The panel began with a story. A young African American girl on a train trying to talk to the police officers on board. The mom tried to control the young girl and explained not to talked to strangers. Something has changed in the way we view law enforcement, instead of being friendly faces within the community, they are enforcers of law that are separate from the community. This was an important point to make to frame the panels argument that law enforcement needs to change the way they interact with society, especially when it comes to victims of sexual violence. The goal of police and law enforcement its to serve and protect the integrity and value of human life. When it comes to sex trafficking, the police need to understand that the women are the victims and need to have the capacity to deal with the emotional and psychological trama the women have and will face. Here in the US, we have been desensitized to human trafficking, in that we have forgotten it happens here at home.
There are many forms of trafficking, including sex trafficking, child sex trafficking, forced labor (bonded or debt bondage), involuntary domestic servitude and forced child labor and child soldiers. The panel handed out pamphlets that laid out how even though we are removed from direct forms of trafficking, the food we eat, the products we buy and the consumer items we used on a daily basis may have been victims of forced labor. To find out the impact your daily life has on modern slavery check out www.slaveryfootprint.org.
Overall, the panel discussed how slavery still exists in our modern world. About 17-20 million people are projected to live in this kind of situation but only 44,000 cases have been identified. Of those cases, its questionable how many are handled in the correct fashion. The panel suggested we must engage the police and community to understand how when one person is trafficked, the community suffers as a whole. Everyone needs to work together so that when a women reports violence, they do not get punished or ostracized by society. The problem is, many women do not report violence because they fear being ridiculed and believe law enforcement will not handle the situation in a productive manner. This creates problems when it comes to reporting data. In order to get funding, there has to be reportable and reliable data that demonstrates there is a need for new programs and research to understand best practices in dealing with sexual violence. The panel did not discuss solutions exactly, but they all focused on the necessity of community members and police to work together to understand trafficking could be occurring near you. To see how this is happening in the United States check out state.gov under the human trafficking and human smuggling page.