Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What Now: Disney and Rape Culture

Hello everyone, I am the new co-editor: Theresa!

There are no significant updates with TVPJA when I am writing this, so I would like to turn your attention to a recent unfolding of another rape case. It has the potential of leading to changes if the public takes action.

Picture from "It Happened to Me: I was Raped at Disney World and Nobody Cared"
The gist of the story is that a young woman working for the Disney College Program was sexually assaulted by a male co-worker. She went to the Employee Assistance Program, numerous other departments, and finally Employee Relations. There was no procedure. It was unclear who she should had gone to. And she was met with inappropriate accusations and assumptions. A hashtag of #disneyrape is trending on Twitter and related comments are being posted on Disney's affiliated pages. You can find out more from the victim's perspective, but rehashing the facts of the crime will not further the cause. Instead, this post should help us all recognize the fallibility and inexcusable conduct possible in even the "safest" of places. 

Hopefully Disney and other organisations consider implementing programs and procedures for when the worse happens. Support services need to be in place.

Our society, however unintentionally, promotes a rape culture by defending rapists and shaming victims, making them feel worthless and the rapists condoned. 

A rape victim could report an assault, but is not taken seriously, blamed for the assault, and the rapist is unpunished. A rape victim could not report the assault, but is chastised, guilt-tripped, blamed if the rapist hurts someone else.

These are actions we can do to stop rape culture in our day-to-day lives...

Do Not:
Blame the victim or his/her actions.
Excuse the actions of the rapist.
Believe s/he wanted or asked for it.
Suggest the way s/he was dressed, said, previous history, etc etc etc caused it.
Make rape jokes or trivialize rape.

Be supportive.
Be patient.
Empower and encourage.
Shut down sexist comments.
Stop sexual objectifying remarks.

Rape is not only restricted to Disney World or theme parks. Rape is an occurrence that plagues many people across time and location, and individuals regardless of sex, gender, race, ethnicity, age, etc. There are many instances of sexual assault in the United States, and in the last few months a particular case enthralled the media for a while. But it is just one of many horrible events.

In the more public sphere to improve sexual assault policies, consider:
Training to become an educator.
Start, promote, or participate in a walk.
Raise awareness.
Volunteer at events and support services.

Wishing you all safe days and nights.

Some resources for allies and victims:

Friday, June 14, 2013

Girl Rising on CNN


My name is Gabriella, and I am a rising sophomore at Tulane University in New Orleans. I am on summer vacation right now, and I'm interning in New York City with an organization called 10x10. This amazing organization works to promote girls' education around the world, and they recently released a film called Girl Rising that tells the stories of 9 girls in 9 different countries and their dreams of getting an education. So much of what I do here reminds me of the kinds of things we at BASI believe in—it's all about empowering girls to overcome unbelievable odds.

I wanted to let you all know that at 9pm ET/6pm PT this Sunday, June 16th, CNN will broadcast Girl Rising (click the link for the official trailer) on primetime television. I wanted to reach out to you and see if you'd be interested in hosting a party at your home to see the film on CNN with some friends—and reach out to people in your community to do the same! This is an unprecedented opportunity: The more minds we change, the more lives we impact.

Educate girls and change the world.

Share this image on social media!

Here's what you can do to help: 
1. Share the CNN global premiere of Girl Rising with everyone you know & ask them to host a viewing party.
What is Girl Rising? Directed by Academy Award nominee Richard Robbins, Girl Rising tells the stories of 9 extraordinary girls from 9 countries, written by 9 celebrated writers and narrated by 9 renowned actresses.
What's 10x10? ‪10x10 is a global action campaign for girls' education. Centered by the new feature film, Girl Rising, 10x10 uses the power of storytelling and the leverage of strategic partnerships to deliver a simple, critical truth: Educate Girls and you will Change the World.‬
What's the pitch? When can a get-together impact the lives of millions? When it’s part of the world’s biggest house party – with a purpose.
What can I do? Use the 'Social Share' kit we've made just for you.
What's inside the Social Share Kit? This kit has everything you could need to effectively spread the word to your community. Pre-drafted posts for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are included, as well as awesome photos to post on Facebook to promote our June 16th premiere. Find all the 'Social Share' tools you could need here.
2. Register your support by signing up to watch CNN and by hosting your own house party!
Sign up at and we’ll put you on the map - our interactive globe will display every house party on the planet. Invite your friends and family over to your place – or the local library, restaurant, community hall.
This is our chance to create visibility for girls… and an opportunity to raise funds to help them.
So gather your community for a good time – and a time to do some good.


P.S. Don't forget to get on the map! Sign up here to host a Girl Rising viewing party.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

TVPJA: The Issue and what YOU Can Do

Written By:  Our newest BASI family member, Theresa Yerba from TaYera

7 days until the vote!

The Trafficking Victims Protection & Justice Act (A.2240/S.2135A) will be voted on in the New York State Assembly around June 20th, 2013. It is legislation that aims to decrease demand and increase protection of victims of human trafficking by:
  1. Increasing penalties on traffickers from a Class D felony to a Class B felony
  2. Acknowledging that prostituted children are victims, NOT willing participants
  3. Changing the words in Penal Law from calling children prostitutes to prostituted – thereby alleviating some associated stigma
  4. Many other changes concerned with eliminating sex trafficking and prevention of re-victimization by the justice system
To learn more about the Act, I recommend visiting the hub of TVPJA information. Human trafficking is a serious issue that warrants discussion and perpetual improvement upon current legislation. Holding lawbreakers accountable for their crimes and protecting the abused is an integral part of the justice system. Please take time to read more about TVPJA and how to raise awareness.
Help the cause! Raising awareness is key to passing legislation, but more importantly is notifying your representatives in government about your position. Besides your own assembly(wo)man, please contact Speaker Silver – his support is necessary for the bill to pass.
Possible actions:
  1. Call
    • You can call Speaker Silver’s office:  518-455-3791 (or any assembly(wo)men, use their number)
    • Hi, my name is ________ I’m from (City/town).  I’m calling because I am asking Speaker Silver to do everything he possible can to do support the passage of the TVPJA (A.2240). This critical legislation strengthens NYS’s response to human trafficking, especially with minority victims.  As a resident of NYS and a voter, I am urging Speaker Silver to support this bill, and to help it come to a vote.  I am also very concerned about a new bill that Codes Committee Chairman Joseph Lentol recently introduced (A.7474).  This bill is completely unacceptable, it does not prosecute the pimps and protect the exploited children like the (A.2240) bill does.  I am asking Speaker Silver to use his leadership to help end human trafficking in NYS. Thank you for your time!
    • State the message clearly!
  2. Print, Sign, and Mail
    • Sign your: Signature, Name, City/town, State, Zipcode
  3. Email
  4. Encourage your friends
Any help is appreciated. If you cannot take any of these actions, certainly educate yourself about the issues!

7 days until the vote!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and make that 3 minute phone call to Speaker Silver's office! 

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

End Child Sex Trafficking: Community Task Force Training

BASI Buffalo Team with Sean Wrench, founder of Forsaken Generation
From left to right: Greg, Christine, Sean of Forsaken Generation, Marc

On May 18, 2013, a few members of the BASI Buffalo team traveled to Rochester, New York for the Rochester Community Task Force Training help by Forsaken Generation.  This all day training prepared us to be advocates within our community to help bring an end to child sex trafficking.  The day was split up into four sections: education, awareness, policy advocacy, and rescue and restoration.  The best thing about this training was that it connected the dots between the different components that are required to help end child sex trafficking.  This training also helped each of us see where our talents could best be used to help our children in America have freedom!

Connecting the dots to end child sex trafficking:
Policy Advocacy
Rescue & Restoration

Written By: Christine, Founding Director of Bloggers Against Social Injustice
The following is my reflection on the Rochester Community Task Force Training.

Before I came to this training, I was aware of the overall presence of human trafficking in the United States but I was not certain on all the components necessary to protect and prevent those in modern-day slavery.  I knew that organizations were educating the community while others were working on policies, yet others were rescuing victims of human trafficking.  However, I did not comprehend how these connected.  I am pleased to say that although I am not fully knowledgeable on the issue of human trafficking, I am now more aware of how I can make a difference.  I hope this blog posts helps you discover how you can best help combat child sex trafficking in your community!

It is important to be aware of who, how, what and why. Children can be brought into the sex trade through force, fraud, and/or coercion.  There are many types of trafficking, including: pimp controlled (which may have started with a romeo pimp who posed as the child's significant other), residential brothels, and truck stops.  The glamorization of pimp culture and oversexualization of the media plays a role in creating vulnerable children as well as allowing children to become okay with thinking "pimping" is a positive role to play. If we allow this in our culture, are we training children to think like pimps?

Why doesn't a girl just leave? This is a question people ask frequently.  Victims in the sex trade many times develop Stockholm syndrome, in which captives form emotional bonds to their captors, and may be brainwashed, isolated, closely monitored by the pimp, and/or threatened, among other things.  During the training we read a letter that a pimp wrote for another pimp titled:
"Rules 2 Da game of Hoez!!!"
This heartbreaking letter showed that the key to a successful pimp is control over the girl.  This letter is an example of what pimps did so that girls don't just leave, which plays back into Stockholm syndrome.

When raising awareness in the community, social media, local media, and awareness events are key.  Never underestimate the power of picking up the phone and making calls.  Also, utilize the power of twitter.  As for local events, we broke up into groups and came up with ideas.  Marc had the idea of a flash mob-like scene where may people walked through the mall in groups of three. This idea would include one person/child in chains while another holds the chain. A third person would walk behind the couple, passed out educational flyers on human trafficking.  Like Marc, feel free to be creative and do something that turns heads.  Make sure you ask permission first if you are going to be doing anything on private property.
If you are interested in creating a Freedom Walk, similar to the one I held at my university back in April (Freedom Walk Buffalo), Forsaken Generation has a comprehensive step-by-step guide to organizing and promoting your walk!

Policy Advocacy
"Advocacy is an integral part of saving these children's  lives. Without the proper laws 
in place, kids that are rescued have nowhere to go and are tried 
in a court unfairly and ultimately end up back to where they just escaped from." 
- Forsaken Generation, 2013 

An important part of policy advocacy is working with a local organization (task force or community organization).  Following this, you will need to decide on ways to get your message out.  This is where raising awareness comes in to play.  Then, you will want to connect with your local representatives to gain support. You can do this through letters, phone calls, social media blasts, and public meetings.  Whatever you do, you will want to ask people to do the same so you can be more efficient and more effective.  If you ask one person to send in a letter to their representative, as that same person to ask 3 of their friends to do the same. This will allow more work to be done in less time.  Imagine you asking 50 people who each ask 3 people who each ask 2 people.  That is 300 people who can reach out to their representatives on the behalf of children who are being enslaved.

Rescue & Restoration
There are many ways every day citizens can help with rescue.  You can volunteer at a hotline (after being properly trained), you can place brochures in areas with at-risk youth (truck stops, homeless shelters, etc.), and you can educate first responders.  Actual rescue/street outreach is not safe to so alone, and you should only be considered after training with a task force or organization that has experience with rescue/street outreach.  

Click here to join Forsaken Generation's "Real Men" campaign.
A Special Thank You to all the men who advocate against child sex trafficking!

If you take anything away from this post, I first of all hope you have a better understanding on what is needed to help end child sex trafficking.  Second, I hope you can see where your talents may be best used.  Third, I hope you are motivated to join a local task force.  

Please feel free to comment below with questions, or tweet to us at: @ourBASI

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