We Are Wahine Toa Rising
Wahine Toa Rising is survivor led and supports Wahine Toa (Warrior Women) & Tamariki (Children) who have & are being exploited in the sex trade in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands.
A survivor led organisation is urgently needed in Oceania.
“As we let our own light shine, we give others the courage to shine their own.” – Ally-Marie Diamond, Survivor Leader and Co-Founder of Wahine Toa Rising.
A survivor led organisation is urgently needed in Oceania.
Rising is to symbolise the heart led, survivor led focus of women lifting each other, while still being autonomous. Rising like te Ata Rā, the morning sun, on the sunflower who turns her face for warmth and light. Rising like we do every morning when it’s the last thing we feel like doing. Rising like rewana bread that is shared between whanau (family members). Rising like women do – because that’s what we do and have always done: from the floor, from the prison cell, from the abuse, from the words we have told ourselves about who we are and what we can’t do. Rising and realising we are already Wahine Toa.
Amazing Warrior Women from the sextrade in NZ, and an amazing group of courageous women came together because they saw a urgent need for womens and childrens voices to be heard in NZ. and Wahine Toa Rising was born.
We at Wahine Toa Rising are committed to the Women and Children of Aotearoa NZ.
Sara Smiles started in the sex trade in New Zealand in 1988 when she was a homeless 14-year old. She escaped in 2010 when she was in her late thirties. She therefore experienced life in the sex trade in New Zealand both before and after it was fully decriminalised in 2003.
You can read her courageous story here Sara Smiles: My story in the world of paid rape.
Our new survivor leader is from NZ and lives on the South Island.
She is currently studying a counselling degree and working as a Sexual Assault Support Clinician full-time. She is on a path towards becoming an Equine Assisted Therapist.
“Being able to support women to heal and grow as I have with my horses and be a great feminist counsellor would be so amazing. Horses have taught me so much and I would love to share their wisdom with other women and young people in and out of the sextrade.”
Chelsea is a prostitution survivor spending 20 years in the sex trade in New Zealand.
Chelsea exited after a challenging prolonged struggle about a year ago. Chelsea is a passionate writer and long-time advocate for women and young people in the sex trade in Aotearoa New Zealand.
She brings to Wahine Toa Rising so much heart, passion, courage and determination to prevent others from experiencing what she has while finding ways to provide much needed services to support women and young people to exit.
Chelsea recently returned from the UK where she shared her story you can read or listen below.
Wahine Toa Rising is a member of CAP International and stands in solidarity with the following organisations.CAP International is a movement made up of grassroots and survivors-led organisations united around a common objective: the abolition of the systems of prostitution and trafficking in human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation. They provide direct assistance to victims of prostitution and sexual exploitation and/or advocate for the adoption of legislation allowing the protection of victims in their countries.
Wahine Toa Rising works with Women Ending Exploitation by Prostitution (WEEP)
WEEP advocates for those being exploited by prostitution, they support survivors, advocate for strong laws to protect those being exploited and educate the wider community to speak out against the exploitation in prostitution. WEEP has been instrumental in South Australia and Queensland amplifying survivor voices and ensuring those being exploited are heard, and seen.
Wahine Toa Rising works with the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia (CATWA),CATWA is the Australian branch of CATW International. CATWA works locally and internationally to end all forms of sexual exploitation of women, particularly the violence of prostitution, trafficking and pornography. Wahine Toa Rising works in solidarity with CATWA to spread awareness across the Tasman to include all voices both in Australia and New Zealand.
To support vulnerable women and children in the sex trade to exit, discover who they are, and live their best lives free from commercial exploitation, violence and prostitution.
To create awareness in communities that there is nothing work about ‘sex-work’. Prostitution is violence. It’s time for communities to ‘be a voice’ for vulnerable women and children.
To create an online space where exploited women can access resources to exit more safely and have all the support (through confidential messaging) and resources they need in one place – such as trauma therapy, basic life skills, housing, personal development and education.
To create a safe space for women exiting the sex trade. A secure, safe, lived in residence named Wahine Toa Healing Retreat, dedicated to each of the lives lost in the sex trade, including Bella Te Pania, murdered in 2019. The retreat will offer services and support such as trauma therapy, medical assistance if needed, alcohol and drug rehabilitation, access to reliable social workers, healthy eating, wellness, basic life skills including but not limited to budgeting, cooking, gardening, re education, training, resources, as well as a safe supportive community of survivor leaders to support them.
Advocacy and lobbying for law and policy changes by working with the community, the legal sector, lawmakers and government, Advocating for stronger legal protections to protect those who are being exploited and those at risk of being exploited. We do this by encouraging meaningful debate, leading public discussion and participating in government inquiries and law reform processes.
Using a referral process with trusted partner organisations specialised in providing focused survivors support.
Undertaking all activities necessary to facilitate objectives
To prioritise all women who are or have been in the sex trade, and to put their needs first, while treating these women with respect and dignity.
To be honest and genuine, and to hold each other to our values, mission and vision. To be authentic leaders who work together for the benefit of women who are or have been in the sex trade.
To provide a safe space for women who are or have been in the sex trade, where they know their anonymity is secure and boundaries are respected
To build a community of women who trust, support, and believe in each other.
To understand women are our histories, our whakapapa, our whanau, our cultures, our tikanga and our experiences of the world. We come from different places, and have different experiences, but we are united in our work and shared vision.
To build an understanding in our wider communities of the harm of the sex industry and its damaging impact on women