CAlifornia Women's Agenda






California Women's Agenda (CAWA) 2010-2015

Violence Report

CAWA Policy Chair Mary Ann Ellison



Gender Based Violence Policy Paper, Mary Ann Ellison, 2016


"We want to create a safe environment where women and men work together with mutual respect to eliminate violence in all its forms, and women and girls are encouraged to develop their full potential.” 

The above quote was taken from a previous CAWA policy paper on violence. It was chosen here because it encapsulates the current trend and the acknowledgement that if cultural change is to occur, it must be a mutual goal for everyone. A goal we all work towards, together. 


Violence against women and girls is both a health and a human rights issue. Article 1 of the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women defines genderbased violence as, “…any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”1 According to the World Health Organization, “At least one in five of the world’s female population has been physically or sexually abused by a man or men at some time in their life [and] operates as a means to maintain and reinforce women’s subordination.”2 What does gender-based violence look like? There are many types of violence, and not all of them can be seen. But all of types are ultimately about power and control. The following graphic illustrates the ways in which power and control factors in. The following graphic is commonly used in Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault counselor training programs to explain the motivation behind the violence:

See the PDF above for the full report.





By Norma Hotaling, Executive Director of The SAGE (Standing Against Global Exploitation) Project
Chair, CAWA Violence Task Force

See Previous Reports: 1996

Legislators, policymakers and the general public are experiencing an increased awareness and understanding of the horrors faced by women and children throughout the world as a result of trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation. Through media and targeted information dissemination people in all walks of life have come to understand the connection between trafficking, prostitution, child commercial sexual exploitation, sexual slavery and the demand for bought sex and forced labor. This understanding is being used to create new and more effective policies and legislation.

Below are some examples of the tremendous strides recently taken by the United States and the United Nations:

• U.S. Human Trafficking Resolution at CSW: The U.N. Commission on the Status of Women adopted by consensus the U.S. resolution: Eliminating the Demand for Trafficked Women and Girls for All Forms of Exploitation. Fifty nations co-sponsored the resolution. This was the first resolution of a U.N. body to focus on the demand side of human trafficking. The goal is to protect women and girls from trafficking by stimulating action to dry up the “market” for victims of all forms of exploitation, especially commercial sexual exploitation. With this resolution, the Commission on the Status Women made the important link between trafficking in women and girls and commercial sexual exploitation. While women and girls are trafficked for many purposes, including for forced labor and domestic servitude, a recent U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime report found that 75 percent of all trafficking is for sexual exploitation. This is an enormous demand factor that can’t be ignored. The U.S. and the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women considers prostitution a form of commercial sexual exploitation and believes there is growing body of evidence showing that it fuels the demand for trafficking victims.
• Three important Bills are currently pending in the US Congress: 1) the 2005 Trafficking Victim Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) Co-sponsored by California Senator Tom Lantos, End the Demand Act and 3) the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Co-sponsored and passed a resolution at the June 2005, US Conference of Mayors to support the 2005 TVPRA. H.R.2012-The End the Demand Act, is intended to combat commercial sexual activities by targeting demand, to protect children from being exploited by such activities, to prohibit the operation of sex tours, to assist State and local governments to enforce laws dealing with commercial sexual activities, to reduce trafficking in persons, and for other purposes. As of August 2005, H.R.2012 currently has 49 co-sponsors in the US House of Representatives and has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary

Actions and Acheivements in California:

Significant progress has been made in recent years throughout California resulting in the formation of policy, legislation and provision of prevention, early intervention, and treatment services that act in accordance with a full range of previous resolutions on the problem of trafficking in women and girls that have been adopted by the General Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights, the principles set forth in the relevant human rights instruments and declarations and the resolve expressed by heads of government in the Millennium Declaration to intensify efforts to fight transnational organized crime in all its dimensions, including trafficking in human beings; UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its Optional Protocol, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol on
the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and
ILO Conventions 29 and 182;
• Emphasizing that the fight against trafficking in women and girls
for all forms of exploitation requires a comprehensive approach that addresses all factors and root causes that foster demand and make women and girls vulnerable to trafficking, as well as the protection and rehabilitation of victims;
• Acknowledging the fact that the majority of trafficked persons are women and girls, from and within the United States and developing countries and countries with economies in transition;
• Concerned about the increasing occurrence of trafficking for all forms of exploitation, especially for commercial sexual exploitation, which overwhelmingly affects women and girls;
• Concerned that multiple forms of discrimination and conditions of disadvantage contribute to the vulnerability to trafficking of women and girls, and that indigenous, refugee, internally displaced and migrant women and girls may be particularly at risk.

1) Assembly Bill 3042 was signed into CA law, January 2005 and is a groundbreaking measure that represents a systemic shift in how we approach the sexual exploitation of children. AB3042 provides vital tools for prosecutors to ensure that the perpetrators of child sexual exploitation are held accountable for their crimes. This bill is a great step that sends a clear message that paying for sex from a child is not about prostitution. Having sex with a child is sexual assault and molestation. This law will make clear that our children are not for sale. AB3042 will further several goals:
• AB 3042 gives prosecutors and courts the tools to hold perpetrators accountable.
• It makes the punishment fit the crime.
• Our enforcement of this law will deter others who think paying for sex with a minor is not a serious crime.
• Finally, this bill will further a fundamental shift from treating sexually exploited children as “prostitutes” to protecting them as victims. This shift has important practical implications. When a police report lists someone as a victim of child sexual assault, victim advocates can immediately access a broad range of state-funded support for that child from the Victims of Crime Compensation Fund.

2) Assembly Bill 22 is a comprehensive anti-trafficking bill designed to protect victims, prosecute traffickers, and prevent human trafficking in California. AB 22 has passed the Assembly and is now making its way through the Senate and is expected to pass.

AB 22 will provide for Criminal Provisions and Civil Remedies by:
• Establishing the crime of trafficking of a person for forced labor or services and the crime of trafficking of a minor, both punishable as felonies.
• Making the crime of human trafficking punishable by 3, 4, or 6 years in the state prison, or up to 8 years if the person trafficked is under 18 years old.
• Upon conviction, requiring courts to order the defendant to pay restitution to the victim, and providing for the forfeiture of any assets obtained through trafficking.
• Requiring the Attorney General to make prosecution of human trafficking a priority.
AB 22 will provide Social Service Provisions by:
• Requiring state and local law enforcement agencies to issue a Law Enforcement Authority Endorsement for all trafficking victims within 15 days of initial contact, to speed up a victims’ access to federal services.
• Establishing a victim-caseworker privilege, wherein the trafficking victim has a privilege to refuse to disclose, and to prevent from disclosing, a confidential communication between the victim and a human trafficking caseworker.
• Prohibiting the disclosure of the location of any trafficking shelter, in order to protect victims from further intimidation and harassment by traffickers.
• Conforming the California definition of trafficking victim with the federal definition of a ‘victim of a severe form of trafficking,’ to facilitate victims’ eligibility for federal services.
AB 22 will establish a California Anti-Trafficking Task Force to study various issues in connection with human trafficking, and to advise the Legislature.
• The duties of this task force will include, but not be limited to:
a) Addressing the issues of raising the public’s awareness and understanding of trafficking victims.
b) Implementing an independent, comprehensive study on the prevalence of trafficking in this state.
c) Conducting public hearings on the issue of trafficking.
d) Evaluating proposed antitrafficking legislation.
e) Creating working protocols for collaborative work between governmental and nongovernmental organizations.
f) Reviewing statewide implementation of state and federal antitrafficking laws, and making recommendations to the Legislature for improving laws, regulations, and social services for trafficking victims.

San Francisco Safe House for Commercially Exploited Girls-

• The Safe House is a collaboration between the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Community Behavioral Health Services, the San Francisco Mayors Office, Supervisor Tom Ammiano, Edgewood Center for Children and their Families, and SAGE Project. The House will take its first young woman, August 2005.
• The SAFE House is an extension of the activities of the San Francisco Supervisor’s Task Force for Exploited Youth, which was convened in 2001 in response to growing numbers of young people involved in prostitution in San Francisco. A 2002 study conducted by the Task Force yielded disturbing findings, including the fact that more than 85% of all girls in San Francisco’s juvenile justice system are victims of child sexual and/or physical abuse, and that in a survey of more than 7,000 San Francisco high-school students, 17% reported that they or peers traded sex for subsistence needs.
• Through a system-wide exploration of this problem it became apparent that sexually exploited children and youth are doubly victimized by criminal justice systems that treat the victims as criminals and take no action to deal with the adult male perpetrators of trafficking, violence, pimping and prostitution. From July 2001 to June 2002, San Francisco police booked 174 juveniles for prostitution while only nine pimps were arrested during the same period. Sexually exploited youth who are apprehended are treated as offenders/perpetrators and entered into justice and social service systems where the comprehensive treatment necessary to address the trauma and healing surrounding sexual exploitation typically does not exist.
• Recommendations by the Task Force included the opening of a licensed foster care facility designed to address the unique needs of exploited youth in the juvenile justice. Through the San Francisco Department of Public Health, a Request for Proposals was released. After a competitive bidding process the Edgewood Center, with the SAGE Project as a subcontractor, was selected to open and operate the group home, tentatively entitled “Safe House.”
Trafficking Oppositon Efforts in California:
• Several programs in California have been funded to identify and assist in the rescue and rehabilitation of women and girls trafficked to the US for the puposes of sexual slavery. San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles are the hubs for these services. Task Forces in each location made up of governmental and non-governmental organizations have been formed and funded through the Department of Justice. These task forces are excellent vehicles for training, promoting inter-agency cooperation, coordination of efforts aimed at identification, protection of victims and prosecution of offenders. In San Francisco over 150 intakes have been completed and of those over 35% have received or are in the process of receiving continued presence from the US Office of Refugee Resettlement thus gaining legal status, heath care benefits, funding and the ability to legally work and attend school. Several are waiting to receive specialized T-Visas as victims of trafficking. This will work to assist in the stabilization and rehabilitation of the women and their families by eliminating the fear of deportation. Several family members of of clients have also gained or are waiting for benefits, including visas which will assist in the reunification with their family member in the U.S. 28 offenders of crimes ranging from trafficking to money laundering are being prosecuted by the USAO.
• Many women and girls have been identified to be victims for severe forms of trafficked, but have not chosen to come forward and cooperate with law enforcement.. Through intakes it has also been determined that even though some where found not to be internationally trafficked, but instead were highly exploited and abused individuals from various countries, for whom proper referrals and provided short-term case management is routinely provided.

Obstacles Encountered:
Recruitment: Supply and Demand
Recruitment and trafficking in persons for the purposes of prostitution flourishes in proportion to an increased demand. The demand for trafficked women and girls increases due to a variety and combination of factors including but not limited to:
• Normalizing the rape and sexual abuse of children and the exploitation of women by viewing the demand as normal men with normal sexual needs being met through prostitution. By normalizing this behavior we are creating groups of women and girls it is OK to buy sell and sexually abuse. By normalizing these behaviors, we are sanctioning training grounds for men to learn and practice pedophilia. The girls who are preyed upon become untreated abused and traumatized women.
• learned and accepted exploitation and violence
• collusion with and protection of exploiters, especially the demand
• loosened social norms concerning the sex industry
• profitability by individuals, organized groups, and governments
• accessibility to and the promotion of the multi-billion dollar sex industry
• educational, and criminal justice systems which lack interventions that promote equality between girls and boys/men and women, that decrease objectification of women and seeing them as perpetrators and/or disposable commodities
• non-existent, weak, or un-enforced legal interventions to combat the demand and the traffickers
• Criminal justice systems that focus on arresting, prosecuting, and deporting, women and girls involved in prostitution, but not their male counterparts. In 2002, police in the United States arrested 23,446 men out of the 67,287 prostitution cases they reported to the FBI. Additionally, men being arrested for soliciting paid sex vary enormously by geography. In San Francisco and Detroit, men accounted for about 75 percent of all prostitution-related arrests reported in 2002. By contrast, men accounted for only 9 percent of the prostitution arrests reported in cities like Phoenix and Toledo, Ohio, just 12 percent of the arrests in Boston and only 14 percent in Las Vegas were of men. In places throughout the world full access to women and in many places full access to children is the norm through tolerated, decimalized or legalized prostitution.
• Lack of funding
Lessons Learned-Overcoming Obstacles:
Overcoming the obstacles will occur once there is an understanding that the billions of dollars made from the sexual exploitation and enslavement of trafficked women and girls enriches transnational criminal networks and is paid for one dollar at a time by the DEMAND. The behavior of buying women and children has been normalized while the real victims have been criminalized.
The following are key components to the systemic change that must occur to successfully address trafficking, and the demand:
• Appropriately define and directly address the issue.
• Do not ignore the abuse.
• Do not encourage the perpetrators and normalize their behavior.
• Provide alternatives and counseling for the men who comprise the demand
• Create a real escape for children and women. Don’t use protection and safety as an excuse to further exploit. Build services that heal, empower, and provide economic self-sufficiency not dependency.
• Do not continue to only work in “crisis mode” rather than on prevention.
• Educate the public to better recognize violence against women and child sexual abuse in and out of prostitution and trafficking.
• Reform legislative, investigative and prosecutorial practice.
• Build coalitions and provide training.
• Replicate programs that work such as SAGE and the First Offenders Prostitution Program (John’s School.)
• Do not make services for women and girls contingent on testifying against abuser/trafficker.
• Provide all interventions in unison. Take bold steps to respond to the years of neglect.
• Look to the “True Experts” for guidance and answers. Survivors of prostitution and trafficking with proven track records have created the web of services and the network of support that serves thousands per year with little help. Tap into this network and other survivor run groups.


Last updated on 8/15/16 cf.