On January 30, the World Affairs Council hosted a 2-hour human trafficking discussion with a delegation of Rwanda government officials who were invited to St. Louis through the World Affairs Council’s International Visitor Leadership Program, which is part of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. Its main objective is to develop professional relationships with emerging foreign leaders through short-term visits to the U.S. to better understand socio-economic and political issues in our country.

The Human Trafficking Collaborative Network (HTCN) organized a group of human-trafficking and gender based violence experts in St. Louis, including the leadership from HTCN, a representative from the International Institute of St. Louis, Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation St. Louis Field Office, United Nations Association (UNA-USA) St. Louis Chapter, University of Missouri at St. Louis and a representative from Washington University’s newly established Center for Human Rights, Gender and Migration at Institute for Public Health.

Ms. Jeanne d’Arc Mukahdahiro Ndemera, National Director of the Isange One Stop Center (IOSC) gave an overview of this government initiative to prevent and treat gender-based violence and child abuse in the country. The IOSC Model provides medical treatment, psycho-social services, judicial support, and a temporary safe place for victims in one location. The first center was opened in 2009 by Mm Jeannette Kagame, first lady of Rwanda. Today there are 44 centers and 4 shelters in operation.

The topic of data collection, training of law enforcement and the FBI to combat sex and labor trafficking in the U.S. was discussed. St. Louis representatives shared their knowledge from their perspective agencies. In Rwanda, sex and labor trafficking are link to the domestic servitude demand from the Arab countries. Undocumented people in transit from Uganda and Kennya are also targets. Some of their challenges include long term housing for victims, especially minors, and the prosecution of perpetrators.

Video documentary on ISANGE One Stop Center

HTCN Contributors: Laruen Baker, Erica Koegler, Rumi Kato Price, Luz Rooney, Julia Uytewaal.