Survivors Must Lead the Anti-Trafficking Movement

9 May

stella marr, survivors connect, human trafficking, feminism, prostitution, sex work, restitution, ptsd, trauma recovery, swanee hunt, demand abolition

Survivors Connect Network, an international online network of trafficking/prostitution survivors, now has 44 members from seven different countries. It’s been recognized that the absence of survivor leaders in most major anti-trafficking NGOs has created a void. Survivor knowledge and insight is essential. With survivor leadership the movement’s success would be inevitable.   Demand Abolition recently set an example by inviting seven survivors to participate in their Arresting Demand colloquium May 3rd and 4th in Boston. We are extraordinarily grateful.

An exciting example of collaboration among survivor groups involves the Bedford case. Sister survivors in the Aboriginal Women’s Action NetworkEducating VoicesLaCLES, and SexTrade101 have been valiantly educating the public about the harms of the Bedford ruling — which upholds the criminalization of prostitutes on the street — who are almost always crime victims- while it empowers and legitimizes their predators, the male and female pimps who own brothels and escort services.

So we survivors recently voted to issue a statement against the Bedford decision. Dozens of us joining our voices in political action is a big deal. Here’s the statement:

We the members of Survivors Connect Network stand with the women of the Aboriginal Women’s Action NetworkSexTrade101La Concertation des Luttes Contre L’Exploitation Sexuelle (CLES), and Educating Voices. We are sad and shocked by the Bedford ruling. It’s especially troubling that this decision upholds the criminalization of prostitutes selling sex on the street, as these women are almost always traumatized crime victims who need support not arrest. Meanwhile the ruling empowers the male and female pimps who terrorize and exploit women in prostitution by making it legal to own brothels or escort services.

Researchers have found the women in prostitution suffer from the same levels of trauma symptoms as the victims of state-sponsored torture. It forever changes how we face the world. After going through trafficking/prostitution everything you do is an act of will — you must summon and form a new self from your fragments. And yet as the survivors of torture or trafficking/prostitution rebuild our selves and find our voice, we can develop extraordinary abilities to connect with, inspire, and understand others.

Nelson Mandela exemplifies this type of rebirth. Most everyone understands that Mandela’s experiencesof being held 27 years in a prison infamous for torture make him unique. When he was finally released few denied the vast injustice done to him. No one expected him to act like everyone else. Instead South Africa and the world stepped back, and waited to see how this extraordinary man would transform the terrible wrongs he’d been through — they gave him a chance to bring something new into being.

As more trafficking/prostitution survivors speak out, the public will recognize we’re people society has wronged. They’ll understand we’ve been changed by the pain and harshness we’ve experienced. At present public denial of the sex industry’s violence and prostitute-blaming forces many of us into hiding. But as more survivors lead, we’ll be empowered to bring something new and beautiful into being.

33 Responses to “Survivors Must Lead the Anti-Trafficking Movement”

  1. i mayfly May 9, 2012 at 4:44 am #

    Your courage and conviction is inspirational.

  2. liz blackmore May 9, 2012 at 4:55 am #

    Reblogged this on little box of books and commented:
    Good info posted and links provided.

  3. reinventingmyselfinto May 9, 2012 at 5:11 am #

    Thank you for sharing this. There are so many things that I didn’t know and would like very much to share with others, who like me, have lived fairly insular lives.

  4. Terre Spencer May 9, 2012 at 6:02 am #

    Yes, the voices and wisdom of survivors should be the beacon in the movement. That seems right on many levels. I have learned so much from you and other survivors—I hope that I continue to learn more for a very long time. Thank you for the both your well-crafted words and your willingness to lead by speaking out so hauntingly. I, for one, will follow gladly. XO

  5. galaxybureau May 9, 2012 at 6:05 am #


  6. nelle May 9, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    I would imagine there would be lasting impact. Good post.

  7. pharphelonus May 9, 2012 at 6:48 am #

    I can’t imagine how hard is is to emerge from that life to any sense of normal without a roup of former peers leading the way, and the fight.

  8. Grubby Grrrl May 9, 2012 at 8:08 am #

    I know so little about this industry & its survivors. And you are so brave and intelligent. Keep putting out your message for people like me to learn from. Thank you.

  9. Soma Mukherjee May 9, 2012 at 8:16 am #

    Most people live with ostrich syndrome their entire life, denying everything around which would make even their soul shiver, There is a place called Mahipalpur in Delhi, every night this place turns into a heaven for paedophiles…girls as young as 7 years to 15 are made to attend to at least 7 customers every day, and those who cannot are made to attend to double the number next day….but ask the authorities and people around one knows anything about it..
    you are such an inspiration and we have some NGO’s here who are relentlessly working for betterment of those kids and other girls to free them and provide them some kind of secure environment….

  10. Dark Landscapes May 9, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    You are truly inspirational, and I applaud all that you’re doing.

  11. buckwheatsrisk May 9, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    it’s amazing what you are doing.

    • SELASIE BULMUO May 9, 2012 at 11:42 am #

      Saw this on little box of books. Really inspired by the work you are doing. Survivors – leaders of change. You are making something good come out of your traumatic past. That takes a lot of energy, not only to recover yourself but to fight for the recovery of others from this trauma. Kudos!

      • buckwheatsrisk June 7, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

        thank you so much! thank you for visiting and commenting as well, drop by any time!

  12. geese May 9, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    Just yesterday 9 men in the UK were found guilty of trafficking young girls. One girl had to have an abortion aged just 13. One was raped 25 times in one night alone. Your post helps to raise the issue, thank you.

    • Judaye May 9, 2012 at 8:47 pm #

      Reblogged on Tales From Under a Middleaged Colored Woman. Thank you so much for all this much needed, good information.

  13. Sharmishtha Basu May 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    Reblogged this on Earth in black and white.

  14. herbork May 9, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

    Gives a whole new meaning to “power” points. Keep up the good work.

  15. bnewvision May 10, 2012 at 1:00 am #

    Thank you for being an Inspiration! Your courage and strength to share your story, help others and bring awareness is impeccable! Thank you!

  16. Judy May 10, 2012 at 2:32 am #

    God bless you and more power to ya. I totally agree and am happy to hear you are succeeding. Thank you

  17. aceofsevens May 10, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    Another issue is that non-survivors often don’t care about the cause per se, btu want to use it to promote some other agenda. (Look at all the religious groups who think that rape victims and drug addicts are prime pickings for proselytization, for instance.)

  18. Let's CUT the Crap! May 10, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

    You are an inspiration! Thanks for sharing. I would never had known any of these facts had it not been for your posts.

  19. ardentmeld May 13, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    Reblogged this on Ardentmeld's Blog and commented:
    Survivors must lead to help save the future and current victims…

  20. A Woman and Her Pen! May 14, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    Praying for you!!

  21. butterflysblog May 18, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    What an absolutely beautiful post. Brought tears to my eyes. You have a lovely writing style. Thank you for sharing.

  22. chaliceme June 28, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    Reblogged this on Maintaining Your World.


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