It is Time to Vote!

bwb65Early voting starts in seven days on October 17.

It is time to vote.

In the debate, last night Donald Trump said his lewd and sexually aggressive taped comments weren’t as bad as ISIS. Is that the best he can do?  Oh and if that isn’t bad enough Trump said he isn’t as bad as Bill Clinton. Really?

It is time to vote.

Hillary Clinton has years of public policy and legislative experience, she’s poised and she struggles to understand complex issues and address the issues in her answers.

As Georgian, as a woman, as a grandmother and mother, as a former mayor, as an African American, I will vote my conscience on November 8. I will cast my vote for Hillary Clinton for President and Jim Barksdale, the Democratic candidate for U. S.  Senate.

Barksdale is seeking elected office for the first time. He was born in Macon and has made his home in Atlanta for 61 years where he has built a successful business. He brings a deep love for his home state and a desire to support programs and policies to improve the lives of everyday folks.

It is time to vote.

There are also constitutional amendments on the ballot. The amendments include the Opportunity School District referendum, state’s Judicial Qualifications Commission, a fireworks sales tax and one that supports human trafficking victims. You should make your choice known on these amendments.

I will vote YES on Amendment #2 which will generate revenue for the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund and Amendment #4 which addresses the allocation of revenue from the sale of fireworks. Both Amendments have bipartisan support from legislators from across the state and broad-based community support.

Early voting begins October 17.  Please vote and take your neighbors and friends to the polls.

It is time to vote.

 

House Bill 244 Will Help Protect Georgia’s Children

If you are in Georgia and care about children, your own or others there is work to do now as advocates to House Bill 244. As nearly everyone agrees children are God’s gift. HB244 will protect more Georgia children.

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Thank you for calling and emailing your representatives about HB 244. Your voices were heard, and the bill was presented to the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee on Monday, March 2nd. We are disappointed to share with you that the adult entertainment fee was removed from the bill.

Please meet us tomorrow, March 5th at 9am on the main steps of the Capitol as we urge the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee to vote on HB 244 at the next committee hearing. We will provide you with talking points to share with the committee members. We need you to stand with us!

HB 244 contains several important pieces, including:
Extends the statute of limitations for the victims of domestic minor sex trafficking to file civil actions against their traffickers to age 25
Establishes a Sexually Exploited Children Fund Commission
Expands forfeiture and seizure laws related to sex trafficking and related offenses–allowing any proceeds from trafficking, and the vehicles operated by a person who is guilty of trafficking, to be subject to forfeiture to the state
Amends the State Sexual Offender Registry to now include convicted offenders of trafficking a person for sexual servitude
Requires the development of a statewide plan for the coordinated delivery of services to sexually exploited and trafficked children

Why do we need HB 244?

Last week, complaints about a woman pimping out her stepdaughter led to a sting in Johns Creek that led to 15 arrests. One of the men arrested is accused of agreeing to pay for sex but he allegedly wanted it to be with a minor, according to a police report. Incidents like these illustrate the importance of amending the State Sexual Offender Registry to include convicted traffickers.

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http://www.youth-spark.org

 

This Mother’s Day I Pray for Nigeria’s Mothers

Former Nigerian Education Minister and Vice-President of the World Bank’s Africa division Obiageli Ezekwesilieze leads a march of Nigeria women and mothers of the kidnapped girls of Chibok, calling for their freedom in Abuja on April 30

Former Nigerian Education Minister and Vice-President of the World Bank’s Africa division Obiageli Ezekwesilieze leads a march of Nigeria women and mothers of the kidnapped girls of Chibok, calling for their freedom in Abuja on April 30

I am grateful to be able to share this Mother’s Day with my children and grandchildren. But I do so with a heart that prays for the mothers of the more than 300 Nigerian girls who were abducted and the 250 who are still missing.

The girls were abducted and Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has taken public responsibility for the abductions and has threatened to sell the girls. Human rights organizations like Amnesty International have long warned about illegal detentions, torture and deaths in Nigeria but the social media campaign #bringbackourgirls has helped to highlight the latest atrocities.

The ‘bring back our girls’ hashtag was first used by a Nigerian lawyer who tweeted the message during a speech by the vice-president of the World Bank for Africa. Desperate mothers of the missing girls quickly adopted the hashtag.

This week the U.S. sent a team of advisers to Nigeria and it is believed that the U.K., China and France will join them. US Secretary of State John Kerry said: “Our inter-agency team is hitting the ground in Nigeria now and they are going to be working in concert with President Goodluck Jonathan’s government to do everything we can to return these girls to their families and their communities.”

This Mother’s Day my prayers are with those Nigerian mothers whose souls must be aching for the return of their daughters.

http://ibwppi.org

https://www.facebook.com/bringbackourgirls

Young People Embrace Activism for the Common Good

Young Activists

Young Activists

Youth power ignited the Civil Rights Movement, the student nonviolent movement, the peace movement and some of today’s activists are teenagers who are continuing in the tradition of challenging the status quo. While we witness far too many cases of young people in trouble, it is refreshing and encouraging to see the exemplary examples of young people who are working for the common good.

Sarah Kavanagh
Sarah is a 17-year old Mississippi student who launched petitions online to get Coca-Cola and PepsiCo to remove a controversial ingredient from all their beverages, including Mountain Dew, Fanta and Powerade. The ingredient is brominated vegetable oil, which she noted had been patented as a flame retardant and wasn’t approved for use in Japan and the European Union.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Last year PepsiCo said it would stop using the oil in its Gatorade products. Kavanagh’s Gatorade petition had more than 200,000 online signatures, while her Powerade one had more than 59,000. Coca-Cola is also dropping the ingredient from its Powerade sports drink.
https://www.change.org/petitions/gatorade-don-t-put-flame-retardant-chemicals-in-sports-drinks

Project Impact Theatre Company
An all girls theatre troupe worked with Project Impact, a program for young girl survivors of sexual trafficking in an effort to educate audiences about human trafficking. They developed the original play A Day in the Life, which exposes the devastating effects of the commercial sex industry on the lives of girls. They wanted to use the arts to help young girls heal and to advocate for legislative changes in some communities and education in others.
http://theartseffectnyc.com/page/gep/projectimpact

Alex Lin
Alex Lin at 16-years old has helped to recycle 300,000 pounds of e-waste. He successfully lobbied the Rhode Island state legislature to ban the dumping of electronics and he has used the refurbished computers for media centers in countries like Cameroon and Sri Lanka to foster computer literacy.
Lin and his team found ways to refurbish and use the computers rather than just recycling them. More than 300 refurbished computers were donated to low-income students without home computer access. As a result of Lin’s lobbying it is now illegal to dump electronics in Rhode Island.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/05/alex-lin-16yearold-activi_n_525213.html

RaSia Khepra
RaSia and other Chicago teenagers created the anti-violence awareness campaign Project Orange Tree, a public awareness campaign that addresses the real cause of gun violence through conversations with teenagers and other community leaders. The need to address gun violence in Chicago was heightened because of the rise of murders during the summer of 2012. It was widely reported that more Chicago residents — 228 — had been killed than the number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan – 144 — over the same period.
The group selected the name, Project Orange Tree because hunters wear the color to warn other hunters not to shoot and the tree represents both life and shelter.
http://projectorangetree.org

 

Public Awareness Is A Start to Curbing Human Trafficking

Recently two cases in metro Atlanta once again highlighted the problem of human trafficking in our commuhumanTrnity. Joshua Dumas of Atlanta, Georgia, plead guilty to prostituting juvenile girls from Virginia, Maryland, North and South Carolina, and Florida to Georgia. This week, Darryl Curry of DeKalb was convicted of multiple counts of sex trafficking, aggravated battery, pimping a person under 18, false imprisonment, sexual exploitation of children, first-degree cruelty to children and obstruction. He could be sentenced to up to 203 years.

There is growing attention given to human trafficking awareness in this country as more young girls and boys become victims in the commercial sex trade business. [Read more…]

Strange Bedfellows: Sex Trafficking and Investment Banking

On Saturday, New York Times columnist Nicolas D. Kristof ran a story on financiers and sex trafficking. Blogging While Blue has previously posted commentaries on sexual trafficking in Georgia and the impact that it has the on lives of young women and girls, so we were interested in his story. What we discovered was this was more than a story about trafficking, it was a story about who are some of the silent partners that finance this illegal trade.

Surprisingly, one of the private equity owners of Backpage.com was Goldman Sachs who held a 16 percent investment in the company. Backpage.com is similar to Craigslist. There are listings from Atlanta to Washington, DC for real estate, items to trade and sell, services and an adult section with escorts. It is the Backpage.com escort section that Kristof says has some 70 percent of the prostitution market ad business. While companies like Craigslist and Backpage make an effort to screen ads by traffickers, there is little documented success.

One of Goldman Sachs managing directors sat on the board of the company according to Kristoff while the private web based prostitution empire was growing its share of the trafficking business. The managing director resigned in 2010 but that was four years after Backpage.com merged with Village Voice Media, the current owners of Backpage.com

It is hard to imagine that underage sexual trafficking would be backed by Goldman Sachs investments. Once Kristoff began inquiring about the investments, and uncovered the owners Goldman Sachs began selling its shares.

There seems to be a lot of talk about Super PACS owning politics and the debatable relationship between politics and financiers. It’s another thing when smart seemingly sensible leaders in business and civic life unknowingly make money in sex trafficking. Its time for them and us to ask basic questions and fact check our business interests otherwise our children are fair game for the worse we can offer.

Women Make the Difference in the Global Struggle for Human Rights

Deborah Richardson

Executive Vice-President
National Center for Civil and Human Rights

Last week in Atlanta, a powerful convening took place in which women who are shaping current global policy spent a day with other women who are concerned about a range of civil and human rights violations from pay inequity to violence against women. The Womenetics Global Women’s Initiative: The Ripple Effect illustrated that women can and are directly contributing to solutions in troubled societies, including our own. Their work provides a road map and access point for anyone handwringing on the sidelines.


If you believe that education and public policy– systemic broad-based change is the answer, take inspiration from Ambassador Swanee Hunt. Swanee has committed $7.5 million, over a 10-
year period, to fund Demand Abolition. Based on the fact, if there were no buyers, the selling of human beings for sex would not exist. Demand Abolition is focused on ending sex slavery by combating the demand for illegal commercial sex in the United States. In educating individuals on rampant modern-day slavery in the United States in the buying of girls, women and boys for sex, holding law enforcement accountable for arresting the men who are the purchasers of sex, urging businesses to institute a no-tolerance policy for employees who provide sex-related entertainment perks for clients, and asking the media to show the real harm to women and girls caused by traffickers and buyers, Demand Abolition is focused on catalyzing social change that reflects the dignity of all people.

When the everyday struggle for safety and basic human rights overwhelms you, draw courage from Marisela Morales Ibanez. As the Attorney General of Mexico, Ibanez faces death every day while prosecuting criminals involved in Mexico’s complex, multi-national drug trade. As the first woman to hold this prestigious post in Mexico, she is charged with mounting cases against organized crime and drug cartels that are using violent intimidation techniques such as kidnapping, mass murder, assassination of public figures and bribery to secure their positions. She built her reputation as a state prosecutor willing to root out corruption in her own department, and for prioritizing and prosecuting cold cases in which the victims were poor women in the Mexican countryside.

If you think that a small gesture makes a big difference, and transforming individual women’s lives is the most sustainable way to heal the effects of human rights violations, meet Andree Simon. She is the President & COO of Women for Women International. Her organization operates under the simple premise that women in a position to give can sponsor a woman recovering from violence, war, degradation, trafficking, and hosts of other traumas, and over the course of a year her life can be changed. Her organization has charted a path for human rights education, income security, healthcare and personal safety for individual women in eight of the world’s most desperate regions.

These woman stand in the face of obstacles and affirm that social change begins with women. Women bear the brunt of human rights abuses in the world, and as mothers, that suffering impedes the next generation. For every one of the women highlighted above, there are millions of others who are at work in their communities, advancing economic justice, insuring access to education, providing healthcare, fighting for gender equity and ending exploitation and violence in the home and society. As citizens of a global community, we each have a responsibility to step in and join with them. How will you use your power and resources to create a just and equitable world?


Contributed by Deborah Richardson