Milwaukee is the “Harvard of pimp school,” a hotbed of human trafficking. And yet—most citizens are unaware or uninterested. To draw attention to this issue, and recognizing that January is Human Trafficking Awareness month, the Milwaukee Global Shapers hosted a “Shaper Chat,” a panel discussion aimed to raise awareness and propose solutions.
Moderated by Jarrett Luckett, Executive Director of the Milwaukee non-profit Exploit No More, the panel was broadcast live to the public and the 6,000 Global Shapers in over 400 cities around the globe.
Luckett was joined by panelists:
-Alicia Bush, CEO and Founder of Treasured Vessels Foundation,
-Rebekah Stines, Training Director and Consultant at Mending the Soul and Princess Lost Curricula, and
-Nancy Winston, Senior Director of Shared Hope International
A key issue covered is that while Federal law protects victims of trafficking, yet often state laws result in victims getting jail time instead of help. Bush says that “We have to take a young girl and put her in juvenile detention before we can offer her services—we don’t have a place for them to go before that.”
Even if jail is avoided, there aren’t enough programs that meet the specific needs of trafficking victims. Says Luckett, “The challenge of having proper survivor focused housing and services is evident here in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin. Healthcare providers and law enforcement will quickly tell you that they wish victims had some place to go to recover from the abuse and exploitation they endured.”
All panelists agreed that easy access to pornography is part of the problem. Stines urged that “honest conversation about the sex industry” is a step in the right direction. Solutions are, according to Bush “still in the awareness phase—people don’t know what trafficking is or that it’s happening here.”
Communities can also come together to support survivors. Stines suggests “collaborative support teams” composed of a variety of professionals. Winston added that survivors just “Need the tools to understand how to live normally.”
Luckett hopes the panel can serve as a starting point in the organization’s outreach and awareness work in Milwaukee. He emphasized collaboration with other agencies across the country, such as those participating in the panel, and other groups within the US. Exploit No More will open their first house for Milwaukee survivors, a “Freedom House,” later this year.
A replay of the panel discussion can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqNQvJsLwow
The Global Shapers is an initiative of the World Economic Forum. It is a network of hubs around the world developed and led by young people who are exceptional in their potential, their achievements and their drive to make a contribution to their communities. The Milwaukee Global Shapers was founded by Austin Ramirez in 2014. This is the second “Shaper Chat” the group has hosted.