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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Human Trafficking Activist, Scholar to Speak at Lunch & Learn

Human trafficking is a crime without borders, without a face, without gender or race or nationality. It affects men and women all over the world, from those in the poorest and most unstable nations to our very own American neighbors. This month's International Services Lunch and Learn speaker, Silvia Tamminen, has worked closely with human trafficking victims and has devoted her professional career to examining the threat posed by trafficking to vulnerable populations like refugees and migrants. In her experience, there is much that is misunderstood about this global violation of human rights.
DU's Human Trafficking Center works with victims
 of local and international trafficking.

“There are a lot of misperceptions,” she said. “When people think of trafficking, they think it’s something that only happens in Thailand, or someplace far away, like Africa. But it happens everywhere, including the United States. People also think only of sexual trafficking and exploitation, but labor exploitation is more widespread.”

Tamminen's graduate work has focused on international refugee and migration issues, and her position as a research associate at University of Denver's Human Trafficking Center has provided her with an opportunity to apply her academic background to real-world efforts to combat trafficking. A native of Finland, Tamminen previously worked with the International Organization for Migration's country office in Helsinki. Though her work to fight human trafficking and offer support for its victims has an international emphasis, she encourages others to learn more about how they can help with anti-trafficking efforts wherever they live. The Denver area, she says, is home to many populations who face a high level of vulnerability to traffickers.

“Some of the populations most vulnerable to human trafficking are undocumented migrants, those experiencing interpersonal violence, and those experiencing homelessness, especially youth,” she said. “You have a lot of people in these populations in Denver.” Tamminen's workplace, the DU Human Trafficking Center, works with victims of trafficking as well as volunteers who wish to contribute their time to the cause.

“We encourage people to volunteer to find out more about this issue by working in their own communities,” Tamminen said, “They can then find out for themselves that what they hear on the news about trafficking isn't necessarily accurate.” The Lunch & Learn lecture will be presented Wednesday, June 11, from noon to 1 p.m. at the American Red Cross, 444 Sherman St. RSVPs are requested by 12 p.m. Monday, June 9 to Tim Bothe at Tim.Bothe2@redcross.org. WebEx options are also available for remote audiences. For more information, contact Tim Bothe. For more information about the University of Denver's Human Trafficking Center, visit their Web site.

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