Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Project Unspoken Video Reveals Rape Culture

“What do you do on a daily basis to avoid rape, sexual assault, or harassment?” Admittedly, this is not a question most of us consider, but that is exactly why filmmakers of Project Unspoken decided to ask participants to respond to in this video.

A brainchild of Emory University’s Office of Health Promotions Respect Program summer internship program, Project Unspoken was launched in May 2012 to help break the silence on sexual assault, rape, and relationship violence. Stark statistics featured in the video show how important it is to give voice to the conversation.

Did you know that only 3% of rapists ever serve a day in jail? Maybe this is because at least 54% of rapes and sexual assaults go unreported. Survivors fear they won’t be taken seriously, and if they are, they fear the stigma that comes with revealing their experience.

Beyond awareness, creating a cultural attitude change is essential.

One of the ways that CAASE is working toward this goal is through our work with young men in high school discussing gender-based violence in the sex trade. In one exercise, we ask young men to make a list of words to describe a man who has a lot of sex. Inevitably, they come up with a list of almost entirely positive words. Then, they’re asked to do the same for women, and the list is always pejorative and long. These moments help young men recognize that their own words can help end or stop perpetuating gender-based violence.

Kudos to Project Unspoken for this tremendous video. Learn more about our prevention education program here.

This post was written by Roxy Kozyckyj, CAASE's prevention intern.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mt. Prospect Trafficker's Conviction is a Call to Action

Last week a local man, Alex Campbell, was sentenced to life in prison for trafficking women in a fake massage establishment in Mt. Prospect, a suburb of Chicago. The success of this federal prosecution is a sign that law enforcement is doing more to focus on pimps, johns and traffickers in Illinois.

So, how can it happen, seemingly in plain sight, that women were being trafficked in the suburbs? The victims were undocumented immigrants with a lack of financial means to support themselves. Campbell’s promise for jobs in massage parlors and shelter made the women believe they would be able to earn a better living, but little did they know that their immigration papers would be seized and they would be forced into prostitution. Based on the victims’ testimonials, the physical, emotional, and psychological abuse inflicted upon them is severe and something that they will have to live with for the rest of their lives.

The successful conviction and sentencing of a trafficker so close to home is a reminder that the demand for paid sex is high in our community. Men in Mt. Prospect and from surrounding areas were buying sex from these trafficked women for months, perhaps years without being held accountable. There are fake massage establishments throughout the Chicago suburbs that continue to act as fronts for the sex trade and, almost certainly, for trafficking.

Everyone has the opportunity to take action against exploitation in fake massage establishments, and some local massage therapists are leading the way. Working with Mindful Marketing and Zen Shiatsu Chicago, CAASE helped develop a toolkit for massage therapists that can help them take action around issues of prostitution and sex trafficking. The toolkit is a helpful source of information for concerned citizens interested in learning more about sexual exploitation.

Learn more about CAASE’s wide range of free online toolkits here.

This post was written by Shobhana Johri Verma, a CAASE volunteer.

Monday, December 3, 2012

19 Johns Arrested in Aurora Prostitution Sting

Nineteen men were arrested for solicitation last week during a prostitution sting in Aurora. We applaud Aurora’s law enforcement for focusing the bulk of this sting’s resources to addressing demand.

According to the Naperville Sun, the johns who were arrested are from Aurora and several other Illinois communities including Bolingbrook, Genoa, Glen Ellyn, Joliet, Montgomery, Naperville, and Plainfield. One man was from South Carolina. These are men who live in our neighborhoods, and when they buy sex they help the commercial sex trade to thrive.

Our research has shown that when johns are arrested, they say they will be deterred from buying sex again in that community. You can help by sharing this story widely. We need to get the word out that local law enforcement is holding johns accountable.

Unfortunately, prostituted people continue to be arrested and rearrested, as several were in this sting. Illinois currently has very few resources for those who are seeking to leave the sex trade. CAASE and the End Demand Illinois campaign are working to change that. We advocate for a social service response to survivors of the sex trade, instead of a criminal justice response. Our survivor engagement committee is working with the campaign to transform our state’s response to the sex trade by proposal a network of specialized services. Learn more about the proposal here.