Dream Job here we come!
(Internet access may be off and on for a bit)
Probably the thing that I move love about the US, is the ability to not conform. Not even necessarily for me not to conform, but for people who don’t automatically fit in to find a group and be happy, healthy, productive. I don’t think this is always true for other places in the world.
I had a friend from Japan who simply never had a chance. She looked different, she was taller– her year in the US really opened up her eyes to the possibility of feeling a part of something. She is now in Germany married to someone she met in Serbia.
I have already talked some about the pokemons and other urban tribes of Chile– but they are not the only groups in Chile that people can find homes in. I am glad my friend, and ex-roommate, Caro has finally found a group of biker chicks. She is happy. She is respected for who she is.
While I also share some concerns about the urban tribes and kids getting lost in them. I think for some Chilean youth, they really find themselves. My cousin has found the motivation to go to college and do well. She is running a business and DJing. She is gaining in much needed self confidence and I love it. She is part of the group— but not taken over or ruled by them.
And me? What was I? What groups helped me survive high school? Well… I was a drama geek. A costumer. A tap dancer. A techie. And I loved it.
I have worked on human trafficking issued both in the US and abroad. Clearly, my first run-in with the world of slavery and trafficking was as a Peace Corps volunteer in Moldova; however, domestic trafficking within the US and trafficking too the US are clearly on my radar.
When I studied trafficking in Chile, many people asked me why I focus on it in Chile when it is such a huge problem in the US. Many others continued to give me a laundry list of other problems the US has. I agree. They do. We do. I have worked with victims in Missouri. I have studied cases and case law from around the country.
And, today, I am sharing a piece by Nicolas Kristof on the plight of trafficked, prostituted, “thrown-away” girls in the US in the New York Times.
Girls on Our StreetsATLANTA
The cop could have rescued her from the pimp, who ran a string of 13 girls and took every cent they earned. If the cop had taken Jasmine to a shelter, she could have resumed her education and tried to put her life back in order.
Instead, the policeman showed her his handcuffs and threatened to send her to prison. Terrified, she cried and pleaded not to be jailed. Then, she said, he offered to release her in exchange for sex.
Afterward, the policeman returned her to the street. Then her pimp beat her up for failing to collect any money.
“That happens a lot,” said Jasmine, who is now 21. “The cops sometimes just want to blackmail you into having sex.”
I’ve often reported on sex trafficking in other countries, and that has made me curious about the situation here in the United States. Prostitution in America isn’t as brutal as it is in, say, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Cambodia and Malaysia (where young girls are routinely kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured by brothel owners, occasionally even killed). But the scene on American streets is still appalling — and it continues largely because neither the authorities nor society as a whole show much interest in 14-year-old girls pimped on the streets.
Americans tend to think of forced prostitution as the plight of Mexican or Asian women trafficked into the United States and locked up in brothels. Such trafficking is indeed a problem, but the far greater scandal and the worst violence involves American teenage girls.
If a middle-class white girl goes missing, radio stations broadcast amber alerts, and cable TV fills the air with “missing beauty” updates. But 13-year-old black or Latina girls from poor neighborhoods vanish all the time, and the pimps are among the few people who show any interest.
These domestic girls are often runaways or those called “throwaways” by social workers: teenagers who fight with their parents and are then kicked out of the home. These girls tend to be much younger than the women trafficked from abroad and, as best I can tell, are more likely to be controlled by force.
Pimps are not the business partners they purport to be. They typically take every penny the girls earn. They work the girls seven nights a week. They sometimes tattoo their girls the way ranchers brand their cattle, and they back up their business model with fists and threats.
“If you don’t earn enough money, you get beat,” said Jasmine, an African-American who has turned her life around with the help of Covenant House, an organization that works with children on the street. “If you say something you’re not supposed to, you get beat. If you stay too long with a customer, you get beat. And if you try to leave the pimp, you get beat.”
The business model of pimping is remarkably similar whether in Atlanta or Calcutta: take vulnerable, disposable girls whom nobody cares about, use a mix of “friendship,” humiliation, beatings, narcotics and threats to break the girls and induce 100 percent compliance, and then rent out their body parts.
It’s not solely violence that keeps the girls working for their pimps. Jasmine fled an abusive home at age 13, and she said she — like most girls — stayed with the pimp mostly because of his emotional manipulation. “I thought he loved me, so I wanted to be around him,” she said.
That’s common. Girls who are starved of self-esteem finally meet a man who showers them with gifts, drugs and dollops of affection. That, and a lack of alternatives, keeps them working for him — and if that isn’t enough, he shoves a gun in the girl’s mouth and threatens to kill her.
Solutions are complicated and involve broader efforts to overcome urban poverty, including improving schools and attempting to shore up the family structure. But a first step is to stop treating these teenagers as criminals and focusing instead on arresting the pimps and the customers — and the corrupt cops.
“The problem isn’t the girls in the streets; it’s the men in the pews,” notes Stephanie Davis, who has worked with Mayor Shirley Franklin to help coordinate a campaign to get teenage prostitutes off the streets.
Two amiable teenage prostitutes, working without a pimp for the “fast money,” told me that there will always be women and girls selling sex voluntarily. They’re probably right. But we can significantly reduce the number of 14-year-old girls who are terrorized by pimps and raped by many men seven nights a week. That’s doable, if it’s a national priority, if we’re willing to create the equivalent of a nationwide amber alert.
Earlier this week my mother mentioned that she was going to take my father out to Watt’s Tea Room for lunch. She and I had gone 2 weeks ago and he had been complaining that he was left out. Since I really love Watt’s, I invited myself along. Then I invited Seba along.
Today was our lunch at Watt’s. My mom had court and then we walked over to the shop. We entered through the art gallery (again, my independent idea). As we rounded the corner, I caught the eye of another patron. To my surprise, it was Pam, the firm’s receptionist. She was sitting at a long table surrounded by all my coworkers!
They totally fooled me! It was my first bridal shower. I think the best part is, if you re-read the first paragraph, I invited myself.
I couldn’t have been more surprised or more pleased. They had all managed to get out of the office without my noticing. They all managed to keep it off their calenders, so I wouldn’t notice. Okay, one of the lawyers had it on there, but the staff erased it before I noticed.
While I am super excited about Dream Job, I couldn’t have been working with a sweeter group of women over the last year.
See? It is in the newspaper. Harley, my pup, to shed more!
Well…. maybe that is not what the article is about. And while I don’t want to make light of layoffs– just reading the headline (and the pay on words it causes in my head) gave me a chuckle.
My poor father has suffered through Harley shedding in the house. It is amazing how an 11 lb dog can create 5 lb hairballs, that roll like tumbleweed down out hardwood floors, on a daily basis. Still, Harley finds a way to do it.
You may notice in the picture that she got a haircut. This haircut is significantly better than last year’s and does not make her look like a drowned rat! Now, if only Wisconsin would figure out that it is spring and get warm so that she doesn’t freeze.