March 17, 2015
Emily Pasnak-Lipchick, the End Trafficking Program Officer at the US Fund for UNICEF, spoke at Wilkes University on Human Trafficking. A crowd of about 60 political science, international affairs, and other interested students gathered to hear Ms. Pasnak-Lipckick speak. Her lecture looked at several aspects of human trafficking as it occurs in the United States and around the world. In addition to learning about the problem, students also learned about efforts to fight human trafficking, and how they could take action in their community.
Ms. Pasnak-Lipchick’s lecture began by defining what human trafficking is and is not. Human trafficking has been likened to modern-day slavery that subjects children, women, and men to force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of exploitation. It can include prostitution, pornography, and sex tourism as well as domestic servitude, factory work, and migrant farming. Human trafficking is not the same as smuggling as it does not require movement across borders. Around the world today, it is estimated that 27 million people are enslaved. That is more than the total number of slaves transported during the four centuries of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Some estimate that about half of all trafficking victims are children. Ms. Pasnak-Lipchick stated that child victims of trafficking are often exploited for sexual purposes or forced labor including prostitution, pornography, sex tourism, forced marriage, sweat-shop work, begging, migrant farming, and as child soldiers.
Ms. Pasnak-Lipchick then went on define who traffickers are and the system of supply and demand. Traffickers include a wide range of criminal operators, including pimps, small families or businesses, and organized crime networks. They entice children and unsuspecting families with material goods, promises of employment and a better life, and false marriage proposals. She stated that as human trafficking operates on principles of supply and demand, it is extremely profitable, generating an estimated $32 billion in yearly profits. Traffickers make high profits and run low risks thanks to weak legislative policies, loopholes, corruption, and lack of enforcement. The never ending demand for commercial sex and cheap labor puts children throughout the world at risk of becoming the "supply." There have been reports of human trafficking in all 50 U.S. states and more people here are victims of sex trafficking than labor trafficking.
Efforts to address human trafficking by UNICEF and the US Government were dealt with in Ms. Pasnak-Lipchick’s lecture as well. Active in child protection in more than 150 countries, UNICEF is the main UN agency focusing on the rights of children and approaches trafficking as a serious violation of these rights. UNICEF focuses its child protection efforts on several levels including reaching the most vulnerable children, including girls, orphans, children living on the streets, and children affected by conflict and natural disasters; facilitating community educational activities to change social norms, attitudes, and behaviors that make children vulnerable to exploitation; promoting gender equality and ensuring that anti-violence policies, programs, and services and programs are implemented from a gender perspective, while engaging men and boys, and; supporting comprehensive services for children and their families, including access to health, social protection and welfare services, psychosocial support, and legal assistance. For more than a decade, US leadership in fighting human trafficking has won international attention and respect. Under the Clinton Administration, the United States established a foundation for combating human trafficking based on the "Three Ps": prevention, protection, and prosecution.
Ms. Pasnak-Lipchick concluded with a call to action for the students and the community. She challenged them to start a UNICEF club at Wilkes and to be more aware of the signs of human trafficking in the community by educating themselves on product supply chains, mentoring low-income children, volunteering, and organizing fundraisers to benefit organizations of trafficking survivors.
Emily Pasnak-Lapchick is the End Trafficking Officer at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF where she leads a national awareness and advocacy campaign about child trafficking. She manages the creation of resources, in-person and online training, development of partnerships, and the creation of Public Service Announcements. She is an honors graduate from Eckerd College with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. Previously, she served as the End Trafficking Fellow at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF where she helped to build a brand new awareness campaign to end human trafficking and personally engaged over 10,000 people on the issue of trafficking. Through her work, she has spoken at the United Nations, international conferences, and has worked with dozens of groups on how they can take action against human trafficking. She was recently named one of "40 under 40" by the Young Nonprofit Network. Emily is a founding member of Hope for Stanley, an organization committed to raising money and sending volunteers to New Orleans to assist post-Hurricane Katrina residents return home.