We Are Now On Youtube! ♥

We are so excited to share with you our new Youtube Channel, PUNJAMMIES™!  We have been working very hard in the office to find more ways to connect with you all and thought that creating a Youtube Channel would be the perfect way. On our channel, you will be able to join us behind the scenes at our photoshoots, learn ways to style your PUNJAMMIES™, and learn super fun DIY activities using your PUNJAMMIES™ bags. Don’t forget to subscribe and share our videos with others.

Most of all, we want to thank you for helping us break the cycle of human trafficking through the purchase of PUNJAMMIES™!

Support International Princess™ Project with every Amazon purchase through Amazon Smile!

 amazon smile

Many of you have asked for ways you can support IPP in addition to purchasing PUNJAMMIES™. We are excited to tell you about one simple way – Amazon Smile!

 Each time you make an eligible purchase through Amazon, they will donate a percentage to IPP. It’s really, really simple — we promise! Here’s how:

 1. Click on THIS link to go to the Amazon Smile homepage

2. Type Indian Princess Project into the search box (note: this is the original name we incorporated under)

 3. Select IPP

 4. Done!

 Each time you want to make a purchase through Amazon, just remember to use smile.amazon.com. With every purchase you are supporting IPP and helping restore the lives of even more ladies and their children!

** For those of you who love extra credit assignments, after you select us as your preferred organization, you’ll also see prompts to share via social media which helps spread the word about IPP and gives your friends on facebook/twitter a chance to select us as well!

 Thank you for all the ways that you care about this cause and want to show your support! Every single bit of it counts.

Founder Shannon Keith >> Fact vs. Fiction behind the scenes at IPP

blog 1

At IPP, we value open dialogue. I wanted to take a moment to share some common misconceptions we encounter about our work in India and mission of creating pathways of freedom for women escaping  sex slavery.  The subject of sex slavery and human trafficking can be such a polarizing one that we often need to clarify for people who we are and how we operate. We welcome the dialogue and hope after reading this, if bolsters even more confidence and support for the work we are so passionately engaged in.

It’s important to me that I begin by clarifying that our company exists because I witnessed firsthand a problem that impacted my life in such a powerful way that I had to take action. After travelling to India and visiting one of its many red light districts, I had the opportunity to meet some of the women employed within the brothels. I heard story after story about modern day slavery and women – starting at young, tender, impressionable ages – being forced into the sex trafficking trade in India. I could not be a passive bystander – I had to do something to advocate for these women, which is why I founded International Princess™ Project. However, I also soon discovered that without a new occupation, these women who had entered the sex trade either as orphans picked up by pimps, or young mothers trying to care for their families, or sold into the sex trade by their families, would scarcely survive outside of the brothels. We created PUNJAMMIES™ as a product that would provide empowerment and employment for these women, generating an alternate source of income that would allow them to care for themselves and their children. What began with just 6 women has grown to more than 150! That’s 150 people no longer forced into the sex trafficking trade and who, instead, spend their days in a clean, healthy, nurturing and loving sewing facility surrounded by a community of women who care for each other.


 

blog 2Are all the ladies working in IPP sewing centers of legal age?

Absolutely. India has child labor laws similar to those in the US – individuals in most cases must be 16 years old to work. Over 95% of the women working sewing PUNJAMMIES™ are well over 18 years old, with the remaining few being over 16 years old and of legal working age.

“The opportunities I had for a future were so limited before I came to know about the work that IPP is doing with Harvest India. Now I am living with dignity, and there are so many opportunities ahead of me. I’m so thankful to be a part of this family.” – Sabita

 

How do you define sex trafficking and sex slavery?

 When we talk about sex trafficking and sex slavery we are talking about commercial sex acts that are induced through force, fraud, and/or coercion. The ladies in the sewing centers have been through great trauma in their life. They entered the brothels through one of three ways: they were trafficked, born into it and then coerced, or impoverished and forced to repay never-ending debts.

Do you see yourself as rescuers?

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 The women who enter our sewing centers do so as an autonomous choice. They are deciding their own path and take pride in their independence.. They are rising above the crimes done against them and working diligently towards a better life. These women show great courage for both themselves and their families.Our role is to provide opportunities to partner with and empower each woman, but not to rescue.

 

Since my time with IPP I have received so much love, peace and joy. This opportunity is helping me to stand on my own feet and teaching me to trust others again. I have hope for the first time in years.”- Dalaj

 

How do you find women who have been freed from the sex trade?

We partner with indigenous organizations that have a long-standing presence within the red-light areas of India.  IPP does not conduct raids.  Laxmi, is an example of how women (and their children) come into an IPP sewing center. Laxmi married very young and was sold by her husband to a brothel owner in Kamathipura.  She was beaten and, like many of the ladies who are in the sewing centers, felt like there was no way out. She knew that if she escaped home to her family she would be told she was not welcome because she had brought shame on herself and her family. She later gave birth to a little boy and was determined not to let him grow up in the red light district. Health concerns led her and her son to attend a clinic where she heard about International Princess™ Project’s sewing centers. IPP’s partners were then able to help them escape to one of the sewing centers at Ashagram, where she works today.

 


 

To say I am inspired by the courage of these women is an understatement. With every new story I encounter of women looking for a way out the sex trade they feel trapped in, my passion grows for finding sustainable, safe jobs for them to transition into. We thank you for your continued support. Should you have any questions about our work or what we do, please email us at info@intlprincess.org

 

With love, Shannon

Founder, International Princess™ Project

 

Celebrating moms who won’t be celebrated this Mother’s Day #hopeformoms

We love our moms. They gave us life. While rarely perfect, the bond between a mother and her children is arguably the closest bond that exists in humanity.

It’s one of the hardest jobs in the world, creatively celebrated in this recent video and countless others. Motherhood carries with it a tremendous burden, and is often accompanied by unfathomable joys, incredible periods of unending stress, and a commitment so deeply intertwined into a woman’s DNA, it can never be turned off.

Mother’s Day was officially made a US Holiday 100 years ago in 1914, but it is a tradition that’s celebrated all over the world, even going back thousands of years to the ancient traditions of the Greeks and Romans.

While many women in the IPP sphere of influence can identify or look forward to experiencing the deep meaning associated with motherhood, the women we serve have a more difficult (and often overlooked) challenge.  We’d like to enlist your help in giving to them as well as your own mothers this Mother’s Day.

 It won’t take much effort, and it will go a long way.  We’ll tell you how at the end of this post.

Here’s  the background:

Many of you know that there is mounting evidence that the trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world.  This, despite the fact that international law and the laws of 134 countries criminalize sex trafficking.

  • At least 20.9 million adults and children are bought and sold worldwide into commercial sexual servitude, forced labor and bonded labor.

  • About 2 million children are exploited every year in the global commercial sex trade.

  • Almost 6 in 10 identified trafficking survivors were trafficked for sexual exploitation.

  • Women and girls make up 98% of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.

The purpose of International Princess™ Project is to do our part to help eliminate these horrific realities. To date, most of our work has been focused on India. While exact numbers vary, all recent studies show that there are millions of women, men, and children being prostituted in India, many of whom have been trafficked, raised, or sold into forced prostitution.

What isn’t often mentioned is the millions of children who are born to these women and who live every day in the midst of the horrific conditions.  According to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) report in India, there are approximately 5.4 million children of prostitutes, and most live with their mothers in red light areas (NHRC, 2008), a significant multiple over the actual prostitutes.  We see a similar ratio also represented with the women in our sewing centers as well. Collectively, the work of International Princess Project serves several hundred women, a large percentage of whom are single moms.

Efforts like “Kids with Cameras”, born out of the critically acclaimed “Born into Brothels”,  and International Princess™ Project’s efforts to get all of our women’s children in school, are making a difference in the lives of some of these children. However, the excruciating reality is that being a mom while working to reach your number of clients, decided by a pimp, for the day is one of the most challenging things these women encounter in their often unfathomable existence.

In most cases, children are born from multiple sexual partners, and are the sole responsibility of their mothers. There is no additional social, financial, or emotional support. The children are often raised in unfamiliar, violent, and unclean environments. Despite these realities, many of these women cling tightly to the elusive joy of motherhood. In many cases, it provides their only source of joy, hope, and psychosocial space of their own.  Like most other women around the world, these women will do anything for their children, but lack many of the fundamental resources that we take for granted.

How you can help:

This Mother’s Day, we hope and pray that you celebrate richly with your mom.  If appropriate, please consider giving a gift in your mom’s name to IPP, or buying a cozy pair of PUNJAMMIES™ for all the moms in your life.

Additionally, we are asking that you give a different kind of gift from your heart to the moms who struggle every day in the red light district to provide for their kids.

 Here’s how:  Please send a note of encouragement, an image, a short movie, or any other communication through your digital channel of choice. Wherever you share most and most often, we’ll be there to listen and share your thoughts and your story.  Whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, Google+, and/or a combination or some or all of the above

Tag the note with the following hashtag #hopeformoms.

Tell a friend, or two or three, and let’s collectively give a small encouragement to the mothers out there facing the most difficult of circumstances.  We’ll be monitoring Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Google+ accounts, and even comments on our blog right here to hear and see your hearts poured out to help.

We’ll then work to collect and  bring your collective creativity, hearts, and minds together to present a message of hope to the women we serve.

 We’ll be sharing these with the ladies in our sewing centers, the ladies in the surrounding red light districts, and with our larger community to help bring hope to those in desperate need of another path, and awareness to others who haven’t yet joined in the battle against sexual slavery.

 If that weren’t enough, for every post, tweet, video, etc. on the #hopeformoms, IPP will received a $1 donation  to restore the lives of women and children who have suffered from the ravages of sexual slavery.

Your voice, your heart, your few moments of time will hopefully help to provide encouragement to these brave women on this 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day.

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 women, 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 these women’s 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 women survivors 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 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.