For Immediate Release
February 14, 2014
AF3IRM | National Communications Director
(323) 813-4272 | [email protected]
NATIONAL – 2014 marks the fifteenth anniversary of the Purple Rose Campaign. For fifteen years, we, the women of AF3IRM and previously of GABRIELA Network, have waged the Purple Rose Campaign Against the Trafficking of Women and Children. For fifteen years, we have engaged in speaking out and advocating for labor and sex trafficked women; we have lobbied for the passage of the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act and pushed for protections for mail-order brides; we have called out the perpetrators who hide behind nebulous regulations and lax borders and officials who turn a blind eye. For fifteen years, we have stood firm in this war against trafficking and we salute all those who have stood with us.
As we celebrate this milestone, we renew our resolve and push forward as the Purple Rose Campaign evolves to encompass sex trafficking and mail order brides into a nationally-coordinated campaign against sexual violence towards and commodification of transnational / women of color. The endemic and problematic commodification and fetishization of women’s bodies is not just about trafficking – it is about prostitution, it is about pornography, it is about the racist, sexist, and misogynist views that people normalize and spit out as easy as their breath. This is about rejecting sexual violence, sexual exploitation, so-called sexual agency and rape culture. It is about remembering our collective histories and the over 500 years of colonization and imperialism that have oppressed transnational and women of color and claimed their bodies for control and profit.
AF3IRM wages the Purple Rose Campaign – across borders and oceans, but also within our own borders, homes, and lives. We say no to the buying and selling of women’s bodies, to the derogation of our image, to the hypersexualization of our flesh. We will NOT be your exotic. We women will NOT be your fetish. We will NOT be your purple rose.
We have also begun taking a harder look at our own communities. Across the country, the women of AF3IRM have engaged in trainings and started social investigations in their local cities and neighborhoods to identify sex trafficking. The U.S. is one of the top three destinations for trafficking and we recognize that immigrant women and women of color are especially in danger. But we also know that trafficking is not just an international problem, but a local one – out of almost 1,200 victims who were rescued in 2012, over 70% were U.S. born. No longer will we stomach standing idly by wondering if that business is a front for trafficking or if those women and children on the street are being pimped out. Across the country, our Social Investigation teams are discovering very young girls on the streets of International Blvd in Oakland, on Figueroa in Los Angeles, on El Cajon in San Diego, in Brooklyn, NY, in New Jersey, and on Kuhio Avenue in Waikiki, Honolulu. We have discovered fronts for trafficking at hotels, massage parlors, and Vietnamese coffee shops, all serving to a male clientele. We take a stance against the heavy influence of law enforcement in mainstream anti-trafficking taskforces. We reject the militaristic claim that “arrest is the first step in the healing process” for trafficked women and children. We know justice will only come through our own self-determination, not the state.
Our work internationally also reflects our commitment to the new tenets of the Purple Rose Campaign. In our joint project with NAPIESV, we have already begun work towards justice, not charity for women and children in post-Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan Philippines. We are partnering with local communities and organizations to develop trainings and gather resources to provide sexual violence relief for women and children, to identify and stop trafficking, as well as to address reproductive justice and livelihood needs. We are doing skills-sharing across borders and working to put the control of resources back into their hands so that these women, their children and their communities can live their lives with dignity and they can determine how they want to rebuild their lives. A national speaking tour with AF3IRM representatives Jollene Levid and Ninotchka Rosca has already begun as they report-back on areas in the Philippines devastated by Typhoon Yolanda and militarism and share the stories of the women they met. As Jollene Levid asserted in the Los Angeles session, “We stand here today to say that we third world peoples, we brown, poor, exploited, the youth, and especially the women are not passive nor are we victims. We have never, ever been. We are survivors, we are warriors. We are not only rebuilding lives – we are preparing to actively fight the next catastrophe. This work goes beyond solidarity – this is what transnational feminism looks like.”
AF3IRM chooses to engage in transnational feminist social investigation, from coast to coast, and across the Pacific, and just like these issues and problems have no borders, we too continually cross and transcend them as we work towards social change. The Purple Rose Campaign compels us to fight back on all fronts – whether it is against songs and other cultural products, or if it is actively engaging and building with women in our own communities and abroad. We urge people to reject the imperialist and capitalist machinations that support the trafficking, pimping, and fetishization of women worldwide. We call on all women to organize with us and to move beyond solidarity towards direct action in these fights for social justice and revolution.
Onward to more victories in the Purple Rose Campaign!
Onward to the liberation of women everywhere!
Support the Purple Rose Campaign and our transnational projects with NAPIESV by saying no to the commodification of women’s bodies and donating to AF3IRM. Visit www.af3irm.org/donate.