Senate Caucus

02.12.2014 | Culture and Society, Hot Topics

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio will be at the University of Dayton 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, in the 1700 S. Patterson Building Auditorium to lead a free, public discussion with local leaders working to combat human trafficking in the Miami Valley.

The Forum on Combating Sex Trafficking and Exploitation also is scheduled to include: Tony Talbott, Abolition Ohio chair and University of Dayton political science lecturer; Elizabeth Van Dyne, Be FREE Dayton executive director; Lt. Joseph Wiesman of the Dayton Police Department; Cheryl Oliver, Oasis House executive director; Judge Gregory Singer, Prostitution Intervention Collaborative; and Erin Peery, president of University of Dayton Consciousness Rising. Panelists will be available for media interviews around 12:45 p.m.

As a founding co-chair of the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking, Portman helped champion the End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act of 2012 that President Barack Obama signed into law in 2012 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. Portman also was instrumental in the passage of the Child Sex Trafficking Amendment to the Violence Against Women Act President Obama signed into law last February. Portman currently is working on the Child Sex Trafficking Data and Response Act, which the Senate finance committee passed last December, as well as the Bringing Missing Children Home Act of 2014.

University of Dayton human rights faculty and students were instrumental in encouraging Ohio legislators to pass Senate Bill 235, making human trafficking a felony. Representatives from the University attended the ceremony when former Gov. Ted Strickland signed the bill into law in 2010.

The University of Dayton is a pioneer in human rights education. In addition to starting the country's first undergraduate human rights program in 1998, the University began offering one of the nation's first bachelor's degrees in human rights studies in 2008. The University is in the process of developing a human rights center.

Since 1988, the University of Dayton has offered major international conferences on a wide range of human rights issues, including the rights of the child, violence against women, truth and reconciliation, and human trafficking.

Last October, former and current representatives from the United Nations, Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch and others met at the University of Dayton for "The Social Practice of Human Rights" conference, a critical look at the future of human rights. During the conference, University of Dayton President Daniel J. Curran and Catholic Relief Services Vice President for Government Relations and Advocacy Bill O'Keefe signed an agreement that commits University faculty to research labor trafficking and work with Catholic Relief Services to support efforts in Brazil and surrounding nations to eradicate forced labor.

The University of Dayton student group Consciousness Rising will hold its third annual conference March 20-22. The theme for this year is the "Effects of Structural Inequality," focusing on hyper-sexualization of culture and sex trafficking; corporate social responsibility and labor trafficking; and racial divides in America. Using interactive exhibits, workshops, dialogue groups and presentations, Consciousness Rising hopes to inspire and empower students, staff, faculty and the Dayton community to help eradicate human rights injustices.

For more information, contact Shawn Robinson, associate director of media relations, at 937-229-3391 or srobinson@udayton.edu.