Dhakir Warren

“I want to be a part of something bigger than myself and I want to do this for my own personal reasons. I think its passion and being invested in an issue that is important to you that is going to drive anyone’s desire to work in this space but also really understand what this work means.”


Interviewee: Dhakir Warren

Interviewers: Grace A. and Jillian M., Grade 12

Interview Date: March 7, 2017

Interview Location: Demand Abolition, Cambridge, MA

Student Reflections:
In our interview, we talked a lot about fighting the source of sex trafficking and ways that we, as students, can help. An ideal way would be to change the way people think and stop our culture from objectifying women. Of course, this is an oversimplified solution. At Demand Abolition, they tackle the source of the sex trade, which is the men who are willing to pay for sex. The culture that we live in normalizes prostitution and sex trafficking because women are seen as objects, not humans. We also discussed the rewarding parts of his job, like seeing the innovative ways that other parts of the company find to combat the trade or influencing important legislation. On the other hand, we discussed the challenges that Demand Abolition and all non-profits face; time and money. Some days it may feel like nothing is happening and that their efforts are for nothing. But knowing that they are at least trying can be rewarding in itself.
Walking into Demand Abolition felt like I was walking into a National Geographic office, with its lobby full of beautiful portraits of people in foreign countries. The work environment there felt productive and worthwhile; I instantly knew why people were drawn to work there. When I sat down to conduct the interview, I didn’t know what to expect. But what I found was that organizations like Demand Abolition encourage all people to be part of the social justice movement to combat problems plaguing our state, country, and world. I found that there are so many ways for teenagers and young adults to fight sex trafficking in our own cities and towns. This experience inspired me to want to invoke change in our negative misogynistic culture because I knew that my effort would be valuable to Demand Abolition. (Grace A.)
In the interview, I learned a lot about human trafficking in general. I learned how individuals typically become involved and about the transition back into society after experiencing human trafficking. I also learned about what laws are in place to help demand reduction, as well as different ways in which individuals can personally take action to help stop human trafficking. Mr. Warren spoke to us about challenges, such as time and money, as well as some of the tough situations he has been faced with. He also told us about what inspires, drives and pushes him to continue to work for social change.
This year in particular I feel especially called to social change. In Catholic Social Teaching in Action, the course this project is run through, I have learned a lot about what it means to be a compassionate person and to value your own needs as much as the needs of others. I have learned to recognize my ability to use what I am given to help those who are desperate. Visiting Demand Abolition only strengthened that call to social justice. It was interesting to hear personal stories and perspectives of those who are immersed in this challenge. It also gave me a look at what kind of career opportunities are available to those seeking social change and what qualities are required in order to succeed at it. (Jillian M.)


“Working to give a voice to those who are voiceless or providing access to opportunities they may not have otherwise have had has been a big force that drives the opportunities that I pursue professionally and personally.”
“Ultimately, support vulnerable populations and provide support so that they can not only get access to opportunities to exit the life but also to really spark a national effort that focuses on engaging policy makers and law enforcement and researchers to really think about the impact of demand reduction.”
“It starts with awareness and really speaking to your friends and your parents about the fact that this is local, it’s an issue that’s happening everywhere. I think it’s important to recognize that men have a really big role in this.”
“We know that it is not a victimless crime, we know that there is harm.”
“It’s important to learn how to identify how other behaviors contribute to it. We live in a society that really, overwhelmingly objectifies women and puts them in a box. The representation of women that we see on TV, movies and on billboards really seem to normalize the behavior. It is socially acceptable.”
“I want to be a part of something bigger than myself and I want to do this for my own personal reasons. I think its passion and being invested in an issue that is important to you that is going to drive anyone’s desire to work in this space but also really understand what this work means.”
“Activism is very much representative of the individual. I don’t think that there is a value that you can put on the efforts of anyone working to address social change, however big or small.”
“A lot of people don’t see this as an issue that affects their local area […] the fact of the matter is that there are certain risk factors that makes someone more vulnerable but there are so many young girls and young boys [and] transgender [people] that come from suburban or middle to upper class families […] this is an issue that’s local.”
“Activism can be starting a group in your church, in your community center. […] It is very much representative of the person.”
“Working with 12 other cities, seeing their ability to come up with and create promising tactics that would be effective in reducing demand [is rewarding.]”