Tag Archives: child slavery

Bonded To Priests As Domestic And Sexual Servants – Trokosi

TrokosiThe following message came to me in an email a few days ago. “I am currently working on a film that deals with the little known system of bondage in Ghana, called Trokosi,” Christene Browne wrote to me. “Trokosi is a religious practice whereby young virgin girls are made slaves to shrines for offenses committed by a member of their family. To appease local gods, the girls are bonded to the priest of the shrine for life and become their domestic and sexual servants.”

Christene, via Syncopated Productions, is still seeking funds to finish Sena – A Film About Slavery. The film is based on the stories she was told during visits to Ghana. The film takes its name from the main character, Sena, whose dreams of being a nun are shattered when she is secretly sent off to a shrine to atone for a crime that she did not submit. The film tells the story of how she endures through numerous atrocities and inhumanities.

A short interview. I asked Christene if I could ask her a few questions to learn more about how she came to make the film, and what she hoped it would accomplish.

How did you first become aware of child slavery?

I first became aware  of Trokosi practice ( a form of child slavery) back in 2000 while I was visiting Ghana for the first time. There was a news report about the practice on a local TV station one night.

What surprised you most about your experience with child slavery?

What surprised me most about the practice was that it could  still exist in the present day  even in the face of some serious opposition/ legislation (It existed for centuries but had been criminalized in 1998.) The fact that the practice was/is sanctioned by many of the traditional religious practitioners was also very surprising. According to them the young girls were/are being sent to the shrines for educational purposes.

How did you first come into contact with a former Trokosi? 

After my first trip to Ghana – I returned home and applied for some research funding with CIDA ( Canadian International Development Agency). Before returning to Ghana I contacted a number of organizations and individuals who were doing work with the Trokosi. ( I had friend in Ghana helping)   My main contact was a man by the name of Elvis Adikah – who was in the midst of doing research on the practise. He was the one who put me in direct direct contact with former Trokosi – he also acted as my interpreter.

We travelled for about five weeks in the Volta region of Ghana to remote hard to reach villages- meeting young and older former Trokosi – and collecting testimonies. During this trip I was also able to visit some active shrines, meet with some of the priests of the shrines, some government officials, a number of NGO groups and some leaders in the African traditional religion movement. In one of the  active shrines, I met an older woman whose job was to oversee the Trokosi – she had been in the shrine for over 60 years. (She is featured in the research interview clip below)

My meetings with the former Trokosi took place in their homes and at so called rehabilitation centers.  The majority of the younger former Trokosi were at these rehabilitation centers where they were learning skills, like sewing, to help them better reintegrate into society.

There is a great stigma associated with former Trokosi – many people believe that they bring misfortunes – so reintegration is very difficult.

Why did you decide to make your film?

Ever since I  had the opportunity to meet and interview a number of former Trokosi , I felt compelled to tell their story. The stories that I heard were devastating and  touched me greatly.

What do you hope people will do as a result of watching the film?

I hope the film will spark a new debate about the practice and  bring the silent suffering of the Trokosi to the forefront. Giving a voice to the voiceless is something that I have done in many of my past projects. Ultimately I hope to inspire people to take decisive actions towards stopping this archaic system of bondage.

If you’ve read this far, I hope that you will help me in spreading the word about Christene’s film, Sena – A Story Of Slavery, or prehaps, even contributing to the completion of the film.

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Teachers Join Demand For Village Voice To Stop Child Sex Trafficking Ads

No form of child slavery is more defiling than child sex trafficking. 

I find it difficult to understand how any reasonable human being could debate that point. Yet, apparently, The Village Voice is having a hard time understanding their role in supporting the trafficking of children for sex. Otherwise, it would not take 60,000 people to convince them to simply do the right thing and take every measure possible, not only to “ban” child sex trafficking ads from their Backpage.com platform, but assist authorities in helping identify and bringing to justice those placing the ads.

“I am a retired teacher and child care worker,” said California resident William Boosinger. “I spent most of my career trying to heal children who had been violated in this foul manner. It’s time to shut down this web site.” I couldn’t agree more. This is a quote from a press release sent out by Change.org this morning. The entirety of the press release is below.

If you agree, add your signature to the petition.

TEACHERS DEMAND VILLAGE VOICE BAN CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING ADS

Active and retired teachers join 60,000 people in supporting interfaith coalition’s growing campaign on Change.org calling on Village Voice Media to block child sex trafficking ads.

NEW YORK, NY – Teachers across the U.S. are joining more than 60,000 people supporting a popular campaign on Change.org calling on Village Voice Media to stop selling child sex trafficking ads on online classified site Backpage.com.

“I am a high school teacher and know what this does to the lives of impressionable young people,” said Brooklyn teacher and father Martin Haber. “It’s not hip or cool, it’s a betrayal of our youth. I have an 18-year old daughter who noticed the graphic nature of Backpage.com the other day. She asked, ‘How is it even legal?’”

“I am a retired teacher and child care worker,” said California resident William Boosinger. “I spent most of my career trying to heal children who had been violated in this foul manner. It’s time to shut down this web site.”

Groundswell, the social action initiative of Auburn Theological Seminary, convened a coalition of leading clergy and religious leaders to launch the campaign on Change.org after multiple ads for sex trafficking victims were identified on Backpage.com, an online classified website owned by Village Voice Media. The campaign has attracted support from parents and grandparents in all 50 states.

“By joining this campaign, teachers like Martin and William are using the power of technology to stand up for their values – that boys and girls shouldn’t be sold for sex on Backpage.com,” said Change.org Director of Organizing Amanda Kloer. “Change.org seeks to empower people to take action on the issues that matter to them, and it has been incredible to watch these teachers advocate for kids.”

Live signature totals from the Groundswell’s campaign:

http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-village-voice-media-to-stop-child-sex-trafficking-on-backpagecom

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Human Trafficking In the United States

A staggering 46% of all traffficking in the United States feed prostitution. The average age of beginning in prostitution in the US is 13. Read more: End Slavery Now

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Cops Arresting Trafficking Victims?

 

As a society, we have to begin to label crimes accurately. Is a teen who is reported missing by her family, kidnapped and forced to work in an underground brother guilty of prostitution or a victim of human trafficking? Both can’t be true.

Children forced into sexual service are not being held by “pimps.” Pimp is a word that has lost it’s negative power. These children are being held by slave traders. This problem might be treated differently if we can change the words we use to describe it.

“As if ignoring all those red flags wasnt bad enough, the LAPD actually arrested a 17-year-old girl, who by virtue of her age is automatically a trafficking victim. The girl had even been reported missing by her family. Yet somehow, it didnt occur to the LAPD  that if one trafficking victim was kidnapped and forced to work at Club 907, perhaps others were as well.”  via Change.org.

 

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Ohio Passes Human Trafficking Legislation

I wrote back in 2008, that Ohio has no human trafficking law. On Decebmber 23, 2010, over two years later, Ohio finally passed  legislation that makes human trafficking a felony in that state.

Toledo, Ohio, is the third-largest city for human trafficking and sexual slavery in the United States; just recently a Somalian sex trafficking ring was busted in Columbus. The Buckeye State is known for football, chili, and the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame. It now finds itself among the several states in America that have been confronted with the horror of human trafficking.

via Human Trafficking: A Billion-Dollar Industry – Associated Content from Yahoo! – associatedcontent.com.

 

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884 Arrested In Child Prostitution Rings

Seattle, Tacoma, Sacramento, Minneapolis, Nashville… There is no corner of our society where this is not a problem. Fool yourself if you’d like, but Child Prostitution, or as I prefer to call it, Child Sex Slavery, is an epidemic.

“Child prostitution continues to be a significant problem in our country, as evidenced by the number of children rescued through the continued efforts of our crimes against children task forces,” said Shawn Henry, executive assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response and Service Branch, in a written statement. “There is no work more important than protecting America’s children and freeing them from the cycle of victimization. Through our strategic partnerships with state and local law enforcement agencies, we are able to make a difference.”  via Federal crackdown on child prostitution results in 884 arrests – CNN.com.

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Teen Fights Child Slavery With Graphic Design

I’m moved by the initiative of one very talented young man. John Mark Herskind is a 17-year old from Irmo, South Carolina, and he’s taking action to make a difference in the fight against child slavery. His group,  Designers Against Child Slavery,  “calls on designers and artists world wide to unite their talents and create art packs.These art packs will be used to raise awareness as well as money for children in Southeast Asia.”
And his actions have attracted artists and graphic designers from all over the world to donate their art to raise awareness.
He’s also teamed up with The Blind Project which is a group devoted to exposing the sex trade. Through the connections he’s made, John Mark is putting together an art exhibition in Columbia which will feature work from world renowned graphic designers. – WLTX.com
If you’re a graphic designer, please take a moment to go check out his group to see if you can help.
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The Body Shop Lives Its Values, Fights Against Child Sex Trafficking

I can only applaud the efforts of The Body Shop as they shine the light of public exposure on the crime of child sex trafficking.

“The retailer spent 16 months researching the effort to fight sex trafficking before introducing it, Ms. Simmons said, because of the nature of the problem. The idea was to learn “how we can deliver this” message, she added, “without switching people off.” – New York Times

This is just one of their excellent “living our values” initiatives, but their focus is clear. They have a bold stop trafficking campaign, designed to “raise awareness of the scale of the issue, raise funding for vulnerable children and young people, and inspire those with decision-making power to effect change. And I love this part of it – they give their clerks training on how to “talk authoritatively about the issue.” I think it’s a bold step and one that’s needed in order for a campaign like this to have real impact. Signs are simply not enough. As a result, they’ve already raised $1.5 Million for the Somaly Mam Foundation, a substantial portion of that donated by shoppers. That’s not an accident.

This is a virus that can’t thrive in the light and we simply need more light.

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