Tina Frundt has always believed in the power of creative thinking — it helped her survive sex trafficking and become a grassroots anti-slavery leader.
Her creativity has recently caught the media spotlight, allowing Tina an opportunity to show a global audience that freedom and recovery are possible for slavery survivors.
You may remember Tina as the 2010 recipient of the Free the Slaves Frederick Douglass Freedom Award. She was 14 when she was lured from her home in Chicago by an older man and forced into child prostitution.
Since her escape, she has continued to help others break free. She was featured on WUSA-TV in Washington this month, urging parents to talk to their children about sex slavery. Tina warns it could happen to anyone, anywhere.
“If you’re not explaining it, a trafficker’s explaining it to your child and he’s not telling the truth when he’s explaining it,” Tina says.
Today, Tina runs Courtney’s House, a shelter dedicated to rehabilitating survivors of sex trafficking. At night, she and her team walk the streets of Washington in search of victims. She secretly hands them a trinket, containing a hotline number. She says she’s simply doing what nobody did for her.
Tina shared her story at a recent TEDx event. She recounts that, even as a child being bounced around in the foster care system, she came up with ideas to help others, and herself.
“I was always being creative,” she says, “I was always thinking outside the box.”
Tina was also featured late last year on an AOL web series: You’ve Got.
She is an extraordinary example of how valuable it can be when slavery survivors become leaders for the movement.
“When you turn your life around, you try to get rid of the things that you think are negative,” says Tina. “Instead of changing who I was, I changed the way I thought, and did it in a positive way.”
It’s like a perfect storm. Events are converging from every direction. If you’re eager to learn about modern slavery and how it can be eradicated, now’s the time.
Tuesday features a special 30-min webcast premiere and live chat event to address a critical question: How do we hold businesses accountable for slave labor used in their supply-chains? FTS Programs Director Karen Stauss will join other experts to examine ways to get slavery out of products we buy everyday. The webcast is made possible by the ATEST anti-slavery coalition. Join us online at 1 p.m. ET. http://live.newmediamill.com/webcasts/ATEST/20120717/.
Earlier on Tuesday there’s an important hearing at the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “The Next Ten Years in the Fight Against Human Trafficking: Attacking the Problem with the Right Tools.” ATEST coalition members are scheduled to testify, as is Jada Pinkett Smith, who recently formed a new anti-trafficking organization. 9:30 a.m., Hart Building room 216.
Wednesday brings a bipartisan presentation at the U.S. Capitol featuring FTS Freedom Award winner Tina Frundt: “Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Trafficking.” This event will highlight the experiences of young trafficking survivors and policy recommendations to strengthen the child welfare agencies that serve them. It’s organized by the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth and the Victims’ Rights Caucus. 2:00 p.m., Congressional Visitor’s Center Meeting Room North (CVC 268).
Then there’s Thursday! There are events for both the U.S. House and Senate.
The House event is first. The ATEST coalition is presenting a briefing called “The Role of Business in Eradicating Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery: A Transparency Approach.”
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor identified 130 goods from 71 countries that were made by forced and child labor. The disclosure requirements in the Business Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act (H.R. 2759) would recognize companies that are trying to eliminate such abuses from their supply chains by establishing disclosure requirements focused on improving practices to end human trafficking and slavery. Transparency laws can be good for business, informative for consumers, and ultimately have a real impact on ending human trafficking and slavery worldwide. The bill’s disclosure requirements build on those already required by the 2010 California Transparency in Supply Chains Act. The briefing will explain how H.R. 2759 will assist investors and consumers in making choices about which companies they want to do business with in order to help eliminate human trafficking, forced labor, slavery and the worst forms of child labor throughout the world. 8:30 a.m., Rayburn Building Room B340. Breakfast will be served at 8:30 – Speakers begin at 9.
The Senate event is in the afternoon, also organized by ATEST. The Business Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act has not yet been introduced on the Senate side of the Capitol, so this briefing can help build awareness that transparency is the future. 2 p.m., Capitol Visitors Center, room SVC 202.
What a week! Who says nothing happens in Washington in the summer?
Last year’s recipient of the Fredrick Douglass Freedom Award, activist Tina Frundt, made headlines when she returned to Cleveland—the place she had been trafficked into sex slavery when she was just a teenager.
Frundt has been active in the fight against the multimillion dollar sex trafficking industry, starting her own anti-slavery non-profit called Courtney’s House—a place where services and resources are provided to survivors of the trade in Washington, D.C.
Frundt’s visit to Cleveland was covered by local newspaper The Plain Dealer. Check out the article below!
National activist fighting sex trafficking says she was first exploited in Cleveland
By Margaret Bernstein, The Plain Dealer
Tina Frundt doesn’t have happy memories of Cleveland. The former foster child arrived here from Chicago on her 14th birthday, in a car driven by a man who convinced her he loved her when no one else did.
She said she was taken to a house where four other teen girls lived and was raped by two men she didn’t know, beginning what would become more than a decade of being trafficked as a sex slave.
Kate Rosin, who assists Free the Slaves at our Washington, D.C. headquarters and frequently contributes to this blog, recently wrote a beautiful article for SGI Quarterly, about 2010 Freedom Award winner Tina Frundt. Here’s an excerpt:
Tina Frundt was 13 when she first met her trafficker. On her way to a neighborhood store in Chicago one day, a young man–maybe 15 years her senior–struck up a conversation. In the weeks and months that followed, this seemingly affable character, known on the street as “Tiger,” won her affections, listening sympathetically as she recounted her teenage woes, driving her to school and showering her with gifts. “Little did I know,” she reflects today, “he was planting the seeds of manipulation. It did not matter what my parents said to me, they did not understand me, and he was the only one that ‰got me.’” On her 14th birthday, Tiger, who had in fact been monitoring Tina’s behavior closely for a month prior to approaching her, successfully lured her to Ohio.
Read the rest of this article at the SGI website here!
Last month, Vanity Fair published a major investigative story on modern-day slavery in the U.S. ‘Sex Trafficking of Americans: The Girls Next Door’ takes a look at domestic sex slavery—an illicit industry that preys on every-younger girls and boys (the average age that a person becomes a prostitute in the U.S. is 13).
2010 Freedom Award winner Tina Frundt was forced into sex slavery when she was just 14. Now she runs her own anti-slavery organization, Courtney’s House, based in Washington, D.C., helping other girls and boys to freedom. Read more about Tina here.
Featuring interviews with several survivors of sex slavery, the article is not for the faint of heart. Writer Amy Fine Collins doesn’t pull any punches when she describes the torture and horrifying abuse endured by the victims. (You can read the article in full here.)
If ever there was a report in the mainstream media that might turn the tide of of pimp glamorization, this might be it. Fine writes:
“Criminals have learned, often in prison—where ‘macking’ memoirs such as Iceberg Slim’s Pimp are best-sellers—that it’s become more lucrative and much safer to sell malleable teens than drugs or guns. A pound of heroin or an AK-47 can be retailed once, but a young girl can be sold 10 to 15 times a day—and a ‘righteous’ pimp confiscates 100 percent of her earnings.” (Emphasis added by me.)
One survivor put it bluntly:
“Pimping… is not cool. A pimp is a wife beater, rapist, murderer, child-molester, drug dealer, and slave driver rolled into one.”
The article is well worth a read. It illustrates how a person can be trapped into slavery by invisible bars—their confidence crushed, physically brutalized, their trust in family and institutions broken. There are times when family members enslave other family members. Fine shows how pimps lure their victims by plying them with gifts and attention, then controlling them througah drugs and violence. Often, law enforcement personnel won’t recognize a victim of slavery. Sex slaves are arrested for prostitution or soliciting.
It is important to note, as you read this report, that sex trafficking is not the only form of modern-day slavery. Domestic servitude and forced labor also occur with alarming frequency in the U.S.—as documented in the book The Slave Next Door, written by FTS President Kevin Bales and historian Ron Soodalter. This Vanity Fair piece brings home the fact that slavery is not a remote problem. Our connection to it is very close. It’s happening in our own communities. Because this is an issue that affects us all, it is our responsibility to help end it.
Learn more about what you can do to join the movement to eradicate slavery here.
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