In the Booth with Ruth – Stella Marr, Sex Trafficking Survivor, Anti-Sex Trafficking Activist and Advocate, Executive Director and Founding Member of Sex Trafficking Survivors United (Survivors Connect)

Sex trafficking survivor and anti-sex trafficking advocate and activist, Stella Marr, gives a powerful interview. “I was trafficked in prostitution in New York City for nearly ten years… Two of my friends from the life were murdered. My beautiful friend, April, died of suicide because the madam she’d called promised to send help then did nothing. April died waiting – to me it feels like another murder. My best friend Gabriel, who’d been trafficked from age sixteen, died of AIDS at age twenty-four. His family kicked him out when they found out he was sick, so he had to spend his last days living with a john who made him buy life insurance with the john as beneficiary. I fill with tears when I think of it… After being trafficked in prostitution, you feel linked to all the others who’ve been there. You want them to be okay. You are no longer merely yourself; you are part of a whole…”

Ruth Jacobs

Stella Marr

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

I was trafficked in prostitution in New York City for nearly ten years, from the early 1980s to the early 1990s. Two of my friends from the life were murdered. My beautiful friend, April, died of suicide because the madam she’d called promised to send help then did nothing. April died waiting – to me it feels like another murder. My best friend Gabriel, who’d been trafficked from age sixteen, died of AIDS at age twenty-four. His family kicked him out when they found out he was sick, so he had to spend his last days living with a john who made him buy life insurance with the john as beneficiary. I fill with tears when I think of it.

The public needs to understand that prostitution is sex trafficking. The term ‘sex trafficking’ reflects an…

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In the Booth with Ruth – Jody Williams, Founder of Sex Workers Anonymous (formerly Prostitutes Anonymous) and Trafficking and Prostitution Services

“The programs and laws that are being set up now need to have the input of people who understand how trafficking works if they really want to put a stop to this and create safe avenues of exit and recovery for the victims… By getting more survivors involved in the process of setting up these systems, we’re going to be able to make a dent in this horrific epidemic.” Jody Williams, Founder of Sex Workers Anonymous (formerly Prostitutes Anonymous) and Trafficking and Prostitution Services.

Ruth Jacobs

Jody Williams

How did you become involved working with victims of sex trafficking and prostitution?

I’ll start back when it all started – with me in the sex industry. I say ‘sex industry’ because I was involved not just in prostitution. I was operating as a prostitute, as a dominatrix, in the phone sex industry, pornography, stripping, live sex shows, swinging, sex clubs, and madaming. I had been brought into this by a generational family of pimps who had their other family members and associates all across the United States in many different areas of the sex industry.

I saw firsthand how these illegal businesses would intertwine with legal businesses and so-called legal businessmen. I know how they would bring in medical doctors who would give the women birth control, illegal abortions, treat their STDs – all off the record in exchange for a trade of services between him and the ‘girls’…

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

“The average age of entry into prostitution in the USA is thirteen years old. These are little girls who are being raped for profit. Unfortunately, when these kids come into contact with the police, they are often arrested and taken to juvenile detention centers… These kids are victims not criminals. They don’t need jail time – they need restoration care services.” Erica Greve, Anti-Human Trafficking Advocate and Non-Profit Founder.

Ruth Jacobs

Erica Greve

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

I first came into contact with children who had been sold for sex in America a few years ago, while I was completing my MSW degree from UC Berkeley. At the time, I was interning as one of the emergency department social workers, and my job was to conduct the initial interview of physically and sexually abused youths who were brought into the emergency department for treatment. My job during this time was to capture the story of the child and/or parent/social worker who brought the child to the ER department and to provide the child with all appropriate support services and to develop an aftercare treatment plan.

During the course of my internship, I began to encounter children who were brought into the ER who had been sold for sex and I began to notice patterns…

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In the Booth with Ruth – Ed Drain, Anti-Human Trafficking Advocate and Activist

“For the past few years, I have agitated for the freedom of Sara Kruzan. Sara Kruzan’s story represents not just what happened to her so many years ago – but it represents what is still happening today. There are still children being abused: physically, emotionally, and sexually as a precursor to being the target of and predated upon by pimps… Kruzan was eleven years old when her pimp first targeted her and molested her. Today, girls as young as eleven are still being called ‘teenage prostitutes’ by news services like Reuters… My own feeling is that until the law recognises what manipulations, pressures and dangers are forced upon young girls, there will not be, and cannot be, justice for them. I think, in this one case, we have forced the powers that be to look at such things. I think we have progressed the whole movement in this way.” Ed Drain, Anti-Human Trafficking Advocate and Activist.

Ruth Jacobs

Ed Drain

How did you become involved in the movement against human trafficking?

I found out about a woman who was trafficked to a massage parlour in DC. I was disgusted to learn that she had to ask twelve ‘customers’ or johns – men who pay to use her body, for help. It was a very brave thing she did because the traffickers would have beat her severely if they knew she had asked any johns for help. The business of the trafficker is aided considerably by the perception of the johns that the women or girls want to be there, which is, of course a lie. I ended up attending a happy hour where I heard from people from Polaris Project and from DC Stop Modern Slavery. At a later meeting of DC Stop Modern Slavery, the founder of that organisation, Ray Lian, asked if anyone would research and write letters…

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In the Booth with Ruth – Mary David, Anti-Human Trafficking Activist, Motivational Speaker, Model, Former UN Advisor, Miss Wyoming United States

Mary David is an anti-human trafficking activist who has helped draft legislation in Maryland to strengthen anti-trafficking laws. She has testified before the Washington, D.C. City Council on human trafficking legislation. And she has held the post of Deputy Chair of Public Awareness for the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force. For the UN, she was an Advisor to the Ambassador of East Timor. She is also a motivational speaker, a model, and is currently using her position as Miss Wyoming, United States to raise awareness of human trafficking.

Ruth Jacobs

Mary David

How did you become involved in the movement against human trafficking?

I learned firsthand about human trafficking from survivors in Cyprus. I went on a study abroad program in college and met enslaved workers who had been tricked to come into the country. Their stories of beatings, rape, house arrest, threats on their lives and family members – they horrified me and broke my heart. As soon as I met the victims, I wanted to help.

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

The cruelty and gruesomeness of taking away someone’s freedom, dignity, and innocence makes me more angry than I can put into words. I have always been drawn to underserved groups and advocating for exploited people. When I meet survivors and hear what they have gone through but then also see how strong they are despite what they have endured, I can’t help…

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In the Booth with Ruth – Christine Stark, Child Trafficking Survivor, Award Winning Writer and Visual Artist

“I want to be part of a global movement to end this thing that nearly destroyed my life. I want to live in a world where children and women do not have to figure out a way to get up the morning after being tortured the night before. I want to live in a world where women and children are not sold for men’s pleasure.” Christine Stark, Survivor of Child Trafficking and Award-Winning Writer and Visual Artist.

Ruth Jacobs

Chris Stark

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

Various family members sold me in a prostitution and pornography ring throughout my childhood and teen years. I always wanted to get away from them but since I knew what happened to kids who ended up on the street, I never ran away. I figured my best chance at survival was to stay home and get away by going to college. If I had run away, I would have become more expendable. They would have either caught me and punished me, or I would have ‘disappeared’. Given that I was used by my family, they had more accountability toward me than a youth picked up on the street by a pimp. For instance, they could only bruise me where the marks would not be seen. Bruises couldn’t show on my arms and legs and face. Plus, if one day…

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In the Booth with Ruth – Virginia Heath, Anti-Human Trafficking Advocate and Filmmaker

Virginia Heath, who has made three films about the sex trafficking of young people in the UK, shares about those films and the research involved in creating them.

Ruth Jacobs

Virginia Heath Film Director

What inspired you to support the movement against human trafficking and make films about human trafficking and sexual exploitation?

As a woman filmmaker, I have always felt strongly about issues of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. In 2009, I was asked if I would write and direct a film – My Dangerous Loverboy – that would raise awareness of the sexual exploitation and internal trafficking of young people in the UK. At the time, this was an extremely hidden issue. There was a slowly growing awareness of women being sex trafficked into the UK from abroad but very little recognition that British teenagers were being groomed, moved around and sexually exploited by gangs in our own towns and cities. It was happening right on our doorstep. As part of the research for writing the film, I was taken to hang out in places like shopping malls, back streets and parks…

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