Youth for Human Rights holds panel to fight modern-day slavery

UN International Day for the Abolition of Slavery focus of broad discussion by international experts about human trafficking and the best methods to fight it.

Youth for Human Rights holds Ending Human Trafficking panel on slavery’s history and ways to fight modern-day slavery

WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, UNITED STATES, December 9, 2020 / — On the day of the United Nations International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, experts in the human rights field held an online discussion on real-life answers to ending human trafficking.

Follow the example of Frederick Douglass and do not tolerate human trafficking.”

Dottie Laster, Founder of Trafficking Victim Rescue Central

Advocates from various fields talked about effective ways to make people aware of trafficking and how to fight it, including educating youth about their human rights and the need to respect the rights of others.

Human trafficking continues to occur in our modern world. The United States is not exempt. Experts stressed the importance of teaching the signs of trafficking and how to thwart it utilizing not only youth, families, and police officials, but also airline and other travel professionals. They further detailed ways to protect oneself and others from falling victim to trafficking, which is often done through deception.

Dr. Mary Shuttleworth, Founder of Youth for Human Rights International, argued that teaching youth about human rights and the importance of protecting human rights internationally is essential to ridding the world of modern-day slavery. She said, “It is never too early to teach youth human rights and encourage them to protect human rights.”

Dr. Sonia Ramzi, former head of Promotion of Cultural Heritage at UNESCO, and former Chief Assistant to Dr. Boutros-Ghali, President of the International Democracy & Development Panel of UNESCO, spoke about the historic slave route and protecting those heritage sites to make sure people never forget the terrible history of slavery.

Dottie Laster, Founder of Trafficking Victim Rescue Central, cited Frederick Douglass as her inspiration, and detailed his work to abolish slavery in the United States which included travelling to Europe and advocating for abolition. She called on individuals and organizations to be abolitionists and fight against trafficking today.

“People don’t want to be owned by anyone,” Ms. Laster said. “Social acceptance of commercial sex has to be broken down.”

In almost twenty years working with trafficking victims, Ms. Laster said she has NEVER met a person who was willingly prostituted. She urged listeners to understand this and reject the idea that there are “willing” prostitutes and “happy” pimps; the reality is violent pimps abusing victims. Ms. Laster concluded, “Follow the example of Frederick Douglass and do not tolerate human trafficking.”

An ensemble performance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech by young activists from the inner city who use art to promote human rights was presented by Dr. Melanie Andrews, Director of the Inner-City Shakespeare Ensemble in Los Angeles.

Rosi Orozco, President of Commission United Against Human Trafficking based in Mexico, talked about the problems with trafficking of persons in both Mexico and the United States and the need to work together to protect children from violators of human rights. She instructed viewers to “do something united” to end trafficking and that we must focus on dignity and success with trafficking survivors. “We have to be united to support these victims and help them. Their lives are completely destroyed.”

Ms. Orozco’s recently published book “The Blank Page” tells real stories of trafficking survivors, illustrating how people can be kidnapped or coerced into trafficking situations. Each story ends with the positive successes and new lives these survivors have been able to create by not being defined by their past but, with assistance and understanding, being given a blank page to restart their lives. These survivors are not just surviving but thriving.

Ms. Nancy Rivard, Founder of Airline Ambassadors International, who spoke about the problem of refugees being exploited by traffickers who trap desperate people into horrible situations where they are forced into slavery. Airline Ambassadors International has provided over 100 trainings for tens of thousands of airline and flight professionals.

“We train flight attendants to be aware and tell the pilot if there is a suspicion and he can radio ahead,” said Ms. Rivard. In one story she told, a flight from Moscow to the US regularly had four to five Russian girls coming from Moscow thinking they were coming to act in movies, even though they didn’t speak English. They were, in fact, being sold into sex trafficking and an alert flight attendant was able to report it and many teens were saved.

Ms. Rivard talked about their human rights education, “We have trainings every month around the world and we use the Youth for Human Rights materials in that training.”

President of Youth for Human Rights International’s Washington, DC, chapter Mr. Azhar Haq spoke about educating youth in the nation’s capital and surrounding areas about the dangers of human trafficking and how to avoid becoming a victim of trafficking.

This wide variety of experts all came together to decry modern-day slavery and encourage youth and adults to work together in these many ways to help put an end to human trafficking.

Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI) is an nonprofit advocacy group formed in 2001 that promotes human rights education throughout the world. YHRI has gotten out over four million free booklets, videos, and informational materials about the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and has chapters in nearly 100 countries around the world working in their local communities to teach human rights.

To learn more about human rights go to For a documentary on Youth for Human Rights and its founder, go to