Decembeard: Growing Whiskers To Fight Sex Trafficking

by Michelle Brock on December 28th, 2010

Here is a man’s solution to a male-fueled problem.  Brings a smile on my face!

Michelle Brock

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This Christmas…I Speak

by Michelle Brock on December 24th, 2010

silencedI speak
because I have a voice

A choice to make
a right to take
To tell and
to be heard

My story is less

than thousands
whose lips have been sealed,
their tongues cut out
their mouths
sewn shut

They will die
with secrets on their lips

But I will speak
of the little I know

speak upSo that in their silence
they will hear me

whisper

You are not alone.

-Beth Fisher, Not with Ink

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Film Review: The Candy Shop Documentary

by Michelle Brock on December 21st, 2010

Back in August I wrote a post about a film by Whitestone Motion Pictures called The Candy Shop, which was to be released in November.  Starring Pan’s Labyrinth’s Doug Jones, this fantasy genre film is now available for viewing!  Before giving my review on the film, I encourage you to watch the trailer:

 

The Candy Shop is about 30 minutes in length, and tells the story of sexual exploitation and forced prostitution through fantastical imagery and metaphor.  Set in the dirty thirties, a boy notices that an evil man is snatching girls off the street and transforming them into lollipops for sale at his candy store. The storyline is complemented by creative costumes and a nostalgic set.

candy shopI have seen plenty of films about sex trafficking, and I have to say this is one of my new favourites.  Most films and books are from the point of view of the victim of trafficking or the john making a purchase, but the Candy Shop shows us the process of manipulation that experienced traffickers use to lure young boys into the business of selling flesh.

I cannot even imagine the whirlwind of thoughts running through these young boys’ minds when they are presented with the chance to run such a business.

Opportunity.  Money.  Fear.  Temptation. Seduction.  Pride.  Power.  Doubt.

More than anything, this film reminded me that boys need role models.  Though many traffickers are downright greedy and have no regard for human life, others are just a product of the pressures they face and the manipulation they’ve endured.

Whitestone Motion Pictures has done a fantastic job with this film, from beginning to end!  Watch the full film here and cast your vote before December 31 in the Doorpost Film Contest.  Check out director Brandon McCormick’s vision for the film and take a look below for behind the scenes footage.   And of course, do your part to “stop the candy shop.”

Michelle Brock

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The Dominoes Are Falling: Craigslist Shuts Down Erotic Services Section in Canada!

by Michelle Brock on December 18th, 2010

dominoesThose of you who have been following our posts on Craigslist will be happy to know that the San Francisco-based online company shut down its erotic services section in Canada this weekend!

Pressure mounted in the U.S. this fall, resulting in the closure of the erotic services section in the States. This left Canadians asking the question of whether Craigslist would take similar action here as well.

Author and UBC law professor Benjamin Perrin is relieved.  According to his book, Invisible Chains, Craigslist has been a medium of choice for traffickers who sell exploited girls and women online.  He claimed he was ready and willing to lay private criminal charges against the company if they did not respond to the letters by Canada’s provincial and federal governments, individual citizens, and NGOs.

writing a letterI can’t tell you how exciting it has been for me to watch this unfold. Corporations have so much sway in our society, but this is an example of what can happen when citizens sign petitions, send letters, and make their voices heard about something that is important.  For those of you who were part of this process, WELL DONE!

Some say that trafficking victims will just be exploited through other means and other websites.  But while ‘business’ will be scattered as a result of Craigslist closing its doors, Canadians have made a statement that we do not tolerate the exploitation and sale of young women and girls for sex.

This sentiment is like a domino effect.  And we’ve just knocked over the first few blocks. Human trafficking will end when this sentiment permeates our society.  That is why I am excited today.

watch outProps to Benjamin Perrin, MP Joy Smith, Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, Attorney General Chris Bentley, and countless others who have led this effort.  And of course, to all of our readers who cared enough to take action!  Let’s make Canada inhospitable to traffickers.

I’m going to celebrate with a cup of tea and some Christmas cookies.

You can check out articles by Toronto SUN and CBC for more on this.

Michelle Brock

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Keep It Pimpin: A Sex Trafficker’s Business Plan

by Michelle Brock on December 15th, 2010

Here is a picture of a pimp’s to-do list, obtained from the Alameda County District Attorney in California.  Courtesy of Youth Radio.
pimpin

pimpin2

Sickening, isn’t it?

Michelle Brock

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Meet an Abolitionist: Maddie Charnuski

by Michelle Brock on December 13th, 2010

Maddie6 300x200Meet Maddie Charnuski, an energetic and personable university student who is passionate about ending modern day slavery.  I recently had the opportunity to ask her some questions about her journey to date.  I hope that her answers inspire you to get creative and use whatever talents and resources you have been given to end injustice in our world!  She has certainly been an inspiration to me.

global citizenHow did you first find out about human trafficking?

I first learned about human trafficking through my own research of becoming a global citizen. I had always heard the term but never knew what it meant. I was taught in school that the slave trade was over, but just by researching about it I quickly learned that it’s not the case. In grade ten I was fed up with only living for myself and decided I needed to become more educated about human trafficking and tell others about it.

Why are you so passionate about this cause?

I’m currently 18 years old and I believe that I’m no different than an 18-year-old girl living in Cambodia or anywhere else in this world. Just because I live in a ‘first world’ country doesn’t give me a right to forget about others in third world countries. The only difference is our place of origin; where we were born. I’m really not that different from these girls who are trafficked and raped every day. Human trafficking happens in every country, and I’m extremely passionate about educating others because though awareness people can better protect themselves. I believe human trafficking can end through education and people standing up against it. If there was no demand to buy, sell and rape these girls than the supply of these girls would significantly decrease.

Maddie5 300x225What event did you put together at your high school?

At the end of grade 10 I started a Youth In Action chapter by Free the Children at my high school. My dream was to plan a community event to educate citizens and raise money for children in a developing country. This occurred in running an event called for Change in April 2010.

There were about 15 people involved in planning and helping make this successful. Tickets were sold for 5 dollars and included coffee/tea and pie. We sold around 200 tickets. We had students from our high school playing different musical instruments throughout the night. We raised over $2500 that night and sent it to a school in Namibia to buy school supplies. Most of the school’s students were orphans living on the streets or children living with their grandparents. Many of them are left vulnerable to become victims of human trafficking because they are living under the poverty line by themselves, desperate to find a better life. The school did receive the money and wrote back mentioning how thankful they were. It was a big success!

Maddie3 224x300How did you get involved in making Christmas cards for trafficking victims this year?

For the past year, educating myself about the sex trade has been my main goal. However, this Christmas I really wanted to show these girls that they are so precious and not forgotten: that they are loved by the Lord and loved by me even though I don’t know them personally. An organization called A21 (abolishing slavery in the 21st century) gave an amazing idea for me to make a Christmas card and send it to a safe house for girls who have been victims of the sex trade. This was such a cool idea that I couldn’t just make one Christmas card! So I planned an event at my residence in University and also at my old high school’s Youth In Action group.

Maddie4 300x224How did you plan the event?

I planned this event with my friend Laurie. We approached student council asking if we could take over a snack night (where members of my residence meet at night to hang out and eat snacks) to give students the opportunity to make Christmas cards! We had a table set up with facts about human trafficking and a place where residents could make these cards. After this event I travelled to my old high school to talk and educate approximately 20 students about human trafficking. After my presentation they had the opportunity to make Christmas cards as well.

Maddie1 300x224How do the cards get sent there?

A21 gave us the address of the safe house in Greece, where these girls who have been traumatized by the effects of the sex trade will receive our cards. We came together this Christmas to tell these girls that people in Canada are thinking of them, praying for them, and saying that that we don’t think what has happened to them is okay.  We sent 68 cards to Greece!

Thanks Maddie for sharing your creative ideas with us!  For those of you who want to meet another abolitionist, check out September’s post on Seth Johnson.  If you want to help 19 victims of human trafficking in Canada this Christmas season, check out last week’s post and respond by December 18th!

Michelle Brock

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A Christmas Wish From Human Trafficking Survivor Timea Nagy

by Michelle Brock on December 8th, 2010

timea nagy

This is Timea Nagy.  You may have seen her story in the newspaper or heard it in our documentary. Timea has a heart for victims of human trafficking in Canada because she knows first hand what it is like to be one, and this has led her to train law enforcement officers, coordinate with Parliament, and provide help to victims who have no one to turn to.  It’s tough work. And this year Timea is making a Christmas Wish, which I’d like to pass onto you:

wish 300x183Dear Friends,

Seasons greetings!  I hope this finds you well and excited for the upcoming holidays. As we come to the end of another successful year, I want to thank those who have contributed to our success and ask if you will help us once again.

Currently, the Walk With Me organization has 19 victims of human trafficking who will not be celebrating the holidays this year with their family and friends. For these victims, there will be no Christmas tree and no presents. I can recall through personal experience how difficult the holidays were for me. It was a solemn reminder that I would be celebrating the holidays alone and without my family.

timmies xmasOver the years I was able to establish my own holiday traditions such as grabbing a coffee from Tim Hortons and taking a walk around the city of Toronto admiring the pretty Christmas lights and decorations. I am hoping to help these victims establish new traditions of their own for these upcoming holidays and to provide them with presents so they know they are not forgotten.

However, I require your help. We have both male and female victims between the ages of 20 to 60 years old. Walk With Me would like to provide them with any of the following gifts listed below to help them get through this holiday season.

  • Phone Vi International Phone Cards: These cards do not charge any connection fee and will help our victims to touch base with loved ones at home during the holidays.
  • Tim Hortons, Wal Mart, Shoppers Drug Mart Gift Cards: To help them obtain basic necessities and enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning.
  • MasterCard/ Visa Gift Cards: These can be purchased at any gas station or major superstore. This item is strongly encouraged as the victims would be able to purchase what ever it is that they require this holiday season.

If you are unable to purchase one of these gift cards before December 18, 2010 a donation of any amount will also be greatly appreciated. We do need these funds however, by December 18th in order to carry out our Christmas promise.

merry christmas1We hope you will consider supporting Walk With Me. To make a donation, make a cheque out to Courage to Cope, memo: Walk With Me and send it to:

126 Hughson Street North

Hamilton, Ontario L8R 1G6

Attention: Timea Nagy

Thank you in advance for your consideration of our request. I wish peace, joy and love to you and your families during this coming Christmas season. Happy Holidays!

Timea Nagy, Program Director/Victim Care & The Walk With Me Team

Click here for more information on Timea’s organization and her new book as well!

Michelle Brock

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A Christmas Wish From Trafficking Survivor Timea Nagy

by Michelle Brock on December 8th, 2010

timea nagy

This is Timea Nagy.  You may have seen her story in the newspaper or heard it in our documentary. Timea has a heart for victims of human trafficking in Canada because she knows first hand what it is like to be one, and this has led her to train law enforcement officers, coordinate with Parliament, and provide help to victims who have no one to turn to.  It’s tough work. And this year Timea is making a Christmas Wish, which I’d like to pass onto you:

wish 300x183Dear Friends,

Seasons greetings!  I hope this finds you well and excited for the upcoming holidays. As we come to the end of another successful year, I want to thank those who have contributed to our success and ask if you will help us once again.

Currently, the Walk With Me organization has 19 victims of human trafficking who will not be celebrating the holidays this year with their family and friends. For these victims, there will be no Christmas tree and no presents. I can recall through personal experience how difficult the holidays were for me. It was a solemn reminder that I would be celebrating the holidays alone and without my family.

timmies xmasOver the years I was able to establish my own holiday traditions such as grabbing a coffee from Tim Hortons and taking a walk around the city of Toronto admiring the pretty Christmas lights and decorations. I am hoping to help these victims establish new traditions of their own for these upcoming holidays and to provide them with presents so they know they are not forgotten.

However, I require your help. We have both male and female victims between the ages of 20 to 60 years old. Walk With Me would like to provide them with any of the following gifts listed below to help them get through this holiday season.

  • Phone Vi International Phone Cards: These cards do not charge any connection fee and will help our victims to touch base with loved ones at home during the holidays.
  • Tim Hortons, Wal Mart, Shoppers Drug Mart Gift Cards: To help them obtain basic necessities and enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning.
  • MasterCard/ Visa Gift Cards: These can be purchased at any gas station or major superstore. This item is strongly encouraged as the victims would be able to purchase what ever it is that they require this holiday season.

If you are unable to purchase one of these gift cards before December 18, 2010 a donation of any amount will also be greatly appreciated. We do need these funds however, by December 18th in order to carry out our Christmas promise.

merry christmas1We hope you will consider supporting Walk With Me. To make a donation, make a cheque out to Courage to Cope, memo: Walk With Me and send it to:

126 Hughson Street North

Hamilton, Ontario L8R 1G6

Attention: Timea Nagy

Thank you in advance for your consideration of our request. I wish peace, joy and love to you and your families during this coming Christmas season. Happy Holidays!

Timea Nagy, Program Director/Victim Care & The Walk With Me Team

Click here for more information on Timea’s organization and her new book as well!

Michelle Brock

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Knights in Shining Armour: Implications for Women in Conflict Zones

by Michelle Brock on December 6th, 2010

no military2In International Relations discourse, some believe that military intervention in a troubled area is justified if the benefits outweigh the costs.  Some of these costs typically include aggressive actions taken by the hostile state (decreasing the region’s security), environmental damage, and loss of life.  But according to an article by Samantha T. Godec entitled Between Rhetoric and Reality: Exploring the Impact of Military Humanitarian Intervention Upon Sexual Violence – Post-conflict sex Trafficking in Kosovo (2010), the impact on women is often not calculated into this equation, making many of them vulnerable to trafficking and sexual exploitation.

The inaction of the international community during the Rwanda massacre still haunts us, creating a lens through which we approach the conflicts of our time.  The plight of women in conflict zones is being used as a moral imperative to launch a military intervention missions, as seen in this interview with Laura Bush.  It is all part of the ‘hero narrative,’ where the white male is not only the hero of the ‘poor non-white female’ but also an enemy (quite conveniently) of the oppressor state.

Godec argues that military intervention in Kosovo 1999 has increased the trafficking of women into the area for the following reasons:

  • knight2The sudden presence of military  personnel created an increase in demand for sexual services in an area with previously negligible demands.
  • The post intervention militarization sustained this demand and fostered an environment in which organized criminal networks can reap great profits.
  • Disruption of the economy and society saw a rise in the number of vulnerable women and girls, due to lack of job opportunities.
  • The failure of UNMIK (interim administration in Kosovo) to address the trafficking problem created a culture of complacency which has allowed the industry to prevail.

Though the “peace-makers” are supposed to fight on behalf of those who are vulnerable, their very presence often creates an environment where men can violate women without consequences. The militarization of a society often increases impunity for gender-based violence.

In the Kosovo case, trafficking increased dramatically when the intervention began.  Godec’s case study confirms what I wrote in my previous post about international peacekeepers needing accountability.  But what about places like the Congo, where women are being systematically raped as a war strategy?  Does that condone military intervention?

Godec acknowledges that women usually have to choose between two evils:  an oppressive regime or foreign military intervention.  The price of conflict disproportionately falls on them either way.

My biggest concern is that countries are using ‘save the women’ rhetoric to justify military ventures. If women’s rights were a real priority, international military personnel and peacekeepers would be held accountable for their actions, and gender-based strategies would receive more attention.

What could such strategies look like?  Can they co-exist with military intervention, or does the presence of a foreign military inherently undermine women’s rights?

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Michelle Brock

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