In the Booth with Ruth – Aashika N. Damodar, Anti-Human Trafficking Activist, Advocate and Non-Profit Founder

Aashika Damodar is an anti-human trafficking activist, advocate and non-profit founder. In this in depth interview, she explains what inspired her to devote her life to this cause, what her work involves, and how other people can help. She has kindly supplied her contact email address for anyone who would like to talk through becoming part of the anti-human trafficking movement and personally discuss the ways you can be involved.

Ruth Jacobs

Aashika N. Damodar

What inspired you to support the movement against child sexual slavery and exploitation?

So many events in my life have culminated to this point: a life dedicated to combating sexual violence and trafficking. When I entered university, I learned about a trafficking case that took place right across from my dormitory at UC Berkeley. Lakireddy, a Berkeley landlord and restaurant owner, came under investigation when a young woman died in one of his apartment buildings. He was convicted for both sex and labor trafficking. This made me realize that what makes modern-day slavery so elusive is that its existence lies in the most seemingly normal terrain. By this point, issues of sexual violence and trafficking had crept into so many facets of my life, from my own personal experience, initial exposure to the issue in post-tsunami India, in my backyard at Berkeley, in an Indian restaurant in the same area, and…

View original post 2,016 more words

Advertisements

In the Booth with Ruth – David Wayne, Child Trafficking Survivor and Anti-Human Trafficking Advocate

“I still felt the need for further support in dealing with the memories of being trafficked though, and this led me to GEMS, based in New York. Thanks to the efforts of Rachel Lloyd and all the GEMS girls, I finally began to come to terms with the nature of the crimes that had been committed….

From early on in my own recovery, it was very obvious to me that I had a greater chance to heal if I assisted in the healing of others. Even more of a contributing factor though, is that I was a witness to sexual crimes committed against others whom I cared very deeply for. While my own suffering is nothing to dismiss, I suffered much greater distress in watching these events happen and in spite of attempts to stop them, remained unable to help. I’m hypersensitive regarding people in dangerous or degrading situations, especially children and women. These things aside, there is also the recognition of the bigger picture and a desire to lend assistance in any way I can to combat modern slavery and exploitation…

I’m forty-four years old and my life is just beginning.” David Wayne, Child Trafficking Survivor and Anti-Human Trafficking Advocate.

Ruth Jacobs

David Wayne

How did you become involved in the movement against sex trafficking and sexual exploitation?

My involvement began as I was receiving EMDR trauma therapy to recover from lifelong posttraumatic stress disorder. I was overwhelmed by flashbacks, night terrors, anxiety and depression that were triggered by the passing of my father, who began grooming and sexually assaulting me at the age of three, and then trafficked me on a regular basis, mostly in my home state of Pennsylvania, but also in New Jersey and Delaware, from age four to the time I entered school at the age of five. He photographed me pornographically at the age of twelve as I was forced to engage in sexual acts with an older female cousin. Throughout early childhood, there were other male perpetrators, and at the age of ten I was lured into the home of a middle-aged, female neighbor, who made sexual advances…

View original post 1,364 more words

In the Booth with Ruth – Rachel Lloyd, Founder and CEO of Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS)

“We need cultural change, social change – we need people’s hearts and minds to change – whether it’s the man who goes out to purchase sex because he doesn’t see anything wrong with it, the cop who arrests women and girls and believes that it’s a victimless crime, the social worker who treats the girl who walks through her doors with scorn and disgust, or just the individual who walks past the woman on the street every day and never offers her a cup of coffee or even makes eye contact because they see her as ‘less than’ them.” Rachel Lloyd, Founder and CEO of Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS).

Ruth Jacobs

Rachel Lloyd

How did you get involved in the movement against sex trafficking and sexual exploitation?

I came to the US in 1997, originally working as a missionary with a very small non-profit that was working with adult women in the commercial sex industry. At that point, there really wasn’t a movement per se, just a handful of organizations here and there, and it was just seen as a ‘prostitution’ issue that should be dealt with primarily through the criminal justice system. Within my first few weeks on doing outreach into the jails and on the streets, I met girls and young women, and adult women, who’d experienced so much violence, trauma and exploitation but were being seen and treated as criminals and pariahs. There were no specific services in NYC for a girl or young woman who was in the life and there was no sense of a need for larger…

View original post 1,454 more words

In the Booth with Ruth – The Sophie Hayes Foundation (Anti-Human Trafficking)

Like many, Sophie had a very normal life, good education, stable job, and wonderful people surrounding her. Then a trip to visit a person she thought was her best friend changed all of that. It is very important for us to share this story and work with other survivors, policy makers and law enforcement agencies to end modern day slavery.

Ruth Jacobs

Sophie Hayes Foundation

How did you become involved in the movement against sex trafficking and sexual exploitation?

The Sophie Hayes Foundation became involved in the combat against sex trafficking and exploitation when a survivor from the UK named Sophie Hayes wanted to make a difference after her horrific experience of being forced into the sex industry. Like many, Sophie had a very normal life, good education, stable job, and wonderful people surrounding her. Then a trip to visit a person she thought was her best friend changed all of that. It is very important for us to share this story and work with other survivors, policy makers and law enforcement agencies to end modern day slavery.

What draws you to support people who are trafficked and sexually exploited?

Survivors of human trafficking are no different from any other person with amazing life dreams and goals. They are amazing people; this is why Sophie…

View original post 563 more words

In the Booth with Ruth – Founding Member of The NO Project

“About twelve years ago, I happened to read an article in a Sunday paper, which described a young woman, eighteen years old, who had hung herself in a toilet using her own stockings. She was a young foreign woman – a girl really – being used for commercial sexual exploitation in a city in northern Greece. That article pretty much changed my life… That is no way to die. She had been trafficked.” The No Project, a global anti-slavery public awareness initiative that focuses on the role of demand and specifically targets youth awareness through music, the arts, film, dance, education and social media.

Ruth Jacobs

The No Project

What inspired you to support the movement against slavery and exploitation?

About twelve years ago, I happened to read an article in a Sunday paper, which described a young woman, eighteen years old, who had hung herself in a toilet using her own stockings. She was a young foreign woman – a girl really – being used for commercial sexual exploitation in a city in northern Greece. That article pretty much changed my life – kudos to the power of journalism. More than likely she had left her country thinking she would have a better life elsewhere. This better life resulted in her death in some toilet in a foreign land. That is no way to die. She had been trafficked.

Can you tell me about your organisation?

The NO Project is a global anti-slavery public awareness initiative that focuses on the role of demand and specifically targets youth awareness through…

View original post 995 more words

In the Booth with Ruth – Anne Bissell, Sex Trafficking Survivor, Author, Executive Director Voices for Justice/Silver Braid

“We believe that sexual violence, under the Department of Justice Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) needs to include the three aspects of sexual violence. We use the silver braid to represent these types, domestic violence, sexual assault, and sexual exploitation (prostitution and trafficking).” Anne Bissell, Sex Trafficking Survivor, Author, Executive Director of Voices for Justice/Silver Braid.

Ruth Jacobs

Anne Bissell, Silver Braid

How did you become involved in supporting the abolition of prostitution?

When my book, Memoirs of a Sex Industry Survivor, came out in 2004, I found myself on the frontline regarding issues of child sex trafficking and the commercialized sexual exploitation of children.  Towards this end, I have worked for many years to create a strategy, which I call Operation Silver Braid.

What draws you to support and advocate for people in prostitution?

I am a survivor of prostitution, the sex industry, and trafficking. My heart has been with bringing sympathy for survivors since 1997.

What does your work in this area involve?

Under the charity of which I am the executive director, Voices for Justice, we set up a first point of contact with the Operation Silver Braid Strategy. We have a helpline and receive calls nationwide. We attempt to work with clergy, pastors, correctional officers, parents, and survivors to set…

View original post 266 more words

In the Booth with Ruth – Dedee Lhamon, Anti-Human Trafficking Advocate and Non-Profit Founder

“As long as the demand is there, this problem will exist.” Dedee Lhamon, Anti-Human Trafficking Advocate and Non-Profit Founder.

Ruth Jacobs

Dedee Lhamon

How did you become involved in the movement against sex trafficking and sexual exploitation?

In 2008, I was watching a program about sex trafficking of children in Cambodia on MSNBC. When watching this program, they started talking about sex trafficking of children in the United States. The thought that this was happening here pierced my heart. I have two daughters and so the thought of girls being victimized in such a way deeply disturbed me. I spent an entire year attending conferences, contacting authorities and social agencies to determine what was being done and where the greatest need existed. After a year, my husband and I hired an attorney to set up a non-profit corporation and I created a board of directors. In November of 2009, The Covering House became incorporated and in August of 2010 we received our 501(c)(3) status.

What draws you to support people who are trafficked…

View original post 220 more words