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  Red-light crusader [Linda Smith]
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ContributorRalphie 
Last EditedRalphie  Sep 28, 2006 08:20am
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News DateSunday, September 24, 2006 02:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionLinda Smith's political tornado came to a screeching halt late one night in Mumbai's red-light district.

She was at loose ends politically. Only a few weeks earlier, she'd lost the 1998 Senate race to Patty Murray, halting a wildly successful 15 years spearheading Washington's conservative revolution. So after the election, she accepted a missionary's invitation to Mumbai, India formerly Bombay to check out stories of child prostitution for herself.

She found an epiphany.

"I saw a bunch of little girls younger than my 11-year-old granddaughter in cagelike conditions," she recalled. "I decided I could turn away, or do something about it."

The vision of those little hands clawing at the bars never left her. She came home, formed a nonprofit organization called Shared Hope International, and has spent the past eight years delving into the hidden world of child sex trafficking, a dark, ugly corner of the human psyche.

The career change meant setting aside a few of the hot-button social issues that defined her early politics and taking on a more global vision of human rights. In the process, she wound up working side by side with feminists on common ground, you might say, with the same ideological forces she'd battled during her political career.
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