Ask Gov. Schwarzenegger to Release Human Trafficking Victim Sara Kruzan with Time Served

Sixteen-year-old human trafficking victim Sara Kruzan was sentenced to life in prison without parole when, in a desperate act to escape captivity, she shot her pimp. When Sara met G.G., the 31-year-old man who would become her pimp, she was only 11. G.G. groomed Sara two years before he raped her.  By then, his control was complete and he forced her into prostitution.  Sara and the other girls who G.G. exploited were out on the streets from 6pm to 6am, every night.  Twelve hours a night, seven days a week, for three years, Sara was raped by strangers so G.G. could profit.  After three years, she snapped, and she killed him.

Now 32, Sara has spent half her life in prison as a model prisoner, and has asked Gov. Schwarzenegger for clemency. Sara was arrested and tried in 1994, before anyone was using the term “human trafficking” and when the country was still struggling to understand issues like domestic violence and pimp control that give one person coercive control over another. So there was no expert witness at Sara’s trial to explain how her years of repeated rape, trauma, and abuse had affected her actions. There was no expert to tell the jury that with counseling, support, and care, Sara could heal from her traumatic past and grow to be a strong and moral woman.

Sara’s clemency plea has been submitted to Gov. Schwarzenegger, and the decision of whether or not to release her with time served rests solely with him. Sara Kruzan deserves hope.  She deserves hope that she didn’t survive being raped and sold for three years for nothing.  She deserves hope that the darkest chapter of her life has passed, and a horizon lies ahead.  She deserves hope that she can change, grow, and flourish as a woman. But in life without parole, there is no hope.

Tell Gov. Schwarzenegger that human trafficking victims deserve support and care, not prison. Ask him to release Sara with time served.

source:http://humantrafficking.change.org/blog/view/what_will_the_election_mean_for_imprisoned_trafficking_victim_sara_kruzan

Advertisements
Published in: on October 29, 2010 at 6:41 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , ,

What Will the Election Mean for Imprisoned Trafficking Victim Sara Kruzan?

The 2010 California governor’s race — while adversarial, expensive, and uncertain — has one predictable outcome: Arnold Schwarzenegger will no longer be the head honcho of the Golden State. And while the Governator has repeatedly shown he’s a four star general in the fight against human trafficking, one young woman is betting her life on that reputation. Will Schwarzenegger put election politics aside long enough to release child trafficking victim Sara Kruzan from prison?

Sara met G.G., the 31-year-old man who would become her pimp, when she was only 11. G.G. groomed Sara for two years by buying her gifts and taking her roller skating. Then when she was 13, he raped her to initiate her into prostitution.  By then, his control was complete.  Sara and the other girls who G.G. exploited were forced to sell sex on the streets from 6pm to 6am, every night.  Twelve hours a night, seven days a week, for three years, Sara was raped by strangers so G.G. could profit. She was in every sense, a modern-day slave. At just sixteen, and with no other perceivable way out, she shot him to escape slavery.

Sara was arrested and tried in 1994, before anyone was using the term “human trafficking” and when the country was still struggling to understand issues like domestic violence and pimp control. There was no expert witness at Sara’s trial to explain how her years of repeated rape, trauma, and abuse had affected her actions. There was no one to tell the jury that with counseling, support, and care, Sara could heal from her traumatic past and grow to be a strong and moral woman. So she was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. She has now lived half her life in prison.

(more…)

Sarah Jessica Parker and Gabourey Sidibe Fight Sex Trafficking in Brooklyn

Sex trafficking has no place in the city, according to a new campaign by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, and both Sarah Jessica Parker and Gabourey Sidibe agree. To help promote the campaign and a new local hot line, the celebs recently lent their voices to a set of ads currently running on local airwaves.

In SJP’s spot, the Sex and the City star notes that she had been unaware of sex trafficking as a domestic crime. But, she states, “At least 100,000 American children are trafficked into prostitution each year.” Gabourey Sidibe’s PSA complements with a more local approach; the Precious star was born in Brooklyn and is all too aware of the crime’s prevalence. “It makes me sick,” she says, “to think of those animals taking 12-, 13- and 14-year-old girls and renting them out to a John.”

Listeners are encouraged to be aware of sex trafficking in Brooklyn, to know that its victims include both immigrants and Americans, runaways and otherwise vulnerable girls and boys. The campaign also includes posters and fliers visible throughout the community, with information on how to identify sex trafficking. And those with tips to share – or those in need of services – can call the Brooklyn Sex Trafficking Unit’s new hot line at (718) 250-2770.

(more…)

World’s Creepiest Fairytale Tells Story of Child Sexual Exploitation

Can a fairytale capture the disturbing nature of the growing trend of child sex trafficking in America? The new film The Candy Shop, a fairytale-style parable about child sexual exploitation sure does. And it’s part of a growing movement to bring awareness to the issue in Atlanta, a city some are calling the child sex trafficking capitol of America.

The Candy Shop, a film by Whitestone Motion Pictures, is scheduled for release next month. Based on the trailer, it promises to be one of the creepiest films about child sex trafficking ever made. And that’s saying something.  Is it possible to pack all the emotional wallop of the child sex trafficking epidemic into a film done in the style of a fairytale? When your villain looks like a heroine-addicted, pedophile version of Willy Wonka, little girls are turned into candy by a steampunk-esque machine, and crowds of passersby are blind to the evil goings-on at the local candy store, then yes. Yes, it is possible to make a film that captures the inherent discomfort and creepiness of child sex trafficking. Check out the trailer for yourself, with more after the jump.

The Candy Shop takes place in a through-the-looking glass Atlanta, where a candy store is turning children into candy for chubby, sweaty male customers. In the real Atlanta, over 500 children a  month are sold for sex. Many estimates put it as one of the top cities in the country for child sex trafficking. The film is part of a city-wide campaign with anti-trafficking organizations Doorpost, 12Stone Church and StreetGrace, and 100% of the profits will go to support anti-trafficking programs in Atlanta. But the truly frightening part of The Candy Shop is that it could be set in any city, because child sex trafficking happens everywhere.

Yet despite the estimated 250,000 American children who are victims of human trafficking, there are less than 100 shelter beds in the country for them. That’s not even enough space for all the children victimized in Atlanta. You can ask Congress to fund the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act, which will provide critical services for sex trafficking survivors. Also, check out Street Grace for more information on how to get involved in ending human trafficking in Atlanta.

source: http://humantrafficking.change.org/blog/view/worlds_creepiest_fairytale_tells_story_of_child_sexual_exploitation

High School Cheerleader Kicked Off Squad for Refusal to Cheer for Her Rapist

Rah, rah, sis boom bah: Silsbee High School in Texas wants their cheerleaders smiling, energetic, and willing to cheer for their rapists by name. Go team!

H.S., a Silsbee student, reported being raped in 2008 by Rakheem Bolton, a fellow student and athletic star, with the help of two of his friends. In the end, Bolton recently ended up getting off without serving any jail time by pleading guilty to a lesser assault charge, spending two years on probation, doing community service, paying a fine, and attending anger management courses. Hardly seems like an adequate punishment, but it’s unfortunately not uncommon for attackers to bargain down their charges. What really gets the blood boiling is how the students’ high school treated the victim when the rape charge was levied.

Bolton was set to be on the school’s varsity basketball team, and they couldn’t risk losing by barring him from playing for a silly thing like a rape charge. That could impact their chances at winning. Who cares about the traumatic impact it would have an a cheerleader who needed to vocally support a team including her rapist?

But H.S. fulfilled her role as a cheerleader, participating in all the cheers for the team as a group. She simply refused to shout the first name of the man who assaulted her when he stood up alone to make free throws. It seems like she was being more than accommodating, when an student athlete facing trial on rape charges most likely should have been suspended from the team, even if his presence wasn’t a source of immediate distress to his victim in her position as cheerleader. In a display of extreme disrespect for a rape survivor and disregard for her well-being, school officials insisted that H.S. had to scream “Rakheem” with the rest of the cheerleaders, or she’d be kicked off the squad.

(more…)

Published in: on October 25, 2010 at 3:14 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , ,

Documentary “FLESH” Exposes Trafficking in Los Angeles

Joining the fight against human trafficking is fast becoming a trend in Hollywood, and more often than not, the finger is pointed at foreign soil. But “FLESH,” a new documentary by Kristin Ross Lauterbach, exposes trafficking in Hollywood’s own backyard. This month the film partners with Loyola Marymount University’s “The Purpose of Being” art exhibition to offer visitors a unique opportunity to do the same.

“The Purpose of Being” highlights the work of nine professional artists and activists paired with LMU student artists to create collaborative projects. Each artist uses their work to bring about social awareness. Causes range from gender issues to police brutality to the environment. “Being” takes place during LMU’s Bellarmine Forum, a week-long series of events, performances and lectures under the theme “Imagining Equality: Women’s Art and Activism.”  Being is also the action response to curator Ronald Lopez’s other exhibit, “Harmony Reverberates Optimism,” showing at the Jaus Gallery.

“Harmony” is an exhibition of Los Angeles female artists creating social change with their art forms. As one of them, Lauterbach is showing a 12 minute piece of her movie “FLESH.” The documentary explores how U.S. citizens knowingly and unknowingly propagate human trafficking home. It gives a voice to those in the business and those seeking to end it. The result is a startling perspective on what drives trafficking here in the United States.

“The Purpose of Being” pulled in teams of LMU students to create and exhibit their own responses to the art and encourages the audience to respond as well. The “FLESH” team created an installation piece to show alongside the video piece on display. Lauterbach’s cameras follow current and former prostituted women in Los Angeles as they tell their stories of physical and psychological enslavement, being trafficked throughout the United States, and their harrowing escapes. Pimps and former pimps are interviewed. So are expert abolitionists. And it’s all in an effort to move the discussion from how to what and why. What are the underlying causes of human trafficking in America and why aren’t we stopping it?

(more…)

Published in: on October 25, 2010 at 8:54 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Iraqi Refugees Face Sex Trafficking, Forced Marriage

Since the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003, over a million Iraqis have fled to Syria to escape the violence and poverty in their conflict-ridden country. But now a new specter haunts them — sex trafficking and forced marriage. Iraqi refugees in Syria are increasingly being trafficked into brothels, forced into marriages, or pushed into prostitution as a means of survival. It’s time Secretary of State Clinton helped protect Iraqi refugees from the aftermath of a U.S.-initiated war.

One of those refugees is Um Ali. She fled from Iraq to Syria with her husband and three daughters once war broke out in her home town. In Syria, the family had no money, no connections, and no support. So it wasn’t long before her husband, who had beaten Ali for years, began looking to sell off their only assets — their daughters. Despite the fact that their daughters were young teens, the marriage proposals began coming in, including one offer from an Iraqi man who ran a brothel in the U.S. Thankfully, before he could sell off one of his daughters into marriage or sex trafficking, Ali’s husband was forced to return to Iraq to escape gambling debts in Syria.

Um Ali’s situation is not rare. Upon reaching Syria, many Iraqi refugees find they have no way to earn a living without proper immigration documentation. If women have fled without a male family member, they may be unable to find any form of work. This situation pushes some women unwillingly into prostitution and makes others vulnerable to sex trafficking or forced marriage by male relatives. Even women who managed to scrape together a living on their own in some non-sexual way are often “suspected” of being prostitutes and shunned from family because of that suspicion. So no matter how they survive, female Iraqi refugees are doomed to be damned by society or forced into some form of slavery.

(more…)

Boston Hotels Help Bust Major Child Prostitution Ring

Recently, law enforcement agents, courageous survivors, and prosecutors came together to bring down one of the largest child prostitution rings in the country. But they couldn’t have done it without the help of local hotels which were used by pimps to sell and store their “products.” It’s a case that shows hotels can be heroes in preventing and reporting child prostitution.

Jessica was a student at a local Boston high school when she first met Darryl Tavares, the man who would become her pimp. She had run away from home days before and was standing in the snow in skimpy clothes. Tavares convinced her that if she let him be her pimp, she’d never have to be outside in the cold. He failed to mention that he’d also cut her with a potato peeler to mark her as his property, kick her face with his work boots for disobeying, and keep the money she earned from having sex with men in hotel rooms around Boston. But that is what happened to Jessica and the many other girls as young as 13 in a violent child sex trafficking ring in Boston.

After years of abuse, Jessica had enough. She tried to leave her pimp, but he sent several women to find her and they attacked her brutally. So Jessica turned to the police for help and eventually became the first informant for what would be a massive FBI investigation into child prostitution in Boston. In the end, they arrested six pimps, two of whom are awaiting sentencing. Despite the fact that she has deep physical and emotional scars from her time in slavery, Jessica is now a college student. She’s studying to be a social worker to help girls who find themselves in the same situation she did — alone in the snow, making a choice between the home they hate and a smiling wolf offering a warm meal and a place to sleep.

(more…)

Help Free Human Trafficking Victim Sara Kruzan From Life Without Parole

Sixteen-year-old human trafficking victim Sara Kruzan was sentenced to life in prison without parole when, in a desperate act to escape captivity, she shot her pimp. Now 32, Sara has spent half her life in prison as a model prisoner and has finally asked Governor Schwarzenegger for clemency. You can tell Governor Schwarzenegger to commute her sentence to time served and authorize her release, because human trafficking victims like Sarah Kruzan deserve support and care, not prison.

Sara met G.G., the 31-year-old man who would become her pimp, when she was only 11.  Sara’s mom struggled with drug addiction, so when G.G. would drive Sara and her friends to the roller skating rink or the mall, it felt like having a real parent around.  He gave her presents and told her she was special — so special, that she should never give sex away for free.  He convinced her she was a product. G.G. groomed Sara like this for two years before he raped her to initiate her into prostitution.  By then, his control was complete.  Sara and the other girls who G.G. exploited were forced to sell sex on the streets from 6pm to 6am, every night.  Twelve hours a night, seven days a week, for three years, Sara was raped by strangers so G.G. could profit.  After three years, she snapped, and she killed him.

Sara was arrested and tried in 1994, before anyone was using the term “human trafficking” and when the country was still struggling to understand issues like domestic violence and pimp control that give one person coercive control over another. So there was no expert witness at Sara’s trial to explain how her years of repeated rape, trauma, and abuse had affected her actions. There was no one to tell the jury that with counseling, support, and care, Sara could heal from her traumatic past and grow to be a strong and moral woman. Yet somehow, even in the darkness of prison with no hope of ever leaving, she has done that. Sara has become a model prisoner on their honor’s floor, earned a college degree, and was even named “Woman of the Year” at her prison.

(more…)