“We stand one day for their everyday.”
For 24 hours, students showcased posters with statistics and facts about modern-day slavery from May 22 to May 23 near the Rock as a part of the Stand for Freedom campaign hosted by Fight for Freedom, or F3.
F3, a partner of the International Justice Mission, hopes to raise awareness surrounding the issue of modern-day slavery. As F3 states, slavery can take on a multitude of forms from domestic servitude to forced child labor to sex and labor trafficking. According to the International Labour Organization, around 21 million people are forced into labor worldwide. Closer to home, the Chicago Bureau dubbed the city as a “national hub for human trafficking” with around 16,000 - 25,000 women and girls entangled in the commercial sex trade.
“This is such a weighty issue above all because you’re exploiting another human being in the most literal sense,” said SESP sophomore Kyle Sebastian, events chair of F3.
Sebastian and other members hope to spread awareness by standing by the Rock and engaging in conversation with those who stop by their demonstration. Sebastian expects the organization to initiate action and thoughtful responses in regards to human trafficking and anticipates the event to grow in the future.
Besides displaying posters, students interested in the Stand for Freedom campaign can sign a petition for Congress to pass the Human Trafficking Prioritization Act and to show support for the five anti-human trafficking bills passed by the House of Representatives earlier this week. In addition, participants can donate to Anne’s House, a Chicago shelter for females who were victims of commercial sexual exploitation.
“I can’t imagine how you can reenter the world after that trauma, after having your humanity stripped away from you,” Sebastian said.
The U.S. State Department reports that around 27 million people are victims of human trafficking and that the US is the second most popular destination in the world for trafficking victims. Weinberg freshman Hannah Wald participated in the awareness campaign after watching Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, a documentary that went behind the scenes of the sex industry.
“I didn’t realize how big of a deal exploitation and human trafficking was around the world,” Wald said. “I wanted to get more involved and help promote the cause of getting rid of human trafficking and slavery in the world.”
Along with Wald, Sebastian will continue to spread awareness of modern-day slavery in order to put a stop to the already illegal industry.
“I may choose to look the other way, but I know about." Sebastian said. “So, I’m going to do something about it. I want to be a part of the generation that cares about these types of social issues.”