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The Ugly Truth Behind Human Trafficking

By Seren Jones
Staff Writer

LIU Post will host the fourth annual “Many Faces of Family Violence” conference on April 11, from 8:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., in Hillwood Commons. The conference is free and open to the public, and will focus on child trafficking and the impact on the victims’ families.

Human trafficking occurs in places all over the world, including the Unites States.

A 2011 report by the U.S. State Department, titled “Trafficking in Persons Report,” calculated that 27 million men, women and children are victims of human trafficking. Approximately 41 percent of sex trafficking victims and 20 percent of labor trafficking victims are American citizens, according to the Polaris Project, a non-profit, non-governmental agency that works to combat and prevent human trafficking.

Human trafficking can be described as modern day slavery. It involves the controlling and exploiting of human beings for profit. Victims of human trafficking are trapped physically, psychologically, financially, or emotionally by their traffickers and are seldom granted their freedom.

Women have been discovered as domestic workers in homes in Maryland and New York, and human trafficking victims have also been found working in restaurants, hotels, nail salons, and shops in both small towns and large cities.

“Human trafficking and the international sex trade encompass issues that violate the basic principles of social justice and human dignity,” said Dr. John Imhof, commissioner of Nassau County Department of Social Services and adjunct professor of Social Work at Post, as he explained the relationship between social work and human trafficking issues.

“Since the social work profession is committed to poverty reduction, empowering vulnerable populations, and eliminating gender-based oppression, it is essential for social work practitioners to be knowledgeable about global sex trafficking from both global and specific [local] perspectives,” he added.

“The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has issued several policy statements on human rights, refugees, child welfare, and cultural competence which all speak to the issue of human trafficking,” Imhof said. “Furthermore, NASW promotes a professional mission of enhancing human well-being and devoting particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty; [these people] largely represent the population of human trafficking victims,” he added.

“Human trafficking is a worldwide epidemic, especially affecting women and children living in countries facing serious issues with poverty and malnutrition,” Imhof continued. “However, human trafficking and sexual exploitation also flourish in those countries that historically have had little regard for the basic human rights of women and children, and an absence of laws and punishments against human trafficking permits human trafficking to flourish out of control.”

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano’s Task Force on Family Violence, the Social Work Department, and the School of Health Professions and Nursing at LIU Post will host the “Many Faces of Family Violence” conference.

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