Inside IVP: The Shared Fight Against Human Trafficking
May 13th, 2018
In May, the World Affairs Council hosted two delegations of international visitors in Seattle that were part of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program. IVLPs provide short-term visits to the United States to current and emerging foreign leaders in a variety of fields to experience the U.S. firsthand and to cultivate lasting relationships with their American counterparts. Professional meetings reflect the participants’ professional interests and support the foreign policy goals of the U.S. The two IVLPs we hosted in May were both focused on combating and preventing human trafficking. The groups included a cohort of nonprofit, educational, and political visitors from Ukraine, and a multi-regional group consisting of leaders and experts in anti-trafficking from across the globe.
Both groups met with anti-trafficking advocates working in the Seattle area such as Seattle Against Slavery (SAS). Seattle Against Slavery discussed their education, advocacy, and volunteer mobilization efforts as well as emerging tools and techniques for preventing trafficking online. The international visitors greatly benefited from their conversation with this Seattle-based anti-trafficking advocate which broadened their understanding of U.S. trafficking laws and even led to a friendly debate comparing U.S. and international definitions of human trafficking.
Program participants also learned the history of House Bill (HB) 1175, passed in 2003, which made Washington the first state in the U.S. to criminalize human trafficking. By meeting with former Washington State Representatives, the IVLP participants from Ukraine also learned about the State’s laws on anti-trafficking, the legal U.S. definitions of trafficking, and types of offences and charges traffickers can receive. The visitors also met with one of the founders of the nonprofit API Chaya to discuss its work to provide assistance, organize communities, and educate on issues such as domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking to Asian and Pacific Islander community members, service providers, survivors, and their families. Through these personal meetings, the international visitors and their Washington-based counterparts envisioned a shared goal of providing empathy and support for survivors and fostering a global community free from human trafficking and exploitation.
Also of high interest to the program participants was their visit to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office where they met with members of the King County Commercially Sexually Exploited (CSEC) Children Task Force. Their meeting to learn about the Task Forces’ partnerships with local and federal law enforcement agencies and nonprofits allowed insights into U.S. policy initiatives to protect, assist, and provide social and economic reintegration services for trafficking victims. The Task Force also gave participants insight into their work by using past cases of finding and helping victims of immigration exploitation in order to find and prosecute traffickers in Seattle and Washington State.
It is through opportunities to meet and cooperate with local companies, government agencies, and nonprofits that these State Department IVLP participants not only examined U.S. efforts to combat trafficking in persons, but also networked with their American counterparts to further their shared effort to end trafficking in persons and modern day slavery.
By Katie Hudak, IVP Intern