On January 26, the Women of Color Collective sponsored a panel on the issue of sex trafficking, featuring guest Anne Milgram '96, former New Jersey Attorney General and current senior fellow at NYU Law’s Center on the Administration of Criminal Law. Other participants included Pam Chen, chief of the civil rights unit of the criminal division at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York; Shonnie Ball, staff attorney at the Anti-Trafficking Program of Safe Horizon; and Sienna Baskin, co-director of the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center.

Chen, who with Milgram helped prosecute a 2006 Mexico-to-Queens, N.Y., sex trafficking case, conveyed the complex psychological and legal issues of sex trafficking to the audience. She explained how common it is for victims to become extremely loyal to their traffickers, seeing them as both a “father figure and a boyfriend.” Chen explained how perpetrators develop relationships with young women, and once they find an opportunity to get the women alone, they rape them. At this point, the women’s lives are derailed. You have to “open your mind about what a trafficked person can look like...we’ve had very educated victims,” said Milgram, who, like the other panelists, supports de-criminalization and victim empowerment efforts. "Some are immigrants, others are not, and they vary greatly in their level of education, income level, and gender.”

Posted February 2, 2011