Thursday, February 7, 2013

Human Trafficking Talk By ABA President


Orlando, FL...The Orange County Bar Association (OCBA) in Orlando, Florida, hosted American Bar Association (ABA) president Laurel Bellows, Esq. at its January luncheon.  Bellows spoke to a group of 350 attorneys, judges and city and county officials.

Bellows is passionate about raising awareness about human trafficking and eliminating what she terms "modern day human slavery." Under her direction, the ABA established the Task Force on Human Trafficking, which has researched the issue and developed recommendations about how to mobilize the legal profession to combat human trafficking through public awareness, advocacy, training and education.

"No less than 100,000 U.S. citizens are coerced and held by force in the labor market or are sexually exploited, and they do not speak up because of the fear of reprisals," said Bellows.  "Human slavery is one of the biggest growing organized or individual crimes in our country – bigger than guns, bigger than drugs."

Bellows urged the audience to become active in the push for uniform anti-human trafficking legislation; advocate for individuals caught in the legal net by seeing victims as victims and not defendants and prosecuting the perpetrators; direct victims to public and private support groups; and work with businesses to develop employee standards that address the issue.  She noted that lawyers, judges, law enforcement and medical personnel, and non-government organizations are on the forefront as first responders in identifying victims and ensuring appropriate support.      

Bellows urged all citizens to become aware of the signs of human slavery and report suspected instances to the Polaris Project at 1-888-373-7888. More information is available on the Polaris Project website at

In addition to discussing human slavery, Bellows spoke on other topics of high importance for the ABA this year, including diversity in the workplace, specifically mentioning gender, racial and ethnic inequities, and the very real threat of cyber security both in terms of protecting confidential records and in terms of the lack of global safeguards for the transfer of data via the Internet.

For these and other ABA initiatives, visit the ABA website at

The Orange County Bar Association, established in 1933, is a voluntary association comprised of 3,300 judges, attorneys and other legal professionals in Central Florida.

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