There are 4.5 million people trapped in forced sexual exploitation globally estimates International Labor Organization. The symposium contributed to The McCain Institute’s efforts to raise awareness to #EndTrafficking.
Senator Heidi Heitkamp, U.S. Senator, North Dakota and Corinne Dettmeijer-Vermeulen, Dutch National Rapporteur, Trafficking in Human Beings and Sexual Violence against Children, delivered remarks on the fight against trafficking.
Panel I: Leadership in Action
The Human Trafficking Symposium began with Leadership in Action, which is a new conversation series focusing on subject matter experts working directly to make a positive impact on the world today.
Speakers included: John F. Clark, President and Chief Executive Officer, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; and Cindy McCain, Human Trafficking Advisory Council Chair, The McCain Institute.
Mrs. McCain talked about the first time she heard the phrase “dark web” – it was during a conversation with Ashton Kutcher about THORN Technology, an innovative technology partnership that is combatting trafficking online. Mr. Clark emphasized the importance of utilizing these critical partnerships with tech companies to fight trafficking. This is one of the many organizations across the United States working to raise awareness and educate people about human trafficking particularly domestic minor sex trafficking. Mr. Clark stressed the importance of education and awareness in combating and ultimately eradicating human trafficking.
Kay Chernush of ArtWorks for Freedom presented “Bought & Sold: Voices of Human Trafficking.” The series speaks to the experiences and suffering of the hundreds of thousands of men, women and children affected by trafficking.
Panel II: Human Trafficking Conversation Series
The second panel, the sixth Human Trafficking Conversation Series, “More Than Our Stories: A Conversation on the Importance of Survivor Leadership,” shed light on the critical role survivors play in combatting human trafficking and highlighted survivor successes and empowerment over injustice.
Speakers included: Tina Frundt, Founder, Courtney’s House; Carolyn Jones, Resident Advocate, StreetLightUSA; and Ann Wilkinson, Director of Mentor Services, My Life My ChoiceResident Advocate, StreetLightUSA. Kara Van de Carr, Executive Director of Eden House, served as moderator.
Tina Frundt, Founder of Courtney’s House, focused on survivor activism and advocacy. She emphasized the effectiveness of the Harriett Tubman model of treatment, which incorporates other survivors into the healing process and recognizes the value of treating victims of trafficking and abuse without stipulations.
Carolyn Jones, Resident Advocate for StreetLightUSA, discussed the importance of a trauma-informed approach to treatment. While law enforcement and victim services engage in the important work of rescuing, housing, feeding and clothing victims, it is also important to create a long-term psychological treatment program for victims. The success of a long term, trauma-informed treatment approach should involve contact with survivors who understand what the victim has gone through and provide hope for his or her transition from victim to survivor.
Ann Wilkinson, Director of Mentor Services for My Life My Choice, provided insight into the world of shelters and rehabilitation of sex trafficking victims. One of the hardest challenges she faces is watching the girls she works with make progress and then relapse and get pulled back into the world of trafficking. Programs like My Life My Choice are critical and need funding and resources for their facilities and mentors.
President and Chief Executive Officer, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Founder, Courtney’s House
Resident Advocate, StreetLightUSA
Director of Mentor Services, My Life My Choice