A Daylong Summit on Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation Engages Young People on Abolitionist Issues

August 27, 2018

On July 18, CATW co-hosted, along with the National Organization for Women’s New York City Chapter (NOW-NYC) and SPACE Intl, a youth summit spearheaded by World Without Exploitation (WorldWE).

The idea for this daylong event came about after several youth abolitionists approached CATW and WorldWE leaders with a predicament: their liberal arts institutions were only teaching pro-“sex work” curriculums. With the goal of providing an opportunity for education on human trafficking and sexual exploitation, as well as a space for critical thinking and driving forward change — CATW, NOW-NYC and WorldWE joined forces to develop this summer’s youth summit.

Darci Siegel, one of our summer interns who presented at the event, explained, “We wanted young people to be able to engage with the personal and the political. Sexual exploitation doesn’t happen across the world, it happens in our backyards and in our neighborhoods. We hoped that students would come away from this day with a deeper understanding of the lived experiences of survivors, as well as the social, political and cultural realities that influence and enable trafficking in our communities.”

One hundred and eighty participants between the ages of 13 and 28 gathered at the Brooklyn Historical Society for a survivor panel and a performance of “One Click Away” (directed by Katie Cappiello). In the afternoon, Rachel Moran (SPACE International) lead a debate training, and everyone had an opportunity to participate in a series of workshops, finishing the day with a student activist panel. Breakout groups included discussions on spoken word, media literacy, direct services, sugar dating, racial violence and the abuse to prison pipeline.

After participating in a day of activism and education, another of our summer interns Avery Pusey, shared:

“Before the conference I knew sexual exploitation was a horrible thing, but I couldn’t begin to comprehend the immense and long term toll it could take on someone’s life. Hearing survivors talk about their experiences put everything in perspective for me and helped me understand that sex trafficking goes beyond the individual. Power and control, the influence of money and the vulnerability of young women, especially young women of color, play a large role in sexual exploitation. It’s such a layered and nuanced issue and I hope more people have the opportunity to become further educated.”