Dance for 1 Billion Rising for Justice (with P!nk)

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Sex Trafficking = Slavery

So, during the past three weeks I read a few articles on  sex trafficking and the Super Bowl. Of course, the Super Bowl is not responsible for human/sex trafficking, but research has shown that the number of sex  trafficking cases hike during such big sporting events. Traffickers  use the opportunity to make money by selling to the people traveling to the area for the game. The recruitment of victims increases with the sudden increase of demand. These days, transactions can even be made online. The articles focused on the initiatives taken by government officials, volunteers, and non-profit organizations (such as SOAP/Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution) to raise awareness about the issue. Most importantly, teaching hotels’ staff how to identify sex trafficking victims. That said, I quickly read some of the comments after the articles and found myself sadden by how little people seem to know about the problem. There are many myths and misconceptions about the subject. Therefore, I decided to write this post in an attempt to clear out some confusion.

Sex Trafficking vs. Prostitution. Sex trafficking is not your average prostitution case. Of course, when we think of prostitution, we usually think of willful prostitution. We think the men or women practicing prostitution have come to this position willfully, on his/her own. Well, unfortunately, this is not always true. It’s important to distinguish the two. Sex trafficking is not your “willful” prostitution case. Sex trafficking or human trafficking is a form of slavery, physical, mental, and emotional.

Sex Trafficking can happen everywhere. We always want to think that these cases happen in far away countries or to over people, but this is not the case. The perpetrators of such crime do not discriminate between the rich or the poor. They do not discriminate based on the color of your skin or the language you speak.

There are many spectrums of human trafficking, including, but not limited to:

 Trafficking in women for sexual exploitation / Sex Trafficking. An organized network, where women are forced or blackmailed into sexual slavery and held in inhumane conditions and constant fear.

Trafficking for forced labour. They are recruited and trafficked using deception and coercion and find themselves held in conditions of slavery in a variety of jobs.

Commercial sexual exploitation of children in tourism. This crime type has been apparent in Asia for many years and has now taken hold in Africa as well as Central and South America. The phenomenon is promoted by the growth of inexpensive air travel and the relatively low risk of prohibition and prosecution in these destinations for engaging in sexual relations with minors.

 Trafficking in organs. Trafficking in humans for the purpose of using their organs, in particular kidneys, is a rapidly growing field of criminal activity. The health of victims, even their lives, is at risk as operations may be carried out in clandestine conditions with no medical follow-up.

Human trafficking happens every day, not just during sporting events. Human trafficking is slavery. Remember to keep an eye out and spread the word. Talk to friends about it, you never know who might need the information. If you are a victim of human trafficking, call the hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text BeFree (233733).

I hope everyone has a nice weekend. Stay safe, enjoy the Super Bowl and remember to keep an eye out. Good Luck.

Thanks for reading,

Steph

For more information:

Super Bowl Surge in Sex Trafficking

Sex Trafficking in New York City & New Jersey

Human Trafficking in America’s Backyard

Girls' Globe

Human trafficking occurs in every corner of the globe from the southernmost foothills of Patagonia to the northernmost region of Siberia. Human trafficking is an egregious violation of human rights – one that often strips its victims of self-worth only to refill them with fear, isolation and desperation.

In the United States, a country most may not immediately associate with human trafficking, the U.S. Department of Justice ranks human trafficking as the second fastest growing criminal industry, behind only drug trafficking, with between 14,500 and 17,500 new people trafficked into America each year.

Every hour, 34 people in America are forced into prostitution. 

In 2013, human trafficking made national headlines when Ariel Castro was arrested (and eventually convicted) for kidnapping, raping, and forcibly locking three girls in his basement for a period spanning over ten years. One victim, Amanda Berry, even bore his child, thereby increasing the victim count to…

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Book Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (February 26, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250012570
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250012579

(Minor Spoilers Alert)

Rainbow Rowell has become one of my favorite authors for young adult literature. Eleanor & Park is a heartwarming and entertaining book. The writing is clear and colorful. I enjoyed this book tremendously, becoming invested in the characters, rooting for them all the way to the end.

This is a real love story, young love without lust or infatuation. Well, maybe just a little infatuation. A slightly different take on Romeo and Juliet. Eleanor meets Park on her way to the start of her high school year. They were both misfits.

Rowell explores themes of race, gender, and social economic issues in this book. Elements that do not distract from the main story, but that enhance it, making it more realistic. It was easy for me to sympathize and/or relate to the characters’ and their struggles.

Eleanor returned to her mother’s house, where she has to deal with an abusive stepfather, a place she can hardly call home. She has to share a bedroom with her four siblings and shower in the middle of the kitchen. In contrast, Park comes from a mixed race, working class family. A fact that is very important him, his life, and the decisions he makes. As a minority, I love diversity in books because the real world is diverse. (Rainbow Rowell explains it clearly on here).

The story is well-paced. The writing is clear and emotive. I wanted a happy ending for this couple, and I wanted to see them succeed from the start. Rowell’s style is unique and fresh. I will read more of Rainbow Rowell’s books. I would recommend this book to fans of John Green. If you like his style, then I think you might like this book too. If you love contemporary novels and you want something quick and good to read, try this book. Let me know what you think.

Best,
Steph

Rainbow Rowell Related: Why is Park Korean? Is Eleanor actually fat?

A Shameless Call to Writers…

Hello! I hope everyone is doing well. This is my shameless attempt to build some sort of writers’ support group. Are you a writer? Do you love to write? Please send me a note.

Last year, early in December, I had a conversation with a dear friend, and she kindly pointed out that I’m letting my fears dictate my actions. My fears focused on whether I could combine all my interests together. Could even call any of them my passion?

Those of you familiar with my blog know that I’m interested in film and media studies, women’s issues and that I love reading. I started this blog so I could practice my English while writing about the subjects I love the most. I often worried that my interests were too scattered. I feared that I wasn’t as persistent or as dedicated to these subjects to feel proud about them.

Did you ever have a passion that you desperately wanted to deny? Perhaps because pursuing such passion would be a difficult task or a huge risk? These were the feelings I shared with my friend during a heart to heart section over dinner. I never called myself a writer. In my heart, I felt that my writing was not good enough, my grammar was (still is) outrageous, and that I had nothing good to say anyway.

It didn’t matter that I was always writing short stories. It didn’t matter if a respected institution ever thought one of my stories was good enough for an honorary mention. I wrote and directed a couple of  student films in college. I had my share of criticism (good and bad), but I had made up my mind. I didn’t have it, whatever it meant. I didn’t understand that writing is a skill that can be learned. The it factor is the moment we become skilled.

At times I felt like my ethnicity alienated me. English is not my first language, so I thought my writing wouldn’t appeal to anyone. My obsession with grammar (read adventures of a rookie blogger) kept me in place. I also wrote a lot of fanfiction, but I never even called myself a fan fiction writer, which I am.

So, today I accept the tittle. I’m a writer. I love reading. I would like to engage with other writers, improve as a writer, and have fun while doing it. Yes, I love film/filmmaking and media studies, and I’m passionate about women’s rights and education around the word. These days, I don’t see a reason why I should define myself by only one thing. In fact, nobody can.

Thanks for reading!

Best, Steph

Film Review: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Directed by Ben Stiller

   Spoiler Alert!

Inspiring and beautiful are the words I would use to describe this film. I meant to write a review on its airing date, but I wanted to go see it again. Walter Mitty to his family and to his job, with little room to explore the world and try new things. He often escapes the monotony through the use of his imagination, and he daydreams the most exciting parts of his life.

I find myself relating and sympathizing with the character from the beginning. In fact, I would dare say many of us have felt dissatisfied with the monotony of life, which we usually beat with some sort of escapism (reading books, television, etc). The average person works long hours and has family depending on them financially. Things like travel, spending time with family, spontaneity, or even meditation become matters that depend on the expanse of the person’s finances. It shouldn’t be the case, but it’s a reality for many people. It’s not that we shouldn’t be grateful for what we have. It’s a matter of having or finding the time to enjoy the little things.

Life magazine is about to go paperless, and Mr. Mitty might be facing his last year as the Negative Manager of the company. Mitty must carry all financial responsibilities for his retired mother and for his sister. He’s discouraged from deviating from his normal routine, anything that is not considered financially safe. At least not until negative twenty-five disappears from his desk. Sean Penn plays an iconic photographer, and an admirer of Walter’s work at the magazine. He personally requests that Negative Twenty-five is used for the last paper issue of the magazine. It’s up to Walter to find out what happened the negative before he definitely finds himself without a job. The mystery of Negative Twenty-five takes him in a memorable, spiritual, and beautiful adventure.

There’s a great cast. Adam Scott plays Ted Hendricks, Mitty’s new self-absorbed and demeaning boss. I love him on Parks and Recreation, and it was interesting to see him play this role. Ben Stiller’s performance as Walter Mitty is fantastic and emotive. He put a lot of work into this film, and it shows. Kristen Wiig plays Cheryl Melhoff, a funny co-worker and mother of one. Walter wants to get to know her better since the day she started to work at the company, but doesn’t know how to introduce himself. Personally, I do wish she had a more complex and involved role. She was Mitty’s love interest, and a bit like the manic pixie dream figure. All the female characters in this film have important roles in Mitty’s life, but limited involvement. And to be fair, this is a man’s journey, so the lack of female representation is understandable. (The world needs more women in film. Women make wonderful films Hollywood!)

The film was well-directed, the cinematography is beautiful, and the story inspiring. Must reviewers have called this film “the best film to end the holiday season and begin a new year.” I completely agree, but I would also add that this film is more than a holiday film. I LOVE The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and I expect to see Ben at the Oscars (from home of course).

Thanks for reading. Go and enjoy this film.

Best,

Steph