Stephanie Hepburn: Bringing Human Trafficking Home

It was rather serendipitous the way A2Ethics connected with journalist and lawyer Stephanie Hepburn. In New York for a few days, we decided to go on a pilgrimage to one of the most famous pillars of ethicsworld--the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. Fortunately for us, Stephanie was the featured speaker, invited to talk about her latest book, Human Trafficking Around the World: Hidden in Plain Sight. Her talk--and the book--could not be more immediate and essential for us. In it, she discusses the myriad, and often conflicting institutions, laws and policies that all of us should learn about in order to address and to end the problem of modern-day slavery. 

After her talk, it became essential that A2Ethics continue the dialogue with her. As luck would have it, Stephanie has ties to Ann Arbor. She graduated from the University of Michigan, where she distinguished herself as a Michigan Daily reporter. Equally important, Stephanie was born in Ann Arbor. These connections take on a new urgency as we listen to what she has to tell us. Indeed, Stephanie brings human trafficking home. To where we live. In Michigan

There are many ways to be mindful in this stay-with-it-to-the-very-end interview. Stephanie shares with us how she became aware of the ubiquitous nature as well as the well-known individual and societal harm of human trafficking. She also tells us of the complex web of unethical practices that support and enable it to continue.

Her goal is clear: to give individuals like us, practical and useful ways to recognize how human trafficking is hidden and to identify its telltale signs--so that we can muster our courage to take individual and collective action

Every so often, A2Ethics comes across an individual whom we think deserves a special affirmation. Someone willing to speak out about a worldwide ethical issue with profound local consequences. Someone willing to bring an issue out into the open, which in turn, emboldens us enough to speak out too. Human trafficking is such an issue. And Stephanie Hepburn has brought it out into the open through her empirical research, storytelling and witness. 

What makes Stephanie's work even more compelling and different is that hers is a primer on the many concrete ways we can learn to identify the settings, indicators and circumstances of human trafficking--to enable us to expose them.