March 23rd, 2016

Slavery means being forced to work by either debt or the threat of violence and being unable to leave. Human trafficking refers to the movement of people by the enslavers. Today the enslaver no longer owns the slave because chattel slavery has been abolished worldwide. Yet the International Labor Office estimates that the profits from current slavery activities are $150 billion annually. Estimates of the number of enslaved  range from 21 to 36 million worldwide with up to 300,000 in the USA. In 2000 Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which included a requirement that the US will monitor global slavery with an annual Trafficking in Persons report which includes a ranking of each nation.

Our main speaker: Robert Beiser, Executive Director of Seattle Against Slavery, a coalition working to achieve a slave-free world one city at a time. Mr. Beiser discusses Federal and Washington State efforts to deal with human trafficking and slavery. He explains the workings of the Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network whose mission is to raise human trafficking awareness, to mobilize the public to better advocate survivor care, to provide legislation to combat human trafficking and to help service providers build capacity in our state.

Our second presenter: Robin Meyer from Access Freedom, describes human trafficking in Whatcom County as well as the Whatcom County Task Force that coordinates efforts to deal with the commercial sexual exploitation of minors.