CORAL GABLES, Fla. (January 22, 2015)—In an ambitious effort to raise awareness, improve understanding, and generate solutions to the emerging epidemic of human trafficking in Miami, the School of Education and Human Development and a number of community partners are holding three forums on the UM campus, two of them this week, to address the problem.
Hosted by UM President Donna E. Shalala and Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, the first forum, “Combating the ‘Glamour’ and Demand of Human Trafficking through Media, Education and Services,” will begin at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, January 27 at the Newman Alumni Center.
Alberto M. Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools; Orlando A. Prescott, administrative judge for the 11th Judicial Circuit’s Juvenile Division; and Deborah Baker-Egozi, president of the Miami chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers, will join other community leaders, service providers, and local, state, and national law enforcement agencies in the effort Rundle began four years ago to find ways to more readily identify victims and prosecute perpetrators of the illicit trade in humans, often for the purpose of forced labor or commercial sex.
Attendees may RSVP by contacting Barbara Pacheco at 305-547-0749 or BarbaraPacheco@MiamiSAO.com but are welcome to just walk in.
The second forum, held in collaboration with the Miami-Dade County Human Trafficking Coalition and the Miami-Dade County Human Trafficking Collaborative Project, will follow on Friday, January 30, between 9 a.m. and noon at the BankUnited Center Hurricane 100 Room. Titled “Human Trafficking in Miami and Our Local Response Conference,” the event will focus on innovative, emerging service and advocacy practices and feature panel presentations and discussions with survivors of sex trafficking, along with leading service providers in the region.
Faculty, staff, and students who wish to attend the Friday forum may RSVP to Ivon Mesa, of Miami-Dade’s Community Action and Human Services Department, at MESAI@miamidade.gov.
The third forum, “Human Trafficking: Interrupting the Pathway to Victimization,” is being organized by The Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment on Friday, May 1. At the all-day event at the Newman Alumni Center, leading experts will discuss the complexities of identifying, intervening with, and protecting human trafficking victims, as well as the research on therapeutic, legal, and social solutions. For more information or to register, visit http://www.melissainstitute.org/.
Students at the Miller School of Medicine are equally concerned by the illicit trade in humans and last week held a daylong symposium, “Human Trafficking: An Emerging Epidemic,” at UM’s Student Activities Center aimed at educating physicians, nurses, social workers, and law enforcement about the growing problem.
As Juhi Jain, a fourth-year Miller School student who received a grant from the Arsht Ethics Initiatives to stage the conference explained, human trafficking does not discriminate. “It affects all ethnicities,” she said, noting that American citizens are just as likely as immigrants to be victims.
Jain first became aware of how serious the human trafficking problem is about two years ago, when some of her fellow Miller School students told her about two victims who showed up at the UM/Jackson Memorial Hospital emergency room for medical treatment. It was then that Jain consulted with two of her mentors—Panagiota “Pat” Caralis, M.D., J.D., professor of medicine, and Edwin Olsen, M.D., M.B.A., J.D., professor of clinical psychiatry—who persuaded her to do more research on the issue, specifically the medical and legal aspects of the problem and how to identify and aid victims.