On Thursday, Feb. 18 an FBI Agent, a prevention specialist, a speaker from a local faith community and a survivor of human sex trafficking will speak in the Taylor Auditorium to tell their stories.
In 2014 the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children stated that 1 in 6 endangered runaways reported to them were likely sex trafficking victims. The International Labor Organization estimates that forced labor and human trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide.
In Portland a 2013 study commissioned by a U.S. Attorney found that 459 children had been identified as sex trafficking victims by the Oregon Department of Human Services and the nonprofit Sexual Assault Resource Center, SARC, over four years. The average age was 15.
Human trafficking is happening in Pacific’s own backyard and the panel that is coming will present their current situation, prevention strategies and rescue and restoration of victims according to the press release.
Laurel Gregory, a member of the Center for Gender Equity’s, CGE, board is the main organizer for this event. According to Gregory human trafficking caught her attention and acquired her full focus after thinking about her daughter.
“For me, having a daughter meant that it could have happened to her,” said Gregory. “And that tugged at my heartstrings.”
Although the idea for this event started over a year ago, it came to be after Gregory, Director of CGE Martha Rampton and the CGE Board decided that this was the year to tackle the subject.
“This year it was something that we felt strongly about,” said Gregory. “Although it’s in the papers, most people don’t realize that it’s happening here.”
This event is not just educational, there will also be opportunities for attendees to speak with organizations that help the victims of human trafficking. The organizations will be available for conversation at the “How I Can Help Fair” before and after the program.
Senior Mia Prohaska will be representing the Center for Civic Engagement at the fair where students who are interested in volunteering with programs that work with victims of human trafficking will be able to sign up and receive credit.
The main speaker, a survivor of human sex trafficking, was groomed at the age of 17 and was 18 when it started. Although the majority of women trafficked are between the ages of 12-14, according to The National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking, this event will talk about how it can happen to anyone, the ways we can prevent it and how to help.
“The reason they have sex trafficking is because there is still a high demand,” said Gregory. “We need to take a closer look at what we are doing to our sons and daughters.”
The event will take place in the Taylor Auditorium on Thursday, Feb. 18 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.