Episcopal clergy and congregations are participating in a two-day conference in Davenport, Iowa, to train medical personnel on how to identify victims of human trafficking.
The Rev. Becca Stevens, a Episcopal priest at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., is the featured speaker in a program called “Am I Trafficked? Recognizing Human Trafficking Victims in a Medical Setting.”
Stevens aims to help not only a few women, but also to challenge a culture “that buys and sells women as commodities.” With that goal, she founded the Magdalene program in Nashville. It is a residential program for women who have survived violence, trafficking, prostitution and addiction. Begun in 1997, it has evolved into a national example.
Stevens also founded Thistle Farms in 2001. It is an enterprise that provides employment, training, sales and administrative experience to residents and graduates of the Magdalene program.
The Rev. Brian McVey, an organizer of the Quad-City event and a priest at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Davenport, hopes information from the conference adds to the public’s education and awareness of human trafficking in Iowa.
“It is a long-term commitment to help survivors,” he said, adding that a number of health professionals are also involved in treatment programs. That includes social workers, physicians, plastic surgeons, dentists and others.