Trafficking event seeks to raise awareness

“In 2010, an estimated 12.3 million adults and children were in forced labor, bonded labor and forced prostitution around the world,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). “As many as 300,000 children are at risk for sexual exploitation each year in the (U.S.).”

The DOJ also said South Florida is a hot spot for sex trafficking in the nation, ranked as the third-busiest area.

Human trafficking is defined as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or other services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion, for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery,” according to the DOJ. It’s not just a problem in the U.S., but also across the world. 

In 2012, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime reported that 2.4 million people across the globe were victims of human trafficking. 

The issue of human trafficking and how students can get involved in helping to put it to a stop will be discussed today by the International Justice Mission (IJM) at USF’s Anti-Human Trafficking Workshop from 8 to 9 p.m. in MSC 3708. 

The workshop will feature organizations from both on and off campus that deal with the fight against injustices like human trafficking. 

These organizations include USF Model U.N., the Women and Gender Studies department, Miracle Outreach, which provides housing to rescued children, and Bridging Freedom, which works to educate the community and provide care for victims of human trafficking. 

The organizations will present themselves, and there will be opportunities for students to network with them and find out how to get involved. 

According to Cindy Navarrete, IJM’s head of advertising and public relations and a junior majoring in early childhood education, IJM’s mission as a whole is to help people in other countries facing injustice, dealing with human trafficking and oppression and promoting awareness and advocacy for victims.

Planning for the workshop started over the summer. Navarrete said IJM wanted to get students more involved with the organization, its mission and its partners. She said the organization reached out to their partners in order to organize the event.

Some of the biggest things Navarrete said students can do to help end human trafficking are working to raise awareness, donating to safe houses that provide shelter to human trafficking victims and the organizations that work against human trafficking and petitioning government officials to pass laws to stop human trafficking. These are some of the things IJM has done in the past at events like Stand For Freedom.

Student volunteering is also an option, but safe house volunteers must go through an approval process first.

Other opportunities to get involved will be presented at the workshop.

Building awareness is important, Navarrete said, because of Florida’s role in human trafficking. 

According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC), Florida ranks third in the nation in human trafficking cases reported with 191 cases, beating New York and topped only by Texas and California, as of 2015.

“It is something that happens close to home,” Navarrete said.

Of those 191 cases, 139 were sex trafficking cases and 165 of the victims were female. The NHTRC received 743 calls from Florida this year, as of June 30.