Monday, November 5, 2012

Election 2012 Jada Pinkett Smith Says Vote Yes on Prop 35 Stop Human Trafficking in California

Election 2012


High above Sunset Boulevard in an exclusive West Hollywood club Jada Pinkett Smith, actress and celebrity, was on hand last week for a lovely and informative tea to chat with fellow moms about our kids. But this wasn't just another social obligation or personal appearance. Jada was there to moderate a serious talk about human trafficking in California and what can be done to stop it with the power of Proposition 35.

Jada Pinkett Smith and me, Image by Valerie Mitchell, Sweeps4Bloggers
The day of the event the weather was beautiful in West Hollywood
Joining Jada to educate a handful of us women and mom bloggers invited to attend an intimate event about this important State Measure on the election ballot tomorrow were Daphne Phung of California Against Slavery; Chris Kelly of Safer California Foundation, former Facebook Chief Privacy Officer and a Silicon Valley attorney and philanthropist; and Sharmin Bock, Assistant District Attorney, District Attorney's Office, Alameda County, California. All three have been passionately involved in the development of Prop 35 since its inception in various capacities and have also been campaigning for its passage.

Sumptuous scones, sandwiches, and other treats served at tea
But for me the heart and soul of the event was hearing from the parents and survivors who have been affected directly by the horrors of human trafficking. Each real-life story told at this Vote Yes on Proposition 35 Stop Human Trafficking event was truly more heart breaking and tragic than the next. Still, I felt compelled to listen and internalize every word and feeling expressed that afternoon.

Survivor and founder of Bridget's Dream
There was the account of a mom and dad who have a daughter that is now serving five years in prison since being arrested and convicted with her child trafficking boyfriend who had physically abused and coerced her into the prostitution business. Then there was the first-hand retelling of what happened to a young woman who had been recruited into the sex trade as an innocent 14 year-old but was eventually rescued and has now started her own non-profit to help others. 

Then there was the Public Service Announcement screening which included among others, the story of an 11 year-old girl who was kidnapped, tortured and forced to work as a prostitute for several years before being reunited with her family. And when I thought I'd heard the worst of it, a sweet woman now off the streets told us how her own mother traded her for crack when she was just 4 years old and how she held captive by the sex trade for fear of her life for many years until she finally was able to break free.

Listen to that once-upon-a-time 4 year-old's story told by the actual woman who lived it in this short video clip:

Modern slavery -- otherwise known as human trafficking of mostly women and children ---- is not only alive and well in other parts of the world but in the U.S. as well. In fact, it was particularly alarming for me to discover that this horrific crime is most serious and epidemic right here in my own California backyard in the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego where the FBI says it has identified some of the highest intensity child sex trafficking activities in the nation.

Two brave survivors (center) with The Moms; Jada & Sharmin Bock 
I was further shocked, as you undoubtedly will be, to find out that while Facebook has historically had a zero tolerance for sex traffickers using its network to operate their child brothels, there are plenty of other online marketplaces like Craig's List that are still hubs for selling children for sex. We are talking here not only about women who have been prostituted by gang members but also about young kids who on average are first recruited against their will and exploited for money and sex between 12 and 14 years old, too often much younger.

A Mom & Dad put a face on families torn apart by human trafficking
Without more aggressive law enforcement and conviction of sex traffickers -- in addition to more education of parents, caregivers and kids -- countless more innocent children, tweens, and teens like the ones we learned about at this awareness pre-election event are at risk of being victimized.

Jada with the Prop 35 Team L to R: C. Kelly, S. Bock, D. Phung
We can't just rely on new laws, we need to get into the community and spread the message. As Jada herself told us, "Make it matter Moms."

That's where California Proposition 35, officially the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation CASE Act, comes in. 

The passage of Prop 35 will
  • Increase prison sentences for human trafficking convictions
  • Require convicted human traffickers to register as sex offenders
  • Require registered sex offenders to disclose all their Internet activities
  • Require criminal fines from convicted human traffickers to pay for services to help victims
  • Mandate greater law enforcement leading to the apprehension of more sex traffickers

As a mother of four children I can't stand by and do nothing. I encourage you to do the same and take action on Election Day. Go to the polls and yes, Vote Yes on Prop 35. All of our children are counting on us to pass this proposition.

Everyone who attended received one of these Goody Bags
Gift Bag including Bartenura Wine, Julep Blues for a Cause + more
Jada with event organizers Melissa Gerstein & Denise Albert, The Moms
More about Prop 35
Proposition 35 is a joint partnership of California Against Slavery (CAS) and Safer California Foundation.

FTC Disclosure: I was invited to this hosted Mamarazzi event by the Vote Yes on Prop 35 team and Denise Albert and Melissa Gerstein from The Moms. I received a gift bag at the event but I did not receive payment associated with this post. See complete FTC Disclosure information that appears at the bottom of MommyBlogExpert's main page and at the bottom of every individual post on this blog, including this one.

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