Friday, June 17, 2016

Events at the Kennan Institute

My eight week summer residence at the Kennan Institute is flying by so fast. I am about halfway done with my fellowship and it has been a busy summer thus far. In addition to doing my own research and writing my book manuscript, I am working with a research assistant who is helping me with data collection, and I attend lots and lots of events! After living in Atlanta for two years where East European events were few and far between (I even started a lecture series at Clayton State because there were so few events on my region) it has been nice to have so many different types of events to choose from. Every week there is at least one event of interest to me if not more! The funny thing is people say that the summer is the light time of year for events but I have even had to start picking and choosing what to go to in order to balance my writing time with events. Here are some of the events I have attended at Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center. 

The first talk I attended on my first day at the Kennan Institute was entitled "Belarus in Transition"
with Larissa G. Titarenko Professor, Belarus State University; Former Fellow, Wilson Center and Valery Yevarouski Fulbright Research Scholar, Kennan Institute; Head, The Centre for the Historiophilosophical and Comparative Researches, Institute of Philosophy of the National Academy of Belarus. Most of the talk focused more on the historical angle of the Belarus rather than possibilities for a transition to democracy. But Titarenko also spoke of the role that Belarus has played as a mediator in the negotiations in the Minsk protocol between Ukraine and Russia and provided a space for multilateral negotiations. Also she reminded us that Belarus has not recognized Russian annexation of Crimea an important caveat to remember. We don't hear about Belarus that often other than news of Lukashenko's dictatorship so it was refreshing to hear about perspectives from the country concerning things more than just regime type.

Next, I attended a talk on "The Role of Media in Russian Democracy" by Nataliya Rostova a George F. Kennan Expert and well known journalist in the region. This talked looked at media coverage during the Yeltsin years and the beginning of the slow decline to authoritarianism and media censorship. The room was packed and it was surprising to see how many people wanted to talk about democracy or the lack thereof in Russia today. Many people had questions looking for linkages between Yeltsin and the current regime under Putin.

Ukraine has been a popular these the past few of weeks at the Kennan Institute and it all began with the talk "Engaging the Arts for a Vibrant, International Ukraine" which I thought was going to be about art but instead focused on cultural and educational exchanges or cultural diplomacy. The speakers Kateryna Smagliy, Director, Kennan Institute in Ukraine, Victor Sydorenko Artist; Director, Modern Art Research Institute, National Academy of Arts of Ukraine, Olha Ivanova, Counselor on Cultural Issues, Embassy of Ukraine to the US, and Hanna Hopko, member of parliament and head of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine discussed how to develop Ukraine's "soft power" in light of existing economic constraints and informational challenges within the country. The talk focused on the situation in Ukraine and promoting national interests and connections with the United States.
After that talk Sydorenko's art exhibit "Memory of Unconsciousness"opened in the atrium of the Wilson Center  and Ambassador Valeriy Chaly, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the USA opened up the exhibition with a few words about the strong relationship between Ukraine and the United States.
Me and Hanna Hopko, member of parliament and head of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine who is also a member of the Equal Opportunities Women's Caucus I have been writing about lately in parliament for a paper on municipal level gender quotas. I spoke with her about it and she said that they need quotas on the national level in the Rada next! I could not agree more!
Finally, there was an event cosponsored by the National Democratic Institute, the National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute, and the Kennan Institute entitled "Making Democracy Work: The Politics of Reform in Ukraine." Here Hanna Hopko was joined by two other MPs from the Rada Natalya Katser-Buchkovska and Ostap Yednak. They all spoke about the significant list of reforms that they were working on in Ukraine and the barriers faced by reformers in Ukraine.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Life as a Research Scholar at the Kennan Institute

Me outside of the Reagan Building.

I just finished my second week as a Research Scholar at the Kennan Institute, part of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Many people have asked what I am doing there this summer so I thought I would devote this post to discussing what I am doing this summer at the Institute!

The Woodrow Wilson Center is the official memorial to President Woodrow Wilson the only president who was a political scientist (he received his PhD in political science and worked as a professor before he was president). The Wilson Center is the "nation’s key non-partisan policy forum for tackling global issues through independent research and open dialogue to inform actionable ideas for Congress, the Administration and the broader policy community." The center brings in scholars and experts from around the world to research topics of national and international importance. According to the website "in the spirit of President Wilson, we build a bridge between the worlds of academia and public policy, to inform and develop solutions to the nation’s problems and challenges." They do this through organized talks and publications on different topics related to policy where they seek to engage and educate the public. There are different regional programs from every region of the world and thematic programs on subjects such as global sustainability, maternal health, history, science, and technology.

Woodrow Wilson Plaza and the Ronald Reagan Building in the background.
The Wilson Center is housed in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center which is the biggest building in DC and the second largest building in the United States after the pentagon. It was the first and only federal building dedicated to both government and private use, mandated by Congress to bring together the country’s best public and private resources to create a national forum for the advancement of trade. Designated as the official World Trade Center, Washington, DC,

The Wilson Center entrance to the Ronald Reagan Building.
My research fellowship is based in the Kennan Institute which is the regional program for Post-Soviet area studies. It is named after George Kennan a nineteenth-century explorer of Russia and Siberia. George F. Kennan an ambassador, scholar, and one of the foremost experts on the Soviet Union living long enough to see both its formation and its demise (he lived until 101 years of age) worked to establish the center in honor of his cousin twice removed. George F. Kennan was ambassador the the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia and one of his first diplomatic posts was to Latvia in 1931. The Kennan collection at the Wilson Center's library is one of the most comprehensive libraries on the Soviet Union in the world.

The Kennan Institute was founded in 1974 with a mission "to build and sustain deep mutual understanding, cooperation, and exchange among intellectual and opinion leaders in the United States, Russia, Ukraine, and the surrounding states—a bedrock for regional and global peace, prosperity and security."

I was awarded a Title VIII-Supported Summer Research Scholarships at the Institute for the summer which is a residential fellowship based in DC where I am working on a subject of policy importance-my book on human trafficking policy adoption and implementation. For more information on that please see my previous blog post. I will be writing about my research and all of the interesting events I will be attending in DC throughout the summer. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Book Review in the Journal of Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society

One of the best things about being an academic and professor is that people send you free books! As a book connoisseur and enthusiast this is an aspect of the job that I hope will never loose its luster. I receive free books from publishers to adopt for my classes and I also receive them in order to review them for academic journals. I recently reviewed a great book from Irina Mukhina on Women and the Birth of Russian Capitalism: A History of the Shuttle Trade. It was published in a special issue of the Journal of Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society on Gender, Nationalism, and Citizenship in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. It is great to be featured among a number of notable gender scholars from my region and I am looking forward to receiving the entire paperback copy of the issue in the mail soon (yes, you also get a free copy of the journal when you write for it). You can also read my book review for free if you follow this link

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Role of Anti-trafficking Organizations in Human Trafficking Policy Implementation

It is always nice to see an article I worked on for months finally published. Especially since most academic articles go through two reviewers, editors, and numerous revisions that it such a sense of accomplishment when it finally appears in print. I started working on this article "The Role of Anti-trafficking Organizations in Human Trafficking Policy Implementation" back in April 2015 and it was finally published this week (almost a year later) in a special issue on Modern Slavery and Extreme Exploitation in Globalised Labour and Gender Relations of Femina Politica: Feminist Journal of Political Science.

The paper examines how human trafficking non-governmental and international organizations in the Post-Soviet region act in forming norms and values contributing to the implementation of international law into national law. Utilizing most similar case studies of Ukraine, Latvia, and Russia, the article begins by addressing three ways NGOs have helped guide policy implementation focusing on monitoring implementation, building and shaping anti-trafficking institutions, and strengthening government capacity. It also discusses the constraints that impede this type of assistance in all three countries. This paper demonstrates the ways NGOs have held governments accountable when this implementation has fallen short and by doing this, have helped instill international norms and values related to human trafficking into society. NGOs in these states succeeded with alterations in legal regulations and contributed to public awareness of human trafficking by cooperation with international organizations.

It was my first solo authored piece from my dissertation fieldwork and it is exciting to see all of that hard work pay off. It is also appropriate because it was the first opportunity I had to go back over the implementation findings from my research and it is great to reflect on that as I work on the implementation chapter for my book. If you would like to read the article you can access it here

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Effective Counter Human Trafficking Strategies: Exploring the Latest Research Webinar

On Friday afternoon I attended a very interesting webinar sponsored by the Polaris Project and Google entitled "Effective Counter Human Trafficking Strategies: Exploring the Latest Research." It featured a number of scholars on trafficking including Amy Farrell, Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern University and Vanessa Bouche, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Texas Christian University. I have read their research and met both via email so it was great to hear them speak in person (via webinar). They spoke about their recently published Department of Justice study entitled Identifying Effective Counter-Trafficking Programs and Practices in the U.S.: Legislative, Legal, and Public Opinion Strategies that Work. The research examined the effectiveness of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (the national level legislation on human trafficking adopted in 2000) including the criminal justice based anti-trafficking strategies and the public's response to these campaigns.

Some of the most interesting findings they presented were about the shift in prosecutions from the federal to the state level as legislation on the state level has developed. They also said most of the forced labor cases were adjudicated on the federal level which I think suggests the nature of that crime and demonstrates that states are just not equipped to investigate that aspect of the crime yet. Safe harbor legislation increased prosecutions for traffickers on the state level which is a very interesting finding for Georgia as well look to pass this legislation. They also said that the post-it laws led to arrests and were among the strongest predictors of trafficking identification which is also a good sign as we work to implement that legislation in Georgia. One of the most important points from their study for my research in Eastern Europe was that prosecutions and holding traffickers accountable takes investment and states needed more than just criminalization statutes to effectively combat human trafficking. Although I was most interested in the academic research presented at the webinar, there were two other speakers who also presented the practitioner side of things.

It was also the first time I ever live tweeted an event and it was interesting to see what all of the people were saying about it on twitter. Overall, it was a great webinar and I am glad I have the opportunity and time to watch it. If you are interested in watching the webinar, you can watch the video here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Formulating a Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Protocol

Over the past few weeks I have been working on developing a protocol for Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children/Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Protocol for Clayton County the county where I live and work in Georgia. I was approached to write this protocol by the head of the Clayton County Child Exploitation Prevention & Response Multi-Disciplinary Team because of my research on human trafficking laws. I happily accepted the challenge and thought it would be interesting to apply everything I have learned from the hundreds of human trafficking policies that I have read over the years and use that to formulate a policy for my county. 

I began utilizing protocol examples of the state level Protocol for the Multidisciplinary  Investigation & Prosecution Cases of Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse & Sexual Exploitation and Georgia’s Division of Family and Children Services’ (DFCS) Commercial Sexual Exploitation/Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Case Management Protocol. I found that the first documents dealt mostly with child abuse cases and it felt as if human trafficking was tacked on. Also both of these documents were really geared toward DFCS and not the law enforcement or any type of prosecution procedures which is what we were looking for at the county level. I took the necessary language for the DFCS section of the protocol and the rest will have to be completely reworked. I also removed some of the gendered language from the protocol that I have written about in my academic work and can perpetuate stereotypes about female victims (victims can be male and female) and promote an idealized image of worthy and unworthy victims. I also removed some of the street terminology which I felt was unnecessary in a government protocol and also perpetuated racial and gendered stereotypes.

We wanted to add sections to the protocol on the procedures for police investigation of CSEC, joint investigations between law enforcement and DFCS, prosecution procedures for CSEC cases, medical personnel response, and educational programs. I started working on this language and then I realized that they would need to be approved by the people working in these areas. Consequently, I presented the rough draft of the protocol to the Clayton County Child Exploitation Prevention & Response Multi-Disciplinary Team today and they are going to take their sections to their respective units and send me their comments in May. We are hoping to have a finalized protocol soon after our next meeting and be the first county in the state of Georgia to have a county level CSEC protocol. The process taught me that there was some policy learning and innovation throughout the process as we can see in the policy adoption literature. However, in the end none of the state level protocols met the needs of the multi-disciplinary team and as a result most of the protocol will include completely new procedures on how to work with CSEC cases on the county level. I am looking forward to finishing the final version of the protocol so we can start implementing in throughout Clayton County!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Mapping out my book manuscript.....

No, this is not a police department's criminal investigation board, this is the outline for the book I am writing based on my dissertation. I am a visual person and mapping out the different chapters to my book along with the main revisions necessary has helped me wade through the lengthy and overwhelming process. When writing the book seems daunting, I look at the board and break things down into more manageable parts. It helps me see how much I have done and where I am going with the revisions. I know they make computer programs that do that now but I am old school and I enjoy looking this when I need to rework a chapter or change the design of a chapter. I also posted my work plan for the next few months and my table of contents to help me visualize the process. I just started writing the only brand new chapter on policy implementation this week and it is slow going but I know every step is closer to my goal of a finished and published book. The writing and revision process will likely dominate my life this summer while I am in DC as a visiting scholar at the Kennan Institute. Revising is not as glamorous as gathering the data in the field but it is an important part of the scholarly process so I wanted to make sure I documented it in a blog post!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Twitter @ProfLauraDean

I finally buckled under the pressure to join Twitter! I am taking a class at Clayton State on innovative methods for online teaching and I attended a workshop yesterday on social media in the classroom. During the workshop they presented a number of different methods for communicating with students on social media to stimulate learning outside of the classroom. This combined with the fact that Ambassador Coppedge from the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the U.S. Department of State tweeted a thank you to me for moderating a panel a few weeks ago which I wrote about in a previous blog post compelled me to join. At first I was skeptical about Twitter's ability to engage student learning but I will try it out with my online class this summer and see how it goes! Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Visit to the University of Tennessee Chattanooga

Last week I was invited to guest lecture on human trafficking in a Global Humanitarianism class at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. The students will be going to Cambodia at the end of the semester and partnering with a local anti-trafficking NGO. Consequently, I was asked to come and teach the students about human trafficking. For the final project the students also have to design their own humanitarian campaign and so I jumped at the chance to bring a huge box of anti-trafficking campaign materials that I have been collecting over the years from different countries around the world to share with the students. I enjoyed meeting with the students and faculty at UTC and hearing about their experiences and research. I also was able to give a research talk on my book project as part of Women's History Month and I found this flyer posted around campus during my visit!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

International Studies Association Conference

The International Studies Association (ISA) Conference was in Atlanta this year and so I thought I would submit a paper since the conference required no travel. ISA is a really International Relations (IR) based conference so I was thinking that I might not be interested in any panels but thankfully there were a number of panels on human trafficking, gender based violence, and the war in Ukraine. In fact, I think there were more panels on Ukraine than on any topic regarding Russia! I presented a forthcoming paper "The Role of Anti-trafficking Organizations in Human Trafficking Policy Implementation" on a panel titled "Business, Activists, Governments, and the Fight against Human Trafficking and Forced Labour: A New Era?" and it was great to meet a number of other scholars researching this issue from an IR perspective. I also enjoyed the moment when my mentee from the University of Kansas called out a panel on Geopolitics and Ukraine for not having any Ukrainian experts or perspectives. I have called it #Ukrainesplaining when experts on Russia think they know something about Ukraine and make stupid comments like Ukrainian and Russian are basically the same language at academic conferences!
A picture of the panel "Russia, Ukraine and the West: The Resurgence of Geopolitics"

Friday, March 18, 2016

Human Trafficking: Lifting the Veil on Modern-Day Slavery Panel at ACIR

A few months ago I was asked to moderate a panel titled "Human Trafficking: Lifting the Veil on Modern-Day Slavery" for the Atlanta Council on International Relations that included Susan Coppedge the Ambassador-at-Large, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Department of State and Camila Wright the Human Trafficking Prosecutor, Georgia Office of the Attorney General. The panel took place today and the whole event was such a great opportunity that I kept pinching myself because I did not really believe it was real.

Here I am giving some introductory remarks on human trafficking and the scope of the crime around the world and in Georgia. Then I followed that up with some overarching themes from both speakers and finally a call to action to the participants and the Georgia Cares 24 hour hotline 1-844-8GA-DMST. I was able to meet so many different people and see a number of familiar faces from the Georgia Statewide Human Trafficking Task Force.

This is me speaking to Blegina Agolli from the Albanian Ministry of Justice.
This is me and Ambassador Coppedge who invited to the unveiling of the 2016 Trafficking In Persons Report this summer while I am in DC which is basically equivalent to the NFL draft for anti-trafficking researchers like me!
The view of downtown Atlanta from the venue at the City Club of Buckhead.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Anti-Trafficking Institutions in Human Trafficking Policymaking

Currently, I am taking a class about online teaching through our Center for Instructional Development at Clayton State. I have learned a lot about teaching such as establishing course objectives and aligning them with substantive items that actually achieve that objective. While this is basic stuff for K-12 teachers we really do not receive a lot of this kind of training in higher education. Since I work at a teaching institution it has been great to learn about ways to improve my teaching through online technology. Our assignment this week was to make an infographic to give students another way to learn the material. Since most of the complex material for American Government already has infographics I decided to make one to display my own research. I am working on a paper looking more at the role of anti-trafficking institutions  in human trafficking policymaking and here is an infographic that displays my findings!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Summer in Washington DC!

I found out recently that I will be spending the summer in Washington DC at the Kennan Institute part of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. I received a Title VIII Summer Research Fellowship to work on my book tentatively titled Beyond the Natasha Effect: Determinants of Human Trafficking Policy Variation in the Post-Soviet Region. Looking forward to writing my book while also attending/visiting interesting lectures, museums, and monuments!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

2016 Frank Church Symposium

I was invited to present at the 2016 Frank Church Symposium at Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho this week. The symposium was sponsored by the Idaho State University International Affairs Council (IAC), and it was completely student run and organized. It was one of the best symposiums I have ever attended as the delegates were treated so well by the students with fabulous food and stimulating conversation throughout the three day event. It was also great to see so many community members show interest in the event and I met many local Rotarians who were so nice and excited to hear about my experience as an Ambassadorial Scholar in Ukraine. I gave two talks at the symposium. The first was titled "Gendered Consequences of War and Peacemaking" and highlighted women's evolving role in conflict and some of the gender based violence outcomes of conflicts around the world. Here is another photo from the panel.

The second day I gave a presentation titled "Responsiveness to Forced Migration: Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons." This presentation was on a wider panel about refugees and displaced people around the world and all of the presentations melded well together. I really enjoyed visiting Pocatello and seeing some of my graduate school friends who were also presenting at the symposium or teach in Idaho. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Ukrainian State Programme of Combating Trafficking until 2020

Since my current book project looks at why countries adopt human trafficking policy I always find it interesting when one of my case studies adopts a new law related to human trafficking. Before I went to Ukraine in 2013 it was really difficult to find out about the kinds of trafficking laws that they had. It took me a while to weed through things and locate the laws in a brand new country. Fast forward to 2016, after two research trips to Ukraine, I found out that they adopted a new State Programme of Combating Trafficking until 2020 from the Ministry of Social Policy's facebook page! It is amazing how much more transparent the new regime is on new policy adoptions and that after living there and conducting research how much easier it is to find out this information.

We have been waiting for the new state programme to be adopted since the end of the last state programme ended in 2015. When I visited Ukraine last summer the Ministry of Social Policy seemed very preoccupied with the Internally Displaced Persons crisis and their attention was shifted elsewhere. So it was great to see that on February 24, 2016, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine adopted the Resolution "On approval of the State Programme of Combating Trafficking 2020." This programme will determine the Ukrainian government's work to combat trafficking over the next four years. It outlines a number of specific measures to combat human trafficking and gives a number f responsibilities to the central and local executive authorities. The goal of the state programme is to "prevent human trafficking, increasing the efficiency of detection of persons who commit the offense or contributing to their occurrence, protection of and assistance to victims of trafficking" (Ministry of Social Policy 2016). Since I look for the reasons why countries adopt policy it was interesting that the Ministry identified that it was "developed in pursuant to paragraphs 50 and 51 of the National Action Plan to implement the second phase of the Action Plan to liberalize the EU visa regime for Ukraine" (Ministry of Social Policy 2016). Which supports the argument in my book that the biggest influence on Ukraine with respect to policy adoption was the EU visa free regime.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Thomas Remington's visit to Clayton State

In an earlier post I discussed the grant I received from the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Alumni Development Fund at American Councils and the U.S. Department of State. For the grant I organized a Current Issues in the Post-Soviet Region Lecture Series and the culmination of that series was Thomas Remington's visit to Clayton State and his talk "Remaking the Social Contract in Russia." I first read Remington's work during my Politics in Russia class in undergrad and continued to read his research on institutions in Russia throughout my graduate career. When I received the grant Remington who is the Goodrich C. White Professor of Political Science at Emory University was the first person on my list of possible speakers and I was so happy when he accepted the invitation to come and speak. I am using the seventh edition of his Politics in Russia book in my POLS 4800 Post-Soviet Politics class this semester and so it was also great to give my students the opportunity to meet the author of their textbook as well. The visit went great, my students found his talk informative, and a number of CSU faculty including the Dean showed up for the talk. Remington was so humble and nice and it was great to meet someone who has made such a profound impact on the field and remained nice and down to earth in the process.

Thomas Remington autographing his book for one of my students

Me and Thomas Remington!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Assessment of County Level Human Trafficking Protocols

I was tasked to examine county level protocols on human trafficking for the Clayton County CEPR Multi-Disciplinary Team. A county level protocol directs people to resources and Clayton county is the county where I live and teach and so I have a vested interest in human trafficking work in the county where I live. The multi-disciplinary team related to the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) has been meeting for almost a year and works to investigate trafficking offenses, as well as, facilitate judicial proceedings for the prosecution of traffickers and help the victims. To my surprise there were no other county level protocols on human trafficking in Georgia. Further investigation revealed that county level protocols were relatively rare around the United States. Only nine county level protocols from different counties around the United States were located from counties such as Ross County, Ohio; Cook County, Illinois; San Mateo County, California; Howard County, Maryland; San Francisco, California; Orange County, California; and Lucas County, Ohio. All of the protocols were formulated by county-level human trafficking task forces. 

Here are a few of the findings from my research. The main components of the protocols included a mission statement, scope of the problem, different types of responsibilities allocated to law enforcement, victims service providers, criminal justice authorities, and education and community initiatives. All of the protocols/policies were adopted in the past two years. Some of the bigger counties around the United States such as Kind county in Seattle rely on state level protocols. All of the protocols promote a collaborative approach with multiple stakeholders from different agencies and these stakeholders have clearly defined roles in the protocol. New Jersey outlines the county level task forces/coalitions protocols "are very helpful, we have also learned from experience as well as from our counterparts in other parts of the country that building personal relationships and trust among those professionals working to combat and respond to trafficking is the most critical step. From that, protocols may emerge but it is the ability to be flexible and to respond to the unique circumstances of every case that brings value to the process." 

This cursory research will help the team develop the first county level human trafficking protocol in Georgia. We are set to discuss and examine a rough draft of the protocol that I am working on with my graduate student in April.  

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Safe Harbor Legislation and Constitutional Amendment

Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) Lobby Day was February 11, 2016. This is the day that anti-trafficking organizations from around the state go down to the capitol in Atlanta and lobby for different human trafficking initiatives. This year the focus was on Safe Harbor Legislation which would grant protections for trafficking victims and so that they will be treated as victims and not prosecuted as criminals.
We have also started preparing for the Constitutional Amendment for the State of Georgia called the Safe Harbor Fund Amendment which will create a fund to help human trafficking victims by charging adult entertainment industries and seizing assets from those convicted of trafficking. This is a great editorial by Evia Golde, the Chair of United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Women’s Leadership Council on Human Trafficking Task Force and Co-Chair of the SafeHarborYES Ballot Committee about the implications and importance of this amendment for Georgia and I encourage everyone to vote for it!

The text of the constitutional amendment will read as follows: 

"Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow additional penalties for criminal cases in which a person is adjudged guilty of keeping a place of prostitution, pimping, pandering, pandering by compulsion, solicitation of sodomy, masturbation for hire, trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, or sexual exploitation of children and to allow assessments on adult entertainment establishments to fund the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund to pay for care and rehabilitative and social services for individuals in this state who have been or may be sexually exploited?"

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Panel Discussion on “Human Trafficking”

This week I was asked to chair a panel on human trafficking for the Atlanta Council on International Relations on March 18 with some very big names in the anti-trafficking community. The speakers are below and I am honored and thrilled to be monitoring this panel and an Ambassador, Assistant Attorney General, and US Senator!

A Panel Discussion on “Human Trafficking”
Speakers:  Susan Coppedge, Ambassador-at Large, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Department of State;
Camila Wright, Human Trafficking Prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General, State of Georgia; and
David Perdue (invited), U.S, Senator from State of Georgia
Panel Moderator: Laura Dean, Professor, Clayton State University

Here is more information on the talk if you are interested in attending.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Lobbying for Safe Harbor Legislation

In the Capitol building atrium!
I spent Tuesday morning at the capitol lobbying for Safe Harbor legislation which would vacate criminal convictions for victims of human trafficking for crimes committed while they were trafficked. I believe that this a vital component to the human rights approach versus the criminal justice approach to trafficking because it ensures that victims are treated as victims and not prosecuted as criminals! Thirty-four states have passed safe harbor laws so we are hoping Georgia will be next. The legislation is limited in scope and only offers protections to those under 18 years of age that have been commercially sexually exploited and many of those existent laws only offer legal protections to prostitution and prostitution-related crimes when they should likely extend beyond that but still we have to start somewhere!
The introduction of bill on the floor of the Senate!

Monday, January 25, 2016

New Trends in Human Trafficking as a Consequence of the War in Ukraine

This week I gave the first lecture in my Current Issues in the Post-Soviet Region Lecture Series on "New Trends in Human Trafficking as a Consequence of the War in Ukraine." This lecture was given as part of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, which was established in 2007, when the U.S. Senate designated January 11th as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. The month seeks to raise awareness to human trafficking and culminates in the annual celebration of National Freedom Day on February 1st. 
My color coordinated lecture complete with a Ukrainian rushnyk!
The lecture I gave discussed the consequences of the war in Ukraine on human trafficking in that country based on fieldwork and interviews I conducted in 2012-2013 and again in 2015. As a result of the conflict, anecdotal evidence has been reported of the use of child soldiers by the rebel forces in combat  as well as forced recruitment/kidnapping of men and boys for exploitation in the armed conflict. There have also been reports of kidnapping of women and girls for the “purposes of sex and labor trafficking” by the anti-government forces. Child begging is also still a problem. There has been a shift in labor trafficking from male victims to female victims since the crisis started. War, displacement, and the economic crisis in Ukraine have led to an increase in the number of people vulnerable to human trafficking. While some of the displaced have fled to Russia, it is no longer the preferred destination for Ukrainian labor migrants as most now prefer Poland or Germany. The at-risk population has increased and the post-conflict situation has fueled the push factors enticing people to leave Ukraine. The IDP crisis has taken the emphasis off of human trafficking in the Ministry of Social Policy. Bureaucrats inside the ministries have changed and the institutional knowledge of trafficking is lacking. New working groups meet more often and are better coordinated. The economic recession has placed a strain on government resources.
Getting to use all of my post-Soviet tableware! Any good post-Soviet lecture must serve tea and cookies!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Human Trafficking Knowledge Portal

I like to keep tabs on new human trafficking resources to see if they would be useful in the future for my research purposes. I have known about the University Michigan's Human Trafficking Law Project (HTLP) database since it was established in 2011. I have not used the database since I don't track legal proceedings or sentencing data for traffickers in the United States at this point in my research. This past week I learned about a new database sponsored by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime called the Human Trafficking Knowledge Portal. According the website, it is is an "initiative to facilitate the dissemination of information regarding the implementation of the Palermo Protocol." Examining the implementation of the protocol and how states choose to conform with the protocol is precisely the topic of my current research. So I was really excited to learn about this new portal which includes a case law database for international case law on human trafficking and a database for legislation. The database is called SHERLOC (Sharing Electronic Resources and Law On Crime). According to the website, most of the "legislation included in this database has been enacted specifically to counter trafficking in persons." Looking over the different laws, the database focuses on the criminalization statutes and some national laws but not any other types of laws or policies related to victims services. Despite the incomprehensiveness of the database, I think it is a good start and includes laws and policies from 95 different countries. Hopefully more laws and policies will be added in the future and then it will be a useful and informational database.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Current Issues in the Post-Soviet Region Lecture Series

This semester I received a small grant from the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Alumni Development Fund from American Councils and the U.S. Department of State to organize a lecture series on the current issues in the post-Soviet region. As part of the lecture series I am giving a talk on the "New Trends in Human Trafficking as a Consequence of the War in Ukraine: In Recognition of Human Trafficking Awareness Month." I am looking forward to sharing my research from this past summer and educating people at Clayton State about the war in Ukraine and its consequences as part of human trafficking awareness month.

Friday, January 15, 2016

My Resolution...

It has been a little over a year since I posted on my human trafficking research and travel blog! It is not because I haven't been doing wonderful things over the past year related to human trafficking. In fact, it is most likely because I was busy doing so many things as part of my advocacy work that I simply did not have time to write. However, a colleague of mine made it his New Year's Resolution this year to write once a week on his blog, so even though I do not like resolutions, I am going to make it a goal for myself this year to try and write once a week on this blog. Since I am doing so many things related to human trafficking in Atlanta, I figured I should document them, my perspectives, and my research more than just a simple post on facebook. So here goes nothing! This year 2016, I resolve to reflect on the things I did last year and also document all of the activities and advocacy work I will do this year!
This is one of my favorite events from last year the the Red Sand Project at the Center for Civil and Human Rights which invites people to find sidewalk cracks and fill them with red sand to help raise awareness of the vulnerabilities that lead to exploitation and human trafficking!