Metrofocus: April 27, 2022

COVID cases are up but masks are coming down. Shifting rules around masking means that the most vulnerable people may be increasingly less protected. Tonight we meet Dr. Stella Safo, a Mt. Sinai primary care physician who is immunosuppressed and 9 months pregnant and tells MetroFocus she is devastated by the lifting of the mask mandates and fears for her safety.

Meet the mother and daughter cannabis pioneers whose harvest is also reaping good fortune.

Anti-trafficking activist, Sunitha Krishnan, risks her life to save thousands of women and children from the sex trade. She joins us to share her story.

 

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT, COVID CASES ARE UP AND MASKS ARE COMING DOWN.

BUT WHO'S MOST AT RISK?

HEAT THE IMMUNO SUPPRESSED DOCTOR DEVASTATED BY THE LIFTING OF THE FEDERAL MASK MANDATE AND FEARING FOR HER SAFETY.

'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH R RAFAEL, JACK FORWARD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

IT'S MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGER WALKENHIEM III.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.

THE AMBROES FOUNDATION AND BY.

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

COVID CASES AREUNSE ONCE AGAIN THE RISE AND THIS COINCIDES WITH INCREASINGLY CONFUSING RULES WHEN IT COMES TO MASKING.

ALTHOUGH THE FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION MASK MANDATE HAS BEEN THROWN OUT, IN NEW YORK CITY MASKS ARE STILL REQUIRED ON BUSES, IS SUBWAYS AND TAXIES.

SO, FOR ARE THE NEXT TWO NIGHTS, WE'LL EXAMINE THE ISSUES SURROUNDING THE MASK MANDATE, WHICH WAS GOOD NEWS FOR MANY NEW YORKERS BUT FOR TONIGHT'S GUEST, IT WAS A REALLY DARK DAY.

DR. STELLA IS A NEW YORK IS CITY PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN, WHO IS ALSO PREGNANT.

SHE'S ALSO THE FOUNDER OF THE ORGANIZATION, JUST EQUITY FOR HEALTH.

AND SHE JOINS US NOW.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

SO PEOPLE UNDERSTAND TELL US YOUR STORY AND YOUR UNIQUE CONCERNS.

SURE.

SO, I HAPPEN TO UNDERSTAND THIS FROM A FEW DIFFERENT ANGLES.

I'M AN HIV PRIMARY CARE DOCTOR, WHO, AS WE KNOW, TEND TO HAVE SUPPRESSED IMMUNE CYST ISMS.

SO, I WORRY ABOUT MY PATIENTS AND I HAPPEN TO BE PREGNANT AND HAVE AN AUTO IMMUNE PATIENT.

SO, I THINK ABOUT THIS ISSUE FOR MYSELF PERSONALLY AND THOSE IN MY CIRCLE.

BECAUSE THEIR EXPOSURES BECOME MY EXPOSURES BECOMES MY UNBORN CHILD'S EXPOSURES.

I KNOW EVERYONE WANTS TO BELIEVE COVID IS OVER BUT THERE ARE SOME RISKS THAT REMAIN, ESPECIALLY FOR THOSE NOT WORKING WITH A FULLY COMPETENT IMMUNE SYSTEM OR THOSE WITH CHRONIC ILLNESSES.

IT'S A CONVERSATION I THINK WE HAVE TO HAVE WITH OUR COMMUNITY MEMBERS BECAUSE WE DO OWE IT TO EACH OTHER TO KEEP ALL OF US SAFE.

SO, ONE THING THAT WEAVE ARE NOTICED IS IS OUR SOCIETY HAS HAD MASKING FOR TWO YEARS NOW.

I GUESS WHAT SOME PEOPLE MIGHT BE WONDERING IS ARE YOU PROPOSING THAT WE JUST DO THIS INDEFINITELY?

WE WERE FINE, SOME PEOPLE WOULD SAY, BEFORE THE PANDEMIC.

SO, SHOULDN'T THERE BE A TIME WHEN WE CAN ALL TAKE THE MASKS OFF?

IT ISN'T AN ALL OR NOTHING EQUATION.

I THINK THAT'S THE THING PEOPLE GET SO WORKED UP ABOUT.

THERE'S A FEELING THAT IF I HAVE TO WEAR A MASK IN ANY SETTING, I'M GOING TO HAVE TO WEAR IT TO GO TO SLEEP AND SIT IN MY OWN HOUSE.

THAT'S NOT THE CASE.

THERE'S SOME PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY THAT WILL HAVE COVID AT ANY GIVEN TIME.

IS AND RIGHT NOW WE'RE IN A SLIGHT UPTICK IN PLACES.

ARE IN SOME PLACES IT'S MORE THAN SLIGHT.

SO, WHAT YOU WANT TO DO IS BREAK THAT TRANSMISSION.

AND WE KNOW, DESPITE WHAT PEOPLE WANT TO SAY, WE KNOW THAT MASKS WORK.

IF THEY DIDN'T WORK, THEN EVERY HEALTH CARE WORKER WHO'S EVER ENTERED A HOSPITAL AND TAKEN CARE OF A PATIENT WOULD HAVE HAD COVID THREE OR FOUR, FIVE TIMES.

THEY FOLLOW UNIVERSAL PRECAUTIONS AND THEY'RE SAFE.

MASKS WORK.

IN THE PLACES WITH WHERE WE'RE ALL TOGETHER, LIKE SUBWAYS, WHERE WE'RE BREATHING IN EACH OTHER'S HOT AIR AND WHERE WE'RE TOGETHER LIKE BUSES OR PLANES, LET'S PUT ON THAT ADDED LAYER OF PROTECTION TO KEEP EACH OTHER SAFE.

AND IT SHOULDN'T BE SOMETHING SO UNREASONABLE FOR A PANDEMIC THAT KILLED ALMOST A MILLION AMERICANS.

THALTS TRR THE PART THAT'S MORE GASLIGHTING IS WHY ARE WE ACTING LIKE THIS PANDEMIC HASN'T BEEN SEVERE?

IT HAS.

IT'S INTERESTING WHEN YOU MENTION THE DEATH TOLL AND INNUMBERS AND PERHAPS YOU KNOW FROM YOUR SPECIFIC PRACTICE AND EXPERIENCE, THAT UNFORTUNATELY FOR A LOT OF AMERICANS, YES, IT'S A GASTLY HIGH NUMBER BUT IT MIGHT NOT BE ANYONE IN THEIR CIRCLE OR MIGHT NOT HAVE TOUCHED THEM PERSONALLY.

AND UNFORTUNATELY, IN THIS COUNTRY, IF SOMETHING DOESN'T TOUCH YOU PERSONALLY, THAT TENDS TO DETERMINE HOW MUCH PEOPLE CARE ABOUT SOMETHING.

YOU ARE SO RIGHT.

AND THE OTHER THING I THINK IS IS SO INTERESTING IS WE TALK ABOUT DEATH AS THOUGH THAT'S THE ONLY OUTCOME OF COVID.

WE KNOW COVID, LIKE MANY VIRUSES LEAVES PEOPLE WITH LONG-TERM DISABILITIES.

WHEN THOSE NUMBERS ARE PRETTY HIGH.

THREE IN TEN PEOPLE WILL HAVE SOMETHING KNOWN AS LONG COVID.

THESE ARE THINGS LIKE CHRONIC FATIGUE, BRAIN FOG, PALPITATIONS, MUSCLE ACHES.

THERE ARE REAL SYMPTOMS THAT YOUNG PEOPLE AND PEOPLE OTHERWISE HEALTHY END UP WITH AFTER COVID.

IT ISN'T JUST SAYING IF YOU DON'T DIE FROM COVID, THEN IT WASN'T SERIOUS.

IT'S SAYING COVID HAS OTHER THINGS WE'RE JUST NOW LEARNING ABOUT.

THERE WERE YOUNG PEOPLE COMING IN WITH STROKES AND BLEEDING DISORDERS THAT WE NEVER SAW BEFORE.

SO, THERE'S REALLY, FOR THOSE THAT WANT TO KEEP THEMSELVES SAFE, LET ME SAY THIS, THEY ARE NOT UNREASONABLE FOR NOT WANTING TO BE NORTALLY WOUNDED BY THE INFECTION OR NOT HAVE LONG-TERM COMPLICATIONS FROM THIS INFECTION.

REALLY THE PLEA IS TO BE MINDFUL THAT NOT EVERYONE'S TRYING TO GET COVID BECAUSE NOT EVERYONE WILL DO WELL WITH COVID.

THOSE WITH SUPPRESSED IMMUNE SYSTEMS.

WE HAVE IS TO THINK ABOUT WHAT WE CAN DO TO KEEP EACH OTHER SAFE.

AND I KEEP PUSHING BACK BECAUSE THERE'S SO MANY ARGUMENTS PEOPLE HAVE BEEN MAKING AGAINST MASKING.

AND WHEN YOU MENTIONED AIRPLANES WITH, FOR EXAMPLE, A LOT OF THE AIRLINES WOULD SAY WE PUT IN THE FANTASTIC AIR CIRCULATION FILTRATION SYSTEMS SO THAT YOU CAN FEEL SAFE ON A PLANE WITHOUT MASK.

WHY IS THAT -- WHY IS THAT NOT ENOUGH OR PERHAPS NOT MEDICALLY SAFE?

SO, IT WOULD IDEALLY BE ENOUGH IF WE HAVE THE KIND OF VACCINATION RATE WHERE, LET'S SAY 90% OF THE POPULATION IS VACCINATED AND MOST PEOPLE AREN'T GETTING COVID.

SO, YOU DON'T HAVE THAT HIGH RATE OF COVID IN THE COMMUNITY.

IF YOU THINK OF THE NUMBER OF FOLKS NOT VACCINATED AND WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GET ON A PLANE, THE BOARDING, THE TAKE OFF AND LANDING PERIOD, A LOT OF THE SYSTEMS ARE NOT RUNNING THEN.

IT'S WHEN YOU'RE IN THE AIR THAT THE FILTRATION IS GOING.

WHEN YOU'RE BOARDING AND DISEMBARKING, THAT 15/20 MINUTES YOU'RE SITTING ON THE TARMAC, IF YOUR SEAT MATE HAS COVID AND YOU'LL PROBABLY END UP WITH COVID.

THAT GETS AMPLIFIED THE MORE PEOPLE ON THE PLANE HAVE COVID.

WE KNOW IT'S COMMUNITY SPREAD.

THIS IS WHY WE'RE SAYING IT MAKES SENSE TO SAY IN THE PLACES WHERE ARE WE'RE ALL TOGETHER, BREATHING ON TOP OF EACH OTHER, WHY NOT HAVE AN ADDED LAYER OF PROTECTION.

YES, I LOVE SEEING PEOPLE WITH WITH SMILING FACES AND I LOVE BEING HEALTHY AND IS HAVING MY HEALTH EVEN MORE THAN THAT.

AND THERE'S MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO TAKE THE MASKS OFF.

PEOPLE ARE ASKED AS THOUGH THEY'RE FORCED TO WEAR MASKS EVERYWHERE.

WE DON'T HAVE INDOOR MASK ARE REQUIREMENTS FOR RESTAURANTS AND OTHER EVENTS WE GET TOGETHER.

NO ONE'S WEARING MASKS OUTSIDE ESSENTIALLY.

IT'S NOT AS THOUGH THERE'S A TYRANNY OF MASKING HAPPENING.

FOR PEOPLE GETTING ON BUSES, SUBWAYS, PLANES, CAN WE CONTINUE TO PROTECT EACH OTHER?

AND THAT'S A PLEA I WANT PEOPLE TO HEAR.

YOU MENTIONED IF THE POPULATION WERE 90% VACCINATED.

UNFORTUNATELY, WE KNOW WE'RE NOT AT THAT NUMBER YET.

HOWEVER, IN ADDITION TO THE MANY OTHER DISCUSSIONS, PEOPLE WHO MIGHT PUSH BACK AND SAY WE'VE GOTTEN COVID TO THE POINT WITH THE VARIANTS SPREADING, IT'S LIKE HAVING THE FLU.

AND IF WE HAD THE FLU CIRCULATING BEFORE IS AND WE WEREN'T WEARING MASKS AND TAKING ALL THESE PRECAUTIONS, WHY NOW?

IT'S AN EXCELLENT POINT.

I WILL SAY THIS.

WOE WE'VE HAD THE FLU FOR GENERATIONS NOW.

EVEN STILL, THE FLU KILLS A COUPLE OF 10S OF THOUSANDS EVERY YEAR.

COVID'S ON A DIFFERENT SCALE AND IN PART BECAUSE FOLKS ARANT VACCINATED.

YOU COULD HAVE A VERY BAD COURSE FROM COVID.

AND THEN IF YOU'RE VACCINATED AND YOU GET COVID AND YOU HAVE MILD INFECTION, WE DON'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN IN TERMS OF LONG COVID DISABILITY.

SO, THE POINT I THINK PEOPLE ARE MISSING IS THEY WANT TO TREAT COVID EXACTLY LIKE THE FLU.

WE'VE HAD A TON OF TIME TO LEARN THE FLU.

WE HAVEN'T HAD NEARLY AS MUCH TIME TO LEARN COVID.

SO, IT COULD BE, AND THIS IS NOT TO BE A FEAR MONGER BUT THIS IS TO SUGGEST, COVID COULD BE ONE OF THOSE INFECTIONS WHERE YOU GET IT TWO OR THREE TIMES, THINK YOU'RE FINE AND TWO OR THREE YEARS DOWN THE LINE, YOU GET A CRAZY CHRONIC ILLNESS WE NEVER IMAGINED.

YOU KNOW WHAT OTHER VIRUS HAS DONE THAT?

WE A BELIEVE MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS COMES FROM THAT VIRUS.

WE'RE LEARNING VIRUSES HAVE LONG-TERM EFFECTS.

I THINK THE MESSAGE WE HAVE TO SHARE WITH EACH OTHER IS IS COVID IS NOT A KNOWN ENTITY.

WE KNOW IT BETTER THAN WE DID THREE YEARS AGO WHEN IT ENTERED THIS WORLD BUT STILL A LOT WE DON'T KNOW.

THERE'S A BIT OF A GAMBLE PEOPLE ARE TAKING WHEN THEY ALLOW THEM SELVES TO GET INFECKED OVER AND OVER.

LONG TERM, WE JUST DON'T KNOW.

I MEAN, I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU BUT I HAVE ONE LIFE TO LIVE.

I'D LOVE TO BY ABLE TO BE AS SAFE AS POSSIBLE, WITHIN REASON.

DOESN'T MEAN YOU NEVER GEOUTSIDE, TALK TO ANYONE.

IT MEANS YOU TAKE PRECAUTIONS WHERE YOU CAN.

IF THAT ISN'T ENOUGH FOR YOU, THINK ABOUT THE OTHER PEOPLE YOU'RE PROTECTING.

IMMUNE COMPROMISED PEOPLE, PREGNANT PEOPLE.

THERE'S SOMETHING LIKE COMMUNITY LOVE I THINK COMES FROM BEING AS SAFE AS YOU CAN AS WE CONTINUE TO BATTLE THIS PANDEMIC.

OF COURSE.

AND NOT ONLY SPEAKING FROM YOUR OWN PERSPECTIVE BUT FROM A LOT OF THE HIV POSITIVE PATIENTS YOU TREAT, COVID ISN'T THE ONLY THREAT PEOPLE WITH SUPPRESSED IMMUNE CSYSTEMS, CORRECT?

I ENCOURAGE MY PASCHENTS EVERY YEAR TO GET THE FLU SHOT.

I ENCOURAGE THEM TO GET THINGS THAT ARE PREVENTATIVE, LIKE SHINGLES SHOTS.

GET YOUR COVID SHOT, GET YOUR BOOSTER.

UNFORTUNATELY, THEY'RE ONLY AS SAFE AS THE COMMUNITY.

IF THE COMMUNITY HAS A TON OF COVID, THEY'LL PROBABLY GET SICK, EVEN THOUGH THEY'RE VACCINATED.

IF YOU'RE SOMEONE WITH A CHRONIC ILLNESS THAT YOU'RE WORKING WITH, YOU'RE DOING A LOT OF THINGS, WHICH IS WHY IT MATTERS TO DO THINGS TO KEEP EACH OTHER SAFE.

SINCE MAVLG MASKS HAVE COME UP, PEOPLE ARE DOING WELL OVERALL BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT GETTING OTHER INFECTIONS.

SO, IT'S LIKE A TWO FOR ONE.

NOT ONLY DO YOU NOT GET COVID, YOU DON'T GET OTHER THINGS WE HISTORICALLY WOULD SEE IN HIGHER NUMBERS, AT LEAST THAN WE DID WHEN WE WERE MASKING.

I WANT TO ASK BECAUSE ONE OF THE ISSUES THAT SEEMS TO KEEP HAPPENING IS THE VIRUS KEEPS CIRCULATINGING AND MUTATING.

HOW NECESSARY IS GLOBAL VACCINE EQUITY?

WE HAVE ABOUT 13 SECONDS LEFT.

IT'S INCREDIBLY NECESSARY.

COVID CONTINUES TO OUT PACE US.

AND SO, IF YOU LEAVE INDIVIDUALS TO GET COVID UNVACCINATED AND ESPECIALLY IF YOU'RE IMMUNE COMPROMISED, YOU COULD HAVE A WORSE VARIANT THAN WE COULD IMAGINE.

VACCINATING AS MANY AS POSSIBLE IS WHAT WE SHOULD BE THINKING ABOUT DOING.

LISTEN, I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR TIME AND SOME CRITICAL INFORMATION, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO THE IMMUNO COMPROMISED.

I'VE BEEN SPEAKING TO A NEW YORK CITY PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN, WHO'S ALSO IMMUNO SUPPRESSD AND PREGNANT.

CONGRATULATIONS.

AND SHE'S ALSO THE FOUNDER OF THE ORGANIZATION, JUST EQUITY FOR HEALTH.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME TO JOIN US ON 'METROFOCUS.'

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

> CANNABIS , IT'S A BURJENNING NEW INDUSTRY THAT HAS THE POTENTIAL TO REVOLUTIONIZE THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY.

BUT WITH NEW BUSINESS, COMES NEW PROBLEMS.

WHILE LAWMAKERS HAGGLE OVER WHETHER TO MAKE IT LEGAL, ONE ORGANIZATION, WOMEN GROW, WANTS TO MAKE SURE IT DOESN'T BECOME ANOTHER MALE-DOMINATED BUSINESS.

THEY'RE PROVIDING SUPPORT TO WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS SO THERE WON'T BE A GLASS CEILING TO BREAK LATER ON.

WE WANT TO SEE MORE WOMEN IN THE FOREFRONT OF THE INDUSTRY.

WORE LOOKING TO CULTIVATE BUSINESS LEADERS WHO ARE GOING TO LEAD BUSINESSES, COME UP WITH YOUR NEXT ENTREPRENEURIAL SUCCESS IN THE SPACE, WHO ARE LOOKING TO PERHAPS HOLD SEATS ON THESE CORPORATE BOARDS ESTABLISHING THEMSELVES IN THE INDUSTRY.

SHE'S THE EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF WOMEN GROW, A PROFESSIONAL NETWORKING ORGANIZATION, DEDICATED TO EMPOWERING AND INSPIRING WOMEN INTERESTED IN THE BURGEONING CANNABIS INDUSTRY.

WE HAVE A BRAND NEW INDUSTRY THAT'S JUST MATURING NOW.

WE'RE AT THE INFANCY STAGE.

WHY NOT ADDRESS THE ISSUES WE ALREADY SEE.

WE SEE MEN AT THE FOREFRONT AND HONESTLY, MORE WHITE MEN AT THE FOREFRONT.

THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT BUT WE'D LIKE TO SEE WOMEN AT THE FOREFRONT AND OUR SOCIETY ACROSS THE BOARD BE REFLECTED IN THIS INDUSTRY.

ONE COMPANY THAT EMBODIES FEMALE DRIVE IN THE CANNABIS BUSINESS IS NEW YORK'S ONLY MEDICAL LICENSY.

THEY HAVE DISPENSARIES ACROSS THE STATE AND ITS PRODUCTION FACILITY IS LOCATED IN CHESTER TOWN IN THE SOUTHEASTERNED A RON DAKS.

HE WAS OBTAINED BY THREE MEMBERS OF THE PECKHAM FAMILY.

I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO HAVE FEMALE REPRESENTATION BECAUSE WOMEN ARE OFTEN THE CARE TAKERS FOR WOMEN IN THEIR FAMILY.

AFTER WATCHING HER MOM CARE FOR A DYING GRANDPARENT, IT WAS A DOCTOR WHO TOLD THEM TO CONSIDER MEDICAL MARIJUANA TO ALLEVIATE THE SIDE EFFECTS FROM MOST OF THE SOLUTIONS.

THEY KNEW THEY WANTED TO KEEP WOMEN A THAT FOREFRONT.

IT SHOULD BE MORE THAN JUST ONE IN TEN IS A WOMEN-OWNED COMPANY.

I HOPE MORE WOMEN ARE TRYING TO GET INVOLVED.

IF YOU LOOK BACK THE DOT BOM, IT LOOKED LIKE A REAL OPPORTUNITY BUT TURNED OUT THAT WASN'T WHERE A LOT OF THE INITIAL SKILLSET COULD COME FROM WOMEN.

SO, WOMEN ARE NOT REPRESENTED IN TECH.

THE COMPANY'S ALSO KEEPING AN EYE ON THE DEVELOPING RECREATIONAL LEGISLATION.

IT LOOKS LIKE NEW YORK IS AT LEAST CONSIDERING THE POSSIBILITY OF LEGALIZING MARIJUANA USE FOR EVERYONE IN THE STATE.

AND WE'RE DEFINITELY EXCITED ABOUT THAT OPPORTUNITY.

AND AS A COMPANY, WE'RE VERY PASSIONATE, NO MATTER WHAT DIVISION, MEDICAL OR ADULT USE, THAT PEOPLE HAVE ACCESS TO SAFE AND HIGH-QUALITY CANNABIS . AND TO MAKE SURE THAT IT'S REGULATED IN A WAY THAT THE CONSUMER IS PROTECTED.

ON THIS SIDE, THERE'S A MESH FILTER.

WALKING THROUGH THEIR UPSTATE FACILITY, SHE SHOWS OFF THEIR NURSERY AND GREENHOUSE.

THESE PLANTS ONLY HAVE ONE LIFE CYCLE.

WE HARVEST THEM.

THEY DON'T GROW ANOTHER SEASON OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT.

YOU'LL SEE THE PLANTS, AS OPPOSED TO THE ORIGINAL ONES, START TO PRODUCE THE COLA AND WHAT PEOPLE KNOW AS BUD.

IN THIS AREA HERE, THESE REGIONS HAVE THE HIGHEST CONTENT OF CAN BUNOIDS AND THE OIL WE EXTRACT OUT OF THE PLANT.

ONCE THE PLANTS REACH THEIR FINAL STAGE, WE HARVEST THEM AND TAKE THE BUD OFF OF THEM AND THEN THAT IS DRIED AND PUT INTO WHAT WE CALL EXTRACTION PACK.

SO, YOU'LL TAKE YOU'LL SEE IS IT'S FILLED WITH BUD COMPLETELY DRIED.

AND THEN IT'S GROUND AND MADE INTO THESE EXTRACTION PACKS THAT ALLOW FOR US TO GET MORE MATERIAL INTO OUR EXTRACTION MACHINE TO GET ALL OF THE OIL OUT AND START PRODUCING PRODUCTS.

A TEAM PRODUCES OIL EXTRACTIONS IN PILL, THINKTURE, VAPORIZER AND OIL SPRAY FORMS AND ARRANGED BY THC OR CBD LEVELS.

JOSEPH STEPHENS REMEMBERS WHAT IT WAS LIKE AS THEY FIRST GOT OFF THE GROUND.

THERE WERE INSTANCES WHERE WE'D WALK IN TO A MEETING THAT WAS MALE-DOMINATED MEETING AND NO ONE WOULD LOOK AT HILLARY WHILE SPEAKING.

THEY WERE SPEAKING WITH ME.

FIRST HAND, I CAN TELL YOU, AS A YOUNG WOMAN, IT'S BEEN MUCH HARDER, I THINK, FOR ME, THAN MALE PEERS TO GAIN RESPECT AND GET JUST INVESTMENT MONEY.

THEY'LL ARE SAY THINGS LIKE OH, YOU'RE SO SPUNKY BUT HAVE YOU TALKED TO JOHN DOE OVER HERE.

HE SEEMS LIKE REAL BUSINESSMAN.

IT'S EXACTLY THE TYPE OF BUSINESS THATWOMAN WITHEN GROW WANTS TO SEE MORE OF.

AS MORE STATES MOVE TOWARDS MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION.

TO INSURE THAT MORE WOMEN ARE ABLE TO GET INTO THE BUSINESS, GIA SAYS WOMEN GROW INTENTIONALLY ADDRESSES START-UP ISSUES LIKE LICENSING, LEGAL ADVICE, ADVERTISING AND THE ALL-IMPORTANT START UP INGREDIENT, CAPITOL.

> YOU CAN'T GET A LOAN IN THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY BECAUSE AS OF NOW IT'S FEDERALLY ILLEGAL.

SO, THE FUNDING AND THE CAPITAL TO SUPPORT THESE BUSINESSES REALLY HAVE TO COME FROM PRIVATE INVESTMENTS.

AND THIS IS WHERE WOMEN STRUGGLE.

BOTH GIA AND HILLARY AGREE NEW YORK IS IN A UNIQUE POSITION TO MAKE ITS LEGISLATION FOR LEGALIZATION FAIR AND EQUITABLE FOR ALL.

AND FOR HILLARY, THAT MEANS EQUAL ACCESS TO CAPITAL AND ABILITY TO GROW.

AS YOU SEE MORE STANDARDIZED INVESTMENT, I THINK THAT WILL CHANGE THE LANDSCAPE TO BE MORE MALE DOMINATED.

WHICH IS WHY I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT WOMEN GET INVOLVED NOW BECAUSE THAT WOULD HELP TO MAKE SURE THERE'S A VOICE THAT CARRIES THROUGH.

WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO AS A COMPANY RIGHT NOW IS EXPAND NATIONALLY.

WE JUST GOT LICENSED IN CALIFORNIA.

WE'RE HOPING TO KEEP FWROEING THE COMPANY AND THE GOAL IS ALWAYS WOMEN OWNED AND ALWAYS WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP.

FOR 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

> ACROSS THE GLOBE, HUMAN TRAFFICKING SH THIRD LARGEST CRIME.

ACCORDING TO THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, NEARLY 15,000 ARE TRAFFICKED INTO THE THIS COUNTRY EVERY YEAR.

STILL MOST EXPERTS AGREE INDIA IS IS THE EPICENTER OF THIS INSIDIOUS CRIME.

80% OF ALL HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN THAT COUNTRY IS DONE FOR SEXUAL EXPLOITATION.

OUR NEXT GUEST SURVIVED A BRUTAL SEX ATTACK AT THE AGE OF 15, AN EXPERIENCE THAT LED HER TO BE A LEADER AGAINST SEX ABUSE IN HER NATIVE INDIA.

ETERNAL FLAME, SHE AND HER COLLEAGUES HAVE RESCUED THOUSANDS OF WOMEN FROM PROSTITUTION AND EDUCATED THEIR CHILDREN TO HELP END THE CYCLE OF SEXUAL EXPLOITATION.

IT'S A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU HERE.

SO, LET ME START WITH THAT ATTACK.

I KNOW YOU TALK ABOUT IT ALL THE TIME.

SOMETIMES IT GETS A LITTLE TOO MUCH.

BUT LET'S START WITH THAT BECAUSE AFTER THAT ATTACK, I'VE READ THAT YOU SAID TO YOURSELF I'M NOT GOING TO BE DEFINED JUST AS A VICTIM.

I'M GOING TO IDENTIFY MYSELF AS A SURVIVOR AND FIGHT BACK.

WHAT COMPELLED YOU TO DO THAT?

I THINK THE SHEER UNFAIRNESS OF THE WORLD AROUND ME, WHICH BLAMED ME FOR A CRIME THAT I NEVER DID.

PEOPLE ARE BLAMING ME FOR EIGHT MEN ATTACKING ME.

I WAS THE CENTER OF SHAME, CENTER OF GUILT, CENTER OF U.

OSTRACIZIZATION AND UNFAIRNESS.

I THINK THAT'S WHAT PUSHED ME TO BELIEVE THIS IS NOT DONE.

IS AND I'M NOT GOING TO BE DEFINED BY THESE PEOPLE, OF WHO I AM.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THAT.

THIS STIGMA OF BEING A VICTIM OF SEX SEXUAL ABUSE, IS IT STILL PROMINENT IN INDIA AND AROUND THE WORLD?

THAT'S ONE OF THE ANGER I GRAPPLE WITH EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE.

ANGER THAT 26 YEARS LATER, IT'S AN OUTRAGE BECAUSE THAT STIGMA HASN'T CHANGED.

WOMEN, CHILDREN CONTINUE IT TO BE VICTIMIZED FOR A CRIME THEY HAVE NOT COMMITTED.

THEY CONTINUE TO BE SHAMED AND CONSTANTLY BLAMED FOR THE ATTACKS.

THE CLOTHES THEY WEAR OR THE BEHAVIOR.

BUT END OF IT IS THEY'RE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM.

SO, NOTHING HAS CHANGED IN THE LAST TWO AND A HALF DECADES AND MORE.

AND THAT ANGERS ME.

THAT DRIVES ME TO DO WHAT KI AM DOING TODAY.

WE HAERB ABOUT THE GLOBAL STATISTICS ON SEXUAL TRAFFICKING.

BUT TALK ABOUT THE CONCRETE EXPERIENCE OF THE WOMEN THAT YOU HELP IN INDIA, THE WOMEN WHO HAVE BEEN FORCED INTO SEX TRAFFICKING AND THEIR CHILDREN.

WHAT IS THEIR DAY-TO-DAY LIFE LIKE?

YOU NEED KNOW WHAT THEY COME FROM.

WHAT IS THEIR DAY-TO-DAY LIFE OF SEX SLAVERY.

AND THE AVERAGE CHILD WHO'S IN A BROTHEL NEEDS TO BE CATERING TO NOT LESS TO 40 TO 50 MEN A DAY.

LIKE TWO THICHB AFTERNOON IF SHE DOESN'T MEET WITH 40 OR 50 MEN, SHE WOULD BE TORTURED.

PHYSICALLY ASSAULTED FOR NOT REACHING THE DAILY TARGET.

IT'S A MARKET.

EVERYBODY HAS TO REACH THE DAILY TARGET AND IT'S A HUGE AMOUNT OF COMPETITION.

IF YOU DON'T REACH THE TARGET, YOU'RE NO MORE MAKING SENSE.

AND GRAPPLING WITH INFECTIONS IN YOUR BODY, KEEPING YOUR ISSELF INSANE AND INTOX KICATED WITH DRUGS AND ALCOHOL AND ALL KINDS OF INTOXICATING SUBSTANCES.

SO, END OF THE DAY, THE KIND OF HUMAN BEING YOU BECOME IS A PERSON WHO HAS NO TRUST IN THE WORLD.

MOST PEOPLE WHO HEAR THIS STORY OF WHAT YOU DO THINK IT'S BEAUTIFUL AND HEROIC BUT NOT ALL FOLKS DO.

YOU HAVE BEEN ATTACKED AND THE VICTIM OF ACID ATTACKS.

AND IN COUNTLESS DEATH THREATS.

FIRST OF ALL, ARE THOSE JUST THE TRAFFICKERS AFTER YOU OR DO YOUR ENEMIES ENCOMPASS A LARGER GROUP OF PEOPLE AND HOW DO YOU DEVELOP THE COURAGE TO DEAL WITH THIS?

I THINK EVERY TRAFFICKER LOATHES ME IN TERMS OF THE KIND OF DAMAGE I GIVE THEM, EVERY CHILD I TAKE OUT OF THEIR CLUTCHES IS A HUGE BUSINESS LOSS FOR THEM.

THEY'RE NOT GOING TO HUG ME AND SAY THANK YOU.

THEY'RE PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO DO EVERYTHING TO WIPE ME OUT.

THAT IS ONE THAT DOESN'T LIKE ME.

I THINK MY BIGGER CHALLENGE IS A WORLD.

THE SOCIAL PERCEPTION, THE COMMUNITY PERCEPTION ABOUT THESE VICTIMS IS IS MY BIGGER ENEMY.

BECAUSE I DON'T MIND STAKING MY LIFE FOR THESE CHILDREN.

I DON'T MIND DYING FOR THESE CHILDREN.

PROVIDED I'M SURE THAT THESE PEOPLE WILL BE ACCEPTED BACK BY THE WORLD AS EQUAL CITIZENS.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR DOING THIS.

THANK YOU.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY AND BY ♪ ♪

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