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Monday, January 18, 2016

LETTER TO REP. MIKE HONDA - AUTHOR OF H.R. 500

Dear Mr. Honda:

I see you're the sponsor of H.R. 500 asking to put together a board of survivors to advise on federal policy. Might I introduce myself? I'm the founder of the modern day sex trafficking movement itself. This can be verified by news clips that I have copies of up at www.hightechmadam.com

I was dubbed that after opening the first safe house for adult sex trafficking victims in the early 1980's when our society didn't believe we were victims. We were viewed as criminals and disease carriers and blocked from even being able to run from our traffickers to homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, and even refused to be admitted to drug treatment or even the ER. I know because I took one victim who had been stabbed 51 times by two pimps who were later dubbed the Hillside Strangler to the ER and they refused to admit her. I had to threaten legal action just to get her stitched up because no one wanted to touch the "whore".

After putting a woman whose pimp had broken her arm and nose in the warehouse, he got angry and called the police to report I was "running a brothel". They arrested me and the media mistook my security for "high tech" equipment thus my nick name. She testified against the pimp and the charges against me were dropped. So clearly I needed to do something different.

I went to Edwin Meese who was the California Attorney General at that time who informed me that we would never stop arresting prostitutes as criminals in this country but that I could set up a 12 step program that would offer the courts an "alternative to sentencing" in cases where the law called for a mandatory jail term. So I launched the hotline, the first one for adult victims in this country, the 12 step program, and also the first official alternative sentencing program for victims in Los Angeles in 1987. I also started going on TV with victims we had saved telling their stories for thirteen years until we saw the passing of the Trafficking Act of 2000. That act was written by many Attorney General's who wanted to see us treated as victims by our legal system instead of the criminals across the board as we had been prior in the 70's and 80's and even 90's.

I see the people who want to be on this board are quite substantial recipients of federal grant money so they would have a stake in advising on federal policy. I'd like to point out that no one in these groups was helping us before we achieved federal recognition making grants available. I know as I spent over $400,000 of my own money, and worked three jobs to pay for our hotline and program because there were no such things as federal grants before 2000. Those of us who have no financial stake in the issue have a very different viewpoint on what's needed right now in this movement also.

And money isn't is. Every area right now where I'm seeing money being poured into so called "helping" these victims - I can't get anyone on the phone to help me with these victims. You know why? They've told me that by saying they don't have enough resources and therefore "can't" help us that they then get more money next grant cycle that's why.

Mr. Honda - I'm not only a person who can document in black and white I'm a survivor (unlike a Samoly Mam), I'm the founder of this movement, and I've been at this work without using this as a platform to advance my career, or even apply for one grant or hold one fund raiser. I still hold no paid position in this field. Never have and never will.

But people using this field as a way to make money are now trying to get ahold of control over this field any way they can. When the ACLU won the lawsuit against the Catholic Bishops - it was because they were using their checkbook to control this field and the victims. Now this committee is ripe to take over control financially another way because that's what people were telling me before when the Catholics were in charge - was that they didn't want to risk their paychecks.

The focus has to be back on the victims - not the grants or money. So I'm asking you please Mr. Hondo to incorporate into H.R. 500 that the survivor board have no financial stake in their advisement on federal policy.

Jody Williams
www.sexworkersanonymous.com
(702) 468-4529 Telephone

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