Tattoo artists lend their skills to help trafficking survivors

It's interesting to see how people are using their time and unique talents to help combat trafficking.  More and more they are figuring out ways to combine their every day work and expertise with anti-trafficking efforts.  A recent article on redandblack.com highlights a married couple, Jim and Devon Mellor, who are tattoo artists at 3 Ravens in Athens, Georgia.  They are offering their services to cover the tattoos  that sex trafficking survivors received while they were being trafficked.   

The article says, "According to the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Partners for Vulnerable Youth, sex trafficking victims are sometimes forced to get a tattoo that indicates they belong to a certain pimp.

“These marks carry through long after someone is lucky enough to be liberated from that life,” Devon said. “It’s the last thing that someone who’s struggling to go from being trafficked to get on their feet is going to have money for or put money toward."

For Devon, providing free cover-up tattoos is her way of supporting survivors and help them move on from this part of their lives.  “It’s like therapy,” Devon said. “It’s a physical expression of a lot of the emotional stuff that’s going on inside their head that can’t get out. It’s a very physical, visual transformation.”


Jim has seen this as a life-changing experience for some clients.  “[The mark] takes away someone’s self-value ... and when you take the tag away, everything changes,” Jim said.

While you and I may not be able to cover a tattoo, we can use our time and talents in our own unique way to fight trafficking.

Let's do it!
SAH

 

Take Action Now: Shared Hope asks for help in freeing Cyntoia Brown

A December 21, 2018 email from Shared Hope says, "We are using the last weeks of 2018 to seek justice for a survivor of child sex trafficking and we need your help!  We are confronted with a critical opportunity to advocate for the release of Cyntoia Brown, who at 16 years of age, was convicted of first degree murder after, in self-defense, she shot and killed the man who purchased her for sex.   Please sign our petition requesting that Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam grant clemency to Cyntoia Brown." (Click here to read more and sign the petition.)

Want to learn more about the face of modern-day slavery? Visit  www.hope4justice.org/learnmore/ 

Abolition is at the heart of Christmas

Each year when I hear the song "O Holy NIght" I think of how the words apply to our world today, particularly to those enslaved in the world of trafficking.  This 12/20/18 article, written by Laila Mickelwait, director of abolition at Exodus Cry,explains it well: "At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus stood in a Nazareth synagogue to declare His mission: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me," He said, "because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed" (Luke 4:18). Jesus came to humanity as the great abolitionist, and to this day, the work of abolition is central to the gospel of Christ.

The author of one of the most beloved Christmas ballads of all time, "O Holy Night," was aware that the cause of freedom was at the heart of Christmas. In 1847, a priest in a sleepy French town commissioned a local wine seller and poet to pen a Christmas poem. Using the Gospel of Luke as inspiration, he wrote "Cantique de Noel" and soon realized his poem needed to be a song. The music was written, and weeks later, the beautiful melody was sung for the first time at a midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

The song began to spread throughout France, and it wasn't long before the powerful lyrics caught the attention of American abolitionist John Sullivan Dwight, who was inspired and impassioned by the strong anti-slavery message of the song. Dwight translated the song, and his English version of "O Holy Night" quickly found favor in America, especially in the North during the Civil War.

Since that time, the song has gained so much popularity around the globe that it has become an enduring Christmas staple. In the midst of our holiday celebrations this year, as we sing the words of one of our most well-loved Christmas anthems:
 

"Truly He taught us to love one another/ His law is love and His gospel is peace.

Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother/ And in His name all oppression shall cease."

Let us remember that 
millions of people are still enslaved because of systems of injustice in our world today. Those who are being exploited across the globe are our sisters and brothers, and we must pray and fight for every shackle to fall."

Amen and amen.
SAH

Want to learn more about the face of modern-day slavery? Visit  www.hope4justice.org/learnmore/ 

Current Anti-trafficking Efforts

Anti-trafficking efforts

Though there's a lot of evil going on in the world of trafficking, there are also good anti-trafficking efforts happening:  Awareness is increasing.  More procedures to identify trafficking situations are being implemented.  More and more people are learning how to take action against trafficking as they go about their daily lives.

Some recent news articles about anti-trafficking efforts include the following:

  • The Houston Chronicle reported on 11/30/18  that spotting victims of human trafficking is now part of training at Texas Medical Center.  The article says, "The new push in the medical center and in healthcare institutions around the nation is based on the premise that interventions in such settings can represent a lifeline to victims."

  • The 12/4/18 issue of the Daily Signal says there is only one sure way to stop sex trafficking in America: we have to end demand.  Kevin Malone, retired former manager and executive vice president of the Los Angeles Dodgers, decided to get involved in the fight by co-founding the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking.  Its flagship program, TraffickingFree Zone, "...advocates a zero-tolerance policy against sex buying by raising public awareness, using advertising, and using social media campaigns to reach buyers online, and mobilizing churches, health care providers, employers, judges, and others against sex trafficking. More, it shows an organization’s commitment to taking a public stand against this plight."  Read more here.

  • Minnesota hotel workers are now required to get training in sex trafficking prevention.  A  Fox news post of Nov. 1, 2018 says, "The law requires all hotel and motel employees to be trained in recognizing the crime. The training must be completed by Nov. 28. After that date, all new employees must be trained within 90 days of hire." 

As more people understand the issue and join in the fight, more victims are helped and more potential victims are kept from exploitation.  Let's keep working together against this evil.
SAH

Want to learn more about the face of modern-day slavery? Visit  www.hope4justice.org/learnmore/ 

Check out this organization!

Truckers Against Trafficking is a 501 (c)(3) that exists to educate, equip, empower and moblize member of the trucking and travel plaza industry to combat domestic sex trafficking.    Their goals are to:

  • Saturate trucking and related industries with TAT (Truckers Against Trafficking) materials

  • Partner with law enforcement and government agencies to facilitate the investigation of human trafficking

  • Marshal the resources of our partners to combat this crime

Truckers Against Trafficking is doing great things!  Check them out at www.truckersagainst trafficking.org or find them on facebook and share their information with a trucker you know.

Awareness in Whatcom County

Buses get the word out!

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You can't fight a problem if you don't know it exists.  And there are many people that don't believe trafficking happens here. 

In October, we heard from our city and county law enforcement that yes, trafficking definitely happens in Whatcom County.  It happens in Lynden, in Sumas, in Ferndale, in Bellingham, on the Lummi Reservation -- you get the picture.  It happens everywhere. 

To increase awareness of this issue, Hope4Justice is sponsoring an awareness campaign on Whatcom Transit buses from November 1, 2018 to January 31, 2019.  Watch for our banner on the back of select buses that traverse the county and have a conversation about trafficking with the person beside you when you see it!
SAH

Want to learn more about the face of modern-day slavery? Visit  www.hope4justice.org/learnmore/ 

WARNING SIGNS THAT AN INDIVIDUAL IS BEING TRAFFICKED: (downloadable pdf from Shared Hope)
 Signs of physical abuse such as burn marks, bruises or cuts
 Unexplained absences from school, truancy
 Less appropriately dressed than before
 Sexualized behavior
 Overly tired or falls asleep in class
 Withdrawn, depressed, or distracted
 Brags about making or having lots of money
 Displays expensive clothes, accessories, or shoes
 New tattoo (tattoos are often used by pimps as a way to brand victims.)
 Older boyfriend, new friends with a different lifestyle, or gang involvement
 Disjointed family connections, running away, living with friends, or experiencing homelessness


"Justice" for the Rich & Powerful

A Story of Underage Trafficking & Abuse 
by a man with money and power

The Nov. 29, 2018 edition of the New York Times tells how a rich and powerful man, Jeffery Epstein, struck a deal to avoid federal criminal charges for his crimes of sexual abuse and trafficking.  He avoided a federal indictment and served only 13 months ",,,in the Palm Beach County Stockade — the local jail — under an extraordinary arrangement that allowed him to leave and work out of his office six days a week."

The NY Times says"The sordid case against Jeffrey E. Epstein, who was accused of paying dozens of underage girls for sexual massages in Florida, appeared to end a decade ago. The wealthy New York financier struck a deal to avoid any federal criminal charges, enraging some of his victims who got no say in the agreement, which they deemed far too lenient."  The article goes on to tell that "...young women described how Mr. Epstein had solicited girls as young as 14 and 15 for nude massages, which sometimes ended in masturbation, oral sex or, in at least one case, forcible rape.

The encounters took place from 1999 to 2005 in Mr. Epstein’s mansions in Palm Beach, New York and the United States Virgin Islands. Some of the girls were runaways or foster children without permanent homes; in some cases, Mr. Epstein would ask them to recruit other girls, his victims told the police."


It looks like justice may still happen because "...the victims and their lawyers have continued to fight in civil court, long after Mr. Epstein, who pleaded guilty to lesser state charges of soliciting prostitution, completed his sentence in a county lockup, registered as a sex offender and became a free man.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin next week in a West Palm Beach, Fla., courtroom for a civil trial that — for the first time — could give Mr. Epstein’s victims, who are now adults, a chance to publicly testify about their attempts to win justice after the sexual abuse they endured as children."

Let's pray for justice in this case and other cases in which "deals" have been struck that favor the powerful and devalue the child victim.  And let's pray for the victims that endured  the abuse and still carry the emotional scars of it. 
SAH

Want to learn more about the face of modern-day slavery? Visit  www.hope4justice.org/learnmore/ 

Comfort & Joy" event is this week! 

Join Rebound of Whatcom County’s “Comfort & Joy” Winter Fundraiser, celebrating the Christmas Season and how Rebound’s services bring comfort and joy to children and families in need in our community.

When: Friday, December 7, 2018; 5:00 - 9:00 pm
Where: Bellingham Technical College, Settlemyer Hall, 3028 Lindbergh Ave., Bellingham, WA
What: Buffet Dinner, beverages, dessert.  Semi-formal atttire suggested
Cost: $75 per person

Purchase tickets online at www.reboundfamilies.org by November 28th (some tickets may be available at the door)