300,000 Children at Risk of Being Sold for Sex Every Year

 

The Department of Justice states that as many as 300,000 children are at risk for sexual exploitation each year in the United States.

It’s a staggering statistic. The reality of hundreds of thousands of innocent children hidden in the shadows only to be bought, sold, used, and abused for profit and pleasure, every year is unconscionable. It also means they are in desperate need of our voice!

Founder and executive director of Rebecca Project for Human Rights, Malika Saada Saar says, “Americans are right to get angry at the violence against women and girls in developing nations: the Congo rape camps, the widespread practices of female genital mutilation in West Africa and the infanticide of females in China.

Our digust at the violence committed against women and girls is heightened by the culture of impunity that allows the perpetrators of these crimes to go free without condemnation or punishment. That culture also turns victims into criminals, such as the girls in Thailand who are beaten and raped and then ostracized by their families and society.

But our indignation must be turned inward, too. Here in the United States, there is a similar culture of impunity when young American girls are sold for sex. There are 100,000 to 300,000 children between 11 and 14 who are vulnerable to being sold for sex by pimp-captors every year in the United States, according to government statistics.” Read the Full Article: U.S. Should Stop Criminalizing Sex Trafficking Victims.

The Rebecca Project for Human Rights advocates for justice, dignity and policy reform for vulnerable women and girls in the United States and in Africa. You can find them online at rebeccaproject.org and on Twitter @rebeccaproject.

Now that you are aware, help spread the word, and if you see something, say something!

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) is a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls and texts from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. Phone 1-888-373-7888 or Text text BeFree (233733) Visit Polaris Project to learn more about Human Trafficking.

Source: U.S. Dept of Justice: OJP Fact Sheet–HumanTrafficking

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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NOT FOR SALE: Moving From Awareness To Action Against Modern-Day Slavery

“No longer can we stand by while 30 million people are enslaved”. Thinking about positive change is a beginning—like the planting of a seed. Talking about positive change is taking that idea to the next step, like watering it. But it is not enough to make a lasting difference.  Good ideas, like knowledge and awareness, will never affect true transformation. Like the seed that is planted and watered, without the light of truth and effective nurturing, it cannot thrive and gain the momentum of progressive evolution toward a solution. Not For Sale believes it’s time to shift gears by marrying movement with intelligent action.

So what is Not For Sale’s commitment to breaking the cycle of vulnerability and creating change at the root level of human trafficking and slavery? It is to provide a platform and issue a collective challenge for modern-day abolitionists to rise up and stand with those who are enslaved. To educate, inspire and invite people to move from the awareness phase to the action phase. They join forces to equip abolitionists in their quest to empower those who are enslaved to realize their freedom. That is success—remarkable, measurable success.

“We cannot act solo if we want to make an impact” -David Batstone

What does that collective challenge look like on the ground? Not for Sale combines technology, intellectual capital, abolitionist groups and a growing network of individuals working together for one purpose: to bring an end to human trafficking and modern-day slavery. To creatively, intelligently and strategically work together to literally set captives free.

We are living in a moment in time where the world’s interest and conscience are piqued by the topics of human rights and modern-day slavery. That’s why we cannot allow the sheer breadth and depth of its ugly and enormous reality cause us to become paralyzed to the point of inaction. It will take many moving parts working toward the same goal.

As Not For Sale rightly points out, “We live in a time and place where people are restless to do something”. Their approach promotes a holistic response that will best serve that collective goal. That’s why NFS presents us with opportunities that will bring students/universities, athletes, musicians, artists, communities of faith, justice, technology and business minds together. In order to bridge knowledge to action, they understand that, “The greatest of challenges demand the boldest and most creative initiatives.”

“Ending slavery in our lifetime depends on open-source activism” –David Batstone

Do you consider yourself a modern-day abolitionist? Do you and/or your peers want to learn more about human trafficking or find creative ways to “activate your activism”? Check out the Free2Work, Free2Play, and Free2Walk initiatives. Download the app to find out if the food you eat and the goods you buy are produced by slaves.  If you’re not sure how to apply your interests and skills in the movement, NFS has created an easy online tool to help point you in the right direction.  Consider taking an educational and life changing Immersion Trip, or sign up for The Academy, an abolitionist think-tank where NFS “incubates ideas to create solutions”.   

Hear the heart and journey of David Batstone, banking investor, educator, journalist and President/Co-Founder of Not For Sale in his own words.  

We cannot live in our present time and space and not be aware that human trafficking and modern-day slavery exists to some degree. Neither can we afford to live with our own conscience now awakened, yet stuck in the place of awareness… and do nothing.

How are you moving from awareness to action as an individual, organization or community?

Related Article: The Top Ten Rules for the Lifelong Effort to Become a Smart Activist

Buy the Book: “Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade–and How We Can Fight It” by David Batstone

Connect with Not For Sale on Facebook, online, by email, or follow @NFS on Twitter

Join me on Twitter: @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”
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FOREVER FOUND: Artists Create Change for Sexually Exploited Children

 

It’s hard to imagine, but did you know that young girls are being sold to sex traffickers for less than twenty dollars? Worse yet, in some cases, by their own mothers or family members. These girls (and boys) are then forced into prostitution by the traffickers. Forced to have their little bodies used and abused as sex slaves. And not only are they physically and sexually abused, but their minds and emotions become enslaved and ravaged by unthinkable pain, fear and shame.

Forever Found is a non-profit organization born out of that reality and supports safehomes for sexually exploited and trafficked children. While on a heartwrenching trip to Thailand, founders Shannon and Taylor Sergey saw the devastation child prostitution and trafficking caused up close, put a stake in the ground, and chose to make it personal.

Forever Found exists to support the rescue and restoration of victims of child trafficking and prostitution through:

  • Locally based awareness efforts and events
  • Child sponsorship programs
  • Recruitment, development and promotion of artists willing to donate part or all of their proceeds to help rescue a child

Forever Found partners with artists to raise awareness and support for rescue organizations, aftercare and safehomes in the U.S. and abroad including Streetlight PHXF.A.C.E.S.S., International Crisis Aid, and Life Impact International. 

As an artist and advocate, I’m a true believer in creative advocacy. I love that Forever Found bands together with artists who are catalysts in creating change. Forever Found collaborates with musicians, writers, painters, photographers, designers, actors, and other artists to bring justice, freedom and restoration for sexually exploited children.

Art and music bring people together in a unique way that crosses man-made barriers and touching all of humanity. On top of that, 100% of money received from artist partners goes directly to the rescue homes they support!

"Immeasurably More" Album by Shannon Sergey

Shannon Sergey’s album Immeasurably More is described as an eclectic album full of passion and beautiful instrumentation fueled by talented musicians who donated their time to support victims of child trafficking. The track “Daddy” is about a child she met who was rescued from child prostitution.  Shannon has also written an autobiographical book called, Something Beautiful: The Story of Us–a book about directing love, heartbreak and passion. Other artists share their creative advocacy and proceeds through music, leather wrist bands and even hand crocheted baby blankets!

Aftercare homes provide safe and sane environments for rescued children as young as 4 years old. They provide shelter, food, medical care, education, skill and vocational training, along with emotional and spiritual counseling. Above all, safehomes provide the opportunity for a fear and abuse-free life, providing child victims a chance to heal and to find a path to living the lives they were destined for. 

Maybe you’re an artist, or know someone who would love to share their talent in exchange for giving a sexually exploited child the gift of life more abundantly. Learn how you can get involved. Connect with Forever Found online at foreverfound.org, or join them on Facebook, Twitter or on their blog.

How can you partner to become an advocate for freedom?

Related Article: Simi Native Rescues Sex-Trafficked Kids

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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8.4 Million

Did you know that Human Trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world today?

8.4 million children are trapped in slavery, trafficking, debt bondage, prostitution, pornography, and other illicit activities. (2003 International Labor Organization Report report, Facts on Child Labor)

“The danger is, that we can look at the enormity of this issue and we can fall into this tragic rationale that says if you can’t do everything, you can’t do anything, and as Mark Labberton writes, we become paralyzed and inert.  The truth is, you can’t do everything, but you can do something. You can do something to make a difference. You can do something to take these children who’ve been enslaved and help them to become forever found.” –Pat McCalla, Co-Founder, StreetLight

We want to turn away, but we can’t because it’s not a story… it’s real.

Do Justice.  Love Mercy.  Get Involved.

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Not My Life: A Documentary about Modern-Day Slavery

Director Robert Bilheimer says, “Not My Life probes the dark, hidden, and often unspeakable realities of human trafficking and modern-day slavery– multi-billion dollar global industries that earn their profits, as the film’s narration says: on the backs and in the beds of our planet’s youth.” 

It is impossible to spend four years among the victims and survivors of these crimes– virtually all of them children— and emerge with anything other than a sense of sheer and utter horror. What kind of civilization cannibalizes its own children?  How have we arrived at the levels of cruelty that modern slavery represents?  How can these crimes go unpunished?”

A film about slavery in our time. A story about the way the world is.

Not My Life is the first documentary film to depict the horrifying and dangerous practices of human trafficking and modern slavery on a global scale.

Filmed on five continents over a period of four years, Not My Life unflinchingly, but with enormous dignity and compassion, depicts the unspeakable practices of a multi-billion dollar global industry.

While acknowledging that trafficking and slavery are universal crimes, affecting millions of human beings all over the world, Not My Life zeroes in on the fact that the vast majority of trafficking and slavery victims are indeed children.

Not My Life features dignified and inspiring testimony from survivors; depictions of trafficking, exploitation, and slavery in all parts of the world including forced labor in Africa; street begging and garbage picking in India; sexual trafficking in the United States and Southeast Asia; and various forms of child enslavement and abuse in both North and South America.

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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DO SOMETHING NOW: Hagar International Helps Restore Ex-Child Slaves

 

Hagar International’s Mission: Do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to restore a broken life.

“Violence. Brothels. Rape. Usually these words make people despair. Most people think of victims. Or tragedy. Or helplessness. But at Hagar we don’t despair. We believe in hope.”

Every year, thousands of individuals are bought, sold, and then exploited in Cambodia’s bars, massage parlors, brick factories, and brothels. With more than a third of Cambodians struggling to live on less than $1 a day, children are often the silent victims.  According to VOA News, that number reaches as high as 20,000 women and children sex trafficked or people enslaved by some other form of forced labor throughout the region.

Regardless of the horrors these children have faced in their short lives, once rescued, they are able to find refuge, safety, and hope at Hagar International’s Recovery Shelters. Children receive intensive care, including medical care, counseling, and education in a loving home.

One Million Dollars for Freedom

More than 40,000 young people gathered at the Georgia Dome this month for the Passion 2012 event where the issue of modern-day slavery (aka human trafficking) was highlighted.  The goal? To raise $1 million for freedom. Under the Do Something Now call for action, six charities targeting specific human-trafficking initiatives were presented, including Hagar International.   

The organization’s name comes from the biblical story of Hagar and her son, Ishmael. It is the story of millions of exploited, trafficked, disabled, and rejected women and children. But like Hagar in the Bible, God hears their cries. In response to how God sought her out in her hopelessness, Hagar declared, “You are the God who sees me.”  Hagar International is committed to being part of God’s blessing to the Hagars and Ishmaels of this world — passionately providing a place of refuge, a message of hope and a journey of restoration for each individual.

“Cambodians can be easily trafficked and exploited.” – Officer for the UN Interagency on Human Trafficking

Whether in Cambodia, Vietnam or Afghanistan, the mission is the same: Do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to restore a broken life. In short, Hagar takes this three-pronged approach to bring wholeness:

  • Personal Transformation – The end of abuse | The start of hope and personal resilience.
  • Community Reintegration – The end of rejection | The start of belong and playing a role in a caring community.
  • Economic Empowerment – The end of exploitation. | The start of a productive life
Hagar is an international Christian organization dedicated to the protection, recovery and community intergration of survivors of human rights abuse; particularly human trafficking, gender-based violence and sexual exploitation. They served individual women and children regardless of religion, political preference, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, and do whatever it takes as long as it takes to restore life in all its fullness. They value, honor and respect the diverse perspectives, religions and cultures of their staff and supporters and partner with the not-for-profit, government and for-profit sectors to pursue a common vision of walking the whole journey with survivors of extreme human rights abuse.
View all of the Passion 2012 options showing ways you can help combat sexual exploitation and human trafficking online at Do Something Now
 
Join me on Twitter: @DestinysWomen
 
(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”
 
(Photo by 268Generation)
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National Human Trafficking Awareness Day: Modern-Day Slaves Hidden in Plain Sight

 

January 11, 2012, is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the United States.

What is Human Trafficking?  Over the past 15 years, “Trafficking in Persons” and “Human Trafficking” have been used as umbrella terms for activities involved when someone obtains or holds a person in compelled service categorized as: involuntary servitude, slavery, debt bondage, and forced labor.

According to the FBI: The majority of human trafficking victims are runaways or “thrown-away” youths who live on the streets and become victims of prostitution or, women/girls who suffer from other forms of sexual exploitation. The children generally come from homes where they have been abused or from families who have abandoned them. Often, they become involved in prostitution to support themselves financially or to get the things they feel they need or want, like drugs.

Today, the business of human sex trafficking is much more organized and violent. Women and young girls are sold to traffickers, locked up in rooms or brothels for weeks or months, drugged, terrorized, and raped repeatedly. Continual abuses make it easier for the traffickers to control their victims. The captives are so afraid and intimidated that they rarely speak out against their traffickers, even when faced with an opportunity to escape.

 QUICK FACTS

  • Sex Trafficking is a $32 billion dollar business.
  • The average entry age for prostitution in the U.S. is now 13. In some countries, girls as young as 5 may be forced into sexual slavery.
  • Sex slaves & forced laborers are hidden in plain sight often working in or around strip clubs, massage parlors, seedy motels, fields, restaurants, truck stops, casinos, downtown areas, and in the pornographic industry.
  • Human Trafficking is the fastest growing crime and now only second to drug trafficking.
  • Human Trafficking has no boundaries. It targets every color, class, gender and geography.

COMMON TARGETS

More often than not, traffickers target weak and vulnerable types, often runaways or girls who have been sexually, verbally or emotionally abused.  According to police reports, “A common theme with every victim is that they came from a dysfunctional home with no positive male role model.”  Traffickers have snatched or lured girls from middle or upper class familes as well.

COMMON LURES

Promise of Love – To lure them into a trusting relationship with their abuser, women and girls are often treated like a princess in the beginning only to find later, they’ve been deceived and entrapped. Consider it a red flag if this new “friend” is professing his undying love within a few days of meeting and when it seems too good to be true.  The first step to trapping potential victims is to get them emotionally involved.

Promise of a Job – This is the most common bait sex traffickers use. They make promises of jobs that will make big money, often as a waitress or in some type of service job. There is either no job when the victim agrees to go with him, or there is a menial job often with long hours, but the trafficker keeps the majority or all of the money, keeping the victim under his control.

Promise of a Better Life – Many trafficked victims are promised freedom, security or a better life someplace away from their home or family.  They are desperate to get away from life as they know it and are baited emotionally by the trafficker. But, like all the other lures, it is a lie to trick them into trusting the abuser. They become forced laborers or are coerced into prostitution, or some other job in the sex industry.

Promise of Money – Traffickers sometimes promise women/girls money to help pay for their lifestyles, education, drug habits or their family’s debt.  Once they’ve been trapped in the web of deception, traffickers use it against them by forcing them to “pay off their debt” through forced labor or prostitution in a never-win situation.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING INDICATORS (U.S. State Dept)

  • Living with employer
  • Poor living conditions
  • Multiple people in cramped space
  • Inability to speak to individual alone
  • Answers appear to be scripted and rehearsed
  • Employer is holding identity documents
  • Signs of physical or psychological abuse
  • Submissive or fearful
  • Unpaid or paid very little
  • Under 18 and in prostitution
Elizabeth Prann writes, “With increasing technology and the Internet, human trafficking has become more accessible and more anonymous. That being said, grassroots organizations, victims advocates as well as lawmakers and prosecutors are banding together to combat the problem. They all pledge to do so until it no longer plagues the lives of victims across the globe.” (Read the full article on FoxNews)

 

“He Who Allows Oppression Shares the Crime”-Desiderius Erasmus

 

Related Reading:

Human Sex Trafficking, Law Enforcement Bulletin

Trafficking in Persons Fact Sheet 2010 – What is Human Trafficking?

Trafficking in Persons Report 2010

20 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking (U.S. State Dept)

Selected Films that Help Educate about Human Trafficking

Selected Books that Help Raise Awareness about Human Trafficking

The National Anti-Trafficking Hotline is 1-888-3737-888 (24-hour, toll-free) operated and implemented by Polaris Project and funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

FBI.gov is an official site of the U.S. Federal Government, U.S. Department of Justice

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Seeing is Believing: 10 Human Trafficking Films that will Open Your Eyes

 

Inaction is the greatest threat to bringing Human Trafficking to an end. 

TWENTY SEVEN MILLION

With over 27 million people held against their will and forced into modern-day slavery through debt bondage, forced labor or sexual exploitation, it’s easy for individual would-be advocates to become overwhelmed. It’s hard to think or know what direction to go with information that daunting.  We can become frozen and inactive. But seeing is believing.  If we are able to see it up close and personal (versus just hearing or reading about it) our reaction to that reality slaps us in the face. That dose of visual and emotional reality can help to shoehorn us out of our numbness to the issue–from inaction.  In other words, it may be a massive issue, but once we’ve seen with our own eyes, we can’t possibly do nothing!

WHO ARE THEY?

Who are the children snatched from the innocence of life as they once knew it? Who are the girls (and boys) sold by their own families to pay off debts? Who are the teenagers who fled from horrific home lives looking for something better only to walk into unimaginable and even deeper hearbreak and deceipt on the streets?  Who are the women who long for love, but find manipulation preying at the door of their hearts?  Women and girls who, like us, used to have dreams and hopes for a better tomorrow, but instead found themselves trapped and living (or dying) as modern-day slaves for the lust and greed of evil men.

SEEING IS BELIEVING

Twenty seven million is a big number–a huge number. But that number is made up of individuals–daughters (and sons), sisters and friends. If we can break through the barrier of the intimidating numbers and statistics and begin to see each statistic as a real person, we have a chance to succeed in bringing–no–demanding, justice.  Suddenly we’ve humanized the issue, the numbers. We can begin to help restore, redeem and reconcile one life, one family, one destiny at a time. But first, we have to see them

Here are 10 Human Trafficking Films that will Open your Eyes, and hope to change the lives of people held captive around the world (click on the titles for more information or to purchase):

  1. Nefarious: Merchant of Souls
  2. At the End of Slavery: The Battle for Justice in Our Time
  3. Sacrifice: The Story of Child Prostitutes from Burma
  4. Illicit: The Dark Trade
  5. Taken
  6. A Dance for Bethany
  7. Human Trafficking
  8. Not My Life
  9. Trade
  10. Bought & Sold: An Investigative Documentary on the International Trade of Women

An easy and powerful way to create awareness and become a part of the solution is to host a film showing or party. Gather a group of your favorite people (and it doesn’t have to be just women) and simply watch, listen, pray and discuss together. Reading statistics is one thing, but seeing will leave a much greater impression. Suddenly we see these women and children with names and faces. We hear their stories in their own voices and it somehow humanizes the issue. That’s what gives them hope–that finally, someone sees them! 

This is only a partial list of films on the issues surrounding human trafficking. It is meant to at least begin to unfold the reality of modern-day slavery and invite us to to take action.  Seeing is believing, and when we start to feel something about what we’ve seen, that is the first step toward getting involved and making a difference. 

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Trafficking Film–Sacrifice: The Story of Child Prostitutes from Burma


Each year thousands of young girls are recruited from rural Burmese villages to work in the sex industry in neighboring Thailand. Held for years in debt bondage in illegal Thai brothels, they suffer extreme abuse by pimps, clients, and the police.

The basic provisions awarding children protection from sexual abuse is found in the Penal Code of Myanmar: Legislation against child prostitution –Human Trafficking.org

As in any culture, laws cannot control the appetites that force the demand. Unfortunately, the trafficking of Burmese girls has soared in recent years as a direct result of political repression in Burma. Human rights abuses, war and ethnic discrimination have displaced hundreds of thousands of families, leaving families with no means of livelihood. An offer of employment in Thailand is a rare chance for many families to escape extreme poverty.

High demand in the sex industry has forced business operators to find other sources of prostitutes and they have attracted children from Myanmar and hill tribes in neighboring areas to replace the Thai children.
Conflict, violence and a higher level of poverty in Myanmar have forced girls and women into the Thai sex industry. -Asian Economic News

Sacrifice examines the social, cultural, and economic forces at work in the trafficking of Burmese girls into prostitution in Thailand. It is the story of the valuation and sale of human beings, and the efforts of teenage girls to survive a personal crisis born of economic and political repression.

Burma has the third highest HIV prevalence rate in Asia, after Cambodia and Thailand, sex workers are particularly at risk, with 32% infected with the disease. -UNAIDS

Film Reviews

“Unflinching in its account of abuse and corruption, Sacrifice derives much of its power from the testimonies of four girls, who speak directly to viewers with a painful directness beyond their young years. Bruno demonstrates an exceptional knack for conveying the complex facts and emotional upheaval of globally relevant true stories. In the sobering yet poetic Sacrifice, Bruno presents the terribly moving first-person accounts of four young girls from Burma who were virtually kidnapped from their homes and forced into a life of prostitution in Thailand. As with all her films. Bruno approaches difficult issues with the intent of uncovering hard truths and giving voice to people who are too often marginalized or misrepresented by mainstream media.”
–Steven Jenkins, Film/Tape World



Sacrifice offers a view of the terrible odds faced by women born into poverty where the only commodity for sale are their bodies.” These are complicated stories that get beneath tabloid headlines to capture, with great visual invention, the dignity and damaged nobility of young Burmese victims. The lives of these women are revealed to be the stuff of fairy tale…
 the magic goes bad and the witch, the ogre, and the monster win the day in this chilling view of sexual exploitation… one we have never seen before.”
–B. Ruby Rich, San Francisco Bay Guardian



“Compelling interviews and beautiful photography create a complex portrait of economic conditions in Burma, and the impact this has on families, rural villages and the young women themselves.”–San Francisco International Film Festival



Sacrifice counterpoints forthright tales of four young prostitutes with mesmerizing images: a woman standing in a door frame awaiting her fate juxtaposed with farmers cultivating the fields. The images make a poignant plea for survival, both of the exiled women and the tormented land.”
–Andrea Alsberg, Sundance Film Festival



About the Filmmaker: Ellen Bruno

Filmmaker and international relief worker Ellen Bruno has spent much of the last 20 years in Southeast Asia.

Bruno began her relief efforts more than 25 years ago in Mexico, working in remote Mayan villages. Since then she worked in refugee camps on the Thai-Cambodian border, as field coordinator for the International Rescue Committee and served for four years as director of the Cambodian Women’s Project for the American Friends Service Committee. She has also worked as a hospice worker for the Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco, providing bedside assistance for people dying of AIDS and cancer.

Sacrifice is the final film in her Asian trilogy, all of which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

More Info on the Issues:
Open Society Foundations: Burma Project Southeast Asia Initiative
Human Trafficking in Burma
Human Trafficking in Thailand

More Info on the Film:
About the Filmmaker: Ellen Bruno, About Bruno Films
Order the Film: Sacrifice

© By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women -“Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

(Photo by Daniel N. Reid)

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