I am one of 500 attendees at a national nonprofit management conference for students and educators. Days into stale coffee, too-cold rooms, and information beyond my saturation point, my world of being a professor and my world of being a sex-trafficking advocate collided.
The keynote speaker declared that slavery exists around us. Participants looked around bewildered, humbled. Certainly, our country has moved beyond forcing people into labor. Certainly not.
As students learned more about sex trafficking in the keynote address, eyes widened and students shifted uncomfortably in their seats. I relived my own experience learning about this modern form of slavery.
The students that I talked to after the keynote imagined their friends, sisters, and girlfriends in these horrific situations. They reframed their view of prostitution as a victimless crime. They felt in their hearts and searched for solutions in their minds.
Students pursuing careers in the nonprofit sector are full of drive, energy, and will to make our world better one day at a time. They asked the obvious question: “what can we do?” Perhaps you are asking yourself the very same question. What can I do to eradicate this modern form of slavery?
You can start the conversation.
Connect JCAST Chicago to your synagogue or church. Invite your friends to coffee and have them read and discuss an article about sex trafficking. Have your book club read, Lived Through This: Listening to the Stories of Sexual Violence Survivors by Anne K. Ream. Write a blog post. Harness the power of social media. Go see Money Make’m Smile at Her Story Theater in Chicago this spring.
When paid sex becomes socially unacceptable, demand ends. When demand ends, traffickers don’t earn billions of dollars from selling people as reusable commodities. When traffickers don’t earn money, they stop victimizing. And, only then, does this horrific cycle end.
~ Jacqueline Babb, Engagement and Development Director