Congressional Briefing, May 4th 2010
Last week on May 4th, FAIR Fund's youth survivor and advocate, Asia, spoke out on a Congressional briefing alongside Congressman Chris Smith, actress Demi Moore, and two other young women survivors of sex trafficking in the United States. With more than 170 individuals in attendance, including many press outlets, I know that Asia's testimony had a critical impact in educating Congress and the public on the realities that young women survivors of sex trafficking face. Asia hit the audience hard when she stated:
"I was fortunate to escape trafficking, find FAIR Fund and get invaluable support and resources to build a renewed, stable life. But unfortunately, there are still many thousands of other young women and girls who are trapped in a vicious cycle of psychological abuse and sexual exploitation – and these girls are in our very own neighborhoods, the hometowns of our members of Congress, as well as the backyard of our nation’s capital. For those who do try to escape, critical resources and programs are hard to access and too scarce to meet the level of need."
Following the meeting, Asia and I went with colleagues to meet with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) where Asia continued to propose policy change that would stop the buying and selling of American girls on Craigslist and provide more comprehensive services. In a followup statement, Asia reported that she is no longer a victim, but a survivor and is ready to "go on the offensive by working with FAIR Fund and getting a degree in criminal justice." When Congresswoman Schakowsky told Asia and I she plans to make shutting down Craigslist's Erotica site her mission, Asia replied that "you can name the law "Asia's Law." Asia's success is amazing. After just 14 months of freedom, Asia has a job, a place to live, is enrolled in college and starting to study criminal justice. I am deeply proud of her and her courage to speak out on the behalf of other girls and boys who are ensnared in sex trafficking.
Last Friday, a generous donor contacted FAIR Fund and has offered to pay, 100%, for Asia to attend any college in the United States that will accept her. Her future is bright, and FAIR Fund continues to work to help other young women gain the confidence they need to move on with their lives after trafficking.