Local advocate encourages students to learn about, act on human trafficking

Marlena Chertock

APRIL 13, 2011

The Polaris Project is a comprehensive resource for information on human trafficking and an organization that works to combat trafficking. Photo courtesy of polarisproject.org.

“If one person is forced to have sex with 55 people a day, is that enough to make you care?” Tracy Rowe asked students in Irazu on April 13 at 8 p.m.

Rowe, from NC Stop Human Trafficking, spoke about human trafficking, how to spot its victims and how to get involved to help stop and prevent it. The event was sponsored by the Service Learning Community, SPARKS! Peer Educators and 146 Love.

NC Stop is a statewide organization that works to eradicate modern day slavery in all its forms. It operates on the P.A.V.E. motto, prevention, advocacy, victim services and education.

Human trafficking is often called modern day slavery, as its victims are forcibly kept in the business. It is a business; there will always be supply of people and demand for these sexual acts.

Human trafficking makes more money than the NFL, MBA and baseball industry combined, she said.

People are trafficked for sex, labor, food clothing and shelter. It is often a means to survive.

Women, men and children are lured into human trafficking, labor trafficking and sex slavery through fraud, deception, brute force, intimidation and manipulation. They are kept in it with drugs and psychological means of control.

“Traffickers promise them better lives, good jobs, but they end up getting to the country, even the U.S., and being forced into slavery,” Rowe said.

Then the traffickers tell the victims they owe a debt. But the work they do cannot possibly raise enough to repay this debt.

Graphic by Marlena Chertock.

Trafficking doesn’t only happen abroad, in developing nations, it’s also occurring in the U.S. There have been numerous human trafficking cases in Maryland, Texas, N.C. and other states.

About 25 percent of human trafficking victims end up in the southeast, in states like North Carolina. This is for various reasons. A big reason is there are major highways where people can be transported. I-95, I-85 and I-40 run through North Carolina.

There are many causes of human trafficking, ranging from globalization, cheap labor and demand for cheap products and demand for sexual acts and child sex.

Trafficking creates the normalization of degradation and violence against women and children and normalization of exploitation and devaluation of human life. It makes exploitation and violence seem more normal and acceptable and human life not valuable, she said.

People can make a difference in this social justice and human rights issue, Rowe said.

People shouldn’t refer to people who engage in prostitution as “prostitutes” but ” women and people being prostituted,” she said. This helps keep the criminalization off the victims and places blame on traffickers and those who seek out people being prostituted.

“This is a demand-driven problem and we need to combat the demand,” she said.

A chocolate bar really should cost $3, but you can buy it for 50 cents.

People don’t like to spend more, though, because it’s inconvenient and harder to find, she said.

“But we’re voting with our dollar,” she said. “If we don’t buy things that are cheaper, demand for those products go down and companies won’t sell them.”

People have to realize that they may have to spend more money and have less things, she said.

Victims of human trafficking are often physically, psychologically, mentally and emotionally abused. Many contract STDs during their time in sex slavery.

Traffickers are really good at manipulating their victims and keeping them silent, she said.

Rowe recommended certain organizations and websites to learn more about human trafficking:

If students or community members are interested in getting involved with ways to prevent and fight against human trafficking, NC Stop is hosting a meeting Friday, April 15 at the Green Bean coffee shop on 341 S. Elm St. in Greensboro at 6 to 8 p.m.

If you have a human trafficking tip, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.

***

Rowe on normalization of human trafficking

Rowe on combating demand for human trafficking

Service Learning Community recites poem about child sex slavery

Rowe on college students becoming advocates

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About Marlena Chertock

Marlena Chertock's first collection of poetry, On that one-way trip to Mars, is available from Bottlecap Press. Her articles have appeared in The Washington Post, Marketplace, and WTOP. Her poems and fiction has appeared in The Deaf Poets Society, Moonsick Magazine, and Paper Darts.

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