Human Trafficking in America and Strategies on Gender Parity

A blog covering two events by Paula Freschi Kamena (Ret.) Marin County District Attorney and Soroptimist of Marin County

Human Trafficking In America:  Risks for Women and Girls in Rural Areas and Faith-Based Prevention


Rev. Jan Hagetsu, Hoebreichts, Heart Circle Sanghe 

Alicia Webber, Salvation Army SAFE-T Program, Member Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force

Rev. Raleigh Sadler, Let My People Go

Rabbi Rachel Bregman, Temple Beth Telfich Brunswick, GA

Vivian Huelgo, American Bar Association Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence, Task Force on Human Trafficking

Rabbi Diana S. Gerson (Moderator) New York Board of Rabbis

Huelgo:  Gave an overview of Human Trafficking, both sex and labor.  All that happens across the nation, happens in rural communities.  It is more of a challenge to identify trafficking victims in rural areas.  Rural communities have great poverty which breeds trafficking. Victim services are stretched, both by lack of funding and travel distances.  There are transportation and technology issues.

Sadler: He is a minister who started a program called Let My People Go.  It is educating congregations to support and love the venerable in their communities.  Poverty and isolation equal exploitation.  If there is someone without power, there is someone with power.   It is not stranger danger.  His program helps churches develop a justice ministry team.  While law enforcement does their job, they provide services.  There is a congregational collaborative team.

Bregman:  People are vulnerable when they are invisible, so you should look at people and give them a real smile. Ending the demand is the way to solve the problem.  “Johns” look just like the men at church.  Told some stories about survivors.

Rev. Joan:  Helped develop a UNICEF USA toolkit against trafficking.  There are counterparts for other countries.  On website.  She is a therapist and Zen Buddhist teacher.  She has been working with survivors for 8 years.  Long haul.  She also works with prisoners at Avenal Prison, where sex offenders and predators go.  They serve at least seven years and have treatment every day.  They become remorseful and want to change.  The victims she sees are as young as 11 and often are 13-15.  Told story of two girls who were neglected and ended up being trafficked.

Webber:  Works for the Salvation Army and is a member of the Nebraska State Trafficking Task Force.  Spoke about the dynamics of Nebraska.  They have set up fake pages on  They have 900 new identities per month of persons in ads.  They are moving slowly because they want to make a cultural change.  They work closely with law enforcement.  Trafficking survives in the dark.

System-Wide Strategy on Gender Parity: How to Walk the Talk

The purpose of this forum was to discuss the UN’s own efforts to implement gender parity in their own organization.  All attributed this effort to the Secretary General who was installed last year, Antonio Guterres.  He is a self-proclaimed feminist and has lead the UN in accomplishing much.  He is committed to gender equality.  This was in one way or the other repeated by each speaker, so I will not repeat it below.


Ana Maria Menéndez, Under Secretary General & Secretary General’s Senior Advisor on Policy

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women

H.E. Sheikha Alya Ahmed bin Saif Al-Thani, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Qatar to the UN

H.E. Dr. Adonia Ayebare, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Uganda to the UN

Radhika Balakrishnan, Faculty Director at the Center for Women’s Global Leadership & Professor in Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University

Dean Peacock, Co-Founder & Co-Executive Director, Sonke Gender Justice

Moderated by Katja Pehrman, Senior Adviser, UN Women

Menéndez:  The Secretary General adopted a mechanism for gender equality in UN in September.  It is on the website.  It is believed that the target goals will finally be acheived.  Male domination in upper echelons is an issue.

Ayebare: In order to achieve gender parity, we must have good female candidates apply for the jobs.  She gave examples of what Qatar has done to work on this issue.  They have done it slowly in order to get a cultural shift.  They passed an employment and sexual harassment policy in 2006.  This is enforced by the fact that Parliament will not approve a department budget unless it contains a target for gender equality.

Al-Thani:  I could not understand the name of the NGO.  Soon a book called “Her Story” will come out.  It is the story of women leaders. Qatar has come way since declaring Independence in 1971.  Slowly changing cultural perspective.  CEDAW was ratified in 2008.  It took years.  Quite amazingly, women receive free education at all levels, including university.

Mlambo-Ngcuka:  The driver of success is leadership.  Compliments to Secretary General.  Human Resources directors are more conservative on this issue and are the gatekeepers, so they need training.  However, the highest level in the UN system is now 50-50, men and women.  Other arenas will do this, primarily because all managers are required to be accountable and make annual reports on the status of employment parity.  Sixty-six of 69 agencies have made reports.  This is the most they would have expected.

Balakrishnan:  Re Civil Society: 1) we need to go beyond gender parity to gender equality.  Need a feminist agenda at UN.  Shadow reports are welcome.  2) The SDG’s need to be implemented.  There is a difference between what happens in NYC and Geneva.  Need to walk the talk, but also pay for talk – need funding. 3) We need flexible work and to reduce the burden of unpaid work.

Peacock:   Time for action.  #timesup.  One man can.  If men are an major impediment to women’s advancement, then men need to be part of the solution.  Men should speak up and declare equality and amplify women’s voices.  He referred to a Court of Equality in South Africa that has prosecuted political leaders for unequitable language and conduct.  One example was a political leader who slandered a woman.  He was made to publicly apologize.  It is 2018 and it is time for action.

Audience Questions:  The most significant one was about binary gender equality.  The answer was talking about equality for women is an easy target but the intention is equality for all”.

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