Human Rights

Ending Violence Against Women is a Committee of the Human Rights Task Force, addressing issues of domestic violence and sex trafficking, as well as other forms of violence against women.

 

The Ending Violence Against Women and Children Task Force was created in April 2008 to address issues of domestic violence, human trafficking and sexual exploitation in order to increase awareness and empower those women and children affected. Over the years, the Task Force has put a spotlight on these issues in order to generate discussion about them. We also promote tangible actions that we can all take to help eradicate these forms of violence. When you look at the facts you see that we still have a long way to go.

 

1 in 3 women has been sexually assaulted in her lifetime;

 

Rape continues to be used as a weapon during war and conflict;

 

Globalization and climate change are having the most profound impacts on women and children who are disproportionately displaced and left without options;

 

Gender-based violence is an affliction that millions of women and children suffer in silence and shame. Many become victimized by those who are supposed to love and protect them.

 

Information Sheets

Please share these three one-page PDF information sheets on issues of Domestic Violence, how you can help victims of Domestic Violence, and global issues of Violence Against Women with your club members.

 

Domestic Violence Resources

For a worldwide listing of domestic violence agencies, see the Hot Peaches website.

 

For information on help for overseas Americans experiencing family violence visit the Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center (AODVC) website at http://www.866uswomen.org.  

 

Get Help!

For immediate assistance, call 866-USWOMEN (879-6636).  AODVC case managers are available on this international toll free domestic violence crisis line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

 

Callers will not be charged for the calls, however, if calling from a cell phone, plan minutes may be used. Contact your cell phone service provider to check if minutes would be used on your plan.  For more dialing instructions and emailing instructions, visit the website.

 

This hotline also provides Sexual Assault Support and Help for Americans Abroad (SASHAA).  For more information on staying safe abroad and accessing the services of SASHAA go to their website at https://sashaa.org.

 

For more information or to get involved, contact one of the Committee Co-Chairs.

They provide safety planning, case management, counseling, legal assistance, danger to safety transportation back to the USA or in the foreign country and emergency cash assistance, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from Portland, Oregon. They also encourage travelers to arm themselves with information to prevent sexual assault with KNOWB4UGO: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to be provided specific information on local cultures, dress, laws and other travel considerations for your destination.

If one woman can launch two global programs to help tens of millions of fellow Americans living and traveling overseas, just imagine how pooling the talents and resources of hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans can weave a global safety net to help American mothers, daughters, sisters and also fathers, sons and brothers overseas. Yes, men can be victims of abuse too!

So how can you help? We have some ideas:
 
Individuals:
Volunteer your services as Attorneys, Counselors, Social Media Guru's, Marketing & Communications Experts, Journalists, or anyone with a passion to help!
 
Donate stuff:
Air miles, hotel points, unused gift cardsSpread the word: Put up posters, table events, speak to expat groups, get an article published in a magazine or newspaper.

The Girls Prevention Program specifically targets middle and high school girls who demonstrate at risk behavior. The idea is to educate them on the seriousness of sexual exploitation that can lead to victimization. The 10-session curriculum is aimed at keeping the most vulnerable adolescent girls from sexual exploitation and prostitution. UAHT has also found it important to add the component of labor trafficking to the curriculum and discuss issue and vulnerability that may lead youth to labor exploitation as well. The curriculum embraces a focus on empowerment and blends a variety of activities, which foster self-reflection, understanding about the issue, and knowledge to help young women identify potentially exploitive situations. HRRC also provides an abridged version of the prevention program for those organizations that cannot accommodate all 10 sessions
Sixty-five girls participated in two program sessions in the first half of 2014 and three more were planned for later in the year. The program costs approximately $25 per person. The programs have been administered to CPS (Child Protection Services) and to Juvenile Detention Center. The project focuses specifically on at-risk (runaway and “throwaway”) youth residing in juvenile probation programs or detention centers.

Girls Prevention Program
 has adopted the My Life My Choice: Preventing Commercial Sexual Exploitation Among Adolescent Girls, a national curriculum for sexual exploitation preventive education. The program targets middle and high school girls who demonstrate at risk behavior and educates them on the seriousness of sexual exploitation that can lead to victimization.

This 10-session curriculum created by the Justice Resource Institute to halt exploitation and trafficking in the United States works to:
Build awareness of recruitment tactics by pimps/predators
Provide information on sexual health
Understand the link between substance use and exploitation—how it can pull you in and how it can keep you there
Raising awareness of resources and a pathway out of the Life
Improve self-esteem.
UAHTHRRC adds labor trafficking to bring awareness to labor exploitation.

United Against Human Trafficking UAHT believes that an aware and educated public is the first step to eliminating human trafficking. They encourage the public to share what you have learned with family and friends. Become a mentor in your community to work with pre-teens to help educate, empower and support girls as they transition from child to adult.

FAUSA has continued to support organizations dedicated to the issues of human trafficking, awarding the 2014 Development Grant to “SafeHouse San Francisco,” an organization that has been assisting homeless trafficked women for over 15 years. The funds will be used to sponsor an Internship Program. The Internship Program offers both job readiness and job training, as the partners provide a part-time work experience, with training and supervision, while SafeHouse pays each intern a stipend from the grant funds. Safehouse provides a safe and nurturing environment after escaping brutality and violence of life on the streets. For more information: http://www.sfsafehouse.org

In addition to the Girls Prevention Program and SFSafehouse, FAUSA has been a generous supporter of “Free the Girls” collecting bras, delivering to distribution points, and donations of money to the FAWCO Target Program on Human Rights for Women. The founders of Free the Girls were the keynote speakers at the recent FAUSA annual Getaway in Colorado Springs.

Human Trafficking is the buying and selling of people. It does not necessarily imply movement or transportation. It is Slavery.
Human trafficking is the second largest illegal business in the world with estimates of 30 billion dollars plus per year worldwide.

In the collective imagination, the term human trafficking most often conjures visions of exotic people from foreign countries being forced into brutal labor and/or sexual situations. But although international sex trafficking and sweatshop labor is very much a reality, the extent of the issues covered by the term human trafficking is far more widespread, and often much closer to home. Within the US domestic trafficking of children for sex and labor is increasingly becoming more common. In the USA, sex with any person under the age of 18 is a crime in most states, and if a minor has been induced to perform commercial sex in any way, that minor is a victim of human trafficking.

“Traffickers are preying on the vulnerable and enslaving them right here within our own communities,” says Carlos J. Barron, the FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge of Houston, TX. Victims are from all socioeconomic statuses, races, and ethnic backgrounds. They are from urban, suburban and rural areas. How they become victims happens in many ways, some are kidnapped, but many are groomed, recruited, or forced by someone they know: friends, family, peers, a boyfriend, persons of authority or a person the victim trusted.

Big states, such as Texas and California are hotspots for domestic human trafficking because cities like Dallas, Houston and Los Angeles are home to many runaway and “throwaway” youth. On average, Texas has about 6,000 runaways annually. According to National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Throwaway Children, an estimated one out of every three children that run away is lured into sex trafficking within 48 hours of leaving home. Even more frightening is the fact that the average age of entry into sex trafficking is between 12 and 13 years old.

Other issues that are major factors in the elevation of a runaway's vulnerability of being forced into slavery include:

Looking for love, affection and attention
Past sexual/physical/emotional abuse
Learning disabilities/physical challenges
Low self-esteem
Depression and other mental health issues
Drugs and alcohol use and addiction
Financial: offers of making “easy” money
Homelessness
Family and/or friends in gangs, drug or trafficking activities.
Lack of education, awareness of their bodies, and relationships.
Constant bombardment with media messages that promote unrealistic and unhealthy lifestyle, material, and relationship choices.

Once victims are exploited they are often unable or afraid to escape due to beatings, threats against family, fear of being killed, embarrassment and feelings of shame (often feel they are to blame for their situation), drugs, no where else to go due to family situation or homelessness, or Stockholm syndrome.

Resources
If you see what could be human trafficking do not endanger yourself or the victim. Call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline: 1-888-3737-888

Human Trafficking is everywhere you go: nail parlors, massage services, bars, restaurants, domestic workers, construction, factories, truck stops, and on the Internet the modern marketing tool of choice.

There are many organizations across the country that needs volunteers and funding:
United against Human Trafficking (Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition): www.houstonrr.org
Free the Girls: www.freethegirls.org
San Francisco SafeHouse: www.Sfsafehouse.org

Polaris Project: http://www.polarisproject.org
Not for Sale: http://www.notforsalecampaign.org/about/
Walk Free: http://www.walkfree.org

For more information on the Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas:
FAUSA: www.fausa.org
FAWCO: www.fawco.org
FAWCO Foundation: www.fawcofoundation.org

Books and videos:
“Half the Sky” by Sheryl Wu Dunn and Nickolas Kristoff
“A Path Appears” by Sheryl Wu Dunn and Nickolas Kristoff
“Walking Prey: How America’s Youth are Vulnerable to Sex Slavery.” By Holly Smith

Introduction by Karen Lewis, Ending Violence Against Women Committee Co-Chair and AODVC Liaison

Following my article in the February 2015 Human Rights Task Force Bulletin regarding sexual abuse/harassment in the military, I happened to make friends with a survivor of sexual harassment in the military and hear her story. Since then, we've had a few conversations about this culture of acceptance and how to bring awareness to it. The following is in her words, with just a few edits ...

Written by K.R. Lehr 

I encountered my first (only) experience with sexual harassment when I was just 19 years old. I was in the United States Air Force as a mere E2 when the incidents began. I was by no means a "perfect" Airman, which coincidentally, made me feel like a bigger target for the sexual predator who was hunting me. He was the Flight Chief of my clinic, where I worked as a Medic. I have to say that the lines were blurred from the moment I stepped off the plane at my new assignment. I was full of excitement, eager to prove myself at my new job and hopeful to fit in at my new home, 5000 miles away from all my family and friends. On the hour drive back to base from the airport, I struggled to fight off the jet lag and make a good impression on my new boss. Before he took me to the dormitory, where I would live for the next 6  months, he took me to a deployed member's home. He casually offered the home to me instead of the dorm, as long as I "didn't mind an old man staying with me" (him). The line was immediately crossed, and things got more confusing from there. Was I overthinking his offer? Was he just trying to make me feel welcome? My whole clinic seemed to love him - was I really the only one who was uncomfortable with his behavior? 

But the uncomfortable encounters continued and got a lot worse before they would ever get better. This man essentially ruled my schedule and my work life, and the more I resisted his attempts at me, the worse my job became. I began to hate my circumstances at work. I felt like this man's errant concubine, not a strong woman proudly serving her country. And most importantly, I felt cheated. I hadn't planned on making the military a career and serving 20 years or more, but I also hadn't planned on feeling so trapped and helpless- so ready to separate from the military so soon. 

My saving grace was my husband, who at the time, was just my loving boyfriend. Older than me and more experienced with the military, he couldn't believe the way I was being treated. When we decided to get married, I was punished with more work and not allowed to take the leave I had requested (and earned). When I learned I was expecting my first child, I was punished with more on-call shifts, no vacation during the winter holidays, and worse, ordered to tell my peers about my pregnancy so they "could know why they had to pick up my slack". Despite the bad circumstances, I kept working, I steered clear of my harasser at all costs, and avoided all situations where I might be alone with him (though they were sometimes unavoidable). 

Eventually, it all came to a head, when he began to threaten me with a deployment, which would come up shortly after my son arrived. I decided that enough was enough. I had to jump my entire Chain of Command to get someone to listen to me, but my Commander listened to every single word I said. That day was both one of my lowest and highest points in life. I remember telling my Commander "I've decided to separate from the military, but I can't go on good conscience, knowing he could do this to someone else." I was scared. I had been threatened, isolated, and I feared retaliation so much that I felt separation was my best option. My offender was a man's man, a member of the boys’ weekly poker club with all the other higher enlisted members in my hospital. What if one of them should retaliate on his behalf? After all, someone would have to take his place, and they were all his friends. 

As it turns out, speaking out was the best thing I could have done. Several other women in our hospital soon came forward with similar stories of harassment and assault, and appropriate penalties were carried out as such. If I had said nothing, he might still be in the military today using his rank to objectify and harass young women. He might still be blurring the lines, trying to make his actions seem acceptable and his inferiors to feel helpless. 

I would like to tell other women a few things about sexual harassment …

Be aware of your surroundings. Even though I felt helpless most of the time in my situation, I was actually in control every time I said "No" to a questionable situation. If a situation doesn't feel right, trust your instincts. If it's too good to be true, it probably is. Sure, living rent free in a house would have been great versus a dorm, but is there really such a thing as "free rent"? Probably not. The first thing we can do to avoid sexual harassment, and often times sexual assault, is AVOID situations that strike us as uncomfortable. 


Talk about your discomfort to someone else you trust. The lines were blurry in my case, as they often are in these situations. If I had stayed at that house, would that have been an open invitation for this man to sexually assault me? Absolutely not. But would have others looked at this situation and said "Oh, well, she went to stay at this house with him, what did she think would happen?" Probably. One of the best things I did – and could have done sooner - was discuss these issues with 3rd parties, true confidantes. They helped me to see where there was an injustice, or possibly just a misunderstanding. I never felt comfortable speaking with any of my co-workers on the subject because they all seemed to be friendly with this individual, so speaking to people outside of my workplace whom I could trust was imperative. 

Don’t hesitate to seek help. Getting away from a predator isn't always easy, especially when he's your boss and much higher-ranking than you, but it is possible. In my case, this man was never allowed to work around women in that hospital again, which essentially ended his career. If you find yourself to be a victim of sexual harassment, albeit verbal or physical, tell someone when it happens. If you find yourself to be a victim of sexual assault, go through the proper procedures to report it as soon as possible. These cases often end up as "he said- she said.” Had not so many other women come forward after my complaint as well, this case probably might have been brushed off. Especially in the case of sexual assault, physical evidence is crucial and is much easier to obtain soon after an incident.

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