Trafficking Survivors Tell UN: Strengthen Families To Protect Women and Girls

By | March 17, 2017
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Haley Halverson, Jen Spry, Vednita Carter, Mercedes Schlapp, Christine Raino, and Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D.

NEW YORK, March 17 (C-Fam) Women who were trafficked or mistreated for their reproductive organs told the UN this week that to successfully combat modern-day slavery, countries must respect and empower the family.

“Not all sex-trafficked children go missing,” warned Jen Spry. Beginning at eight years old, every afternoon Jen would get off

the school bus at three o’clock and tell her mother she was going out to see a friend, returning at six for dinner. In reality she spent that time nearly every day for two years being sold by a neighbor for violent sex and child pornography. The neighbor first lured her with his dog. Then he threatened to kill her mother and sister if she told anyone. Her mother never knew.

Spry does not blame her mother, who raised her and her siblings alone. Instead, she urged UN and government officials to include parents in their efforts to combat human trafficking.

Policies strengthening marriage and the family, and policies that help parents to be present with their children, can prevent the anonymity that fuels sexual abuse.

Spry spoke at a  high-level side-event sponsored by the Group of Friends of the Family, a coalition of twenty-five countries, and C-Fam, publisher of the Friday Fax. The Economic and Social Council chamber was packed – and webcast – for three hours as speakers described the crucial role of stable and healthy families in combatting modern forms of slavery – which are not exclusive to developing countries.

When Vednita Carter needed a summer job before college, stripping seemed like a lucrative choice. She didn’t make it to college. Instead she ended up being prostituted for years. Now the president of “Breaking Free,” a non-profit organization serving women involved in prostitution and sex trafficking, Carter criticizes the phrase “sex-work,” increasingly adopted in the international arena including the UN, to legitimize sex-for-pay. “Prostitution is modern day slavery,” she said. “No girl dreams of being prostituted.”

Kelly Martinez regrets signing surrogacy contracts “to make money.” One couple that she was persuaded to help have a child instead stuck her with medical bills and a same-sex couple forced her, while suffering medical issues from childbirth, to break laws that protect family members. Surrogacy is “a criminal enterprise,” whose “recruitment process” is the same as in prostitution, added

Ann Kioko, president of the African Organization for Families.

The family is rarely mentioned at the UN. “This event is part of a small counter-revolution,” said Austin Ruse on behalf of Civil Society for the Family. He thanked the coalition of countries for taking the lead.

Traffickers seek any vulnerability and stable families provide a shield for the vulnerable, said Valentin Rybakov, Belarus foreign minister, on behalf of the Group of Friends of the Family. The coalition listed future UN meetings where the institution of the family will be brought up as a source for solutions.

Mercedes Schlapp, a FOX News commentator and mother of five girls, who moderated the event was visibly moved. She told the Friday Fax, “After I came home, I spoke with my daughters about the event and the horrible destruction of human trafficking and how we must pray for the victims. Please know that [my husband] Matt and I are supportive of your causes and proud to be a voice in sharing your work.”