By Trish Hackler

From Sept. 18 to 24, Iraqi and Kurdish delegates are meeting in Reno to bring awareness and speak with local legal entities on combating gender violence and human trafficking in their respective communities.

Northern Nevada International Center hosted the delegation as a part of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. According to Michael Graf, chief innovative officer at NNIC, they work to implement a portion of the U.S. Department of State’s foreign policy in addition to exposing international visitors to the U.S. Graf also stated that the NNIC plays a role in creating better diplomacy between nations.

Working in partnership with local prosecutors and judges, the delegates focused their program on investigations of established cases of violence against women and human trafficking.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, human trafficking is defined as “… [the] transfer… of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion… for the purpose of …sexual exploitation, forced labor [and] or services.”

Sara Wan, a social worker with the Al Mesalla Organization for Human Resources Development defines trafficking as modern age slavery.

Though it has been defined broadly as a major global issue, it is more difficult to understand the regional factors behind such crime. This can make targeting perpetrators and their victims difficult.

“We can’t say for certain that is a certain group that is buying such services,” Wan said. “There are different groups of people who are working business or people who are higher ranked business people.”

When asked if types of trafficking differ globally, Hassan Haji, director of the directorate of Combating Violence Against Women and member of the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior, Kurdish Region, said that no matter where the act occurs, trafficking is still trafficking.

“It differs when it comes to the mechanisms of implementation,” Haji said. “It varies from society to society, that’s where the difference is.”

While talks among local counterparts are beneficial in sharing ways to combat genderbased violence and human trafficking, the delegates say there is no one-way to solve this global-issue.

Nigar Mohammad, one of the first female judges in Kurdistan, explained that one difficulty in remedying human trafficking is definitely a cultural divide. Compared to the U.S., in Islamic societies trafficking is conducted in such secrecy that it is not brought to the awareness of civil and government organizations.

“There is sexual freedom [in the U.S.] and [trafficking] is more obvious here,” Mohammad said. “In the Middle East we don’t have that sexual freedom. But in [the U.S.], it’s more apparent, it’s more obvious, it’s more out in the open.”

With the exposure to human trafficking, numerous U.S. government organizations have published data regarding these crimes. According to the Polaris Project, an organization dedicated to stopping human trafficking, in 5 years, 9,298 distinct cases of human trafficking were reported in the U.S.

Graf explains further that the cooperation is encouraged so that foreign professionals “… can help themselves and we can have a better diplomatic bridge between their country and ours.”

“The whole world is not enough for love, so we can’t have room for hatred,” Haji said.