Sunday, February 27, 2011

2011 Houston Human Trafficking Conference

Yesterday, I attended the 2011 Houston Human Trafficking Conference organized by Free the Captives (FTC). As much as I would like to believe that with all the research and readings I have done, there is nothing new about the face of modern-day slavery that I can learn, events such as this conference continue to prove me wrong. Steven Goff with Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition and Mandi Kimball with Children at Risk offered the perspective of the non-governmental organizations and provided the background of the human trafficking problem in Houston and the way to become an advocate and induce change. Elizabeth Wheaten, a lecturer at Southern Methodist University, presented the economist’s view on human trafficking and why the practice is all about economics and the global supply and demand of a certain product. Robert W. Peters with Morality in Media Inc. offered information on the links between pornography and sex trafficking which, in his opinion, are “sister businesses.” Special agent Alfred Tibble, FBI depicted through real cases an up-close view of the efforts of law enforcement to fight human trafficking. Camille Gibson, an FTC speaker, explained how and why people should accept their anointing and do their part in the global fight for human rights. And Mariam Kagaso and Chong Kim shared their heart-breaking stories of slavery and survival.

Evident from the information above, different aspects of human trafficking were discussed at the conference. There were two presenters, however, who made a special impression on me and taught me something new. Elizabeth Wheaten, an economics instructor, emphasized the importance of picking a focus and trying to ask yourself which part of the fight against human trafficking you want to get involved in. Trying to do it all will diminish a person’s strength and reduce the impact of his/her efforts. She urged people to find the issue that hits their heart the strongest and stick with it, educate themselves on it, and find others who do it so that they can join knowledge, skills, and effort. I was so grateful when I heard her say that. Ever since I started researching human trafficking, I have felt overwhelmed with the magnitude of the problem and her words made great sense to me. Now I just need to find what hits my heart the strongest. No easy task that will be.  

The other presenter that certainly made an impression on me and made me even more convinced that becoming part of the fight for human rights is highly necessary is Chong Kim. Her story was a true testimony to how much the fight against human trafficking has progressed in the last two decades. As a sex slave in the 90s, she was rejected by everyone: police officers, religious institutions, shelters, governmental institutions. She was in desperate need of assistance and the only people who always took her back were the traffickers. Assistance to victims of human trafficking has come far since the time Ms Kim went through the ordeal, but it can still go farther. To find out more about Chong Kim and her mission and efforts, I would most certainly recommend that you visit her website Face the Tears

-          - Krasi

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