Sister survivor Holly Austin Smith has a great new post on her blog, titled The Importance of the Survivor Voice. She discusses an issue that’s central to most of us: Why aren’t more survivors being uplifted to lead the anti-trafficking movement? Sister survivor Rachel Lloyd is a splendid exception to this rule, as are Vednita Carter and Kristy Childs. But so many of us our ignored and discarded after we’ve been used by anti-trafficking organizations once or twice to tell our story. No one knows more about the sex industry and human trafficking than we do. No one knows more about recovery from trafficking/prostitution than us. The absence of survivor leaders in most major anti-trafficking organizations creates a hole in the movement. Much more would accomplished much faster if we were given the chance to lead. Because so few of us are empowered to lead, so much time is wasted — so much knowledge and insight lost.
What’s especially troubling is that even when survivors find ways to lead on our own we’re ignored or talked through. Our Canadian sister survivors in the Aboriginal Women’s Action Network, Educating Voices, LaCLES, 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 crime victims– while it empowers and legitimizes their predators, the male and female pimps and traffickers who own brothels and escort services. While some of the major anti-trafficking organizations have commented on the ruling or written documents concerning its issues, there’s been precious little support and acknowledgement of the brave work of these Canadian survivors.
The 34 members of Survivors Connect recently voted to issue a statement of support for our Canadian sisters against the Bedford decision. 34 prostitution/trafficking survivors joining our voices in political action is a big deal. It was a historic moment, and marked a big change in how survivors participate in the movement. But there was no response by the big anti-trafficking organizations. A few wonderful women within these large anti-trafficking organizations have reached out to me — there are great people in these groups, of course. But in general survivors are ignored, not uplifted.
What can survivors do about this situation? What we’ve been through in the sex industry unites us. We must remember our voices are powerful, form survivors groups where there are none, and join existing survivor groups. Sometimes nonprofit organizations become competitive and don’t work together. We can’t afford this. It’s important that our different survivor groups work and flow together as one so that our voices aren’t fragmented.
Survivors Connect is an international online leaderless network. We already have 34 survivor members, and we’ve only been around for two months. We joyfully welcome new sister survivor members. Here’s how to join us.
I am in touch with survivors from around the world: new survivors, empowered survivors, educated survivors, struggling survivors, and scared survivors. We unite under these umbrella organizations to offer each other support, guidance, and empathy and to work together on survivor-inspired projects.
There is a particular topic which has been surfacing lately on many of these forums and that is the lack of survivor invitations to participate in local and national conferences, symposiums, workshops, etc. Often, survivors are requested to recount the details of their testimonies, and then they are excused from further participation. This is baffling to me. If there is to be a discussion regarding the prevention of human trafficking and the protection of survivors, shouldn’t there be a survivor’s perspective present?Please realize I recognize that many organizations involved in such events are survivor-informed; however, I still believe that empowered survivors whom are able to attend the event should be invited to participate. What better way to convey to new survivors that their futures hold promise but by providing a place and by lifting the voices of survivors who are ready to come forward?
- Dublin Call Girl: Sometimes I Want to Go Back to Escorting Again (survivorsconnect.wordpress.com)
- 34 Trafficking/Prostitution Survivors Vote to Stand with Our Canadian Sisters Against the Bedford Prostitution Decision (survivorsconnect.wordpress.com)
- Trafficking/Prostitution Survivors Inspire Each Other (secretlifeofamanhattancallgirl.wordpress.com)
- Performance of Anti Human Trafficking Units (traffickingnews.wordpress.com)
- SFO Launches Anti-Human Trafficking Program (sfist.com)
- Human Trafficking Survivors Train Cambodian Police and Government Officials (prweb.com)
- Police Officer arrested for participating in Human Trafficking after attending Anti-Human Trafficking Conference (thesummitaht.wordpress.com)
- Bill to combat child escort ads on Backpage.com signed into law (ballardnewstribune.com)
- We can’t celebrate International Women’s Day until … (secretlifeofamanhattancallgirl.wordpress.com)
- The Sex Industry Sell Out: I am a Human Being and I Deserve More (survivorsconnect.wordpress.com)
- The evil enchantment: Sometimes I want to go back to escorting (secretlifeofamanhattancallgirl.wordpress.com)
- The Sneaky Language of the Sex Industry Lobby (secretlifeofamanhattancallgirl.wordpress.com)
- I’m Not the Only One Who was Mistreated in Prostitution (survivorsconnect.wordpress.com)