According to the Coalition on Human Trafficking, more people live in slavery today than any other time in history. This statistic isn’t talking about the kind of slavery that students learn about in social studies courses; it is talking about human trafficking.
More than 250,000 people are sex-trafficked in the United States every year, and Omaha’s location in relation to I-80 and I-29 makes it a hot spot for this kind of exploitation. That is why it is important for Marian, as an all-girls school, to be educated on what can happen to any of us, at any time, anywhere. “I think it is important to be informed because we need to be aware about what’s happening in the world and community in order to be safe and recognize when others might not be safe,” sophomore Zaza Nelson said.
On Oct. 6, Rho Kappa (Social Studies Honors Society) hosted a movie and a panel of speakers to educate the Marian community about sex trafficking. This event, brought to Marian by the Nebraska Mothers Association as a benefit for the Coalition on Human Trafficking, began with a showing of “Sold,” a movie highlighting the perils of sex-trafficking in India. “The movie and panel had a profound effect on my knowledge of sex-trafficking. The risks and the effects became more apparent in my life. Now, I feel that I am able to help keep a look out for others and myself who have the possibility of being sex-trafficked in Omaha and around the world,” senior Madeline Shaffer said.
Although the movie was based in India, all five panel speakers spoke to the fact that things aren’t any different here in the United States. “Every single one of you in this room–that could’ve been you,” said Sakura Yodogawa-Campbell, survivor of sex-trafficking.
The rest of the panel was made up of Anna Brewer, former FBI agent and current human trafficking consultant, Sr. Rosalee Burke, Notre Dame sister and social justice coordinator, Dr. Sue Gabriel, associate professor of nursing at Nebraska Wesleyan University and Amber Schlote, human trafficking investigator.
Each of these women have an expertise in human trafficking and speak often at events.
One of the biggest strategies of traffickers is their ability to pick girls based on their vulnerabilities. “One of the best things you can do is look at all the other girls around you and ask ‘How can I be a friend to the girls who are lonely? How can I lift someone up?’’ said Yodogawa-Campbell. Although trafficking is a scary reality, the movie and panel emphasized the importance of being informed.