Human rights activist, Minh Dang, will receive the 21st annual Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award from Womanspace at a ceremony and reception Thursday, May 14, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency in Princeton.
Ms. Dang is being honored for her efforts to end human trafficking, which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services calls the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. It is one that is hard to track and hard to stop.
Ms. Dang’s own harrowing story of surviving child abuse and sexual slavery, reached the public in 2010 when MSNBC aired the documentary Sex Slaves in America: Minh’s Story.
As a California schoolgirl, Ms. Dang led a secret life. Even as she excelled at academics and sports, she was being forced into sexual slavery by her own parents from the age of 10 until her first two years as a college student.
After severing ties with her parents, Ms. Dang has addressed tens of thousands of concerned citizens in an effort to bring the problem of modern-day slavery to public attention. She currently speaks on issues of human trafficking, leadership development, and social justice and develops strategies to support education, training, and leadership development for survivors.
Most recently she worked with the anti-human trafficking initiative Don’t Sell Bodies, which was founded by actress and activist Jada Pinkett Smith. As such, Ms. Dang helped launch the U.S. Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking with Senators Rob Portman and Richard Blumenthal.
In May 2013, she was one of 15 Asian American/Pacific Islander women recognized at the White House as a Champion of Change.
Described as “passionate about promoting the integration of individual and community healing” and a “true love warrior,” Ms. Dang has traveled extensively telling her story. She received her BA in sociology in 2006 and her Masters in social welfare in 2013.
At Thursday’s event, Ms. Dang will be introduced by her friend Abby Sher, author of Kissing Snowflakes; Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl who Couldn’t Stop Praying; and Breaking Free: True Stories of Girls who Escaped Modern Slavery.
Each May, since 1995, Womanspace has honored a person of distinction exemplifying the qualities of the event’s namesake, Barbara Boggs Sigmund, who is well-remembered as the mayor of Princeton Borough from 1983 until 1990. She died in office at age 51, after an eight-year battle with cancer.
As the daughter of Democratic Rep. Hale Boggs of Louisiana and Corrine “Lindy” Boggs, who held the post of Congresswoman from New Orleans for some 20 years, Ms. Sigmund had politics in her blood. In 1982, following a diagnosis of cancer, she had her left eye removed and subsequently attended mayoral events sporting an eye patch chosen to match her outfit. When she entered the Democratic gubernatorial primary in 1989, her campaign slogan was: “I’ve got my eye on New Jersey.”
As the driving force in founding Womanspace in 1977, Ms. Sigmund was responding to a need that was brought to light in New Jersey by the 1976 Mercer County Commission on the Status of Women. The most pressing concern of that time for women was spousal abuse, then called “battered wives,” and places where victims could find help and refuge.
Ms. Dang joins a long list of distinguished honorees who have received the official Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award Rose commissioned by Boehm Porcelain exclusively for Womanspace. The porcelain rose is light lilac.
In 1995, the first award honoree was Ms. Sigmund’s younger sister, the ABC political reporter Corrine “Cokie” Boggs Roberts. Ms. Roberts serve as Honorary Chair for this year’s event.
Since then, recipients have been, among others: baseball executive and founder of the Safe At Home Foundation, Joe Torre (2014), author Lee Woodruff (2013), artist Faith Ringgold (2011); sports coach C. Vivian Stringer (2010); women’s economic advocate Nell Merlino (2007); legal correspondent Nina Totenberg (2006); NJN news anchor Kent Manahan (2005); playwright and director of Princeton’s McCarter Theater Emily Mann (2004); crime novelist and head of the Sex Crimes Unit of the Manhattan DA’s office (1976-2002), Linda Fairstein (2003); survivors of domestic violence Ann, Pat and Sandy (2001); Star Jones, co-host of ABC’s The View (2000); and Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist and author Anna Quindlen (1999).
Womanspace created the first shelter for female victims of domestic violence and their children in Mercer County. It provides the critical services needed by the survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and their families, including therapeutic counseling for the children affected by family violence. Since its founding, Womanspace has served more than 301,076 adults and children. Programs include crisis intervention, emergency shelter, counseling, court advocacy, housing services, and a 24-hour hotline: (609) 394-9000.
For more information during regular business hours, call (609) 394-0136, or visit: www.womanspace.org.
According to the FBI, people are being are being bought, sold, and smuggled like modern-day slaves in the United States.
For more information, visit:
To report human trafficking or to get help, call (888) 373-7888.