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Prevent Exploitation of Au Pairs - P.E.A.P.
Au pairs are in a very vulnerable position because they are very young and living far away from home, often for the first time.
They come to their host country in good faith, with the belief that they will be treated with respect, kindness and civility.
For many of these au pairs, their dreams are destroyed by those who seek to exploit and abuse young women worldwide.
Au pairs need to be protected from exploitation and abuse - one way to do accomplish this goal is through education and awareness.
- Host Family Exploitation: While most host families are safe, loving, and welcoming, the occasional host family’s home is not a place where au pairs are treated, as they should be. Some au pairs have been made to work long hours that are outside of the program’s legal maximum and still others have been exposed to host family members who have sexually harassed or assaulted them.
- Au Pair Scams: Au pair scams consist of people who con prospective au pairs into sending large amounts of their hard-earned money in return for fictitious host family matching services.
- Human Trafficking: A number of young women are fooled or tricked into believing they will work as au pairs, when in fact they end up as victims of human trafficking.
My friend and colleague, Talya Shoup, author of Best Au Pair Guide, and I are co-founders of P.E.A.P. We started our non-profit organization soon after we read the story of the German au pair who was sexually assaulted by her host family in Oregon, U.S.A.
With P.E.A.P., we hope to be an advocacy group for au pairs. We believe many cases of au pair abuse and exploitation can be prevented through education and awareness. Our goal is to be the voice for au pairs worldwide who have been abused, exploited, or harassed.
Prevent Exploitation of Au Pairs or P.E.A.P.'s mission is to serve as an advocate for au pairs worldwide, to help prevent au pair abuse and to support those au pairs who have been exploited.
We also are committed to reaching out to the au pair community and encouraging them to join in our mission to prevent further exploitation of au pairs through education and awareness.
P.E.A.P.’s Guiding Principles
1. Au Pairs’ Right to Safety and Well Being
a. Au Pairs have a right to freedom from sexual, physical, emotional and occupational abuse.
b. Au Pairs have the right to freely report any abuse or exploitation to the nearest authorities without retribution by host parents or au pair agencies.
2. Focus on the Au Pair Community and Au Pair Industry
a. Awareness & Educational programs and written material focus on global au pair communities and the au pair industry that represents, recruits, hires and places au pairs in host families.
b. By promoting the need for ongoing education & awareness, we encourage and support au pair agencies & au pair organizations to take responsibility for the prevention of au pair exploitation & abuse in all its forms.
3. Support & Outreach for Victims of Abuse
Au pairs are encouraged to share their stories so others can learn from their experiences. Sharing stories of abuse helps to raise awareness of au pair exploitation. Sharing stories of abuse can also be personally and emotionally healing.
4. Reporting Abuse
If you are an au pair or host parent (or any concerned citizen) who wants to report abuse or would like to share your story, please email Edina Stone at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will help to direct you to the right place to report your abuse and/or assist you in getting the legal and/or psychological/counseling services you may need.
Dept. of State Emergency Hotline Number for J1Visa Participants - if you need help, call this free number -1-866-283-9090, they are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
5. Stay Informed and Share to Educate and Increase Awareness!
To keep up with what is happening with Prevent Exploitation of Au Pairs, including news and updates, please visit our Facebook page.
Please share au pair news of abuse and exploitation with your friends and associates. If you are a host parent, please share on your agency's Facebook page and encourage them to link to us! We can all do our part to keep au pairs safe and out of harm's way.
6. U.S.A Au Pair Cultural Exchange is a Valuable & Wonderful Program
We recognize that the J1-Visa au pair program is a wonderful and valuable program for both American host families and foreign au pairs. Since 1986, au pairs have been arriving to the United States in order to experience American culture - at the same time host families receive affordable and reliable childcare and an opportunity to experience another country's language and customs. Each year, thousands of successful matches are made by the au pair agencies in the U.S.A.
Read our recent contribution to the March 2015 Washington Post work blog article on the current lawsuit filed against specific au pair agencies for not paying au pairs minimum wage.