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This year we are thrilled to announce our partnership with the The Women’s Fund Miami-Dade and Stop Sex Trafficking Miami in honoring the winners of the 2014 Malone Prize. Through these partnerships we are furthering our initiative to help end sex trafficking by working with law enforcement to recognize prostitution as modern day slavery.

Please RSVP to rsvp@womensfundmiami.org For event information, please call 305-441-0506.

Please RSVP to rsvp@womensfundmiami.org
For event information, please call 305-441-0506.

This year’s Malone Prize award ceremony will take place on January 12th, 2015 at the Miracle Theater in Coral Gables, FL. To learn more about the Malone Prize, please follow the link .

Nominations close on December 19th. If you’d like to recommend a law enforcement officer for the prize, please fill out the form here and return to Info@3Generations.org.

NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 13, 2013: Denver Police Department Sergeant Daniel Steele holds his Malone Prize. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for 3 Generations)

Picture taken by Tom Jamieson for The New York Times

Picture taken by Tom Jamieson for The New York Times

If Katrin Bennhold’s front-page article in today’s New York Times —Years of Rape and “Utter Contempt” in Britain — were told as a narrative movie, it would be considered too far-fetched to be true and would most likely be viewed as a hyperbolic psychological drama. However it is a news item and one subtitled, “Life in an English Town Where Abuse of Girls Flourished.”

Ms. Bennhold recounts a monstrous story of over 1000 girls as young as 12 being groomed for rape by gangs of young Pakistani men over a period of 16 years in a working class town called Rotherham. Even when girls came forward with parental support, the authorities chose to ignore the crimes, lost evidence and succumbed to the worst kind of victim blaming. In a staggering series of cases of police negligence, children who were raped were referred to as “tarts” and crimes against them called “100% consensual”.

It would be easy to imagine this does not happen here in the United States or that this is an isolated incident. Sadly, neither is the case. Nor is it simply a story of child abuse and rape. What is described is sexual slavery and fits our Federal definition of (child) sex trafficking. It also serves as an important illustration of the common misconceptions about commercial sex, outdated law enforcement culture around prostitution and sex crimes and the on-going battle to stop blaming victims for crimes committed against them.

Ms. Bennold’s article describes girls being groomed by young men who they perceived as friends or boyfriends – this is the most common way that pimps in the USA recruit girls into the sex trade. In Rotherham the sexual encounters, “evolved from personal gratification to business opportunities” to literal life–threatening enslavement, an evolution that perfectly matches the descent of many young people in this country from quasi-volitional sex work to enslavement.

Equally tragic and also prevalent in this country is the dominant culture that sees, and in many cases, insists that all this sexual activity is consensual. This ranges from adults engaging in sex with underage boys and girls, which, whether we like it or not, is statutory rape, to minors being “boyfriended” or kidnapped by pimps and gangs and sold for sex as prostitutes. The outcomes of these crimes depend almost entirely on the attitude of local law enforcement and their understanding of the severity of harm done to any minor who is sexually abused. Many people in this country (and elsewhere) believe prostitution is a victimless crime, one that it is here to stay and does not warrant time, money and focus by our criminal justice system.

My experience over the last 5 years making the documentary Tricked  about sex slavery in the USA unequivocally indicates otherwise. No one I encountered was unscathed by their sexual abuse. All still carry deep and lasting wounds years and decades later and every john who had purchased sex was insistent that nothing that he had done could have in any way harmed the girls and boys from whom he had paid for sex. In between is the criminal justice system – gradually waking up to the reality that sexual crimes of this sort are major human rights violations that need our utmost attention. Alas, way too slowly for the hundreds of thousand of victims out there. Katrin Bennhold deserves praise for telling such as newsworthy story.

jerusalem 3

July 2014 was an interesting moment to be invited to the Jerusalem Film Festival. I was a jury member for the Spirit Of Freedom Award. We watched 10 impassioned and geographically diverse films exploring the search for freedom in Mali, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Turkey/Kurdistan, Greece, The Netherlands, Rwanda, Darfur, Syria and Bosnia. My fellow jurors were the celebrated Palestinian actor/director Makram Khoury and the multi-award-winning Turkish Producer Zeynep Atakan. I was privileged to sit with them.

In addition the 31st Jerusalem Film Festival screened two films very close to my heart. German Concentration Camps Factual Survey – a truly harrowing documentary produced by my late father Sidney Bernstein in 1945 – was never completed and not seen fully until this year. The Imperial War Museum in London spent years of painstaking work restoring and completing my father’s film. The inspiration behind this effort Dr. Toby Haggith, was present to explain why and how he and his colleagues had restored this forgotten work, and to put this very difficult document of atrocity in a context. My brother David Bernstein also came to put the work in familial context. Night Will Fall, directed by Andre Singer, is an excellent 2014 documentary that details why my father’s film was not finished and shown 70 years ago. It was awarded Honorable and Special Mention at the Jerusalem Film Festival and Sheffield Doc Fest last month.

These two films by and about my father’s work documenting the Holocaust, and the Spirit of Freedom Award films all speak directly to what we do at 3 Generations: telling difficult stories, documenting atrocities, giving survivors opportunity to speak of their experiences and in the words of my father creating “evidence for all mankind”. As the narrator of his film explained in 1945, if we do not take heed, “night will fall”. For many people across the Middle East and beyond it seems that this July night has indeed fallen.

– Jane Wells

 

jerusalem 2

 

Photo of a man camp taken on the way to Williston, ND

Photo of a man camp taken on the way to Williston, ND

On Monday, Jane and Elizabeth flew out to the Midwest to begin work on 3G’s newest project which will focus on the trafficking of Native American girls in the man camps that have sprung up around the Bakken Oil Fields of Montana, North and South Dakota. Several articles* have been written in recent months highlighting the disturbing spike in drugs, crime and prostitution that communities supporting these man camps typically witness. None however, address the particular plight of the region’s Native American population whose poverty often makes them a target for exploitation. To learn more about this story, take a look at program specialist at the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, Lisa Brunner’s testimony from the hearing on “Combating Human Trafficking” back in September of 2013, and be sure to follow us on Facebook for updates on Jane and Elizabeth’s travels.

* NPR, Al Jazeera America, Huffington Post & Mint Press News

Testimony of Lisa Brunner, Program Specialist, National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center

Hearing on “Combating Human Trafficking: Federal, State, and Local Perspectives” before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Monday, September 23, 2013

http://www.hsgac.senate.gov/hearings/combating-human-trafficking-federal-state-and-local-perspectives

Human Trafficking of Native women in the United States is not a new era of violence against Native women but rather the continuation of a lengthy historical one with the colonization of America through wars, forced removal from their homelands to reservations, boarding schools and forced urban relocation. Domestic human trafficking in the United States has a longstanding history.

Native women experience violent victimization at a higher rate than any other U.S. population. Congressional findings are that Native American and Alaska Native women are raped 34.1%, more than 1 in 3, will be raped in their lifetime, 64%, more than 6 in 10, will be physically assaulted. Native women are stalked more than twice the rate of other women. Native women are murdered at more than ten times the national average. Non-Indians commit 88% of violent crimes against Native women.

Given the above statistical data and the historical roots of violence against Native women, the level of human trafficking given the sparse data collected can only equate to the current epidemic levels we face within our tribal communities and Nations.

As an enrolled member of the White Earth Ojibwe Nation in Minnesota, I live, work and raise my children on my reservation. I have worked for over 15 years addressing domestic violence and sexual assault of Native women and have witnessed and heard countless stories of human trafficking occurring to the point that we have girls as young as 12 years olds who are victims. With the introduction of heroin, we now have an epidemic of the same age group and up of girls and women who are trafficked now have heroin needles in their arms. Native women and girls are sold for $20 worth of heroin.

We have mothers call local county sheriffs departments reporting their daughters missing only to be told, “We have better things to do with our time or why don’t you be a mother and know where the hell your daughter is”. It is difficult given the jurisdictional complexity of the 566 federally recognized tribes in the country with non-Public Law 280, Public Law 280, 638 Contract, Land Claim Settlement States, Oklahoma’s checkerboard and Alaska Native villages. To add to the complexity, if the perpetrator is non-Native, then the Tribes and Alaska Villages do not have criminal jurisdiction

With the recent wide-range impact of extractive industries such as oil fracking and pipelines is predatory economics at its worse for the Fort Berthold Nation in North Dakota and Fort Peck Reservation in Montana. With the fracking of the Bakken formation, comes “man camps’. The victim advocates responding to calls for service on Forth Berthold said there has been a doubling and tripling of numbers of sexual assaults, domestic violence and human trafficking incidents since 2008.

The multiple layers of issues that have come to the forefront are the lack of documentation of these man camps. Emergency services often can’t find their locations and since they are located in isolated and desolate areas, there often are no cell phone services available. There are two types of man camps: documented and undocumented. Undocumented camps are often 50-100 trailers that a rancher or farmer has set up on his land to rent out and make money. These undocumented camps present a special problem for emergency services and organizations since they don’t exist on a map or have addresses.

The other issue involved with the man camps in Forth Berthold is lack of monitoring and registration of sex offenders whether they are in the documented or undocumented man camps that pose a serious threat to the safety of women and children in the area.

In Montana, the Bakken Oil Boom has impacted the largest reservation, Fort Peck, and residing counties have experienced both a population and crime explosion.

The majority of employees from the oil rigs are not from Fort Peck Tribes or Roosevelt County or even from Montana. There have been documented increases in drug use and human trafficking, theft, alcohol related incidents and assaults within the last year. Law enforcement response, tribal DV/SA services, and medical response to these crimes have tripled in the last year.

Within Northeastern Montana there are currently three man camps with several more only seventy miles away in the neighboring state of North Dakota. Many Tribal advocates have responded to victims that have been trafficked at the man camps often preying on young native women. Groups of men from the man camps use free access to drugs and alcohol as a method of coercion for young native women to “get in the car” and go party. This has resulted in 11 young native women ranging from the ages of 16-21 years of age reporting rape, gang rape and other sex acts; the majority of these victims are afraid to report due to fear and shame.

The Fort Peck Tribes SORNA program reports that one year ago there were forty- eight registered sex offenders and now there are over six hundred registered sex offenders. The struggle has been that non-native sex offenders to do not recognize the tribal jurisdiction and feel they “do not” have to report to the tribal SORNA program. However, the U.S. Marshals and other law enforcement agencies have assisted in gaining registration of known sex offenders on the tribal registry.

Another aspect of to the domestic human trafficking issues in the U.S. and Tribal Nations is the U.S. Adoption Industry. In an article in Indian Country Today titled: Trafficking of Native Children: The Seamy Underbelly of U.S. Adoption Industry brings to light the practice of selling Indian infants and children to the highest bidder which brings in revenue for lawyers from $25,000-$100,000 per child. In this article, it is stated that in 2012, 50 Native children were adopted out from North Dakota to South Carolina. These adoptions are done without the Tribes knowledge or consent or that of the biological fathers.

To really gain insight to domestic human trafficking in the U.S., one must take examine the many sectors in which this is facilitated, whether it be extractive industries, pimps, gangs, cartels, family members or lawyers working in an adoption industry. Many different avenues must be examined and taken into account to fully understand what leads to this epidemic of human trafficking that not only impacts Tribal Nations and Alaska Villages but all citizens of this country.

I am a Program Specialist with the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center. Our role as an organization is to serve as a National Indian Resource Center that provides technical assistance/training, resource development, policy development, research activity and public awareness that also seeks to enhance Native American and Alaska Native tribes, Native Hawaiians, Tribal and Native Hawaiian organizations to respond to violence against Native women.

-PinkistheNewBlog, http://www.pinkisthenewblog.com/2014-05-25/why-its-important-to-keep-yesallwomen-trending-forever

-PinkistheNewBlog, http://www.pinkisthenewblog.com/2014-05-25/why-its-important-to-keep-yesallwomen-trending-forever

by Lillian Holman, 3Generations Intern

In 3Generation’s documentary Tricked about human trafficking within the United States, possibly one of the most disturbing moments is not in fact one of the horrifying accounts provided by the victims, but instead when the pimp Robert Money calmly tells the camera that “All women is either a prostitute or a whore. The definition of a prostitute is a woman that sells her pussy for money. A whore f***s for free.” In three sentences, he defines half the human population by their sexuality. There are no exceptions in his perverse logic and he says all women, not all people. Men can feel free to live on not being “whores,” but sexually active women are stuck with that label.

This quote had me thinking about issues that seem to be everywhere I turn recently, whether it be my Facebook newsfeed, the conversations on my college campus, or that slightly nervous feeling I get walking the streets by myself. Because people like Money exist, my identity as a woman has become a hindrance rather than something wonderful to be celebrated. It means that I can show too much at a party. It means that a person can look at me on the street and assume I cannot fight back. It means that my sexuality can define me rather than be relegated to the privacy of my bedroom. Frankly, these are all things I would rather not be thinking about. I would rather go to a party and feel like I look fabulous regardless of what I’m wearing, whether it be “too much” or “too little” in the eyes of someone else. I want to be able to go on adventures in my city and not feel like I need the buddy system in order to survive. I want the conversation about sex to begin and end with my partner and only my partner. I want to live my life as a grown woman and not constantly think about the fact that I’m a woman. Sadly this is not the world we live in, but it should be.

After the tragic shooting at UCSB last month, the two hashtags “#NOTALLMEN” and “#YESALLWOMEN” started making the rounds. One was defensive. One called for solidarity. They spurred lots of opinion pieces and discussion. What made me sad however, were the responses surrounding “#NOTALLMEN.” There was anger that men would dare to defend themselves against what they saw as attacks against their gender and suddenly it was one giant battle of the sexes rather than a united front against a crime of hate. These men were angry with women blaming them rather than angry with Elliot Rodger. The women were blaming all men rather than Elliot Rodger. What should have happened was that all people should have been angry at Elliot Rodger and his antiquated ideas. This is why I loved the men who used the hashtag “#YESALLWOMEN.” They almost uniformly wanted to understand more what it means to be a woman in a still sexist world and wanted to stand with women. They made this issue an “#ALLPEOPLE” issue as it should be.

This brings me to the issues that permeate college campuses right now. Sexual assault has come to the forefront as lawsuits come out left and right against colleges and college fraternities. A list of 55 colleges are being investigated by the federal government under Title IX because of their mishandling of sexual assault cases. At Stanford, a movement is underway called “#STANDWITHLEAH” because Leah’s rapist is being allowed to graduate even after being charged with raping her. At Wesleyan University, two all male fraternities are being sued for rapes that allegedly occurred on their premises. This has become an issue of gender because the victims that have come out in the lawsuits are predominately female and the perpetrators are predominately male. It is important to remember however, that anybody can be assaulted, regardless of gender, and anybody can be a perpetrator, regardless of gender. It is a point that has been sadly forgotten in the big debates and one that would help these lawsuits rather than harm them. Once again, this should be about people committing crimes against people, rather than about men committing crimes against women. At Wesleyan University one of the proposed solutions is forcing the all male fraternities to go coed with the logic being that women having a voice and a presence in these spaces would make other women feel safer. I like this solution because it supports the idea that everyone’s voice should be heard. Rather than living off of assumptions, experiences can be shared. Just like the men who scanned the “#YESALLWOMEN” tweets, the men in these organizations can learn about a different life experiences, women can experience firsthand that not all men are like these monsters, and this ridiculous divide can disappear. Perhaps then if one of their siblings gets raped, the anger can be directed exclusively at the perpetrator and justice can actually be served along the lines of a crime rather than a political issue.

It has taken tragedies to get these issues to be so prominent, but amazing people of all genders, many of whom I’m lucky enough to be peers with, have taken this as an opportunity to talk and stand up for what they believe in.  Hopefully what will result from all of these people standing up is a culture that views and condemns these “#FEWPEOPLE” as the monsters they are.

 

Further reading/watching:

 

“Yes, All Men”

by Charles Blow for The Slate

http://www.thestate.com/2014/06/04/3487863/blow-yes-all-men.html

 

“Violence against women-it’s a men’s issue”

by Jackson Katz for TEDxFiDiWomen

http://www.ted.com/talks/jackson_katz_violence_against_women_it_s_a_men_s_issue

 

“Stanford sexual assault victim demands tougher sanctions for offenders”

by Katy Murphy for The Washington Post

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/stanford-sexual-assault-victim-demands-tougher-sanctions-for-offenders/2014/06/07/43580f2c-ee7d-11e3-b84b-3393a45b80f1_story.html

 

“Wesleyan Considers Coed Fraternities”

by Kathleen Megan for The Courant

http://articles.courant.com/2014-06-08/news/hc-wesleyan-fraternities-coed-20140530_1_greek-life-wesleyan-university-sexual-assault

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.

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