New Challenges to Prosecuting Sex Trafficking

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Posted on August 08, 2013

In the wake of the FBI three-day, multicity child sex trafficking operation (Operation Cross Country) – a raid which recovered 106 teenagers and arrested 152 pimps – NPR reported that the operation highlighted an ongoing and often hidden problem in the US: the trafficking of young people and how the digital age is changing the tactics used by both pimps and law enforcement.

With the help of organizations like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the FBI were able to collect and analyze information on missing and exploited children.

“Up until about five years ago, sex trafficking of both adults and children were occurring in traditional venues, like street corners and alleys, bus stops,” said John Ryan, CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “The Internet has changed all that, particularly through social media platforms.”

While this unprecedented FBI sweep has rescued just a fraction of the children being exploited, the efforts must be applauded. More efforts need to be made to bring children out of prostitution.

It is important to raise awareness in our local communities — sex trafficking of minors is happening in our own backyard and we must come together to address the problem. Join GWEN and make a difference in your community today.

Source: http://www.npr.org/2013/08/03/208664066/online-the-web-of-sex-trafficking-can-be-even-more-obscure

Film about Sex Trafficking Survivor Chong Kim Debuts in Los Angeles March 28, 2013

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Posted on March 29, 2013

GWEN co-founder and COO, Tess Cacciatore, attended the opening of the film EDEN in Los Angeles March 28, 2013. Pictured above with Karim Alivier, GWEN Empowerment Curriculum Coach and Colin Plank, producer of EDEN.

The film EDEN made its Los Angeles debut on March 28 at the Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills. EDEN tells the story of a young Korean-American girl who is abducted near her home in New Mexico and forced into prostitution by a domestic human and drug trafficking ring located outside the bright lights of Las Vegas, Nevada. Inspired by the harrowing true story of GWEN blog contributor and anti-trafficking expert Chong Kim, EDEN peers into the darkest corners of America and attempts to discover the humanity within.

EDEN which details three years in the mid ’90s when Kim was forced into prostitution and sex slavery that started when she was 19, opened in limited release in New York March 20 through April 2, 2013, in Los Angeles March 29 through April 4, 2013 and will open in Seattle May 3 -15, 2013. The film features Jamie Chung (Hangover 2, Sucker Punch and Grown Ups), Beau Bridges (Max Payne, The Fabulous Baker Boys and Stargate SG-1), and Matt O’Leary (Brick, Live Free or Die Hard and Spy Kids 2 & 3). For more information on the film please visit the official site: http://www.edenthefilm.com/index.html.

Chong Kim has been a great supporter of GWEN and specifically the Tell Us Your Story campaign, as a regular blog contributor and also by telling her own personal story on the GWENNetwork.org site.

Watch this video interview of survivor Chong Kim, actress Jamie Chung, and director Megan Griffiths on HuffPost Live.

Hear me roar!

Posted by GWEN
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Posted on February 15, 2013

I decided to write a blog about my “Pet Peeves” it’s been long and I want to set something straight. I’m going to be completely honest and blunt here so bear with me and if you find any of this offensive, then at least you know the truth.

1.) My first pet peeve is being called a “Victim”, my tragedies have been over 10 years and I’ve come a long ways in reaching my goals from where I have been, so calling me a victim only states that I’m still broken, missing and hopeless; even if that’s not what is meant to be, trust me “we” the survivors HATE it! I’m an over-comer, I’ve been through things that most can not even relate, but you know I refuse to falter in anyone’s demise and I will rise and spread my wings, calling me a victim is only going to make me thrive even stronger and you’ll lose out on survivors wanting to speak at your event.

2.) What are experts? This is one of my biggest pet peeve, I’ve asked to collaborate with certain affiliations and have been told that I’m not an expert in the trafficking arena. Are you kidding me???? People wonder why we never get anything done, we put a wall between survivors and academics, it’s time to tear that wall down and work together, haven’t you people learned what “unity” means?

3.) When church becomes a system. You take a victim who’s in need of food, shelter and clothing, you tell her that in order to receive services in your church/program she must commit to God, um . . . I don’t remember Jesus ever saying that to Mary Magdeline? He opened his heart and she loved him in return, not by obligation. I don’t believe God’s love is a bargaining chip so why are so many churches doing this? If you do, you are no worse then a trafficker/pimp. Yes, I said it! Quit concentrating on converting people and just do what God asks of us, help those in need without obliging to your agenda. God is not selfish, God is love and what I’ve learned and truly believe in my heart is that God’s love is a gift not an obligation. Also, if these women/children have never experienced anything healthy in their lives, what makes you think they know what denomination to convert to? Shouldn’t it be their choice not yours?

4.) This is particularly to journalist. I’ve met many different types of journalist and interviewees and let me tell you there are some who ask very good questions and some can even tug at the heart, but when you say something stupid like: (A) Why would you be a madame after going through what you’ve been through, how vile can you be? First of all, let me say this: Traffickers, kidnappers and pimps aren’t going to let you walk away because you FEEL like it, I have no idea where you assume that we can, because seriously I’d love to have walked away when I could. Being a madame wasn’t a choice it was survival and if you are having a hard time grasping onto that, ask a psychologist that studies trauma and Stockholm Syndrome and quit assuming I wanted to victimize other people. The other question I get is: (B) Why didn’t you run away, same concept as above, if I could I would and don’t even mistaken that I haven’t tried, we try we get beat up, but then we’re called weak because we didn’t try hard enough, I’m sorry but I’m not Jet Li and if I could kick ass, boy that would be a dream! Last question is: (C) Your trafficking experience has been less than 2 years so that’s not that long. Okay, before I go off on someone, SERIOUSLY???? I don’t care what your editing protocol is, if you’re going to be a journalist you need to re-educate your editor on how to appropriately ask sensitive questions to victims/survivors then you wonder why no one wants to speak up, because of your STUPID questions! There was a study on jail cells, especially pertaining to solitary confinement and the psychological damage it can do to an adult much less a child and a law enforcement official decided to try this for only 2 days, the end result was the officer that volunteered to be in confinement became angry, agitated and suffering from PTSD even just two days. No window, no light, no clock to tell time just a four cylinder wall to stare all for 24 hours a day, you tell me if that wasn’t so bad.

By all means, I am not trying to bash anyone, but please understand my frustration. I have tolerance for certain things, but for stupidity and ignorance I have no tolerance for. Instead of being offended of my feedback, take this as a guide, because trust me I have a lot of survivor friends we discuss what we don’t like to be asked, otherwise you’ll find yourself empty handed when rescuing others. Oh btw, don’t look for new victims you sound like a trafficker when you say that, they need to heal and you need to back off. This is all I have to say. Thank you for reading.