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Civic Impact

International Women's Day shines light on human trafficking 'in our backyard'

"We're trying to take an issue that has an international face, and encourage people to realize that it's really happening in our backyard,” says Tiffany Tupper, program officer for the World Affairs Council, which is highlighting the problem of human trafficking alongside the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh for International Women’s Day on March 15.
“People think it happens all around the globe,” Tupper says, “but that it wouldn't happen here in a developed country. This is something we need to be vigilant about in our own community … It's not just about sex, it's also about labor. There are many faces to this problem."
Indeed, she points to several recent cases across the state, including Pittsburgh-area massage parlor arrests, a Philadelphia prostitution ring in 2010 involving illegal aliens, and a 2007 case against an Armstrong County farm involving 20 male workers from overseas.
Featured at the evening event will be Dr. Mary Burke, professor of psychology at Carlow University and founder of The Project to End Human Trafficking; Supervisory Special Agent Brad Orsini of the FBI, which collaborates on Burke’s Project; and Dr. Muge Kokten Finkel of the Ford Institute for Human Security at the University of Pittsburgh.
Carlow’s Burke “has really tried to bring people together from law enforcement and academia to look at how we can address the conditions that create human trafficking," Tupper says. Finkel, from Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, researches ways to empower women to escape human trafficking, as well as its political origins.
The panel discussion and reception for International Women’s Day will be held at Point Park University’s GRW Theater from 4 to 6 p.m.
Do Good:
Gear up to visit “Strength in the Struggle: Civil Rights” at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture downtown, an exhibit about the origins of the civil rights movement, with a special emphasis on the women’s movement in Pittsburgh, opening March 30 and running through June 30.
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Tiffany Tupper, World Affairs Council
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