Deputy Mayor Carol Robles-Román and Deputy Counsel Norma Abbene hosted a dialogue between women leading the crusade against human trafficking abroad and members of the New York City Mayor's Office Survivors of Human Exploitation Working Group on Monday, June 24, 2013, in City Hall's Blue Room. Twenty-six women from thirteen countries were selected by Vital Voices to visit three major U.S. cities, including New York City, to network with other organizations involved in the fight against trafficking and to engage in information-sharing.
Members of the Working Group responded to a variety of questions about local government's response to trafficking, while Deputy Counsel Norma Abbene moderated. The participants discussed matters involving cultural sensitivity, such as how to assist a victim trafficked from out-of-country. Safe Horizon CEO Ariel Zwang reported incidents of children at the Child Advocacy Centers who have been trafficked by their own relatives, and described the services provided by Safe Horizon, ACS and other partners, to help them. How to better address shortcomings in child and gender protection remained an overall theme, including how to provide holistic models to various problems that arise. Deputy Mayor Carol Robles-Román stressed the need for NGO leaders to identify potential collaborators within their respective governments.
The challenges faced by New York City agencies often paralleled those faced by NGOs in other countries. The women chosen to participate in the Vital Voices program come from a diversity of regions and face their own particular domestic challenges. Many of the NGOs they represent are geared toward a specific element of prevention, protection, or victim assistance. The meeting at City Hall offered the women the chance to learn from those directly involved in New York City's own highly unique anti-trafficking initiative.