American University Washington College of Law and the Center for Health and Gender Equity to Host Conference on Human Trafficking

Conference will feature international experts on related issues including sex trade sector and HIV/AIDS


WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 11, 2009 – American University Washington College of Law and the Center for Health and Gender Equity are pleased to announce the upcoming conference entitled “Human Trafficking, HIV/AIDS, and the Sex Sector”, taking place March 18.

The conference will bring together international and U.S. experts to share experiences and discuss the ways in which the Obama Administration can create new policies on human trafficking and HIV/AIDS that are consistent with international human rights standards, best practices in public health, and grounded in reality.

“Human trafficking and forced labor are global human rights issues,” says Ann Jordan, Director of the Program on Human Trafficking and Forced Labor at the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law.  “Over the past eight years, the U.S. has supported some excellent programs, but it has also adopted an ideologically-driven approach to the sex sector that harms women and their families, increases the vulnerability of people in the sex sector to violence, trafficking and HIV infection, and prevents health care workers from accessing sex workers.”  “We are proud, says Serra Sippel, Executive Director of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, to host a conference that will foster an informed and healthy dialogue on these persistent problems and how they may be addressed moving forward.”

Some topics to be covered include:

  • Sex workers are being subjected to violent raids and rescues, and some of them are being arrested, abused, and deprived of their livelihood;
  • Recipients of US funding must sign a pledge that undermines their ability to work with sex workers to stop trafficking, child prostitution and violence, and fight HIV/AIDS;
  • The impact of anti-trafficking and anti-prostitution campaigns on sex workers in Cambodia, and other human trafficking hotspots;

Distinguished authorities participating include Gabriela Leite, director of Davida, an NGO devoted to human rights of prostitutes and the regulation of the industry, Sara Bradford, the technical advisor in Cambodia for the Asian Pacific Network of Sex Workers, Dr. Shilpa Merchant, the pioneer of a groundbreaking AIDS prevention program in Mumbai, and Sylvia Mollet, who has been working with Malian sex workers of all ages, providing health services, literacy education, legal protection, and job training through the organization she co-founded, DANAYA SO.

The participants will be available for interviews from March 16 to 20.  Please contact Serra Sippel 202-631-8808 or Ann Jordan 202-487-0853 to schedule interviews. For more information on this event or on American University Washington College of Law, please contact Jason Policastro at (202) 895-4537, or via email at

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