Leslie R. Wolfe
trafficking of women and girls*
Sex trafficking is the third-largest underground economy in the world. More than
two million women and children are sold, tricked, or forced by poverty into sexual
slavery or indentured servitude every year. Of these, more than 50,000 are
brought into the United States.
Despite the horrifying numbers, the issue of trafficking can seem remote—until
its victims are threatened and killed in your own city. Such tragedies are
occurring here in Seattle. In 1995, Susana Remerata Blackwell, brought from
the Philippines to Seattle as a mail-order bride, was shot to death by her
purchaser/husband, Timothy Blackwell. Last year, 20-year-old Anastasia
Solovieva King, who was brought to Seattle from the former Soviet Union as a
mail-order bride, was found dead in a shallow grave. Her husband has been
charged with first-degree murder.
On November 3, 2001, the conference 'Trafficking of Women and Children:
Challenges and Solutions' was held at the University of Washington to educate
the public and develop a plan of action to fight trafficking at the local and regional
levels. Members of the Washington state legislature Velma Veloria (D-Seattle),
who initiated the organizing of the conference, worked with Senator Jeri Costa
(D-Marysville), and Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle), to introduce a bill
into the Washington state legislature that is modeled on the Trafficking Victims
Protection Act of 2000. Leslie R. Wolfe, President of The Center for Women Policy
Studies in Washington, DC, is a leader in the fight against trafficking as a United
States policy issue, and educates US state-level lawmakers and the public about
the issue. She was the keynote speaker for the Seattle conference.
It is a great honor and delight to be here with you for this groundbreaking conference. I am especially honored to join my colleague, friend and hero, Representative Velma Veloria, on this podium and thank her for including me
* This speech was first published in the Seattle-based online journal Said It: feminist news,
culture, and politics (http://www.saidit.org/archives/feb02/articlel.html). It was prefaced
by the above introduction by Said It editor Adriene Sere. It has been slightly revised for
its publication in this volume.