Students from Washburn’s Human Trafficking class focused on spreading awareness about human trafficking in the first week of April. During the lunch hour classmates passed out brochures, answered questions and showed a poster about the issue. They also showed movies such as “Not My Life” and “Slumdog Millionaire.”
Twenty-seven million people around the world are slaves and 1-2 kids enter slavery for every minute that passes. Victims are forced to work in poor conditions where they are paid little if any, deal with physical and sexual abuse. It is difficult to escape due to threats, physical and sexual restraint.
“Human trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring or transportation of others, through force, fraud or coercion in which control is factor” read a Stepping Stones brochure.
“To take and force a person to do things against their will is immoral,” said Christy Cheray, a non-traditional student. Cheray believes that a person should be paid for their work.
Human trafficking occurs not just in Cambodia and India, but the United States as well. Even in Kansas. Victims are forced into an estimated $34 billion dollar industry where they are raped, work in poor conditions and get little or no pay. People targeted for human trafficking are men, women and children. People that are most vulnerable are runaways and those who have mental disabilities. Some people are picked up at casinos and hotels.
“The average age of entry into prostitution is between 12 and 14 years old,” wrote Stepping Stones.
On the poster were pictures of slaves and products that were made by slaves. A few of the products displayed were Butterfingers, Pringles and a Rockstar drink.
“Some line of slavery made these products,” said Meaghan McEachern, senior.
McEachern helped out at the booth. She wants people to not only know about Human Trafficking, but to help end it.
“I feel that it is very important to have a voice for those who don’t have a voice and be active in this cause instead of allowing our society to view a human life as a commodity” said McEachern.
McEachern acknowledged that one way to help end slavery is to choose products wisely. The book “The Better World” is a shopping guide that has done in depth research on where companies buy some of their ingredients and materials. The book grades each company based on the amount of labor used by slaves. The products in the U.S. may not have been made by slaves, but take candy bars for instance. The bar was put together with peanut butter and chocolate by paid employees in the U.S., but the company bought the coco from a farm. Where the coco was raised is where a group of slaves worked to make the coco bean.
Another way to help end slavery is to participate in an upcoming auction. The event will take place at The Burger Stand on April 14 on 1601 SW Lane St. Admission is free. Listen to some music then check out the auctions. There will be a silent auction at 4 p.m. and live auction at 4:30 p.m.
If anyone suspects that someone is a victim of human trafficking they should call the Human Trafficking National Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.