Whistleblower and Author Talks about the Problem of Human Trafficking

by Michell Spoden

Sex trafficking occurs when people are forced or coerced into the commercial sex trade against their will or because of lack of financial freedom and opportunities. Kathryn Bolkovac is a true hero that had the courage to stand up for what she believed in by exposing corruption and sexual abuse she witnessed. Helping raise awareness and create solutions for the human trafficking issue is no light endeavor. It is the type of character in an individual for whom many likely have much respect.The Whistleblower

Sex trafficking occurs when people are forced or coerced into the commercial sex trade against their will or because of lack of financial freedom and opportunities. Kathryn Bolkovac is a true hero that had the courage to stand up for what she believed in by exposing corruption and sexual abuse she witnessed. Helping raise awareness and create solutions for the human trafficking issue is no light endeavor. It is the type of character in an individual for whom many likely have much respect.

Michell: Please tell our viewers why you chose to become a police officer?

Kathryn Bolkovac: My journey to becoming a police officer was a non-traditional one. I had already experienced a lot of life as an employee in various industries including the insurance industry and hotel management sector; I married at an early age and was a divorced mother of three before becoming a police officer… being a police officer was not something I always dreamt about becoming. I had always been interested in justice and law topics so when the opportunity came along, I decided to give it a try. I think it is important for police officers to have diverse life experiences that allow them to better relate to the community and needs of people. Law enforcement agencies are and must obviously be prepared to take quasi-military actions in times of crisis; however the basic human service element is the core of policing.

Michell: When do you think this epidemic started on an international level?

Kathryn Bolkovac: This phenomenon of Human Trafficking is nothing new; one just needs to read a bit of history or the bible for that matter with regard to slavery. Coining the term of Human Trafficking is what is new. Human Trafficking has been facilitated internationally and across borders based on very simple things. : Innocence- Ignorance –Apathy–Potential Market and–The desire to live a better life.  Then all you need is the greed of the corrupt individual, group, corporation, or tyrannical government to take advantage of the situation and impose power and control techniques.

Michell: What would you tell the people out there that want to make a difference to do?

Kathryn Bolkovac: The following points are relevant in answering this question.

1) Be the Eyes, Ears, Voices, & Advocates, in a non-judgmental and supportive way

2) Research, Read, ask Questions and  Report to Law Enforcement or Hotlines any suspicions you may have with regard to the potential of criminal activity, child abuse, or what appears to be prostitution.

3) Get Involved-Volunteer-Participate in Community Groups

4) Contact your legislators and inquire about what is being done to stop the demand with regard to the accountability of “Johns”, the solicitation of prostitutes and the purchase of pornographic materials. What do you want as a community and or society?

5) Contact your law enforcement officials, ask about what kind of funding allowances are budgeted or available to better train law enforcement with regard to the identification and investigation of human trafficking. Is it being addressed in or police academies in a meaningful way that enables law enforcement officer to collaborate with prosecutors and judges for successful prosecution. Are we open to reaching out to get advice from experts who have been working on these issues for decades?

6) Contact prosecutorial officials ask them what training they are undertaking to better prosecute human trafficking cases, and the interpretation of anti-trafficking laws.

7) Encourage you school administrators to seek outside professionals, and trainings in the identification of HT, and to implement student trainings, regarding use of social media, sexting, craigslist, etc.

8) Know your neighbors; learn about the country and culture from which they may have originated.  Could they have been subjected to serious atrocities, might they be in fear of law enforcement, and what support to they have as a member of the community.

Michell: Do you think the media needs to do more to expose this sort of thing?

Kathryn Bolkovac: Responsible and accurate media reports are always a great asset.

Michell: What sort of policies should be in place to keep government authorities accountable?

Kathryn Bolkovac: This is a difficult question as globally we work in different regulatory systems around the world. The United Nations is incapable of enforcing treaties that have been agreed to or ratified, they have their own problems with regard to accountability and protecting whistleblower’s,  and rely on political agenda’s with regard to decision making. Many things are being implemented and reviewed at the international levels and in grass root organizations; these include more oversight, codes of conduct, penalties and standards for prosecution. Policies are only as good as the people or person who is responsible for enforcing and or interpreting the policy. Policies are guidelines, not law. Some form of Universal Jurisdiction for law enforcement and prosecution may be an option in the future however this has many constitutional hurdles and must not be entered into lightly from the perspective of U.S. law. We must be flexible and creative in this respect.

Michell: This is typical of the sex offender and my question to you is; what can you tell victims today about how they should care for themselves in the midst of current survival or aftermath of sexual abuse through rape and sex trafficking?

Kathryn Bolkovac: With regard to aftercare form any trauma. Do not do it alone. Seek outside and professional help. Always talk to people you are not alone.

Michell: What is your motto?

Kathryn Bolkovac: I do not have a motto, life circumstances change too often to live by a single motto.

Michell: What are some of your future goals?

Kathryn Bolkovac: Too many too mention, but continuing my advocacy work and speaking about the ways to proactively combat the root cause of human trafficking is at the top of the list.

The factual account of what I experienced is documented in my book entitled:

The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman’s Fight for Justice. If may give you more insight and direction as to where things are today and how you can help.

Michell: What is your skill set? 

Kathryn Bolkovac: The book is a separate project and goes deeper into what happened in Bosnia and details the spider web of mismanagement and corruption that allows this activity to continue today. It will take you through my trial against the private U.S. Government contractor DynCorp, in the UK and bring you up to date on where things are today. It may also give you some insight into how your own area of expertise may be used to support legislative efforts for law changes.

I try to encourage the average person to contact their local law enforcement agencies and inquire about what is being done in their own state or local community to educate officers on this subject.

Please check the websites of the Human Trafficking Pro-bono Legal Center, POGO (Project on Government Oversight), GAP (Government Accountability Project), Heartland Alliance, International Justice Mission, Human Rights Watch, The Polaris Project, or other non-profits to learn more. I hope you will continue to spread the word of the book and film.

For more information about the author and her work, visit her website http://www.bolkovac.com/.

About the Interviewer

Michell Spoden is the author of Stricken Yet Crowned and is also pursuing a transitional housing project for woman with an agricultural aspect. She has a degree in Business Science Administration and is finishing her bachelor’s in Project Management.

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