Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Anti-Slavery Activist Champions Justice for Survivors at Forum on Modern Slavery

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nadia Murad, along with an array of fellow abolitionists, address current challenges and contemporary solutions to human trafficking efforts at the 2019 Forum on Modern Slavery.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nadia Murad served as the Keynote Speaker at the 2019 Forum on Modern Slavery:  21st Century Solutions, which was held at Seton Hall University on September 27th.  The full-day event, which was sponsored by the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking (NJCAHT), Seton Hall University, the International Justice Project and the Slave-Free Community Project, was attended by almost 400 people. 

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Ms. Murad, who was taken captive by Islamic State fighters, sold and forced into a life of sexual servitude before escaping, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for her efforts in ending the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and conflict.  Ms. Murad has worked tirelessly to provide greater visibility into war-time sexual violence and holding perpetrators accountable for their actions.  She spoke about what justice means for survivors, which includes rebuilding the lives of victims, and ensuring that survivors are not re-exploited during their healing journey.  At the Forum, Seton Hall University also conferred Ms. Murad with an honorary doctorate during an official ceremony.

The Forum also included five plenary presentations to impart a well-rounded perspective of current challenges and contemporary solutions related to anti-slavery efforts.  Representatives from various organizations, including Dr. Kelly A. Gleason, Data Science Lead at the United Nations University-Centre for Policy Research, discussed UN Sustainable Development Goal 8.7, which seeks the eradication of modern slavery.  NJCAHT’s President, Danny Papa, along with educators and representatives from UNITAS, explored how administrators, teachers and students can work together to educate students about modern slavery and prevent them from becoming victims.

Anti-slavery journalists and filmmakers, including Leif Coorlim, Executive Editor of The CNN Freedom Project, discussed the challenges and opportunities related to impact journalism in video format, which involves creating short films that reveal the nature and effects of modern slavery to inspire the viewer into action.  A panel comprised of Tonya Tucker, Education and Training Director at UNITAS; Gina Cavallo, NJCAHT Survivor Consultant; and Megan Cutter, Associate Director of the National Human Trafficking Hotline, discussed the nature, extent and causes of modern slavery in the United States, and the challenges encountered in eradicating it.

The final plenary presentation addressed the intersection of modern slavery and armed conflict.  Panelists including Elise Groulx Diggs, an international human rights lawyer with extensive experience in human trafficking matters, discussed the resurgence of enslavement that results from conflict, including soldiers, prisoners, forced laborers and sex slaves.  These incidents are on the rise, and directly correlate to Ms. Murad’s experience in captivity.

According to Bob Boneberg, Chair of NJCAHT’s Slave-Free Commerce Committee, “The Forum brought together experts from different fields and a diverse audience, so that, as abolitionists, we can understand modern slavery more fully and work to eradicate it."  NJCAHT will continue in these efforts, which include a series of events scheduled in January 2020 as part of National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

For more information about NJCAHT, human trafficking in New Jersey, affiliated organizations, upcoming programs and opportunities for volunteering, please visit our website at:  www.njhumantrafficking.org

MEDIA CONTACT:        Elissa Santo, Communications Director  ◊  (201) 903-2111  ◊  elissa@njhumantrafficking.org