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Human Trafficking: Context, Culture and Challenges

Human Trafficking (HT) is not a new issue, but it is being framed in a new and powerful way.  Around the world, NGOs, faith-based organizations and national governments are beginning to see HT as an act of criminal victimization of those being bought and sold.  Often, it is children and youth that are the most vulnerable.  Historically, the U.S. offered protection for foreign victims of HT, but charged minor, domestic victims as criminals.

Mel Miller Garrett has worked with victims of human trafficking in a variety of settings for 20 years.  She serves in a number of local, state and national capacities, addressing the treatment of HT survivors.  Mel has born witness to the shift in local, state and national culture.  Increasing support is being offered to survivors through strengthening penalties against those trafficking and purchasing young people for sex, and through improved services to survivors.  

During this Melton Share, Mel shares with you an understanding of HT’s definition and scope of impact, as well as the cultural and contextual aspects contributing to HT victims’ vulnerability. Most of all, she outlines opportunities for Melton Fellows to respond to this issue, and the challenges facing those combatting human trafficking.

Mel coordinates the Anti-Sexual Exploitation Roundtable for Community Action (ASERCA), directs her state’s only human trafficking assessment shelter, and supports national anti-trafficking measures through the Runaway and Homeless Youth Technical Training and Assistance Center (RHYTTAC) National Advisory Board.  She is a clinical social worker and has been a Melton Fellow since 1991.