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Focus on global crisis, local reality

Spokane, Wash. – The effects of human trafficking on young children globally and in Spokane will be the subject of a free luncheon and lecture by Rev. Eileen Lindner at noon April 27 in the Comstock Room of the YWCA in downtown Spokane.

The event is co-sponsored by the newly formed Inland Northwest Task Force on Human Trafficking, the Western Regional Institute for Community Oriented Public Safety at Washington State University Spokane, and the YWCA and Faith Partners Working Against Family Violence.

Lindner’s presentation, “Child Trafficking Victims: Global Crises – Local Reality,” explores how young trafficking victims live hidden, traumatic lives in cities across the globe, including in Spokane and other Northwest cities. She said the following scenarios are examples of the types of child trafficking that have been uncovered in Spokane in recent years:

A 14-year-old Spokane boy leaves an abusive home. An older man sets him up to do “tricks” on East Sprague.

A meth addict prostitutes her 12-year-old daughter to pay for her drug habit.

A teenage girl comes from Europe to work as a nanny in the Inland Northwest. The couple who hire her take her passport, charge her a “fee” for her travel expenses that she must work off before she can leave and pay her 50 cents an hour.

A family from Southeast Asia living in Spokane agrees to take in a young relative from the “home country.” When the child arrives, he is not allowed to go to school or leave the house and must work every day cleaning the house, cooking and working in the garden. They frequently beat him when he “doesn’t work hard enough.”

Because human trafficking occurs in secret and often outside mainstream society, Lindner said it is difficult to fully measure its scope or quantify the number of victims. In addition, she said community members may not understand what constitutes trafficking and how to recognize victims.

A Presbyterian minister, Lindner is a past director of the National Council of Churches Child Advocacy Office and served as the Chair of the World Council of Churches’ Commission on Human Trafficking. She is the author of “Thus Far on the Way: Toward a Theology of Child Advocacy” and “When Churches Mind Children,” reporting on the nation’s most extensive child care study.

At the luncheon, local experts will also explore efforts to measure the scope of human trafficking in Spokane, how local agencies are responding to victims, and initiatives to raise awareness through education.

The event is free and lunch will be provided. For more information or to register, call 509-358-7949. Registration deadline is April 23.

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