Newsletter: Major Strides and Calls to Action
Summer is almost finally here! I had an amazing time in L.A. reading from Girls Like Us with Annette Bening, Minnie Driver, and Taraji P. Henson for Human Rights Watch–talk about a pinch-myself moment!–but I’ve got to say it’s good to be back home with the GEMS team.
Allies in the anti-trafficking movement have made major strides in bills and laws across the nation. Let’s congratulate Missouri, Vermont, Nevada, Texas, and Virginia for comprehensive human trafficking laws! Also, Georgia and Tennessee‘s new laws have critical Safe Harbor components.
Be sure to sign the petition to help Hawai’i get its very first human trafficking laws, and take a few seconds to fill out this online form to send a letter to your senator to support the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2011!
Thanks to all who contributed their gorgeous pictures to our Mother’s Day music video. Everyone here loved the photos! Plus, thank you to all who continue to raise money for GEMS girls by downloading “This Is to Mother You,” featuring Mary J. Blige, Sinead O’Connor, and GEMS own Martha B!
so proud of all the great men who are allies in our cause!
Finally, if you’re in the New York area, we hope to see you for End CSEC Day this Saturday (June 18) in Central Park!
Thank you for your ongoing support. GEMS couldn’t do it without you!
Founder & Executive Director
New York’s Vacating Convictions Law is officially in action! A Queens judge has applied this law for the first time to clear prostitution and drug possession convictions for a victim of sex trafficking.
Judge Toko Serita wrote, “The defendant has provided a very compelling narrative of the circumstances surrounding all of her arrests, demonstrating that they were the product of years of brutal physical, psychological, and sexual violence by her husband, which resulted in having been trafficked by him.”
Though the defendant had escaped her husband in 2005, her criminal record continued to re-victimize her. The judge’s decision to wipe the defendant’s record signals huge progress in how the courts view victims of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking.
Courageous GEMS Members, Progressive Law Enforcement
We are so proud of two of our members who recently took actions against their traffickers: one testified for a grand jury and another wrote an empowering”victim statement,” where she
acknowledged to her former trafficker that what he did to her was wrong and she would not allow it to keep her from excelling in her life.
To help GEMS staff build members’ confidence in testifying, the Manhattan ADA and an accompanying social worker met with GEMS’ Clinical Director and direct service staff to discuss how traffickers are prosecuted, the process of testifying in front of a grand jury, and what a potential trial looks like. GEMS members shared their experiences with law enforcement and highlighted how important being listened to is–rather than solely being fast-tracked to prosecuting traffickers. The ADA reiterated his dedication to helping victims and recognized the importance of GEMS’ work. We’re energized by this partnership!
Highlights & Happenings
Diamond of the Month
We are happy to announce that Sasha is our June Diamond of the Month! Sasha became a GEMS member last year and is a resident in GEMS’ Transitional Independent Housing (TIL) program. Like many GEMS members, her previous experiences taught her to keep others at a distance. Since her arrival at GEMS, she has committed to her healing process and deserves all the credit for her growth; she is constantly putting forth her best effort, is always honest, and is motivated daily to realize her best self. She recently began classes in a GED program, and her commitment to developing safe, trusting relationships is evident in her daily engagement in GEMS programming. She has also done an excellent job of reaching out to positive sources of support when she deems necessary. Her determination to realize her potential is an inspiration; we are so proud of her ongoing effort and how far she has come!
GEMS’ annual End CSEC Day event is this Saturday! On June 18, at the Merchant’s Gate Park 59th Street entrance to Central Park, games and readings to educate the public and come together as a community will take place from 11 am to 4 pm. GEMS members and staff will be reading stories and poems, flyers with facts about CSEC will be distributed, and GEMS will conduct quizzes on facts about CSEC throughout the day for candy prizes!
GEMS will display members’ posters that represent what CSEC means to them, GEMS merchandise will be available for purchase, and there will be awards for the best participants in the day’s events. This gathering is free and open to the public; bring your family and friends!
Special Member Screening
GEMS members watched a special prerelease film screening of Yelling to the Sky, and debut filmmaker Victoria Mahoney conducted an intimate Q&A session. The girls were eager to discuss filmmaking and art, and for the surprise visit visit from Zoë Kravitz, who stars in the film! The screening kicked off GEMS members’ film screening series, which Alexandra Roxo is conducting.
This Month’s Museum Trips for Members
Visiting the American Folk Art Museum really resonated with members, as a lot of women were featured in the recent quilting exhibition, and the girls made folk art self-portraits in a special workshop. At the Museum of Modern Art, members got a private tour with one of the museum educators on German expressionists. Everyone had a great time!
Dignity U Wear
GEMS is grateful for an ongoing partnership with Dignity U Wear: Brand New Clothes for a Brand New Life, which has been donating never-before-worn casual and professional clothes to GEMS members for job interviewing and attending job fairs.
GEMS members have been having so much fun during their monthly “Girls Night In” with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc, Delta Omega Chapter! The sorority also donated proceeds from a screening at Long Island University to GEMS.
Philanthropic Student Group Wins Award
Cornell’s student group SASSY recently won two awards! The Robinson-Appel Humanitarian Award helped fund the GEMS training for their local law enforcement community, and the Program Showcase Award recognizes the group’s exceptional educational programs about CSEC.
Shout Out to Staff!
GEMS is thrilled to have hired a new Youth Outreach Coordinator, Kalima DeSuze. Welcome to the team, Kalima! Also, GEMS’ Transitional Independent Living intern Tajia
Haynes and Criminal Court Advocacy Coordinator Zena Watson have been doing great work as social work interns. Thanks for your hard work, everybody!
GEMS in the News
– South Seattle Beacon
Tags: AKA, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, American Folk Art Museum, commercial sexual exploitation of children, Community, Community Outreach, Cornell, CSEC, Diamond of the Month, Dignity U Wear, Domestic Trafficking, GEMS, GEMS Newsletter, Inc., Ithaca, Judge Toko Serita, Manhattan ADA, New York Vacating Convictions Law, News, Newsletter, Outreach Team, Robinson-Appel Humanitarian Award, SASSY, Yelling to the Sky
Wednesday, June 15th, 2011, 11:11 am
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