United States

America’s Underground Female Genital Mutilation Crisis (Daily Beast)

6/11/2014 -- The Daily Beast -- "America’s Underground Female Genital Mutilation Crisis" Equality Now, FGM survivor/activist Jaha & Representatives Crowley & Jackson-Lee call on Administration to protect U.S. girls from the harmful practice of FGM.

NY Must Protect Sexually Exploited Girls (Daily Beast)

5/16/2014 -- Daily Beast -- "NY Must Protect Sexually Exploited Girls" Trafficking Program Officer Kristen Berg on the TVPJA:

United States: Pass the Trafficking Victims Protection & Justice Act in New York

2014 May 12

23 OCTOBER 2015 UPDATE: After two years of advocacy, the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA) has finally become law! On 21 October, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the historic legislation into law along with a series of bills aimed at advancing women’s equality. Equality Now and our partners in the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition thank everyone who helped ensure the bill’s passage. Congratulations!

19 MARCH 2015 UPDATE: Success at last! On 16 March, the New York State Assembly passed the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA), following a unanimous 12 January passage in the Senate. The historic legislation now sits with Governor Cuomo to be signed into law.

The TVPJA, which Equality Now and our partners in the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition campaigned on for two years, will address gaps in the law that treat girls trafficked into the commercial sex industry as criminals, while rarely holding pimps and buyers accountable.  As emphasized by bill co-sponsor, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, “New York is a leading entry, transit and destination point for trafficking victims with young women being sexually exploited in all regions of the state, urban, suburban and rural.”

The legislation specifically creates new crimes of aggravated patronizing a minor for prostitution; aligns the penalties for patronizing a minor with those of statutory rape; eliminates the stigmatizing term “prostitute” from the New York Penal Law; and establishes sex trafficking as an affirmative defense to prostitution.  It also provides law enforcement with the tools they need to convict the criminals and addresses the financial and emotional needs of the young victims.

Equality Now and our partners congratulate Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and Senator Andrew Lanza for their incredible work in ensuring passage of this bill, and the numerous survivors who made sure that their voices were heard throughout the process.

8 JULY 2014 UPDATE – During the spring legislative session, Equality Now, trafficking survivors and our partners twice traveled to Albany to meet with members of the New York State legislature and urge them to pass the TVPJA, as well as to raise awareness of human trafficking and the need to reform New York laws. While the bill unanimously passed in the Senate, unfortunately, it did not pass the Assembly once again due to larger political issues. However, we remain optimistic that the bill will ultimately be passed and continue to work with our partners and trafficking survivors to advocate for the reform of New York’s anti-trafficking laws. Thank you to all of our supporters who joined us in calling on New York to better protect victims of trafficking and hold sex buyers, pimps and traffickers accountable!

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What You Can Do: 
  • Write the government officials below and urge them to pass the TVPJA during the June 2014 legislative session;
  • If you live in New York, contact your district’s legislators and ask them to pass the TVPJA. Click on these links to find your Assemblyperson or Senator;
  • Visit Equality Now’s campaign, Survivor Stories, which showcases survivor voices and leadership in the anti-trafficking movement.

Letters should go to:

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Email: gov.cuomo@chamber.state.ny.us
Social media links:
Twitter: @NYGovCuomo
Facebook: www.facebook.com/GovernorAndrewCuomo

Speaker Sheldon Silver
Speaker of the New York State Assembly
Legislative Office Building, Room 932
Albany, NY 12248
Email: speaker@assembly.state.ny.us

Senator Jeffrey D. Klein
Temporary President and Majority Coalition Leader of the New York State Senate
Legislative Office Building, Room 913
Albany, NY 12247
Email: jdklein@senate.state.ny.us
Social media links:
Twitter: @JeffKleinNY
Facebook: www.facebook.com/jeffrey.d.klein


Dear Governor Cuomo, Speaker Silver, Senator Klein:

I am writing to request your support of the New York Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA, Paulin/Lanza A.2240D/ S.5879B) and urge its passage during the June 2014 legislative session. According to the New York Office of Child and Family Services, thousands of children are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation in New York annually, yet the sellers and buyers of these children are rarely held accountable.

New York must do better to protect girls and women from trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. Please pass the TVPJA so that penalties for buying sex from a minor are aligned with those for statutory rape; that persons accused of engaging in sex with minors cannot use the defense they did not know the age of the child; that penalties against those who pimp minors will be strengthened; that prosecutors will be able to wiretap pimps; that trafficking survivors arrested for prostitution can use the affirmative defense that they were trafficked; and that the stigmatizing word “prostitute” is removed from the Penal Law. In doing so, New York’s law enforcement will have better tools to target and arrest the pimps and buyers who are supporting this multi-billion dollar trafficking industry – instead of focusing their resources on arresting victims.

New York has consistently been at the forefront of anti-trafficking efforts. I encourage you to keep up this incredible effort by taking all legislative and policy measures to pass the TVPJA before the legislative session ends on June 19. Thank you for your attention.


Girls for sale: “A Day in the Life" (Thomson Reuters)

3/26/2014 -- Thomson Reuters -- "Girls for sale: 'A Day in the Life'"

A diverse, fresh-faced group, the 20 American girls standing still and expressionless on stage create a striking opening tableau. Between the ages of 13 and 17, they could be anyone’s daughter or sister or cousin - or any sex trafficker’s prey. [read more...]

When Girls Are Part of the Solution Everyone Benefits (Huffington Post)

3/7/2014 -- Huffington Post -- "When Girls Are Part of the Solution Everyone Benefits" New York office Director Lauren Hersh on Project Impact, an arts-based leadership workshop for teen trafficking survivors.

Why Aren’t More People Talking About Female Genital Mutilation in the U.S.? (Cosmopolitan)

3/4/2014 -- Cosmopolitan -- "Why Aren’t More People Talking About Female Genital Mutilation in the U.S.?"

Up to 228,000 girls in the United States have been affected or are at risk, and the United Nations estimates that if current trends continue, 86 million more young girls worldwide are likely to experience some form of the practice by 2030.

United States: Pass the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA)

Not an update
2013 Nov 21

11 MARCH 2015 UPDATE: Great news! U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky re-introduced the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) in the House (H.R. 1340) on 8 March and Senator Barbara Boxer re-introduced it into the Senate (S. 713) on 11 March. Living free from violence is a human right. Passing the I-VAWA would integrate violence prevention and response into US foreign policy and support proven programs that can reduce violence against women and girls around the world.

Please join Equality Now and the Coalition to End Violence Against Women and Girls Globally by calling on your Representatives and Senators to stand up for women and girls and help pass this crucial legislation today!


TAKE ACTION NOW! << Please take a moment to ask your Members of Congress to support this important bill.

Women and girls around the world need your support. Gender-based violence is a global problem and the numbers are staggering:

What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Please take a moment to ask your Members of Congress to support this important bill and help spread the word.


Dear Senator/Representative [insert name]

I urge you to co-sponsor the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) in 2015.

Gender-based violence is widely prevalent around the globe, with up to 70 percent of women and girls facing violence in some countries. Every day, women and girls around the world are forced to trade sex for food or school fees. Every day, women and girls are beaten and abused. Everyday girls are subjected to female genital mutilation and child marriage.

All too often these violent crimes are not prosecuted and, as a result, they are socially accepted and tolerated. Violence against women and girls is a global health crisis and a human rights violation that contributes to instability and insecurity throughout our world.

The American public is behind ending violence against women and girls. A 2009 poll found that 61 percent of voters across demographic and political lines think violence against women and girls should be one of the top international priorities for the U.S. government, and 82 percent supported the I-VAWA.

I am asking you, Senator/Representative [name] to stand up for women and girls and help pass the International Violence Against Women Act.

This bill supports innovative, cost-effective programs that have been shown to decrease acts of violence. Many of these programs help women and girls do things we so often take for granted:  go to school, earn an income to sustain families, collect food or water without fear of rape or harassment, and bring perpetrators of abuse to justice. The I-VAWA will also streamline and improve existing U.S. programs to end violence against women – increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of our international assistance.

The I-VAWA provides the United States with a critical opportunity to make a real difference. The world’s women and girls need this legislation.

Protecting and promoting the rights of women and girls is key to global development and effective foreign policy. Please help change the lives of millions of women and girls by co-sponsoring the I-VAWA.

Yours sincerely,

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