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Conference will spotlight human trafficking

An internationally known activist-educator will be among the speakers at a forum on human trafficking this month in Auburn.

Theresa Flores will share her personal story of sexual trafficking, slavery and survival at “Not Here: A Call to Action Against Human Trafficking,” a two-day conference scheduled for October 25 and 26 and sponsored in part by the Auburn Police Department.

When she was just 15 and a newly arrived resident of an upper-middle class suburb of Detroit, Theresa Flores was drugged, raped and tortured for two long years. While living at home and attending school during the day with her abusers, she was kept in bondage and called into ‘service’ late at night while her unknowing family slept. Involuntarily involved in a large criminal ring, Flores endured physical and psychological abuse; at one point she was literally “sold to the highest bidder.”

Now a social worker and international activist, Flores has appeared as a guest on The Today Show and MSNBC and appears in the Discovery Channel series “Kidnap and Rescue.” She was also featured in a two-hour special about sex trafficking on America’s Most Wanted.

In addition to Flores and her story of survival, day one of the conference will feature addresses by U.S. Attorney of Maine Thomas Delahanty, Maine Attorney General William Schneider, and U.S. Marshal Noel March, as well as  keynote presentations by four other speakers: Ken Morris of the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation, who will provide a historical perspective on slavery; author and historian Ron Soodalter, who will speak on the topic of slavery today; Anita Kanaiya of Oasis India, who will speak about international efforts to rescue and empower trafficking victims; and Arwyn Jackson of Amirah Boston, who will address survivor sheltering and social change.

Day two will offer a more traditional conference format, with participants spending time with presenters in smaller groups and breakout sessions. Day two presenters will include Theresa Flores, Anita Kanaiya, Ron Soodalter, representatives from the Northeastern University Institute on Race and Justice, Joseph Rampolla of the Park Ridge New Jersey Police Department; and photographer, scholar and abolitionist Benjamin Corey.

Additionally, the conference will offer a “specialty track” for law enforcement staff that will feature a half-day forensic interviewer training session on day two. This training will be provided by Homeland Security/Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Space is limited; those wishing to participate must notify conference planners.

Day one of the conference will take place at East Auburn Baptist Church, while day two will take place at Central Maine Community College in Auburn. A fee will be charged. Lunch and conference materials will be provided. For more information or to register, see or call the Auburn Police Department at 333-6650.

“Not Here” is an effort to mobilize community action against the injustice and oppression of human trafficking – the fastest growing crime in the world. The conference is presented by the Auburn Police Department, the Foundation for Hope and Grace, the U.S. Attorney of Maine, Central Maine Medical Center, Central Maine Community College, St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, East Auburn Baptist Church, and the “Not Here” Justice in Action Network.



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