Montclair State University has launched the new Global Center on Human Trafficking (GCHT), creating one of the few comprehensive university-based efforts devoted to ending the hidden crime of human trafficking in New Jersey and around the world.
The Center is a multi-disciplinary effort focused on developing innovative solutions to the global problem. What began as a University program spearheaded by a group of committed leaders, volunteers, faculty and staff, the Center has grown into a worldwide initiative working hand-in-hand with survivors to transform the response to human trafficking.
“The Global Center on Human Trafficking will be at the forefront of transforming the way we prevent and respond to this complex crime,” explains Center Director Ali Boak, an anti-trafficking expert with more than 20 years experience in the field. “By most indicators, more people are being trafficked and fewer traffickers are being punished. I’m excited about the transformative power of the survivor involvment that is at the heart of the Global Center on Human Trafficking.”
“The Global Center on Human Trafficking will strengthen collaboration and communication among key stakeholder groups around the world,” explains Mimi Feliciano, founder and board chair. “We need to eliminate barriers and work together to develop innovative responses to the world’s fastest growing criminal enterprise.”
Human trafficking is happening in every community across the United States, including in the Center’s home base of New Jersey. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, New Jersey ranked 13th in the nation for the number of human trafficking cases reported in 2019. Despite that, very few reliable statistics exist about the prevalence of human trafficking in New Jersey. To that end, a focus of the GCHT will be addressing human trafficking in New Jersey through research and innovative programming.
“While we are a global center, our work to better understand and end human trafficking starts right here on the Montclair State University campus and in our own home state of New Jersey,” says Boak.
Currently, a team of professors and staff from Montclair State are conducting a study to identify the methods of data reporting by agencies across New Jersey and develop a model of human trafficking data collection that addresses current systemic shortcomings.
“We are looking at how to improve the inconsistent reporting across the state,” says Francesca LaGuardia, associate professor of Justice Studies at Montclair State University and a co-principal investigator on the study “Understanding Human Trafficking: An Analysis of Data Collection.”
The GCHT is also collaborating with Karana Rising, a survivor led nonprofit serving survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, to develop a joint initiative known as the Global Survivor Collaborative.
Through the Collaborative and its “Flip the Script” campaign, leaders will work to build a network of survivor leaders and advocates from across the world committed to transforming the response to human trafficking by fostering survivor created and led policies, programs, research and advocacy.
“Time is up for laws and policies that do not support justice or healing for survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation,” says Fecha Talaso, co-founder and director of partnerships for Karana Rising.
For more information on the Global Center on Human Trafficking, visit the Center’s page on the Montclair State website.