|Survivors, researchers and advocates around the world are coming together virtually next week for the 17th Annual International Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference at The University of Toledo.|
The event has welcomed people from 49 states and 40 countries since it began in 2004 to advance collaborative research, advocacy and program development.
This year the conference will be held Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Sept. 23-25 on Zoom and feature more than 100 speakers and 70 breakout sessions.
“We are in a unique position this year with hosting our conference virtually as we will be able to reach thousands of more individuals from all over the world who would not have had the opportunity to travel to attend our conference,” Dr. Celia Williamson, Distinguished University Professor and director of the UToledo Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute, said. “Our top priority is to keep everyone safe while still fulfilling our mission of uniting the global community to learn, connect and collaborate to combat human trafficking and promote social justice.”
In the past year, the UToledo Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute launched the F.R.E.E. Program, which provides scholarships and support for survivors of human trafficking from across the country as they pursue their education goals.
The F.R.E.E. Program, which has 55 human trafficking survivors currently enrolled, is the focus of one of the sessions. Hear success stories from women who earned certifications in yoga and phlebotomy, as well as a master’s degree in social work at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23.
“F.R.E.E. represents a survivor’s potential to become a thriver by achieving economic and psychological freedom and empowerment,” LaDonna Knabbs, coordinator of the F.R.E.E. Program in the UToledo Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute, said. “It stands for Foundation, Readiness, Education and Employment. By achieving a degree or certification, survivors obtain livable employment.”
Other presentations include: “Sex and Labor Trafficking of the Intellectual and Developmental Disability Population” 1:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25 by Pat Stephens, director of the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities, and Steve Mentrek, program director at Bittersweet Farms; “Prevalence of Transactional Sex Among High School Students in Minnesota” 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23 by Dr. Lauren Martin, associate professor at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing; Caroline Palmer, Safe Harbor Director at the Minnesota Department of Health; and Dr. Nic Rider, assistant professor and licensed psychologist at the Program in Human Sexuality at the University of Minnesota Medical School and co-associate director for research at the National Center for Gender Spectrum Health; “Raised in Pimp City: The Truth About Domestic Human Sex Trafficking” 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23 by Armand King, co-founder of the nonprofit Paving Great Futures; “Increasing Organizational Capacity to Better Serve and Reach LGBTQ+ Survivors of Human Trafficking” 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 24 by Alexander Delgado, program officer for the Trafficking Victim Assistance Program at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants; and “Emancipation Nation Network: Social Justice through Online Connection and Education” 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 24 by Williamson at UToledo. For a full schedule of presentations or to register, visit the conference website.