published Friday, March 2nd, 2012

U.S. and Chattanooga officials working to battle human trafficking


A broadcast and print investigative journalist, photographer and author, she was appointed by the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children in 2000 to cover the exploitation of children from the Balkan crisis.

Her first human trafficking report, "Shattered Innocence -- the Millennium Holocaust," was released in 2001 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

She co-founded "Children in Slavery -- The 21st Century Global Campaign," an international coalition of diplomats, journalists, law enforcement officials and business leaders who focus on practical solutions to end human trafficking.

She is writing the second book of the "Shattered Innocence" trilogy.

Source: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga


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Human trafficking.

It's the $60 billion-a-year industry that, up until a few years ago, was almost unknown and invisible in the region.

But activities by nonprofits, government agencies and colleges are raising awareness and inspiring people to fight the sale of forced labor and sexual services on the street or over the Internet.

"When people go to events and hear about [human trafficking] one time, they are so mesmerized by the inhumane treatment that it's talked about more and more," said Beverly Cosley, director of Chattanooga's Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Her office first focused on human trafficking in 2010 by bringing in trainers from Washington, D.C., for Human Rights Day, Cosley said. Last year, the Office of Multicultural Affairs showed a film about the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

On Wednesday, the University of Tennessee hosted investigative journalist and author Christine Dolan for a lecture, "Slavery in the 21st Century, Human Trafficking: A Global Shame."

Dolan is known to many as the world's top investigator of human trafficking. Her involvement began 12 years ago when she was commissioned to cover the exploitation of children during the Balkan crisis.

She told UTC students and guests Wednesday that she took her assignment beyond the region. From the beginning, she said, one of the most frightening patterns was the age of the victims. One source told her he had seen pornographic pictures of babies so young they still had the umbilical cord.

"It made no sense," she said. "Who would do something like this?"

As of last year, 6 percent of the images of child pornography were children 3 years old or younger, she said.

Human trafficking has a lot of faces, she said: sex or labor trafficking, war slaves or sex tourism. And anyone can become a victim.

"It's a different world now. If you are not smart about it, you can end up a victim," she said.

Autumn Wade, 18, was shocked to hear that 2 million to 4 million new victims are trafficked in a year. Just in the U.S. there are 300,000 child prostitutes, Dolan said.

"I didn't know much about human trafficking," said Wade, a first-year student at UTC. "It gave me a lot of information to think about."

Dolan said the best way to combat trafficking is to get the community involved and fund police efforts to stop the practice.

"Chattanooga needs to look at what's going on and address it," she said. "The business community needs to wake up. If the business community is involved with other issues, why not this?"

about Perla Trevizo...

Perla Trevizo joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 2007 and covers immigration/diversity issues and higher education. She holds a master’s degree in newswire journalism from Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas. In 2011 she participated in the Bringing Home the World international reporting fellowship program sponsored by the International Center for Journalists, producing a series on Guatemalan immigrants for which she ...

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