International conference against human trafficking coming to Lisle

Posted10/31/2019 5:35 AM

An international conference of experts who fight human trafficking is coming to Lisle, as one group looks for ways to increase local focus on the complex web of trafficking issues.

The SAFE Coalition for Human Rights is hosting its fourth annual conference Nov. 3 to 6 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Lisle/Naperville hotel. The group's name stands for Sex trafficking Awareness, Freedom and Empowerment, and it aims to protect global trafficking victims through education, prevention and rehabilitation.


Coalition board member Vasavi Chakka of Naperville said the event will bring together roughly 300 attendees from 70 countries for educational sessions about ways to combat forced labor and sexual exploitation.

Crimes of human trafficking, defined as transporting someone into a situation of exploitation, often take place in the shadows, she said, leading to a lack of public knowledge. International estimates show 20 million to 40 million people are trapped in situations of human trafficking, according to the International Labor Organization and the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime, and many cases go undetected.

"We are in the best age of human history," Chakka said. "But still these things are going on under our feet, and we don't even know."

Chakka called trafficking "modern-day slavery" and said the upcoming conference will give survivors a chance to share their stories with people who can help, such as police officers, legislators, attorneys, counselors, social workers and teachers.

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Converging in Lisle for the conference will be delegates from Europe and Africa who work on policies against and prosecution of trafficking violations. Professionals in these fields throughout the suburbs also are invited to attend, with general admission starting at $350 and discounts available for nonprofit workers, law enforcement members and students. Registration is available at

The conference has four tracks of presentations, with sessions geared toward a clinical and foster care audience, a global strategy and policy focus, as well as specialties in law enforcement and advocacy.

Kalyani Gopal, a clinical psychologist and the founder and president of the SAFE Coalition for Human Rights, said in a news release the theme of this year's conference is enhancing collaboration among those working to bring trafficking to an end, especially among social service agencies and socially conscious business leaders in Illinois.

Already through connections made at conferences held since the SAFE Coalition was formed in 2014, Gopal said, members have helped rescue more than 55 children from trafficking situations and provide training to 10,000 people whose work supports the cause.

• If you or someone you know are in need of human trafficking survivor services, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888 or text 233733.

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