NCJW/Essex panel implores community to fight to eradicate sex trafficking

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Blumert
From left are Nicole Bryan, a principal investigator and strategic adviser in human trafficking research; Carol Cohen, chairwoman of the NCJW/Essex Anti-Human Trafficking Committee; moderator Lauren Hersh, co-founder of World Without Exploitation; Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle of the New Jersey General Assembly; and Jayne Bigelsen, director of anti-human trafficking initiatives at Covenant House in New York.

LIVINGSTON, NJ — A special evening event, “#EndDemand: Fighting Sex Trafficking – Our Children at Risk,” was held in late November at Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston and featured a dynamic discussion with a distinguished panel of speakers. The panel helped to shine a light on the motivations of those who promote sex trafficking, what New Jersey is doing to combat trafficking, what social service agencies are trying to do to help those who have been caught up in the web of trafficking and, most importantly, what can be done to combat this horrific problem.

“Human trafficking is modern-day slavery,” Lauren Hersh, moderator of the panel and co-founder of World Without Exploitation, said in a release. “It is the fastest growing human enterprise in the world because the profit is high and the risk to exploiters is low.”

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle of the N.J. General Assembly, noted that human trafficking, and in particular sex trafficking, is a “debasement of our common humanity.” In 2013, Vainieri Huttle sponsored bipartisan legislation in New Jersey, the Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection and Treatment Act.

Event attendees came away with a newfound determination to join the fight to eradicate sex trafficking, according to the release. NCJW/Essex is seeking participants to spearhead new efforts to bring this issue to light and educate the community and our children.

“Awareness of the issue is a start,” event attendee Sharon Falkin of West Orange said in the release. “I want to encourage our legislators to take bold steps against traffickers.”

This program was co-sponsored by local organizations who share the goal of eradicating sex trafficking, including Temple B’nai Abraham of Livingston, the N.J. Coalition Against Human Trafficking, the Community Relations Committee of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, the Reform Jewish Voice of New Jersey, Hadassah of Northern NJ, Temple Emanu-El of Westfield, Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, Monarch Housing Associates, Church Abolition Network, Covenant House, Jewish Women’s Foundation, World Without Exploitation, NCJW Bergen County Section and NCJW West Morris Section.