Last Thursday, DC Stop Modern Slavery held an All-Survivor Speaker Panel to bring awareness to human trafficking and address some issues faced in society including the influence of media and the law. The contributing speakers were Stacy Jewell Lewis, writer and director of the play Stolen, and Barbara Amaya, activist and author who is currently working on a book entitled, " A Girl's Guide To Survival: Life Lessons From The Street"; Shamere McKenzie, also a survivor, moderated the panel.
After speaking, the panel was opened to a Question and Answer section. When asked about the role of media, Stacy stated, "We are generally being reprogrammed everyday...media is slowly taking away childhood and putting it into an adult [perspective]." She also added that the "media role is good and bad, [in that it includes] those who want to educate versus those who want to entertain." It was really interesting to hear her take on the Disney film The Lady and the Tramp when speaking about the role of cartoons in media. Stacy expressed how she realized that there were many parallels, though unintentional, with the film and human trafficking.
Barbara contributed to several questions regarding the law including the terms on which police charge. She stated that the charge is "loitering for the purposes of prostitution;" those who are charged are taken to the courthouse chain-gang style like a humiliating walk of shame. Additionally, Barbara mentioned that Safe Harbor laws should label victims as people with needs because survivors are barred from many programs, like Victim Assistance and jobs, when they have convictions.
All three survivors had the opportunity to respond on the use of the word "pimp." People have become desensitized to the term over time, especially since the term is being glamorized. Shamere said "if the media can make us laugh at things, then it's ok."
DC Stop Modern Slavery will be having a pre-walk rally this Monday. The rally will include guest Tina Frundt, the founder of Courtney's House. Bridge to Freedom foundation is a proud partner of Courtney's house.