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Movement mobilizes against human trafficking

Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 03:02

David Cohen

Students gather in prayer to address human trafficking at the International Justice Mission's Prayer & Worship Event at All Faiths Chapel on Monday night for the start of End It Week.

 

There are an unprecedented 20-30 million people forced into labor, bondage and human trafficking, according to the CNN Freedom Project.

Slavery, the fastest growing criminal industry, generates an estimated $32 billion annually, ranking only behind weapons and drugs. From bonded labor to sex slavery, modern day human trafficking affects virtually every country, making the issue a growing concern worldwide.

End It Week, a weeklong campaign run by Texas A&M students and organizations, strives to involve people in the prevention of forced labor and bondage.

Bethany Debayle, senior marketing major and Freedom Movement leadership team member, said personal stories of slave victims are what motivated her to get involved and impacted her the most emotionally.

“[I’ve read stories] about young girls from cities all over Texas, around 13-15 years old, who were taken from malls, schools and other common areas and sold into sex slavery,” she said. “If that doesn’t make you stop and think about the issue of human trafficking, I don’t know what will.”

Freedom Movement provides opportunities for students to mobilize themselves and personally engage in the movement.

Debayle said students should be educated on the issues of modern day slavery since it’s a practice that affects such a great amount of people, abroad and at home.

“I think it’s important that students are not only aware of the issue but also understand how real the issue is,” she said. “Many people who are trafficked and forced into labor and sex slavery are the same age as students, or even younger.”

According to the CNN Freedom Project, there are between 14,500 and 17,500 people trafficked across the U.S. annually.

Lindsey Landers, president of International Justice Mission and sophomore business major, said End It Week was inspired by the 2012 Passion Conference, which is a national young adult Christian conference that featured the issue of modern day slavery.

After Passion, the Texas A&M International Justice Mission and Freedom Movement leaders met and decided to create change from the Texas A&M campus.

“I think modern day slavery is something we can all agree needs to end,” Landers said. “It’s happening all around us. Houston is a huge hub for human trafficking.”

From a benefit concert to a Rave to Save, End It Week features a series of events open to all in an effort to raise money for prevention-centered non-profits.

End It Week is hosted by Freedom Movement and Free and International Justice Mission, organizations that have joined together to campaign against human trafficking through a series of fundraising and awareness events.

The organizations are partnered with non-profits such as Tiny Hands International and Free the Captives, which are Christian organizations that work to prevent human trafficking on local and international levels.

Debayle said interested students can help out by volunteering to hold signs and hand out flyers, as well as attend the featured events.

Taylor Russell, junior philosophy major, said students have a chance to make a historical impact with the movement.

“I think that as people who have been so incredibly blessed to be in the position we are as students, we should view this problem as an injustice to a brother or sister,” Russell said. “We should want to help because this is a problem that history will look back on and relate to our generation, and I want to be able to say that we did something about it rather than turn our heads and act like it’s not really there.”

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