The McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University hosted the 2nd Annual Human Trafficking Symposium on Feb. 6, 2017 at The Dupont Circle Hotel in Washington.
For a recap of the event, check out these highlights:
Moderator: Andrea Powell, Founder and Executive Director of FAIRGirls
Tina Frundt, Courtney’s House Founder
Ronny Marty, U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking member
Shandra Woworuntu, U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking member
The panelists discussed the role that the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking plays and the recent steps that have been implemented by the council to fight human trafficking in the United States. The advisory council, made up of survivors of human trafficking, released their first-ever report in October 2016. Mr. Marty and Ms. Woworuntu expressed that the feedback for the report has been exceptional and the wide variety of topics they are able to cover in the council’s five different subgroups.
Panelists then discussed the importance of providing victim services and raising awareness to ensure that these victims are not criminally charged, but treated like the victims they are. Ms. Frundt, Mr. Marty and Ms. Woworuntu emphasized the need to empower survivors. Panelists discussed the importance of bringing survivors’ stories to the forefront of the fight. In order to do so, awareness materials need to be consistent and focused on the needs of survivors. Professionals from all sectors need to know how to work with survivors and understand their personal stories. They have found that education materials need to be in place within medical professions, including psychiatry, and a multifaceted approach ought to be established within school curriculums. Additionally, education plays a major preventative role in all anti-human trafficking efforts and remains critical in the fight to end human trafficking. Finally, panelists agreed that it is crucial that everyone work together to fight human trafficking.
Director Mary Mazzio discussed the release of her new documentary, I AM JANE DOE, coming to theaters in six cities, including Washington, on February 10th. Ms. Mazzio first learned about sex trafficking through interviewing lawyers and survivors. Ms. Mazzio became aware that Backpage.com, the adult classified section formerly part of the Village Voice, was not being held accountable for the selling of children online. Through her documentary, Ms. Mazzio addresses the question: “To what extent are online portals responsible for online harm?” Her conclusion: Technology has far outpaced our regulatory system. Not only does I AM JANE DOE raise awareness of human trafficking, but it also exposes the legal issues within the fight.
The luncheon discussion was the second installment of the Leadership in Action event series and featured Cindy McCain, Chair of the Human Trafficking Advisory Council for the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University; and Emanuel Medeiros, CEO of the International Center for Sport Security in Europe and Latin America. Both Mrs. McCain and Mr. Medeiros focused on action-based solutions to fight human trafficking head on, specifically in sports organizations. Much of their conversation focused on Mr. Medeiros’ work to create the Sport Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA), which works to fight human trafficking at sporting events around the world. SIGA hopes to mobilize governments, sports, global businesses and civil society. Mrs. McCain and Mr. Medeiros called for global leadership and a united front committed to action, specifically within the sports arena where trafficking is often overlooked. After the discussion, Mrs. McCain and Mr. Medeiros signed a memorandum stating their joint commitment to human rights and dignity.
This year’s Symposium featured a breakout session component to allow participants to directly engage in the complexities of addressing human trafficking. Participants chose one of the following breakout sessions: Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking, led by NCMEC’s Staca Shehan; International Trafficking, led by Free the Slaves’ Maurice Middleberg; Technology and Trafficking, led by THORN’s Julia Cordua; and Labor Trafficking, led by Human Rights First’s Annick Febrey. Discussions focused on actions to actively combat human trafficking.
The Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking breakout session was led by Staca Shahan, Executive Director of the Case Analysis Division for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). The primary focus of this breakout session was on ways to raise awareness of human trafficking and on different approaches that people and organizations can take to combat sex trafficking. A few of the most-discussed topics included: restitution for survivors, having judges be leaders in identifying potential trafficking victims, the organization of communities and inter-agency groups in providing an easy to access system for victims and survivors, and the idea of having sex buyers being forced to register as sex offenders. A number of participants also spoke on legislative action at the federal and state level, and how this legislation is critical in establishing a coherent and effective system to better combat human trafficking. One of most heavily agreed upon points was that children between the ages of 14 and 18 are at an especially high risk of being subjected to the sex trafficking industry. A main takeaway from this: A large number of trafficked victims come from the foster care system. Identifying avenues that lead victims to sex traffickers is critical in reducing the number of young men and women who become trapped in the human trafficking system.
Annick Febrey, Senior Associate at Human Rights First, began her breakout session discussing Human Rights First’s collaborative approach to facing human rights issues, such as labor trafficking. She first mentioned the latest provision of the Tariff Act and how it is in place to halt incoming products that are manufactured by forced and/or child labor. Ms. Febrey broke the session up into three groups to discuss specific scenarios through the lens of different stakeholders: government, nonprofit organizations/civil society, and private sector. The government group discussed the importance of monitoring, enforcing the laws already in place and the necessary partnership between government and nonprofits. The nonprofit organizations/civil society group mentioned the importance of educating companies on labor trafficking so that these organizations can put pressure on companies to have supply chains free of forced labor. The private sector group discussed the necessity of raising awareness around labor trafficking within the company, knowing supply chain information and the transactions that take place, and sharing information regarding the best practices companies can take. There needs to be more labor inspectors, more prosecutions and more solutions motivated by consumers demand for transparent supply chains.
Maurice Middleburg, Executive Director of Free the Slaves, was the leader of the International Trafficking breakout session. As the session progressed, the conversation shifted towards ways to prevent international trafficking. A big obstacle in prevention is that data collection in countries around the world has proven to be very difficult as NGOs often find their resources to be spread too thin. A possible solution to this: reduce the competition and quell the divisiveness that exists between different NGOs, while also consolidating resources to better address conflict-stricken regions. Data from certain regions is often lacking or immeasurable because conflict-stricken regions do not possess the resources to track human trafficking syndicates and victims. It is primarily because of this incapacity to combat trafficking that human trafficking groups, including ISIS, inhabit conflict-stricken regions.
Another key area to focus the fight against human trafficking involves the supply chains of international organizations. The introduction of a reward and punishment system can be extremely beneficial in influencing businesses to eliminate human trafficking from their supply chains. Having universal definitions for specific acts of trafficking will contribute greatly in prosecuting perpetrators and maximizing inter-agency cooperation. Identifying and providing a remedy to the root cause of why people become involved in trafficking in the first place is crucial in ending global slavery. Combating international trafficking involves a high level of cooperation and understanding among international governments and NGOs, which often proves to be difficult. However, cooperation is necessary in order to properly address and eliminate the inhuman system that is human trafficking.
The Technology and Trafficking group discussed key areas in which technology can be transformative within the human trafficking movement. Julia Cordua began by introducing THORN and its work with government, survivors and non-profit organizations to create their Spotlight software, a web-based tool that law enforcement uses to identify human trafficking victims faster. This spearheaded the discussion into how technology can make an impact in the fight against human trafficking. Technology can help immensely with investigations by utilizing data science and analytics to sift through large amounts of data. THORN’s Spotlight tool can cut investigation time by about 60%. Technology can also help companies and the public can see an entire transaction chain, which greatly helps law enforcement. Technology plays a large role in communicating the issue of human trafficking and policy needs, in resource sharing and the leveraging of expertise and by creating a hub where information can be shared and utilized efficiently and effectively.
Moderator: Ambassador Swanee Hunt, Founder of Demand Abolition
Bradley Myles, Executive Director and CEO of Polaris Project
Malika Saada Saar, Google’s Public Policy and Government Relations Senior Counsel
The panelists discussed the National Attorney General’s guidebook – detailing the laws and rules that officials can use to prosecute human trafficking perpetrators. Panelists discussed the importance of changing the societal norm and having law enforcement focus more on the traffickers and buyers just as much as they focus on the victims. Ms. Saada Saar spoke on the normalization of child rape, specifically within the African American community. Both Ms. Saada Saar and Mr. Myles addressed the importance of recognizing buyers for who they are: criminals that should be prosecuted. Law enforcement often focuses on asking the victim about his/her trafficker, rather than focusing on victim services or the buyers who create the demand for sex trafficking. Ms. Saada Saar and Mr. Myles remarked that it is largely a state-led initiative to combat human trafficking and that states may be able to look at successful policies or initiatives that other states have passed in order to successfully implement one of their own. They hope that this guidebook will help pass legislation state by state so that no child experiences exploitation of any kind.
Moderator: Carol Smolenski, Executive Director and Founder of ECPAT
Senator Bob Corker (R-TN)
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX, 2nd District)
Senator Corker emphasized that funding anti-trafficking initiatives and legislation is crucial because, with minimal or no funding, these initiatives soon disappear. Senator Klobuchar called for an increase in involvement within the public sector and highlighted initiatives, such as Truckers Against Trafficking, as ways that continue to increase public awareness about human trafficking. Representative Poe advocated for raising public awareness and stated that continued bipartisan and bicameral support is necessary to continue the fight against human trafficking. All three congressional members mentioned the importance of legislation, and they agreed on two key issues: the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), anti-trafficking legislation that works to protect victims of trafficking, prosecute traffickers, and work to prevent human trafficking in the United States, is necessary but must be carefully monitored to ensure minor details do not hinder the overall objective of the bill, and that Congress must work with the new administration, especially the State Department, to ensure that human trafficking remains a top priority.
For upcoming McCain Institute events, please click here. Our upcoming Human Trafficking Conversation Series: New Administration Anti-Trafficking Suggestions and Support will take place on March 1, 2017. For more information on our Human Trafficking Conversation Series please click here.