Did you know that sex and labor trafficking happen right here in North Florida? Did you know that youth are more vulnerable to trafficking online and that this has gotten worse since the pandemic began?
Did you know that the private sector — businesses, hotels, restaurants, health care and more — all have a role to play in ending human trafficking?
January 2021 marks National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and there are many events you can attend to learn about these issues. (A full calendar of events is available at SurviveandThriveAdvocacy.org.)
For example, the Rotary Club of Tallahassee and the International Rescue Committee will both feature programs on human trafficking of youth, an important topic, especially during this time of COVID-19. Although staying home is the best way to keep everyone safe, isolation increases vulnerability. Children may not be attending school, where teachers can observe them, and report suspected abuse or trafficking.
Also, many people, especially low-wage earners such as dishwashers, housekeepers, agricultural workers and day laborers, are losing jobs or being exploited and forced to work in unsafe conditions. The need for all of us to know how to identify both sex and labor trafficking and work together to support survivors and those who are at risk due to economic insecurity is only going to increase in the months ahead.
Both WFSU’s “Perspectives” call-in radio show and a program on “Human Trafficking and the Law: Looking Through a Wider Lens” feature former Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Martinez, now partner at Holland & Knight, who will discuss how both the criminal and civil sides of the justice system can be mobilized to bring justice to survivors and hold traffickers accountable.
She and others from the Florida State University College of Law will discuss how the private sector can ensure that supply chains do not include goods and services produced by enslaved people. We will also learn about what the hospitality industry must do to recognize and report trafficking and how we can learn from Georgia’s anti-trafficking efforts.
All these programs are brought to the public for free and online from Survive and Thrive Advocacy Center, the Big Bend Coalition Against Human Trafficking and the International Rescue Committee.
We hope you will join us.
Robin Hassler Thompson is the executive director of Survive and Thrive Advocacy Center. STAC assists human trafficking survivors and empowers communities with the tools to recognize, report and prevent trafficking.
As a member of the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-3737-888), STAC works in the Big Bend to support sex and labor trafficking survivors of all ages. STAC is dedicated to collaboration with other organizations to connect survivors to the resources they need to experience freedom and fulfillment.
STAC’s training programs for professionals and for the public provide information on how traffickers operate and teach individuals what to do if they suspect trafficking. For more information, visit SurviveandThriveAdvocacy.org or call 850-597-2080
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