By Holly Austin Smith — From her column Speaking Out in the Washington Times Communities
RICHMOND, VA, April 8, 2013 – Building relationships with survivors, advocates, and other professionals across the country has greatly impacted my life. Not only have many of these individuals and organizations supported me in my personal growth, but they have also educated me in my advocacy. Even though I am a survivor of child sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation (CSEC), I do not claim to know everything about these issues. Even as I write an academic book on these topics, I continue to learn different perspectives and ideas from others.
Over the next few weeks, several advocates and organizations will share with us their efforts and achievements. I encourage readers to reach out to these interviewees in order to learn more about their philosophies, goals, and strategies.
This weekend I was excited to interview Ruth Jacobs, Author and Charity & Human Rights Campaigner.
What would you say is your personal mission statement?
To show the reality of prostitution and sex trafficking. Originally, I had only set out to be a writer. Through my fiction work, I wanted to show how prostitution at the level of being a call girl, which is far too often glamorized in the media, is still a dangerous and traumatic way to earn money.
While waiting for my first novel to be released, I decided to publish an interview I’d undertaken for my early research into prostitution. In Her Own Words… Interview with a London Call Girl exposes the emotional, psychological and social effects of prostitution. The woman I interviewed, Q, was a good friend, and as she is no longer alive, all the royalties from that short publication are donated to Beyond the Streets, a UK charity working to end sexual exploitation.
Since doing that, I have carried on providing a platform for survivors to share their stories on both my websites. This is something very important to me. On the Soul Destruction site, there is the Voices of Prostitution Survivors page, and on my author site, there are interviews with survivors in the human rights section.
Are your efforts geared towards advocacy, prevention, education, awareness, victim services, legislation, etc.?
My original plan of just being a fiction writer did include some hope of raising awareness, education and prevention too. Though I have become more involved from a non-fiction perspective with the interviews I publish, and the articles I occasionally write.
How did you get involved with anti-human trafficking advocacy?
When I first studied prostitution in the late 1990s, I thought I had omitted human trafficking. I really didn’t understand human trafficking until quite recently. I realized one of the women I interviewed back in 1998 for my research was actually a child sex trafficking victim. I had never seen it that way. My dear friend, Q, interviewed in In Her Own Words… Interview with a London Call Girl, was first forced into prostitution at the age of fifteen by a pimp. I think the term ‘human trafficking’ can conjure different things for different people and not necessarily what it actually is.
Are you working on any current projects?
Currently, I am pushing for the Merseyside model to be made UK wide. A knock on effect has been raising awareness of it globally and since, it has garnered support from US anti-human trafficking organizations. It is something that must not be dragged into the rest of the sex trade debate. It is not a legal solution of itself, but it is something that needs to happen no matter what the legal solution. The Merseyside model, which makes all crimes against people in prostitution hate crimes, is needed to keep people in the sex trade safer. I do not believe the sex trade can ever be a safe place to be, but while it continues to exist, we, as a society, must make it less dangerous if we know of such a way. And we do know of exactly the way because it’s been operating in Merseyside since 2006. However, for some unknown reason this highly successful model has not been rolled out across the UK. It ensures victims are treated as victims, and that criminals are caught and convicted. To give you an idea of its success, in 2009, in Liverpool, police convicted 90% of those who raped people in prostitution. To put that into perspective, that national average conviction rate for rape is 6.5%. More information on the Merseyside model can be read here.
What has been your greatest achievement or most meaningful moment while advocating against human trafficking?
During Human Trafficking Awareness Month in January 2013, I published approximately forty interviews with amazing, brave human trafficking survivors, as well as anti-human trafficking activists, advocates, non-profit founders, filmmakers, writers and feminists. It was a profound experience and I felt, and still feel, truly honored to have been allowed to share their stories.
How can the public help you with your plight?
I would urge people to read about the Merseyside model and if they would like to add their non-profit or organization as a supporter to my campaign, I would be grateful to hear from them. Equally, with the information provided, I would encourage them to raise awareness and bring it to government for discussion. I think this should be worldwide. It’s a human rights issue.
Have you published a book?
On Amazon, I have my short charity publication, In Her Own Words… Interview with a London Call Girl. My debut novel, Soul Destruction: Unforgivable, is being released on 29 April 2013, and is dedicated to my beautiful friend, Q. Though she’s no longer alive, she’s been on this journey, and has been raising awareness with me, the whole way.
How can people reach you or your organization for questions or more information?
What is your Twitter handle and Facebook page?
Twitter: @RuthFJacobs http://twitter.com/RuthFJacobs
My Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/rujacobs
The Soul Destruction Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SoulDestructionSeries