Janell Koide is a senior Psychology major at Vanguard University. She became a Women’s Studies Minor when she joined the 2014 Summer Study Abroad course in Medellin, Colombia, and interns in the GCWJ offices.
Human trafficking can go by many names and include many faces. The Federal Strategic Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking defines human trafficking as “a crime that involves the exploitation or a person for the purpose of compelled labor or a commercial sex act,” or modern day slavery.
As a student, the thought of this injustice angers me, and its growing prevalence in the United States brings heaviness to my heart. The International Labour Organization states that it is difficult to accurately measure the magnitude of human trafficking worldwide, but the minimum begins at 20 million. That’s 20 million fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, daughters, and sons “victimized by forced labor and sex trafficking worldwide,” and the United States is not exempt (Federal Strategic Action Plan).
So what do we as students do upon hearing this tragic news? We can learn more about the issue. We must educate ourselves so that we may be able to effectively offer our services to help cure this disease at its core, rather than hastily provide short-term band-aid solutions. Removing the victim is only a step in the process. Aiding the survivor in their recovery and introduction to a life free of exploitation is just as important. It is a complex, multifaceted issue that may overwhelm you with wonders of “What can I do?”
This year, Vanguard University’s Global Center for Women and Justice welcomes experts on the issue for the 2015 Ensure Justice Conference on March 6-7. The theme of the conference this year is Coordination, Collaboration, Capacity, and Compassion: What’s your role in the plan?, based on the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States. The purpose of the Plan is to provide government and community agencies with tangible steps to provide services to victims of human trafficking in the United States, which “includes steps to create a victim services network that is comprehensive, trauma-informed, and responsive to the needs of all victims” (Federal Strategic Action Plan).
So, why should students join Ensure Justice this year?
- Meet and Network with leaders and members of organizations combatting human trafficking – Ensure Justice provides students one-on-one opportunities to connect with leaders fighting this issue locally, nationally, and globally.
- Fulfill the requirement for Women’s Studies Minor – The Women’s Studies minor at Vanguard offers us as students a chance to learn from professionals in the community – professionals who will be our supervisors, mentors, and colleagues when we leave VU.
- Get a unit – Register for the 1 unit course! One weekend commitment with some pre- and post-conference reading and assignments.
- Find YOUR place in the fight to end human trafficking – This conference gives us a chance to see what is going on in the community, and where our skills and passions can be used. What does it mean to counsel victims or work in law enforcement? What do human trafficking ministries look like? The conference offers the chance to discover what the right place is for each of us.