On Human Trafficking Awareness Day, advocates network for the future (Worcester Mag)

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Jan. 11 may be Human Trafficking Awareness Day, but a group of concerned citizens wants to move beyond awareness and into action. To that end, the Central Massachusetts Coalition to End Human Trafficking held a forum at City Hall in Worcester for people to network and ask questions, with the conclusion being that many more people need to be educated about the prevalence and danger of human trafficking.

“That seems to be all we’ve done for years and years is raising awareness,” meeting organizer Robin Currie said. “… human trafficking awareness day to me is like human trafficking acceptance day.”

Attendees were of the same mind when it came to the priority governments and communities give human trafficking. Many people don’t know much about it or won’t admit it’s a problem in their community, Currie said.

“We are in a city where there is human trafficking going on right under our noses,” Currie said. “We’re turning a blind eye to slavery … we are a group of people in America who are very, very poorly informed.”

A panel made up of The Abolitionist Network Director Sarah Dunham, male victim advocate Steven Procopio and Audra, a trafficking survivor, answered questions from attendees, many of which also worked in the field or wanted to get involved. The key theme was that trafficking was not just moving people around in crates, or what has been portrayed in the movies. Instead, trafficking takes many forms, from physical restraint to “debt bondage” where people are forced to work off a trumped-up debt, and everything in between.

“We need to open up the definition of trafficking,” Procopio said “We need [you] to know that it happens in your backyard.”

On Human Trafficking Awareness Day, advocates network for the future — Worcester Magazine, 01/11/2017