The Modern Day Slavery Project at Georgetown College

By Dr. Regan Lookadoo

Throughout the world, an estimated 27 million are enslaved in sex, labor and child trafficking practices.  Despite the huge number of lives impacted, human trafficking is a crime that is hidden and unknown to most people.

During the 2010-2011 year at Georgetown College a small group of faculty and staff strongly believed our campus could not ignore the issue of human trafficking any longer.  Through an in-depth program of monthly events, documentaries, guest speakers, and student led fundraisers, a movement has begun. Students are now energized, the conversation of fair trade is frequently heard on campus and in the community, and the topic of human trafficking is being infused in classroom content, student programs, and community events.  This year provided an excellent foundation for a basic understanding of human trafficking; it is now time to take that knowledge to the next level.

This past July we were awarded a grant from the Jenzabar Foundation to provide 2 years of events on campus that would raise awareness of human trafficking not only among college students but also in the community. Below are two main events that will occur in the upcoming years:

YEAR ONE PLAN:

  • This conference would be the first conference in the state of Kentucky on Human Trafficking that incorporates both awareness and specific advocacy methods for professional, community, and educational settings. We aim to spread knowledge of the injustice of human trafficking and engage and unite Kentuckians with local and national organizations to fight against human trafficking across the globe. (scheduled for March 22, 23, & 24, 2012).

YEAR TWO PLAN: 

  • A week-long academy in conjunction with the Not for Sale organization that would explore the abolitionist movement of the past and present via a traveling seminar through major cities such as Cincinnati; Ripley, OH; Boston; Philadelphia; Washington, DC; and New York. This would be open to people worldwide who are interested in learning more about the parallels between the abolitionist movement of the past and present while connecting to scholars and activists who are working to end modern day slavery (planned for academic year 2013-2014).

YEAR THREE PLAN (pending additional funding):

  • Service:┬á The goal of this 3rd year would be to provide community members and college students the opportunity to become active in providing service and care to both sex trafficking and labor trafficking survivors. This would include connecting to organizations where trips can be coordinated to facilities that rehabilitate young girls and women both in the US and abroad as well as connecting to organizations that support co-ops and fair-trade labor practices. Students and community members could travel to these areas and see first-hand how fair trade practices change communities for the better and how restorative efforts can rehabilitate young women and girls assist them as they overcome the trauma they experienced in trafficking conditions.

We believe the impact of this program will be felt for many years to come. For example, by providing teacher, faith leader and business leader workshops, the information can be infused into regular curriculums in county schools and annual events in churches and faith groups in the community. In addition, discussions of fair trade can have lasting effects as consumers begin to request more fair trade products and local businesses begin to provide those options for their customers.

Lastly, there are immeasurable effects of education and service for the college population. Their innovative ideas, unhindered passion, and general optimism about the future, are the characteristics most needed by a modern abolitionist movement.  It was these very same characteristics that guided Wilber Wilberforce and a small number of abolitionists in a 26-year campaign to end the British Slave Trade which occurred in 1807 with the passing of the Slave Trade Act. 

If a small number of abolitionists can bring about such a significant change in our history when slavery was legal and largely accepted, it is certainly conceivable that a generation of young adults can join together today to fight human trafficking and thus see slavery end in their lifetime.  It is our hope through these proposed events that college students, community members, and leaders in Kentucky can become aware of this issue, become educated with tools and resources, and become empowered to make a difference in the fight against human trafficking.

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