Soroptimist Convention Focuses on Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls

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Trafficking/prostitution expert Victor Malarek to speak; Attendees to approve anti-prostitution resolution

On July 8, Victor Malarek, world-renown anti-trafficking/prostitution expert and journalist, will address Soroptimist International of the America’s convention body at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square. His address, “Myths, Lies and Propaganda,” will expose the many commonly held notions about the world’s “oldest oppression.” Malarek, whose award-winning work has exposed the worldwide flesh trade and the men who fuel the demand for purchased sex, opposes prostitution on the grounds that the vast majority of women ensnared in the so-called profession are there against their will.

Malarek, a Toronto-based TV reporter who makes documentaries for W5, has noted that massive numbers of Western men from all economic classes and education levels patronize sex-trade workers. He estimates that 90 percent of those who do are acting out of rage, rather than sexual satisfaction. In part, Malarek blames the proliferation of exploitative prostitution—especially the prostitution of trafficked and developing world women—on North American male anger at feminism and the equality of women.

Malarek will be exploring this topic when he addresses the convention body in the morning of July 8. He will also be presenting a workshop, “Exploding the Myths,” at 2:15 p.m.

Delegates to the convention will be considering a resolution that states Soroptimist’s unequivocal stand against prostitution of any kind. In addition, Soroptimist will be supporting the Swedish model, whereby johns—or men who purchase women—are prosecuted but the prostituted women are not.

Following Malarek’s keynote address, he will accompany Soroptimist President Cathy Standiford and Soroptimist Executive Director Leigh Wintz to the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women protest at Craiglist’s San Francisco headquarters. Soroptimist is a co-sponsor of the event, at which thousands are expected to join in an effort to bring attention to Craigslist’s facilitation of and profiting from sex trafficking.

At 12:30 p.m., Soroptimist will be honoring its Women’s Opportunity Award recipients. This award-winning program offers head-of-household women cash grants to pursue educational or skills-training opportunities. Almost $1.5 million is disbursed through this life-changing program annually. Two of the 2010 recipients—Kimberly M. Thompson of Ashland, Oregon, and Lisa Boyd of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada—will be present to accept their $10,000 awards. Thompson will share her story of how she went from being homeless to turning her life around and pursuing a degree in elementary education. Boyd, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, will talk about how she fled an abusive relationship to pursue her dream of becoming a social worker.

Convention attendees will also support two San Francisco shelters by bringing and donating gently used clothing and toiletry items. SafeHouse and Sage will be the recipients of these donations, collected and distributed by the Hilton.

Visit http://www.soroptimist.org/ConventionMediaKit.html for more information on the convention and Soroptimist’s many programs that support women and help them to lead better lives. Reporters interested in covering the convention should contact Soroptimist’s public relations manager, Kamali Brooks at (302) 559-4235.

Headquartered in Philadelphia, Pa., Soroptimist is an international volunteer women’s organization offering programs that improve the lives of women through three distinct platforms: economic empowerment, elimination of violence, and gender equality. Soroptimist, a 501(c)(3) organization that relies on charitable donations to support its programs, also sponsors the Live Your Dream campaign in recognition of the power of women and their dreams. Visit the campaign’s online home at: LiveYourDreamCampaign.org. For more information on how Soroptimist improves the lives of women and girls, visit Soroptimist.org.

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Kamali Brooks

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