Christian Izco is passionate about fighting against the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) and human trafficking in the Atlanta metropolitan area. The public management and policy graduate fellow has taken her platform to the classroom, the community and the Georgia Legislature.
“I learned about the prevalence of human trafficking while working in South Africa on a project dealing with HIV in children,” says Izco, who received her BBA from Georgia State and will complete her MPA with a concentration in policy analysis and evaluation later this year. “I asked one of the South African women what I could do to get involved with the issue. She was appalled and politely told me that when we fix our problem in Atlanta, ‘then you come back and work on ours.’ She knew more about our human trafficking problem than I did! It really knocked me off of my feet.”
Izco returned to Atlanta and immersed herself in learning more about this issue. Her research and advocacy have included doing an internship with Street GRACE, an advocacy and awareness nonprofit, lobbying for a number of House and Senate bills about the issue, and starting a Georgia State University student organization that focuses on child trafficking locally and throughout Georgia.
“Street Grace is a premiere organization for raising awareness about CSEC,” says Izco. “I spent a year as an intern and worked with kids in middle and high school, the majority of them runaways.” She also helped recruit prevention partners in the community provided tutoring and self-esteem programs for the girls. Her work involved collaboration with the state to ensure the nonprofit had enough volunteers and funding to do the programs.
Izco also enrolled in Mary Finn’s class on societal responses to child trafficking. Finn, a professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, recently completed research documenting the extent of confirmed cases of child trafficking in the Atlanta area and evaluating the implementation of Atlanta’s community-coordinated response to the commercial sexual exploitation of children.
Izco says that most people who look at CSEC are victim-focused, where prevention and restoration are of greater concern.
“My heart is demand-focused,” says Izco. “How do we change the culture so that it’s not okay for men to buy children? We need to look at child pornography and children victimizing their peers through sexting. The laws are going to need to dramatically change to go after the buyers.
In spring 2010, Izco and several other Georgia State students chartered a Street GRACE student organization. The group rebranded itself last year and is now called Manumission, which now has 46 members.
“We are working on a project on policy analysis right now, studying the feasibility of a policy that would change Georgia’s laws about how we treat juvenile runaways and throwaways,” says Izco. “Our laws currently re-victimize them. I hope to have something to hand a legislator next year by way of a bill.”
Read more about Manumission in The Signal at http://georgiastatesignal.com/georgia-state-organization-manumission-brings-sex-trafficking-to-light/. Its website is https://orgsync.com/30974/chapter.