Things you don’t want to have to know, but you have to anyway

I wear two hats at Adelup: director of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, and administrator of the Governor’s Community Outreach Federal Programs Office. The two positions are actually closely aligned. As BWA director, my job is to research issues that affect women and other marginalized members of our community and effectuate change. As GCO-FPO administrator, I oversee the Sexual Assault Services Program (SASP) and STOP (Services • Training • Officers • Prosecutors) Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program grants that Guam has been awarded from the federal Office of Violence Against Women.

As GCO-FPO administrator, I recently attended the 24th International Summit on Violence, Abuse & Trauma in San Diego, California (my travel was funded through the STOP grant). This conference was huge – over 1,000 people attended, including several from Guam. Each time slot over the four days of the conference offered about 10 different sessions that ranged in focus from domestic violence to sexual assault to child sexual abuse to human trafficking. I attended most of the human trafficking sessions in order to learn more about this topic, as we need to address it on Guam and in our region. What I learned was eye-opening, heart-wrenching, and often sickening.

For instance, did you know that human trafficking is the third largest criminal activity in the world, right behind drug trafficking and counterfeiting? And that 38 percent of the traffickers are women?

The reason human trafficking is the fastest growing crime is because for the traffickers, it is relatively low risk with high rewards – you can sell a human (especially a girl or boy) over and over again.

Many of the sessions used different numbers for the estimates of the amount of money involved in the human trafficking industry, or the number of victims (several sources say it is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands in the United States alone, though). Several presenters noted a foundation called Project Concern International (PCI) (