Fashion Hope to benefit Abolish Slavery with salsa dancing

 

fashion hopeabolish slavery

SALSA DANCING TO BENEFIT ABOLISH SLAVERY THROUGH FASHION HOPE

WHAT:          The Collection is hosting a pre-Cinco de Mayo event to benefit Fashion Hope and the Abolish Slavery Coalition.  The Collection, “a fusion of art and fun,” is a pop-up shop featuring denim by Tears of Bleu, equestrian-inspired gear from B.I.T.S., bags by Bagstil, tops and frocks from CaliLu and swimwear by Haus of PinkLemonaid among others.  The night will start off with a professional salsa dance instruction followed by an open dance party.  Margaritas will be served.  The suggested donation amount is ten dollars.

WHO:             Fashion Hope
The Abolish Slavery Coalition

WHEN:          Saturday, May 4, 2013
4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.:   Professional salsa instruction
6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.:   Open dance party

WHERE:        The Collection at Icis
546 W Colorado St.
Glendale, CA 91204

CONTACT:   www.facebook.com/events/327636014029135/


Media release by Livi Enriquez, Abolish Slavery intern

Supporters of victims’ rights rally in Orange County

Written by Livi Enriquez, Abolish Slavery intern

SANTA ANA, CALIF.—Local officials, law enforcement, victim advocates and community leaders came together at the Fifth Annual Victims’ Rights March and Rally on Friday in Santa Ana. The march and rally were lead by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and organized by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Local officials and the community come together for the Victims' Rights Rally in Santa Ana, Calif.

Local officials and the community come together for the Victims’ Rights Rally in Santa Ana, Calif.

At the reception held at the D.A.’s Office before the march, shirts decorated by survivors with messages to their attackers were on display. Brochures and pamphlets on victim assistance programs were passed out. Many families had various commemorations to their loved ones from signs to shirts and pins.

“The scars and the healing that goes on occurs much beyond the criminal trials and eventual convictions,” said Andre Birotte, a United States attorney for the Central District of California. “We need to make sure that we’re there for the victims to make sure they have the support and resources, and that we understand their needs long-term so that they can move on and heal and begin new chapters in their lives.”

As a symbol of love and innocence that was taken away from victims, marchers were given white carnations and the option to write a victim’s name on a label and put it on the flower to carry to the march from the D.A.’s Office to the Old Orange County Courthouse. The flowers were laid on a memorial.

A moment of silence was held at the beginning of the ceremony in honor of victims of sexual abuse. During the silence, white doves were released.

D.A. Tony Rackauckas addressed his dedication to helping victims of crime. He said that as a new focal point, his office will be committing to combating human trafficking.

“In the United States, an approximate 17,500 adults and children are trafficked annually,” he said. “It’s a (multi-) billion dollar business.”

Many families carried signs during the march to honor their loved ones who are victims of violence.

Many families carried signs during the march to honor their loved ones who are victims of violence.

Prosecutors will work with law enforcement and the community in the new Human Exploitation and Trafficking (HEAT) unit. The unit was implemented for prosecutors, law enforcement and the community to work together to prevent further trafficking and punish traffickers and johns.

“This is not a conservative or liberal issue,” Rackauckas said. “This is a human rights issue.”

Rackauckas concluded requesting a pledge “to do our part in our own ways, to pursue changes, to bring about change and to prevent new victims.”

Broadcom founder Dr. Henry Nicholas also spoke at the event. In 1983, his beloved younger sister, Marsy, then a student at University of California, Santa Barbara, was murdered by an estranged ex-boyfriend. Nicholas was unaware of how underdeveloped the rights of victims’ families was until the court failed to notify his family of the killer’s release out on bail. Nicholas’s mother, Marcella Leach, was suddenly face-to-face with the killer at the supermarket the same day of Marsy’s funeral.

After her death, Marsy’s family became victim rights advocates, helping out families of victims. Her family realized the vital need of a written legal document outlining certain rights for families of victims. In 2008, Marsy’s Law, also know as the Victims’ Bill of Rights, was passed as an amendment to the state constitution.

The law includes many reforms of the roles of victims’ families in court and the significance of their voice in speaking on the behalf of the victim.

Henry Nicholas, Broadcom founder and advocate of Marsy's Law, talks with his mother, Marcella Leach, after the ceremony.

Henry Nicholas, Broadcom founder and advocate of Marsy’s Law, talks with his mother, Marcella Leach, after the ceremony.

Orange County memorial site unveiled at candlelight vigil honoring victims

Written by Abolish Slavery interns Jayda Shuavarnnasri and Anne Beck

IRVINE, CALIF.—Local victim services organizations and law enforcement came together to honor victims of all crimes in a candlelight vigil at Mason Regional Park in Irvine on April 24. Also at the vigil, the Orange County Board of Supervisors and O.C. Parks unveiled the site of the future Crime Victims’ Memorial.

April is sexual assault awareness month and along with educating the public about how to prevent sexual violence, several Orange County organizations banded together to pay tribute to the victims of crimes such as human trafficking, sexual assault, child abuse and domestic violence. Several survivors and family members of those deceased shared their stories at the vigil to preserve the memory of lives lost as well as to help inform and bring awareness of these crimes. These painful stories illustrated the necessity to honor victims through a memorial.

T-shirts with strong messages of hope and strength donned clotheslines at Mason Regional Park in Irvine on April 24. Each color represented a specific crime victims suffered from, such as human trafficking, domestic violence and child abuse.

T-shirts with strong messages of hope and strength donned clotheslines at Mason Regional Park in Irvine on April 24. Each color represented a specific crime victims suffered from, such as human trafficking, domestic violence and child abuse. Photo courtesy Anne Beck

Crime Survivors Inc., Get Safe, Human Options, Community Service Programs (CSP), Mothers Against Drunk Driving and O.C. Crime Stoppers were among the 14 groups and guest speakers at the vigil. Local politicians and law enforcement agencies like Irvine Police were also present and had booths set up in support of local victims of crime. They educated the community on various programs available to assist those in need, such as victims and potential victims.

The memorial site will be a place of comfort, hope and rest for all. It will also be a place for those affected by the aforementioned crimes to come to reflect and find peace.

“The memorial is going to be an important place for victims and families to go to for healing,” said Annette Menchaca, who attended the event to support her mother-in-law Stacey (full name withheld for privacy), a domestic violence survivor who spoke publicly at the vigil for the first time.

Todd Spitzer, Supervisor of Third District and host of the event, saw the park as the perfect memorial site with a serene view of the lake.  Spitzer, a former California State Assembly Member, has dedicated his career to public service and the crime victims’ movement, and welcomes the entire community to take part in submitting designs for the memorial.  Spitzer will be working with the community and with O.C. Parks Director Mark Denny to construct the site.

“The memorial will represent a place of peace,” said Monique (full name withheld for privacy), a victim of sexual assault.

With the help of CSP Inc., Jackson has been working on her personal health, wellness and recovery, with the desire to be a voice for those who she explains might be “too afraid, too ashamed, or can’t” share their stories of victimization.

Shyima (full name withheld for privacy) told her story where her parents sold her into human trafficking in Egypt where she was was forced to clean, cook and care for her perpetrators. After being rescued and placed in foster care, she began her healing process and makes efforts to educate the community.

“Keep your eyes open. This isn’t something that just happens internationally,” Shyima said. “It happens right here in Irvine.”

The event concluded with the vigil and a peaceful stroll around the lake in remembrance of the victims.

Passport 2 Freedom fundraiser to benefit Abolish Slavery missions

Written by Livi Enriquez, Abolish Slavery intern

LONG BEACH, CALIF.—Passport 2 Freedom, a nonprofit that helps those who have been denied their basic human rights, is hosting their first ever charity event tonight, Thursday, April 25, 2013 from 9-11 p.m. (red carpet arrivals at 8:30) at the Long Beach Art Theatre in collaboration with the Abolish Slavery Coalition.

There will be live music featuring everything from folk to hip hop, and a dance performance from the Word in Motion Dance Co.  A raffle with over $5,000 worth of prizes and a silent art auction are also part of the festivities along with free drinks and snacks.  Underground musicians, skaters, snowboarders and models are expected to be in attendance.  Havoc T.V. and local papers are covering the event.

Fifty percent of funds raised through the auction and donations will go directly to Abolish Slavery’s rescue missions where victims are transitioned out of sex trafficking.

Abolish Slavery helps prevent the spread of modern-day slavery by establishing and mentoring human trafficking task forces domestically and internationally in order to find and protect those who have fallen into slavery.

Passport 2 Freedom’s current cause is helping people in the Favela (slums) of Rio de Janeiro.  The organization plans to build a creative arts center featuring programs that teach children to read and write.

“Basic human rights are not given to these people.  The gap between the rich and the poor is the biggest in the world,” said Hanne Feller, founder of Passport 2 Freedom.  “Kids in Brazil are easy targets because they aren’t registered anywhere.  We are trying to get kids of the streets so they won’t become a target.”

The collaboration between the two organizations is a step forward in assisting victims in need.

“The effectiveness of combating human trafficking relies on partnerships because these collaborations help various organizations understand the complexity involved in the crime itself and in combating it, as these organizations themselves represent the intricate dynamics involved in human trafficking,” said Sandy Leger, Abolish Slavery Board Chairman.

The event is free of cost.  Donations are graciously accepted.  Attendees must be at least 18 years old.  RSVP via Facebook at www.facebook.com/events/130821057105611 or email p2fcontact@gmail.com.

The Long Beach Theatre is located at 2025 E. 4th St. Long Beach, CA. For more event information visit Passport2Freedom.org.  For more information on Abolish Slavery visit AbolishSlavery.org.

passport 2 freedom

The Complex Dynamics of Modern-Day Slavery: An interview with Abolish Slavery

Interview by Livier Enriquez

Human trafficking, the fastest growing illegal industry in the world, is a severely complex human rights issue.  In this revealing interview, Livi Enriquez, an Abolish Slavery intern from Chapman University, sits down with Abolish Slavery staff to uncover the intricate dynamics involved in modern-day slavery, covering angles from prevention and protection to the sickening supply and demand that drives such an atrocity.

Livi Enriquez: Sex trafficking is the fastest growing illegal industry in the world principally because it is market-driven, based on the principles of supply and demand.  Why is the demand so high in this industry?

Sandy Kikerpill Leger, Board Chairman and Co-Founder of the Abolish Slavery Coalition

Sandy Kikerpill Leger, Board Chairman and Co-Founder of the Abolish Slavery Coalition

Sandy Kikerpill-Leger, Board Chairman & Co-Founder: Globalization and the entertainment business, particularly the pornographic industry, cause the high demand for sex, fueling the illegal $32 billion per year human trafficking industry. Human trafficking is the fastest growing illegal business in the world and has already passed armed sales and is in the position to pass drug sales.  This is because the sex industry is bigger than all entertainment combined with pornography alone bringing in $100 billion per year.  Clearly, there are not enough women who are willing to go into the pornographic industry to satisfy the male demand for sex online.  Sex trafficking occurs because organized crimes groups coerce women and children into sex work because there aren’t enough women willing to do this on their own.  Sex traffickers coerce women and children through their vulnerabilities, subjugating them into prostitution.

Livi: What are some things people tend to not know about sex trafficking?

Sandy: One common myth regarding human trafficking is that people are only victims of human trafficking when transportation from one place to another occurs.  The reality is that many victims are never transported and we cannot overlook these women and children as victims of human trafficking simply because there is not travel involved with their situation.  In the United States, a large number of sex trafficking victims are domestic runaways.  Teenage girls who have trouble at home runaway and pimps prey on their vulnerable state.  In many cases, these girls aren’t moved from the general area where their predators found them, yet they are absolutely still victims of sex trafficking.  Transportation is, however, certainly often involved.  Pimps use this to control their victims, since keeping their victims in unfamiliar places means there is less opportunity for escape.

Melissa Grace Hoon, Managing Director/Case Worker: Another human trafficking myth—which is detrimental to victim identification and rescue because of its highly misleading nature—is that victims will try to find help right away or will identify themselves as a victim to authorities if arrested or rescued.  Many victims do not call or ask for help, even when they have the opportunity to do so because they are afraid of the violent, oftentimes life-threatening consequences their pimp will inflict upon them if they try to escape.  Pimps use brutal scare tactics to ensure their victims do not leave.  For example, if a victim has a child, the pimp will threaten to kill the child.  It is not uncommon for victims to have children with their pimps, as pimps use a child as leverage to either threaten or hold hostage to keep their victims from escaping.  For even the slightest discrepancy, most victims endure various beatings and even forms of torture, from slaps and punches to being pushed down flights of stairs to being beaten with an aluminum baseball bat.  Injuries sustained range from moderate harms to serious head trauma, broken ribs and internal bleeding.  This is one reason victims often don’t call for help.  Some victims don’t identify themselves as victims to authorities if arrested because they fear their fate if their pimp were to find out they confessed, and also because of the psychological affect their pimps have on them.  Pimps tell their victims they deserve their life in the “game,” or the world of sex trafficking, and that they are worthless and are nothing, that no one cares about them and never could.  Victims begin to believe this about themselves, and in thinking that they deserve their situation, they might actually think they are a prostitute and not a victim, even though they have been coerced, beaten and forced to have sex with strangers.

Livi: Helping victims doesn’t stop after they have been rescued.  What are some of the ways victims are helped during the rehabilitation period?

Melissa: The goal for rehabilitation is to bring a victim to recovery, where she can identify herself as a survivor with restored dignity and self-respect.  Getting to this point can take years and many steps are involved.  Oftentimes, following a victim’s rescue, she will reside in a transitional living home with other victims of sex trafficking.  This gives her the opportunity to have group therapy where she can learn about her situation and her own recovery by seeing and hearing about other peoples’ similar situations.  The advantage of group therapy is the mirror effect.  Many victims are in denial because they have been brainwashed by their pimp, or they suffer from dissociation where they do not yet comprehend the reality or severity of their situation.  Hearing other victims speak of their situation, feelings and progress is like looking in a mirror, where they can see what their own situation is really like, even if they do not yet realize it.  This helps immensely in their rehabilitation process because they begin to identify their problem, which ultimately assists in their harnessing of various solutions that will help on their road to recovery.  Transitional housing also typically offers in-house individual therapy, and is, of course, a safe house, striving to ensure victims’ safety from pimps and predators.  Often following transitional housing and therapy, is either vocational training or a college education.  After therapy has helped a victim become safe from falling victim to her vulnerabilities, she is a survivor and often has the strength she needs to move forward in pursuing her dreams, turning her passions into reality.  That is the purpose behind a rescue—giving a victim her right as a human being the freedom needed to realize her own destiny.

Livi: What new sex trafficking legislation has been enacted recently? How will these laws be helpful in combating the issue?

Richard Leger, Co-Founder: Proposition 35, or the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation (CASE) Act, is the most recent legislation in California, which was passed in the November election with the highest pass rate in state history.  Clearly, the people of California are against sex trafficking and are taking measures to combat it.  The law increases sentencing for traffickers, requires fines from convicted traffickers to pay for victim services, requires convicted sex traffickers to register as sex offenders, required registered sex offenders to disclose their Internet accounts and mandates law enforcement training on human trafficking, such as training to help officers better identify victims.  This law has already been helpful in combating the issue, as several Prop. 35 cases are already pending and at least several traffickers have been prosecuted under new legislation.

Livi: What are some of the main efforts made by the U.S. government in preventing sex trafficking?

Sandy: Those who are involved in fighting human trafficking, including the U.S. government at state and federal levels, work to combat it from the four Ps—prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership.  Prop. 35, for example, is helpful in combating the issue because it hits each of the four Ps—the harsh penalties work to prevent traffickers from getting involved in the crime, law enforcement training will help protect victims and prosecute traffickers, and law enforcement training and monies raised with traffickers’ fees will encourage and establish partnerships to further prevent sex trafficking, protect victims, and prosecute traffickers and johns.

Livi: Popular media tends to glamorize and romanticize the commercial sex industry without fully addressing the presence of sex trafficking. What are some of the ways to educate the public on the correlation of the two industries?

Sandy: The commercial sex industry is glamorized and romanticized largely because of the problem with men in our society.  The relationship between the glamorization of the sex industry and the problem with men has a push-pull-relationship, as the glamorization of the sex industry also reinforces the problem with men, just as the problem with men affects the sex industry.  The problem with men and the glamorization of the sex industry both create the demand for sex and forced prostitution.  “The problem with men” refers to the wolf pack mentality that is central to male bonding rites, coming of age rituals and the idea that boys will be boys.  Men are not policing themselves and are not strictly enough being policed by society.  In terms of educating the public, these issues need to be addressed on the junior high school level.  We will continue to have atrocious human rights issues in the future if we don’t address these problems now.

Livi: What can be done to better protect people from becoming victims?

Melissa: People become victims largely because they are vulnerable.  One place to start the prevention of sex trafficking is in the home.  Young girls need to be told they are beautiful and loved, otherwise they are at risk of developing the desire to either go out and find someone who will tell them they love them or will become vulnerable to believing the first person who tells them these things, even if that person is a trafficker.  Domestic runaways have a high rate of becoming victims of sex trafficking because they are often running from situations where they were abused or neglected.  As a society, we should work to educate families on the importance of the abundant presence of love in homes, illustrating the consequences of what can result from vulnerability that develops in the absence of love and the opposite of love.

Livi: What are some measures that are taken against people involved in sex trafficking?

Melissa: John schools are one of the most successful measures taken on those involved in sex trafficking.  They are schools that offenders in certain areas are required to go to as part of their sentences.  Perhaps the most effective element of these schools is when survivors tell their stories to johns, the men who purchase women and girls for sex.  Despite the fact that many prostituted girls project a demeanor that is a clear indicator that they are not in their situation by choice, many johns are unaware that the girls they buy are coerced.  When they learn of this and of what these girls endure with their pimps, such as their beatings and general terms of enslavement, they are appalled, often thinking of their own children and daughters (yes, the majority of johns in the United States have wives and children).  In most john schools, 100 percent of johns never again repeat their offense, proving the success of the measure against those who purchase sex.

Livi: What are some benefits of anti-human trafficking organizations partnering with other related groups? What is the most effective partnership in preventing sex trafficking?

Sandy: Partnership is absolutely crucial in combating sex trafficking.  No lone agency can fight such a force on its own.  Government agencies partner with law enforcement and victim services organizations in order to provide funding and to enforce legislation.  Academic institutions partner with government agencies and tech firms to provide research and establish technology that will help law enforcement track and identify sex trafficking criminals, such as the partnership with Microsoft and the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy (CCLP).  Nonprofit organizations that specialize in specific areas of combating sex trafficking work with government and law enforcement agencies around the world.  For example, Abolish Slavery specializes in the rescue of sex trafficking victims and their transition out of a life in human trafficking, and we use the skills that we develop and practice in the field to help establish human trafficking task forces and train law enforcement around the world.  The effectiveness of combating human trafficking relies on partnerships because these collaborations help various organizations understand the complexity involved in the crime itself and in combating it, as these organizations themselves represent the intricate dynamics involved in human trafficking.

‘Not Today’: Sex trafficking film raises awareness

Written by Livier Enriquez, Intern for Abolish Slavery

“None of us are free if one of us is enslaved.”

This is the tagline used for the film, Not Today, which was released April 12. The plot revolves around Caden Wells (Cody Longo), a 20-year-old from Orange County, Calif., where he is generally unaware of the suffering that people around the world endure — until he travels with friends to Hyderabad, India.

'Not Today,' released April 12, intends to raise human trafficking awareness.

‘Not Today,’ released April 12, intends to raise human trafficking awareness.

On their vacation, Caden meets Kiran (Walid Amini) and his young daughter, Annika (Persis Karen), who of the Dalit caste and are struggling to eat in the slums of India. Not understanding why Kiran can’t feed his own child, Caden refuses to help and leaves. Caden’s conscience eats at him until he goes back only to learn that Kiran had sold his daughter into child prostitution.

Determined to find Annika, Caden finds himself immersed in the world of child slavery. With the help of his girlfriend’s and family’s prayers, Caden finds the bravery to help Kiran rescue Annika.

The film was produce by Friends Media under Friends Church in Yorba Linda, Calif., and the Dalit Freedom Network, a human rights organization dedicated to combating slavery in India.

More slaves exist today than ever before with 27 million people sold, exploited and used for manual and sexual labor around the world. The International Labour Organization estimates that the illegal business of human trafficking profits over $30 billion per year.

Many Dalits, or “the untouchables,” endure exploitation everyday due to India’s caste system, which casts this particular group of human beings at the very bottom. The Dalits, whose population in India  today is at nearly 300 million, have suffered forms of oppression for over 3,000 years.

Not Today was inspired when Friends Church’s lead pastor and the film’s executive director, Matthew Cork, traveled to India in 2007. According to Cork, the making of the film faced many obstacles.

“Transporting 28 cast members to India was hard,” he said, “and just making a movie in a third world country was (a challenge).”

During production, the cast and crew excitedly anticipated the film’s completion due to its serious content that has the ability to generate much needed awareness, Cork explained.

“This is a chance to free (victims of human trafficking through) education,” Cork said.  “Your ticket in is their ticket out and 100 percent of the profit goes to freeing children and building schools.”

Not Today has won awards at multiple film festivals including, “Best Justice Film” at the Justice Film Festival and “Best Feature Narrative” at the Peace on Earth Film Festival.

The film is a reminder that ignorance is not bliss and support is needed for the sake of humanity.

Visit NotTodaytheMovie.com for locations and show times.

New York mission update from Abolish Slavery Co-Founder

Mission Update from the Abolish Slavery Coalition’s Chairman and Co-Founder:

I’d like to take a moment to bring awareness of Abolish Slavery’s current work to supporters and fellow activists of the cause against human trafficking.  We are currently on a mission in New York where we are conducting human trafficking investigations and transitioning young victims from life in modern-day slavery.  Once these young girls are transitioned, we work with them to ensure that they receive the necessary assistance and support to evolve from a victim of human trafficking to a survivor with restored dignity.  Typically, for several years following the victim’s initial transition, we provide assistance that consists of a variety of resources, including, but not limited to therapy sessions, transitional living residency, college education, vocational training and living expenses, such as rent, food and necessary home furnishing.

We have recently secured rescues in New York City, which have been successful in terms of liberating victims from pimp control.  For these rescues to see complete transition success, however, a victim needs to enter the rehabilitation process where she can reach full recovery and personally identify herself as a self-sufficient survivor.  In order for her to reach this point, necessary resources for her recovery process need to be made fully accessible, which can be made possible with gracious donations.  Considering that we have rescued girls who have already begun their rehabilitation process, the need to secure resources for them is immediate.

While recently in NYC, I was honored to work with a 20-year-old victim who Abolish Slavery had just liberated from a life of prostitution in which she had endured sexual trauma and abuse under pimp control.  We reunited her with her mother in a neighboring state where she had been abducted from.  We are committed to ensuring that this young lady receives the assistance that she needs to evolve from being a victim to becoming a survivor.  We are dedicated to seeing this rehabilitation process come full circle where she will be reintegrated back into society, living a self-sufficient life with restored dignity and purpose with freedom that allows her to realize her own destiny.

She is now seeing a psychotherapist twice a week who will help her move forward in her rehabilitation process and treat her varying symptoms that she suffers from as a result of her physical and psychological abuse and trauma she has experienced.  Following her therapy sessions, she plans to live in transitional housing for survivors of sexual trauma.  This home will offer her live-in counseling and the opportunity for healing and spiritual growth through group therapy, where she will be supported by people who have had similar experiences that will provide her with the comfort and strength she needs for her personal evolution.  She has applied to a junior college and plans to begin classes this summer following her transitional living experience.  This young lady’s choice of going to therapy sessions, residing in a transitional living home and gaining a college education will serve her profoundly on her road to a full recovery where she will blossom into a survivor of human trafficking with a newfound sense of self-worth.

It is our hope at Abolish Slavery that we secure the vital resources needed in order for victims of human trafficking to become survivors, like the young lady who we recently transitioned out of a life in sex trafficking is well on her way to doing.  With recently rescued victims already in this transition process, we need to immediately raise funds to obtain resources for these victims to move forward with their lives.  If you would like to contribute to this cause by making a donation, please contact Richard Leger, Executive Director of Abolish Slavery, at richard@abolishslavery.org.  We are eternally grateful for your fervent desire and dedication to fighting against human trafficking to help end the atrocity that is modern-day slavery.

Life After Jail: Child sex trafficking victim Sara Kruzan’s future plans

There used to be no talk of the future for Sara Kruzan. In fact, she arguably had no future at all.

That all changed when it was revealed in a Riverside Superior Court hearing Jan. 18 that Kruzan, a child sex trafficking victim who was once sentenced to life in prison, is eligible for parole this year.

“I can finally exhale. We can all finally exhale,” said Anne Rogan, Kruzan’s aunt, referring to Kruzan’s family and the innumerable human rights activists around the world lobbying for Sara’s freedom.

Child sex trafficking victim Sara Kruzan, who is serving her nineteenth consecutive year in prison for killing her pimp in 1994, is eligible for parole this year.

Child sex trafficking victim Sara Kruzan, who is serving her nineteenth consecutive year in prison for killing her pimp in 1994, is eligible for parole this year.

Kruzan, who has been incarcerated for 19 consecutive years, will likely be released from jail within a few months. Members of Kruzan’s family, including Rogan, her legal team and even Sara herself (via teleconference) were present at the hearing where it was revealed that Kruzan’s sentence has been reduced to 15 years plus four years with parole eligibility.

Kruzan was convicted of first-degree murder in 1995 for killing her pimp in Riverside, Calif., the prior year at age 16. Her pimp, George Gilbert “G.G.” Howard, had groomed Kruzan for prostitution since age 11, then raped, beat and sold her for sex starting when she was 13.

In 1995, Riverside Superior Court Judge J. Thompson Hanks sentenced Kruzan to life in prison. In 2011, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted Kruzan’s sentence to 25 years with the chance of parole. Kruzan requested a retrial last summer, which has seen several extensions and no official decision.

Kruzan’s legal team and the Riverside Court revealed that a tentative proposed settlement had been reached, which was to be disclosed in a hearing Jan. 11. The hearing was postponed to Jan. 18 where it was announced that Kruzan’s conviction has been reduced to second-degree murder, with a commuted sentence of 19 years with the chance of parole.

Since Kruzan is already serving her nineteenth year behind bars, her attorney plans to expedite her parole, which could mean Kruzan will be free in as little as a few months.

G.G.’s brother was also present at the hearing Jan. 18. Rogan said he contacted the D.A.’s office the day before the hearing, requesting to be present.  Though he voiced at the hearing that he suffered a loss with the murder of his brother, he admitted that he was not opposed to Kruzan’s settlement agreement when asked by the judge.

Kruzan’s future seems to be bright not only because of her own looming liberation, but because she plans to help set the souls of sex trafficking victims free on their rehabilitative road to becoming survivors.

“With all that Sara’s been through, she feels it’s only right to use her experience to help free other girls who have been exploited and abused under the enslavement of a pimp,” Rogan said.

Indeed, even from behind bars, Kruzan seems to live by the words of the great Nelson Mandela, who, not unlike Sara, was also sentenced to life in prison for committing infallible acts of justice: “To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Additional Sara Kruzan coverage by the Abolish Slavery Coalition:

About the Author

Melissa Grace HoonMelissa Grace Hoon is the Managing Editor for the Abolish Slavery Coalition. She is a victim advocate and a human rights journalist with a Master’s degree in American studies where she focused on slavery, gendered violence and victimization. She is a freelance reporter for the Orange County Register and volunteers with the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force.

Sara Kruzan sentence reduced; eligible for parole this year

Child sex trafficking victim Sara Kruzan's sentence has been reduced to 15 years plus four years with the chance of parole.

Child sex trafficking victim Sara Kruzan’s sentence has been reduced to 15 years plus four years with the chance of parole.

Child sex trafficking victim Sara Kruzan, who is currently serving her nineteenth year in prison, will likely be released from jail within a few months.  At a Riverside Court hearing this morning, it was revealed that Kruzan’s sentence has been reduced to 15 years plus four years and is eligible for parole this year.

Kruzan was convicted of first-degree murder in 1995 for killing her pimp in Riverside, Calif. the prior year at age 16.  Her pimp, George Gilbert “G.G.” Howard, had groomed Kruzan for prostitution since age 11, then raped, beat and sold her for sex starting when she was 13.

In 1995, Riverside Superior Court Judge J. Thompson Hanks sentenced Kruzan to life in prison.  In 2011, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted Kruzan’s sentence to 25 years with the chance of parole.  Kruzan requested a retrial last summer, which has seen several extensions and no official decision.

Kruzan’s legal team and the Riverside Court revealed that a tentative proposed settlement had been reached, which was to be disclosed in a hearing Jan. 11.  The hearing was postponed to today, where it was announced that Kruzan’s conviction has been reduced to second-degree murder, with a commuted sentence of 15 years plus four years with the chance of parole.  Since this is Kruzan’s nineteenth year in jail, it is possible that she will be released on parole in as little as a few months.

Additional Sara Kruzan coverage by the Abolish Slavery Coalition:

About the Author

Melissa Grace HoonMelissa Grace Hoon is the Managing Editor for the Abolish Slavery Coalition. She is a victim advocate and a human rights journalist with a Master’s degree in American studies where she focused on slavery, gendered violence and victimization. She is a freelance reporter for the Orange County Register and volunteers with the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force.

Breaking News: Sara Kruzan hearing postponed

Six members of child sex trafficking victim Sara Jessimy Kruzan’s family and legal team waited anxiously outside a Riverside County courtroom today for Kruzan’s scheduled 8:30 a.m. hearing where Judge Gary Tranbarger was to reveal the terms of her settlement. But no hearing took place and no settlement was disclosed.

Child sex trafficking victim Sara Kruzan, now 35, was sentenced to life in prison in 1995 for killing her pimp who had beaten, raped and prostituted her since she was 11 years old. She is currently serving her eighteenth consecutive year in prison.

Child sex trafficking victim Sara Kruzan, now 35, was sentenced to life in prison in 1995 for killing her pimp who had beaten, raped and prostituted her since she was 11 years old. She is currently serving her nineteenth consecutive year in prison.

After waiting at least an hour past the hearing’s scheduled start time, Kruzan’s team was informed by a court deputy that her hearing has been postponed until Jan. 18. Kruzan’s attorney disclosed outside court this morning that the settlement expected to be revealed next week does not include a retrial.

Kruzan, who was convicted of first-degree murder of her pimp in 1995, requested a retrial last summer that would cite battered-partner defense. She has only received news of several extensions regarding Riverside District Attorney Paul Zellerbach’s decision concerning her request. In 1995, Riverside Superior Judge J. Thompson Hanks sentenced Kruzan to life in prison without parole. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted her term to 25 years with the chance of parole in 2011.

The proposed tentative settlement has been agreed upon by Kruzan and her legal team and the Riverside Court. Kruzan will be present during her hearing next week via teleconference from Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla where she is currently serving her nineteenth consecutive year in jail. The settlement will either include a reduced prison sentence or the sentence will remain the same, said Kruzan’s aunt, Anne Rogan, who was present at the courthouse this morning. But Rogan believes the settlement will reveal “good news” since Kruzan has been requested to be present, albeit remotely, at her hearing. It is also possible that Kruzan be allowed to plea a lesser charge.

Additional Sara Kruzan coverage by the Abolish Slavery Coalition:

About the Author

Melissa Grace HoonMelissa Grace Hoon is the Managing Editor for the Abolish Slavery Coalition. She is a victim advocate and a human rights journalist with a Master’s degree in American studies where she focused on slavery, gendered violence and victimization. She is a freelance reporter for the Orange County Register and volunteers with the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force.