Feminist Conversation is a regular series at Feminists for Choice, in which we highlight activists from across the interwebs. Malin Roux is the founder of RealStars, an independent non-profit organization working against trafficking in Europe while promoting the notion of Fair Sex. I asked Malin a few questions about the organization and the battle against trafficking.
1. How does RealStars work and operate?
RealStars functions as a positive force for gathering opinions regarding trafficking and to strengthen the European legislature. The intention of our operation is to work against sex trafficking (human trafficking for sexual purposes) and sexual exploitation through opinion-forming dialogue and campaigns. RealStars wants to inspire others to change the course of trafficking and contribute to a Europe free from human trafficking and exploitation.
Those who contact us often mention that RealStars is an organization that engages in ways other organizations do not. Therefore, they want to contribute in a concrete way and make a difference. In many cases, the people working at RealStars try to reawaken the dormant opinion shared by most. We believe that nearly all humans consider trafficking, sexual assault, and prostitution a hindrance to achieving equality and parity. We therefore want to reach out to those who share our opinion. In order to do so we utilize the notion of Fair Sex – sex on equal terms. We also work alongside artists and young adults to be able to create fashion and art, representing Fair Sex and supporting our cause. We believe that Fair Sex should be of importance to everyone since sex trafficking is the complete opposite of Fair Sex. A society that ignores this notion is a society that is losing its soul.
2. How did you become interested in trafficking?
I previously worked with CSR (corporate social responsibility) matters, as well as human rights topics in organizations such as Amnesty International. As I was working on a commission for the World Childhood Foundation in 2008, my interest in trafficking was awakened. With that background in mind, I felt as if trafficking received less attention than other human right subjects. In the last 10 years, the progress has reversed even more. Sweden has been more progressive than most other nations, and through the laws concerning the purchasing of sex (the so-called sexköpslagen), Sweden has taken a stand for Fair Sex, but we need to focus more on the demand of trafficking and the buyers who create the market.
3. When did you decide to create RealStars?
During 2008 and 2009 it became clear that the area of trafficking needed to receive more attention, [and] should be a higher priority on the political and social sustainability agenda in order to turn things around and put an end to trafficking.
4. What do you consider to be the greatest challenge in the fight against trafficking?
Many countries (Sweden and Norway are exceptions) place little blame on the sex buyer as being part of the trafficking chain – recruiting, transportation, and exploitation. The purchasing of sex from a victim is often not associated with penalties or crime sanctions. As long as this is the case, we cannot get to the root of the problem. Recognizing and implementing Fair Sex is part of the solution of acknowledging that the purchasing of sex and human exploitation must be penalized. This provides a tool to be used by the criminal justice system and the police when protecting the victims of exploitation and trafficking.
5. How can we try to curtail trafficking?
Everyone can do something to help limit and minimize trafficking. Partaking in campaigns that can influence politicians and impact opinions will help strengthen the belief in Fair Sex and equality for humans. It is also important to engage in discussions about trafficking and gain knowledge about the subject. We all have the responsibility to promote human rights.
6. When you are not fighting for Fair Sex, what do you like to do on your spare time?
I relax by spending time with my family, and meeting up with friends as often as I can. I work out as much as possible, and I enjoy listening to music; I play in an orchestra, and like going to concerts.
If you would like to join the fight against trafficking, visit RealStars and sign their petition for Fair Sex. The website is accessible in both English and Swedish. You can also follow RealStars on twitter or via Facebook.