USM Hosts human trafficking conference

Human trafficking is one of the top criminal activities in the world and will be the focus of a conference at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM).

The Center for Human Rights and Civil Liberties is hosting the conference titled “Human Trafficking: Awareness and Action” which is set for Friday, April 5 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 6 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the Liberal Arts Building on the USM Hattiesburg campus. The event is free and open to the public.

“This terrible and illegal worldwide business of forced prostitution, known as human trafficking, has reached even Mississippi,” said Dr. Bob Press, an associate professor of political science who serves as director of the Center. “Young females are held captive by traffickers, and in some cases, families sell their children for drug money. It has become one of the fastest-growing, illegal businesses globally.”

Friday’s keynote speaker is Jeanette Westbrook, a human rights advocate who serves on United Nations panels working to combat trafficking. The conference’s Saturday panels will feature presentations and commentary by law enforcement, social workers, and academicians, and human rights advocates will host training sessions for all interested in learning what they can do to stop trafficking.

Lindsey Hargrave, student assistant director for the Center, said she hopes the conference’s programming will “enlighten and empower people in Hattiesburg and the surrounding area to stand up against such a pervasive threat.”