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Opening Plenary

“Framing for Fighting: A Migrant Justice Frame for Building Broad Consensus and Action Against Human Trafficking"

This panel will examine the definitions of human trafficking that have been proposed by government agencies, various documentaries and news specials, critically engaging discourses of human trafficking and calling attention to the different stakeholders. At the same time it will ask what laws offer the best hope for success.  How can reframing the problem as one of labor and migration offer more productive solutions that could empower workers?

  • Ann Jordan, Director of Forced Labor and Trafficking in the Center on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at American University’s Washington College of Law (Washington, DC)
  • Anne Gallagher, Adviser on Trafficking to the UN High Commissioner for Human  Rights (Australia)
  • Kathleen Kim, Professor of Law, Loyola Marymount University 
  • Martina Vandenberg, Fellow, Open Society Foundations (Washington  D.C.)
  • Mark Taylor, Senior Coordinator, Reports and Political Affairs, U.S. Department of State  (Washington D.C.)

Keynote Address


From repression to empowerment: is there a way back?

When the women’s movement fell back on the 19th century Victorian concept of “trafficking in women” to address abuses of migrant women in the sex industry, it unwittingly adopted not only a highly morally biased concept - dividing women into innocent victims in need of rescue and guilty ones who can be abused with impunity -, but also one with racist and nationalistic overtones.  Despite efforts to counter these flaws, this inheritance defines the debate on trafficking up till today, exemplified by the distinction in the UN Protocol between so-called “sexual exploitation” and “labour exploitation” and its emphasis on the recruitment process, as well by the range of repressive measures against migrants and sex workers in the name of combating trafficking. This focus on the purity and victimhood of women, coupled with the protection of national borders, not only impedes any serious effort to address the true human rights abuses we are confronted with, that is the exploitation of human beings under forced labour and slavery-like conditions, but actually causes harm to real people.  The call for a human rights-based approach does not solve these fundamental problems, as it tends to restrict itself to victims of the narrow concept of trafficking, while neglecting the protection of the human rights of sex workers and migrants. 

Afternoon Workshops

Migrant Children: Child Labor, Prostitution, and Trafficking

Panelists include:

  • Kay Buck, Director of Coalition Against Slavery and Trafficking, Los Angeles. (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Noy Thrupkaew, Investigative Journalist (New York, NY)
  • Emir Estrada, (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Leyla Strotkamp, International Relations Officer at Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, U.S. Department of Labor, (Washington, DC)
  • Anthony Marcus, Associate Professor of Anthropology, John Jay School of Criminology (New York, NY)

Moderator: Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo, Professor of Sociology

Sex Workers: The Impact of Curb Campaigns

Panelists include:

  • Kari Lerum, Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and Cultural   Studies, University of Washington, Bothell. (Seattle, WA)
  • Erin Kamler, PhD Student, USC Annenberg School. (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Aziza Ahmed, Assistant Professor of Law, Northeastern University. (Boston, MA)
  • Kimberly Hoang, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Boston College (Houston, TX)
  • Norma Jean  Almodovar, Director and Founder the International Sex Worker Foundation for Art, Culture and Education (Los Angeles, CA)

Panel moderator: Sofia Gruskin, USC Professor of Preventive Medicine and Law, Director, Program on Global Health and Human Rights, Institute for Global Health

Vulnerable Workers: Domestic Workers and Farm Workers in the United States and Beyond

Panelists include:

  • Aquilina Soriano-Versoza, Director, Pilipino Worker’s Center of Los Angeles. (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Pardis Mahdavi, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Pomona College (Claremont, CA)
  • Chancee Martorell, Founder and Executive Director of the Thai Community Development Center (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Ruben Garcia, Professor of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas (LasVegas, NV)
  • P. David Lopez, General Counsel of U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Washington D.C.)

Panel Moderator: Juan De Lara, Assistant Professor of American Studies & Ethnicity


Closing Plenary

Migrant Worker Empowerment: Alternative Solutions to Rescue and Prosecution in Human Trafficking

This panel poses the question, “How can we effectively combat the very real problem of trafficking?” To fight trafficking, the U.S. promotes a criminal prosecution model and accordingly only funds organizations that follow its universal templates of the 3Ps and 3Rs, meaning “protection, prevention and prosecution” and “rescue, rehabilitation, and reintegration.” Panelists will address alternative solutions to prosecution and pose strategies geared towards worker empowerment.

Panelists include:

  • Janie Chuang, Associate Professor, American University Washington School of Law. (Washington, DC)
  • Dina Haynes, Professor of Law, New England College of Law. (Boston, MA)
  • Orlando Patterson, John Cowles Professor of Sociology, Harvard University (Boston, MA)
  • Kate Francis, Associate Director, Women's Empowerment Program, The Asia Foundation (Washington D.C.)
  • Panel Moderator: Alice Echols