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Conference to Explore Human Trafficking in Rochester

December 14, 2016

According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, in 2015 human trafficking occurred in all 50 states. This January, in observance of Human Trafficking Awareness/Prevention Month, a two-day event at St. John Fisher College will address this harrowing human rights issue and its connection to Upstate New York during Human Trafficking: A Rochester Problem, Too.

A poster promotes the conference, Human Trafficking: A Rochester Problem, Too.

The conference begins with a free screening of “Sold,” at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 25, in Basil 135.  A film adaptation of Patricia McCormick’s 2006 novel of the same name, “Sold” tells the story of a young girl who is sold to a brothel in Calcutta, India.

A series of panels on Thursday, Jan. 26, will address topics including the law enforcement, legal system, health care, and social work issues related to human trafficking and increase awareness of the victims and survivors of sex and labor trafficking. It will also explore the prevalence of human trafficking around national sporting events, the tourism industry, and international human trafficking. The five consecutive sessions will run from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 26, in Basil 135 and Golisano Gateway Midlevel.

“This conference addresses an issue that is happening here in Rochester that most are not aware of,” said Maureen Barry, an adjunct faculty member in Fisher’s English Department, and lead organizer for the conference. “There is also a heavy focus on victims and survivors of human trafficking: who are they, how did they get involved, and what can we do to help them.”

The conference will bring a dozen experts and professionals working on human trafficking cases in Rochester, including Judge Ellen Yacknin, who presides over the Rochester City Court’s Human Trafficking Intervention Court; Mary-Jo Gugino Colligan, founder and president of Angels of Mercy; Jennifer Wolfley, founder and director of outreach services for the Paper Bag Ladies of Rochester; Patrick Barry, clinical assistant professor at the University of Michigan; and Officer Moses Robison, a member of the Rochester Police Department’s task force on human trafficking.

The conference, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Diversity Programs, Wegmans School of Pharmacy, School of Arts and Sciences, Fisher’s Learning Community Program, and the Religious Studies, English, Sociology/Criminology/Anthropology, Women and Gender Studies, Ethics, and African American Studies Departments, Humanities New York, and Wegmans. For more information, email Maureen Barry at