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Black women speak out against sex trafficking on international stage


Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. and the International Black Women’s Public Policy Institute (IBWPPI) hosted the panel discussion “Promoting the Safety and Security of Women of African Descent” on Thursday, March 16th. The virtual session was held during the 65th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

The panel convened experts and world leaders to speak on the exploitation of Black women and girls in the underground human trafficking world and other forms of violence. Speakers included: Rasheeda S. Liberty, International President, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc; Barbara A. Perkins, IBWPPI President and CEO; the Honorable Paula Cox, Former Premier of Bermuda; Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens, historian and professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Michellene Davis, Health Equity Strategist/President & CEO of M.D. Clarida Drew, LLC; Ouleye Ndoye, human rights activist; and Teresa Stafford, Chief Programs Officer, Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.

In the United States, there are more than 600,000 to 800,000 people being trafficked annually across international borders and 40% percent of sex trafficking victims are Black women and girls. The panelists discussed the vulnerabilities of Black female trafficking victims, gaps in services and public policy, and the historical context of the oversexualization of Black females dating back to the Transatlantic Slave Trade. These elements coupled with poverty, racism, and a wide array of social determinants feed into the vicious cycle of human trafficking.

International leaders and activists promoted strategies for grassroots action to inform, prevent, and address violence against women including intimate partner-based violence, physical and mental abuse. IBWPPI shared with attendees their position paper “Slavery by Another Name: The Epidemic of Black Female Trafficking Victims in the US and Abroad.”

“Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. is proud to be a part of such powerful work to amplify the importance of protecting women and youth for nearly 100 years. As we amplify, our sisterhood acts to ensure that women of African descent are protected in healthcare, education and financial equity policies,” said Rasheeda S. Liberty.

“The issue of human trafficking as it pertains to Black women and girls is largely an issue of not being seen, heard or valued. The International Black Women’s Public Policy Institute’s goal is to change that,” said Barbara A. Perkins. “Humanizing and centering the voices of Black women is our collective call to action, regardless of where they are because Black women matter.”