The Stop Modern Slavery walk is Sept. 29th, 2012

By Holly Austin Smith — From her column Speaking Out in the Washington Times

Stop Modern Slavery

WASHINGTON, September 25, 2012 – The fourth annual Stop Modern Slavery (SMS) Walk is happening this Saturday, September 29th, 2012 at the National Mall in Washington, DC!

As a survivor of domestic minor sex trafficking, I am honored to participate and speak at this year’s event.  The first annual DC Stop Modern Slavery Walk was where I first met many of today’s most influential anti-trafficking advocates and organization leaders.  For me, this was life-changing as I caught the bug of advocacy and have since become a speaker and columnist.

“At the core of the Stop Modern Slavery Walk is the belief that anyone can get involved and have an impact on this issue,” stated Joe Flippin, Director of the 2012 SMS Walk, “Our job is to bring people out to the Mall, tell them about modern slavery through narrative and empathy, and highlight the many ways that people are getting involved today.”

Read the article on the Washington Times website

Law enforcement training: The missing service for victims of human trafficking

By Holly Austin Smith — From her column Speaking Out in the Washington Times

 

WASHINGTON, DC, September 19, 2012 – “How old are you?”

It was the middle of the night.  I was standing on Pacific Avenue in Atlantic City, New Jersey when a round and squinty-eyed policeman approached and posed this question to me.

“Eighteen,” I offered.

My feet were blistered.  I tried to hide this discomfort as I shifted my weight onto the other foot.  My hair fell in front of my face, and I knew parts of my scalp were visible.  A double dose of hair dye had burned my dirty-blond hair and colored it an ugly yellow.

“Don’t lie to me,” the officer leered.

Read the article on the Washington Times website

Supporting the victim after trafficking

By Holly Austin Smith — From her column Speaking Out in the Washington Times

Support Victim

WASHINGTON, DC, September 12, 2012 – In the summer of 1992, I was lured away from home at the age of 14 by a man who promised me a new life.  I wanted to be a singer, a rock star, a celebrity on MTV.  I wanted to stand on a brightly-lit stage with a crowd of fans screaming before me.  I wanted to be liked by a million people.

I wanted all of this because I was lonely. I was a middle school kid feeling left out and left behind by my friends, all of whom seemed to be prettier or funnier or just plain cooler than me.  When this man pointed me out of the crowd, I felt special.  He said he knew people in Hollywood and that he could help me become a famous actor like Julia Roberts.

“You’re too mature for high school,” he said, “You could be a model.”

I don’t know if I believed him or not, but I know I wanted to believe him.  I was mesmerized by the idea of a new and glamorous life. I thought this guy was a talent scout, and I was star struck.

Read the article on the Washington Times website

Trafficked for Slave Labor, Ima Matul survived with CAST

By Holly Austin Smith — From her column Speaking Out in the Washington Times

Ima Patel and Friends

Empowered survivors from CAST

WASHINGTON, September 4, 2012 – “My name is Ima Matul…  I was born in Indonesia, and I was trafficked into the United States for forced labor when I was 17 years old…”

These were the words of CAST Survivor Advisory Caucus member, Ima Matul, as she began our joint testimony to support the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in September 2011.

At age 16, Ima was forced into an arranged marriage with a man 12 years her senior.  As soon as she had the chance, Ima had run away in order to escape this man’s assaults.

Luckily, Ima’s parents supported the separation from her husband; however, divorce was considered dishonorable in Ima’s town.  Ima said she was left feeling ashamed.

Read the article on the Washington Times website