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International and Local Experts Discuss the State of the Anti-Human Trafficking Movement

Stanford students and community members sit around a large conference table
Oct 12 2015

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Events, Human Trafficking

About 20 Stanford students and community members explored both the international and domestic implications of human trafficking with Free the Slaves. Executive Director Maurice Middleberg and Handa Center Senior Fellow Katherine Jolluck last week. The Handa Center hosted the lunch seminar, “Priorities and Best Practices in the Anti-Trafficking Movement," following the three-day Freedom from Slavery Forum at Stanford. 

Middleberg, who oversees the DC-based NGO’s diverse anti-trafficking initiatives abroad and U.S.-based advocacy and policy work, presented the findings of a recent research project aimed at drawing a portrait of the current “anti-slavery movement” through interviews and focus groups with practitioners. 

Though advances were highlighted, the research identified three major challenges to effective progress: evidence gaps, meaning the community has not yet established reliable metrics to evaluate the efficacy of its programming; resource limitations, in both the financial and human sense; and a policy environment in which combatting human trafficking is not prioritized to the level it deserves. One ameliorating factor that was emphasized throughout the discussion is the benefit of collaboration throughout the anti-trafficking community, such as on common standards of care and robust data-gathering and analysis methods.

Jolluck focused the conversation on U.S. government commitment to combat trafficking before zooming in on work being done at the local level here in the Bay Area. She drew attention to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, passed in 2000 and reauthorized most recently in 2013, as well as the hotline operated by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, which receives about 200 calls per day. Despite these commitments, the U.S. government spends only $120 million per year on anti-trafficking efforts, as compared to $5.4 billion on cancer research or $22.5 billion on the war on drugs, Jolluck said.

Based on her work with the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition and other locally based anti-trafficking initiatives and collaborations, Jolluck emphasized that a strong movement has developed here across several counties and dozens of government agencies. The upcoming Super Bowl in Santa Clara (February 2016) has helped draw attention to the issue of human trafficking, based on the idea that large sporting events on this ilk can exacerbate the problem.

Lastly, Jolluck encouraged attendees to support the 2016 Presidential Platform to fight trafficking, launched recently by United Way. The campaign asks the U.S. government to commit two cents on every dollar that traffickers earn to combat it, amounting to a $3 billion annual budget. Click here to learn more or lend support.

A video of the full seminar is available here.

The Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law graciously co-sponsored this event.