To all those who fight for a feminist future, free of trafficking, sexual violence, and exploitation:
Today on Purple Rose Day, AF3IRM dedicates our yearly re-commitment to combat the trafficking of women and children’s bodies through its Purple Rose Campaign, to you. We offer up purples roses – an image central to this campaign, with the flower, artificially bred for profit, used as a symbol of the commodification and trafficking of women and children’s bodies – to remind all to remain strong in this struggle for change and genuine liberation.
AF3IRM women come from colonial and imperialist legacies of sexual violence, sex tourism, institutionalized military brothels on bases, and the sex trade. To heteropatriarchy, capitalist exploitation, and global fascism, our lives and our bodies have always been fair game. Yet, even as we battle our living and ancestral traumas, we are sisters that believe we can build a better future for the generations to come. For two decades, AF3IRM chapters and membership have demonstrated the need for the Purple Rose Campaign, from helping to pass the International Marriage Brokerage Act; to supporting the stories of the thousands of Philippine, Korean, Chinese, and other women from occupied countries who were sexually enslaved by the Japanese military during World War II; from launching Survivors Not Criminals to hold officials accountable for not criminalizing trafficking victims; and to speaking out about who actually profits from buying and selling of sex, like the owners of Backpage.com.
In the 20 years of the Purple Rose Campaign, we have witnessed changing rhetoric and discussions around trafficking, but these are just masks for the decades-old protection of the oldest form of sex-based oppression. Even today we see: trafficking used to justify xenophobic policies by misogynist sexual predators leading the US government; the neoliberal conflation of ‘women’s liberation’ with buying and selling women’s bodies in the marketplace; lobbyists fighting against efforts to end trafficking in the name of worker politics. It is clear that the Purple Rose Campaign is needed now more than ever because no matter how it is spun, the buying and selling of female and feminized bodies will always be violence. Our liberation will never be won if we are not free from violence and exploitation, especially from the institutionalized global access to the bodies of transnational, women of color.
Indeed, in the same way that we denounce and push to hold accountable sexual abusers and assaulters, from #MeToo to #MuteRKelly and #CancelKavanaugh, and the latest with Virginia’s Justin Fairfax, we must and can do better than just saying that trafficking is wrong, that sexual abuse and assault must end. Our liberation is duty-bound to the most vulnerable among us—as women of color, girls of color, and queer & trans people of color are the most impacted by transactional sex. We will never be free while 20.9 million are bought and sold worldwide, while women and girls comprise 98% of those trafficked for sexual exploitation. We must speak out against transactional sex, particularly the buying and selling of women and children of color’s bodies. We must draw the links to how porn too often preys on and normalizes non-consensual sex, sexual violence, and power inequalities. We must support the decriminalization and exits of those bought and sold, while holding accountable those who buy and profit off of those sold. We must expose how our “justice” system leaves women and girls of color vulnerable, like Cyntoia Brown and Alexis Martin, to be trafficked and repeatedly criminalized, how it ignores the disappeared native, black, and immigrant women and girls at our borders, in man camps, in our communities. We will continue to fight for our bodily autonomy, our safety, our right to live free of sexploitation and violence in all its forms.
On Purple Rose Day this year AF3IRM members from across the country will bring purple roses out into their local communities, raising awareness of the urgency of this work in ending the trafficking of women and children and gender-based violence. On February 16th, the Bay Area chapter will also co-host a screening of Cyntoia Brown’s documentary, “Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story“ with Omega Phi Beta. Our commitment to the Purple Rose Campaign will continue throughout the year, tied to our major events, activities, and campaigns, including those planned for International Women’s Day. Stay up-to-date with our efforts and learn more about our campaign history on our website at www.af3irm.org.
#PurpleRoseDay #PurpleRoseCampaign #EndSexBuying #EndSexploitation