Justice Week discusses issue of human trafficking

While slavery in America was abolished with the Fourteenth Amendment, the challenge of ending worldwide was the topic of a discussion on human trafficking Tuesday. The event was part of this year’s “Justice Week,” which is co-sponsored by the Campus Crusade for Christ and InterVarsity student organizations.

Greg Darley, director of college mobilization for the International Justice Mission, spoke to a crowd of about 75 people in the Alumni Memorial Union. The International Justice Mission is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization composed of lawyers and social workers working to end slavery, sexual exploitation and violent oppression.

“There are more than 27 million slaves in the world … (and) there are more slaves today than all 400 years of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade (combined),” Darley said at the event. “And 2.5 million of those are trapped in the commercial sex trade.”

Human trafficking is not exclusively an international problem, however. According to a 2012 National Human Trafficking Resource Center report, from July through September 2012, Wisconsin received 33 calls relating to human trafficking within the state. Eight of those calls were for tips of suspected trafficking, and five were reporting high risk situations. The quarterly report also stated that there were 5,183 calls nationwide during that period.

Kyle Bero, a senior in the College of Engineering and the introductory speaker for the event, said he was glad Darley was able to come and spread awareness on campus.

“One of phrases that struck me was when (Darley) said many people in this world don’t know what freedom is,” he said. “I believe that Jesus died to give me freedom, and I couldn’t imagine a world without it.”

In 2012, the International Justice Mission rescued more than 2,400 people from slavery across the globe, Darley said in his presentation. The organization works with local governments to identify and track areas that may be housing slavery and work with those governments to end it. Part of that work includes training police officials in developing countries to recognize signs of human trafficking.

“We have helped officers – specifically in Cambodia – find ways to notice and stop what is happening,” he said.

Despite the organization’s work, the allure of money generated from the $32 billion a year industry sometimes leads to uncooperative governments and the perpetuation of human trafficking, Darley said.

“It happens a lot where we find a location where the brothel is and arrive (and) everyone has already left,” he said. “There are some (officials) who would rather have money than justice.”

Reba Varghese, a senior in the College of Health Sciences and one of the organizers of the event, said the invent inspired her to take action. Darley outlined ways students hoping to help with the cause could make a difference, including starting a campus chapter of the International Justice Mission, donating or fundraising and participating in the “Stand for Freedom” event from March 5 to 15.

The “Stand for Freedom” event is a nationwide effort to raise awareness of the 27 million people who are victims of human trafficking each year. The organization recruits groups of people to stand for 27-hour shifts outside of schools and churches.

“We don’t have to just wait around; we can make the world a better place,” Varghese said.

The next “Justice Week” event will be a showing of the movie “Nefarious” today at 8 p.m. in Marquette Hall 100 and 200. The movie focuses on the human and sex trafficking topics discussed earlier in the week.