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Series focuses on human trafficking

February 24, 2013

By MATT CRANE
life@starkvilledailynews.com

The secret atrocities of human trafficking are being brought to light as Mississippi State University’s Holmes Cultural Diversity Center sponsors a week-long event schedule designed to bring visibility to this form of modern day slavery.

HCDC Program Coordinator Brea Roth said the departments and student organizations participating had provided innumerable resources and encouragement to the cause.

“It has been a tremendous encouragement to have people with the same amount of passion to expose the heinousness of this crime,” she said. “Our goal in partnering with different campus departments, organizations and ministries is bringing people together and showing that unity is needed to conquer this horrific problem.”

Roth said the week would begin with a human trafficking awareness day Tuesday with more than 12 different student organizations showcasing their efforts on the drill field from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“The department of counseling will be there focusing on the healing aspect of human trafficking while the Wesley Foundation will have over 60 signs showing facts and statistics on this crime,” she said. “Burlaep will be selling T-shirts and 15 percent of their proceeds will go toward the International Justice Mission.”

Roth said drill field events would happen again Thursday and Monday, March 4 at the same times.

To relate the international problem of human trafficking to Mississippi, Roth said she and her team had brought in Director of Advocates for Freedom Susie Harvill to talk about modern day slavery at 6 p.m. Tuesday in McCool 100.

“There is a statistic that says every single person in their lifetime has seen a slave, but we don’t know what to look for,” she said. “Susie will be there to help break down ways to spot those signs and open our eyes to things like that.”

Titled “In Our Own Backyard,” Harvill said her presentation highlighted the fact that many Americans only thought human trafficking occurred in third world countries overseas, but in reality it had become an increasingly dangerous problem for Americans as well.

“Children across America are trafficked every day, and human trafficking is currently the No. 2 crime in American today — predicted to be the No. 1 crime at 2014,” she said. “While Mississippi is below the radar compared to bigger cities, traffickers prey on areas like ours, and this is why we need education about it and how to be aware to protect our kids.”

At 6 p.m. Monday, March 4 in Colvard Student Union Foster Ballroom, Roth said former human trafficking victim Shamere McKenzie would speak to those gathered about her experience in that sordid world.

“She caught my attention when looking into booking speakers with an incredible story and relatability,” she said. “I want their eyes to be open to what is going on around them. She was trafficked in college and she says that every time she speaks, she has someone come up who has experience a similar situation and talks about the healing that came after those years in slavery.”

Roth said Mississippi only had three of the seven laws concerning human trafficking on the books, and her main goal in coordinating these awareness events was to give a platform for students and community members to stand up and become an advocate for change.

“There is so much evil out there that we just don’t see, and one of the biggest things that we just don’t know, so you have to start talking about it,” she said. “One of the campaign slogans is ‘Now you know. What are you going to do,’ That’s why I am doing this.”

For a complete list of events concerning MSU’s human trafficking awareness, call 662-325-2033 or visit http://www.hcdc.msstate.edu.

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