Human Trafficking Conference in California 6 and 7 March
Five “P”s to focus on…Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, Partnerships, Policy”- Soroptimists at work!
A blog by Dawn Marie Lemonds, SI Director
Awareness, Advocacy, and Action continue to be the cornerstone of our mission. Soroptimists in southern California supported the 14th Annual Ensure Justice Conference held at Vanguard University through attendance, volunteering, and financial support. The theme of this conference attended by over 400 people, mostly from California was “Ending Human Trafficking- Where We’ve Been, Where We are, Where We are Going”. There was also a delegation of nine women leaders from Nigeria who came to bring information back to their country.
Concerns about the coronavirus impacted attendance by a few of the presenters from Washington DC, however, the organisers including Dr. Sandra Morgan “didn’t miss a beat” by filling in on some of the topics and also scheduling one of the Keynote presenters through the Zoom platform. Christine Bucholz Senior Advisor, United States Dept. of State Office to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking, presented a fascinating retrospective look at Human Trafficking policy and the world-wide efforts toward combatting it.
- It was affirming to note that there are now 175 states who have signed the Palermo Protocol….now we need to ensure that they implement the plan in their country;
- In the USA all 50 states have legislation combatting Human Trafficking which vary widely and again- implementation with services is crucial;
- Annual Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) was first published in 2002 with 88 countries represented- now there are 188 countries represented;
- Funding has greatly increased but does not begin to cover the tremendous needs for basic support worldwide. In the USA the initial funding from the state department went ONLY to foreign countries. By 2014 the USA understood that they also needed to support within the USA;
- The interagency and NGO partnerships have greatly helped the work progress both through identifying issues and helping direct the most effective resources;
- Victim centered and trauma-informed policies are crucial if to be effective.
This conference particularly focused on families and protecting children with the local Orange County Department of Education and the local GRACE COURT system (Generating Resources to Abolish Child Exploitation. All parents who attended had free registration and sessions were translated in Spanish. Crucial issues included information on, porn addiction and online exploitation, ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences’, ‘Building Strong Children’ through several plenaries and 32 different workshops. Resources from this comprehensive conference are available from the Global Center for Women and Justice (gcwj.org)- one of their services includes 120 podcasts on Human trafficking with a listener audience from 119 countries! Soroptimists have no excuse to be uneducated.
There are many ‘takeaways’ however, a few that stand out include:
- Scientific Research has proven that addiction to Pornography has long-lasting harmful effects on both the user and who he/she engages with in many ways. It has been declared as a PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD in 15 USA states;
- The most important ‘players’ in any service delivery are the victims. Programmes must not re-traumatize and must include a trauma-informed perspective;
- The most powerful tool of change is CONNECTING all of the players together – community, law enforcement, health, education and NGOs to develop and provide networking, integrated and collaborative systems of support;
- We have to communicate with children – listen to them and be a support system that they need.
A final conclusion from Dr. Morgan is, that we can “ study the issues, make a Difference, be a Voice” of change for those that don’t have a voice”