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Never Again on the Sidelines

I was in a meeting with Crime Stoppers Board Member and one of our Leading Women for Public Safety, Donae Chramosta, just two days ago. Our hope was to meet with another community volunteer and ask for support as we seek to expand our free Safe School Program into more public, private and charter schools across Houston. Donae spoke with such passion and purpose that in watching her, I was reminded of how citizens like Donae, like you and me, are working together to change the face of our city, state and county; and we are doing so in a mighty way.

Just look at the last few weeks. Jennifer HohmanAmy Pierce, the Houston 20, a long list of nonprofits, the incredible John Clark, and many others came together to focus on making significant strides in the end of human trafficking in Houston, in Texas and across our nation. The approach was multi-tiered. On the local level, we worked and are working with Governor Greg Abbott to stiffen laws in the state of Texas. Nationally though, there have been tremendous strides with breaking news every single day:

  • IT PASSED! Working quietly and under the radar with U.S. Representative Ann Wagner and other congressional members, new legislation (SESTA/FOSTA) aimed at giving law enforcement officials greater authority to go after websites which allow for sex trafficking thereby limiting their immunity and ultimately shutting down online sex traffickers was proposed and just this week passed by a vote of 97-2! The news left lobbyist and powerful tech companies scratching their heads in disbelief. The reality is, behind the scenes, Houston community members were very much working alongside critical elected officials to get the measure passed and they did so, beautifully. We all thank those members and especially U.S. Representative Ann Wagner for her leadership.
  • HISTORIC UPDATE! In response to this sweeping change, just a few days ago, Craigslist removed its “personals”section thereby no longer offering a way for anonymous people to connect for sexual activity and in one step, shut down the online exploitation and promotion of sex trafficking victims. What a huge victory! Visitors of Craigslist personals are now redirected to a statement about the FOSTA Bill.
  • And more: Very shortly thereafter, Reddit shut down their personal ads in the wake of the passing of the Online Sex Trafficking Act.

Friends, I share this with you for two reasons. One, this is huge and I want you to be aware of the critical updates taking place weekly. But second, as Donae reminded me in our meeting just a few days ago, great change can be made by wonderful people who have the sheer will and determination to see that change through. This reality is making its way to the younger generation as hundreds of thousands took to DC and other major cities to participate in the March For Our Lives.

As a community and as a country, we are learning that change can come through everyday people who are committed to seeing that change through. We are no longer on the sidelines. The truth is, you can’t stop a swelling community of involved people, especially women, when it comes to the protection of our children. You can’t stop us when it comes to the protection of all children. You can’t stop us when it comes to protection of each other. You can’t stop us when it comes to using our voices and wanting what’s right for our families, for our kids, their education, our animals, for our homes and our futures.

Join our efforts! Working together, we are stronger!

Posted by Rania Mankarious, on 25 Mar 2018

About the author

Executive Director of Crime Stoppers of Houston