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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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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