SHOW ME YOUR LIFE, SAFE HOUSE

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We launched Show Me Your Life in 2010 to turn the lives of children at-risk, especially for HIV, totally around so they might begin to see themselves, not as patients, but as people who have something to contribute. So they might be less isolated to such an extent they can become change-makers. And not just sitting on the sidelines. Our mission crosses borders, sexualities, civil wars, continents, rank, and long histories of defeat.

Many of us employ the magic of self-expression in our every day lives—a way to unwind after a tough week or a way to show people our innermost thoughts and feelings. Self-expression in its many forms include, but are not limited to, music, art, film, poetry, and writing. It can also be a powerful tool to help heal in times of distress.

When you are fighting a life-changing illness like HIV, or when your loved one has been diagnosed and you are imagining the long road of treatment that lies ahead, self-expression becomes a critical means to explore who you are and who you would like to be.

Show Me Your Life is an international art program where children at-risk construct video, film, photography, painting, and writing that is in essence a tutorial on how to implement art into any treatment program. We focus on HIV, but the principles are the same. Studies have shown that such creativity reduces stress-related doctor visits, lowers blood pressure, and improves the immune system.

Students are facilitated to share their thoughts and feelings. These participants are guided through a variety of journaling techniques that will help them explore and then express their struggles. Show me your art. Show me your life. You are more than a disease, and a diagnosis, and I believe you.

Smash Street Boys Art Collective. Adolescents at-risk. At-risk means they're confronting serious, life-threatening, deeply personal, intimate issues with human sex trafficking, suicide, addiction, sexual abuse, disability from physical abuse, homelessness, school failure, cutting, running away, life on the street, coming out, severe bullying, survival sex, jail, sex work, and HIV/AIDS. They do not necessarily speak English.

People have a lot of questions about what at-risk means. The bottom line is that these are kids who walk a fine line between life and death. 

Confidentiality: Images of the kids themselves can be obfuscated or photoshopped on purpose. Some kids are more focused on confidentiality than others. We are not on Facebook. Smash Street and Show Me Your Life are both safe places where adolescents at-risk can make art, and show it. Both Smash Street and Show Me Your Life offer kids-at-risk materials and peer-mentoring. 

Warning: Anything you communicate to a kid at Smash Street can be posted here, and a lot of people will read everything you've said. Haters are not welcomed. Pedophiles who make overtures are reported. At no time will a kid give you his address. Watch what you say and how you say it. People who bully do get posted but as examples of what hate speech is.

Warning: Some posts could be disturbing. Sometimes a kid is posting for himself or one other particular kid. At Smash Street we call that an internal dialogue.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act allows art-teaching entities fair use of digital content in classroom and teaching-research applications. Our various Internet sites are always under construction (24/7), many being designed by the kids who contribute to it.

In 2016, only one United Nations Member State has NOT ratified the CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD (1989). That would be THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

Although the USA has not ratified the CRC it has signed the Convention. 

Where the United States has signed but not ratified a treaty, it is obligated not to act contrary to the purpose of the convention under Article 18 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (a separate treaty governing treaty interpretation and adherence that the United States has ratified). Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties art. 18, May 23, 1969, 1155 U.N.T.S. 331, 336 (entered into force on Jan., 27, 1980); see also Jean Koh Peters, How Children Are Heard in Child Protective Proceedings, in the United States and around the World in 2005: Survey Findings, Initial Observations, and Areas for Further Study, 6 NEV. L.J. 966, 969 (2006).

In 2001 the USA ratified the Convention's optional protocol on the SALE OF CHILDREN, CHILD PROSTITUTION AND CHILD PORNOGRAPHY. The USA is thereby charged with providing violated children with legal counsel & legal representation, healthcare, trauma therapy and a safe haven. 

Committee on the Rights of the Child urges all levels of government to use the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) as a guide in policy-making and implementation:

  • To raise awareness and disseminate information on the Convention by providing training to all those involved in government policy-making and working with or for children.
  • To involve civil society—including children themselves—in the process of implementing and raising awareness of child rights.

The United Nations counts Internet access as a basic human right.

The 2011 UN report created by Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue, takes a hard line on the importance of the Internet as "an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress." Whilst overwhelmingly supporting the Internet as a communication platform, the UN report warns how the internet's unique architecture threatens power brokers in societies:

The vast potential and benefits of the Internet are rooted in its unique characteristics, such as its speed, worldwide reach and relative anonymity. At the same time, these distinctive features of the Internet that enable individuals to disseminate information in "real time" and to mobilize people has also created fear amongst Governments and the powerful. This has led to increased restrictions on the Internet through the use of increasingly sophisticated technologies to block content, monitor and identify activists and critics, criminalization of legitimate expression, and adoption of restrictive legislation to justify such measures (UN 2011 Report).

The UN report, whilst acknowledging the logistical barriers that some nations face when it comes to delivering internet service, urges all nations to make plans to offer universal access and maintain policy that won't limit access for political purposes.

The Special Rapporteur remains concerned that legitimate online expression is being criminalized in contravention of States' international human rights obligations, whether it is through the application of existing criminal laws to online expression, or through the creation of new laws specifically designed to criminalize expression on the Internet. Such laws are often justified as being necessary to protect individuals' reputation, national security or to counter terrorism. However, in practice, they are frequently used to censor content that the Government and other powerful entities do not like or agree with (UN 2011 Report).

The Electronic Freedom Foundation says the UN's support for anonymous expression and the protection it affords should inform how governments regulate security and surveillance. Forms of online surveillance often take place for “political, rather than security reasons in an arbitrary and covert manner," La Rue argues, calling on governments to decriminalize defamation, do away with real-name registration systems--including the parameters in Facebook's terms and conditions that allows governments to collect users' names and passwords--and restrict rights only in the face of an imminent threat.Broad surveillance powers or the erosion of privacy online endanger anonymity's ability to protect dissenters and journalists and those using pseudonyms when they speak out (UN 2011 report).

Trafficked to Another Planet by Юрий (14-year-old boy who had been trafficked and never made a video before, although seen them. SHOW ME YOUR LIFE student).

With approximately 40 million people living with HIV globally, there is an immediate need to address the real definition of sex trafficking to include vulnerable boys. Human trafficking is now a humanitarian disaster whose numbers are comparable to the numbers used to define war and the United Nation's definition of Humanitarian Disaster. The stereotype of who gets trafficked is limited to women and girls. But like any stereotype, there are nuances as to gender that remain hidden by organized crime, stigma, and cultural shadows. There is an immediate need to recognize the causes and dynamics that heighten the vulnerability of trafficked boys sold into the international sex trade. The twin problems of trafficking and HIV are influenced by the same set of factors - such as poverty, discrimination and unsafe mobility, especially in the context of human rights. There are numbers now emerging that cannot be ignored. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Air Force turned a San Antonio Air Force base into temporary shelter for 150 undocumented children. There are other similar military bases also being used in California. In the past three years, HHS estimates that it has taken in around 8,000 such children. But since October, the agency has housed more than 4,000, a 77 percent hike from the first quarter of last year. According to HHS, the agency currently has more than 2,100 undocumented children in their custody. 80% of these children are fourteen-year-old males. The stereotype is that this same figure would be relevant to females. But the reality is that it's the fourteen-year-old boy is is also being trafficked. Most will not admit to doing sex work. Most will be shipped back to the very environments that trafficked them in the first place.

Vulnerability: Though there is not necessarily a direct causal correlation between trafficking and HIV/AIDS always and everywhere, once a person is trafficked they generally face a new and powerless situation in an alien environment which increases their vulnerability HIV/AIDS.

The susceptibility of a trafficked boy to HIV/AIDS is certainly higher than that of a person who engages in sex work out of choice. The reason is this. In addition to being exposed to forced and unsafe sex with multiple partners, victims may be injected with drugs to increase their compliance, or they may choose to inject drugs as a coping mechanism. Ten percent of the children (mostly boys) being held in detention admit to IV drug use. The clandestine status of trafficking victims, makes them invisible and further reduces their access to health services, particularly those that focus on HIV/AIDS.

Most victims of human trafficking are poorly educated. Their knowledge of HIV risk factors is therefore likely to be low. With the exception of the very young, most victims of trafficking for the purpose of forced labour are of an age grouping which is likely to be engaging in sexual behaviors and/or experimenting with drug use, exposing them to HIV infection through these routes.

Evidence base: Until recently, there was lack of scientific evidence that validate a clear linkage between HIV and human trafficking. Though this recent research is starting to demonstrate conclusively that forcing trafficking victims into unprotected sexual acts with multiple partners is a significant factor in the spread of HIV, there is still a need to strengthen the evidence base. But there is also a need to identify and treat HIV positive boys in an environment that will not expose them to being repeatedly trafficked and forced into doing sex work while their HIV infection continues to go untreated. Such an environment could be referred to as a safe house where male children are treated for both HIV and the trauma inflicted upon them by sex traffickers.

Few people are prepared to welcome into their homes or lives, boys with a history of child abuse, neglect, sexwork, rape and HIV/AIDS-defining infections and diseases. Until we build safe houses for survivors that are, in truth, safe, there is no incentive for boys or those who love them to come forward.

Boys sex-trafficked to-within-from the USA live underground. They fear being processed and detained and raped in male-survivor-unfriendly juvenile detention systems or in immigration detention centers where they have no appropriate or consistent medical care, programs that alleviate their trauma or legal counsel and representation (unless they can secure the services of a pro bono attorney): 

"it's better to take my chances on the street and get paid for being beaten and raped and get needle-high to take the edge off the pain. one time i was in indention. they fucked me day and night in there. i told them I have HIV but they don't care."

There is no incentive for a boy to assist law enforcement; why would he trust a stranger with the power to return him to the very locality where he was trafficked from; where he fears being further punished, killed, retrafficked, or dying a slow and painful HIV/AIDS-related premature death. The chance of securing a T-Visa (etc) is very low; and what it is anyway. Maximum four years protection in exchange for an acutely physically and psychologically traumatized kid assisting in the prosecution of perpetrators (the T-visa can also be taken away at any point within the four years). And where will he live exactly whilst he is being processed; will the people he is handed over to welcome him and love him and fight for his life. There are not enough foster care families in the USA. There are not even enough shelter beds. For example, in New York City, one of the wealthiest cities in the world, there are a known 3,800 kids who need shelter beds every night and there are only 200 beds available: 

"i am so lucky. now I can live long enough to go get fucked by the older men in the homeless shelter showers."

HIV/AIDS

The 2008 PEPFAR reauthorization law extends the so-called “conscience clause” to organizations that provide care and support to people living with HIV/AIDS, their families, and their communities. This enables organizations that receive U.S. funds to choose those groups and individuals to whom they are “morally” comfortable providing care, thereby permitting the denial of services to those whose behavior, identity, religion, or other attributes may be deemed unacceptable. This is a part of U.S. law, and can only be altered by U.S. Congress.

It makes sense in an humanitarian disaster, an HIV/AIDS pandemic, for public health policy to support non-judgmental healthcare. When antiretrovirals are taken appropriately and consistently a person’s infectiousness is greatly reduced; he/she also has a greater chance of raising the quality of his/her life and extending their life expectancy. 

Adults and kids servicing the international sex trades have far fewer opportunities than their clients to access appropriate and consistent healthcare. Many organizations and individuals work hard to end segregated HIV/AIDS healthcare – one type for clients (with the money to pay for sexual services and to pay for healthcare/medications), and another type for adults and kids servicing the sex trades (who struggle to meet their basic and daily needs and find it difficult, often impossible, to access and pay for healthcare/medications).

Significant and urgent work to slow down the spread of a socially transmitted virus, which compromises a person's immune system with potentially devastating and life-threatening consequences, is threatened when communities pause to debate the "morality" of providing chronically vulnerable adults and children in our communities with access to life-saving medications and healthcare.

As a result of cultural and social visceral responses to sexually exploited boys (survival sex workers & boys trafficked to service the sex trades), the kids are abandoned with little chance of securing safe places to grow up in and from which they can access appropriate and consistent early intervention healthcare and services. 



































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