Rights4Girls continues to be a leading voice on safety and justice for young women and girls. Our advocacy and programs have received national attention with our work being featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Today Show, ABC News, NBC News, NPR, PBS NewsHour, The Boston Globe, The Miami Herald, among other outlets. For more, see our achievements below.
CHILDREN RELEASED FROM DETENTION
Succeeded in obtaining the release of almost all detained children from DC’s juvenile detention centers through our advocacy with the Youth Justice Project (YJP) coalition. Incarcerated youth were at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and subject to harmful conditions of confinement that exacerbated their trauma.
REPORT RELEASE ON THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON MARGINALIZED GIRLS
Released through our Girls at the Margin National Alliance, Rights4Girls co-authored this brief outlining the challenges faced by girls, young women, and gender-expansive young people due to the pandemic and offered our recommendations to better support girls during the crisis.
END NETWORK ABUSE ACT SIGNED INTO LAW
The END Network Abuse Act became law helping to stem the proliferation of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) shared on Department of Defense computers by improving the tools necessary to respond to online child abuse and to connect survivors to services.
LAUNCH OF THE DC GIRLS COALITION
Rights4Girls together with our partners Black Swan Academy, launched the DC Girls’ Coalition (DCGC), an alliance of youth-serving and advocacy organizations and young people dedicated to elevating and amplifying the voices of DC girls, young women, femmes, non-conforming and young women/girls of color of trans experience. Comprised of both a policy arm as well as a Youth Advisory Council, the DCGC seeks to ensure that youth voices are centered in the local policy space.
DOCUMENTARY FILM PREMIERE
Rights4Girls was honored to collaborate and be featured in Nameless, a documentary film detailing the realities of child sex trafficking and sexual exploitation in DC. Produced by the DC Coalition to End Sexual Violence, the film has served to educate thousands of DC residents about the harms and impact of human trafficking in the DMV.
CELEBRATING INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY WITH GLORIA STEINEM
Rights4Girls Executive Director Yasmin Vafa joined feminist icon Gloria Steinem for a conversation on the state of women and girls’ rights at Diane Von Furstenburg’s Int’l Women’s Day event.
TRAFFICKING VICTIMS PROTECTION ACT REAUTHORIZED
Multiple pieces of legislation were signed into law, that together, reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA)—the most important federal anti-trafficking law. Rights4Girls worked with members in the House and Senate on the Abolish Human Trafficking Act, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2017, and the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act, all of which update and strengthen key aspects of federal anti-trafficking law to improve our response toward trafficking survivors and increase funding for victims’ services.
BIPARTISAN JUVENILE JUSTICE REFORM ENACTED
The bipartisan Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018 was signed into law, providing critical updates and improvements to the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) which was last reauthorized over 15 years ago. Rights4Girls championed the inclusion of important protections for girls, including a ban on the shackling of pregnant girls as well as screening and services for child trafficking survivors caught in the juvenile justice system.
RELEASE OF POETRY AND ART COMPILATION UPLIFTING INCARCERATED GIRLS’ VOICES
Rights4Girls and the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality released, I Am the Voice: Girls’ Reflections from Inside the Justice System — a compilation of the visual and written work of justice- involved girls from across the nation. This art booklet reflects our philosophy that in order to truly support girls, we must let them lead by centering their voices and experiences in the juvenile justice system.
ESTABLISHING GIRLS’ JUSTICE DAY
Rights4Girls inspired legislators in Jackson, Mississippi to officially declare October 25th Girls’ Justice Day. Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba adopted our Girls’ Justice Day Resolution acknowledging the injustice girls face via the Abuse to Prison Pipeline and calling for the City of Jackson to diminish the abusive environments girls encounter daily.
PROTECTING HEALTHCARE ACCESS FOR VULNERABLE YOUTH
The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act was signed into law, providing critical healthcare protections for vulnerable youth. Too often children lose their healthcare coverage if they enter the juvenile justice system, but thanks to this law, children will no longer face an interruption in healthcare if they touch the system. The legislation also extends healthcare coverage for former foster youth up to age 26.
PENNSYLVANIA DECLARES THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A ‘CHILD PROSTITUTE’
After years of advocacy emphasizing the need to decriminalize survivors of child sex trafficking, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania finally declared that there is no such thing as a ‘child prostitute’ and reformed its laws to protect child victims. Pennsylvania officially enacted a safe harbor law that provides minors immunity from prosecution for prostitution offenses.
REPORT RELEASE ON THE OVERCRIMINALIZATION OF GIRLS IN DC
Rights4Girls, in partnership with the Georgetown Juvenile Justice Initiative, released a first-of-its-kind report detailing girls’ increased contact with D.C.’s juvenile justice system. Beyond the Walls: A Look at Girls in D.C.’s Juvenile Justice System, reveals how the percentage of girls—and particularly Black girls— entering the juvenile justice system in D.C. has risen dramatically, even as the number of boys has decreased, and exposes the ways that D.C. is criminalizing girls for non-violent behaviors that pose no threat to public safety.
REPORT RELEASE URGING PROTECTIONS FOR CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING SURVIVORS
Rights4girls released a report on innovative court protections for child sex trafficking victim witnesses. Survivor Protection: Reducing the Risk of Trauma to Child Sex Trafficking Victims, published in partnership with Thomson Reuters Foundation’s Trustlaw, describes how child sex trafficking survivors are not always afforded courtroom protections provided to other victims of gender violence and child abuse, and offers recommendations on how to extend these safeguards to trafficking survivors.
RIGHTS4GIRLS TESTIFIES BEFORE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
Rights4Girls Executive Director Yasmin Vafa was invited to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on juvenile justice reform and the need to reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) in order to protect vulnerable girls and survivors of violence and exploitation caught in the system.
“NO SUCH THING” BILL SIGNED INTO LAW IN CALIFORNIA
Almost one year after our launch of our No Such Thing campaign in Los Angeles, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 1322 otherwise known as the “No Such Thing” bill. SB 1322 renders all children in California immune from prosecution for prostitution and prostitution-related offenses in California.
CENTERING GIRLS AT THE UNITED STATE OF WOMEN
Rights4Girls did a plenary presentation on our Girls at the Margin National Alliance (G@TM) and its policy goals at the United State of Women Conference. G@TM is a national coalition of over 200 girl-serving organizations that we co-lead with our partners at National Crittenton.
GIRLS SUMMIT AT THE OBAMA WHITE HOUSE
We partnered with the White House Council on Women and Girls to bring girls and service providers from over 17 states together to discuss the various issues impacting marginalized girls, and to engage in solution-focused discussions in the areas of education, child welfare, juvenile justice, child sex trafficking, and pregnant and parenting girls.
CONGRESSIONAL AWARD FOR VICTIM ADVOCACY
Rights4Girls Executive Director Yasmin Vafa was awarded the Lois Haight Award for Excellence and Innovation by the U.S. House of Representatives Victims’ Rights Caucus for legislative advocacy on behalf of trafficking survivors.
CAMPAIGN VICTORY: AP AGREES THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A “CHILD PROSTITUTE”
Our No Such Thing campaign secured a key victory when the Associated Press revised its AP Stylebook to instruct writers to stop using the word “prostitute” when a child is involved as a direct result of our campaign. The decision to end the use of the phrase “child prostitute” was not only a win for accuracy in reporting, but has gone a long way toward changing attitudes about girls who are victims of child sex trafficking.
REPORT RELEASE ON THE SEXUAL ABUSE TO PRISON PIPELINE
Rights4Girls released a seminal report on girls’ pathways into the justice system. The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girls’ Story, authored in conjunction with Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality and the Ms. Foundation for Women, tells the untold, hidden narrative of girls and our broken justice system. Our report outlines the ways in which gendered violence creates pathways for girls—and especially girls of color— into the juvenile justice system. The report continues to shape our understanding of incarcerated women and girls and has ignited intersectional justice reform efforts, including efforts to decriminalize survivors of violence.
JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF TRAFFICKING ACT SIGNED INTO LAW
The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act is the first anti-trafficking law focused exclusively on domestic victims of human trafficking. This landmark piece of legislation increases funding to domestic trafficking victims, encourages states to stop arresting and prosecuting child victims, prioritizes demand-reduction as a prevention strategy, and creates a Survivor Advisory Council to advise on federal human trafficking efforts.
TESTIFIED BEFORE THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
We petitioned the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) to examine the United States for continuing to arrest and incarcerate child victims of sex trafficking. Together with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights, we appealed to the Commission to explore the condition of child victims of sex trafficking in the United States and how the U.S. has failed to prevent states from enforcing prostitution laws against such children even when such laws conflict with state, federal, and international law. The resulting hearing helped expose the human rights violations that child victims of commercial sexual exploitation suffer in the U.S. at the hands of state authorities instead of receiving the care and assistance to which they are entitled.
PREVENTING SEX TRAFFICKING AND STRENGTHENING FAMILIES ACT SIGNED INTO LAW
Rights4Girls worked closely with survivors, child welfare organizations, and lawmakers to pass this groundbreaking legislation, which finally recognized the intersection between foster care and domestic child sex trafficking. The law requires child welfare agencies to improve their response to child sex trafficking by screening all youth for trafficking, recording and reporting those numbers, and referring children into appropriate services. It also requires agencies to report any children missing from care to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children within 24 hours to improve the response time of law enforcement agencies to find children vulnerable to traffickers.