Monday, March 4, 2013
Learning, exploring, and making connections
It’s day 3 in New York for the WomenNC CSW Fellows. I am incredibly thankful for this opportunity that has been about learning, exploring, and making connections. I have learned something new each day, gaining valuable insight into my research area.
Yesterday was Consultation day; the day where NGOs come together to discuss some of the most critical issues related to the CSW’s theme. There were panels and discussions on many issues, but one prominent issue was human trafficking. At the beginning of the session, there was an incredible performance by Girl Be Heard, a New York based non-profit theater collective and educational program that uses theater to empower young women. Focusing on sex trafficking, the girls gave moving, inspirational, and amazing performances depicting the struggle and reality of sex trafficking. Right away, I was moved by the performance and remembered why I am so passionate about this issue. It was also so encouraging to see young women using theater and art as way to communicate and advocate for survivors of human trafficking.
Consultation day also included a panel on human trafficking which was comprised of politicians, judges, advocates, and representatives of UN Women. This panel was extremely enlightening and useful. I learned about the connection between femicide and human trafficking, human rights and human trafficking, and the relationship between the judiciary and human trafficking. One of the most beneficial elements of this panel was connecting with these incredible global human trafficking advocates. I really enjoyed connecting with Judge Lillian Hofmeister from Austria who said it is important to achieve a world where “women like men are the standard of the legal system.” All of the panelists brought their passion and concern. I also really enjoyed Dr. Helga Konrad’s comments. She noted that we are currently just managing human trafficking and not combatting it. Her comments were motivating because she pushed to think past the status quo to more effective legislation, services, and solutions. One important she empathized was making sure we utilize or laws and legislation. While trafficking looks different in every country, it was beneficial to know how other individuals work to combat the practice.
My connections with the global anti-trafficking community did not end there. This morning, I had the opportunity to attend a panel sponsored by the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women, and the East Women’s Intercultural Network (WIN). At the panel, I met representatives from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office who are working to combat trafficking in the city. It was interesting to see how large communities and cities are tackling the problem. Currently, the Manhattan DA’s office includes human trafficking in their Special Victims Unit. They have a team of investigators who work with survivors to ensure that perpetrators are caught. They also work with individuals with prostitution charges to see if there was any trafficking involved in those situations.
Today was also our panel! The panel was a great experience. I was able to communicate my interest in human trafficking to a group of amazing individuals and groups.
So far, the CSW has been amazing experience. Each day, I learn something new about my research area and ending violence against women in general. Seeing how different groups, governments, and individuals tackle these large issues has been educational and inspiring. I feel fortunate to have this opportunity and can’t wait to see what the rest of the week has in store!