By Kylie Noltemeyer –
When asked to think about human slavery, most people’s minds immediately go to The Civil War or the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. However, did you know that there are more human slaves in our world today then at any other time in our history?
Human slavery is any use of force, fraud or coercion to make someone do something else. According to the Polaris Project’s human trafficking statistics, there are more than 27 million people in modern-day slavery in our world today. This number is broken up into two different kinds of trafficking: forced labor and sex.
This is a 32 billion dollars a year business, spanned out over 161 different countries, including the United States. Humans are currently number two on the black market hot list right behind illegal drugs. This is an issue that should no longer be ignored.
That is where the University of Louisville’s Women’s Center and Women4Women Student Board are stepping in. They are sponsoring the fourth annual Human Trafficking Awareness Conference on January 22, from 5:30 P.M.-8:30 P.M. in the Student Activities Center’s MPR. Admission is free, but donations are certainly welcomed.
Why should you care? The Human Trafficking Awareness conference chair and U of L senior, Emma Chapman explains, “This issue is much closer to home then people think. Louisville, for example, is a hub for human trafficking. It is the perfect location for traffickers, with I-65 being a straight north/south shot. It makes getting slaves in and out very easily.”
She further explained that this is not her wanting to scare people, but to get them aware. She believes that events such as this, where people are being educated about this cause, are how we will help to finally end this tragic epidemic.
The set list for the night is jammed packed. Speakers at the conference include, Rus Funk, the executive director of MensWork. His talk will focus on the role men play in eliminating gender based violence and that this is not just a “women’s issue”. He’ll explain how it affects us all and how we must all work together to make a difference.
The next speaker will be Carl Ralston, the president and founder of the international organization, Remember Nhu. His talk will give the global perspective with a focus on the child sex trafficking, which according to Polaris Project’s human trafficking statistics, makes up about 50 percent of business.
The last speaker will be Jennifer Clinger, a human trafficking survivor from Thistle Farms, in Nashville. She is a graduate of Magdalene, a recovery program for women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, dependence or homelessness. She will tell her story of what it was like to be trafficked domestically and how she survived. She is a living example that this is an issue that is much closer to home then we think.
To top off the night, there will also be a live performance by Kentucky Opera Studio artists, Jill Phillips and Cory Battey. No confirmation yet, but there are also rumors floating around that P.F. Changs will be catering for the event as well. It should be an enlightening and eye opening event.
Last year, the conference was a huge hit. They had to move the location this year from the Red Barn after the standing room only crowd they received last year. It is certain to be just as successful this year.
For more information, be looking around campus for flyers or contact the Women’s Center at 502-852-8976.