About the Authors: Julie Stricker, Jacqueline Foster, and Danielle LoVallo are summer interns in the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
Demand for seats was high on July 30 at the Department of State during the second annual Intern Roundtable on Trafficking in Persons. More than 100 young professionals from the Department, other government agencies, and Washington D.C.-area NGOs turned up to learn more about modern slavery and to network with others interested in the issue. They came to listen to Luis CdeBaca, the Department's Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, and Hilary Axam, acting director of the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit at the Department of Justice.
Ambassador CdeBaca discussed the growth and maturity of the movement to abolish modern slavery. More people are becoming interested in combating trafficking, while the means and mechanisms for preventing the crime, protecting victims, and prosecuting perpetrators are becoming more sophisticated. Ten years after the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), it's no secret that men, women, and children around the world are being exploited in compelled service through force, fraud, or coercion. Victims of human trafficking are no longer dichotomized into two groups based on sex: men in forced labor and women in forced prostitution. And we know more about the plight of trafficking victims here in the United States.
Even the interns' questions reflected a greater understanding of the complexities of the issue. They asked about slavery in supply chains and data collection efforts -- some of the major themes in the U.S. narrative featured in the 2010 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report.
Although the understanding of human trafficking has evolved, the reasons for dedicating one's career to combating modern slavery remain the same, both for interns and established figures in the movement. Tackling an abhorrent human rights abuse can help victims reclaim their lives. Ms. Axam told stories about victims who went from total deprivation of liberty to bringing their traffickers to justice. The justice system -- with relevant laws and increased awareness of human trafficking -- transformed their lives and gave them back a sense of self-reliance and confidence. From Ms. Axam, the interns learned that genuine concern for those who are exploited is the driving force behind the demand to work on this issue.
The demand for information and opportunities to engage on the issue is high. As students, we believe we need a greater supply of professors with anti-trafficking expertise to oversee research theses, more career options in governmental and nongovernmental agencies focusing on fighting modern slavery, and better access to avenues within every field -- from law to social work to economics -- to address this global human rights abuse. And we need more events like this to prepare us as future leaders of the anti-trafficking movement.
The next generation is ready to assume leadership in the fight to end modern slavery. Today's students are eager to start their careers in the movement. Last year, at the first intern roundtable, the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons began investing in those future careers. At this year's event, the number of interns surpassed the capacity of the conference room, and we turned away many for lack of space. Next year, we'll need a bigger room.