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Leidholdt Lecture Focuses On Modern Day Slavery

May 10, 2013 by admin

By Daniel Natale

      Imagine this: You’re a poor woman living in Venezuela. You’ve had a boyfriend named Daniel for a year, and you love him with all your heart. He has recently moved to America and has been pressuring you to move there for about a month. He constantly tells you how much he loves you, and how he misses you. Eventually you oblige him out of trust and hope for a better life.

      When you land there, you are picked up in a car with another woman in the passenger seat whom he hadn’t told you about. She asks a few questions about money as you are driven to some unknown location.

      Eventually the car stops at a house that he also failed to tell you about. You are escorted insid, and brought to the basement. There, they tell you that you owe them money for both you and your boyfriend’s trip over. For collateral, they take all of the belongings you’ve packed including your passport. They keep you hostage in this strange house with no money or identification for weeks.

      Your boyfriend eventually tells you that you can make the money back by working as a prostitute at a local brothel. You have no money, no friends, and no way to contact your family. You are captive in this house in this strange country. There appears to be no other option, and somewhere deep down in the recesses of your heart, you believe that he loves you. You agree.

     On your first night, you are gang raped by 19 men. From there on out, you are beaten by Daniel, you turn countless tricks, and you witness the murder of one of your friends at the hands of a sex-crazed lunatic.

      On April 25, Dorchen Leidholdt told this story to about 30 people in the Student Life Center in order to outline some of the horrors of sex trafficking. This made a fitting overture for the disturbing sexual slavery facts she would enlighten the audience with.    

     The story is about a woman named Kika, and although it’s grizzly, Leidholdt says it’s not unique. “About 17,000 people are trafficked into the U.S. from international waters every year,” she said. “New York, and the greater metropolitan area, are popular ports for sex traffic.”

     In accordance with Leidholdt’s lecture, Sue Flynn, the assistant director of the committee on public policy at the Junior League of New Jersey  proposed a bill that is being processed by Chris Christie to challenge Human Trafficking. Fraidy Reiss was also there and told the story of how she escaped an abusive arranged marriage.

      The bill in question is The human trafficking prevention, protection, and treatment act and is currently being processed on the governor’s desk.

“It’s a huge bill, and would make New Jersey a leader in the fight against human trafficking,” said Flynn.  Among other things, the measure would crack down on human trafficking by increasing penalties for sex offenders. It would also require cops, hospital workers, and other public officials to receive training to recognize the signs of human trafficking. Massage and body-works professionals would also be required to have background checks.

   There are two other bills on Chrisite’s desk. One would have New Jersey recognize Jan. 11 as human trafficking awareness day, and the other would have January be recognized as human trafficking awareness month. Theses bills will either be passed or vetoed tonight.

     However, you need not rely on this legislature to be passed if you want to make a difference. Leidhardt encourages sexual “abolitionists” to keep an eye out for shady operations. “Escort services, and massage parlors are often fronts for human trafficking,” said Leidhart.

      According to Leidhardt, women are often introduced to the world of sexual slavery around the ages of 13 years old. Boys usually become slaves around the same age, but are generally used for manual labor in sweat shops.

      Kika, like many other women who become sexually enslaved, grew up in poverty and was subjected to abuse at home. Emotional damage is a key character trait for any prospective prostitute. Leidhardt  says that pimps are masters at finding these damaged women to bring into their prostitution rings because of their vulnerability.

     “A pimp is like a one person totalitarian state,” said Leidhardt. “Most prostitutes are young girls who don’t have a father figure at home.  To have a daddy is really important to them.” As she said this an image of a woman with “Daddy’s Lil Bitch” tattooed on her body was displayed on screen.

      After Leidholdt and Flynn left the stage, Fraidy Reiss, the founder of Unchained at Last recollected her escape from the confines of an arranged marriage and a traditional Jewish community. From the time she was a little girl, Fraidy was told that she was not allowed to go to college or learn how to do anything else except become a wife. She was arranged to be married at the age of 20 after going on several dates with him. Soon after the marriage, she realized that they were completely incompatible, and her husband was violent.

      She had two kids with the man, but soon began to seek ways out of her situation.  At the age of 27 she began to save all of her earnings in a Wheaties cereal box --the only place that he would never look. She spent the money on attending Rutgers University.

     “I have been taught my whole life that women are not smart enough to learn anything,” Reiss said. She proved that was wrong when she ended up becoming valedictorian of her class of 10,000. Near the end of her college career, she separated from her traditional community, divorced her husband and got full custody of her children. She currently works as a private investigator.

“Things turned out well for me, but make no mistake, it was a traumatic, and terrifying, and very lonely process,” Reiss said.

Unchained at Last is an organization that helps women from any religion escape arranged marriages. They do this through legal services, advocacy programs, social services, and mentoring programs.

    Leidholdt became a social activist after counseling rape victims from 1975 through 1977. Throughout her career, she spoke out adamantly against pornography and was a spokesperson and leader of the radical feminist organization Women Against Pornography from 1979to 1983. She is best known for a lawsuit she filed against Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt after an issue that featured a picture of a woman being shoved through a meat grinder. Flynt eventually named Leidholdt “A$$@$1e of the Month” in a 1985 issue of Hustler.

     Leidholdt is one of the founders of the international organization called the coalition against the trafficking of women, and is the director at the center for Battered Women legal services in NYC.

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