The Global Freedom Exchange, now in Dallas, Texas, continues to meet with organizations working to end trafficking and provide survivors with the services needed to cope with their trauma and start a new stage of their lives. Dallas has given the group an inside look at human trafficking from another angle, as well as the participants first taste of y’all and Texas BBQ.
The first stop was with Dallas County Police Department’s Sgt. Byron Fassett who presented the training model and methodology behind his High Risk Victims Unit of officers who focus on child sex trafficking. Cristina Sevilla, an attorney who works on sex trafficking through ECPAT-Phillippines, was struck by the effectiveness of his training model. “What I really want to do when I go back is build the capacity of law enforcement and introduce the event-based interview model that takes into account the victim’s history and going back to the tipping point of victimization,” she said.
The group visited Mosaic Family Services, including their Human Trafficking Program dedicated to providing comprehensive culturally-sensitive care through emergency shelter, case management, counseling, interpretation and legal assistance to victims of human trafficking. The multi-cultural staff speaks 25 languages, represents every major religion, and is able to assist victims in navigating the complex justice system. Federal prosecutor Alex Lewis joined the group to speak on some successes of prosecuting traffickers, and some of the challenges involved in international cross-border cases.
A tour of the Dallas County LETOT Center provided the participants with a concrete hands-on example of shelter services and a unique prevention program in their ESTEEM Court program that works to divert youth from the criminal justice system.
To see how the medical community is integrated into service provision, the group met with Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Renee Donald and her team at Presbyterian Hospital’s Center for SAFE Healing who are dedicated to providing both compassionate medical care and forensic evidence collection to treat victims of sexual abuse and exploitation. Betul Ulukol, a pediatrician and medical professor from Ankara, Turkey, said, “The (SANE) program gives me a new perspective on how to reduce revictimization in medical exams post-assault.” Priti Paktar, of Prerana in Mumbai, India, agreed: “The entire system was victim-centric and supports the victim’s fight for justice.”
Yesterday the Global Freedom Exchange participants met with Jan Langbein at Genesis Women’s Shelter to tour the emergency shelter, on-site daycare and school, and an apartment building providing long-term transitional housing for survivors and their families. Jan gave a fundraising training, emphasizing her own Benefit Thrift Store as a successful social business model in which Dallas patrons donate or purchase items, victims shop for free and net receipts pay for emergency client services. A highlight of the visit was Genesis hosting the group at the store for a shopping-reception. Rahel Gettu, of UNAIDS Ethiopia, said “I feel like I contributed at a thrift store. We bought clothes but it paid for food for the shelter and I directly supported that.”
The group has one final day in Dallas before returning to their home countries on Friday.
Megan Abbot is Vital Voices program coordinator, Human Rights.
Top: Global Freedom Exchange participants with Genesis Shelter staff at Benefit Thrift Store.