Four students have launched a St. Lawrence Human Wrong Campaign to raise awareness about human trafficking and child slavery, and to give a voice to the victims of this human rights violation. The campaign will last for two weeks and will include the showing of two related films and a panel.
The group plans to hold a meeting on March 6th in Room 333 of the Student Center at 7:30 p.m. for anyone who wants to be a part of the campaign and eventually be a member of the club that the group hopes to form next fall. Clare Kelly ‘14, one of the administrators of the project, said, “Anyone who is just aware and spreading their awareness is helping us.” The primary goal of the group right now is to inform the student body that human trafficking is a prevalent but under-publicized issue.
“It’s happening right now,” said Ngozi Mogoli ‘14, who explained that this is a very real, current issue that involves the exploitation of vulnerable individuals who can provide lucrative service. The abused individuals are primarily women and children who face forced involvement in the trafficking of child soldiers, drugs, sex workers, and laborers. “I read the book Half The Sky and was just inspired by the stories in there,” said Mogoli, about how she first became interested in human trafficking. “It’s just not an issue that people know about,” she added. A book concerning the trafficking of women in brothels also sparked the interest of Ashley Grey ’15, another student involved in the campaign.
Marilyn Limon ‘14, who started the campaign, said, “Even by just being informed, you can save lives.” For example, medical professionals and teachers have daily access to patients and children who may be victims of trafficking. Also, working in the government may provide opportunities to improve laws concerning human rights violations.
The group plans to post fliers around campus that tell the stories of trafficking victims and include information about the campaign to generate interest in the issue. They also plan to show two movies during the campaign: Human Trafficking, a Hollywood movie, and a documentary focused on sex trafficking. The campaign will end with a panel discussion. The panelists will include Dr. Sabel Bong from SUNY Canton, Dr. David Bugg from SUNY Potsdam, and Dr. Isaac Joslin from St. Lawrence. In addition, a student researcher from SUNY Potsdam will contribute, as will three St. Lawrence students, including Limon. Though the group isn’t actively fundraising now, they would like to raise money to donate to the Human Wrong Campaign next year after establishing a club on campus.
They will also have a table in the student center to attract interested students. At the table, passersby will be able to sign advocacy letters that will be sent to the government in support of a bill that fights human trafficking in the United States. The table will also provide information about where people can purchase scarves and jewelry made by freed victims of human trafficking. The women make these pieces while in therapy to earn money since many missed out on educational opportunities and therefore cannot enter the workforce or obtain a mainstream career.
Limon said, “Human trafficking taps into a lot of the issues that are going on in the world.” She explained that economic disparity and the ability to access food, medical care, and transportation play into human trafficking. Additionally, immigration is a related issue. Kelly said, “A lot of the world issues can be solved if we take care of trafficking.” Government corruption is yet another related issue, and there is enough money in human trafficking to make it difficult to stop. According to Mogoli, lawyers and legal advocates for these women have been disappearing in countries such as India, Nepal and China.
“Human trafficking is a very large global crime,” said Limon, who added that the issue receives relatively little publicity due to the fact that it is difficult to determine who exactly is involved around the world. The group wants to address human trafficking of laborers, child soldiers, and women involved in the sex trade. They also emphasized that it is a common misconception that trafficking only occurs in third world countries. “I think it’s something we’ve all heard of but not thought about,” said Grey.
Limon initially became interested in this issue during her freshman year of high school when she saw the film Human Trafficking. During high school, she worked to raise awareness of the issue by passing out brochures, writing reports about it, and volunteering for NightLight, an international organization that aids trafficked women and children. She began to orchestrate a Human Wrong Campaign last spring by working with the adviser of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship on campus, which is currently funding the campaign.
Grey, Kelly, and Mogoli expressed interest in the issue and have since garnered additional support from various groups that they are part of. This includes Commons College, the Black Student Union and Literacy For Nepal. Uniting all of these different groups will benefit the campus as a whole, since it will lead to increased collaboration between groups. “They’re coming together for a common cause,” said Grey.
To learn more about the Human Wrong Campaign, visit http://www.humanwrong.org/.