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9-3-12: A Free Generation
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This interview originally aired April 16, 2012
Most of us are shocked that slavery still goes on around us. “Human trafficking” is enslavement: forcing or tricking someone into a commercial act, be it sex or labor. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center says Maryland generated 265 calls to a hotline last year, providing investigators information in 24 cases of potential trafficking across the state. (You can call the Polaris Project hotline at 888-37-37-888.)
There have been a couple high-profile trafficking cases in Maryland in the past year, including arrests tied to Montgomery County “massage” parlors. Maryland lawmakers passed two bills related to human trafficking during the General Assembly session that ended in April. One would force truck stops to post an anti-trafficking hotline number. The other would add trafficking to the state’s definition of child abuse.
In April, Sheilah spoke with two guests about efforts to end human trafficking. Jeanne Allert is executive director of The Samaritan Women, a Baltimore-area organization that fights trafficking and helps its victims. Danielle Lohan works for the Maryland Coalition, which is under the umbrella of the Samaritan Women and focuses on advocacy. At the time of this conversation, she was a Johns Hopkins undergraduate student.
A couple upcoming events:
The Nickolas Kristof book “Half the Sky” is now a documentary. It’ll be screened outside of The Samaritan Women headquarters in Baltimore on September 27th. The event starts at 5:30, and the Samaritan Women is located at 602 S.Chapel Gate Lane.
And looking further ahead -- on November 15th, the University of Maryland School of Social work is offering 3 programs in human trafficking, and the Samaritan Women will be doing a full day program on victimology.
NOTE: We received the following letter in response to this segment.
I was privileged to be a guest on your show several years ago on the subject of human trafficking and was very positively impressed with your insight and obvious concern and commitment for and to victims of these horrible crimes. I had the chance to listen to a piece of your segment with Jeanne Allert and Danielle Lohan this morning and then went back to the entire show (from April) to catch what I'd missed.
My concern is that there was a lack of significant detail (including a definition of either sex or labor trafficking) that may have made it easier for your audience to understand many facets the issue. Also, there was no mention of any other organizations in Maryland which combat this problem and help victims, some of whom may have helped facilitate the all-important presence of a former victim, which would have enhanced the information presented and given her/him an opportunity to continue healing. These organizations include TurnAround, Inc. and Safe House of Hope, both of which help victims statewide through outreach, intensive services and housing/placement. Extraordinary victim specialists including Renee Murrell (FBI) and Susan Ritter (ICE) work closely with these teams to ensure everyone affected is helped. Shared Hope International, based in Virginia but very active here in Maryland for many years, has provided outstanding legislative, policy and victim support as well.
Moreover, the ministry team which Ms. Allert alluded to but didn't name as sparking her interest in the work, Bethel Korean Presbyterian Church (run by Tom Yoo), was trained by me during my time as founder/director of YANA, Maryland's first service for prostituted and trafficked women and children, which operated from 1996-2011 (Safe House of Hope took over YANA's work last summer and integrated it with its own). I mention these things not as a matter of ego, but one of record -- there is an *enormous* amount of work being done on this issue in Maryland, much of it in collaboration with the Maryland U.S. Attorney's Office, which oversees the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, of which TurnAround and SHOH are a critical part.
Finally, there are real heroes amongst our law enforcement partners and I felt they were given short shrift in the dialogue. We are very fortunate to have Rachel Yasser as our MHTTF coordinator in addition to her role as prosecutor of these crimes through the USAO. Additional stellar individuals include Sgt. Ron Riggin (and others) from the Maryland State Police; Detective Dan Dickey (and others) from the Anne Arundel County; Special Agent Ed Kelly (and many more) from ICE; and various LE professionals from Baltimore County, Montgomery County, Baltimore City, the FBI and elsewhere are truly committed to victims and work extremely well with victim services on their behalf.
I hope this is helpful, coming as it is from someone temporarily on the sidelines of this issue which means so much to me (am caring for my father, who is ill). In any event, Sheilah, all of the light you've shed on the issue over time will no doubt help someone escape sex or labor trafficking in Maryland, and for that I am deeply grateful.
All the best,
Sidney Ford, LCSW-C