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NCJW passionate about defeating human trafficking

Beatrice Kahn


It’s a big job: The need for more knowledge, more money, more buy-in from social justice advocates, more laws — and more enforcement of the laws already on the books.

Open your eyes – you’ll see it. It happens in shopping malls, at highway rest areas, on streets and sidewalks, at truck stops and motels.

The visible interaction usually seems ordinary, innocuous, harmless — hence invisible.

“The crime occurs in secrecy,” says Beatrice Kahn, board director of the National Council of Jewish Women, “yet it’s out in the open — hidden in plain view. It’s happening right around us. If you’re aware, you can see it.”

Kahn has made the fight against human trafficking — specifically for the purpose of selling sex — a mainstay of her lay leadership at NCJW. She traveled to Denver last week to help local NCJW members organize their own activist and educational platform on the issue.

The ironic “now you see it, now you don’t” nature of sex trafficking helps conceal, hence perpetuate, what she considers a dire social problem.

“It’s really a scourge in every community in the United States,” says Kahn, who chairs NCJW’s anti-trafficking initiative. “Children from every socioeconomic class, every geographic area, are at risk. It’s a horrific, horrific crime.”

By no means does it limit its victims to children, she adds. Adult women are victimized, too. Sometimes, even men.

Human trafficking for what amounts to coerced prostitution is the very antithesis of a victimless crime.

Most at risk are children and adolescents, many of whom are runaways or “throwaway” youths, abandoned by their families. Also vulnerable are those who are homeless, recent immigrants, especially the undocumented, and those who are financially destitute.

Such vulnerabilities make them tempting targets for those willing to exploit human beings for profit.

“People in that situation are trapped,” she says. “You have no documentation, no transportation, no money. How are you going to get out?”

Kahn doesn’t mince words.

“It’s slavery.”

The rest of this article is available in the September 19, 2014 IJN Rosh Hashana print and digital edition only. Contact Carol to order your copy at carol@ijn.com or subscribe to our online e-Edition.

Chris Leppek

IJN Assistant Editor | ijnews@aol.com

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