Native and Black women and girls are often the targets of sexual exploitation, forcing a narrative that their bodies are for the sexual gratification of men. Cherice Hopkins and Rebecca Burney from Rights4Girls lead the discussion on societal dynamics that made girls and women of color fall prey to sexual exploitation throughout history.
Cherice is a Senior Counsel at Rights4Girls who works on policy reform, public education and awareness, training and technical assistance, research, and coalition building centered on enhancing the safety and well-being of marginalized young women and girls. Rebecca is an attorney and the Youth Advocacy Coordinator at Rights4Girls focused on working with survivors of sexual abuse and those involved in the juvenile justice system in Washington, DC, and works as a Court Appointed Special Advocate.
Specifics of the course include:
- The central role of intersectionality in the oppression and discrimination based on social identities.
- How prostitution was introduced to the native communities in the US and how sexual exploitation flourished as part of the slave trade.
- The socio-economic conditions and experiences that serve as risk factors pushing people into sex trade.
- The apparent racial and gender disparities between victims and buyers in the sex trade that emphasizes marginalization and oppression.
- A rundown of the impact for victims of sex trade in terms of physical, mental, and psychological abuse; other physical outcomes; and further marginalization due to criminalization and stigmatization.
- The concept of the Abuse to Prison Pipeline that highlights the link between sexual violence, particularly towards girls and young women, and their potential justice involvement.
- How girls end up in the juvenile justice system due to less-than-ideal home and family environments that lead them to run away, commit illegal acts to survive, or get involved in sex trafficking.
- The conditions within the juvenile justice system that exacerbates girls’ existing trauma, the belief system they develop fueled by stigma, and their criminal record which limits their opportunities in life.
- How trauma, abuse, and other adverse experiences result in cognitive issues, chronic health conditions, and other lifelong problems.
- How failing to recognize girls’ trauma results in likelihood to self-harm, self-medicate or self-protect through avoidance; difficulty identifying safe and positive adults; and engage in risky behaviors.
- A study establishing the concept of adultification where people perceive Black girls to need less nurturing, protection, and comfort; and are more independent than their White counterparts.
- The power of language in shifting the narrative by using the terms victims and survivors instead of criminals, and eliminating the term child prostitute in law language.
- Working with systems, states, and jurisdictions to end policies that criminalize children from prostitution following the logic that if they cannot consent to have sex, then they cannot consent to be paid for sex.
- Adopting a survivor-centered stance that decriminalizes those who sell sex and places accountability on those who pay to rape minors.
- The stories of Recy Taylor and Cyntoia Brown that underscore how sexual exploitation continually oppressed girls and women of color throughout history.
- Rachel’s story that demonstrates…
- How sexual exploitation may start in the guise of a relationship.
- How the system tends to treat victims and survivors.
- The outcomes that put victims and survivors at risk of danger from their abuser and traffickers and at a disadvantage in society.
- How the justice system can better engage with victims and survivors through efforts towards accountability and approaches that are trauma-informed and espouses harm reduction.
Questions from the audience were about:
- National efforts to push for victimless prosecution.
- Utilizing child abuse forensic interviewers for children and women victims and survivors.
- Cyntoia Brown’s memoir.
- Valuable programs available for young survivors while they’re involved in the justice system.
Providing support to survivors with whom you’ll only have a one-time encounter.
Other Webinars with Rights4Girls:
- June 10: From Recy Taylor to Cyntoia Brown: How a History of Sexual Exploitation and Racial Violence Funnels Women and Girls of Color into the Abuse to Prison Pipeline (this webinar)
- July 22: Race, Gender and Policing during COVID-19
Resources and Handouts
- Handout: Racial and Gender Disparities in the Sex Trade
- Handout: The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline
- Handout: Domestic Child Sex Trafficking and Black Girls
- Book Referenced: Free Cyntoia: My Search for Freedom and Redemption in the American Prison System By Cyntoia Brown-Long
- The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girl’s Story
- The presenters were amazing!” — Audace
- “Components of the history and the how significantly disproportionate the representation of POC are of sexual exploitation. The data specifically from King County was astounding when you compare the general population against the representation for those who are SE victims. The slides were great!” — Mandy
- “I think that it was valuable to learn more about the perspective of the survivor during law enforcement investigations. It’s important to be mindful of the trauma that these women/girls/men/boys have faced and to treat them like survivors rather than criminals.” — Anna
- “The presentation was eye-opening.” — Erin
- “I took a bunch of notes – I minored in women & gender studies in college and don’t remember a lot of the information presented in this training!” — Emma
- “The training was very eye opening. I thought I had a good understanding of the issues girls of color face when it comes to sexual exploitations but I was mistaken. This was very helpful in giving me a clearer picture of the issue.” — Heather
- “The actionable recommendations were so helpful. I’d like to hear more about what law enforcement and the justice system can do specifically–maybe a review of common policies and practices that you’ve found that continue to oppress and cause harm to survivors and recommendations on how to re-write policy or implement new policy that better serves and supports survivors. Thank you so much to the presenters for the work they do!” — Kristen
- “I appreciated the mix of historical context, survivor voice, and specific recommendations. Excellent content.” — Kylie
- “What was most valuable was the education around the history of sexual exploitation of black women and girls having started back during slavery. I had never heard of the term “Fancy Girl” or researched this topic as it related to slavery. Also, the breakdown of “Adultification” and the implicit biases placed on black girls as early as 5 years old. This was very enlightening. Thank you.” — Lorrraine
- “All the handouts, I’m excited to read them on my own later. All of the statistics were really sobering, especially about the Native girls and correlation with the foster care system. The first-person testimony of the survivor was heartbreaking and powerful and so necessary to hear.” — Sara
- “This was a great seminar, very informative going back to the days of colonization and when and how Women of Color started being marginalized and abused. As a Woman of Color, I very much appreciate the people who put on this seminar and brought this topic to light. Thank You! Would love to see more like this!” — Sonya
This webinar was pre-approved for 1 CEU credit by the National Advocate Credentialing Program (NACP)® and the DoD Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program (D-SAACP). Founded in 1975, the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) is the oldest national victim assistance organization of its type in the United States and is the recognized leader in victim advocacy, education and credentialing. To learn more about NOVA, visit trynova.org.