human trafficking

Systems That Oppress Women Create Dangerous Circumstances for Girls of Color

by Holly Joshi, Co-Director at MISSSEY. Originally published in the East Bay Express here

It's time to dismantle the old-boys' networks that protect perpetrators and leave women vulnerable.

After a decade in the anti-trafficking movement, I am always surprised by the shocked reactions of others when they first learn about the prevalence of child sex trafficking locally. Disgust, anger, and a strong pull toward action I understand. The shock catches me off guard. When I find myself in discussions with the shocked, I often wonder if we are living in and experiencing the same country. As a woman of color from Oakland, I understand sex trafficking as a horrific byproduct of a society that over sexualizes, marginalizes, and oppresses entire populations of people. 

The truth I have come to understand is that there are, in fact, multiple Americas. This country presents as the land of safety, endless opportunity, and freedom for some and as a place of continuous strife, danger, and despair for many others. This country centers, caters to, coddles, and encourages the success of white, middle- and upper-class, cis-gendered men while everyone else exists on a continuum of worth and experiences America accordingly. 

Read More

Alliance for Girls' Conference: Together We Rise

by Maren Frye, student at Berkeley High School and intern at YWCA Berkeley/Oakland

 

I went to the Alliance for Girls’ Conference: Together We Rise as part of a school club, Berkeley High School Stop Harassing, which aims to stop the culture of sexual harassment at our high school and support victims. It was a truly amazing experience. While there, I heard some of the most intelligent, inspiring, all-around amazing women I had ever met speak about their experiences of sexism and discrimination, and how they overcame those obstacles. One talk in particular stood out to me; when the president of EMILY’s List, Stephanie Schriock, presented about the need for women in public office and the work EMILY’s list was doing to support them, I heard the call to action. In that moment, I felt so inspired to use my power as a woman to help all of us around the country that I made a decision—I was going to run for president when I grew up! While I don’t think that’s probable, I do think I want to go into public office now (just a lesser one). It’s so important for women to be part of the institutions that make changes that affect them; we can’t let men decide what’s best for us, WE need to do that. And while I was at the conference, I learned about an opportunity to do just that. I picked up a flyer about the programs at the Berkeley YWCA and knew immediately that this was a chance to make the changes that had seemed abstract and distant in my head, but were now tangible.

Read More