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Help Me Save Victims of Trafficking

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My name is Anneke Lucas.
I am a survivor of child sex trafficking and torture.
I was very lucky to be rescued. It's a miracle I'm alive today.

I am currently campaigning to rescue other victims of sex trafficking in New York State by getting a groundbreaking piece of legislation passed, the first of its kind, introduced and adopted in the State of Connecticut in October 2016.

The law  requires hotels and motels to post signage in a visible place spelling out what trafficking is . The notice must contain the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline number. The law also requires all hotel and motel staff to receive mandatory training on how to recognize victims and activities commonly associated with human trafficking. Finally, the law would require hotels and motels to save all transaction records.

Human trafficking is a modern version of slave trade, a multi billion dollar industry and a devastating human rights violation happening in our own backyards and around the world. I was sold in Belgium at age 6 and rescued at age 11. I escaped my country and emigrated to the U.S. where I was able to get an education, find healing, and build a new life. I currently work with trafficking victims in New York jails .

I am collaborating with lawmakers and organizations to get the bill passed in the New York State Assembly before it can be approved by Governor Cuomo. Meeting everyone on the front lines of trafficking advocacy throughout New York State to outline next steps, gathering support from lawmakers, and, once the law is passed, ensuring that it is enforced, will take months of very hard work. As a single mom living in New York City teaching yoga and building a non profit to bring yoga into prisons, I could never do this without your generous support.

I was trafficked by my own family from 1969 to 1974. In that time, I was raped by hundreds of men. When we think of sex trafficking, we may not think murder, but many children don't survive. The pedophile network where I was trafficked, like others, murdered children to keep their secret safe, and when I was eleven years old, I was to be killed. I had been first protected and later abused by a gangster. When he was through with me, I was considered too much of a threat to keep alive.

I was tortured by one adult and five children – other victims who were being indoctrinated - who were forced to injure me with kitchen and hardware appliances, such as nails, a fish hook, a screwdriver, and a penknife. The adult man used an apple corer. My body is covered with scars.

During my torture, the abuser who had once protected me, negotiated a deal for my release. The torture was ended and this insider set me free with a set of detailed instructions, which I followed religiously.

The instructions pertained to prostitution, drugs, marriage, and where to move (to New York), and of course, to remain forever silent about the network. They would find me and kill me if I ever spoke up. I finally broke my silence forty years after my release, after spending thirty years of my adult life focused on healing from the tremendous trauma.

In the years that I was trafficked, I tried to speak up several times, but no one heard or believed me. As I mention In the petition to garner support for this campaign: “I would have found a way to call the hotline had I seen a notice.”

I might have been too young to know the vocabulary for what was happening to me, but if I would have seen a definition of sex trafficking posted, I would have been able to identify myself as a victim. Instead, I believed what I was told every day, that I was a “whore,” who didn't deserve to live.

In those days in Belgium there were no resources for trafficking victims. The word “trafficking” wasn't even employed; there was no name for what happened to me. I had heard my family use the word “rape” but had no idea it also applied to me. I had nowhere to turn.

Today, in New York State, the battle to decriminalize victims of child sex trafficking has gained ground, as well as awareness about this problem, but we still have a long way to go.

If this law is passed, hotel and motel visitors will be more conscious about trafficking and can call the hotline if they notice suspicious activities. These notices will do much to raise awareness. Many children's lives will be saved if we, the general public, will dare to observe and recognize the signs of trafficking.

With mandated awareness training for hotel and motel staff, those owners and employees who don't realize that trafficking is occuring on their property will have tools to take action and rescue victims. On the other hand, those who do know about human trafficking and reap a financial benefit from allowing it to take place, won't be able to feign ignorance when questioned by law enforcement.

Finally, by saving hotel and motel guest records, it will be impossible for traffickers or “johns” to rent rooms by the hour without being noticed by law enforcement.

Help me save other victims of child sex trafficking by helping me get this groundbreaking law passed in New York State.

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Anneke Lucas
Brooklyn, NY

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