Learning, art, and activism blended this summer at the Skokie Public Library. A group of teens gathered each Wednesday for 6 weeks to collaborate with Milton Coronado, a CAASE Educator
Jarrett Dapier, Young Adult Librarian at the Skokie Public Library, connected with our Prevention Education Program about providing summer programming for teens. Milton proposed a multi-week partnership that incorporated a mural. The library gave the project the green light, calling it Artists for Equality. Milton’s artistic talent and
Artists for Equality kicked off with a learning session where participants absorbed information about personal boundaries, sexual harm, and exploitation. The group took what they learned and creatively expressed it through sketches. Milton gathered the group's ideas and synthesized them into one cohesive piece that he presented to the group. The teens were proud to see elements of their drawings combine to make a unified concept. Milton’s work made them even more excited to start painting! He taught them how to control the medium, showing the group how to manipulate spray paint cans to produce different effects. The group began practicing on the wall, honing the skills it would take to make their vision a reality.
Over the next few weeks, the teens got to work creating their bold painting with a purpose. Everyone pitched in and had a blast working together. As you can see, the teamwork paid off. On August 1st, they completed the project and have something to be truly proud of. The mural will bring color and life to the library for years to come while engaging viewers on the issue of sexual harm.
See more photos on our Facebook!
Milton was able to use his unique artistic talent to connect with this group and show them that creativity has a role to play in creating change. While Milton is moving on from CAASE, we wish him luck in his artistic career and appreciate the lasting impression he has made in Skokie by guiding this mural and much more broadly by empowering countless youth throughout Chicago to end sexual harm during his time with our organization.
To learn more about Milton’s art, visit his website at http://www.crownedart.com.
Dear CAASE allies and friends,
This month CAASE is saying a fond goodbye to our longtime colleague Caleb Probst, who is leaving his role as CAASE's Education Manager to enter a Ph.D. program out of state. While all of us will miss Caleb's wisdom, humor, and kindness, his visionary work is deeply rooted and thriving at CAASE. We remain fully committed to continuing and growing the high-impact, cutting-edge programming that Caleb has played a critical role in establishing here.
When CAASE's Founder and dear friend Rachel Durchslag, who was responsible for recruiting Caleb to CAASE in the first place, heard of his departure she eloquently articulated what a pleasure it had been to work with Caleb and I couldn't agree more. I think you will enjoy her thoughts as well:
When Caleb and I first began working together around ten years ago, the movement to end the demand for sexually exploited individuals in Chicago was in its infancy. By joining the movement so early on, Caleb truly became a pioneer of innovation in this work.
It's is a gift to know, let alone work with, a man who embodies the values of feminism, social justice, and racial equity so beautifully. With every project he did at CAASE, Caleb brought not only these values but his heart, his creativity, his intellect, and unflinching belief that through preventative education we could begin to heal a fragmented world.
When I reflect back on my time at CAASE, what continually rises to the surface as one of my most proud initiatives was the prevention work Caleb and I did together. His commitment to the cause coupled with his amazing educator abilities has shaped the hearts and minds of hundreds of young men in Chicago around issues of sexual assault. And his work on the curriculum has had the ripple effect of being used throughout the world to help enlist young men in the fight to end sexual harm.
Caleb helped shape what CAASE, as an organization, has become. And his influence will be felt with everything the organization does moving forward. It was an honor to work with him and I am truly excited to see what this next phase of his life will bring.
- Rachel Durchslag
Caleb at the 2017 Celebrating Allies CAASE fundraiser with our Board President, Ross, Prevention Intern Abby, and Policy Director, Megan,
It has been a true privilege and pleasure to be Caleb's colleague and supervisor (or "Boss-Lady" as Caleb sometimes referred to me), my sentiments about him are perfectly echoed in Rachel's letter. We thank Caleb for all he has contributed to CAASE. We're excited to continue the programs he established and welcome our new Prevention Manager Shalini Mirpuri.
The final portion of Caleb's time with us has been spent training Shalini. She has valuable experience in sexual violence prevention, coming to us from the University of Florida where she created and implemented interpersonal violence prevention education for the Sexual Trauma Interpersonal Violence Education or STRIVE program. She also served as a Graduate Assistant for Multicultural & Diversity Affairs where she provided culturally-responsive and identity-based education to promote student success for underserved student populations. We welcome her to our team and to Chicago!
After months of research, reflection, collaboration, visioning, and work, CAASE has a new strategic plan! It was adopted by our Board of Directors in July and describes our focus for the next 3 years. The plan is filled with fresh objectives and stable growth centered on four capacity areas identified through organization-wide analysis: Board/Governance, Community Role, Marketing and Communications, and Resource Development. The plan also stresses the need to infuse Intersectional Equity into these areas and throughout the entire organization.
CAASE's Strategic Plan Executive Summary for FY2018-2021 gives an excellent overview of the work that lies ahead as we continue our commitment to end sexual harm and demand change.
We are pleased to share this roadmap with you and hope to have your support along the way! If you would like, you may download a copy of the Executive Summary.
Excited about what's ahead? Donate to CAASE to support the objectives laid out in the plan.
This week a city ordinance ostensibly designed to fight prostitution became law. Sadly, it doubles down on the city’s failed efforts to end prostitution while rejecting every established best practice for crime reduction. It adds another nonviolent charge to the books and a new mandatory minimum jail sentence. Most disappointingly, it punishes people who rarely have better options for surviving and are often victims of sex trafficking.
The new law allows the Superintendent to designate prostitution-free hotspots - which he’s not required to publicly identify - and authorizes police to target, detain, and arrest people in them if they are “loitering for the purposes of prostitution”. The law doesn’t identify what an officer can consider when assessing unlawful conduct, begging the question if wearing a skirt of a certain length or waiting for a ride will invite arrest in particular neighborhoods. Additionally, existing loitering-related enforcement unfairly targets racial and ethnic minorities. It’s distressing but reasonable to expect more of the same disproportionate impact on already marginalized populations, including homeless youth, one-third of which are forced to trade sex for survival, and trans women who engage in survival sex at a rate 10 times higher than cis women due to poverty and discrimination.
History and social science prove that arresting and prosecuting sex sellers does not decrease prostitution. This fact promoted Illinois to change state law by providing a safe haven for minors in prostitution, defelonizing sex-selling, and increasing incentives for buyer-targeted policing. Smart communities place blame for the sex trade on buyers - who are overwhelmingly men with disposable income, buying sex in neighborhoods they don’t live in, and who can be deterred with prevention education and financial penalties. Chicago claims to understand this - it’s why at the same time City Council passed the terrible loitering ordinance, they amended city code to increase fines for buying sex and nominally decrease fines for selling. However, if Chicago’s leaders truly understood, policing and legislation would look very different.
The Chicago Reporter revealed that 90% of the CPD’s prostitution-related arrests are for selling sex, not buying. Given that the overwhelming majority of people ‘involved in prostitution’ are male buyers, while sellers are predominantly female, this disparity is both disturbing and discriminatory. The severe penalties embedded in the anti-loitering law are also contemptible. Fines up to $500 are laughably out-of-reach for most in the sex trade and a mandatory minimum 5 days’ incarceration for a second offense is outrageous, particularly in a community that celebrates Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx joining a task force aimed at reducing the number of incarcerated women. Finally, the third offense penalty of a 30-day ban on being present in a “hotspot” fails to recognize that many people who sell sex face huge barriers to accessing housing, safety, or needed services in any community outside of the ones they know well.
Last month, the Race for CAASE Team crossed the finish line in the Race Against Gun Violence. 78 people pledged their run and raised funds to support CAASE's cutting-edge Prevention Programs. But they didn't stop at the end of the course. Supporters continued to donate, raising a total of $31,000!
We thank everyone who supported the team and participated.
Watch this short recap video to relive the fun event!
The mission of the Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) is to cultivate a lifelong commitment to public interest law and pro bono service within the Illinois legal community to expand the availability of legal services for people, families, and communities in need. One way PILI fulfills that mission is by running its Graduate Fellowship Program. The program places new associates from Chicago law firms at public interest law agencies in Illinois, where they work hundreds of hours between law school graduation and joining the firm. Fellows are paid by their hiring firm, allowing them to gain working experience serving people suffering from abuse, discrimination, divorce, eviction and other civil legal problems. This exposure often fosters a passion for assisting those in need throughout their legal career.
CAASE joins 60+ other Illinois agencies as a PILI partner. The fellowship program attracts some of the best and brightest law school graduates and this year was no exception. We were delighted to host Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law graduate Xenia Chiu, who was sponsored by Sidley Austin LLP where she’ll begin working this fall. Xenia applied for CAASE's position because she is passionate about ending sexual harm. She was already involved with us as a member of CAASE's Young Professional Board but wanted to learn more about our work and spend her fellowship addressing issues she cares deeply about. It was a perfect fit!
Adela, Christine, Xenia, Mallory, Rachel, and Danielle of the CAASE Legal Team.
During her time with CAASE, Xenia helped the legal team with research and prepared legal documents such as motions, discovery requests, and opening statements. She also spent many hours observing cases in the courtroom. Xenia says "Hearing the facts of sexual assault cases was challenging but I was rewarded by the experience of being an ally to survivors and gaining a substantive understanding of CAASE's work. I loved working for an organization that takes a holistic approach to address sexual harm".
While Xenia learned a lot from CAASE during her fellowship, she also gave us a lot, too! She went above and beyond her duties every step of the way. She served on the Race for CAASE host committee and joined as a team member, pledging a run and raising funds to support sexual harm prevention programs. She also remains on CAASE's Young Professional Board and plans to continue her involvement. She looks forward to one day joining CAASE's Pro Bono Project, too.
Xenia helped raise funds for CAASE as a member of the Race for CAASE team host committee and by participating as a runner.
We wish Xenia all the best as her fellowship comes to a close, she prepares for the bar exam and starts her legal career. In the spirit of PILI, we know she holds dear the lessons she has learned about what it means to stand up for those who need help the most. We look forward to her continued support - she'll always have ours.
The Race for CAASE Team was beaming as they crossed the finish line in yesterday's Race Against Gun Violence. 78 people pledged their run and raised funds to support CAASE's cutting-edge Prevention Programs. Their commitment to ending sexual harm and diligent work fundraising resulted in a $28,331 boost toward educating young people to deter and prevent sexual harm.
Their fantastic efforts put us within reach of our $40,000 goal! Our team has until June 17th to reach this milestone amount and you can help. Celebrate the team's accomplishment by donating today! You'll be supporting prevention, plus it's your chance to increase the impact of every dollar as your donation will be partially matched by the Greer Foundation.
We are so grateful to everyone who has or will give. Our runners, walkers, volunteers, and donors showed us amazing support and we know others will join them by the June 17th deadline. We want to especially thank this year's sponsors - Escutcheon, Monahan Law Group, Perkins Coie, Alexander Movers, VMaids, A.S. Baum, and Moll Law Group - for giving our team the jump start they needed!
CAASE also wants to uplift Strides for Peace for organizing the Race Against Gun Violence. They did a wonderful job bringing together anti-violence organizations from across Chicago and we were excited to be a part of the event. By participating, CAASE honored its commitment to meeting survivors where they are - as people embedded in communities with unique, important concerns and priorities.
We'd also like to recognize our Race Team Committee members, Amy Kohn, Kaethe Morris Hoffer, Margot Gordon, Sarah Crocker, Emily Bergman, Michael Ovca, Cara Ward, and Xenia Chiu for their efforts in making make this a successful event!
Remember, you have until June 17th to support the Race for CAASE Team. Help them reach their goal now!
A wave of sexual harassment and assault allegations has washed over media headlines these past eight months. As survivors raise their voices, many adults grapple with how to explain these situations to young people. The Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE) prevention workshops have helped guide youth conversations about harmful sexual behaviors for over a decade and,
CAASE prevention workshops (which cover consent, healthy relationships, gender constructs, power dynamics of sexual exploitation, interrupting sexual harm and how to get help) empower students to end sexual harm. Over the past school year, CAASE staff noticed student participants were more aware of, engaged in, and willing to discuss sexual violation than in years past. In anonymous written feedback, CAASE saw an increase in students reflecting on their own experiences with sexual harm compared to previous years. Their "MeToo" stories described violations that had happened to them or to a friend. Many youth participants were also inspired to write about the challenges they face in having healthy relationships in today's society and what they can do to change it. For example, one wrote, "I will approach dating with respect and I will make sure that everything is consensual".
It's impossible to credit the uptick in student reflections on these issues to any one factor. But, it's also impossible to ignore that this shift in student feedback is happening within a cultural sea change sparked by the #MeToo movement. Students are speaking up more than ever. They are seeking answers and ways to be part of the solution. But students aren't the only ones being empowered.
Many teachers confided in CAASE staff, saying they felt ill-equipped to dig deeper into conversations around harmful sexual behavior with students. They worried it was a topic too big to tackle so they avoided it. After CAASE provided students with educational workshops on sexual harm, teachers expressed feeling more confident in addressing sexual harassment and unpacking headlines with their pupils. Seeing CAASE engage students on tough topics set an example for the adults regularly in students' lives. Teachers' willingness and preparedness to have these conversations is invaluable.
The 2017-18 school year was unique; it was steeped in a culture having new conversations about sexual harassment and the meaning of gender equality. As a result, students engaged with issues of sexual harm and healthy relationships more deeply this year. We hope for more of the same next year.
CAASE offers a variety of workshops, including content on consent, healthy masculinity, sex trafficking, and pimping. All are available for free to schools and programs that work with teens. Each workshop is designed to meet a group's individual needs. They are available in 45-, 60-, or 90-minute versions and can be implemented with groups as small as 10 and as large as 200. Interested groups should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 773-244-2230 for more information.
Our Legal Team kicked off the month by facilitating a Legal Advocacy Boot Camp. The day-long training provided advocates who serve survivors of sexual assault with an overview of how various legal and institutional remedies may assist their clients. Attendees from Metropolitan Family Services, RVA, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, Mujeres Latinas en Accion, and Howard Brown Health Center gained information that will allow them to provide more options to those they serve.
Our Legal Director Christine Evans, Senior Staff Attorney Mallory Littlejohn, and Staff Attorney Rachel Johnson covered several topics that impact survivors. The day was broken into sections reviewing Criminal Justice Advocacy & Victims’ Rights, Civil No Contact Orders & Domestic Violence Court, Educational Advocacy & Title IX, and Employment Advocacy & Workplace Sexual Violence.
By learning together, organizations serving survivors of sexual violation are able to support those we serve more effectively. CAASE’s Attorneys were glad they could provide expert insight and advice at this training and look forward to the next one! We thank Metropolitan Family Services for hosting the boot camp and everyone who attended for making it a great success.
If your organization serves survivors of sexual harm and is interested in a legal training, email email@example.com to learn more.
Each summer, CAASE hosts legal interns who help our attorneys serve survivors. This year is no exception and we warmly welcome Brandi Bolton of John Marshall Law School, Leslie Hill of DePaul Law School and Kelly Ehrenreich of University of Michigan Law School.
These exceptional law students received training (pictured) from each of our departments, giving them an understanding of the work CAASE does as a whole and how legal services fit into our broader mission. This overview will serve them well as they spend the next few months assisting with legal research/writing, conducting client interviews, and communicating with clients about their case status. They will also observe court appearances and participate in initial client consultations.
Above: The Prevention Team (Abby Juhlmann, Caleb Probst, Milton Coronado) share an overview of their work with the 2018 summer legal interns.
Mallory Littlejohn, a CAASE Sr. Staff Attorney, manages the legal interns. She says, "They're gaining practical legal experience - interacting with real clients, the courts, and getting
Above: Mallory Littlejohn (left), a CAASE Sr. Staff Attorney, discusses legal documents with the 2018 summer legal interns.
Since last fall, millions of survivors have called out workplace sexual violence using #MeToo. In response, survivors in Chicago from diverse backgrounds and blue-collar industries have pressed for a movement of resistance to the tolerance of sexual violence in the workplace, especially for low-wage workers.
The Coalition Against Workplace Sexual Violence (CAWSV), which is comprised of worker rights activists, labor organizations, and anti-gender violence organizations (including CAASE) answered this outcry by organizing Building a #MeToo Worker-Led Resistance. The 2-day convening equipped grassroots organizers and workers with tools to open a dialogue in their communities on the causes of gender-based violence, create safe spaces for workers experiencing gender-based violence, and build individual and institutional allyship in their communities.
During the May 6th and 7th gathering, workshops were co-facilitated by worker leaders and representatives from anti-gender violence organizations. Esther Bolaños, a member of the Domestic Worker and Day Laborer Center of Chicago partnered with CAASE Staff Attorney Rachel Johnson (pictured right) to lead workshops on sexual harassment and the law. Their sessions, titled "Tools for Survivors", clarified the legal definition of sexual harassment and discussed how to identify it. Participants also had the
Esther and Rachel have collaborated over the past few months, becoming a dynamic duo as they share information and encourage dialogue with diverse audiences. Rachel finds the partnership invaluable, saying "CAWSV works at the intersection of workers rights and
CAASE is proud to work with the allied organizations that compose CAWSV, which made Building a #MeToo Worker-Led Resistance a success. The convening's 40+ participants are better prepared to exercise their rights, prevent workplace sexual harm, and share what they learned in their own communities.
Above: CAWSV members at Building a #MeToo Worker-Led Resistance.
Learn more about CAWSV here.
2017 was a big year for CAASE! We provided legal services to more survivors than ever before, empowered thousands of Chicago youth through prevention programs, successfully advocated for public policies that will reduce sexual harm, and engaged with the greater community on issues related to sexual harm. Check out our work and progress over the past calendar year on our annual "2017 At a Glance".
Last week, The Steppenwolf Theater and several area high schools welcomed performances of the play Now That We’re Men. The brutally honest piece, written by Katie Cappiello, examines how teenage boys navigate their journey to manhood. The play’s five characters compose a high school friend group whose interactions drive the narrative. The collective story is suspended when each young man breaks into a deeply personal monologue reflecting thoughts and feelings influenced by rape culture and social expectations.
The play explores the topics of consent, power, porn, sexual orientation, masculinity, and sex. Now That We’re Men doesn’t sugar coat these themes. It truthfully lies out, in language heard in high schools across the country, the conversations and inner dialogues of adolescent men. The play's realism supercharges its impact on audiences –
Viewers find themselves recognizing the characters as someone they have known, remembering comparable conversations, and recalling similar conflicts
CAASE linked Now That We’re Men with Evanston Township High School (ETHS) to arrange a staged reading as part of the school's Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) campaign. Nearly 600 students, faculty, and CAASE staff members were absorbed by the performance. Following the reading, Cappiello and the cast provided a talkback allowing students to ask questions, comment on, and connect the play’s situations with their lives. Students asked how they could be “part of the solution” when it comes to sexual harm, highlighting the power of the piece for adolescence. We hope many more have the chance to experience it!
Click to learn more about Now That We’re Men.
Left to right: Hayley Forrestal (CAASE Communications Manager), Kaethe Morris Hoffer (CAASE Exc. Director),Caleb Grandoit, Fred Hechinger, Rayshawn Richardson (NTWM Cast Members), Charlotte Arnoux (NTWM Assistant Director and Associate Producer), Katie Cappiello (NTWM Writer and Director ), Marquis Rodrigue (NTWM, filled in for Alphonso Jones for the ETHS performance), and Jordan Eliot (NTWM Cast).
Over the past year, Marion Brooks of NBC Chicago worked to compile survivors' stories of sexual violence from around Chicago into the 'Survivors Project'. Participants shared their pain in hopes of helping others who have had similar experiences -- in hopes of helping other “victims” become “survivors.” We thank
In her piece for the Chicago Sun-Times, Katie Watson gave 'Pretty Women' a needed re-write. Read 'In #MeToo era, let’s flip the script for ‘Pretty Woman’' to see why she made a donation to CAASE instead of buying tickets to the musical. CAASE thanks Katie for the gift and for reminding potential audience members about the realities of sexual exploitation.
It’s abundantly clear that we are living in a historic moment. The issues of sexual violence and gender equality have captured the world's attention in a way that seemed impossible a year ago. We can’t think of a better time to reflect on where CAASE has been and plan a future filled with possibility and growth. Propelled by the momentum of this moment, we embark on crafting a new strategic plan.
Morten Group, the consulting firm guiding us through this process, conducted a comprehensive three-month long assessment of CAASE. Data regarding a multitude of organizational aspects
The report was presented, identifying 4 areas we should focus on to maximize CAASE's impact: Resource Development, Board/Governance, Marketing and Communications, and Community Role. Participants broke into groups assigned to one of these areas. Teams dove into crafting organization objectives to be addressed over the next few years. Each workgroup shared their ideas with the whole retreat before closing the day with assignments to refine objectives and set goals with measurements for success.
Our workgroups will continue, with the help of Morton Group, to develop plans over the coming months. Everyone's efforts will be rewarded with a unified strategic plan that provides a clear map for CAASE’s future.
This winter, CAASE assisted Oak Park village officials in furthering anti-trafficking and anti-sexual harassment clauses in their massage business license ordinance. This change came after multiple illicit massage business
The success of the ordinance - which passed unanimously - was due to the leadership and advocacy of Oak Park Village Trustee Simone Boutet. She reached out to CAASE and the Massage Advocacy Project of Working America last fall as the proposal was being drafted. Because of her diligent work and foresight to include expert organizations, both trafficked people
This ordinance will better regulate massage establishments in Oak Park. Requirements include background checks for all business applicants, ensuring an anti-sexual harassment policy is in place, and posting written notices reminding customers it is illegal to solicit a therapist for sex acts. The ordinance also supports massage therapists who are sexually harassed or assaulted by ensuring they can safely report any incidents without repercussions. This is critical because some customers assume they can purchase sex acts at these businesses.
No legitimate massage business would object to these proactive steps to ensure the safety and health of both their employees and customers. CAASE thanks Trustee Boutet for her efforts, and hopes other communities in the Chicago area follow the village’s lead by working with expert organizations to craft and pass similar ordinances to counter all forms of sexual harm.
If you suspect human trafficking is taking place, you should submit a tip online or call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
Over the past few months, CAASE has filled 4 positions - 2 of which are new to the organization. We are excited about this growth and thrilled to gain professionals who will help CAASE reach higher levels of success for our clients, stakeholders and the community at large. We welcome our new staff and would like to introduce them:
Danielle graduated from SIU School of Law in 2009 and began working as an Assistant State’s Attorney at Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (CCSAO). She was successful at the CCSAO and was promoted
At CAASE, Danielle is in charge of Criminal Justice Advocacy. She represents rape victims and
After studying mathematics at the University of California, Davis, Jenny began working in operations. She gained 9 years of experience in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. Prior to joining CAASE, she applied her skills as a consultant for small businesses, focusing on improving the efficacy of systems and procedures. Jenny is passionate about using her talents to support and further the mission of CAASE.
Her role at CAASE includes providing support to the Operations Director in all operations activities - specifically bookkeeping, office management, volunteer management and support for special events. Contact Jenny at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Madeleine worked as a government and investigative reporter at USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin in
At CAASE, she works with the Policy Director to build and strengthen relationships related to promoting policy and legislation locally and statewide. Contact Madeleine at email@example.com.
Hayley found a passion for gender equality in college. Following graduation, she began working as a graphic designer and marketing associate while volunteering her free time advocating for survivors through Kankakee County Center Against Sexual Assault. She loved volunteering so much that she delighted in the opportunity to work for the Center as their Communications Coordinator and Prevention Educator. Five years and one move later, Hayley found her place at CAASE and is thrilled to work for an organization seeking to address the full spectrum of sexual harm.
As Communications Manager, she supports CAASE’s brand, external communication, marketing, and relationship with the media. Contact Hayley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s been delayed before, but the US Senate appears to be on the verge of voting on “SESTA/FOSTA”, a bill CAASE strongly supports. The bill is currently scheduled for consideration in the Senate on Monday.
Right now, individual pimps and traffickers can be sued or prosecuted for the role they play in exploiting prostituted children and adults. However, websites that knowingly promote and profit from exploitation are protected from being held accountable for their role in hurting people who are in the sex trade against their will. SESTA/FOSTA, a strongly bipartisan bill, seeks to change that. The bill would allow people who have been hurt by traffickers to sue internet companies, like Backpage.com, which makes millions every year from online sex ads.
Some people argue that this law will be used to hinder people who choose to be in the sex trade or deter people from sharing information designed to increase safety and wellness for people in prostitution. This is FALSE: although the law might discourage companies from creating businesses that promote prostitution, this bill doesn’t make advertising prostitution
CAASE knows this legislation won’t end the commercial sex trade online, but it’s a solid start to hold those at the top accountable for knowingly profiting from sex trafficking. SESTA/FOSTA provides a critical pathway towards justice for anyone whose sexual violation was exploited to generate wealth for digital marketers.
Join CAASE - contact your senators today and ask them to vote in support of the SESTA/FOSTA bill which already passed the House!
On Friday, August 4th, CAASE Education Manager Caleb Probst joined a panel on engaging boys and men in
The speakers collectively agreed that it is crucial to have a safe space for young men to discuss these issues freely and how doing so empowers them to challenge the gender norms they encounter on a daily basis. Caleb and the panel explained how prevention education can pave the way for many young men to become positive influences for their peers and change these problematic dynamics.
CAASE’s Prevention education program is available for schools across Chicago including college campuses. If you’re interested in bringing our program to your school, contact Caleb at email@example.com.
On Monday, July 10th, CAASE
The new report says workers of the lowest income bracket are six times more likely to experience gender-based violence than people with higher incomes, and often have more challenges in getting help. Limited funding for services is a major barrier. Local social service agencies and worker centers are starting to work together to link services.
The event presented new research about how to build safe communities free from gender violence with simultaneous Spanish and English interpretation for community members. The event was a great success and was highlighted in local media reports including WBEZ and Univision.
Healing to Action advances a worker-led movement to end gender violence and envisions worker leaders creating safe, just workplaces and stable economic futures. Learn more on their website.
We spoke to two students to get their new perspectives...
"Buying sex is usually in favor of the purchaser and it's part of a market that exploits women. I also think what we learned is important because even things we take part in every day, there's a bad side to it like what happens on college campuses with rape. I've learned a lot about things I didn't know
-Jesus Chavez, a senior at John Hancock High School.
"I'd want to speak up if I see something happening or advise my peers and I would tell my male peers to think before doing something like going to a strip club. I think what we learned is important because these are issues that can affect anyone, even someone you're close to."
-Jessica Tabarez, a senior at John Hancock High School.
If you'd like to support our Prevention education programs, join our Race for CAASE SWEET Run on July 23rd. Sign up to be on our team and help us expand our education programs to college campuses.
Your help will directly support our Prevention programs, including our new Students Working to End Exploitation and Trafficking, (or SWEET), which is specifically designed to equip and empower men on college campuses to become leaders who fight to end exploitation in their communities.
Know a high school student who'd like to run? For students age 14-18, the fundraising pledge for either race is $100.
Join the Race for CAASE team, make a donation, or become a sponsor, today!
Over 100 CAASE staff, supporters, survivors
By the end of the evening, a total of over $25,000 had been raised to support CAASE services.
CAASE would like to thank our guests, sponsors, and donors who made the evening a success. CAASE is dedicated to improving lives, law, and understanding around sexual exploitation, throughout Chicago
On Monday, September
Opening remarks were provided by Atty. General Lisa Madigan, CAASE Executive Director, Kaethe Morris Hoffer, and Shaye Loughlin, Director of the Center for Public Interest Law at DePaul University’s College of Law. The panel, moderated by CAASE Policy Director Lynne Johnson, included: Alicia Aiken, Director of the Confidentiality Institute; Sharmili Majmudar, Executive Director of Rape Victim Advocates; Veronica Portillo Heap, Title IX complainant and University of Chicago alum; Karen Tamburro, Title IX Coordinator at DePaul University and Luke Roopra, CEO & Co-Founder of
Roopra, CEO of
Roopra said the app is designed to be a vehicle that simply delivers the information to where the student wants it to go. “We’re trying to streamline the process of reporting for students in a simple, easy-to-use way.”
But key stakeholders sitting on the panel raised questions and concerns about reporting apps.
Panelists discussed the available resources for survivors of sexual assault on campuses and beyond. They also explained the importance of addressing rape culture, victim-blaming, and rape myths that continue to permeate our community understanding and response to sexual violence.
Among other important factors, educating youth - particularly young men - about consent, respect, and encouraging them to become allies is crucial to long-term change.
The Young Feminist Conference creates a forum where young women can listen and learn from local experts, role models and make powerful connections with their peers.
Learn more at www.otschicago.org
CAASE Policy Associate, Melissa Banerjee moderated a unique panel looking at demand reduction strategies for law enforcement and prosecutors.
As Cook County gears up to vote for the state’s attorney, advocates, survivors, and invested community members came together to discuss how the candidates will address
Candidates Anita Alvarez, Kim Foxx, and Donna More took the stage to answer questions about reducing criminal penalties against victims of
Audience members, and the community at
Our community response to sexual violence must improve. Because voters are tasked with electing a state’s attorney next month, they have an opportunity to demand that the office prioritize the rights of survivors of sexual violence. Survivors of sexual harm deserve someone who represents their needs
Be sure to look out for video footage of the entire forum in our next newsletter and be sure to vote on March 15th!
CAASE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and does not support or oppose any candidates for public office. This is a nonpartisan communication meant only for public education purposes.
Chicago’s comedy community has recently made efforts to address a prevalent problem in comedian circles: sexual harassment. Chicago media outlets interviewed female comics who are bringing this issue to public conversations.
Taking proactive steps, local comedians also decided to host a workshop on how men in the comedy community can be allies against sexual harassment
On Saturday, February 6th, CAASE Educator Caleb Probst led a workshop at Laugh Out Loud Chicago for male comics to discuss misconceptions about sexual assault and harassment. The
“One way to be a good ally is the same way you can be a good improv partner. 'Yes, and...' the person coming to you for support. Listen to them and let what they say
'Yes, and...' is a common rule of improv in which actors never deny a premise put forth by their peers during a scene. Probst encouraged a culture of believing survivors when they come forward and explained how they can be supportive of their needs.
CAASE’s Executive Director also sat on a panel hosted by Women in Comedy to discuss the problem of sexual harassment and assault and what actions local communities can take to support survivors. CAASE is excited to see the comedy community encouraging their members to become allies against sexual harassment and violence.
On Friday, August 7th our friend and ally Anne Ream of The Voices and Faces Project presented at the 5th Annual Cook County Human Trafficking Conference on the case for communications as the “third leg” of any effective effort to change minds, hearts and public policies on sexual exploitation and trafficking. As a part of a collaborative effort to transform our community’s response to prostitution, Anne
Moderating the discussion was CAASE Policy Director, Lynne Johnson who worked closely with Anne on the Ugly Truth Campaign. Anne addressed why media and marketing are vital to the movement to end gender-related violence, medium being as important as the message, how to use market research, and maximizing the impact on
Here are some great takeaways from Anne’s presentation you can use in your own work to communicate for a cause:
Our End Demand Illinois campaign works to transform our community’s response to sexual exploitation. We’ve come a long way, but a recent court decision has extended our impact even further.
In 2011, we passed the Justice for Victims of Sex Trafficking Crimes Act (JVST) which offers survivors of human trafficking the opportunity to have prostitution convictions removed from their records. Due to our policy reform, survivors in Illinois are able to use this law to remove difficult barriers in their lives.
When we drafted the bill for the JVST, we understood the complexities and experiences of survivors. Survivors taught us the multiple ways in which pimps and traffickers used force, fraud, and coercion to exploit them, often resulting in criminal convictions for offenses other than prostitution.
But last June, B.J.’s case was the very first in which an Illinois judge vacated a conviction other than prostitution under the JVST.
B.J. is a survivor who was given a hefty criminal record while being prostituted by multiple pimps over 30 years ago. She had three convictions for prostitution and one for public indecency. People impacted by prostitution often bear the brunt of criminal charges which prevent them from getting employment and the help they need to get out of the sex trade.
We’re thrilled to see the driving force behind our policy work – supporting survivors and understanding the realities of the sex trade – come to fruition in this case. We hope this shift becomes a permanent change in the way our court system responds to survivors of the sex trade.
On June 25th, 2015, over 50 people joined together at the Virgin Hotels Chicago for a screening of Dreamcatcher—complete with appetizers and an open bar. CAASE’s Young Activist Council collaborated with The Dreamcatcher Foundation to host the screening of the powerful and moving documentary: Dreamcatcher.
Dreamcatcher shares the story of Brenda Myers-Powell, co-founder of The Dreamcatcher Foundation and also a survivor of sexual exploitation. Brenda was involved in the sex trade industry for 25 years—enduring severe physical, sexual and emotional abuse at the hands of pimps, johns, and traffickers. While her past may be traumatic, Brenda uses her experience with sexual exploitation to help impact the lives of Chicago women that want to get out of the industry.
The film reveals the harsh realities that young women impacted by prostitution face every day. Viewers also got the chance to learn about what The Dreamcatcher Foundation is doing to change the lives of those women including working to prevent the sexual exploitation of at-risk youth and helping them find confidence and stability through education, empowerment, and active prevention.
Following the film, the audience had a chance to get their questions answered by CAASE’s Executive Director, Kaethe Morris Hoffer
The film, much like Brenda, Homer, and the rest of the inspiring survivors in Dreamcatcher, was incredibly impactful. A special thanks
As we work to transform our community’s response to sexual exploitation, CAASE teamed up with the Rockford Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation [RAASE] to provide training for law enforcement and prosecutors in Rockford.
The day-long training featured professional peer-led training between local police and prosecutors and police/prosecutor teams doing demand-focused work in other parts of the country. Participants learned about investigation strategies and removing barriers to prosecution of people who buy sex. This included educating the participants about the realities of trafficking and prostitution so they can avoid criminal penalties for survivors who have been exploited.
“We see these [prostituted] women as part of a cycle they can’t get out of, not as criminals,” said Gallagher.
They also learned about the 6 laws in Illinois - led by CAASE’s End Demand Illinois campaign – which are all designed to provide meaningful support for survivors of prostitution and to target demand.
“If you don’t have buyers, you’re not going to have money for traffickers,” said Gallagher.
After the training, Rockford law enforcement and prosecutors spoke about how they can implement these strategies in their community and shared their commitment to begin a local team to end demand. CAASE hopes the training provided resources and strategies to a community new to demand suppression.
The trainers included JR Ujifusa, the Deputy District Attorney for the district of Oregon, Officer Mike Gallagher, a Portland police officer focusing on sex trafficking, Heidi Chance, a Vice Detective from the Phoenix Police Department, and Sara Micflikier, the Deputy County Attorney also from Phoenix.
The training was organized by a rich collaboration of groups committed to ending sexual exploitation including the CEASE Network who recommended the experts from Phoenix and Portland, CAASE and
On Tuesday, March 31st, CAASE's Executive Director, Kaethe Morris Hoffer opened her lovely home to guests for a special CAASE house party.
A packed house of over 50 guests enjoyed signature cocktails and learned more about how CAASE is working to end sexual exploitation. Everyone from
Morris Hoffer gave a warm welcome, inviting friends, new and old, to participate in CAASE's work by learning more about sexual assault, prostitution, and sex trafficking. She encouraged them to start conversations with friends and peers that address the very real problem of sexual exploitation in our community.
CAASE Policy Director, Lynne Johnson explained how the current failures of
CAASE Board President shared his story of representing survivors of sexual assault in court and how that has inspired him to take steps to get involved, raise awareness, and contribute to CAASE. He asked his guests to do the same. Guests were invited to ask questions and learned how they could get involved with CAASE and how they can become an ally to end sexual exploitation in their community.
On Thursday, January 29th, CAASE Staff Attorney Katie Gaughan presented at the University of Chicago at an event hosted by the Amnesty International's Student Chapter.
Gaughan discussed the federal definition of human trafficking and how it takes place right here in Chicago. She explained the overlap between prostitution and trafficking and how many prostituted people engage in the sex trade through the use of force, fraud, or coercion by pimps.
Gaughan explained her work representing survivors of sexual assault and prostitution. One of the tools she uses to help survivors is litigating through the Justice for Victims of Sex Trafficking Crimes Act (JVST), which offers survivors of trafficking the opportunity to vacate their prostitution convictions. This allows survivors a chance to find employment, adopt children, and rebuild their lives.
On Saturday, January 17th, CAASE Policy Director Lynne Johnson joined survivors and advocates for a post-screening panel discussion on sex trafficking in Chicago.
The film, A Path Appears, goes to the USA, Colombia, Haiti, and Kenya to uncover the harshest forms of gender-based oppression and human rights violations, and solutions being implemented to combat them.
The panelists gave the audience a glance at the local angle, exploring the issue of sexual exploitation in Chicago.
CAASE Policy Director Lynne Johnson was joined by Brenda Myers-Powell of the Dreamcatcher Foundation, Janell Wheeler a survivor and speaker at Visible Voices, and Claudia Garcia-Rojas, the Co-Coordinator of the Chicago Taskforce on Violence Against Girls and Young Women.
With an audience of over 200 guests, the panelists discussed survivors' experiences in prostitution and being sexually exploited at the hands of pimps and johns. Myers-Powell and Wheeler addressed common misperceptions widely held about customers who buy sex. Namely that they are a particular demographic or that they are hardened criminals.
"There is no typical abuser. People who buy sex are from all walks of life," said Myers-Powell. "They're from everywhere."
The speakers also discussed how pimps use coercive tactics like fraud and coercion by providing a false sense of love or promising money to young women. Pimps then recruit these women into the sex trade to exploit them for profit.
"They take advantage of a young girl who has no self-esteem and looking for a father's love," said Wheeler about her own experience being prostituted by family members.
Lynne discussed the importance of addressing demand and how law enforcement and the larger community need to focus their attention on the ones causing the harm, the pimps
"The people who buy sex are always invisible in this conversation. That needs to change," said Johnson.
The panelists shared ways in which community members can advocate for their local mayors and police chiefs to start supporting survivors of prostitution and to put their time and resources toward pimps, johns, and traffickers.
Senator Toi Hutchinson (center) with survivor leaders at CAASE's Celebrating Progress event
On November 17th, CAASE honored State Senator Toi Hutchinson with a CAASE Champion Award for her outstanding leadership to end sexual exploitation. Friends and supporters enjoyed signature cocktails and celebrated the work of CAASE's End Demand Illinois campaign. With over 100 guests including CAASE staff and survivor leaders, the night was a big success. Thank you for attending and making it a night to remember!
CAASE Staff Attorney Sheerine Alemzadeh co-led a workshop at this year's National Sexual Assault Conference in Pittsburgh. The
The workshop focused on sharing the lessons learned from the Coalition Against Workplace Sexual Violence. It also educated participants about the special vulnerability factors that increase low-wage workers' risk of being subjected to sexual violence on the job. Participants attended from around the country and from a variety of organizational backgrounds, including social services agencies, foundations, rape crisis centers, the military, and church groups.
Alemzadeh presented with Karla Altmayer of LAF-Chicago's Migrant Legal Assistance Project and Elisa Ringholm of the Latino Union of Chicago. As a representative of CAASE, Alemzadeh co-founded CAWSV with her co-presenters and other community stakeholders throughout Chicago.
On Thursday, August 15, CAASE Policy Director Lynne Johnson, survivor leader and co-founder of the Dreamcatcher Foundation Brenda Myers-Powell, and survivor Dr. Joel Filmore presented on the Justice for Victims of Sex Trafficking Crimes Act (JVST). The presentation was hosted at the 4th Annual Cook County Human Trafficking Task Force Conference held at Loyola University.
Brenda and Joel each gave their compelling personal accounts of being trafficked at the hands of pimps and going through the criminal justice system. Both explained how difficult life was after escaping the sex trade.
CAASE held an open house on Wednesday, August 6th, 2014 to celebrate our brand new office. Old friends and new learned more about our mission and programs. Our guests were welcomed by Attorney General Lisa Madigan who spoke on behalf of the important work being done at CAASE to end sexual exploitation and support survivors.
We were so thrilled to share our new space with over 100 visitors. Guests toured the offices, enjoyed refreshments, and met CAASE staff, CAASE board members
Please enjoy our photo slideshow below and we hope to see you again very soon!
CAASE’s client, a 22-year-old survivor of sexual assault who first came to CAASE for legal representation in the fall of 2013, was just granted a stalking no contact order. The client was a college student who after being sexually assaulted, experienced serious stalking behavior from the perpetrator who was also a fellow classmate.
“This is a significant victory because the survivor’s safety was really at risk, and now she has the protection she needs,” said CAASE Staff Attorney, Katie Gaughan.
Gaughan represented the survivor in litigation under the Stalking No Contact Order Act and on July 17, 2014, the case went to trial at the Domestic Violence Courthouse. The client testified to the stalking and harassing behavior she experienced at the hands of the perpetrator.
As a result of the trial, the Judge granted a two-year plenary stalking no contact order in favor of the client. The order requires the perpetrator to stay away from the survivor’s home, work, and school. The perpetrator is also prohibited from contacting her by any means. If the perpetrator violates the order, he can be charged with a misdemeanor. If he violates it a second time, he can be charged with a felony.
“It is rare for these types of cases to actually go to trial,” explained Gaughan. “It is also rare for Judges to grant these orders after a trial.
After receiving the stalking no contact order, the client was overjoyed with relief and had a
CAASE attorneys offer pro bono individualized legal advice, consultation, and representation following and related to sexual assault. We tailor our services to the needs of individuals and serve survivors of every sex, race, socio-economic status, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, and immigration status.
On Saturday, July 11th, CAASE's Young Activist Council (YAC) participated in a Guest Bartending fundraiser at STATE bar in Lincoln Park. In just two short hours, the YAC bartenders -Ana, Saundra, Michelle, and Vicki- raised over $600 for CAASE by selling $15 wristbands for guests who were able to enjoy delicious appetizers, beer, and drinks for the evening. The YAC had an estimated 97 customers for the night!
Customers learned about the work of CAASE, sex trafficking and ending demand. Guests also had a chance to get their very own "Buy Beers, Not People" t-shirts, the proceeds of which directly support CAASE and they're also available online.
Tuesday, May 20th - CAASE Executive Director, Kaethe Morris Hoffer joined Attorney Ross Neihaus to speak to college students about sexual assault and the law. As part of UChicago's Sexual Assault Awareness Week, the University of Chicago Against Sexual Exploitation and the
An audience of about 75 guests, mostly students, filed in their seats to learn more about what rights they're entitled to and how to use the resources available to them when it comes to sexual assault.
He made the case for the importance of victims having their own legal counsel, because of the many pitfalls that exist for victims attempting to negotiate with a variety of systems including criminal, University administration, and civil legal courts that all have very different rules and expectations.
Why is this such an important conversation to have?
Morris Hoffer explained that the prevalence of rape on college campuses means that significant numbers of college students will be impacted by rape during their college years, and as students they have particular rights under Federal law to expect that their universities will play an active role in responding to the ways in which sexual assault negatively impacts their ability to get what they are entitled
"All students ought to have enough information so that they can effectively seek assistance, both from legal counsel and from their communities,” said Morris Hoffer.
Learn more about the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation's free legal services here. If you or someone you know has questions or would like legal representation, please contact us at 773-244-2230, ext. 4. or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Saturday, May 10, CAASE's Young Activist Council hosted an informative and engaging film screening of The Whistleblower. The film was inspired by Kathryn Bolkovac, the inspirational woman who risked her own life to uncover human trafficking and prostitution. Bolkovac’s story astounded the world and her audience Saturday, who eagerly shared their questions with Bolkovac after the screening.
Several members of the YAC, CAASE's Board, and guests gathered at the Willow Creek Community Church to learn more about sex trafficking and what efforts are being made on a domestic an international level to fight sex trafficking. Bolkovac shared her true stories of seeing the effects of sex trafficking firsthand and emphasized the importance of holding perpetrators accountable.
CAASE Executive Director, Kaethe Morris Hoffer, moderated the discussion and spoke about ways in which CAASE has sought to transform our response to sexual exploitation and explained the ways in which ending demand is possible through deterring the purchase of sex. After the discussion, guests had the opportunity to get their copies of The Whistleblower signed by Bolkovac.
Guests also joined Bolkovac for an exclusive dinner program at The Back Room sponsored by CAASE's Board of Directors. She, along with
Tuesday, April 29th - CAASE staff participated in an event hosted by Mujeres Latinas en Accion. The Bandana Project is a national effort bringing communities together to decorate and display bandanas as a symbolic gesture to raise awareness of the sexual exploitation of farmworker women. The project adopted the bandana as a symbol of solidarity to end this abuse because many farmworker women use bandanas on the job to cover their faces and bodies in an attempt to ward off
The event started with a panel discussion featuring guest speaker Monica Ramirez of Centro de
CAASE staff attorney Sheerine Alemzadeh spoke about local efforts to combat workplace sexual violence against immigrant and low wage workers, focusing on the development of the Coalition Against Workplace Sexual Violence. Karla Altmayer of the Illinois Migrant Legal Assistance Project provided expertise on sexual violence against farmworkers in Illinois. Anne Ream, Director of the Voices and Faces Project, moderated the panel.
Panelists discussed immigration status as a barrier to coming out of the shadows and reporting sexual violence, how abuse of farmworkers is a symptom of a larger culture of impunity for sexual violence, and how audience members could get involved to stand with farmworker women in the fight against sexual violence. After the panel, audience members and panelists decorated bandanas together as one of many communities who
Thursday, April 24 - CAASE Policy and Advocacy Director, Lynne Johnson joined a forum to address the issue of sex trafficking in Illinois. The panelists included Pilar Dunning, Program Manager of Salvation Army's STOP-IT, and Jack Blakey, Chief of the Special Prosecutions Bureau for the Cook County State's Attorney's office. Congressman Roskam of Illinois' 6th district hosted the forum in an effort to raise awareness of sex trafficking and to invite experts to share best practices. The audience included local leaders and law enforcement.
Under the Illinois Safe Children Act, passed in 2010 and spearheaded by CAASE's End Demand Illinois legislative initiative, Cook County has been able to prosecute more cases in recent years. These laws coupled with the creation of a Cook County task force on human trafficking has allowed for law enforcement and social and legal service agencies together to work on trafficking cases.
Johnson stressed that holding perpetrators accountable is a highly effective response to prostitution and sex trafficking. Equipped with research of pimps and johns, Johnson explained that deterring the purchase of sex is possible if customers are faced with repercussions for their crimes including being arrested and fined.
Despite our knowledge of this, explained Johnson, deterrence efforts are often stifled by our community’s acceptance of these crimes and myths about prostitution that pervade our society.
“Our communities are supporting traffickers, pimps, and johns. Customers have expressed that they know they are not going to be punished for this, said Johnson. “People who buy sex are
Illinois has recently revised its policies around handling trafficking. Blakey explained that one of the primary issues law enforcement faced was not being able to recognize that trafficking is taking place. “Most officials are unaware of what the offense “human trafficking” means and oftentimes these crimes are occurring within their jurisdiction,” said Blakey.
Blakey explained that some of the area's human trafficking is connected to gangs. "We'll see gangs fight over drug territory but cooperate when it comes to domestic sex trafficking," Blakey said. "You can sell a kilo once. You can sell a child over and over."
Cook County now treats trafficking cases like organized crime cases, according to Blakey, with the goal of shutting down the operation no matter what
While CAASE works with legislators and the community at large to focus their attention on holding perpetrators accountable and creating laws that provide services for survivors, law enforcement works with service providers like STOP-IT.
"Our collaboration with law enforcement, prosecutors, service providers, and hospital personnel is
Dunning encouraged the audience to collaborate with STOP-IT and to learn more about how they can assist with trafficking cases.
CAASE Staff Attorney Sheerine Alemzadeh joined by Allison Creekmur a VISTA Attorney with LAF and Karla Altmayer, an Equal Justice Works Fellow with LAF, invited attorneys to a special CLE training giving them an opportunity to learn more about successfully representing clients in sexual harassment cases. The presenters engaged their fellow attorneys by providing tools to better represent clients struggling with post-traumatic stress and encouraged participants to use the law creatively to empower survivors.
Alemzadeh provided attorneys with a toolbox of laws and helped explain which laws would be the most useful for which cases. She included an in-depth analysis of Title VII, the Illinois Human Rights Act, and the Illinois Victims’ Economic Safety and Security Act. Altmayer presented information about the Illinois Gender Violence Act and state workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance laws. Both stressed the importance of thoroughly examining all options provided by each law to decide which would be the most effective when litigating for a case.
Alemzadeh and Altmayer explained that a common challenge for all kinds of sexual assault
The presenters also illustrated how their clientele are often re-victimized. When someone is sexually assaulted they have to deal with their trauma and are then blamed for failing to report the crime immediately. They explained that this results from the commonly used rhetoric around sexual assault founded
Altmyer pointed out that another common problem in court is the lack of understanding when it comes to post-trauma behavior and coping mechanisms. She explained that one crucial practice for attorneys is to empower survivors during interviews and understand how they identify themselves.
After the presentation, the attorney trio led an interactive discussion and gave the attendees hypothetical scenarios to practice what they learned. Participants earned CLE credit and came away with a deeper understanding of litigating cases involving sexual violence in the workplace.
On April 4th, Amnesty International held their annual human rights conference in downtown Chicago. The agenda included a discussion about whether Amnesty International should endorse a policy calling on governments to decriminalize ALL aspects of prostitution, including the purchase of sex.
In response to this discussion, CAASE along with Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer published an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune explaining why Amnesty should reject the proposal.
While CAASE advocates for an end to arrest and re-arrest of prostituted people,
In a rally outside the conference, CAASE teamed up with Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer, Breaking Free Executive Director and Survivor, Vednita Carter, and others to urge Amnesty International and their members to reject the proposal as it relates to pimps, johns, and traffickers.
In a crowd of supporters, CAASE's Executive Director, Kaethe Morris Hoffer explained that decriminalizing the purchase of sex would enable pimps and johns to take even more advantage of their abusive position in the commercial sex trade. Hoffer said that decriminalization of the purchase of sex does
Attorney General Lisa Madigan exuberantly told the crowd,"There are not children who grow up thinking that one day they want to be a
Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer explained that pimps and johns are the ones who should be criminalized and survivors should be supported. Gainer echoed CAASE's belief that the arrest and re-arrest of people in prostitution is a violation of human rights and an ineffective response.
Amnesty International held off on making a final decision and will likely take a stance in October of this year.
On Sunday, March 2, CAASE Executive Director, Kaethe Morris Hoffer, spoke at Congregation Solel’s Women’s Seder in Highland Park. Women from the surrounding North Shore communities gathered together for a festive meal and a second helping of human trafficking awareness.
In the Jewish tradition, Seder, a festive holiday meal, means "order,” and traditionally symbolizes stages of the meal as a path from slavery to freedom in reference to the Exodus story of Jewish slaves in Egypt. CAASE partnered with Congregation Solel to create a Seder with a focus on human trafficking. This women’s Seder highlighted the story of modern slavery and participants recounted realities surrounding the condition of women and girls across the country and the world.
“Our Women's Seder was an opportunity to examine the relevance of the Passover story to our modern lives. Human Trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery and as Jewish women, it is our distinct responsibility to learn more and to speak out against this horrendous practice,” said Cantor Vicky Gilkin of Congregation Solel.
Guests participated in prayers and songs as a commemoration of the season of liberation. An extra place was set at the Seder table representing the victims of human trafficking as a reminder of those who remain in bondage.
“Our Seder’s focus on trafficking of women and girls as an example of modern slavery made real our Jewish religion’s obligations to condemn the horrors of slavery (whether physical, emotional or intellectual) and the power of individuals to cause the redemption of an entire community,” said Gabrielle Siegal, a member of Solel.
CAASE Executive Director, Kaethe Morris Hoffer, informed the audience about sexual exploitation in Illinois and the continuing problem of law enforcement failing to punish pimps and johns. In an effort to link the Jewish tradition of opposing oppression and enslavement to our own community effort to end harm, CAASE encouraged the participants to sign letters to local mayors and police chiefs, urging them to prosecute sex traffickers and buyers and to help end
“By contacting our local government and law enforcement agencies, we are acting as change agents in bringing more attention to this important issue and to standing up to the injustices associated with it,” said Gilkin.
“The best Seders are those that educate the participants,” said Siegal. “Kaethe Morris Hoffer and CAASE did just that – they educated us on the factors causing prostitution and trafficking and the possibility that, through ending demand, we can end human trafficking,” she said.
“The Seder was particularly meaningful to me as the focus on trafficking of women and girls demonstrated how the traditional, Biblical themes of the Passover story, from slavery to freedom, are relevant today,” said Susan Altfield, a member of Solel.
“Kaethe's presentation and her recommendations regarding actions we can take to help address these injustices engaged us all and emphasized that we need to do more than hear the stories of victims and survivors,” said Altfield.
Over 85 petition letters were signed and mailed to local mayors and police chiefs in northern Illinois communities like Deerfield, Buffalo Grove, Highland Park, and many others.
Take part in addressing demand and ending sexual exploitation in your community. Download this letter and send it to your local Mayor and Police Chief, urging them to prosecute traffickers, pimps, and johns, and to stand with survivors.
See event slideshow below: