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The 2014 Solutions Initiatives Strategies Summit (SIS) focused on the growing epidemic of human trafficking in the United States. According to US facts, an estimated 200,000 US citizens are in forced labor, including sexual exploration at any given time, as a result of human trafficking. Oklahoma’s central location is believed to play a major role in trafficking cases; with its three major interstate highways, I-35, I-40, and I- 44, Oklahoma cities are on major human trafficking routes throughout all ports, north, east, and west, providing a crossroads to human trafficking. An estimated global annual profit of all human trafficking is over $31.6 billion. The summit drew attention to 3 major factors which create vulnerable populations for traffickers in the state. Factor #1, Oklahoma has the highest incarceration rate of women in the US and the world, and according to statistics, children without mothers in the household are 6 times more likely to follow the dark side than other children. Factor #2, Oklahoma is second in teen pregnancy and homeless children, therefore creating a “stable” of children. And finally, factor #3, FBI reports, it is well-known among truck drivers “if you want good bar-b-que go to Kansas City, if you want young girls, go to Oklahoma City.”
Initiation of Project (Date):
• On November 8, 2012, The Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women (OCSW) co-hosted a legislative interim study at the Oklahoma State Capitol on the growing human trafficking problem across the state
• From January – May of 2013, members of the Commission collected data concerning human trafficking in Oklahoma
• August 22, 2013, at the OCSW Annual Retreat, the 2014 Summit topic of Human Trafficking was chosen.
• September - November 2013, members of the OCSW’s Family Issues committee worked on the goal and objectives of the Summit
• December 2013, Partners were identified and contacted
• February – April 2014, Solution panels were formed in OKC and Tulsa. Panels met monthly to discuss the causes, cost, and impact of human trafficking in Oklahoma
• May – June 2014, The OCSW identified additional funding sources, and stakeholders
• July 17, 2014, Human Trafficking Summit held at the Downtown OKC Sheraton Hotel. OCSW flew in from California, Keynote speaker, Autumn Burris, founder/director of Survivors for Solutions
Verifiable Impact based on Evaluation:
• Develop a State Action Plan with assistance from Summit partners and stakeholders
• Coordinate the implementation of the State Action Plan
• Coordinate the collection and sharing of human trafficking data among government agencies, the data collection shall respect the privacy of the victims of human trafficking
• Coordinate the sharing of information between agencies for the purposes of detecting individuals and groups engaged in human trafficking
• Establish policies to enable state government to work with non-governmental organizations and other elements of civil society to prevent human trafficking and provide assistance to US citizen and foreign national victims of human trafficking
• Review the existing services and facilities to meet the needs of victims of human trafficking and recommend a system that would coordinate such services, including but not limited to: health services, interpreting services, legal and immigration services, and victim compensation
The one-day conference included speakers, expert panelists and breakout sessions. The Commission partnered with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition, The Junior League of Oklahoma City and Jones Public Relations. Topics included the detection of human traffickers; establishing protocols and policies for state, government, and law enforcement agencies, identifying opportunities to provide assistance to victims and survivors; reviewing existing services and facilities, meeting survivors’ needs; and developing public and legislative awareness regarding the prevention, protection and prosecution of human trafficking. The Summit agenda focused on 4 elements, the prevention of human trafficking, the protection of victims, the prosecution of offenders, and partnership with the judicial system, the Department of Human Services (DHS), and Social Services.
The lasting quality of the Summit was to collaboratively create and facilitate a statewide action plan to assist state legislators and anti-trafficking entities in improving Oklahoma’s strategy to fight human trafficking. Create a central hotline number that can be posted everywhere, with current information about Oklahoma response teams. Identify additional certified facilities in state for safety and housing for survivors.
i Trafficking in Persons Report 2009. Rep. U.S. Department of State, June 2009. Web. May 2010. http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2009/.
ii Domestic Human Trafficking, An Internal Issue. Rep. Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center, 2008. Print.
For additional information on Human Trafficking, please click on the links below: