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 prostitutes 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 as a prostitute 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 share on the #hopeformoms, $1 will be donated by our donor community to the continuing work of IPP 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 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.

jan 23 blog image b

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.