Akari Project Needs Your Support

I received this e-mail from Shihoko Fujiwara of Polaris Project Japan this afternoon. I think it’s worth publishing here.

Dear Damian,

Thank you for your continual support and participation in our work.

The year 2011 was such a fruitful year. We provided services to dozens of victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation, and accomplished our first international symposium as well as training more than 4500 individuals including law enforcement and social service providers.

Truly encouraged by your support in the last year, Polaris Japan has renewed commitment to further advance our work in this coming year of 2012.

Today, I would like to share a story of Kaori-chan that always comes to my mind during this winter season.

Kaori-chan was a Japanese female youth who decided to secretly run-away from home with a man who had been introduced through her friend. The man, who was slightly older than Kaori-chan, drove her to a suburb area a couple of hours away from the metropolitan area. At that time, Kaori-chan had no clue that the man was actually a recruiter from the commercial sex industry. The man frequently recruited girls l ike Kaori-chan online via “Deaikei-site” or other social networking. Day after day, the man “delivered” Kaori-chan to hotel rooms to meet customers and did not allow her back into the car or the house unless she meets the quota of the day..

Eventually, Kaori-chan started sending a number of “SOS”messages via web-bulletin board. One day, a total stranger saw her plea for help. Deeply concerned about the messages, the person called Polaris’ Hotline to report the case. Polaris Staff immediately reached out to Kaori-chan and quickly learned that she was forced into prostitution for a full month. During that time, she had been told by the pimp that there is no one, even police, who care about a girl in prostitution. Kaori-chan took a courageous step to meet with us.

It was a cold winter day in December, when I (Fujiwara) and other Polaris Staff arrived at the station nearby Kaori-chan’s place. Petite and fragile, Kaori-chan started talking little by little in her small voice about what had happened to her. In the following week, we met with Kaori-chan again on a freezing winter day. This time, we were able to take a bus together to bring Kaori-chan to the police station in the jurisdiction. With the support from the police, the child service center staff, and her father, Kaori-chan was able to go back to her own home city, the place where she used to belong.

It has been about three years since I met Kaori-chan, but this story repeatedly comes to my mind, telling me that it takes “A PHONE CALL” to save a life.

Upon receiving emergency calls, Polaris staff takes action 24/7. Human trafficking requires an emergency response, but unfortunately, Japanese society and media remain ignorant about the severity. Despite the lack of awareness among the Japanese society,women and youth are continuously brought to Polaris Japan through our Hotline service. We see so many people that need our help.

Our Free-Dial Hotline Service is largely funded by individual supporters like you. In order to sustain our Hotline Services, Polaris Project Japan launched a new fund-raising program called Akari Project.

Your monthly contribution enables Polaris Project to help victims of trafficking like Kaori-chan. Our goal is to increase 50 Supporters by March 8th- the International Women’s day. Please join the Akari Project, take your first step at:

http://polarisproject.jp/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=990

We look forward to your participation in Akari Project to become a light (Akari) of hope for the girls and women living in darkness.

If you have questions about this Akari-Project, please contact us or call 050-3496-7615.

Thank you for your continuing support.

Warmly,

Shihoko Fujiwara

Polaris Project Japan

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