Sex trafficking snares hundreds of thousands of American children

Trafficking

(Ira Gelb (Flickr)/Courtesy)

My report in Global Post, June 20, 2012 (don’t miss the interactive map at the end)

Over 80 percent of cases of American sex slavery involve US citizens, not immigrants. It’s a problem this country must find creative solutions to solve through conferences like Demand Abolition, which took place in Boston.
Beena Sarwar
BOSTON — She was only 15 when she escaped, but she had already been sold for sex up to nine times a day since she was two years old. Her parents pimped her out and beat her severely, but Mary (not her real name) is a survivor – no longer a victim. Twelve years later, she helps other survivors in the US and abroad, volunteering with the Not For Sale Campaign.

I met Mary over lunch at a convention on sex trafficking in Boston recently and she told me her story. It has taken “a lot of healing and hard work” to get this far,” she said.

Besides survivors like Mary, activists, government officials and law enforcement officers gathered at the intense, two-day event in Boston in May, organized by Demand Abolition, a program of Hunt Alternatives Fund. The focus of the conference was on abolishing the demand for commercial sex. (Read more >  Sex trafficking snares hundreds of thousands of American children)

Soft power, woman power: Forging a new security paradigm

My article on the Amn-o-Nisa delegation’s visit to the USA, for Global Post, published  May 7, 2012: Soft power, woman power: Forging a new security paradigm in Pakistan

Women work to combat extremism by closing rift between Americans and Pakistanis.

Beena Sarwar

Peshawar, Dec 2011: Madrassah students and US embassy staff pose with one of the cards made by the students. Photo courtesy: PEAD

It was a unique Christmas party. Eight madrassah students in Peshawar, Pakistan took giant homemade cards, cake and flowers over to the US Consulate last year. The students and diplomats sat and talked for four hours, facilitated by teachers who provide English language and computer skills to the Islamic schools.

“This is the first time that these boys are connecting to and being exposed to a world outside the madrassah,” said Sameena Imtiaz, executive director of Peace Education and Development (PEAD), a non-profit foundation in Pakistan that has been working with madrassahs since 2005. “It wasn’t easy to build this relationship. It has taken a long time for them to trust us.” Continue reading

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