (L-R) Denver Police Department Sergeant Daniel Steele, Deputy Inspector: Vice Enforcement Coordinator at NYPD, Anthony Favale and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Lieutenant Karen Hughes, were the first recipients of the Malone Prize and we look forward to seeing how they pursue their commitment to combating trafficking in the future.

Following the presentation of the Malone Prize, TRICKED directors, Jane Wells and John-Keith Wasson, TRICKED stars, Danielle Douglas and Chris Baughman, and Polaris Project Executive Director, Bradley Myles, joined Daniel, Anthony, and Karen on stage for an in-depth panel discussion. We can’t say enough how thankful we are to all who came out the night of the premiere and/or to any of the other showings throughout the week, to see the film despite the cold. This has been a big year for us and we couldn’t have done any of this without the support of our friends, family, and fans.

That being said, the TRICKED project is far from over. Since TRICKED premiered,  the film has been met with a pleasantly warm reception from critics and considerable interest from audiences and anti-trafficking organizations alike. As a result, Jane and JK have been all over the media. In the week leading up to the premiere, TRICKED was reviewed by the New York Times, the Village Voice, Film Journal International, and Slant Magazine, just to mention a few, and the reviews were great! Our Huffington Post blog series appeared the week prior to the premiere as well, with great contributions from TRICKED stars, Danielle Douglas, Sgt. Dan Steele, and Chris Baughman among others. News stories about TRICKED and interviews with the directors and stars have additionally appeared on almost all popular online news sources thanks to an Associated Press article however other stories have also appeared on BBC, Fox, CNN, MTV Act, the Examiner, Glamour, Ms. Magazine, Cosmopolitan, and on Huffington Post Live. Judging from this initial reception, we’re definitely looking forward to what’s to come.

Fortunately, ‘what’s to come’ has already begun to reveal itself. 2014 will undoubtedly be another big year for us as we begin to promote TRICKED nationwide. You can help by requesting TRICKED in your local movie theater! We’ve partnered with GATHR, a brand-new “Theater-on-Demand” service that lets you bring the movies you want to a venue near you.

To set up a showing, simply:
1) Plug in your location
2) Check to see if someone has already requested a showing nearby and if so, reserve a ticket
3) If there are no showings nearby, request one yourself!
4) PROMOTE PROMOTE PROMOTE! Share on social media! Tell everyone you know!
5) Once enough tickets are reserved, the screening will get the green light. Tickets will then become available for purchase, and you’ll get your showing of TRICKED!

Once again, thank you all and happy new year!

Chicago Cityscapes And City Views

By: Nikolaos Al-Khadra

This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

By the time I was 17, my dad concluded he had failed to humiliate, beat and torture me out of being gay. So he kicked me out of the house. Within two hours of leaving home, I had been targeted by a pimp and was being raped by his customers.

I was marketed as a high-price call-boy for the majority of my years in the sex-trafficking world. My pimps styled me as a “North Shore Boy,” using my upper-middle-class background to attract johns looking to pay for sex with a boy who looked like their neighbors. There was a lot of demand for boys like me, and both my pimps and my johns went to great lengths to psychologically and physically prevent me from leaving.

One of the mainstream myths about the world of escorting is that the industry functions as a legitimate business and does not count as sex trafficking, a.k.a. prostitution. When people do recognize escorting as prostitution, they believe it’s somehow safer than street level prostitution. It isn’t. Far from it. My pimp told me he would cut me open like a fish and throw me in the lake like human garbage. The following day was my first meeting with a “political john.” I took the Metro to the pimp. He blindfolded me and had me hide in the car en route to the hotel. Once we pulled into the parking lot, I was instructed to take the blindfold off and put the seat back. We were met by security at the back of the hotel, and I was delivered to the politician.

My johns were successful, sometimes famous men who had a lot at stake when it came to exploiting me: careers, reputations and marriages. It’s hard to underestimate how much they worried, if I snitched and the lengths they would go to protect themselves. Some of the johns were bitter divorcés; others claimed to be happily married. The common thread between all of the men who paid for sex with me was the way they flaunted their power. These wealthy johns literally enjoyed torturing those they purchased.

One of those political johns took me on a stalking mission in front of the former home he had with his wife. He went off about the divorce and how she took everything from him. After we had a drink in his new living room, he took me to the bedroom he had set aside for his son. He tied me to the bed and proceeded to rape me. I remember him calling me Robby. I looked over at the pictures of his son on the wall and had an anxiety attack. It was a combination of being tied down, him calling me his son’s name, his psychotic behavior and the stalking of his ex-wife. Right before I blacked out, my life was flashing before my eyes. I was sure he was going to murder me. After he finished, he saw my fear and the tears rolling down my face. He apologized and said it wouldn’t happen again.

These years were filled with psychological warfare, mind control and terror. Money and power drove the game. It wasn’t about sex. It was about control over another human being. By the end, I knew a john would either kill me or I would end up killing one of them.

I escaped that life, but the exiting was hard. There are zero programs to help young men get out of prostitution. I pray someday there will be.

John-Keith Wasson and Jutta

John-Keith Wasson and Jutta discuss Surviving Hitler: A Love Story

By: John-Keith Wasson

I was in Kigali for the 12th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. It was my first time, and hopefully my last time, witnessing a mass burial of unknown genocide victims.

After the ceremony, a Holocaust survivor shared his story. For several teenagers, it was a momentous speech: it was the first time that they realized genocide had occurred elsewhere in the world. Genocide wasn’t just Rwanda’s problem.

Two weeks later, I began my first documentary, SURVIVING HITLER: A LOVE STORY. The film focused on Jutta, a teenager in Nazi Germany who discovered that she was Jewish. She joined the German resistance and met Helmuth, an injured soldier. The two became sweethearts and co-conspirators in the final plot to assassinate Hitler.

It’s a harrowing tale of war, resistance, and survival, but at the center of the documentary is a love story for the ages, with riveting narration by Jutta herself, original 8mm footage (shot by Helmuth) and, miraculously, a happy ending.

SURVIVING HITLER: A LOVE STORY enjoyed a successful festival run and aired on over a dozen TV stations including the BBC. Jutta’s main message was well received: stand up to evil– that and a little luck can change the world. With Jutta’s encouragement in mind, I set out to find a contemporary human rights story.

Jane and I met during that remarkable trip to Rwanda. While I went off to make a documentary, she set up 3 Generations. In 2011 we decided to join forces on TRICKED.

During the course of filming, the landscape of domestic sex trafficking evolved: computer solicitations turned into smart phones apps, Craigslist was replaced by Backpage, and plea bargains turned into multiyear sentences. We didn’t have the advantage of historians, time, or distance to offer perspective. Domestic sex trafficking was happening here, in America. We were chasing a moving target.

When I look back at how SURVIVING HITLER: A LOVE STORY influenced TRICKED, I realize that both films focus on people who struggle against evil. In WWII the evils happened to be well defined and Jutta lucked into a Hollywood ending. Meanwhile, sex trafficking has no ending. In fact, we’re only just reaching the first critical turning point.

Over the course of filming, Jane and I noticed a few promising changes. Press coverage, public awareness, and the culture of law enforcement all showed signs of improvement. There is real progress. It’s just slow. I hope TRICKED does its part to further the national dialogue.

In the words of Jutta, “Stand up against evil—that and a little luck can change the world.”

 

Interested in seeing TRICKED? The film will run from Dec. 13th-19th at the Quad Cinema in NYC. Check out the Quad Cinema’s listings on movietickets.com. Admission is free for law enforcement with ID.

To purchase VIP Premiere tickets for the 7pm showing, please go to our donation page. We hope to see you there!

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

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