The San Francisco Bay Area is recognized by the FBI as one of 13 metropolitan areas with a “high intensity” of children being trafficked for sex. And the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office has prosecuted almost half of the human trafficking cases in California.
Overall, California recently received the worst rating in the country after a review of every state's legislation and how well it responds to combating domestic minor sex trafficking by Shared Hope International. A 2012 report published by the U.S. Department of Justice indicates that 495,293 unauthorized Spanish-speaking immigrants could be victims of labor trafficking in California.
Yet the Bay Area also includes leaders, organizations, and agencies recognized as some of the best in the nation and even the world for expertise and effectiveness in fighting human trafficking and serving those harmed by it. One of those leaders is Minh Dang, a nationally recognized trainer, speaker, and advocate who overcame child abuse and commercial sexual exploitation in the Bay Area and earned her Masters of Social Welfare from UC Berkeley.
Referred to as a modern day “Harriet Tubman” by Dr. Kevin Bales, a pioneer in the modern abolition movement with his authoritative research on this human rights crisis, Dang and The Berkeley Anti-Trafficking Coalition are presenting Freedom In Action, a conference intended to empower students and community members to become effective anti-trafficking leaders through education, coalition building, and skill building. The Coalition is a student-led organization that benefited from Dang’s encouragement and support at its inception and continued guidance now.
The conference is from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on March 8 in Berkeley and you can register for it here. A benefit concert follows it from 6 to 8 p.m. with performances by UC Berkeley students. 100% of the $5 entry fee will be donated to Nika's Place, a new shelter in Alameda County for Commercially Sexually Exploited Children.
The conference will also feature a keynote address by Stacy Jewell Lewis, writer & director of “7 Layers Captives,” CEO of Jewell Productions, anti-trafficking agency adviser, media trainer, and trafficking survivor--Lewis is known for her dynamic performances, employing creativity and boldness to inspire unity against sex trafficking and social injustice.
Workshops will be conducted by some of the highest regarded anti-trafficking forces working locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. Some of them include MISSSEY, Alameda County D.A. Office’s H.E.A.T. (Human Exploitation and Trafficking) Program, Freedom House, Love Never Fails, International Justice Mission, and Red Window Project. Members of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) National Survivor Network will share how they are building anti trafficking movement where survivors are at the forefront and recognized as leaders.
Dang was very deliberate in assuring substantive presentations, requiring them to educate participants about the nuances and complexities of human trafficking and other social issues that intersect, encourage discussion between people with different conceptions and experiences of human trafficking, support participants in conceptualizing and actualizing their own approach to combating human trafficking through their unique skills and interests, and present a promising or best-practice model for working with survivors, training and educating professionals, and/or raising awareness.
With such direction, the Freedom In Action conference will be unlike any other in its intent to equip participants thoroughly in the range of complexities yet also proven solutions to abolish this brutal travesty that enslaves 29,800,000 men, women, and children worldwide.