Thursday, November 20, 2014

Human Trafficking Taskforce E-Guide

One thing I have learned over the years studying human trafficking is just how effective the government and organizations on the ground can be when they work together. I have seen human trafficking taskforces transform anti-trafficking activities in a country because they brought together all of the agencies and ministries in the government working on this issue with organizations working in the community. It's amazing how much can be accomplished when all the government agencies come together and cooperate and when they also combine the anti-trafficking activities of organizations, they are able to coordinate more effectively and stop the overlap in services and programs and focus their efforts. I think every country in the world needs a working group or taskforce on this issue, which is why I was so excited to see the Human Trafficking Taskforce E-Guide published this week by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime. This e-guide can help existing taskforces and also provides guidelines for those looking to start their own. According to the website the e-guide's "purpose is to assist in the development and day to day operations of an anti-human trafficking task force and to provide fundamental guidance for effective task force operations." The guide provides basic information on human trafficking, a how to guide on forming a taskforce, how to operate one, support victims, and build strong cases. While this e-guide is geared at taskforces in the United States with explanations of US trafficking laws, it could be used in other advanced industrial democratic societies. Expanding its application beyond that would be difficult because countries in the post-Soviet region, my area of expertise do not have the infrastructure to develop many of the recommendations. Still the taskforce models component is an interesting look at different taskforce and working group entities which can vary dependent on the demographics factors and participants. Also according to the website "The Office for Victims of Crime Training and Technical Assistance Center (OVC TTAC) maintains a consultant database of subject matter experts who are available to provide consultation, training, and technical assistance to task forces, law enforcement, and victim service agencies." Thus, in addition to this e-guide there is help out there for anyone looking to start a taskforce in their city or state by contacting the Office for Victims of Crime Training and Technical Assistance Center (OVC TTAC).

Monday, November 10, 2014

National Human Trafficking Resource Center Website

The Polaris Project unveiled the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) webpage this week http://traffickingresourcecenter.org/. This website is meant to be the new hub for the NHTRC the national, 24-hour, toll-free hotline for the human trafficking. The NHTRC is operated by the Polaris Project it is supported by the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division in the Office of Refugee Resettlement of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). According to a Polaris project newsletter release the website "provides information about the NHTRC and human trafficking in the United States, national and state-specific hotline statistics and events, as well as an extensive Resource Library that includes assessment tools, online trainings, statistics, reports and other materials." The website seems easier to navigate than the Polaris site since you do not have to negotiate all of the additional information about the organization. They also unveiled a public online version of their referral directory "with information on 3,000 service providers, law enforcement agencies, coalitions, and advocates covering the entire United States and U.S. territories." Similar to the Global Modern Slavery Directory I wrote about a few weeks ago, it is missing some organizations but it is a great starting off point for locating victim service and advocacy organizations. Now that their directory is online I wonder if the number of calls to the national hotline will go down. The hotline statistics are something Polaris Project discusses in most of their promotional materials so I can see why they would want to keep this information all to themselves. So it is great news that everyone has access to it now and I believe this website will be a great resource for people looking for more information on trafficking or organizations in their area.

The quotes were drawn from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center bi-monthly newsletter. For more information, please call the NHTRC at 1-888-373-7888 or visit the NHTRC at traffickingresourcecenter.org.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Support Marta Resource Centre for Women!

When I lived in Latvia as a Fulbrighter in 2007-2008 I was able to volunteer for a year at Marta Resource Center for Women, a non-governmental organization working for gender equality and against gender violence located in Riga. They were kind enough to welcome me into their organization when I had no real world experience with the issue of trafficking. I learned a lot from my time there and my experiences there have forever shaped my view on anti-trafficking NGOs. You can read more about my work there on my previous blog Adventures in Latvia. Every time I go back to Latvia I always try and stop by to see how everyone is doing and hear about the issues and projects they are working on. Last time I stopped by on my birthday for the open house in their new office located closer to the city center. They sang me Daudz baltu dieniƆu, the Latvian birthday song and even made me take pictures with the staff and the US Ambassador to Latvia Mark Pekala since I used to work there. Here is the picture
This organization has done so much to demand equality in Latvia and I am always very impressed at the work that they do for that country. They have been fighting for many European issues such as the abolition of prostitution and LGBT equality before many other organizations were willing to even discuss them. While Latvia is a socially conservative country Marta Centre has championed a number of issues related to equality and constantly keeps the Latvian government on its toes! They are looking for support so I wanted to write a post asking my readers to think about donating to this wonderful organization that stands up for equality and fights for what is right even though sometimes it makes them unpopular in the small country of Latvia. Here is a link where you can make your tax deductible donation and support Marta Resource Centre for Women.