FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 26, 2012
CONTACT: HOLLY SMITH, NSN MEMBER
NATIONAL SURVIVOR NETWORK PRAISES PRESIDENT OBAMAS’S ANNOUNCEMENT TO BETTER PROTECT AND ASSIST HUMAN TRAFFICKING SURVIVORS IN THE UNITED STATES & ABROAD
Members of the National Survivor Network (NSN) are thrilled that President Obama openly declared a U.S. initiative to address the global issue of human trafficking at the Clinton Global Initiative yesterday, and were especially pleased that President Obama listened to the priorities of survivors and reflected those priorities in his speech and his action plan.
After the speech Keisha Head, survivor of domestic minor sex trafficking, stated, “Today feels like a new Independence Day for me! I will always remember today. Thank you, President Obama, for caring [about] those affected by Human Trafficking / Modern Day Slavery. And a special thanks to those survivor sisters who represented us so beautifully. Our voices have been heard!”
Antonia “Neet” Childs, survivor of domestic minor sex trafficking and founder of Neet’s Sweets, stated, “[I am] so proud to be a part of this fight and movement, and [to be] a part of history yesterday! We are motivated and determined to keep pushing forward!”
NSN members have prioritized passing the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2011 (TVPA), the seminal federal legislation that provides protection and funding for survivors of human trafficking, and they applaud the President for requesting its passage in his speech.
Ima Matul and NSN member, Holly Austin Smith, presented joint testimony to the U.S. Congress to support the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act last year. This was the first time a U.S. citizen and foreign national survivor of labor and sex trafficking provided joint testimony to Congress, demonstrating a united front among individuals with diverse backgrounds. The NSN is proud that President Obama has now lent his support to this essential piece of legislation.
“I was so happy to hear the President push for reauthorization of the TVPA,” stated Holly Austin Smith, survivor of domestic minor sex trafficking. “This month marks a year since Ima Matul and I spoke on Capitol Hill in support of this legislation, and I do hope that Congress acts quickly!”
NSN members have also prioritized increased training of first responders, public awareness, and funding for services for trafficking survivors, all priorities highlighted in President Obama’s speech. NSN members strongly support President Obama’s call for a national action plan to better address human trafficking in the United States and to collect better data to understand this problem.
Margaret Howard, domestic sex trafficking survivor and Master Social Worker, stated that “lack of services for human trafficking survivors in the United States is a huge problem. When I was 13 and had just escaped from sex trafficking, I was too scared to tell anyone what happened to me and, as a result, I tried to take my own life and then suffered years of medical issues. I hope the President’s initiative will ensure that other girls like me receive the help they need immediately! I am so excited, and I’m so proud to be part of this movement. Together we can do great work.”
Alice Nyiro, foreign national labor trafficking survivor, stated, “The services I received after the FBI rescued me from my trafficking situation were life changing. We need to ensure that all first responders have proper training to identify human trafficking survivors like myself as well as have the right programs to provide the support survivors need. I had not seen a doctor in over two years, did not have food or a place to go. Hopefully the President’s initiative will ensure that survivors escaping from years of abuse finally have a safe place to go.”
NSN members were especially proud that in his speech President Obama honored Ima Matul, a founding member of the NSN, survivor of child labor trafficking from Indonesia, and Survivor Organizer at the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST), and Shelia White, Survivor Leadership Coordinator at GEMS in New York.
Additional quotes from NSN members:
Margeaux Gray, survivor of child sex trafficking, stated, “Ima and Sheila are leaders and movers. My day had been made. Thank you, Ima, for sharing! Slavery still exists, it’s time to abolish it for good. Join the movement!”
Stella Marr, survivor of sex trafficking and founder of Survivors Connect, stated, “I know Ima Matul and Sheila White will accomplish great things. And the more we join our voices and work together – the more empowered we become — and the more we are able to help those still going through those terrible things we once knew. In our voices, hearts and unity — we have the power.”
Stacy Jewell Lewis, survivor of sex trafficking, stated “I am speechless and overjoyed by the President Obama’s address concerning Human Trafficking. To watch him span the camera and highlight fellow members of the National Survivor Network brought tears to my eyes. We work so hard on the ground level just hoping someone will acknowledge our cause and fight for trafficking victims with us, and to have it brought to light on the national stage through the most powerful man in the nation is more than anyone could ask for.”
If you are a survivor and would like to join the National Survivor Network, please contact Ima Matul at Ima@castla.org.
About NSN: The National Survivor Network is a network of trafficking survivors created in February 2011 by the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST). The NSN’s mission statement is to bring together a community of survivors of human trafficking, by creating a platform for survivor- led advocacy, peer-to-peer mentorship, and empowerment that embraces all survivors, regardless of gender, age, nationality or type of trafficking experience. Members include men and women survivors of human trafficking from 15 different states and 22 different countries.