Enitan Story Launches Sewing Program for Survivors of Human Trafficking and Domestic Abuse
In 2015, The Enitan Story is launching a program teaching survivors of human trafficking and domestic abuse how to sew bags and purses. These free classes, called The Enitan Story Survivor Empowerment Program, will help empower survivors economically. Local purse designer Sarah Sola of Sara & Company will be teaching the classes. Sola has been designing clothes in the Twin Cities area for almost a decade.
Classes will start in April of 2015 and run through December. There will be four sessions of classes, and each course will last for six weeks. Upon completion, students will receive $500 in start-up materials. The courses do more than just empower survivors economically: they will also be empowered psychologically, and emotionally. “They will have a lot of self-esteem seeing their own handiwork on the market” said Bukola Oriola, founder of The Enitan Story. Enitan Story will begin taking applications for in January 2015 on a first-come first-serve basis, and plans to enroll at least 12 students in the first class.
“Right now, we are creating a classroom for the program at our office, so we need the help of the public to make this a worthwhile experience for the students,” said Oriola. Enitan Story is also looking for a marketing firm to help teach students how to market and sell their goods. Participating companies will receive tax deductibles for their donating their time.
Oriola developed the program after seeing survivors struggle economically for a variety of reasons. Despite the passing of Minnesota’s Safe Harbor Law in 2011, many survivors of human trafficking have difficulty finding work due to their criminal records. Safe Harbor laws are designed to grant immunity to children who are sexually exploited and help provide them with services.
According to human trafficking advocacy group Polaris, after victims are forced into illegal activity, law enforcement officials often mistake them for criminals. Victims are charged and prosecuted as criminals, and the charges end up on their records. Many survivors are unable to get jobs that require background checks and achieve their economic independence. Safe harbor laws are not intended to help adult victims, and do not provide immunity to victims who already have been treated as criminals.
While Safe Harbor Laws protect victims of sexual trafficking, they do not protect victims of labor trafficking who are often hidden in plain sight. “As a survivor, I know how hard it can be to stand on your own” said Oriola. “I understand that some survivors cannot get jobs because of the records they have. They will not need to worry about that when they start their own business.”