Combatting Human Trafficking

Combating Human Trafficking

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Human Trafficking

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Christina A. Bain, former director of the initiative on human trafficking and modern slavery at Babson College, addresses the role of business and entrepreneurship in the fight against human trafficking, as well as data-driven solutions.

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Christina A. Bain

Former Director, Initiative on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery, Babson College


Irina A. Faskianos

Vice President, National Program and Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations

FASKIANOS: Good afternoon from New York and welcome to the CFR Fall 2019 Academic Conference Call Series. I’m Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach here at CFR. Today’s call is on the record and the audio file and transcript will be available on our website, As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy.

We are delighted to have Christina Bain with us. She directed Babson College’s Initiative on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery, where she focused on addressing the role of business and entrepreneurship in the fight against human trafficking. Ms. Bain was a founding director of Harvard’s Kennedy School’s program on human trafficking and modern slavery within the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, a program that she designed, developed, and implemented with the mission of creating data-driven public policy solutions to human trafficking. Previously, she was appointed by Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney as the executive director of the Governor’s Commission on Sexual and Domestic Violence. Ms. Bain served as public affairs liaison to Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, where she worked on domestic violence and criminal justice issues.

Christina, thanks very much for being with us today. I thought it would be great if you could, you know, begin by giving us a definition of what is human trafficking, talk a little bit about the drivers and the growing efforts to reduce exploitation.

BAIN: Thank you so much, Irina. And I just want to thank you and the team at CFR, including Veronica and everyone, for the work that you do in putting together these academic calls. It’s such a joy to listen to them, and I feel so honored to now be on the call with you today. And I want to thank also the students, and faculty, and academic staff who are on the call today from around the country and the world who are listening to this really important topic, and sometimes a very difficult topic to talk about, human trafficking and modern slavery.

So to give you some definitions about what this is, I want to go over the U.N. Palermo Protocol as a start. The U.N. Palermo Protocol was created in 2000 in Palermo, Italy, the birthplace of the mafia, at the U.N. Convention on Transnational Organized Crime. And this protocol is what most national laws in the world, including our federal law in the United States, is based on in terms of combatting human trafficking and addressing human trafficking.

So the U.N. Palermo Protocol reads: Trafficking in persons shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power, or of a position of vulnerability, or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation. The second part of this protocol is exploitation shall include at a minimum the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, or the removal of organs.

So in this protocol there’s some key words that you see repeated in national laws, including our own in the United States, on human trafficking. So the key words are harboring, vulnerability, and the purpose of exploitation. I think one of the biggest confusions about trafficking is the fact that trafficking, being an action verb, it implies movement. And one of the things that I often explain is that trafficking does not have to have movement. It is the exploitation and harboring that makes it the crime that it is.

So I think that there’s also right now as we’re having these dialogues about the situation at the border, the U.S.-Mexico border, and other forced migration situations around the world, that trafficking is happening by—you have to always have it happen across national borders. It does not happen that way, necessarily. You can have trafficking that happens from rural to urban, which is how most trafficking happens, within—it can be within states. It can be within different regions. But it doesn’t necessarily have to take place across national borders. And that’s why there’s often a confusion with the term “smuggling,” which I can get into later if there’s any questions.

The second part of this definition in the U.N. Palermo Protocol is about the kinds of trafficking. And the kinds of trafficking that I study are sexual trafficking, labor trafficking, and also organ trafficking—which is a bit different than what some scholars also include in the definition of trafficking, because in the United States we actually do not include the forced removal of organs as part of our federal law on human trafficking. So now I’m just going to read briefly our definition in the United States from our Trafficking Victims Protection Act that was established shortly after the U.N. Palermo Protocol.

It defines human trafficking as sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such acts has not attained eighteen years or age. Or the recruitment, harboring, transportation provision, or obtaining of a person for labor services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. And, again, a victim need not be physically transported from one location to another. So that’s part of the key phrases of the definition. And, again, you see that from the terms in the U.N. Palermo Protocol—harboring and obtaining a person for labor or services. If a person is found in sex trafficking in the United States under the age of eighteen, or found in prostitution under the age of eighteen, it’s automatically sex trafficking.

So what do I particularly study in terms of combatting human trafficking? So when I look at human trafficking, and I started looking at all the ways that you can address this—and trafficking is such a multidisciplinary issue. It affects all academic disciplines. From any academic discipline you can study it pretty much. And I was saying, where can I really make a difference? So what has become my focus is the role of business in fighting human trafficking, and some of the articles that were sent out with the call invitation included some of the writings that I’ve done and co-authored.

And I’ve written about the fact that when we think of human trafficking—human trafficking is an illicit business. And the way to fight it is with the licit business side. So it’s very important, I see, to train our public policy leaders, our future public policy leaders—like many of you on this call—and future business leaders in combatting human trafficking. Human trafficking is no different in some ways than a regular business where you have supply chains, you have management. It’s just that it’s involving transnational organized crime, and it’s involving money laundering, and serious crimes that run the gamut of different types of issues.

So the way to combat this is to use business lines and business models to really address it. And that’s what I’ve been studying. I also study the role of technology and the role data plays in combatting human trafficking. Next week I’m going to be talking with a group of anti-money laundering specialists who are convening in Los Vegas. I’m going to be serving on a panel to talk about the role of the financial sector in combatting organ trafficking and developing typologies so that the financial sector can find these red flags of where financial transactions are taking place that would showcase this type of illicit activity going on globally. So there’s some very exciting things happening with the role of the private sector and other entities that are trying to address human trafficking.

To give you a sense also of the numbers of human trafficking, there are a range of numbers that are given out. And the most recent number that’s been given out is about 40.3 million are held in modern-day slavery around the world. There’s a huge debate about some of the definitions that were used to create some of these studies. There’s another number that was used quite regularly of twenty-one million that came out in 2012. It was created by the International Labor Organization. And, again, these are the—I’m giving you a range of statistics just go give you a sense of the issue, and what is in the public discourse about human trafficking. These numbers, again, are debated. The definitions by which the research was conducted are debated. But it gives you a sense of the scale of what we’re talking about with this.

Within that, what is consistent is that labor exploitation is the most common form of human trafficking. Sexual exploitation coming next. And I think that there’s a misnomer in the media and in other areas where we think that sex trafficking is the largest form of trafficking. And for a while that was in the public discourse, that it was the largest form of trafficking. But since then we’ve learned that labor trafficking is the biggest form of human trafficking that’s out there.

To tell you just a bit about my journey in terms of getting into this issue—and I can take more questions about this later if needed—I started out in government. I—as you heard from my biography, I worked in state government in Massachusetts. I come from a political background. I worked on campaigns and elections. And I majored in political science and minored in French in college. And my path was to work in politics.

But then when I started working for the politicians that I helped get elected on campaigns and elections, I picked up this issue of human trafficking when I was working in the governor’s office, and I could not believe that something like this still existed in the 21st century and that we were still fighting this crime that is now—is global.

So I had the amazing opportunity to start a program on human trafficking at the Harvard Kennedy School, and now I just finished my second program at Babson College, and again, focusing on this role of business and human trafficking.

So you could say I’m a serial entrepreneur of academic human-trafficking programs. And it’s—again, you can come from any type of academic discipline to get into this. Human trafficking encompasses so many different areas, so many different thought leaders, and we need all different stakeholders to come together to fight this.

So I welcome your questions and I welcome your comments today. And thank you for listening.

FASKIANOS: Christina, thank you very much for that overview and for sharing your journey with us. I know that career opportunities are important to the students as well.

So let’s open up to the group for questions.

OPERATOR: Thank you. At this time we will open the floor for questions.

(Gives queuing instructions.)

The first question will come from Georgetown University. Please go ahead with your question.

Q: Hi. This is Rebecca Copeland with Georgetown University of the Security Studies Program.

And at the beginning you talked a little bit about how technology and business have influenced the space. And I’m curious what developments you’ve seen in financial indicators. So as technology has changed, efforts to track the financial indicators and the differences between perpetrators and victims for credit-card payments are now as we’ve seen people move on to Venmo and technology like that.

BAIN: Absolutely. Thank you so much, Rebecca, for your question.

And one of—this is actually an area that I’m particularly studying right now. I’m working with a coalition called Tech Against Trafficking, which is a group of seven major technology companies that are global brands, and two other entities, one of which is the Respect Initiative, which is an initiative that I co-founded with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and the International Organization for Migration.

And we’re actually studying right now the role of technology and doing an ongoing landscape analysis of what technological innovations have been created, including from the financial sector, to address human trafficking. And we’ve come up with—and these are not only in the financial sector; this is all different sectors, from different startups and entrepreneurs around the world, about 350, that have been identified. And we’re still going further because I think that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

In terms of the financial sector, there’s been more and more conversation and actually even more recognition of this within the U.S. Congress. We have—at present there’s been discussion of legislation. And I participated in a hearing by a letter of submission back in 2018 on the role of technology in the financial sector in combating human trafficking.

So what’s exciting is we have different banks and different credit-card companies that are coming together to create different typologies and look at how you can find and put these red flags out for finding human trafficking.

For example, I think it was—the information for this, one of the articles that was sent out was you can now—when you’re thinking of a human-trafficking case as something that’s taking place, you know, one red flag would be if it’s taking place in off hours; if you have, say, a massage business and all of a sudden they’re doing transactions at, you know, 2:00 in the morning. If you have a nail salon that’s doing, you know, transactions at 3:00 a.m. in the morning, you know, something is obviously going on there that might need to be investigated; also other types—there are other identifiers that I can go into more in depth later. But they are really trying to zero in on how these crimes are happening and where they’re happening.

And I’m working particularly with a really interesting organization in Canada or an interesting coalition called Project Protect that’s with the banking sector that’s literally developing these typologies right now. So we’re also studying cryptocurrency, cryptocurrency and bitcoin. And I work with a lot of bitcoin and cryptocurrency experts. And I will admit, I am not the expert on some of these cryptocurrencies. I’m still learning. But I would say that that’s an interesting technology that’s now being seen in not only human trafficking but in other forms of illicit activities.

FASKIANOS: Thank you.

Next question.

OPERATOR: Thank you. The next question will come from the University of Northern Iowa. Please go ahead with your question. And please make sure your phone is not on mute.

Q: My name is Madison Johnson and I am from the University of Northern Iowa.

My question is, does climate change play a role in trafficking, particularly when populations are displaced due to, say, a changing or unstable climate?

BAIN: Thank you so much for that question. And that is actually a new area that I am studying. I was inspired by another scholar in the field, Dr. Louise Shelley, who’s also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. And she and I had a conversation one morning about a—this phenomenon of how climate change is really impacting human trafficking.

So how it’s impacting—and I think that this is something that is an emerging study area, and I would encourage any of you who are interested in environmental issues, environmental crimes, and looking at how climate just plays a role in general, how it can address and how climate impacts human trafficking.

So I’m going to give you an example in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh you have the rising seas. There is a huge mass exodus to the border, particularly the Indian border, mass migration. Economic livelihoods are being wiped out in certain areas of Bangladesh because of the rise in the Bay of Bengal. And people are migrating in masses.

So what does this create? It creates a severe vulnerability for human trafficking. It creates vulnerability for labor trafficking for both women and men, also sexual trafficking. And it is—it’s a huge crisis, what’s going on.

And this is also happening with other areas of the world where we see local populations or indigenous populations who have depended on a certain economic livelihood but, because of—whether it’s melting ice, melting glaciers, melting—changing seas, et cetera, or you have natural disasters like earthquakes, cyclones, et cetera—this creates a significant vulnerability for people to be trafficked.

The other interesting thing about climate change I just want to point out, that—and as I’ve been discussing this in different forums—is you could also have a change in gender roles, because there can be a situation where the traditional head of the household, which could be a man, leaves, could be vulnerable to labor trafficking particularly.

However, the women are left at home, and they are starting businesses or they’re starting another way of earning money. Yes, it does also leave them vulnerable to exploitation as well, but there is potentially—can be an opportunity for change in gender roles so that women now become the heads of households. So that’s just an interesting tidbit I just want to add just to ponder in terms of what can happen with climate change and changing population.

So thank you for that question.

OPERATOR: Thank you.

FASKIANOS: Thank you. Next question.

OPERATOR: Thank you. The next question will come from the University of Texas. Please go ahead with your question.

Q: This is Dr. Ramirez (sp), School of Social Work.

What progress has been made at the institutional level, ma’am? And I’m referring, for example, to the foreign policy initiatives that target the—perhaps the base of human trafficking at the institutional level that would involve funding, for example, to improve institutions like the legal system. Just wanted to get your take on that, because it seems to me that perhaps the problem, especially now that the U.N. is involved, has a—basically, that should be targeted, I would assume, and prioritized to resolve this problem. If you’d please elaborate on that, I’d appreciate it.

BAIN: Thank you. And I just want to make sure I’m understanding if you’re thinking of academic institutions and the role of the academic institution in training and addressing human trafficking.

Q: Well, not so much at the level of academic institution, ma’am, but at the level of foreign policy. For example, U.S. foreign policy, to what extent is it involved in helping institutions improve their standings throughout the world so that this problem can be alleviated? I suspect that this problem is connected to institutional failure in some nations, for example in the criminal justice system.

BAIN: Great, OK. Thank you for explaining your question, and thank you for that question.

So the U.S. government has a trafficking office within the U.S. State Department. It’s the U.S. Office—the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. We have an ambassador at large who leads in that position, John Cotton Richmond, who’s a former prosecutor. And right now—and right now what they—what they work on is specifically they issue a report of how the U.S. government in particular is working with other institutions globally. And this is just an example of what the U.S. government is doing.

There are also things going on at the congressional level. There are also things going on everywhere from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Department of Labor. There are multiple government agencies that are addressing this. But I will say that the U.S. State Department is the titular head of and the—on the front of addressing human trafficking.

So these—there are different programs that fund different work and initiatives around the globe. USAID also gives a number of grants to fund trafficking projects around the world. Sometimes there are programs for legal training and technical assistance, helping law enforcement. So the U.S. government is, I would say, doing a lot in terms of trying to change the course of this crime. And every year the Trafficking in Persons Report issues a country-by-country analysis and gives a report on what some of these projects are doing around the globe, so I would really encourage you if you have not had a chance to look at that report, it comes out every June and it’s available online, what is going on globally. It’s a very comprehensive, I would say, academic report in terms of country-by-country analysis of what countries are doing with also the support of the U.S. government to fight human trafficking.

And I—in the time that I’ve been involved in this field, which is now going on fifteen years, I have seen a tremendous change and—just with the dialogue and the conversation that’s going on, which is a start, in governments and institutions around the world, whether it’s the U.N., OECD, OSCE, other intergovernmental organizations that are addressing human trafficking and looking at it from a really nuanced level. And they’re realizing that it takes a coalition—a tri-sector coalition of government, the private sector, and civil society—to really address this issue.

So I hope that answered your question. It’s a long—there’s a lot of different things I could name, but I just named a few of them.

Q: Thank you, ma’am.

FASKIANOS: Thank you. Next question.

OPERATOR: Thank you. The next question will come from Kentucky Wesleyan College. Please go ahead with your question.

Q: Yes. I’m at Kentucky Wesleyan College.

My question is about the State Department reports that you just mentioned, the Trafficking in Persons Reports. According to those, which are the worst countries? And how close are those countries’ ties with the United States? Thank you.

BAIN: I would say that in terms of the Trafficking in Persons Report, you know, every year—what you’re talking about are the Tier 3 countries. So for those of you who are not familiar with the Trafficking in Persons Report, annually they are—different countries are ranked Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, including the United States. The United States was actually not ranked for a period of time, and now it is ranked. And it’s always a hotly-contested issue—(laughs)—I will say, about—and there’s some—often some conversation about how countries are ranked, naturally, in political discourse.

So, you know, I think you could say that some of the—there’s certain usual suspects, but it changes every year in terms of how—what may be happening in terms of the rankings. There could be some consistent with a few of them, but I would say that in terms of the worst it really does change, you know, every year. And you know, there has been I know debates about countries like Cuba. There has been debates about—in terms of the ranking. And there’s been debates about Israel. There’s been, you know, debates about, you know, other countries in the world where, you know, there could be—there’s something going on with U.S. foreign relations.

So, you know, there—I can say that there’s—it changes every year, so to say that one, you know, versus another every year, it’s—because what—their goal is to have these countries improve in terms of how they’re addressing human trafficking, and it’s four different areas. And it’s something that I do encourage all of you to read because I think that you would gain an understanding of how some countries are addressing human trafficking.

Q: What’s the U.S. ranking?

BAIN: U.S. has consistently been (Tier) 1. And how the U.S. typically has done it in the past is they’re mandated by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act to—the Department of Justice is mandated to give a report to Congress, and that was how it was done in the past. And then there was conversation and discourse from the anti-trafficking community and other stakeholders that the United States needed to be included in the TIP Report, so that has now happened.

FASKIANOS: Thank you. Next question.

Q: Thank you.

OPERATOR: Thank you. The next question will come from Washington and Lee University. Please go ahead.

Q: Hi. This is Lauren Allen (sp) from Washington and Lee University.

I wanted to ask, what do you see as the impact of the decriminalization—(coughs)—excuse me. What do you see as the impact of the decriminalization and/or legalization of sex work in the United States on human trafficking regarding sexual exploitation?

BAIN: So in terms of if—thank you for the question.

Decriminalization is also a hotly-debated issue. When you look at decriminalization, there’s a couple of ways to put it, and I just want to make sure I distinguish. There is—when we’re talking about the demand for sexual trafficking, there’s something called the Swedish model law. Sweden created a law in 1999 that actually criminalized the buyer in a prostitution situation, but not the woman in prostitution. So there has been—and Norway has since replicated that law.

In the United States we have had many conversations about decriminalizing the victim in this situation and the women who are in this situation most often, and men and boys as well. And there is a lot of debate, I will say, about this. But there have been public-policy movements to look at the demand side of trafficking and make it more victim-centered.

I come from a school of thought where I do not see sex work or use the term “sex work” as work. I find it’s very hard for me to see how it could be described as work, I guess I would say, because to me there’s so much exploitation and violence that takes place. And the women who are—that I engage with and the survivors that I engage with, it’s not what you would describe as a typical nine-to-five job. And I think that the torture and the violence that they experience—decriminalizing prostitution as a whole is also really challenging because there is so much linked with transnational organized crime. And you know, studies have reported this. How one can really separate that and find it where it’s any type of a safe environment, to me there’s just no possible way. It’s the buying of another human being.

So that’s my viewpoint, my personal viewpoint from what I’ve studied. Others have a different viewpoint of this. But I do find that it is important to have a more victim-centered approach and make the person who is in prostitution feel less like a criminal. Because what we’ve had happened in the United States and in other countries, because prostitution is illegal, there is an arrest process. And victims are found, and they’re treated like a criminal. And the way to address that is also with more law enforcement training and addressing it in that way too. So it’s a—as you can tell, it’s a very complicated issue. But I really thank you for raising it and sharing your thoughts on that.

FASKIANOS: Thank you, next question.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Next question will come from Howard University. Please go ahead. Howard University, your line is open.

FASKIANOS: Go ahead. Your line is—go ahead.

Q: (Off mic.)

FASKIANOS: I think they’re discussing the last question. Maybe we should go to the next question. (Laughs.)

OPERATOR: Yes, ma’am. The next question will come from Mercy College. Please go ahead.

Q: Hi. My name is Liz. I work with Doctors Without Borders and I teach at Mercy College.

This was a very fortunate timing, because I was going to ask too about legalizing prostitution. I am from Sweden and I wrote my master’s thesis and came to the conclusion that arguing that the Swedish model for this is beneficial. But I also know that both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have unfortunately taken the stand that we should legalize prostitution as a way to reduce sex trafficking. And, you know, I think it’s—if this is something that you or other people in the field can address, because these NGOs are very big, and they have they most power. I think that would be useful. I just—I wanted your thoughts on that too, but now that you’ve said that you’re against the ideal of legalizing prostitution, that gives me a better sense of where you stand.

My question actually regards the International Air Transport Association. So they’ve done an initiative where they’re training all of their staff—I’m sure you’ve heard about it, and you probably know way more than I do—but since 2016 they’ve been training staff to identify victims so that they can catch traffickers at the landing airport. And this is 280 of the world’s major airlines. And I was wondering if you could—if you have any more knowledge on that initiative, how it has gone. I’m interested in doing some research on it.

BAIN: Thank you. And thank you for your work on human trafficking. And that’s terrific what you’re—what you’re doing.

I just want to review, in your last—in your previous comment about the legalization of prostitution. You might be interested, I don’t know if you’ve heard of Rachel Moran, who is a survivor from Ireland of prostitution.

Q: No.

BAIN: She—have you heard of her?

Q: I have not, no.

BAIN: OK. She’s an author. She wrote a book about her story called, Paid For. It’s an excellent book. I highly recommend it. And it really talks about and explains, I think, how these crimes happen. She was part of the foster care system in Ireland, and was forced into prostitution, and fell into it because of the broken foster care system, which is something that is a real challenge that we have here in the United States, as in other parts of the world, about really creating—and it creates a vulnerable youth population who are very vulnerable to things like human trafficking.

So she has organized and been engaged in various dialogues with other survivors. She has an organization called SPACE. And she, I think, would be a really wonderful reference for you and her work because she is also coming from the same place of not looking at legalization but other means of addressing human trafficking. And she knows very well the Amnesty International arguments, the Human Rights Watch arguments. So I would highly refer her—you to her, because she’s really, really terrific.

In terms of your question about the airlines, that’s a really great question. I was actually just emailing this morning with a colleague of mine who I’m working with. I am actually working with ArtWorks for Freedom and Airline Ambassadors on a project called Airport for Freedom, which is going to be a multimedia art installation in airports, and it’s going to debut in Atlanta, but hopefully in airports around the world. It’s going to be showcased. And it’s going to be a multimedia art installation to show the visitor in fifteen-twenty minutes—give an awareness of human trafficking. It’s going to debut in January 2020, as I said, in Atlanta. And Airline Ambassadors, which I believe is also involved with the airport initiative that you had just brought up there, they’re training airline personnel to address human trafficking, and to spot it.

So there’s a lot going on with the transportation sector, and travel and tourism in general. I would say that the travel and tourism sector, that was the first to really address human trafficking and look at it. So I looked at the campaign that you had mentioned in 280—working with different airlines. It has been very successful. And I think that there are other models that are also being replicated in terms of, you know, training, again, airline personnel. But I’m pretty sure that the airline ambassadors are working with that campaign that I talked about. I think it’s potentially all one.

Q: OK. OK. Thank you.

BAIN: But you might want to look up Airports for Freedom, because that could be the next wave of looking at the transportation sector and spreading more awareness. It’s more of an awareness-raising tool, but it goes along with training airport personnel and having a presence in airports to explain the issue of human trafficking.

FASKIANOS: Great. Thank you. Next question.

OPERATOR: Thank you. The next question will come from Washington and Jefferson College. Please go ahead with your question.

Q: Hello. Thank you. Robert East from Washington and Jefferson College.

I’ve enjoyed the presentation, by the way, so far. Thank you very much.

BAIN: Thank you.

Q: Do you know of any success stories in breaking the cycle of intra-family exploitation? I’m speaking specifically about, for instance, sub-Saharan Africa, where it’s quite common for relatives to—you know, to use people from the villages for, like, cheap labor in the homes. Are there any initiatives or any success stories that you could share about that?

BAIN: Absolutely. That’s an excellent question, and definitely culture, and gender roles, and other really, I guess, very strong structures within culture play a role in the crime of human trafficking that are very difficult to break down and change. And an organization I would refer you to is called Maiti Nepal, run by Anuradha Koirala, who is a CNN hero—Freedom Hero for the year. She was—is an incredible, incredible person. And she’s working on this. And I would say she has had incredible success with her work in Nepal, working particularly with young girls who are not only—who have been sex trafficked, but who are vulnerable to sex trafficking, and how you address systemic violence and challenges that are within family structures that can lead further to vulnerability and also create situations of human trafficking.

So I would refer to her work in terms of what she has done. And I think a lot of it is education and awareness. And a lot of—I mean, a lot of families just want the best for their children and their relatives. And you know, what ends up happening is you just have this breakdown. So what she’s trying to do is work, you know, within the system, and being from the country itself too, she is really trying to break down those barriers. So I would say that she is an example of an incredible success in that. And she’s rescued thousands of young girls, and has a safe house, and is just doing incredible work.

Q: Thank you.

FASKIANOS: Thank you. Next question.

OPERATOR: Thank you. The next question will come from Wheaton College. Please go ahead with your question.

Q: Hi. I’m Isabelle (sp). I’m called from Wheaton College.

FASKIANOS: Great, go ahead.

BAIN: Hello.

Q: Great. Hi. So my question, it might have been touched on earlier, but it’s really around, you know, what is the world, international actors doing in the face of sex trafficking or even human trafficking worldwide? And I’m thinking really about what happened recently in Libya. And if you can just share more about what international actors are doing, and people in leadership positions are doing, to combat human trafficking in places like Libya.

BAIN: So I think that it’s challenging in certain countries that—you know, where there is, you know, issues of war, of conflict. I think this is something actually the Council on Foreign Relations is—we’re looking at as a group in general, of how we address human trafficking in conflict zones and in places where you really have security threats. So I will say that I am not a Libya expert. I know some about some things in the Middle East that are going on, but not necessarily directly about what’s going on in Libya. I know that in certain countries it’s just very challenging to address trafficking, when you have significant conflict areas. However, I can say that there’s a lot of multilateral organizations that are working really hard. I work with the IOM, for example, on issues relating to immigration and human trafficking. And they were the co-founders of the RESPECT initiative that I helped co-found.

So I think that, you know, when you’re dealing with, again, these large-scale issues, it’s more the emergency systems come into play and trafficking, you know, is happening, but there’s more—what do I want to say—emergency systems are put in place for more, I guess, immediate issues. So certain NGOs and certain—you know, in certain places can’t operate. It can be a very, very difficult situation. But multilateral organizations, like the IOM, ILO and other U.N. entities and other organizations can come even. Even, like, the Red Cross in the United States, for example, will come into disaster zones. And they have training in human trafficking. Some faith-based organizations, like the Salvation Army, they also have training in addressing human trafficking. And they have a human trafficking initiative. I believe it’s still functioning. So some of those—the NGO community can also come in and address, you know, in humanitarian crises, you know, these issues of human trafficking.

So I’m sorry I can’t tell you directly what’s going on in Libya. I would also refer to the Trafficking in Persons report, because they would have a report on Libya and what’s been going on specifically in the country. But I will say that I have seen more progress with multilateral institutions in the recent years, especially with the conversations, in terms of addressing human trafficking.

Q: Thank you.

FASKIANOS: Thank you. And thank you, Christina, for mentioning the work that we’re doing here at the Council on Foreign Relations. In the background materials we have an info guide on modern slavery, an interactive. I encourage you to do that. We have a Women in Foreign Policy Program, and they’re doing a lot of work in this area, commenting on their blog. And we are releasing in a few weeks a discussion paper on the security implications of human trafficking, which will be available on our website, So you know, I encourage you all to go to regularly. You can filter by topic and, you know, get the latest resources on a specific issue or region. So I will turn now to the next question.

OPERATOR: Thank you. The next question will come from George Washington University. Please go ahead.

Q: Hello. Hi. This is Chen Yang from GWU.

Thank you for the wonderful presentation discussions. In terms of labor exploitation, if an organization or company such as Costco does not have a trade union, and the employees do not have the collective bargaining power, would that be considered labor exploitation? Thank you.

BAIN: So that’s an interesting question and thank you for raising it. I think that, you know, one of the challenges with human trafficking is there is always—it’s an evolving definition, and there’s a lot of gray about, you know, are there necessarily labor abuses going on within, you know, a corporation or within any type of business, or is it human trafficking. I would say that non-unionization is not the definition of human trafficking. It’s—human trafficking has to be severe forms of exploitation, torture, violence. There can be an economic component, but there does not always have to be an economic component. But there’s—there could be a vulnerability more for workers if sometimes a union is not present in certain countries or certain areas, or with certain businesses.

That is something that can be—it’s actually—we’re having these conversations with the financial sector. If there’s a business or a business that is known to not be unionized, it could be—there could be more potential flags, but not necessarily. It just depends, again, on the country, the region, again, what’s going on. But it’s something to potentially look for. So I think in the situation that you’re describing I would say no, that there is not—it’s not meeting a human trafficking definition. But you raise a really interesting point, because this is something that, again, we’re having these conversations with the business community, in particular the financial sector, for looking at red flags and typologies for businesses. And looking at the union factor is something that has come up. So thank you.

FASKIANOS: Thank you. Next question.

OPERATOR: Thank you. The next question will come from Miami Dade College. Please go ahead with your question.

Q: Yes. Hello. Can you hear me?


BAIN: Yes. Thank you.

Q: Perfect. Thank you. Thank you for the presentation. My name is Professor Richard Tapia of Miami Dade College. Professor of political science.

I wanted to kind of piggyback off of something that was data by CFR. CFR has some great resources that are available. But I wanted to know, Miami Dade College, we’re an Ashoka University. We do a lot of service learning. What agencies—I mean, we do a lot of work with Human Rights Watch and with the international solidarity for human rights. But what agencies can you refer us to? And I know CFR has some great resources. But when it comes to service learning and agencies that students could volunteer in and do service, who probably has the best type of training programs for students who really want to get involved in this type of issue. Besides awareness and getting more information, what recommendations can you give for students that are really passionate about the issue and want to get involved?

BAIN: Well, I can give a couple—thank you for that question. So I work with a great student network called the CLIFF Network, that was started by my wonderful friend and former student Diana Sheedy, who came from Harvard University. And she started a chapter—I don’t know if you’ve heard of the CLIFF Network. But she started this at Harvard University, started having intercollegiate conventions with students around the country. And now it’s become—it’s the Collegiate Leadership in the Fight for Freedom. That’s the new name. So it’s the And they provide students training and outreach for issues on human trafficking to, you know, not only have conventions annually—their last one was in March, in Montana, but they have them all over the country—but to, you know, engage with different stakeholders and give students exposure to what is happening in the field, but also give them materials and training to look at what they can do on their campuses or otherwise, or in their careers, to fight human trafficking.

So I highly encourage you to check out the CLIFF Network. Because you’re in Florida, there is—there’s a lot of work at the grassroots level that’s going on in terms of fighting human trafficking. I would highly recommend my dear friend and colleague, Anna Rodriguez, who is the head of the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking. And she is absolutely incredible. She’s written a book about her work. She works in a lot of Latin American countries. She’s from Puerto Rico. And I think that she could provide a lot of information and possibly volunteer opportunities for your students. She’s located in Fort Myers. So I know that that’s a little bit further away from you. But she would be a terrific, I think, asset in finding places locally where students might be able to volunteer or get involved.

And another resource in Florida, I don’t know if you’ve worked with them, you’ve probably heard of them, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Incredible grassroots organization that has literally changed systems within the business sector, working with big-name brands like Taco Bell and Pizza Hut and McDonald’s, and others to really change how produce happens in the supply chain, and forced labor. So that is—they also have tremendous resources. Those are more on the local level in Florida, because I’m really passionate about the work that’s going on in Florida, if you can’t tell. So I think that those would be a couple of places to check into, where you might be able to find local resources where students can have an active participatory project or be directly involved with a service provider organization, if that makes sense.

Q: No, absolutely. It’s a major issue here in Florida, and Miami in particular. One of the hotspots when it comes to human trafficking, for multiple reasons. And so we have partners. But these new partners, we’re definitely going to reach out to them. And I thank you, again, for connecting us and giving us this information. So it’s—we have the Immokalee network, the CLIFF Network, also Anna Rodriguez over in Fort Myers, correct?

BAIN: Correct, the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking.

Q: Perfect. Thank you, again.

FASKIANOS: Wonderful. Thank you. Next question.

OPERATOR: Thank you. The next question will come from Monroe Community College. Please go ahead with your question.

Q: Hello. Idunsay Adamat (ph) from Monroe Community College.

And my question is: Explain the role of Eastern countries regarding human trafficking. And what do you think what will be the future of this thing?

BAIN: I’m sorry, did you say the role of Eastern countries or Western countries?

Q: Eastern countries regarding the human trafficking.

BAIN: I’m sorry. I still didn’t pick that up. Can you say that again? I apologize.

Q: No problem. Explain the role of Eastern countries regarding human trafficking, and what will be the future of this.

BAIN: You said the future of the crime?

Q: Yes.

BAIN: OK. So the future of the crime, that’s a really great question. The future, I think, is something that we’re all talking about in the community of, you know, how this crime is going to look in ten years and hopefully that, you know, will it be totally eradicated? We sure hope so. But you know, we’re doing a lot of work towards that. But it’s, as you can tell, a very complex issue that has multiple tentacles.

I think the role of technology is a really key part now in these crimes. And when you think of a human trafficking crime, it always involves the internet. So when technology is changing, you know, it’s interesting to see how the criminals, and organized crime, and the illicit markets take to the new technologies, when we’re talking about things like bitcoin and we’re talking about cryptocurrencies. So I think technology is a major thing to watch, which is why I’m studying it. And I’m also studying laws around technology and human trafficking, because a lot of our laws do not include language about the internet and the language about technology.

And I’m wondering—you know, I’m thinking through when all of our crimes on human trafficking almost always now involve some type of technology. And it can be even as simple as a mobile phone. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a complex technology. In fact, I’m—as I’m doing more work with Tech against Trafficking, we’re finding that it could be not necessarily the case that traffickers are using very complex technologies. But we’re still learning what that looks like. You know, do our laws need to be improved. So that’s my thought on that, is to—in terms of what is the future of human trafficking. And I know we’re almost out of time, so I want to make sure I end my answer so we can get maybe another question.

FASKIANOS: Right. We have several questions left. So we’re not going to get to them all, but we’ll try. Next question.

OPERATOR: Thank you. The next question will come from the University of Minnesota. Please go ahead.

Q: Hi. My name is Sophia May (sp), and I’m from the University of Minnesota.

One of the articles that we had read talked about companies who are invested in combatting human trafficking, for example flagging unusual activity in bank accounts. I was just wondering if there were other companies invested in combatting human trafficking, and what actions were they taking.

BAIN: Other companies or countries?

Q: Companies.

BAIN: Companies. Yes. There’s actually—there’s a lot of activity. And this is what I’m working on, is getting more companies involved to fight human trafficking. So the articles you read were just a snapshot of some of the things that were going on, and some of the work that I was particularly doing with the World Economic Forum at the time, where we had a taskforce on human trafficking.

So the different sectors are taking this one. Some sectors are better than others. I particularly am working with the technology sector right now. I also work with travel and tourism, the financial sector. And but there’s other things that are going on in construction, retail. There’s a ton going on with the garment sector. Retailers, anywhere from Marks & Spencer to other companies, global brands that are looking at this issue, and looking at whether it’s within trying to have better recruitment practices, looking within their supply chains to address human trafficking is often a place where a company could be vulnerable to trafficking is with the recruiting process of their workers.

So it could also be steel manufacturers, car companies, again, any number of—any sector can be vulnerable to trafficking. So there are—there are a number of companies that I can—I could name. But those are just a few. The companies that I work with, particularly on Tech against Trafficking, Microsoft, Amazon, Vodaphone, BP, Nokia, and others have come together, particularly for this coalition. So companies are doing all different types of things. So thank you for that question.

Q: Yeah, thank you.

FASKIANOS: Thank you. Next question.

OPERATOR: Thank you. The next question will come from Washington and Lee University. Please go ahead.

Q: Hi. This is Esther Ebergsparle (ph) of Washington and Lee University.

So I’m just wondering, or thinking, it seems like some of the keys to preventing human trafficking is both, like, awareness and cutting off the issue at the roots. But with such, like, a deep-seated issue in, like, the global economy, what are some ways that we can, like, reach and stop the traffickers before it’s even begun?

BAIN: That’s a great question. And I think often—you know, I think what you bring up is a—what is the profile of the human trafficker and how does a trafficker essentially become a trafficker. I want to refer you to a really interesting white paper. It’s a bit old. But I encountered it when I was at the U.N. GIFT, which is—the U.N. has the Global Initiative to Fight Trafficking at one point. It’s no longer functioning. It was a part of UNODC, the Office of Drugs and Crime. But in 2008 I found a white paper, I believe it was a few years old at the time, that is still a really interesting piece that you might want to see.

It’s called The Profile of an Israeli Trafficker. And it focused on particularly traffickers in Israel. It was produced by the hotline for migrant workers in Israel. And it really looked at who was doing the trafficking in Israel. There’s since been a study in the United States that was put out by the National Institute of Justice on—a colleague of mine surveyed traffickers who were convicted in U.S. prisons. And what was the makeup of traffickers. And that’s also a really interesting report to look at. And I think it’s some really insightful information that you can find in there about how do we look at systemic issues with, you know, people, and what is driving trafficking, which is economic most of the time? But there are also vulnerabilities and people who have also been trafficked who then potentially can also become traffickers, which is something we often don’t talk about—because of systemic abuse and trauma.

So that—I highly encourage you to look at those two reports. There’s more that I could go into with this, because it’s a really in-depth conversation, which you can tell I have some passionate animation around it. So do go to those resources. And I believe you can still find them online.

Q: Awesome. Thank you.

FASKIANOS: Thank you. Next question.

OPERATOR: Thank you. The next question will come from Spelman College. Please go ahead with your question.

Q: Hello. Can you hear me?

OPERATOR: Yes, ma’am.


BAIN: Thank you.

Q: OK. OK. So my question’s about the organ trade. So with organs being in low supply and high demand, it seems the organ trade goes unnoticed worldwide. So how can we bring more awareness of this issue, when little is known about it, since it can be seen as saving people’s lives?

BAIN: That’s an excellent question. And this is something that I’m—like I said, I’m going to be on the panel next week. We’re going to be talking about it. You know, organ trafficking is still, I think, a mystery to a lot of people, even people in the human trafficking field, about—you know, I think it’s also hard to understand how this crime occurs. But I think that what you have to do is look at the health of—and the vulnerability of the person who’s giving the organ, and the conditions of which they are under, and also then the health of the donor, because if the victim of—a victim of organ trafficking is not screened for—and looked at for their own health and safety, how is that organ then going to be transferred in a safe way and screened for the recipient? So it’s in the public health communities and others—other communities’ best interests to really look at this issue because it goes both ways in terms of both the donor and the recipient.

And what we’re seeing now is also women and girls and others who are trafficked for sexual trafficking or trafficked for labor who also, say, have a kidney forcibly removed, or other organs. And this is something that is what I call a multilevel equation of exploitation. So it all goes along with the whole problem of it’s an exploitative practice and we have to address it.

Q: OK. Thank you so much.

FASKIANOS: Thank you. Next question.

OPERATOR: Thank you. The next question will come from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Please go ahead.

Q: Oh, hi. Thank you so much.

BAIN: Hello, UMass Amherst. I used to go there for college, so. (Laughs.)

Q: Hi, there. Oh, no way. Oh, cool.

BAIN: Yeah. In the Pioneer Valley, five colleges. (Laughs.)

Q: Yeah, we’re all 413.

BAIN: Great to have you.

Q: So I was curious—yeah, thank you so much. And thank you everyone on the call. I was curious, you spoke earlier about the role of rural to urban trafficking. And I was wondering if you could speak more and maybe give one tangible example of ways that local level governments in U.S. states and then maybe local or provincial governments in foreign countries, how they’ve been successful in reducing cases of labor and sexual and maybe even organ exploitation in their local areas.

BAIN: That’s a—that’s a great question. And I will also say that there’s a lot going on in cities in general. There’s something called the CEASE Network that’s in eleven cities in the United States. Boston is a part of it. And it’s something that is looking at the demand—reducing the demand for sex trafficking. So for example, Mayor Walsh in Boston convened groups of college-age men to have conversations about prostitution, commercial sex-buying, and also just in general gender roles and gender equity. Things like this are happening in other areas of the country. Chicago has a really interesting program. Sheriff Dart out there, the sheriff, has been really prolific in terms of fighting human trafficking. There’s also education curricula that’s happening globally where we’re looking at preventative methods by teaching gender equity, and it’s the whole idea of buying and purchasing a human being. And they’re starting as early as kindergarten age. The Denver Public Schools was looking at doing something like this. So there’s a lot going on at the local level. And I’d be happy to share more with you offline.

Q: Thank you so much.

FASKIANOS: Well, it looks like we are at the end of our hour, I’m sad to say. So—and I’m sorry to the questions that we did not get to. But, Christina, we really appreciate your taking the time to do this, to share your expertise and share amazing resources with the group, and to all of you for your great questions. So, Christina Bain, thank you very much, again.

BAIN: Thank you for having me. Your questions were extraordinary. And I look forward to talking to you again. Hopefully help to hear from all of you.

FASKIANOS: Excellent.

Our next call will be on Wednesday October 2 at 12:00 p.m. Eastern time. Frank Mora, the director of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center, and a professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Florida International University, will lead the conversation on “Prospects for Venezuela.” Again, I hope you will follow us on Twitter at @CFR_Academic for information on new CFR resources and upcoming events. Look for the forthcoming CFR discussion group—discussion paper, sorry—on the security implications of human trafficking on I hope you will refer often to, as well as go to Foreign Affairs, our magazine, for information and research.

We have also just launched a paid internship program at the Council on Foreign Relations. So for all of you students out there, you should take a look. The guidelines, again, are on So we are very pleased to be standing up this internship program. So I hope you all take a look at that. So thank you all, again. And we look forward to your continued participation.


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