DES MOINES, Iowa – The issue of human trafficking is one getting more attention in Iowa and Minnesota. And that’s something gaining the attention of U.S. Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, who directs the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons for the State Department.
The Ambassador is an Iowa native, and is in the state to visit family, speak to youth groups, and meet with the Iowa Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force. While he travels around the world, helping to coordinate the fight against this modern slavery, he also wants to know how the local fight is going. And he says, what’s happening in Iowa, can serve as a model.
“Here in Iowa we’ve gotten a situation, whether it’s people working on domestic violence and sexual abuse issues, these are long-established programs. But now they’re looking at how do we start working on human trafficking here and they’re doing it in partnership with the police and local Attorney General’s office. So it is really a good model for the world to look at and I think it shows what we’re trying to accomplish at the State Department. Take the things we’re learning in the United States and get them out to the rest of the world.”
The Ambassador also stresses that while the United States is doing lots of good work in the fight, there is still much to be done. The U.S. was just ranked a Tier 1 in the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report, released at the end of June by the State Department. And while it’s not the bottom tier, Ambassador CdeBaca says it means the country is only meeting the minimum requirements, and we need to do better
There are ways to help though. The Ambassador says, first, visit http://slaveryfootprint.org/ “Take a look at your own life and your own consumption patterns. It’ll help you develop an understanding of what it takes to sustain your lifestyle.”
He also says, to help out in an area you are familiar with. “I always say somebody who is in the medical field can volunteer to give medical services to trafficking victims. Somebody who is in the financial services sector; trafficking victims need to know how to balance a checkbook and run a day-to-day life, and a lawyer can volunteer to help in court.”