The Women’s Studies Committee of South Texas College presents The Nexus of Exploitation: The Global Economy, Human Trafficking, and the Marginalized, which is the theme this year for this year’s human trafficking symposium taking place March 31- April 2.

An important forum for networking and training opportunities for professionals and practitioners within related fields, the annual event is dedicated to raising community awareness about the pervasiveness of the labor and sex trafficking trades.

The symposium will take place at STC’s Cooper Center located at 3201 W. Pecan Ave. in McAllen.

“Right now, more than 30 million people around the world are enslaved,” said Jennifer Bryson Clark, STC Associate Professor of Political Science and chair of its Women’s Studies Committee. “Lured through desperation, with promises of good jobs, and trapped under the threat of violence, many are forced to work without pay in factories, mines, fields, brick kilns, restaurants, construction, fishing industries, and private homes under deplorable conditions.

“This year’s symposium will explore the nexus between the global economy and human trafficking, governments are complicit in perpetuating trafficking through legal, political, economic, and social systems that create situations which enable work conditions similar to slavery and trafficking,” Clark said. “The conference will also address how conflict and violence in Central America exacerbate vulnerability to trafficking as people are forced to migrate in search of a safe environment.”

The Symposium on Human Trafficking is co-organized by the Women’s Studies Committee of South Texas College, the University of Texas- Rio Grande Valley Department of Criminal Justice, Texas Department of State Health Services–Office of Border Public Health, the Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales, Unidad Académica Multidisciplinaria Reynosa Aztlán, Fuerza del Valle Workers’ Center, Buffett-McCain Institute Initiative to Combat Modern Slavery, and the Rio–Grande Valley Human Trafficking Task Force.

This year’s conference will begin with a screening of Academy Award-winning film Roma on Sunday, March 31 at 5 p.m. followed by a panel discussion with the National Domestic Worker Alliance. The event will then kick off with a full slate of topics and presentations from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 1 and will conclude on April 2.

The symposium begins with opening remarks by Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley and keynote speaker Dr. Seàn Columb, lecturer in law from the University of Liverpool, who will speak on the organ trade. Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15) is also expected to offer opening remarks at the symposium remotely from Washington, D.C.

Topics will include technological developments, grassroots and community organization, intergovernmental initiatives as well as the social, regional, economic and political trends that represent obstacles to combatting human trafficking.

The event is free and open to the public. For more details about the event, please contact Jenny Clark, Chair of the Women’s Studies Committee at jclark@southtexascollege.edu