Thursday, June 28, 2012

Meet Runners who are Racing for CAASE!

Our Race for CAASE team has come together, and we are already impressed by their dedication to training, fundraising, and spreading the word about ending sex trafficking and sexual assault.

On September 9, 2012, there are 32 runners who will be racing in the Chicago Half Marathon to raise support for all of CAASE’s work. So far, they’re off to an incredible start—rallying to train and fundraise. With an overall goal of $17,000 and over $7,000 raised so far, the team is already well over 1/3 of the way there.
Racing 13.1 miles to end sexual exploitation is a big commitment. You can support the team by visiting their page here and making a donation. You can boost an individual runner’s goal by giving through their personal pages, or you can give to the effort in general here.

So who are some of these runners? We interviewed a few of CAASE’s interns who will be running the Half Marathon so you can see yourself!

Name: Kendra Harding
Age: 23
Hometown: Des Moines, Iowa
Occupation: Student/Intern at CAASE
Running Experience: I have run 5Ks and 10Ks for the past 7 years. I also ran my first Half-Marathon last January.
How did you find out about CAASE?
I was reading Girls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd of GEMS and on the back I saw a reference to CAASE. I immediately Googled it and learned everything I could about it.
Why is running for CAASE important to you?
I think CAASE is an amazing organization and I think it’s important that I support it because it has a lot of the same beliefs about society that I do. Plus, I love running.

Name: Rachel Johnson
Age: 27
Hometown: Oak Park, Illinois
Occupation: Law student/Legal intern at CAASE
Running Experience: Elementary school gym class.
How did you find out about CAASE? Through working in the public interest legal company. Also, my mentor at law school interned here.
Is there any specific part of CAASE’s work/mission that interests you the most?
I would say in general, I really love CAASE’s holistic approach to ending demand in sexual exploitation through educational policy and legal policy. But as a law student, I’m specifically interested in how CAASE uses the law to promote equality and end sexual exploitation.
Why is running for CAASE important to you?
I believe in the work that we do here and I believe in the community here. I want to support it through academic and volunteer work, but also financially and with team effort.

Name: Margaret Livingston
Age: 26
Hometown: Glen Ellyn, Illinois
Occupation: Student/Legal Intern at CAASE
Running Experience: On and off.
How did you find out about CAASE? Lynne Johnson, CAASE's Policy and Advocacy Director, spoke at the Organization of Women and Trade at John Marshall Law School in the fall, and after I heard her speak I just hounded them in the fall to see when they were taking applications.
Is there any specific part of CAASE’s work/mission that interests you the most?
The Sexual Assault Justice Project. That’s what I work on and that’s really important because a lot of people who would otherwise have no access to legal aid or might be deterred from seeking justice can find a legal advocate here. I also think that the End Demand campaign is extremely important.
Why is running for CAASE important to you?
I thought it’d be a really fun way to get to know people outside of the office. The legal work can be challenging but fulfilling, and I wanted to continue challenging myself outside of my work life. 

This post is by Sasha Wolff, CAASE's communications intern.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

104 Pimps Arrested in FBI Sting

 CAASE and the End Demand Illinois campaign are working to raise awareness about the need for specialized, trauma-informed services for survivors of the sex trade. To learn more, read the proposal here.
News broke today that in a nationwide FBI sting, law enforcement brought in 79 minors who were being prostituted and arrested more than 100 pimps who had been exploiting minors in the sex trade. It’s a great sign of progress that law enforcement resources are being devoted to finding traffickers and holding them accountable, but as we look forward more must be done to offer resources to those who are trying to leave the sex trade. From the Chicago Tribune and Reuters:

Seventy-nine teenagers held against their will and forced into prostitution were rescued at hotels, truck stops and storefronts in a three-day sweep of sex-trafficking rings across the United States, law enforcement officials said on Monday.

The FBI said 104 alleged pimps were arrested during sting operations in 57 U.S. cities including Atlanta, Sacramento, and Toledo, Ohio. The operation lasted between Thursday and Saturday and involved state and local authorities as well as the FBI.

It’s a huge victory that 104 pimps were arrested, and we applaud this effort. It will send a strong message to other traffickers. However, the media coverage of this sting reveals that there is much left to be done to deepen understanding about the realities of the sex trade. The use of the words “teenage prostitute” and images of young people being held in handcuffs are the focus of the articles, while customers or “johns” remain invisible. No mention is made of the people who were buying sex from these teenagers and children, nor whether any customers were arrested in this sting.

In Illinois under the 2010 Safe Children Act, all minors in prostitution are considered victims of sex trafficking, and the words “juvenile prostitution” have been removed from our state law. Illinois is a leader in this area, as many states do not have laws recognizing that any and all minors in prostitution are being exploited by adults and deserve our help.

As law enforcement focuses attention on sex trafficking, the need for services for survivors of the trade becomes even more apparent. Where will these young people go to seek specialized services for their needs? In interviews with service providers around the country, CAASE has heard the need for specialized, trauma-informed, supportive services for survivors of the sex trade. These services do not exist for prostituted adults in Illinois, and only a few spaces are available for minors. CAASE and our End Demand Illinois campaign will soon be releasing have released a report on the need for specialized services for survivors of the sex trade. Read the proposal here, and see how services can help young people who are trying to leave the trade.

If you are interested in learning more about these issues, sign up for our campaign action alerts here. Stay tuned for more about our proposal for services in the coming weeks.

*Note: This post was updated on 7/24 to include the links to CAASE's full proposal for services for survivors of the sex trade.

Today! Take Action to Help Pass the Violence Against Women Act

Tuesday, June 26 is a national day of action for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and we urge you to tweet and Facebook and shout from the rooftops about the importance of this bill. Need to learn more before taking action? Visit the National Taskforce to End Violence Against Women's website:

Since we’re in Chicago, here are some actions we can take:

1.      Make a Call  to House and Senate leadership and insist that they stop the posturing, solve the procedural problems and move quickly to conference. You can use this script:

I urge you to pass a bipartisan VAWA reauthorization bill, like S.1925, that protects ALL victims of violence-doing nothing is not an option. (VAWA has positively impacted me/my community in the following way: _______________. )  You are our leaders and we know you care about VAWA, so please find a unanimous consent motion all Senators can agree to, solve the blue slip problem, and free VAWA for final negotiations before you leave for vacation. We will not settle for stalemate. We want a final VAWA this summer so that VAWA programs and services can continue to serve victims and make our communities safer.   

Who to call:
  • Your Member of Congress, (202)224-3121
  • Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), (202) 225-0600
  • Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), (202) 225-4000
  • Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), (202) 225-0100
  • Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), (202) 224-3542
  • Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), (202) 224-3135
  • Chair of the Democratic Conference Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), (202) 224-6542
 2. Tweet!  Be sure to use these hashtags!  #ReauthorizeVAWA, #RealVAWA and #VAWA 
Sample tweets include:
  • Congress must pass the #RealVAWA bf their July 4th vacation.  Join National 10 days of #Action4VAWA to tell them why:
  • I’m joining National 10 Days of #Action4VAWA to tell Congress to pass #RealVAWA bc I want ALL survivors to be safe.
  • [Fill in your Congress Person’s twitter handle]:  Pass the #RealVAWA for ALL survivors!  I’m standing up to take #Action4VAWA:
  • @johnboehner, HR4970 is not the #RealVAWA, take up the Senate version & protect all victims of violence!
Find more sample tweets here:

3. Take it to Facebook!
Join the National 10 Days of Action for VAWA Facebook page and check back for updates! Post the information, flyers and posters to your Facebook page. Post survivor stories and other information about VAWA  to your FB page and check out our FB page for posts you can share.
  •  “As a member of this body, as a survivor of sexual assault, battery, and from age five through my teenage years, through my early adulthood, I can tell you that it is very traumatic to be here in this body today and to find my colleagues not taking the recommended updates…” – @RepGwenMoore (D-Wis). Tell your reps to vote for the Real VAWA
  • LGBT people experience violence at the same rates as all communities but have fewer places to turn and face discrimination when seeking services.  VAWA must support ALL survivors!  Support survivors, support VAWA.
Thanks for taking action!