Feb 23, 2010

Conference tackles slave trade

by Cat Hewett

“Lord, I am worthless before the world but you are worthy. I am meaningless but you are our help.”

The grandmother of a girl in Kenya prayed these words after the girl’s rapist was caught and sentenced to 15 years in prison. This victim and many like her have found justice through the actions of the International Justice Mission (IJM).

IJM is one of the organizations that fights against human trafficking and slavery across the globe in attendance at Liberty Abolishing Slavery, an event sponsored by the Helms School of Government and Criminal

Justice Student Club in conjunction with the Pre-Law Society and Visual Communication Arts Department, Wednesday, Feb. 17.
The event informed students about the horrors of human trafficking.

“It was very informative,” senior Mary Byers said. “I thought the information was disconcerting at times, but I think it was important that everyone here heard that and … became aware of the situation going on in the world with human trafficking internationally and here in the United States.”

President and CEO of IJM Gary Haugen talked to students during convocation about his work freeing slaves around the world.

“I am trying to broaden my heart out of (my selfish desires), to try and share something of (God’s) interest and love for the world,” Haugen said. “It has been a journey for me now to try and open up the borders of my heart, to open up my heart from this little shriveled world of just ‘me’ and ‘mine’ and to try to share something of his love and passion for the world.”

Haugen told students stories of three children: one who was forced into slave labor, another raped by the local chief of police and the last forced into to prostitution. All were rescued and are now working to help free other victims of human trafficking.
“There can be no doubt that God has given to us the work of justice in the world,” Haugen said.

According to Policy Counsel for the Polaris Project Kristin L. Fortin, Esq., who spoke to students after convocation, 14,500 to 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States and 100,000 American children are trafficked every year. Fortin also said that there are over 250,000 children at high risk of commercial sexual exploitation in the United States.

Senior Special Agent for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Human Smuggling and Trafficking Group Jay D. Culley said that approximately 800,000 victims are trafficked every year, of which 70 percent are female and 50 percent are children.

“I am very much for justice and we as Christians are called to do justice,” Byers said. “It is not fair that I am free and they are not.”
Other speakers at the event were Investigator with the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office Stephen Anders, Benefits Specialist with the U.S. Department of Labor and representative of the Not for Sale Campaign Julie Seiwell and Immigration Counselor David Maxey.

Students who want to get involved can visit the IJM Web site, www.ijm.org, the Polaris Project Web site, www.polarisproject.org or the Not for Sale Campaign Web site, www.notforsalecampaign.org.
Students who know of or suspect situations of human trafficking can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 1-800-3737-888, or ICE at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.

Contact Cat Hewett at

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