Things That Matter

She Spent 37 Years As A Sex Slave And Is Now Fighting To Free All People From That Life

This past week was the week that the world brought attention to an issue that affects an estimated 40.3 million people around the globe, human trafficking. For Uruguayan Sandra Ferrini, 58, it was exposing a past that had followed her for most of her entire life. Ferrini was “sold” by her mother as a teenager into the world of street prostitution and after 37 years on the city streets of Chile, Paraguay, Argentina and in Europe, her story is now ready to be told. 

According to a report from the International Labour Organization, there are around 5.4 victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the world, with 1 in 4 victims being children. 

Credit: @imrebeccabender / Twitter

On Tuesday, Uruguay participated in its first anti-human trafficking march, with Ferrini joining countless of others who like her had to endure sex trafficking for years. Campaigners took to the streets of Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, where in the country of 3.5 million people, the most common form of human trafficking involves women and girls where they are forced into sex work.

For Ferrnini, the march was something that was on her mind all the years she had no voice on the issue and couldn’t speak up about the horrendous conditions she was placed in. She says many people choose to ignore the issue or just not address it all together.

“It’s a march that I thought about when I was held captive,” Ferrini told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Human trafficking happens every day, but people don’t want to see it. We are seen as numbers. We want to be seen as people. We will march as people.”

The details of Ferrnini past experience is just one example of the countless lives that face these situations on a daily basis. She says that she was sexually exploited for 37 years and was even forced to have sex with up to 30 men a day.

“I am a survivor of trafficking. It was my mother who sold me at the beginning,” Ferrini told Subrayado. “I was able to get rid at 45 because I had a traffic accident in which I was paralyzed. They were going to kill me, they threw me in a field, and a person rescued me.”

Human trafficking remains a global issue and the United Nations has set out to bring awareness and combat this growing issue. 

Credit: @peacerec1 / Twitter

Uruguay is one of the biggest epicenters when it comes to human trafficking. According to the U.S. State Department’s 2019 Trafficking in Persons report, Uruguay was placed in its Tier 2 Watch List, which is the second-lowest ranking. This was done as the country has not meet many of the minimum standards when it comes to efforts in eliminating human trafficking.

“Most detected victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation; victims are also trafficked for forced labor, recruitment as child soldiers and other forms of exploitation and abuse,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told the United Nations on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. “Thousands of people have died at sea, in deserts and in detention centres, at the hands of traffickers and migrant smugglers plying their monstrous, merciless trades.”

For Uruguay, this is hopefully just the start of acknowledging and bringing to light the global issue of human trafficking. 

Credit: @sabre_comp / Twitter

There has been some progress in recent years when it comes to decreasing the number of sex trafficking victims. In 2017, Uruguay’s National Institute for Women assisted 172 women trafficking victims which was an increase from the previous year at 131, the U.S. State Department said.

There has also been legislative work put in place as last year Uruguay updated its anti-human trafficking law and action plan. The country also just recently created a new national committee to help combat it’s anti-trafficking efforts. 

Ferrini now also heads “Yes to Life, No to Trafficking,” a survivors support group. It’s these types of groups and organizations that play a big role in getting women off the streets and rebuilding their lives and most importantly, rebuilding their broken self-esteem. 

“I naturalized this as a child – for me it was something that I thought I had to live,” Ferrini said. “There’s a lot of work to do in education, training and prevention.”

READ: A City Is On Edge After One Of The World’s Most Wanted Men Escapes From A Prison In Central Uruguay

Prosecutors Have Launched An Investigation On The White Couple Pointing Guns At St. Louis Protesters

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Prosecutors Have Launched An Investigation On The White Couple Pointing Guns At St. Louis Protesters

@xshularx/ Twitter

Update: A Change.Org petition is asking for the McCloskeys to be disbarred after pointing guns at protesters. The scene from a BLM protest has become a visual representation of the racial tensions in the U.S. as the white couple aimed weapons at people of color peacefully protesting.

The McCloskeys neighbors have released an open letter denouncing them and their actions.

“Some of us choose to speak up following horrific events that transpired on Sunday evening near our homes,” reads the letter denouncing the horrific actions of the couple. “As the undersigned, we condemn the behavior of anyone who uses threats of violence, especially through the brandishing of firearms, to disrupt peaceful protest, whether it be in this neighborhood or anywhere in the United States.”

There is also a growing petition to have the two disbarred.

A quick online search shows that the McCloskeys have taken down their law firm’s website. It hasn’t made people forget that they are attorneys and broke Missouri law when aiming the firearms are protesters.

“The look in her eyes speaks volumes,” reads the Change.Org petition. “They need to be held accountable. Brandishing a weapon with intent (as clearly displayed in this photo) is a criminal offense when you are not in direct danger.”

Updated June 30, 2020.

Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner confirmed earlier this week that her office is collaborating with the police to investigate recent incident which saw a white couple waving guns at protestors over the weekend.

The middle-aged white couple became the fun, new, and trending Twitter hashtag on Sunday after they had been spotted wielding guns at protesters outside their home in St. Louis. Soon after the images of them began circulating Twitter dubbed them “Ken and Karen” and the stars of the “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” remake no one asked for. The incident occurred as protesters marched their way towards the home of Mayor Lyda Krewson.

The protesters demanded her resignation after she went public with the names and addresses of activists in a Facebook Live video on Friday.

Video of the incident, which took place on Sunday, shows the couple waving their guns outside their mansion.

The couple in the video, who appears to be dressed in their very bland versions of their Sunday best’s: a pink polo and khaki pants paired with an assault rifle for him and a striped T-shirt and capris with a handgun for her, have been identified by police as Mark McCloskey, 63 years old, and Patricia McCloskey, 61 years-old.

The pair can be seen screaming and shouting at protesters while pointing their guns at them. According to reports, the woman can be seen holding her finger on the trigger.

BuzzFeed reports that the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department identified the couple as victims in their police report. The statement asserts that the couple contacted police “when they heard a loud commotion coming from the street” and “observed a large group of subjects forcefully break an iron gate marked with ‘No Trespassing’ and ‘Private Street’ signs.”

In the report made to the police, the couple claimed protesters were “yelling obscenities and threats of harm to both victims” and that they took out their guns once they saw “multiple subjects who were armed.” Police did not say confirm the couple’s claim or indicate that there was evidence to prove protesters threatened or aimed guns at the couple.

The incident is a reminder of Missouri’s loose gun laws that permit the carrying of concealed weapons without background checks or permits.

The protests sparked after Krewson appeared in a now-deleted Facebook Live video on Friday.

In the video Krewson declared that she would not support = rising calls to defund the police. She also reportedly shared activists’ full names and addresses while reading off suggestions on how to better spend the city’s funds. After users ridiculed her online, Krewson apologized for her actions saying “Never did I intend to harm anyone or cause distress,” Krewson tweeted. “The update is removed and again, I apologize.”

In response to her decision to out activist and put them in harm’s way, local leaders and organizations called for her to resign. Over 45,000 people signed a Change.org petition demanding her resignation condemning her as “a risk for the safety and well being of the general St. Louis population.”

In a statement about the incident, Gardner asserted the right to peacefully protest.

“I am alarmed at the events that occurred over the weekend, where peaceful protesters were met by guns and a violent assault,” Gardner said in a statement. “We must protect the right to peacefully protest, and any attempt to chill it through intimidation or threat of deadly force will not be tolerated.”

Albert Watkins, the McCloskeys’ attorney, told USA TODAY in an interview that the circuit attorney is not “possessed of the legal wherewithal to understand some of these fundamental tenets.” He went onto lambast the notion that his clients acted unlawfully calling the suggestion “one which would demonstrate unequivocally the wholesale absence of appreciation for longstanding law in the state of Missouri.”

In an odd twist, Watkins has also asserted that the McCloskeys are actually lawyers who have worked on civil rights cases and are supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement. Speaking about their actions on Sunday, Watkins said that their decision to bring out their guns was sparked by “abject fear of imminent harm” but they were not race-related.

Big Brands Drop Ads From Facebook To Demand The Platform To Join Fight Against Hate Speech

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Big Brands Drop Ads From Facebook To Demand The Platform To Join Fight Against Hate Speech

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Update June 29, 2020: The boycott on Facebook ads is growing faster than ever and reaching a global level. The growing demand for Facebook to target and handle hate speech and extremism on its platform has led to a far-reaching boycott of ads on the social media site.

The boycott of Facebook ads is going global.

Since the boycott was announced earlier this month, 160 companies have joined the #StopHateforProfit boycott targeting Facebook. Two major companies, Coca-Cola and Starbucks, say they are not part of the boycott. However, the two companies have announced that they will be pausing all ads on social media platforms for the month of July.

Starbucks is not officially part of the #StopHateforProfit movement but the decision is being praised by advocates.

The boycott is having a very real impact on Facebook’s business. Facebook stock lost more than $60 billion in value as more and more businesses cut advertising ties with the social media platform. The 9 percent drop in Facebook’s market prices prompted Facebook executives to begin tweaking some policies to go after hate speech.

Original: Facebook is in trouble as several major brands pull their ads from the social media platform. The coordinated move from the brands was in response to Facebook’s intentional inaction in curbing hate speech on the platform.

Facebook is facing financial troubles as major brands pull ads over the platform’s stance on hate speech.

The NAACP teamed up with other organizations to create the Stop Hate for Profit campaign. The campaign is aimed at Facebook and is calling on brands to separate from the social media platform for at least one month, July. The point of the campaign is to call out Facebook for their willingness to profit off of organizations that disseminate and amplify white nationalist rhetoric. Some of the rhetoric has been racist, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, and violent in nature.

“For five years, Color Of Change has called on Facebook to do the right thing and make their platform safer for the millions of Black people that use it,” reads a statement on the Color Of Change website. “From the monetization of hate speech to discrimination in their algorithms to the proliferation of voter suppression to the silencing of Black voices, Facebook has refused to take responsibility for hate, bias, and discrimination growing on their platforms.”

Brands are responding and pulling their ads from Facebook.

Recently, Verizon and Unilever joined the growing list of businesses pulling ads to stand up to Facebook’s monetization of hate speech. People have been demanding that Facebook do something to control the hate speech that has incited violence in recent years. Yet, Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, refuses to curb the violent speech on the platform.

The Anti-Defamation League laid out the reasons they are calling for the boycott.

The ADL is calling on brands to drop Facebook ads to combat what is considered as a long history of amplifying hate speech. According to the league, the social media platform routinely recommends extremist pages to users, created a loophole to allow for climate change deniers to push anti-science conspriacy theories further, and, in one example, Facebook refused to take down Holocaust denial content.

The social media platform has long been criticized for allowing misinformation to manipulate elections around the world.

Cambridge Analytica is one of the most famous cases of this happening. In the Netflix documentary “The Great Hack,” dives deep into how the firm was able to use Facebook to spread intentional misinformation to sway elections around the world. People who worked for the tech firm testified that they were able to use Facebook to target individuals who could be swayed with false information to illicit a vote for their client. It happened in several countries, including the U.S. in the 2016 elections and the U.K. during the Brexit vote.

Facebook has so far decided to remain defiant in the face of calls to do better.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook is not going to be changing their policies. Instead, the company is going to keep pushing forward with its current strategy of monetizing and helping to spread the extremist and dangerous rhetoric.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Carolyn Everson, the vice president of Global Business Group at Facebook, said, “We do not make policy changes tied to revenue pressure.” She continued: “We set our policies based on principles rather than business interests.”

READ: ICE Is Using Fake Facebook Accounts To Entrap Migrants Even Though Facebook Has Warned The Government To Stop