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Human trafficking, exploitation focus of upcoming Yarmouth event

Allison Emin (left), project coordinator with the Tri-County Women’s Centre, and Bernadette MacDonald, the centre’s executive director.
Allison Emin (left), project coordinator with the Tri-County Women’s Centre, and Bernadette MacDonald, the centre’s executive director.

A forum on sexualized human trafficking and exploitation will be held June 14-15 in Yarmouth. Officially titled Sexualized Human Trafficking & Exploitation – Collaborating to END Demand, it will have a training component and a public session where people will get to hear from an expert panel.

The Tri-County Women’s Centre, which is hosting the forum at the Rodd Grand, has lined up people who will discuss the topic from various perspectives, including the justice system, law enforcement and support services.

Bernadette MacDonald, the women’s centre’s executive director, says the forum is “ground-breaking,” and organizers encourage those who work or who volunteer in areas such as policing, community safety, equality and social justice and other fields to attend the training portion of the forum.

“The level of expertise we are bringing to our community, and to the province, on this topic is unprecedented,” MacDonald said.

For the general public, two events are planned. The first will happen the day before the forum – Tuesday, June 13 – from 1 to 4 p.m., at the women’s centre on Cumberland Street, where there will be a rug project called Out of the Shadows. The rug is viewed as a symbol of community resistance to traffickers and buyers of trafficked persons. People are invited to work a few loops into the rug and/or cut wool for it.

As part of the forum, a “community conversations” event will be held Wednesday, June 14, from 7 to 8 p.m., at the Grand Hotel.

“This is an opportunity for community members to hear from our panel of experts, as well as hear from people in our community directly impacted by these crimes,” MacDonald said.  “We encourage the public to come and be more informed about these issues and contribute their thoughts on keeping everyone in our community safe from these heinous crimes.”

The list of forum speakers/panellists includes:

--Pam Rubin, a lawyer from Halifax, who will begin the forum by introducing the Nordic model of law and how it is an approach to ending demand by arresting pimps and johns.

--Simon Häggström, from the National Swedish Police Force, who has been combating human trafficking and the prostituted exploitation of women/girls since 2007.

--Jeanne Sarson and Linda MacDonald, nurses and human rights supporters who work with women who have survived torture, sexualized human trafficking, prostituted and pornographic victimization.

The complete list of forum speakers/panellists and more information on the event can be found on the Tri-County Women’s Centre’s website -   http://www.tricountywomenscentre.org/end-demand-forum.html.

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