As I am finishing my second and final year of graduate school in social administration (social work in layman’s terms), I am very fortunate to be interning at a fantastic organization, the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE). The organization is an advocacy organization that strives to address the culture, institutions, and individuals that perpetrate, profit from, and/or tolerate sexual exploitation. CAASE is made up of three sectors: community outreach and engagement, policy advocacy, and legal services. Our vision is to eradicate all forms of sexual violence and exploitation from society.
CAASE has played a prominent role in influencing policy on human trafficking and the sex trade. Our End Demand Illinois Campaign (EDI), started in 2009, has produced many successes such as the Illinois Safe Children Act, which is the first law in the nation to make minors immune from prosecution for prostitution. Also, the EDI campaign has helped to pass the Justice for Victims of Sex Trafficking Crimes Act, which offers sex trafficking victims the opportunity to have prostitution convictions removed from their records.
Being a leader in eliminating sexual exploitation from our community, CAASE is frequently contacted by students who are interested in becoming allies and passionate about eradicating sexual violence and exploitation. Unfortunately, we are a small albeit busy office so we do not have the capacity for students to come into the office and complete projects. But CAASE did not want to shun such an important and zealous group of students. Therefore, CAASE has helped college students in Chicago and beyond start Colleges Aligned Against Sexual Exploitation chapters. The purpose of the CAASE chapters is:
- To act as a non-profit, non-sectarian, non-partisan, voluntary organization affiliated with the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation.
- To establish a constituency to work in pursuit of the elimination of sexual exploitation.
- To study and take action on international, national, state, local, and campus issues related to sexual exploitation.
- To educate the campus community about issues regarding sexual exploitation.
So far, we have started chapters at the College of Dupage, DePaul University, University of Chicago, Roosevelt University, and Northeastern University. We are also in the process of starting chapters at the University of Illinois Chicago and Loyola University. We are so excited to be starting these chapters.
College students are very important allies in ending sexual violence. As SAFER knows, sexual violence on college campuses is both pervasive and often not addressed appropriately. Student groups on college campuses who focus on issues of social justice are rooted in concepts of compassion and activism. These values form the framework for students’ leadership roles in human rights efforts. Indeed, prostitution and human trafficking are human rights violations that occur in communities all over the world, including the United States. More specifically, Chicago is a central hub for victims of trafficking. Approximately 16,000-24,000 women and girls are in prostitution a day in Chicago. Mobilizing students is one of many ways we can strive to eradicate sexual violence and provide support for victims of the sex trade and sexual violence.
If you are a student in Chicago and you are interested in starting a chapter, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.