Today’s Women “Crushin’ it” Wednesday are Malika Saasa Saar and Yasmin Vafa of Human Rights Project for Girls, Rebecca Epstein of Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality, and Lindsay Rosenthal of Ms. Foundation for Women; authors of the report The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girls’ Story

I honestly can’t remember how this report got onto my radar, but it’s been on the back of my mind for some time now. Having parents that provide foster care, it’s always hard when the kids you’ve become attached to either get placed with family members or get adopted. Many of these kids have experienced a lot of trauma, and you hope that they continue to receive the help and therapy they need so that they could lead the best lives they can…but the statistics aren’t good.

The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girl’s Story report focuses on how we treat girls that are victims of sexual abuse. The conclusion is that society fails these girls, that many are treated like criminals instead of victims. The sex traffic victims picked up on prostitution charges, the juveniles that run away because of abuse, those that do drugs to try to cope with abuse; many are funneled into the juvenile justice system (and later prison), which fails to treat and often makes worse the trauma that these girls are experiencing. It’s a pretty somber read, but I encourage anyone to go through it. The report also goes through a series of reactive and proactive steps that can be taken.

A few:

  • Implement Policies that Improve Responses to the Behavior of Foster Youth Who Have Experienced Trauma and Abuse.
  • Prohibit Child Welfare Agencies and Providers from Discharging Runaway Girls.
  • Strengthen the JJDPA (Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act)
  • Enact Effective and Universal Safe Harbor Laws.
  • Fully Enforce — and Strengthen — the Prison Rape Elimination Act.
  • Provide Gender-Specific Physical and Mental Health Care In Justice Settings.

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