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  • Writer's pictureJustin Jensen

The Blog’s Not Dead!

Last month I attended my very first Conference on Crimes Against Women in Dallas Texas. This year's 2023 conference focus was on human trafficking, and I had difficulty picking which presentations to see. I just couldn’t split myself in half to see two different speakers simultaneously and missed a colleague of mine Kenny Smith’s presentation!

The most impactful presentations were from survivors or persons who gathered their source data directly from survivors. I take personal ownership and acknowledge that we simply don’t see the persons involved as victims of trafficking as human beings. It is much easier to see “immigrants”, “prostitutes”, and “victims” as persons who made their own choices and as such “suffer the consequences of their own actions”. Listening to the experiences of these human beings, I learned that they didn’t have the choices that many of us have. Some didn’t have a choice at all! Traffickers know this. They select, groom, and pick persons that live in situations that we only see on tv shows. Traffickers make sure to dehumanize their victims to control them and take away their dignity.

My use of language is intentional. I refer to persons who are trafficked as “persons who are trafficked” because they are people. I don’t refer to them as “trafficking victims”, I bring back their humanity and refuse to put a label on them. I will also refer to these humans as survivors of trafficking and not “trafficking survivors” by reversing the language it takes away the label and makes them into real people. I do the same with persons who are homeless. I choose to see everyone as a human being and address them with dignity and respect. I can see no other way than to build a foundation that brings back our humanity and shows someone who has experienced trafficking that they are just as human as anyone else. Humans have flaws; as humans, our flaws make us unique, wonderful, and special.

Throughout the conference, I saw wonderful examples, programs, and presentations that touched on the human factor. One program that was a highlight of the conference and was especially good at this was New Friends New Life a community center that restores and empowers trafficked and sexually exploited teen girls, women, and their children. I had the privilege to visit their facility and meet some of their staff. What a fantastic program! I would love to get something like this started in Arkansas!

As I stated this “blog’s not dead” and neither is our resolve in finding ways to advocate for persons who are trafficked!


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