Women’s Forum @ UNA-GB celebrated IWD (March 8th) early this year with a reception, film screening, and panel discussion on March 4th! UNA-GB members and other members of the Boston community gathered to view Not My Life, a documentary on human trafficking directed, written and produced by Academy Award nominee Robert Bilheimer. This film gives an in-depth and disturbing glance into the lives of women and children all around the world who are forced and coerced into sexual and manual slavery. The producers of the film worked with individuals in over 20 countries on five continents to describe the truly global reach of this highly profitable industry. While the film depicts horrific practices that are difficult to witness, it also presents stories of resilience, hope, and compassion. Many of the young women who participated in the film are now working with their advocates to prevent others from suffering similar experiences.
Following the screening, we heard from our panel of experts on specific issues related to human trafficking. Siddharth Kara, a fellow on human trafficking with the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University, described the powerful driving forces behind this industry. Mr. Kara has traveled to 25 countries to research sex trafficking with his work culminating in a series of books on this topic. Devin Rebello represented Demand Abolition, a Hunt Alternatives Fund program which focuses on the demand which fuels the international sex trade. Ms. Rebello emphasized that a targeted focus on the elimination of demand for sex trafficking is needed in order to successfully combat this issue. She explained that demand-reduction practices can be implemented in the areas of criminal justice, legislative reform, prevention education, and public awareness. Our third panelist and Women’s Forum member, Mireille (Mickey) Aramati, spoke about health issues related to sex trafficking. Ms. Aramati is an Associate Professor of Global Health at the Tufts University School of Medicine, and she noted that a discussion of women’s health issues is lacking in the dialogue surrounding sex trafficking. Human trafficking is often overlooked as a public health issue, resulting in poor access to resources for women and girls who are trafficked.
After the presentation, many of the attendees expressed deep concern about this topic and asked what can be done to combat sex trafficking. Our panelists and the participants depicted in the film are some of the leading activists who are working tirelessly to end these practices worldwide. If you would like to find out more about what you can do and the resources that are available to explore this issue further, take a look at the following links!
National Human Trafficking Hotline:
“Dedicated to providing whole person aftercare for survivors of commercial exploitation.”
Blue Heart Campaign Against Human Trafficking:
“Demand Abolition is committed to eradicating the illegal commercial sex industry in the US—and, by extension, the world—by combating the demand for purchased sex.”
International Justice Mission:
“International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression.”
Massachusetts Inter-agency Human Trafficking Task Force:
Not for Sale:
Roxbury Youthworks GIFT Program:
UNA-GB gives special thanks to all of those who participated in making IWD 2013 a successful awareness-raising event! Thank you to our co-sponsors and to Diva for donating food!