16,000 miles, 20 states and five months ago, Ali and I set out to explore the issues of human trafficking throughout the United States. Our work began at the 2012 Super Bowl in Indiana, took us through the southern states, brought us up the eastern seaboard and now leads us through the midwest. We began our trip with a broad set of goals and no idea of what to expect on the road. We were eager for knowledge and adventure.
Our research has brought us a long way from newly graduates passionate about world matters and looking for a direction to take.
By no means are we specialists in the field of human trafficking, but since we have embarked on this journey we have grown. The further our research takes us the clearer our direction becomes. We have created a strong set of questions, and have learned to identify certain flaws in the work being done. However, identifying the flaws is not what motivates us, but the encouraging practices led by these passionate and talented people.
We have also met those who are new to the field and eager to be of assistance to the agencies and organizations already involved. Our network continues to grow with a variety of individuals who have utilized their specialty (i.e. nurses, doctors, psychologist, law enforcement, truckers, writers, researchers, academics, social workers, sex workers, councelors, politicians, prosecutors, the public, students and many more.) Nix Conference and Meeting Management is a business that coordinates conferences and meeting for companies, nonprofits, and other organizations. We recently read an article about a member of Nix that has utilized her knowledge of the hotel industry, and we are happy to be meeting with her to learn of her involvement. Nix is only one example of many new departments that are getting involved and we look forward to seeing how these different occupations can assist the efforts in the field.
It would be difficult for us to briefly describe in this blog what we have learned since we started our travels. However, we will say that 16,000 miles ago we did not expect to see the variety of people involved in anti-trafficking efforts; we could not have imagined the different tactics that have been developed to fight trafficking; most prominently, how diverse sister states can be with challenges, preparedness, and strategies.
Ali and I have placed a great emphasis on our research, which has taken time away from our blog. Since the end of May we have been through Illinois, Wyoming, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Colorado, New Mexico and now Texas. As we travel, we are constantly preparing for interviews, contacting those who are involved in the next state, continuing phone interviews in previous states, and keeping our notes up to date.
Each city is unique, and it has become very clear to us that they operate at different stages in regards to human trafficking. While some are prosecuting cases and working on ways to charge the trafficker without a victim’s testimony, other cities are spreading awareness of trafficking and training those who could be key in identifying a victim. Location of the state, population, number of those who are involved, and who the players are, effect strategies used to fight human trafficking. The approach to trafficking has taken on many different forms, whether it be demand, prevention work, victim services, educating the communities, or a focus on state laws. These are only a few that exist in the field, but methods are chosen by these organizations for specific reasons to address their challenges with regards to their own communities.
We are now in Kansas and soon heading to Missouri to complete our midwestern drive, which leaves the western states for August. We will then face the most challenging part of our work, which has been an ongoing discussion of disseminating our work in a technique that would contribute to the field. We have many ideas but suggestions are always welcome.