Human trafficking involves recruitment, harboring or transporting people into a situation of exploitation through the use of violence, deception or coercion and forcing victims to work against their will. A process of enslavement, trafficking affects millions of men, women, and children – including in the United States. It can happen in any community and victims can be any age, race, gender, or nationality, and now UGA researchers will receive $15.75 million from the U.S. Department of State to expand programming and research to measurably reduce human trafficking:
The new award, funded by the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office), will scale up the UGA-based African Programming and Research Initiative to End Slavery (APRIES) current anti-human trafficking work in Sierra Leone and Guinea, as well as expand efforts to Senegal. As part of the funded project, APRIES will also launch the Prevalence Reduction Innovation Forum. The forum – the first of its kind – will enlist scholars from universities around the world to test and develop the best ways to estimate the prevalence of human trafficking.
The award contributes to APRIES’ growing budget, which received a $4 million award in 2018 from the TIP Office under the Program to End Modern Slavery.
“In addition to strengthening current anti-trafficking efforts, the goal of APRIES is to build a global community of researchers and learners in the science of estimating human trafficking prevalence,” said David Okech, an associate professor of social work at UGA who is principal investigator of the project and director of APRIES.
To ensure the data is robust, the research teams will use two to three different data collection methods. The teams will assess how each method performs in specific situations and document their process of conducting research. The teams will present their findings at a final conference in spring 2022.
“Given the methodology for prevalence estimation that we have been developing for Sierra Leone and Guinea, this additional funding is a great opportunity to scale our research and programming,” said Jody Clay-Warner, co-investigator and Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor of Sociology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
This grant represents a massive effort against a modern scourge that includes many factors that all result in the suffering of people. Congratulations to our colleagues in APRIES, we're already very proud of their work.
Image: APRIES team members, from left: Nathan Hansen, David Okech, Tamora Callands, Tim Edgemon, Jody Clay-Warner and Lydia Aletraris. Not pictured: Alex Balch, Claire Bolton. Photo by Wingate Downs