02-19-2017  3:19 pm      •     

One of the world's most dedicated groups of women will be holding one of the nation's largest gatherings of people dedicated to fighting human trafficking from Jan. 14 to 16 at the Oregon Convention Center.

The Soroptimist International Northwest Region will bring some of the nation's most prominent voices to the Northwest Conference Against Trafficking, a three-day event featuring actress Daryl Hannah, KOIN 6 reporter Alexis Del Cid, Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, authors Anne Garrett and Nancy Goodell, as well as many more.

The conference marks the third year that the Soroptimists have focused their attention on the issue of human trafficking, a term that includes forced labor and sexual servitude. According to Sue Riney, governor of Soroptimist Northwest Region, the group rarely puts itself in the middle of a political issue.

"We took this issue on because our mission is improving the lives of women and girls," she told The Skanner News.

Because the visible aspect of human trafficking is the forced or coerced prostitution of women and girls, Soroptimist felt it was necessary to become a conduit of information to help fight the illegal practice. In the past, Soroptomist has long been a prominent opponent of domestic violence and have established victim assistant clubs, education grants and other programs to assist victims reestablish their lives.

Riney says the conference – with about 85 percent of attendees being first-timers – is a good way to educate people about human trafficking and what they can do to help victims in their own communities.

Although numbers are hard to pin down, estimates of the number of people who are trafficked in the United States range from 10,000 to several hundred thousand. The forced servitude of these people can range from forced labor to sexual slavery and includes migrants, minors and other vulnerable people.

Conference organizer Michelle Bart says the lack of shelter for victims of forced prostitution in major cities such as Portland is a big motivator for the group. While they stress that the conference is not a fund-raiser, they do hope that participants return to their communities with a "fire lit under them" and help get the job done.

"We need to see the doors of a shelter open," she said.

Soroptimist International is not in the position to be able to provide direct services to women and girls.

"If we had property and a building, it would be a different situation," Bart said. "If another agency opens a proven model, we'll step up and support them."

By bringing together a number of different activists, writers and a group of survivors lead by Jeri Williams, a survivor and advocate for victims, Riney and Bart hope the conference will allow people to understand the complexity of the problem and find some possible solutions.

Bart says the fact that the conference is being held adjacent to Martin Luther King Jr. Day and The Skanner's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast is fitting. Much like other legislative advocacy the group undertook for the Equal Rights Amendment, the Soroptimists believe the issue surrounding human trafficking is largely a civil rights issue that can be solved with education, policy changes and vigilance.

The conference also coincides with Human Trafficking Awareness Day on Jan. 11. In Washington, lawmakers there celebrated the fact that the state was one of the first to pass "human trafficking" legislation in 2003. Slavery and involuntary servitude were already prohibited by the 13th Amendment, which was adopted in 1865. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 expanded the federal laws against involuntary servitude to include cases of psychological coercion.

Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011 (Free Public Event)

Washington Anti Trafficking Engagement Day at The State Capitol

Including participation from Polaris Project, Washington State Attorney General's office, International Justice Mission, Soroptimist International, NWCAT and many others!

3:30 p.m. Columbia Room at the Washington State Capitol – see website for more information: www.WAengage.com.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Red Lion Hotel-Convention Center

10 a.m. - Registration / Check-in for INTERVENE

11 a.m.– 3 p.m. - INTERVENE Training by Shared Hope International, Red Lion Hotel, Grand Ballroom

3:30-4:30 p.m.- Washington State Legislation & Policy Workshop, presented by Rose Gundersen and Seattle Against Slavery

3:30-4:30 p.m.- United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Federal civil right, laws and monetary relief for victim of trafficking including sexual assault and other discrimination in the workplace

5:30-7:30 p.m.- VIP Reception & Silent Auction at the Westin Hotel-Portland (invitation only) Music by: Dennia Costi Trio

6:30-9 p.m. - Conference Reception (all registered conference guests), Hosted by Red Lion Hotel in Windows Lounge (top floor of hotel)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

At Convention Center (Entertainment by Mirrors w/Lorena Ferry & Jeff Icovino and Youth for Human Rights)

6:30 a.m. - Exhibitor & Survivor Art Gallery set-up

7:30 a.m.- Registration/Check-in for conference opens

8 a.m. - Coffee Networking Social & Exhibit Resource Expo and Silent Auction Opens

8:30 a.m. - Opening Remarks

9:30-11:45 a.m. – Workshops

12-4:30 p.m. - Luncheon / Keynote Speakers (Convention Center Ballroom)

4:30-5 p.m. - Live Auction – Stephanie Smith, Wells Fargo

5-6 p.m. - Meet the Author Book Signing

Jane Velez-Mitchell; Ann Garrett & Nancy Goodell; Dawn Schiller; and Linda Smith.

6-7 p.m. - Vigil For Hope (a vigil with families of missing loved ones, survivors, and victims of kidnappings, trafficking, rape, domestic violence). Music and Spoken Word

8-9:30 p.m. - Dan Rather Presents "Pornland" Screening and Q & A


Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011

At the Red Lion Hotel – Windows Restaurant

9 a.m. to Noon - Brunch & Brothels with Daryl Hannah & Friends

Music By: the DREAM Quartet

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All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. 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Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. 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