This week’s producer spotlight takes us to India to meet one of our newest partners, International Sanctuary (iSanctuary).
iSanctuary is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 2007 by friends Stephanie Pollaro and Wendy Dailey to provide child victims of the sex trade industry in India and the US with a path to self-sufficiency through craft-related professional opportunities.
We talked with Michelle Johnson, Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator for iSanctuary, and asked her a few questions:
iSanctuary acts at the "end of the rescue process." Why does the organization approach the issue of human trafficking from this perspective?
Stephanie Pollaro, iSanctuary’s Founder, moved to India with the intent to serve survivors of human trafficking in any way possible. She found organizations addressing different parts of the human trafficking cycle, but not many doing something to help survivors transition into society and build a life of their own. Stephanie wanted to try to show the ladies that they are valuable members of society and that they have a lot to contribute to the world.
Could you tell us a little bit about the "missing piece of reintegration" that iSanctuary refers to on its website and why is that so important?
Human trafficking is a cycle: demand, the transactional sale of a human, rescue, rehabilitation and, finally, reintegration. There are many organizations working to address the different phases of the cycle, and all the work is definitely needed. iSanctuary chose to focus on reintegration because we saw that there is so much more healing that comes through not only being the employment piece, but also walking alongside our women in things like opening their own bank accounts, education, medical, counseling and other services. Our goal is to enable them to start making their own choices for the first time, and to believe they are full of dignity, beauty, and worth.
Human trafficking is an issue with alarming statistics. From an expert perspective, would you say that there has been any progress regarding this issue?
There has been progress in the fact that people are slowly becoming more aware about the issue, and the reality that it happens right here in the US, to Americans. There has also been more of a focus from a legislative standpoint. Laws are being passed to increase penalties for traffickers, and to protect victims from being prosecuted. For example, California just recently passed Prop 35, which enforces higher prison terms for traffickers and mandated human trafficking trainings for law enforcement among other enhancements to state law.
However, although there has been progress, we still have so much more to do. So many people still don’t know about human trafficking, and millions of people are still enslaved around the world. We all have a part to play, and awareness is just the first step!
How do you envision the future of iSanctuary? In your opinion, will social media and the e-commerce ecosystem shape that future in any way?
iSanctuary’s vision moving forward is to expand to 10 sanctuaries around the world by 2020, and to continue to empower people rescued from trafficking. We seek to transform each person into survivors by embracing their true identity and self-worth! Social media has been a huge outlet for iSanctuary to be able to share our story and to invite others into the work we are doing in these women’s lives.
(Stephanie Pollaro, co-founder of iSanctuary)
We're thrilled to partner with iSanctuary and to contribute to the inspiring, healing work that they do.