19th Conference on Crimes Against Women: Spotlight on human trafficking prevention amidst rising crisis

Story by Whitney Carter. Photos provided by Conference on Crimes Against Women.

January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and an increased awareness of the crisis has become more important than ever before.
From left to right: Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia, Conference on Crimes Against Women Executive Director Becky Park, Genesis Women's Shelter Chief Executive Director Jan Langbein, and philanthropist Nancy Best.

According to the latest numbers from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 94 percent of trafficking victims in the United States are female, and Texas ranks second in the nation for the most human trafficking according to that same research.

Becky Park, Executive Director at the Conference on Crimes Against Women.

The numbers become more sobering the more you dig. According to the Conference on Crimes Against Women (CCAW), one in three women will be abused in their lifetime.

Becky Park, Chief Learning Officer for the conference, says that’s why now is the time to continue to push even harder to protect women.

“These criminals prey on women who are in various states of vulnerability such as running away from a dysfunctional and abusive home life, drug or alcohol addiction, release from incarceration, homeless, escaping or wanting to escape from an abusive relationship, history of sexual or domestic abuse, forceable coercion, fraudulent coercion, romantic coercion, or lack of knowledge about predator tactics,” Becky says.

The conference, which is going into its 19th year, has a clear focus when it comes to helping the public understand what is happening and shining a bright light on the darkest aspects when it comes to all crimes against women.

“The conference’s goal is to encourage and facilitate the coordinated community responses necessary to reduce the incidence of crimes against women,” Becky says. “The conference works to give participants a better understanding of how different crimes cross over and are interrelated, inspiring innovative, community-wide approaches, and providing networking opportunities with federal, state, and local professionals from across North America.”

According to Becky, human trafficking has reached “unbelievable levels in our backyard as well as in every community around our country.” She says that “the simple solutions are not the ones that will create the cultural change required to eliminate trafficking.”

Becky elaborates that national efforts like the Conference on Crimes Against Women and the Podcast on Crimes Against Women serve as a path to reducing and bringing to light this heinous crime as they work to enhance collaboration across networks. They hope to train agencies about the complexities of difficult cases and how to improve their strategic responses to trafficking, along with raising awareness in the community beyond first responders.

Since the CCAW started in 2004, an estimated 20,000 people have attended the event, working towards the same goal. Becky’s hope is that this year’s conference will be bigger than ever.

Becky credits the partnership between the Genesis Women’s Shelter and the Dallas Police Department for being at the forefront of the movement to end violence against women since the late 1980s.

“They have each played a key role in the coordinated community response to the problem of domestic violence in Dallas, where many of the best practices have been created and successfully adapted over more than three decades,” Becky says. “With the vision of creating a policy shift and assisting professionals, agencies, and communities across the country to improve their response to all crimes against women, the CCAW was born.”

She said the conference trains attendees on evidence-based best practices regarding the most effective response to violent crimes against women, offering more than 220 workshops, case presentations, interactive sessions, and so much more. Over the last few years, that training has taken a heavy concentration on human trafficking.

The thousands of participants from the past include a diverse group of people working in different disciplines but all working toward one goal. Attendees include professionals who work in the fields of prosecution, law enforcement, social work, counseling, health care, victim advocacy, probation, and other disciplines that respond directly to female victims of violent crimes.

In addition to that, Becky explains that in-person networking is an essential element of the conference. Attendees get feedback year after year about the connections that were made, the teams that are formed, new practices that can be put into place and so much more. All in the name of protecting women from all crimes.

“No other conference offers an aquatic crime scene investigation at an actual swimming pool, or computer lab open only to investigators for crimes against women, or a clickable video walking through a staged crime scene with learning elements scattered throughout,” Becky says.

These are all examples of the innovative nature of the sessions and training opportunities CCAW develops and offers with its amazing speakers and presenters.

“It is imperative to keep the material current and relevant and the method of delivery of that material.”

Becky says there is no doubt that real changes are being made thanks to the work that is being done at this conference.

Registration is open now for this year’s Conference on Crimes Against Women. It will be held May 20-23 at the Sheraton Hotel in Dallas.