The brutal murder by a police officer of George Floyd, a Black man in the U.S., triggered worldwide protests and calls for social change unseen in decades. In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, millions of demonstrators have been on the streets demanding racial justice and police reform.
The third virtual round table in CATW’s At the Edge of the Margins series will convene global advocates for a conversation on law enforcement reform and its critical role in the movement to end sex trafficking and prostitution. Rare is the prostituted person who hasn’t experienced sexual violence, battery and other crimes at the hands of on and off duty police officers. Rooted in this reality, the panelists will evaluate what law enforcement reform should look like when addressing the sex trade. The discussion will also consider whether laws and policies can lead to accountability and mandate police to assist rather than harm marginalized people, especially women and girls of color in the sex trade.
Join us on June 29, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. EST | 18:00 CET for At the Edge of the Margins: What does police reform mean for women and girls in the sex trade?
This virtual event is free and open to the public. Registration is required.
Jonathan Machler (France) has been working in development and advocacy, including on the ground in Palestine, India and Benin, since 2012. He is currently the administration and development officer at CAP International, focusing on partnerships with grassroots NGOs engaged in direct service and advocacy toward the abolition of prostitution. Previously, he worked with the Scelles Foundation, supporting advocacy programs. He began his career in the field with Citoyen des Rues International as their general coordinator. Jonathan is the chair of the Coalition for Street Children and is involved in the movements for migrant rights and social justice.
Ambassador Per-Anders Sunesson (Sweden), who is a lawyer, has been working both in Sweden and internationally for more than 20 years with social and criminal policies, crime victims issues, children’s rights, legislation and welfare systems. The Swedish government appointed Mr. Sunesson Ambassador at Large for Combating Trafficking in Persons in May 2016. Prior to this assignment he was director general at the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs where he was in charge of the Division for Family and Social services. Between 2009 and 2012, he was director of all healthcare institutions, healthcare personnel and social services in Sweden for the Department of Supervision. He worked for several years at the Ministry of Justice. Since his appointment, Ambassador Sunesson has visited and conducted bilateral discussions regarding human trafficking for sexual exploitation with more than 30 countries and all relevant international organizations.
Melanie Thompson (USA) is a speaker, activist and leader in the global fight to end commercial sexual exploitation and prostitution. Trafficked in New York at the age of 12, she was arrested, and placed in foster care. As a survivor of police brutality herself, Melanie will draw the connections between police abuse and the sex trade. She became an activist at age 15, while still in a juvenile detention facility. She has testified before numerous legislatures about the need to pass strong anti-trafficking laws and ending the arrests of sex trafficked persons. Melanie is a Social Work student at the City University of New York, and plans to found a non-profit to assist those affected by the sex trade.
Yasmin Vafa (USA) is the co-founder and executive director of Rights4Girls, a human rights organization dedicated to ending violence against young women and girls in the U.S. As an attorney and advocate, Yasmin's work focuses on the intersections of race, gender, violence and the law. She educates the public and policymakers on these issues and how they affect the lives of marginalized women and children. Yasmin has successfully advocated for passage of several federal laws, testified before the U.S. Senate and international human rights bodies, and has been recognized by Congress for her legislative advocacy on behalf of trafficking survivors. She is co-author of the seminal report, The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girls’ Story, which exposed the widespread criminalization of girls of color in the U.S. as a direct result of their victimization. The report has not only shaped the national conversation around women and girls’ incarceration, but helped inspire national efforts to decriminalize survivors of gendered violence.
Taina Bien-Aimé (USA) is the executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW). She is a founding board member of Equality Now and later served as its executive director for a decade. She was director of Business Affairs/Film Acquisitions at Home Box Office and practiced international corporate law at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. Taina holds a Juris Doctor from NYU School of Law and a degree in Political Science from the University of Geneva/Graduate School of International Studies in Switzerland. She sits on the New York City Mayor’s Gender Equity Commission and recently completed nine years on the board of the New York Women’s Foundation.
At the Edge of the Margins
What does police reform mean for women and girls in the sex trade?