So much more went on during Ruchira Gupta's 5-day visit to Maine. She helped us to:
- Shine a light on the serious problem of sex-trafficking in our own communities.
- Start talking about what’s happening to our girls and women caught in prostitution, with no way out, with no real choices, no safe place.
- Open our own eyes to the fact that there are pimps lurking around our schools looking for vulnerable girls.
- Focus on the fact that teenage girls are being arrested for drugs, sent to jail, which today is the only safe place for them and the only place they get any support services.
- Better understand that we can and must address the total absence of any transitional housing for girls and women who want to escape the life of prostitution but can’t get away from the pimps who are controlling them because there is no safe place to harbor them.
- Bring our diverse community into the conversation – including New Mainers who attended almost every event.
Deering High School -
A meeting with students in the Global Studies class at Deering High.
Ruchira received the key to the city from Portland Mayor Michael F. Brennan.
Colby College and Bates College
Ruchira met with the Colby College "Muses" of Hardy Girls Healthy Women and students from both schools engaged in separate conversations with Ruchira about human trafficking and what they can do here in Maine.
University of Southern Maine's Multicultural Studies Program
Reza Jalali, Chair of the program, filled the Glickman Library with students who engaged with Ruchira in a conversation about this issue in Maine and around the globe. Reza also organized a meal for Ruchira with the India Association of Maine.
University of Maine School of Law
Ruchira's visit inspired one of the law students to build a summer fellowship to help address human trafficking issues in Maine and will volunteer a significant part of her summer to help strengthen our local coalition.
Meeting with Maine's Criminal Justice community
US Attorney Tom Delahanty, Victim Witness Advocate Heather Putnam, AUSA’s Margaret Groban and Julia Lipez, organized an event for law enforcement, social service providers, defense attorneys, prosecutors, survivors now working as advocates, Long Creek administrators, and staff working on the Preble St. Anti-trafficking grant. For perhaps the very first time providers, advocates, and law enforcement officials began an open dialogue on what needs to be done.
Meeting with Maine's Judicial community, including Chief Justice Leigh Saugley
During this meeting, Chief Justice Saufley pledged to institute better protocols aimed at ameliorating human trafficking in Maine.
CIEE - Council of International Educational Exchange
CIEE and Pres. Jim Pellow, who have been with us from the beginning, streamed Ruchira’s talk with CIEE students to 200 students in 25 different countries.
They awarded scholarships to 4 student from Deering High to attend one of their international leadership programs – each young woman will spend time this summer in a different foreign country.
They invited 2 young women from Apne Aap, daughters of prostituted women, to come to Maine this summer to take part in their high school entrepreneurship program at SMCC.