Dear Supporters and Friends
A lot has happened since FAIR Fund’s launch of our Safe Passage campaign on GlobalGiving. We could not have done it without the support of our friends who gave to us during the past year. We sincerely thank each of you for making our work to keep high-risk girls safe from all forms of human trafficking and to provide compassionate care to those who have already been exploited.
We have some exciting news!
On December 9th, the Senate passed a groundbreaking bill that, if also passed by the House before the end of 2010, will provide $15 million Federal dollars to support the recovery of American child victims of sex trafficking. I believe that the passage of H.R. 5575, the “Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010”, marks a change in American attitudes toward child victims of sex trafficking.
On Christmas Eve 2008, I stood before D.C. Child Protective Services with a teen girl, “Mary”, who had just escaped her violent pimp. Instead of helping Mary find a place to stay, her social worker called her a “slut” and walked away. The one youth shelter in the area was full. For the next 24 hours, my staff and I searched for a safe place for Mary. Eventually, we found “Theresa”, a woman who had met Mary years before at her local church. Theresa took Mary into her home until we found more supportive housing. As we made call after call, Mary watched and worried, “where will I go tonight?”
Child sex trafficking is a serious human rights violation affecting thousands of children every year. The “Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010” will be the first bill of its kind to provide COMPREHENSIVE care to the girls and boys our society has, until now, left out in the cold. So often, the conversation centers around: did she have a choice? To be honest, that question is irrelevant – no child can legally consent to be engaged in commercial sex. So, let us flip the question around and ask: “when we had a choice to help her, did we?”
In the past year, there have been times when a hotel was our only option for emergency overnight client housing. Given that the exploitation of child victims like Mary has occurred in hotels where their pimps held them, one can understand how difficult it is for them to stay in yet another hotel reminding them of their horrific past. The passage of this bill will enable service providers across the country to better offer emergency and long-term safe housing for girls like Mary. It just shouldn’t be this hard to help a sexually exploited trafficked girl. These young survivors should be at the top of our society’s priority list.
Because of your support this year, despite the recession and truly challenging economic times, FAIR Fund has continued to support the girls and boys who need us the most. As you are celebrating the coming New Year, I want you to feel good knowing that if someone asked you the question: “When you had the choice, did you help her?”, you can say, “Yes, I did.”
On behalf of the young women and girls we serve, thank you so much for your support.
Andrea and the FAIR Fund team