Groups to address human traffickingBy Samuel Yang | 04/06/2014 11:00pm
Human trafficking and sexual slavery have long been pressing issues in the international community, and a Birmingham shelter ministry will be joining with campus groups Monday to raise student awareness.
“Filling the Well: Addressing Sexual Slavery in Alabama” will address a topic that may be familiar to many students – human trafficking. However, students may be surprised to hear that this issue hits closer to home than they may have realized.
“I-20 is the super highway for trafficking as it connects some of the largest cities in America on the same roadway. I-20 passes right through Tuscaloosa,” said Kaitlyn Patrick, case manager for The WellHouse, a faith-based Birmingham nonprofit that rescues and shelters victims of trafficking. “This means trafficking is happening right here, in your own backyard.”
The WellHouse will be joining with the Women’s Resource Center and the Campus Ministry Association in two events Monday.
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At 3:30 p.m. Monday in Alston Hall’s fourth floor parlor, Patrick will be showing a video, speaking about the issue and discussing her work at The WellHouse.
“Human trafficking is the second highest grossing illegal act in the world, second to illegal drug sales,” she said. “This fact is enough to show that it is an issue. It is not an issue that began yesterday but rather one that has been around for much longer. Here in America, our society and media paint sexual trafficking as a voluntary action, when in reality, we do not know who the victim’s pimp has threatened or how much they have been beaten. The WellHouse’s goal is to help rescue those who have been victims of this exploitation to help put the pieces of their lives back together.”
Paige Miller, coordinator of campus violence programs for the WRC, said the event is part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
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“Sex trafficking is a form of sexual violence and many people are not aware that it exists in the U.S., or even in the state of Alabama, so this program is intended to provide information about the problem,” Miller said.
She said the WRC also provides services for on-campus victims of interpersonal violence.
“The Campus Ministry Association became involved as a co-host because The WellHouse is the only shelter in Alabama that serves victims of sex trafficking and prostitution, and it is a faith-based organization,” she said. “The Women’s Resource Center and the Campus Ministry Association thought this was a natural partnership for our two organizations.”
At 6 p.m. Monday night, the three organizations will also be joining to present “What’s Faith Got to Do With It?: Addressing Sexual Slavery in Alabama.” Dinner will be provided. Students can RSVP for the event by texting “WellHouse” to (205) 703-2775.
Afterwards, students will have a chance to explore volunteer opportunities with The WellHouse in Birmingham or the Women’s Resource Center.
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