The Colorado Human Trafficking Council convened for its second meeting on Friday, November 21. While the first half of the meeting was spent discussing general procedural and administrative details, in the latter portion the Council welcomed multiple presenters who educated and informed Council members on issues relating to human trafficking.
1. Council member Amanda Finger and guest A.J. Alejano-Steele – both of the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking – presented on the Colorado Project, an anti-trafficking initiative informed by individuals working in local Colorado communities. Finger and Alejano-Steele also reported about the diverse forms of human trafficking in Colorado, such as forced labor (particularly within sheep herding and ranching communities) and sex trafficking of adults and minors. They explained these different forms of trafficking are influenced by Colorado’s diverse geographical landscape.
2. Council member Dan Steele reported on the Innocence Lost Task Force and its role in targeting domestic minor sex trafficking by recovering children and prosecuting perpetrators of trafficking.
3. Patricia Medige of Colorado Legal Services elaborated on the findings of a study about labor trafficking conducted by the Urban Institute. Her presentation broke down many stereotypes associated with forced labor and highlighted the systemic challenges associated with combating labor trafficking. Medige presented a case study in which Colorado Legal Services worked with a group of Omaha-based construction workers found in conditions of forced labor in Colorado Springs.
4. Sterling Harris, Chief Deputy Director of the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance (COVA), highlighted the short-term services COVA provides to victim/survivors of trafficking, such as food, medical care, clothing, and shelter, as well as longer-term services including counseling and vocational training or education. COVA works primarily with adults and older adolescents, but Harris stressed that services for adolescent and adult males are generally lacking in the field.
5. Guest speaker Vanessa Chauhan reported on the services the Washington-based organization Polaris provides, such as a hotline, referral of victims to service providers, and the organization’s ability to respond to crises involving minors. Polaris also conducts data analysis and offers training and technical assistance.
The Council’s monthly meetings are open to the general public. The next meeting will take place on Friday, December 12 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Jefferson County Human Services office in Golden, Colorado.
(photo of cattle drive near Pinedale, WY, via Creative Commons)
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