Advocating for human trafficking close to home

Words by Ashton Vogelhuber

 

Human trafficking is modern day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.

This definition comes from the Department of Homeland Security’s website which also describes the type of person traffickers often target as well as provides other resources to recognize key indicators.

In Ohio, Governor Kasich’s Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force provides an overview of state and federal anti-trafficking laws found below. 

The Governor’s Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force was formed to marshal the resources of the State of Ohio to coordinate efforts to identify victims, create a coordinated law enforcement system to investigate and prosecute human trafficking crimes and provide the services and treatment necessary for victims to regain control of their lives, stated on their website.

In January 2017, the task force submitted the report below to the Governor. The report includes data, strategies and what the task force has seen or done since the previous report was submitted in 2015. 

The Polaris Project was founded in 2002 and is a nonprofit based in Washington D.C. They aim to help guide people held in slavery to freedom in many ways. They have a four-part model that details how the organization achieves this mission.

Part one is to serve victims and survivors through a 24/7 National Human Trafficking Hotline and coordinate with referral partners nationwide as a national access point for trauma-informed support.

Part two is building one of the largest public data sets on human trafficking in the United States.

Part three revolves around designing strategies that change entire systems tailored to specific sub-types of trafficking and specific industries.

Part four enlists law enforcement and other public and private-sector partners to move those strategies into the real world to support survivors and prevent and disrupt human trafficking at scale.

The Polaris Project also published a fact sheet about the 2000 Trafficking Victims’ Protection Act, TVPA, which is below. 

There are dozens of advocacy groups and human trafficking coalitions in the state of Ohio, a map can be found on the Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force’s website, but on Kent State’s campus there’s a chapter of the International Justice Mission that’s striving to end modern day slavery.

The International Justice Mission, IJM, is a nonprofit global organization based in Washington D.C. that’s dedicated to ending modern day slavery. They work to rescue slaves, put slave owners in jail and end slave trade for good.

IJM supports those suffering from land theft, sex trafficking, police abuse of power, citizenship rights abuse, sexual violence against children and forced labor slavery.

IJM’s endeavors, strategies and impact can be found in this fact sheet provided on their website. 

Their mission is carried out across the globe, but it’s also being carried out nationally on college campuses. Delaney Cordova is the president of IJM’s chapter at Kent State University.

Cordova has been involved with Kent’s chapter of IJM since her first year at the university.

“Freshman year I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my path,” Cordova said. “I decided after seeing IJM and getting involved I wanted to help victims of human trafficking and work for a nonprofit like IJM or something local.”

Kent’s chapter is directly affiliated with its global faith-based nonprofit parent organization.
“We focus on the advocacy, prayer and fundraising side of things,” Cordova said. “We do campaigns directly with headquarters where we get to go there and learn from them doing leadership training and global prayer gatherings.”

On Kent’s campus, they’re dedicated to hands-on approaches and events.

“We contact our congressmen and congresswomen to help pass laws or different initiatives,” Cordova said. “We also do different events where students get to use their talents or passions to find a creative way of involving people on campus and in our community to teach them about human trafficking.”

Cordova said that not a lot of people know that human trafficking exists right in Ohio and even right around Kent and Akron.

“Every large event that we do we reach hundreds of people telling them about IJM and about human trafficking who may not have known before,” she said.

Right now, the chapter is doing a month-long event called No Slave November.

 

Delaney Cordova with her “Until All Are Free” shirt

“It’s an entire month of wearing our campus chapter shirts which say ‘Until All Are Free’ every day so people notice and ask us questions,” Cordova said. “We tell them about what IJM does and get the conversation started.”

There are also events scattered throughout the month like their Freedom Fast. The fast is an IJM headquarters event that involves a 24-hour fast, a 24-hour prayer time and asking people to donate $24.

“The money goes to fund rescue missions that headquarters does,” Cordova said.

Other events include a worship night, potluck dinner to end the fast, a documentary screening and a street corner stand in.

“We went to downtown Kent around dinner time with our shirts, signs and flyers and talked to people,” Cordova said. “The point of it is to stand on the street corners with the women all over the world who are standing on street corners being prostituted every single night.”

To end the No Slave November event, they hold a Night of Hope, an open event where people can walk around tables and see what IJM Kent is doing as well as what headquarters is doing. It includes success stories that both the chapter and headquarters has had throughout the year.

Before No Slave November, Kent’s IJM chapter held an event called the Red Sand Project. Hear Cordova explain the event in the audio clip below. 

 

“Human trafficking is a big issue that happens closer to home than people realize,” Cordova said.