Coalition steps up anti-trafficking efforts

Coalition steps up anti-trafficking efforts

A call to “Take Action to Combat Modern-Day Slavery” will be issued at the Aidekman campus in Whippany on Friday, Nov. 15, as part of an effort to strengthen the ranks of the NJ Coalition against Human Trafficking.

Now that it has received federal and state support for its campaign, the coalition is seeking support from local governments and civic leaders as it carries out its work in advance of the Super Bowl — to be held Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands — when they anticipate a major increase in the trafficking of women and girls.

“We want to take the next step by bringing more people into the coalition — college students, community organizations, the clergy, local elected officials, and others who work at a local level,” said Melanie Roth Gorelick, director of the Community Relations Committee of Greater MetroWest NJ and a coalition leader. “We want people to reach out to the schools and the prosecutors and to partner with organizations. We want the people in our area to care about this issue.”

Two hours of the Nov. 15 program will be a training session run by the Polaris Project, an organization based in Newark and Washington, DC, that provides assistance to both advocates and victims.

“We are looking at best practices that other groups have used in anti-trafficking campaigns before previous Super Bowls,” Gorelick said. To that end, the coalition is hiring DOMA International, an evangelical Christian missionary organization that has assisted trafficking victims in the past.

At this point, the coalition has nearly 200 volunteers in its hotel outreach initiative, contacting hotel workers and managers to ask them to do three things, said Gorelick: “be aware of human trafficking, set protocols in place should someone be concerned about things that don’t feel right, and educate their staffs.”

The coalition is urging hotel officials to attend a two-hour management training session on Wednesday, Nov. 6, at 1:30-3:30 p.m. at Rutgers School of Law in Newark run by ECPAT-USA, a group dedicated to ending “the commercial sexual exploitation of children.”

Working with the coalition and the NJ Hotel and Lodging Association, ECPAT will “sensitize hotel general managers about human trafficking,” Gorelick said.

ECPAT has a code of conduct it urges international travel and tour companies to ratify in an effort to prevent child sex tourism and trafficking of children. Signatories ensure that their corporations will carry out all the steps necessary to prevent trafficking from happening on their premises. It also asks prospective tourists and travelers to inquire as to whether the companies they plan to patronize have such policies in place.

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