Coincidently intertwining with a Sexual Assault Awareness Day, Washburn students who are enrolled in a human trafficking course this spring will be presenting their research on various subtopics of slavery and exploitation in different countries from 1–2:30 p.m. in the Vogel room of Memorial Union.
Ichabods will have a chance to learn substantial amounts of information about particular research areas and have their questions answered. The event has been raising awareness among students annually for 12 years, five of which were under the supervision of Sharon Sullivan, the professor of the course and professor of theatre at Washburn University.
With summer break approaching, students from all over the nation begin searching for job opportunities someplace else in pursuit to escape from a monotone environment of their college town and have fun while earning some money on the side. Without any suspicion, they are ready to plunge into any great offer from the internet that sounds too good to be true. While many do end up living the summer of their dreams, the others, against all the odds, end up in slavery. How could it be?
The dry statistics speak better than any words. The U.S. Department of Justice approximates that 1.5 million American citizens are currently trafficked in the U.S. while about 20,000 are being deceived into coming to this country.
People are being bought, sold and exploited like modern-day slaves not only in the states but also in almost every country, town and community around the world. On average, girls as young as 13 are being sold to brothels where they are forced into prostitution.
Entire families are enslaved into labor trafficking through never-ending debt in restaurants, construction, cleaning and even nail salons. Migrants and factory workers are being trapped with little to no pay. The most vulnerable victims, however, are children. Human trafficking is one of the oldest heinous crimes and a $32 billion global industry.
“It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It is a form of greed through exploitation of the most vulnerable in society,” Sullivan said.
“I feel it’s really important to continue talking about human trafficking and keep raising awareness not only to help the victims but more importantly to educate people of ways to prevent trafficking from happening,” Sullivan said. “One thing I advise people if you see something and it doesn’t look right call the National Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. Many victims have been set free just because a passer-by reported the suspicious atmosphere.”
Some people may not feel the power to have an ability to make changes when the issue seems so shockingly large without any direct effect on majority of the citizens.
“We have to question what our values are as a community and as a culture,” Sullivan said.
The most susceptible kids to get tricked into trafficking are the ones who are eagerly looking for love and care they lack at home and in school. The community has strength to prevent isolation of those children of whom are easy for traffickers to gain the trust.
The event will be a great chance for students and faculty to gain knowledge about human trafficking that will help them in fulfilling their role within the community.