How can event professionals can join the fight against human trafficking?
Human trafficking is a $150-billion industry, and it happens across the world, without exception.
Every year the 30 July is the UN World Day Against Trafficking in Persons
We spoke to Michelle Guelbart, former Director of Private Sector Engagement, ECPAT-USA and Amy Calvert, CEO, Events Industry Council (EIC) about ECPAT-USA’s work and how our industry can play an important role in it.
But first, what is human trafficking?
Michelle explained that “ECPAT-USA works on commercial sexual exploitation of children. In short, any situation where a child is being exploited for monetary gain”. While trafficking can look a lot like prostitution, according to US law if a child is in the sex industry at all, they’re automatically a victim of sex trafficking and human trafficking – even without crossing a border. As Michelle noted, “It’s the exploitation, the coercion and the monetary exchange that makes them a victim, not the movement. Many people don’t realize this.”
How was ECPAT-USA first established?
More than 25 years ago, ECPAT-USA was the first U.S.-based non-profit to work on the issue of commercial sexual exploitation of children. But as time went on the organization's focus evolved. According to Michelle, “When we were first founded, we focused on the issue of children being exploited overseas, not thinking that children literally in our own backyards were being trafficked too. As our understanding of the issue shifted, so did the organization. We now also look within our borders to help the children that are exploited here as well”.
So, where do you start?
For less than 30 minutes of your time (and maybe the cost of a couple of lattes) you can take part in the Business Event (BE) Protector training. Michelle says, “it’s in the nature of planners to be prepared. This training prepares you for what to do if you see evidence of trafficking and how to respond”. But not only is the training reactive to situations like this, it also teaches BE Protectors how they can spread awareness of human trafficking and the operational ways that they can help prevent it, such as sample RFP language and sample policy and contract language.