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The story of our CEO, Shamere McKenzie, is featured in a documentary produced on the island of Aruba by The Switch Foundation.

SYNOPSIS OF DOCUMENTARY ‘FALSE PROMISE ‘:
The story of Shamere inspired the Switch Foundation team and that is why we wanted to multiply the message through False Promise, an experimental documentary adapted in Aruba with aspiring and amateur actors, designed to prevent the sexual exploitation and abuse of our girls by networks. traffickers and labor exploitation in men and boys dramatizing through artistic expressions the tactics most used by traffickers to attract victims to this dark business.

False Promise, original name in Papiamento, is a call to action. A testimony of survival and a gift of love dedicated to our island Aruba, to the countries of the world and to the vulnerable communities of human trafficking.

The courage and testimony of a young woman can change the world and prevent victims of false promises. Shamere Mckenzie was a victim of sexual exploitation. Now she has become an activist and an expert in Human Trafficking issues. She has taken her experience to universities, conferences, community events, state agencies, private companies and NGOs; to raise awareness, prevent and train people on how to identify situations that may end in exploitation and abuse of human rights.

The goal is to carry a message of prevention and detection to all children, youth and parents through the distribution of documentary in schools in the Caribbean and Latin America, and digital channels with the support of all the world organizations and people who are fighting for the same cause.

A huge thank you to Switch Foundation, Aruba, Paula Nahr the founder of the Switch Foundation and Producer of the documentary for using her platform to share this message.

Thanks to Directors Rafael Barragán and Joshua Verschuur, Director of Photography Ronney Dotel, Art Director Jhon Freddy Tobón Montoya and acting coach Gloria Bryce, for achieving and executing the visual concept with excellence.

What an amazing performance and acting by Gena Ramirez Boom who played Shamere and delivered a clear message.

THANKS TO ALL OF YOU. Feel free to share and let us know your thoughts.

Click Here to watch the documentary False Promises

 

 

Our CEO, Shamere McKenzie’s story was featured as part of Robin Roberts of ABC’s Good Morning America Thriver Series. Click here to watch the video.

Human Trafficking Month 2019January is declared the National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Join Sun Gate Foundation in our Freedom For Survivors campaign where we will highlight survivor leaders from around the country who will answer the question: What Does Freedom Mean to You? This campaign was inspired by Juliana Semione.

Juliana is a research associate in the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham and the program developer for The Salvation Army U.K.’s modern slavery unit. In addition, Juliana is pursuing her PhD at the University of Nottingham. Her doctoral thesis centers on the question, “What is freedom from modern slavery?” Juliana’s aim is that the anti-slavery field can unite around an understanding of freedom for the good of survivors just as it has united around an understanding of modern slavery for the good of those who are victimized or vulnerable.

Further, she believes that a shared conception of freedom will raise the standard of support for survivors and increase accountability among those who provide it.

Before relocating to the U.K., Juliana worked with the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force in California. She earned her BA from Biola University and holds an MA in global ethics and human values from King’s College London. She is also an Associate of King’s College London.

When our CEO, Shamere McKenzie, met Juliana in 2018 in the UK and learned of her thesis, she immediately connected with her. Shamere feels far too often freedom is defined for survivors and many don’t fully understand freedom for someone who has escaped the atrocity we know as human trafficking.

Join us for the month of January as we hear from survivors on what freedom means to them. #freedomforsurvivors

 

Abstract
“Survivors of prostitution propose a policy reform platform including three main pillars of priority: criminal justice reforms, fair employment, and standards of care. The sexual exploitation of prostituted individuals has lasting effects which can carry over into many aspects of life. In order to remedy these effects and give survivors the opportunity to live a full and free life, we must use a survivor-centered approach to each of these pillars to create change. First, reform is necessary in the criminal justice system to recognize survivors as victims of crime and not perpetrators, while holding those who exploited them fully responsible. Second, reform is necessary to assist survivors in finding fair employment by offering vocational training, financial counseling, and educational scholarships, as well as offering employment opportunities that utilize survivors’ vast array of skills and interests. Finally, standards of care for survivors exiting prostitution should focus on supporting survivors in our journeys and support short- and long-term resources that empower us. These systemic changes are necessary to recognize survivors as the valuable human beings we are and to support survivors in fulfilling our vast potential.” Read More at Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and Violence: Vol. 3: Iss. 3, Article 10. 

 

On July 25-26, 2018, the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP) hosted the first form of its kind to be convened in the Caribbean – “The Hard Road to Recovery: From Victim to Survivor”. The inaugural international conference was held at the Melia Braco Village Hotel in Trelawny, Jamaica.

The main objectives of the conference were to:

  • Increase public awareness to discourage these activities and to warn those who are unaware.
  • Train officials throughout the public and private sectors on identifying victims of trafficking.
  • Build capacities through legislation and institutional strengthening.

“The opening ceremony included the sashing of the island’s first-ever Human Trafficking Ambassadors, Miss Jamaica World 2017, Solange Sinclair, and Founder of The Sun Gate Foundation and human trafficking survivor, Shamere McKenzie, who also delivered the keynote address.”

“There can be no more powerful voice than that of a person who has survived and who has recovered to speak to the challenges faced by victims of trafficking on their journey to recovery from the pain and trauma they have experienced. She is one of two ambassadors who have agreed to lend their public image and voice to Jamaica’s national effort to fight against human trafficking.” Carol Palmer, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice.
“It is such an honor to serve my country in this capacity. Over the years I have been making strides in the US to combat the issue of human trafficking but deep down I wanted to be involved in my birth country. I have laced up my boot strings, put on my boxing gloves and is ready to join efforts with the NATFATIP and others in Jamaica fighting trafficking.” Shamere McKenzie

Other speakers and presenters include:

  • Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, MP – Minister of National Security
  • Mrs. Carol Palmer, CD, JP, – Chair, NATFATIP
  • Her Excellency Ms. Magorzata Wasilewska – Head of the European Union Delegation to Jamaica
  • Her Excellency Ms. Laurie Peters – Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica
  • Mr. Mark Seibel – Deputy Chief of Mission, United States Embassy
  • Speakers from Romania, New York, Interpol and others
Left to right: CEO of Sun Gate Foundation, Shamere McKenzie; Ms Jamaica World 2017,, Solange Sinclair; Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Justice and Chair of NATFATIP, Carol Palmer

Left to right: CEO of Sun Gate Foundation, Shamere McKenzie; Ms Jamaica World 2017,, Solange Sinclair; Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Justice and Chair of NATFATIP, Carol Palmer

 

 

Click here to watch our CEO, Shamere McKenzie as she shares her story with NBC 4 news.

“North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein on Thursday said the state is working with several partners to help combat human trafficking.

In a news conference at the Salvation Army of Wake County, Stein said his office, along with partners like Project Fight, one of the leaders in the state at fighting human trafficking, are working to better train and equip the public to help.”

Click Here to read the full story and see video of our CEO, Shamere McKenzie

On November 4, 2017, our C.E.O. , Shamere McKenzie, received the Hero Award. The award was presented by Unlikely Heroes organization in recognition of unwavering commitment to protect the vulnerable, stop human trafficking and further the cause of human rights worldwide.
The other hero recipients include actor, Francia Raisa; Dallas Police Sergeant, Byron Fassett and Director of Therapy for The Refuge Toni McKinley.

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The Alliance to End Slavery & Trafficking (ATEST) wrote the following statement on Executive Order on “Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking”.

ATEST is a U.S.­-based coalition that advocates for solutions to prevent and end all forms of human trafficking and modern slavery around the world. ATEST member organizations include: Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), ECPAT­USA, Free the Slaves, Futures Without Violence (FUTURES), International Justice Mission, National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), National Network for Youth (NN4Y), Polaris, Safe Horizon, Solidarity Center, Verité, and Vital Voices Global Partnership. ATEST is a project of Humanity United Action.

While the executive order on “Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking” rightfully recognizes human trafficking as a serious crime, it falls short of the comprehensive approach needed to end modern forms of slavery. A strong law enforcement response is a critical and necessary component of combating human trafficking; however, the framing of this order represents a significant departure from a long-standing victim-centered approach that is critical to successfully eradicating human trafficking and that is enshrined in existing law. For nearly two decades, the U.S. has implemented a strategy centered around protection of victims, prevention of the conditions that allow trafficking to flourish, prosecution of perpetrators, and partnership with civil society and the private sector. By only focusing on human trafficking from a law enforcement perspective, the executive order undermines this proven approach and jeopardizes U.S. leadership on combating this horrific crime.

The Alliance to End Slavery & Trafficking (ATEST) has long advocated for the highest prioritization of concerted, strategic action to eradicate human trafficking. We believe human trafficking represents a fundamental threat to American communities, jobs, security, and values. By fighting traffickers who operate locally and also those who operate transnationally, law enforcement plays a crucial role in alleviating the threat of human trafficking — but they cannot conquer this threat alone. The efficacy of law enforcement’s efforts is directly tied to whether they adopt a victim-centered approach, and focus on addressing root causes of vulnerability to trafficking.

The U.S. has until now leveraged the full might and range of U.S. foreign policy, from diplomacy and trade policy to foreign assistance and multilateral engagement, to make a significant impact on human trafficking around the world. However, human trafficking is not only a transnational crime, it is a domestic one. U.S. efforts must address all forms of human trafficking. Trafficking victims are children, women, and men—U.S. citizens and foreign nationals—who are exploited for both sex and labor. Trafficking victims come from urban and rural communities. They are both undocumented and documented immigrant workers. They are not only victimized overseas, but also throughout the United States.

The United States must address this crime in all its forms. To do so, there are a number of areas that it must give significant consideration:

  • Tackling root causes must underlie any strategy for ending human trafficking. The executive order is silent on strategies to prevent human trafficking by reducing vulnerabilities to this horrific human rights abuse in the United States and around the world.
  • Comprehensive services to protect human trafficking victims must be a core component of any anti-trafficking initiative. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 laid out this approach acknowledging that without cooperating and stable victim-witnesses, effective prosecution of human trafficking is impossible.
  • While ATEST supports better data collection to maximize U.S. investments, the safety and security of victims, witnesses, and their family members must be paramount. The implementation of the executive order must not violate the privacy or risk the safety of any victims, witnesses, or their family members.
  • Traffickers often use immigration status as a tool of coercion to exploit immigrant communities, both documented and undocumented. Local enforcement of immigration law, as mandated under the executive order for “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements,” will irreparably damage law enforcement’s ability to identify, investigate and prosecute traffickers. Both executive orders will result in an imbalanced approach that is likely to exacerbate immigrants’ vulnerabilities and assist traffickers preying on these communities.
  • Traffickers exploit weak law enforcement regimes and abuse legal structures and institutions, and they target the most vulnerable in society. This often includes runaway and homeless youth; foster youth; the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) community; Native Americans; Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders; migrant workers; youth of color; children; low literacy or numeracy individuals; and those with disabilities. The executive order is silent on the need to reach vulnerable communities.
  • Promoting corporate accountability is critical to disrupting and dismantling transnational criminal networks of human traffickers. The executive order is silent on whether the administration intends to focus on the escalating risks of forced labor and human trafficking in global supply chains.
  • Human trafficking requires a whole of government approach. The executive order is silent on existing interagency frameworks to combat human trafficking, including the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF) and the Senior Policy Operating Group (SPOG). These platforms engage critical agencies like the Department of Treasury that tracks financial crimes, the Department of Health and Human Services that provides support for victim services, and the Department of Labor that protects workers.
  • The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) implements the U.S.’ obligations under the Palermo Protocol. The executive order is silent on the TVPA and on our international legal obligations to protect victims and address root causes.

We can all agree that human trafficking is a serious crime and needs to be prioritized by the federal government. To be successful in stopping it, the administration should adopt a more comprehensive and victim-centered approach to combating this horrific human rights abuse and crime. The U.S. government can bring freedom, empowerment, and justice to millions of people around the world. ATEST’s new report “A Presidential Agenda for Abolishing Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking” is an urgent call for the new administration to undertake a deliberate, forward leaning, and strategic initiative to combat human trafficking.

5 for Five Challenge 2016

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