The Exploring Human Trafficking training on Thursday, May 14th at 3 pm EST begins by asking participants to define human trafficking.

“Often, people think they know the definition,” says Tori Curbelo, who’s facilitating the training. Curbelo is Manager of Education, Training, and Advocacy with LifeWay Network, a NYC-based organization that provides safe housing for women who have been trafficked and offers education about trafficking to the general public.

“But people have a lot of misconceptions about human trafficking,” she continues. “And our understanding of human trafficking is changing— we’re constantly learning more about it.”

If you think you know what human trafficking is, this hour-long training is for you. If you’ve never heard of human trafficking, this training is for you. And, if you’re well-versed in the reality of human trafficking, this training is for you, too.

Hosted by The Center at Mariandale and held on Zoom, the free presentation will explore the definition of trafficking as well as the magnitude of the issue on both a global and domestic scale. This session comes years after the Dominican Sisters of Hope took a corporate stance in 2012 in support of human rights by opposing the trafficking of all persons, especially women and children, for the purpose of sexual exploitation and forced labor.

Implementation of the corporate stance includes: a commitment to prayer for an end to the grave injustice of trafficking of persons for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor, collaboration with advocacy groups such as the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, support of recovery programs for victims of trafficking, and the use of the sisters’ economic power as consumers and investors to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society that works against incentives for trafficking.

It also, of course, includes standing alongside others as sisters and staff continue to educate themselves about the reality of trafficking in our world.

“Participants will come away with knowledge of facts, language, red flags, and the dynamics of problematic situations that can be trafficking” Curbelo shares.

In which industries does human trafficking typically occur? What are some red flags and signs of human trafficking? How can we continue to take action? 

And, perhaps equally important, why is this issue pressing now during these days of a global pandemic?

“It’s just as pressing now as it is any other time,” Curbelo says. “Trafficking consists of individuals looking to exploit vulnerabilities. Traffickers want to see people in desperate situations so they can exploit weaknesses or fill immediate needs. COVID-19 provides that weakness and desperation for traffickers to exploit.”

In LifeWay’s safe houses, women who have escaped trafficking are already dealing with a plethora of issues. COVID-19 just adds “another layer to whatever else is going on in their lives,” according to Curbelo.

To understand that human trafficking is still happening during quarantine, it’s important to remember that trafficking spans beyond sex trafficking. It also includes labor trafficking, which is directly linked to us as consumers, and the food, clothing, and products we buy even during the pandemic.

“Trafficking is related to everything that we’re doing everyday,” Curbelo says. “There are so many components to it: migration, labor, gender. It’s important that we’re still learning about it because it’s still happening now.”

Exploring Human Trafficking with LifeWay Network, will be hosted by The Center at Mariandale on Zoom on Thursday, May 14, at 3pm EST. The training is free but donations are appreciated. Sign up here.