From a Q & A with Stephanie Hepburn about her new book, Human Trafficking Around the World: Hidden in Plain Sight:
Question: What made you interested in writing about the topic of human trafficking?--Marshal Zeringue
Stephanie Hepburn: I moved to New Orleans in February 2006, not long after Hurricane Katrina. Just like any place in any country that experiences a natural disaster, the infrastructure was disrupted, the population was in flux and law enforcement personnel were overextended. In order to rebuild the city there was a sudden demand for low-wage labor, which created an ideal scenario for labor exploitation and human trafficking. Further compounding the scenario is that the United States government temporarily suspended numerous protections for workers that affected wages, safety and health. Also, the government temporarily suspended immigration-enforcement requirements. These temporary suspensions compounded the situation and allowed illicit contractors to move in, and bring in and exploit workers unnoticed.
This is actually where the latter part of the book title (Hidden in Plain Sight) came from: the workers were exploited out in the open, but they were hidden in plain sight because no one was paying attention to the exploitation. I first began to research the human trafficking cases in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region and after seeing the common patterns I added the entire U.S. and 23 other nations.
Q: What do you want to accomplish with this book?
SH: I wrote the book to attract a broad audience and be accessible to anyone – whether an academic, expert in the field or a layperson who happens to be curious about the topic. I wanted to bring about improved awareness and understanding of all forms of human trafficking. When most people think of human trafficking they think of...[read on]