Campus News

UGA hosts international human trafficking researchers to standardize best practices

Experts in human trafficking prevalence estimation will share insights learned from research projects

Human trafficking can’t be studied with a one-size-fits-all approach. The crime affects people in different ways, depending on where they live and what type of exploitation they’re experiencing. Researchers need methodological options, and they need to know which ones are most effective in various global contexts.

An initiative by the University of Georgia’s Center on Human Trafficking Research and Outreach (CenHTRO) called the Prevalence Reduction Innovation Forum (PRIF) works to solve this problem by creating potent survey methods to aid in the fight against human trafficking.

For the past three years, PRIF has supported seven international teams of researchers in testing the effectiveness of various methodological approaches to measuring human trafficking in six countries across the world. They’re ready to share and hone the toolbox they’ve produced.

From May 22-24, in partnership with the U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, CenHTRO will host PRIF researchers at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel.

Over three days, researchers, as well as guests from national and international anti-human trafficking agencies like the United Nations, will review the results of their trials. Participants will finalize indicators and definitions employed in the research and discuss how this knowledge can improve outcomes for victims and survivors of human trafficking.

“In addition to documenting the efficacy of a variety of methodologies, PRIF has built a global community of researchers in the science of human trafficking prevalence estimation. We’re excited to welcome this team to the UGA campus,” said Lydia Aletraris, CenHTRO associate director and associate research scientist in the School of Social Work. “Through their collective efforts, this community has fostered collaboration and sharing of best practices, while upholding and promoting ethical research principles. We look forward to sharing the teams’ valuable insights during the conference proceedings.”

Researchers from the following institutions will present during the conference: The Freedom Fund, Stanford University, New York University, NORC at the University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins University, University of Massachusetts Lowell and the WZB Berlin Social Science Center. PRIF research teams worked in Brazil, Costa Rica, Morocco, Pakistan, Tanzania and Tunisia. Partners from these research sites will also travel to UGA to participate in proceedings.

Rather than surveying for national-level estimates, PRIF teams have evaluated methods that are geographically specific and industry-focused. Focused prevalence estimates help governments, funders and NGOs develop tailored interventions to effectively reduce human trafficking.

“Accurate and specific measurements are essential in helping us determine the scope and severity of human trafficking in different contexts. But they also inform us about what’s working and what’s not working when it comes to combating the problem,” said David Okech, CenHTRO director and professor of social work. “PRIF has already made incredible strides in the field of human trafficking prevalence estimation, and this conference will continue to build on this impressive foundation. Hosting this conference in Athens demonstrates how UGA has become a global research leader in working to end human trafficking.”

PRIF is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.