The panel discussion aims to educate the public on recognizing and combating the enslavement of people for the purposes of forced labor or sex work.
One of the panelists is Cathy O’Keefe, director of the Quad Cities-based Family Resource’s “Braking Traffik” program. She says human trafficking exists in all forms in Iowa. “It can target adults and children, men and women, people of any race or ethnicity. It targets citizens and noncitizens,” O’Keefe says. “There are no bounds to this crime and there’s no community that’s immune to this crime. Until we really start to understand that, we are going to continue to miss identifications.”
Earlier this year an anti-human trafficking office was established within the Iowa Department of Public Safety. O’Keefe hopes it will help curb such the trafficking. “We have human trafficking through the agricultural industry, through factories, so those could be in rural communities,” O’Keefe says. “We also have to remember that there’s a demand for prostitution, a demand for sex trafficking everywhere, in all of our communities. And because a lot of sex trafficking is advertised online, really it’s everywhere.”
O’Keefe says it’s difficult at times to identify trafficking. But when it comes to labor trafficking, immigrants can fall victim when they are underpaid or denied healthcare. The event at DMU is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m.
(Thanks to Sarah Boden, Iowa Public Radio)