Human Trafficking: A National and Local Issue

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BY Anaya Vance

Staff Reporter

On Nov. 7th, the Human Journey Colloquia Series and the Department of Social Work presented Human Trafficking in the Schine Auditorium.

Clinical Assistant Professor Elizabeth Johnson-Tyson from the Social Work department moderated the discussion. The department worked closely with the Department of Children and Families in Connecticut.

The event included a screening of the documentary film “Sex + Money: A National Search for Human Worth,” produced by Morgan Perry. It follows a team of young journalists traveling the U.S. documenting the lives of young children and women coerced into a life of sex trafficking and prostitution.

According to sharedhope.org, sex trafficking is the use of force, fraud or coercion to cause a commercial sex act with an adult or cause a minor to commit a commercial sex act. Traffickers find victims through social networks, neighborhoods, clubs, bars, the internet and schools in small cities.

Sophomore Tina Gichana (Health Science major) said, “After the film I was disgusted and felt it was a total disregard for human life. You would think that everyone in the world is living like you are and that opportunity is taken away from women and young girls. Human trafficking is hell on earth.”

According to the film, between 17,000 and 18,000 people are trafficked across international borders into the United States. Children can be trafficked at ages as young as 13 and 14. About 100,000 American kids a year are victims of child prostitution and trafficking.

The film demonstrated how the human body can be owned, used, and reused to make profit with consumers, distributors, and wholesalers governed by supply and demand like any other business. It introduced the lifestyle of 21st century modern day sex slaves in the states of Texas, Georgia, California, New York and Arizona.

“Most people thought this was an international issue and that it didn’t really happen as much here in the States as far as our children are concerned, but obviously very quickly I learned that this is not the case and that we have many victims in the state of Connecticut,” said Yvette Young, Human Anti Traffic and Response Team Coordinator.

Young was joined by three other panelists giving their expertise on this growing issue of human trafficking in Connecticut.

The panelists include Erin Williamson, the Survivor Care Program Director of Love 146; Dave Falback, an analyst for Law Enforcement on Human Trafficking; Brian Sibley, a Connecticut State Prosecutor; and Annmarie Boulay, an outreach worker at Wintonbury Church for “The Underground,” a program to end sex trafficking and exploitation.

“We have prevention curriculum helping the youth identify what a healthy relationship is, but not only in the context of human trafficking. It is taught in detention centers, group home placements, foster care, and any after school program that can get to the youth,” said Williamson.

According to the film, most of the children being trafficked are in group homes, runaways, and have experienced some type of sexual abuse in their life. In Connecticut, it also includes the children that live in a stable home with a family.

Young said, “In the state of Connecticut last year, 67% of the kids who were referred to the department were living at home with a parent or guardian. It happens in every part of the state of Connecticut. Human trafficking in Connecticut is a backyard issue. If you don’t believe it’s happening in your community, then you’re completely misinformed.”

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