Slavery Still Exists.

by Erika Chambers

jan 30 blog a

photo by: Cory K. Hill

There are more than 3 million women and girls enslaved in India’s sex trade.  They are there because they were born into it, manipulated, impoverished, or stolen. Many of these women were promised domestic or service work, but instead they were taken to brothels where their identification and belongings were confiscated; they were likely beaten and abused. And they were given an empty promise of freedom only after earning their purchase price through forced prostitution.

Escape is difficult, complex

Within India, the likelihood of escape is complicated by a culture of shame.  So, even if these women escape and go home, their family is likely to say “I’m sorry, you have brought shame on yourself and our family, and you are not welcome here.”  For many of these girls, leaving the sex trade is not really an option — they don’t believe they have another choice or place to go.

And, yet…there is HOPE.

photo by: Cory K. Hill

photo by: Cory K. Hill

This is where the work of International Princess™ Project begins. We know their lives are valuable and, despite a past filled with great trauma, we believe there is hope for their future. We partner with indigenous organizations in India to provide a place where they can regain their dignity, learn new skills, earn a fair-trade wage, help their children receive an education, and begin to heal.

At International Princess™ Project we seek to not only help these women and girls escape from a life of sexual slavery, we seek to bring them into a life of hope, dignity, and freedom.  We are so thankful for each of you for supporting our mission, and standing with us in the fight against human trafficking and sex slavery.

Buying Power

By: Julie Wood

jan 23 blog image a

Traveling to India always leaves an indelible mark on me. The memories so vibrant I can almost see, taste and hear them the minute I start to recall my time there…

The bright, bustling roadside markets and food carts, the incessant honking of horns, groups of men walking down the street- oftentimes holding hands, clusters of women following close behind. Then of course there are the sacred cows- which I mean in the most literal sense. Actual cows, sacred to the Hindu religion, roaming freely through the traffic, blocking the flow of cars like boulders in a stream of salmon.

I think about India all the time. Not just because it’s home to the 3 sewing centers we work with, but also because it is home to nearly half of the worlds 29.8 million slaves. That means 14.9 MILLION people enslaved just in India.

That’s roughly the same amount of people as the entire cities of Los Angeles, Chicago and New York combined.

No wonder India’s on my mind a lot.

This past week, I attended a special reception here in California held by Representative Ed Royce, honoring survivors of Human Trafficking. We sat as five different stories were told from national and international survivors.

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Rep Ed Royce and honored guests at this week’s reception honoring victims of sex trafficking throughout the world

Five stories.

But my mind can’t help but think of the 29.8 million stories out there still waiting to be heard, empowered and offered a chance at freedom.

As Human Trafficking Awareness month continues, I ache for those around the world who remain enslaved. I long for people with the authority and power to do something,

to DO something.

As for us, we are not without the power to help. Consider this month, what your buying power can do. One of the main reasons India has the greatest number of modern-day slaves is hugely linked to poverty. The more jobs created, the more freedom people will have to start making their way out.  PUNJAMMIES™ http://shop.intlprincess.org are just one of many awesome products out there that continue to empower those who have escaped the ravages of sex slavery.

Who knows how many stories you can affect just by changing how you buy?

Let’s give it a shot.

Today is…

By: Erika Wendt

Today is Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

We want you to be aware that Human Trafficking still exists and is growing.

We want you to be aware that it is tied with arms as the second largest international criminal industry – behind drug dealing.

We want you to be aware that this injustice is happening in countries around the world, and it is also happening in your state and, likely, in the city you live.

More than just being aware though, we want you to be active in the fight to end it, and advocates of FREEDOM and HOPE for those who have been trafficked.

Laxmi’s life is the perfect example of this FREEDOM and HOPE. As many young Indian girls do, Laxmi married very young, but the excitement of being a newlywed came to a screeching halt when her new husband sold her to a brothel owner in Kamathipura, Mumbai’s red light district and home to more than 500,000 sex slaves.

Laxshmi story blog

After several years of working in the brothels, Laxmi gave birth to a little boy and was determined not to let him grow up in the red light district. Fortunately, she and her son had been attending a clinic, where IPP’s partners helped them escape to one of our sewing centers at Ashagram (meaning place of hope!).

Although free from the brothel, Laxmi suffered from shame, depression, and hopelessness. She was often found staring at her sewing machine blankly. Many of the other women could identify with her struggle, and as the weeks went on, they came alongside Laxmi, teaching and encouraging her. Slowly, she began to learn to sew, and when she completed her first pair of PUNJAMMIES™, she felt immense pride.

Today, Laxmi is usually the first one in and the last one out of the center where she loves making PUNJAMMIES™ as a talented seamstress. Through a true collective effort—from the clinic partners to center staff to the other women—Laxmi and her son are finally free to embark on a new path in life.

Laxmi’s story is unique and yet not unlike those of so many other women whose lives are being transformed in our centers. These are the stories you become part of as you support International Princess™ Project, purchase PUNJAMMIES™, and pray for an end to human trafficking and sex slavery.

Thank you for joining in the journey of healing for these women, and for standing with us in the fight to end human trafficking and sex slavery everywhere.

#redlightwednesday

redlightwednesday

by: Erika Chambers

It’s Red Light Wednesday. A day when we take time to pray for those still trapped in red light districts around the world.A day when we pause to remember the more than 3 million women and girls enslaved in India’s sex trade. And, a day when we pause to renew our vision of giving HOPE to each and every one of them.

International Princess™ Project’s mission is to create pathways to freedom for women escaping the ravages of sex slavery to achieve lives of hope and dignity. There are over 150 women in our three sewing centers in India. They are mothers, daughters, sisters. Each one has a story to tell — kidnapped, lured with promises of jobs in the city, sold by their own friends or family into sexual slavery, or born into generations of life in the brothels. However, this story — their past — no longer defines them or their future. They now earn a living for themselves and their children, they take pride in their work, their children are receiving an education, they feel a sense of dignity, and the generational bondage of slavery for their family has been broken forever.

We hope that you’ll join with us today as we pray for those whose stories do not yet include freedom. It’s as simple as every time you are stopped at a red light, pause and say a prayer for or remember those who are still enslaved in red light districts around the world.
If you want to use any of our images in your profile pictures, blog, and other social media posts, just click on the image above to find the rest (and be sure to tag with #redlightwednesday!).
We truly appreciate each of you for standing with us in the fight against sex slavery and human trafficking! Thank you for helping make a difference.

Guest post: Founder of Freeset

IPP is excited to participate in Freeset’s 12 days of Christmas because not only do we love what Freeset is all about, but we actually partner with them to create a number of our Tees! We know that it will take collaboration with all kinds of organization to bring an end to sex slavery and are so grateful for the work Freeset is committed to. Today’s guest post comes from their Annie Hilton. Enjoy!

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On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me….5 golden rings…
Now, I actually do possess 5 gold rings – 4 from my husband and the fifth – my Grandma’s wedding ring. All are symbols of love. Moving into our new neighborhood has prompted many questions of…Are you married ? How many children do you have? Etc etc. In my own culture, the symbol of a wedding ring speaks for itself. But here it is different. Many question why don’t I have gold bangles, a ring in my nose (Muslim) or red and white bangles and red powder in my hair and a dot on my forehead (Hindu).
It got me thinking of how much culture shapes and molds our thinking and can dictate our lives. In the villages we are beginning to visit, we realize that girls are not expected to have a voice – they are told what to do, are expected to help around the home and at a very young age made to feel inferior to their brothers. Inspite of the laws of the land – the practice of child-brides is still too common. Arranged marriages still very much in practice.
Monika was married at 11. We first met when she was 15, with a toddler in tow, living and working in Bow Bazaar, another Kolkata red-light area. Forced into “the line” after her so called husband brought and placed her there, prostitution her only option of feeding her little son. Monika is from a village called Joypur – just 6 kilometers dwon the road from Valkundi, where Freeset Fabrics will begin.
A freedom business is needed in Joypur – so young girls like Monika’s sister, don’t end up in the brothels of Sonagacchi or Bow Bazaar. Dream with us this Christmas, as we begin to dream of a future that can be different for the young women of Joypur. Joy to the world – wouldn’t it be amazing if these women could be offered another choice and there could be Joy in the hearts and minds of those in the village of Joypur in the Christmases to come.

The more Freeset bags and tees that sell, the more women Freeset is able to train to work in freedom. Support these amazing women and get Christmas gifts by buying a bag or a tee!