Malin Roux of RealStars Talks Fair Sex

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 SwedishYou can also follow RealStars on twitter or via Facebook.      

U.S. Senate Passes Amendment to Confront LGBT Human Rights Abuses

The United States Senate today passed the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for 2010, including an amendment that will significantly increase the involvement of U.S. embassies in monitoring and intervening in acts of anti-LGBT violence and discrimination. Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill played a major role in influencing the creation and implementation of this amendment.

An amendment that successfully passed as part of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s State Department authorization bill would increase U.S. monitoring of international violence and other discrimination relating to sexual orientation or gender identity.

With some Republican support, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, April 27, accepted the amendment, sponsored by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) and co-sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), on a roll call vote of 12-7. Later in the committee’s session on Tuesday, the entire Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2010-11 was passed on a voice vote. [Read more...]

National Equality March

National Equality MarchIf my life goes according to plan I will be attending the National Equality March this Sunday October 11, 2009 in Washington D.C. If you are in the area or can make it down (I live about six hours away just to give you an idea) please join us. There are a list of activities throughout the day, but the actual march begins at 8:00am with a rally to commence at noon at the Capitol Building. This is not an anual event, so please come show your support.

Hillary Clinton is a Rock Star – Get Over It

Yesterday Twitter and the blogosphere were all abuzz about a recent incident Hillary Clinton experienced while she was visiting the Congo. A journalist asked Hillary to explain what Bill Clinton’s opinion was on China’s involvement in the Congo. Here’s her reaction.

MSNBC is trying to back peddle on the story by chalking it up to an error in translation.

Bite me. If some dude asked me what my husband’s opinion was about something, I’d get irritated, too. [Read more...]

Interview With Gloria Feldt

n688198711_111In case you didn’t know it, I think Gloria Feldt is a rock star. The four-part book review of The War on Choice should have been a giveaway that I really respect all the work that Feldt has done for women’s health. Feldt is the former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She is the author of many books, including Behind Every Choice is a Story, and a contributor to Becoming Myself: Reflections on Growing Up Female, and Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love and Leading Roles. Gloria blogs regularly on her own site, I caught up with her this week to ask her some questions about what the future of the pro-choice movement will look like.

Much of the information in The War on Choice seems specific to the Bush administration. In fact, while I was reading the book I felt I could breath a sigh of relief since Bush is no longer in office. But do you feel that it would be a mistake for pro-choice activists to assume that having Democratic control of the White House and Congress means that reproductive rights are no longer under attack?

It is always the biggest mistake for advocates to celebrate for more than 5 minutes after winning an election. First of all, as I pointed out in Beyond Roe, we have merely lived to fight another day. It’s our job now to keep putting forward the initiatives we need to secure reproductive rights, health care, and justice and to restore the access that has been lost in the past decade. Plus there are always places where opponents of choice will try to do damage.

A good hot topic example is health reform. On the one hand, we have the opportunity to expand access to birth control and to rectify the injustices of the Hyde amendment that outlaws coverage of abortions in government health plans. But we must be both vigilant and proactive. [Read more...]

The War on Choice: Fighting Forward

400000000000000076829_s4This is part four of my review of The War on Choice by Gloria Feldt. Click here for parts one, two, and three.

Gloria Feldt’s The War on Choice is a wake up call for pro-choice advocates. Feldt painstakingly documents the strategies that the anti-choice movement has used to push their right wing agenda. The chapters on sex education curriculum and judicial appointments are the most enraging, because these two agenda items alone have such a dramatic impact on our day to day lives. The right wing is extremely motivated and their campaign is both organized and effective. Their members regularly attend school board meetings, write their elected representatives, and stay on top of the ballot initiatives in their state. We should be taking a page from their book and doing the same thing.

The final chapter of Felt’s book is appropriately titled “Fighting Forward.” In it, Feldt urges readers to take a daily pro-choice action. That could include signing up for e-mail alerts, sending out your own pro-choice e-mails, sporting a pro-choice bumper sticker or T-shirt, or talking to your family members and friends about pro-choice issues. The anti-choice movement will only be able to succeed if we let them win. Small, daily actions can add up quickly. And the more people we engage in pro-choice activism, the better able we’ll be able to forward our own broad-based reproductive rights agenda. [Read more...]

Hillary Clinton Says “It Will Take the Right Woman” to be President

Oh, man. I LOVE me some Hillary Clinton. We’re talking full on girl crush here. In fact, Hillary Clinton is the reason I’m a feminist. Back in 1995 she spoke at the Beijing Women’s Conference and I was so inspired by her proclamation that “women’s rights are human rights.” I know now that she wasn’t the first person to say that, but when I was 15, I thought that Hillary was a rockstar for saying it. I still do. Which is why I’ve assuaged my disappointment over her not being the President with the consolation that we’ve got a women’s rights advocate serving as Secretary of State.

Yesterday I swooned as I watched Hillary on “Meet the Press.” I liked hearing her remarks about foreign policy topics, but it was her discussion of women and leadership that really made me perk up my ears.

[Read more...]

Thursday News Roundup

mouse2Yesterday the headlines and the Twittersphere were dominated with health care reform news. Here’s a change of pace for you.

What is the Role of Men in the Feminist Movement? – NOMAS
Abortion Providers are Human Rights Defenders – Center for Reproductive Rights
Susan B. Anthony: The Good Fanatic – The Nation
Center for Reproductive Rights Asks Justice Dept. to Increase Protection of Abortion Providers – Miami Herald

Time to Implement the AU’s Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa

The heads of state of the African Union met in Libya for the 13th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union. Agriculture and its relation to economic growth and security was at center stage for the conference. Prior to the conference, a group of women’s rights advocates met to discuss the status of women in Africa.

Tumuslime discussed aspects of the history of women’s status in Africa and stressed the necessity of the AU to effectively address these issues, especially regarding agricultural production and food security. In many African countries women are responsible for the production of 80 percent or more of the food supply, yet women’s decision-making authority falls far short of their overall economic contribution to society.
“The women have always been there and they starve in order to feed their husbands. They starve in order to feed their children, and they starve in order to look after the sick, to look out for the HIV people in the hospitals. Without women, I don’t think, we would be anywhere,” Tumuslime stated in her address. (VOA, June 18)

[Read more...]