Rogers State University, in partnership with the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women (OCSW) and Oklahoma Senator Michael Bergstrom will host a human trafficking panel Nov. 8.
The event, titled “Not Me, Not My Community” is an open forum to which the community is invited to join the conversation to stop human trafficking, at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8, in the ballroom of the Dr. Carolyn Taylor Center at RSU in Claremore. The event is free and open to the public.
Serving as event moderator will be Oklahoma City-based professor, author, public speaker, and women’s rights activist Dr. Nyla Ali Khan, who serves as chairperson of the OCSW’s Human Trafficking Committee.
Prior to the panel discussion, special guest District 1 Oklahoma Senator Michael Bergstrom will recap the OCSW’s long involvement with anti-human-trafficking activities.
Panelists featured are Oklahoma professionals and experts on various aspects of human trafficking, who will provide a full spectrum discussion of the issue and its impact in the state.
Scheduled panelists for this event include Leslie Clingenpeel, ED of Spring, an AG-certified human trafficking survival services organization; Mike Hoskins, chief of police for the City Alex and OCSW Advisory Council member; Craig William, chief agent and human trafficking manager, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics; Shawnna Roach, investigator, Cherokee Nation Marshal Service and Commissioner with the National Not Invisible Act Commission; and Layla Freeman, founder/CEO of the Claremore-based non-profit outreach ministry Light of Hope.
Following the panel discussion will be a question-and-answer session, during which attendees may ask questions of the respective panelists.
According to OCSW Secretary Julie Dermody of Oologah, the panel will highlight a problem that directly impacts an estimated 4,000 Oklahomans seeking help from human trafficking situations, a sentiment echoed by OCSW Chair Brenda Jones Barwick.
“Human trafficking is modern day slavery,” Barwick said. “It’s a $150 billion a year industry, and Oklahoma is not immune to it. Most human trafficking in Oklahoma is not happening by people passing through on highways, but by members in their circle of trust, such as family members, friends or acquaintances, who entrap them into involuntary servitude through labor, sex or drugs.”
The Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women is an official state agency that advises the governor and legislature on recommendations to improve quality of life and increase economic opportunities for women. It comprises 30 commissioners appointed by the governor, Senate president pro tempore and speaker of the House, as well as an Advisory Council of men and women who have an expertise on issues that impact women.
For more information about the OCSW, visit the Commission website at www.oklahoma.gov/ocsw.
For more information about Rogers State University, visit www.rsu.edu.