Nov. 13, 2013: Introducing CAASE's New Executive Director,
Kaethe Morris Hoffer
Kaethe Morris Hoffer has been selected as Executive Director of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE), the CAASE Board of Directors is pleased to announce. Ms. Morris Hoffer, who has been Deputy Executive and Legal Director since 2009, replaces founder Rachel Durchslag as the leader of the organization. She has more than 20 years of experience in legal and political advocacy opposing gender inequality and sexual violence and has represented survivors of rape and sex trafficking in multiple venues.
Ms. Durchslag said, “I could not be happier that Kaethe Morris Hoffer has been chosen as the new Executive Director of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation. Kaethe is the type of person who leads not only with her intellect and innovation, but with her heart as well. Over the past four years she has been instrumental in CAASE's growth and successes, and I am excited to watch the organization continue to blossom in its impact and effectiveness under her leadership.”
Board President Amy Kohn said, “Kaethe's expertise, energy, and commitment to the movement to end sexual exploitation are unmatched. We are thrilled to have a member of our team lead CAASE into the future.”
Ms. Morris Hoffer has worked for improved legislation and policy related to sex trafficking and sexual assault in numerous venues, including Springfield, Illinois, Washington, D.C., and at the United Nations. In 2005, when she saw that there were no legal organizations focused exclusively on representing victims of sexual assault or engaging in advocacy related to rape and prostitution, she opened up her own office. Ms. Morris Hoffer ultimately created the Justice Project Against Sexual Harm, which merged with CAASE in 2009.
Ms. Morris Hoffer’s prior work includes serving on the Illinois Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women from 1999 through 2003; assisting in the representation of survivors of Bosnian-Serb rape-death camps in 1995 and again in 2000; serving on the policy advisory group for the 2008 Obama Campaign; working at the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago; and working in the policy departments of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and the office of former Mayor Richard M. Daley.
On her new role at CAASE, Ms. Morris Hoffer said, “I am beyond delighted to take on leadership of an organization as remarkable as CAASE. The staff here is incredible, our board and supporters are passionate and committed, the bravery of the survivors we work with and serve is inspiring, and we benefit from countless allies—individual and organizational. Together we are working to transform Chicago into the kind of place it can and should be: a community where people don’t engage in unwanted sex or create demand for trafficking by purchasing sex.”
The Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation was founded in 2006 to address the culture, institutions, and individuals that perpetrate, profit from, or support sexual exploitation. To achieve this mission, CAASE employs multiple strategies, including policy advocacy, legal representation, community engagement, and prevention education.
Sept. 19, 2013: Human Trafficking in Cook County Revisited
Cook County’s Achievements in Ending the Exploitation of Women and Girls:
Exploring Future Goals and Objectives
CAASE's Director of Policy and Advocacy Lynne Johnson participated in this event with the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues. Read more on the End Demand Illinois website.
June 20, 2013: Rape Victim Advocates Honors CAASE's Sexual Assault Justice Project with the Visionary Award
CAASE’s Sexual Assault Justice Project was honored by Rape Victim Advocates with the Dr. Natalie Stephens Visionary Award at their Soiree in the City on June 20, 2013. The award recognizes the work of CAASE’s legal team in offering free legal representation to survivors of sexual assault and prostitution. CAASE’s Deputy Executive and Legal Director Kaethe Morris Hoffer and Project Administrator Veronica Martinez accepted the award. CAASE was honored to be recognized by RVA, a local ally that supports survivors of sexual violence on their journey of healing and justice. Learn more about CAASE's legal services here.
May 9, 2013: An Important Message from CAASE's Board Chair
I am writing to let you know about an important change happening at the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation. Seven years after founding CAASE and helping it grow into an influential force in the fight against sexual harm, Rachel Durchslag has decided to move on from her role as executive director, effective May 31. Rachel is known nationally as a leader in the movement to end sexual exploitation, and she will continue to be a vital part of our CAASE community.
“I am so proud of what CAASE has accomplished so far, and I’m excited about the future. This is the right moment to welcome in a new executive director to take CAASE into its next chapter,” Rachel said.
We expect the transition to a new executive director will be a smooth one. A search for Rachel’s replacement is under way, and the CAASE Board of Directors is dedicated to finding the best candidate possible. We will post the open position in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we are fortunate to welcome Gaylene Henry as our interim executive director. Gaylene has been working with CAASE’s staff and board as a fundraising consultant for more than a year, and brings nonprofit leadership experience, knowledge, and passion for the movement.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at BoardChair@caase.org.
We also want to invite you to celebrate Rachel and all that she has accomplished since starting CAASE in 2006. Please read this special message from Rachel.
Amy H. Kohn
President, CAASE Board of Directors
December 1, 2012: Rachel Durchslag Selected for Prestigious NoVo Foundation Program, the Move to End Violence
Chicago—Rachel Durchslag, executive director of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE), was named by the NoVo Foundation as one of 20 new leaders selected to join its groundbreaking Move to End Violence program, a 10-year, $80 million program to strengthen leaders and organizations, and build a breakthrough movement to end violence against girls and women in the United States.
“These leaders have shown incredible vision and courage in their day-to-day work, confronting violence, abuse, rape and trafficking of women and girls in their communities,” said Jennifer Buffett, President and Co-Chair of the NoVo Foundation. “The Move to End Violence program is an effort to honor their bold leadership and harness their potential to create the change needed so that girls and women can live free of violence.”
Leaders selected for the program participate in an intensive, two-year experience that includes time for essential, big-picture conversations; the opportunity to sharpen their vision and develop a strategy to get there; skills-building sessions to advance social change and advocacy skills; and a strong emphasis on self-care and empowerment. Leaders’ organizations also receive general support grants and technical assistance to advance organizational development.
“I’m honored to be chosen to participate in this inspiring program,” said Durchslag. “The experiences, network and funding that CAASE will gain from the Move to End Violence will strengthen our work in Chicago and amplify the influence of our advocacy to end violence against all people in the sex trade.”
CAASE was founded in 2006 to address the culture, institutions, and individuals that perpetrate, profit from, or support sexual exploitation. On any given day in Chicagoland, it’s estimated more than 24,000 women and girls are impacted by prostitution. This population is frequently arrested and re-arrested without meaningful intervention, while purchasers and traffickers are rarely held accountable. CAASE and its End Demand Illinois campaign advocate for law enforcement to focus its resources on holding pimps, johns and traffickers accountable, while proposing a network of supportive services for survivors of the sex trade.
Most perpetrators of sexual assault are never arrested, let alone charged for the harm they cause. According to Human Rights Watch, the arrest rate for rape in Illinois is 11%. CAASE’s legal program, the Sexual Assault Justice Project, offers free legal services to survivors of sexual assault and the sex trade.
Durchslag leads the organization’s prevention and community engagement programs in addition to her role as executive director. She developed the country’s first curriculum for young men in high school that addresses the harms of the sex trade. Since it launched in 2010, the program has reached more than 1,500 young men, empowering them to construct healthy ideas about their own masculinity and to end violence against women in their community, including ending violence against people in the sex trade.
Over ten years, the Move to End Violence program will connect and strengthen hundreds of advocates and organizations, investing in a national network of committed leaders with the vision, skills and renewed energy necessary to reinvigorate efforts to end violence against girls and women. The NoVo Foundation will also consider funding a select number of collaborative campaigns that will be designed by program participants, chosen for promising potential to create meaningful change.
“We are delighted to name Rachel and CAASE as partners in this effort,” said Jackie Payne, Move to End Violence director. “We look forward to supporting her and the other ‘Movement Makers’ as they develop bold new strategies to confront violence and create lasting change for women and girls.”
More information on the Move to End Violence program is available at www.movetoendviolence.org.
Oct. 3, 2012: Kaethe Morris Hoffer Honored with YWomen Leadership Award
Kaethe Morris Hoffer, CAASE’s Deputy Executive Director and Legal Director, was honored by the YWCA Evanston/North Shore with the YWomen Leadership Awards on October 3, 2012.
The award recognizes, supports and promotes women’s leadership and the impact women have in our community. “From our mothers to our daughters, our sisters, friends and neighbors, there are thousands of women in our communities who serve as leaders in their families, schools, workplaces and neighborhoods.”
Kaethe has spent the last twenty years doing legal and political advocacy opposing sex inequality and sexual violence. She currently leads CAASE’s Sexual Assault Justice Project, which offers free legal representation to survivors of sexual assault and exploitation in Chicago, regardless of income. Read more about Kaethe here.
One of the most anticipated parts of the YWomen Leadership Awards each year is the film made by YWCA Board Member (and accomplished film maker) Susan Hope Engel. This year's film, on the fifth anniversary of the awards, is as inspirational as ever -- and includes a beautiful retrospective montage of the all five years of YWomen honorees. Kaethe is featured in the video below, around minute 4:55.
Aug. 4, 2012: Governor Signs Law to Reform Illinois’ Human Trafficking Code
Illinois’ human trafficking laws were strengthened today as Governor Pat Quinn signed House Bill 5278, now PA 97-0897, which will help prosecutors build stronger cases against human traffickers who ensnare adult victims. New language in the bill includes “schemes or plans” and other tactics traffickers use to ensnare and control their victims. Previously, undue emphasis was put on proving physical force in adult trafficking cases, so most cases in Illinois focused only on child victims. The bill also clarifies how fines can be collected from prostitution-related offenses and funneled into services for survivors of the sex trade. Read more about this law at End Demand Illinois >>
Sept. 23, 2012: Ending Demand is a Common-Sense Approach That Works.
The New York Times ran an opinion piece that mischaracterizes the national movement to end demand for the sex trade as a "moral crusade" that is solely focused on arresting johns. Speaking locally, the End Demand Illinois campaign advocates for a variety of strategies, including some of the very solutions that reporter Noy Thrupkaew puts forward, such as better accountability for traffickers, and social services for survivors of the sex trade. Read more here from CAASE’s Executive Director Rachel Durchslag in her Huffington Post column >>
April 3, 2012: Words=Change Workshop Will Engage Writers
Writers in Chicago have the opportunity to use the power of the pen to fight sexual exploitation. Next week, CAASE, The Voices and Faces Project and the Neighborhood Writing Alliance are teaming up to offer a free workshop to 25 participants who want to learn how to address issues of sexual violence and the sex trade in their writing.
A new toolkit for writers has also been released in preparation for the event and is available for free download on CAASE’s website here, with supplemental information here. The workshop is open to all writers, whether they have survived sexual exploitation or are simply motivated to raise awareness and deepen understanding through their writing.
"Testimony is at the heart of every social justice movement, and language can be a powerful force for change,” said Anne Ream, founder of The Voices and Faces Project. “When we write about the injustices we've lived or witnessed, we bring those who read our words close - at times painfully close - to the issue of violence against women. Behind every social injustice there is a deeply personal story, and our words can make such stories feel real."
“It’s important to give tangible action steps that people can take to end sexual exploitation,” said Rachel Durchslag, CAASE’s executive director. “This new toolkit offers ideas, facts and inspiration for writers who want to take on the subjects of prostitution, sex trafficking and sexual assault.”
The Neighborhood Writing Alliance envisions a society where adults connect through creative communities in which writing, discussing, and publishing personal narrative leads to civic engagement, neighborhood vitality, and social transformation. “This event and toolkit will build community around ending sexual exploitation and harm and will equip readers with tools to raise awareness and create change,” said Rachael Hudak, program director of the Neighborhood Writing Alliance.
Words=Change will be held April 12, 2012,6–8 p.m. at the Chicago Cultural Center (Millennium Room, 5th floor) located at 78 E. Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602.
Space is limited for this event. Please RSVP to Rachael at email@example.com or by calling 773-684-2742.
March 5, 2012: CAASE Urges Support for State and Federal Legislation
The Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation urges our supporters to take action and contact your legislators about legislation that will affect women and girls in our community, specifically survivors of sex trafficking, sexual assault, and domestic violence. Read our list of proposed legislation that we support and oppose here, and take action today!
February 29, 2012: Reforming Illinois' Trafficking Law: Support HB 5278
CAASE's End Demand Illinois campaign is partnering with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office to propose reform to our state’s human trafficking laws. The reforms make the law more effective by:
Learn more about the proposed legislation by downloading a full fact sheet here.
We will need your help in the coming weeks as this law is considered by the state legislature. Check back soon for more updates.
February 24, 2012: Illinois Budget Cuts Rape Crisis Funding
TAKE ACTION to tell your legislator to maintain funding
The budget proposed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn yesterday cuts funding for rape crisis services while increasing funding for sex offenders. The Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA) is urging legislators to take the proposed increases for the Sexually Violent Persons program and reallocate that funding to maintain rape crisis services. A few facts:
Funding for rape crisis services has dropped 26.5% from FY09 to FY13.
It’s projected that rape crisis centers will serve 18,900 survivors in 2012. The proposed budget allocates only $222 per victim served at rape crisis centers.
In comparison, the budget allocates $26,831,000 to the Sexually Violent Persons Program (a 6%-8% increase) at a cost of $56,368 per offender.
You can take action—reach out to your legislator and share this information.
February 2, 2012: Strip Clubs Exploit Women, Keep Their Earnings
In light of story out of Elgin that owners took $3 million in fees from dancers
CHICAGO- News broke today that strip club owners in Elgin, Illinois, allegedly earned more than $3 million in fees from women who danced in their venue. They are under investigation for not reporting this money for taxes. Sadly, the fact that this much money was earned in a strip club is not surprising. Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation urges the community to become aware of the exploitation that occurs in strip clubs throughout Chicagoland.
Some people believe that stripping makes women rich. Instead, they are often indebted to the club indefinitely. As soon as a woman begins dancing at a club, it can cost her money rather than being a lucrative job. Many of the women who dance at strip clubs or strip for a house-call company are hired as independent contractors instead of as employees and are therefore not paid a salary or hourly wages. Despite this classification, the clubs maintain enormous control over the women, setting their schedules and hours and setting the prices a dancer can charge for table or private dances.
Additionally, the women often pay the club stage fees or “rent,” sometimes as high as $150 per night. In addition, women pay the club a commission of up to 20% from private dances and tips. Many clubs also require dancers to “tip out”—sharing a percentage of what they earn with the bartender, waitresses, bouncers, house mother, and DJ.
To learn more about the harms that strip clubs cause to women, please visit our fact sheet.
CAASE is the lead agency for End Demand Illinois, a statewide campaign to hold pimps, johns and sex traffickers accountable. End Demand Illinois advocates for new tools and resources for law enforcement to investigate and convict traffickers, pimps, and the people who are buying sex. Simultaneously, the campaign works to support the development of a statewide infrastructure of supportive services for people who have been prostituted or trafficked. Learn more at www.enddemandillinois.org
“No matter which study you choose, it’s clear that we have a problem with sexual violence in this country and we need to figure out how to turn that around.”
Statistics about sexual assault and sexual abuse are being talked about in the media, with some calling the prevalence of rape into question. Just recently, the FBI updated their archaic definition of rape to be more inclusive (and for the first time to count sexual assaults of men).
As an organization that works with and advocates for the rights of survivors of sexual assault, CAASE believes it’s important to have accurate, current data. Fortunately, we have allies who are doing great work in leading studies and sifting through other information to get to the heart of these issues.
Just this week, a Washington Post opinion writer questioned the veracity of the CDC’s statistics on sexual assault and the prevalence of rape in general. Our allies at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center responded to this article in a statement that addresses the CDC, FBI and their own recent “National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey” Please find their full statement here. As Karen Baker of the NSVRC explains: “No matter which study you choose, it’s clear that we have a problem with sexual violence in this country and we need to figure out how to turn that around.”
For more information about CAASE’s work with survivors of sexual assault, please visit our Legal Services page.