Conference aims to curb trafficking

By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

Catholic Charities of Louisville will host a national conference on human trafficking Oct. 24 and 25 at the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville.

The conference will be offered by the charity’s anti-human trafficking program, the Bakhita Empowerment Initiative. It aims to educate the community about labor trafficking and how to identify individuals who are being forced or coerced for the purpose of sexual exploitation or labor, according to a news release about the conference.

The conference is intended for professionals from around the country who investigate and prosecute labor trafficking cases, those who provide services to survivors and individuals who collect and analyze labor trafficking cases, said Marissa Castellanos, director of the Bakhita Empowerment Initiative.

“Labor trafficking doesn’t generally get much attention, and there are limited resources dedicated to working on labor trafficking cases, as well as limited capacity to identify and serve victims and survivors,” she said.

Organizers of the conference said the goal of the conference is to also educate the community “about the prevalence and underreported nature of labor trafficking.”

Catholic Charities has provided services to more than 100 survivors of labor trafficking in Kentucky in the past 11 years. During this time, there have been five federal prosecutions, two state prosecutions (one dismissal and one acquittal) and two civil lawsuits in domestic servitude cases, Castellanos said.

“We are committed to recognizing and advocating on behalf of human dignity and fairness, in this case specifically for the people who pick the vegetables we eat every day, the cooks in kitchens
of restaurants we frequent, the factory workers processing the meat we eat and making the clothes we wear,” she said.

This conference, held in conjunction with the Southeast Regional Human Trafficking Advisory Group, which is led by the Department of Health and Human Services, will feature workshops and speakers. Topics will include “forced engagement in criminal activity, tackling labor trafficking at the state level, data driven approaches and the intersectionality of labor trafficking and domestic violence,” the release said.

To learn more about sponsorships and registration, visit www.cclou.org/labor. The cost is $225. Contact Shelley Dewig at sdewig@archlou.org or 637-9786.

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