Tri-State Coalition Against Human Trafficking in the News

The following is a transcript of a Telegraph herald news article about the Coalition’s anti-trafficking training held on January 14, 2023.

“Umaru Balde, director of Dubuque’s Multicultural Family Center, speaks during a sex-trafficking prevention workshop at Shalom Spirituality Center in Dubuque on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023.”
“Umaru Balde, director of Dubuque’s Multicultural Family Center, speaks during a sex-trafficking prevention workshop at Shalom Spirituality Center in Dubuque on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023.”
“Kathy Slinger (from left), Colleen Myers and Sister Marge Healy talk during a sex-trafficking prevention workshop at Shalom Spirituality Center in Dubuque on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023.”

“A group of local anti-trafficking advocates sought to remind people this weekend that everyone can do something to help stop human trafficking, emphasizing victim empowerment and accountability for perpetrators.

The Tri-State Coalition Against Human Trafficking and Slavery held its ‘Confronting Human Trafficking’ workshop Saturday at the Shalom Spirituality Center in Dubuque. Around 70 people registered for the all-day event.

‘Part of the reason for the title is sometimes it’ll seem to us that people feel like they’re powerless and can’t do anything about human trafficking, and that’s just not true,’ said coalition treasurer Sister Mira Mosle, BVM. ‘We want to be able to provide resources and strategies, so people can become active and engaged in whatever it takes to end human trafficking.’

The workshop included sessions about what motivates men to buy sex, the impacts of pornography on the human trafficking industry and trauma-informed care for trafficking survivors. There was also time for discussion and reflection between sessions for attendees to talk about what they’d learned.

One session was led by Dubuque Multicultural Family Center Director Umaru Balde, who shared his story with childhood slavery in the west African country of Guinea-Bissau and issued a call to action for men to do more to dampen demand for illegal physical and sexual labor.

‘Where there is no demand, there is no need for the supply,’ Balde said ahead of his session. ‘Once men understand that their demand is what encourages the supply, they’ll be more willing to get more training or education on how to get involved and help.’

Attendee Monica Schneider, of Hazel Green, Wis., said the event was an eye-opener when it came to realizing how much perpetrators profit off trafficking and the role money plays in keeping victims in unsafe situations.

‘It all comes back to the money,’ said Schneider, who works at Mary’s Inn maternity home in Dubuque. ‘I mean it’s not just that, but it’s a big part of it.’

Schneider’s coworker Helen Gile, of Dubuque, chimed in to agree and add that Saturday’s training was the most in-depth education she’d received on the topic of human trafficking.

She attended the workshop because she wanted to be able to recognize the signs of trafficking and what to do about them, given her work at the maternity home where some women come from high-risk environments.

‘Some of these laws need to change because there are real people out there who are being hurt by society’s actions,’ Gile said.

The workshop offered several resources around addressing human trafficking, as well as inviting several victims’ services groups from the tri-state area to make attendees aware of local options. There was a heavy focus on healthy relationships, as well as collaborative solutions.

Deacon Mark Otting, of Cascade, Iowa, attended to see if there was anything from the workshop that might make sense to teach or disseminate to students and staff at the Aquin Catholic Education System to protect them from victimization.

Calling the age of some trafficking victims ‘shocking,’ he said he appreciated the workshop’s focus on healthy relationship-building and saw that as one avenue to teach younger generations about positive resiliency.

‘(One of the speakers) brought up a great point, which was why not focus on what exactly are healthy relationships,’ Otting said. ‘Telling students what things you need to do to have a healthy relationship, instead of telling them what not to do.'”

https://www.telegraphherald.com/news/tri-state/article_87b9a3fe-9452-11ed-9e46-fb780eb82b37.html

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