Page 1


Issue on Human Trafficking


Inside Table of Contents 2

Upcoming Events


The Editor's Desk


Student Initiative: Beloved: There is no exchange for love


Student Work: Heartthrob

Cover Story: I have 48 slaves. You can change that.


Professor View: Dr. Roksana Alavi


Student Work: The Good Part


Student Initiative: Loose Chains to Loosen Chains


Professor View: Slavery in the Shadows: An Archaeologist's Perspective


Student Work: Skin


About the Contributors





Alumni Profile: Interview with Dr. Kevin Bales

Our Team Editor-in-chief

Lucy Mahaffey

Marketing Director

Rachel Whitfield


Alexandra Goodman Ashley Jeffalone Miranda Koutahi Kelsey Morris Nick Penner Danielle Wierenga

SGA Liaison

Emily Mee


Jacob Cullum Caleb Olsen

Advisory Board

Dr. Mary Anna Evans Dr. Brian Johnson Mr. Mel Odom Dr. Joy Pendley Dr. Meg Sibbett

Social Media Director

Amanda Awad

Mission Statement: To serve as OU’s central sounding board, bringing together different voices and disciplines to inform, inspire, and encourage interaction on campus.

Disclaimer: FORUM is an independent student organization, and the views and opinions expressed in it are the personal views of the contributors and FORUM Team and do not represent views of the University of Oklahoma.

Upcoming Events Off The Market: Symposium When: Friday, March 4 12:30pm check-in* Who: OU and Norman community Where: Community Room, Zarrow School of Social Work *Register now at Full schedule available online.

Escaping Modern Slavery: Keynote Speaker When: Friday, March 4 7:30pm

Beloved: Art Show Opening When: Friday, March 4 6:00-8:00pm (exhibition runs until March 18) Who: OU and Norman community Where: Lightwell Gallery, second floor of Fred Jones Center Proceeds benefit the Beautiful Dream Society, a local trafficking shelter. See p. 9

Loose Change to Loosen Chains: Event Week When: Thursday, April 14 8:00pm for speaker (events run April 11 to 15)

Who: OU and Norman community

Who: OU community

Where: Community Room, Zarrow School of Social Work

Where: Zarrow School of Social Work (for speaker)

Talk on how citizen activists can change a culture of exploitation from renowned expert Dr. Laura Murphy.

Speaker from Love 146, hosted by InterVarsity. Tabling and benefit night at local restaurant throughout the week. See p. 13 2

The Editor's Desk On behalf of the FORUM team, we want to say we are excited about the launch of this first issue. We are a new publication at the University of Oklahoma run by students for students and targeted specifically at issues relevant to students. Our motto, “Your Voice. Your Concerns. Your Contributions,” reflects our focus to create a unique space for students to express themselves in a new way. Our goal is to bring voices across campus together to inform, inspire, and encourage interaction. All our work is contributed by students and faculty from a wide variety of disciplines and departments. Each issue will present stories, reports, and expressions (artwork, prose, poetry, etc.) related to a specific theme showcasing “OUr approach to the world.” For this first issue, we’ve chosen human trafficking as our focus, highlighting the multiple opportunities to get involved in March. Our next issue will be out on April 5. How is FORUM different? Like other campus newsmagazines (The Georgetown Voice and The Harvard Independent), FORUM hopes to complement traditional news publications, responding to current issues and topics voted important by OU community. How do you tie in? We have funding to pilot two issues of FORUM in March and April. If you, as the reader, find FORUM relevant, informative, and collaborative, then please tell us in our (very) short survey, available on our website at Your feedback and ideas will fuel FORUM's content, format, and topics of discussion. If the pilot is successful, we look forward to seeing you in Fall 2016! We view FORUM as an ongoing conversation, and we're excited to hear from you. Thank you, Lucy Mahaffey, Editor-in-Chief Alexandra Goodman, Co-Editor


I have 48 slaves. You can change that. by Lucy Mahaffey A very personal survey at analyzed the number of cherries I eat, the clothes I wear, and the products I buy, projecting a piercing number on my screen: 48 slaves work for me personally (1). Estimates of modern slavery (or human trafficking) range from 21 million (2) up to 36 million (3). To put this in perspective, imagine 420 people in slavery for every person in Owen Stadium during a game or 9 enslaved for every single person in Oklahoma. Modern slavery is bigger today than the entire Atlantic Slave Trade from the 15th to 19th centuries. Without minimizing the horror of previous slave trades, it is important to understand that modern cases have been found in over 167 countries, and yes – that includes the United States. In fact, all 50 states have reported multiple instances of human trafficking (4). Fortunately, since the passage of the pivotal Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000, US efforts to combat trafficking have increased. What is OUr approach to this horrendous crime? Across campus, student groups like InterVarsity and Off the Market, professors like Dr. Sarah Trabert and Dr. Roksana Alavi, and artists like Gina Butler are actively fighting trafficking. As you read their stories, please keep in mind this crime’s raw truth. After personally befriending many survivors, I must be blunt: human trafficking steals peoples’ lives. It is very real. Very close. And merciless. Trafficking is divided into two types: forced sex and forced labor. Contrary to media’s focus on sex, 68% of trafficking is forced

labor. Each case is heart-wrenching. For instance, children as young as four are forced into Ghana’s fishing industry. Isolated on a vast lake, they receive as many mental scars as physical ones from the prized fishing nets upon which they cut their fingers (5). You can change this. You have much more power than you realize. Your talents – whether they involve baking or banking – can counter trafficking. On Friday, March 4, in Zarrow Hall, a globally renowned anti-trafficking expert will speak on “Escaping Modern Slavery: How CitizenActivists Can Change a Culture of Exploitation.” The director of the Modern Slavery Research Project and the author of Survivors of Slavery: Modern-Day Slave Narratives, Dr. Murphy will focus on “how students—regardless of where their talents lie —are at the heart of the anti-slavery movement." She said also, "We need student skills and expertise to provide fuel to our work.” As you read, I hope you will consider what Dr. Murphy wants all OU community members to know: “Modern slavery affects each and every one of us and is the reason so many of the products we use are so very cheap. We can and should take responsibility for this by engaging in activism—to end poverty, to eradicate forced labor, to provide education for all people all over the world, to hold companies responsible—in order to ensure a future that is as close to slavery-free as possible.” How many slaves work for yOU? 4

The Good Part Gina Butler Acrylic on paper, collage. The chaotic collage speaks of the trauma a trafficked woman may carry inside her on a daily basis, but her shoulders and neck speak to her dignity. It is important to remember that victims of trafficking are whole people, even in their pain. The sad irony of men who traffic or solicit trafficked women is in the fact that they want to tear open women, emotionally and sometimes physically, to have a sexual relationship with them, which they believe is the good part. But all the while they completely dismiss the real best thing that is gained from striving to know a woman for who she is. A woman’s whole identity, which is greater than her sexual identity, is the real good part. 5

Slavery in the Shadows: An Archaeologist's Perspective by Dr. Sarah Trabert There are approximately 30 million people living in slavery today. This trade in human beings is happening in developing nations and in our own backyards. From Taiwan to Oklahoma, people are being moved through secret networks against their will and without much recognition by wider society. In all of these countries, slavery existed in the past. The United States criminalized slavery in 1863, and most Americans today view slavery as “history”. In this belief, we have unwittingly allowed slavery to persist, hiding in shadow. Historic slavery is connected to present day slavery, and archaeological research provides insight into the origins of slavery, who becomes enslaved, and how slaves might be treated. Although the practice of enslaving others is an ancient practice, research by anthropologists indicate that slavery is not a practice shared by all societies. For example, many groups across western Africa and Native North America chose not to participate in the capture and exchange of other peoples. We know that slavery is not a “human institution” that has or always will exist. For most societies that did practice slavery, vulnerable populations were targeted: the poor, the marginalized, those without families—essentially people living on the edges of society. Human traffickers today follow a similar model and continue to target the impoverished and marginalized for capture and trafficking—people who are trying to find work and those that are vulnerable because they are on their own. Archaeological evidence, including the skeletal remains of the enslaved, indicate that

the economic and social value of slaves directly impacted how they were treated. In the U.S. South, for example, the average price of a field laborer was the equivalent of $40,000 to $80,000 today (1). While archaeological evidence from many plantations provide evidence of the brutal treatment of slaves (shackles and leg irons recovered from sites and evidence of repeat trauma from skeletal remains), slaves were nonetheless treated as valued investments and some attention was placed to ensuring they were minimally provided for. This is in direct contrast to how slaves are treated today. People are purchased cheaply (in Thailand a teenage girl can be purchased for $800), exploited for significant profit, not provided health care or basic necessities, and then discarded after a few years (1). Today, the trafficked are not seen as “people” or even an investment to be minimally cared for, but as a means to an economic end; lives are very cheap and people are disposable. Archaeologists studying slavery remind us that slavery was as much a social practice as an economic one. Human trafficking exists today because societies support it. They support it by ignoring it, they support it by not taking trafficking seriously, and they support it by claiming that slavery is a “thing of the past,” refusing to recognize that it continues in the present. Societies and their economies must fundamentally change before human trafficking can end, and it is up to all of us to continue drawing attention to this issue until it is taken as seriously as historic slavery.


Alumni Profile: An Interview with Dr. Kevin Bales by Alexandra Goodman Dr. Kevin Bales received his BA in social anthropology from the University of Oklahoma in 1974. He is currently a professor of contemporary slavery at the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull in the UK. Dr. Bales is a globally renowned figure in the anti-trafficking movement. He has written over nine books on the subject, having spent the past four decades researching it. He co-founded Free the Slaves, a key anti-trafficking nonprofit. His most recent book, Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide, and the Secret to Saving the World, explores the dangerous intersection of modern slavery and climate change.

What got him interested in human trafficking: “I picked up a leaflet at a public event. It said “There are millions of slaves in the world today.” I didn’t believe it and set out to see what the real situation was, which led me to….millions of slaves!” His favorite memory of OU: “So many, feeling my brain literally expanding toward explosion in philosophy, Chinese history, and anthropology lectures; happy hours playing and hanging out; finding love, losing love, finding, etc., etc.” Advice for current OU students looking to make a difference: “Don’t ask ‘what should I study to change the world?’ Study and pursue what you love, what blows your mind - and then use that knowledge and passion as tools to make a difference.”

Photo from


Beloved: There is no exchange for love by Gina Butler Gina Butler, Mycah Higley, Eric Maille, and Jacqueline Robertson are art students organizing an anti-trafficking art exhibition called “Beloved: There is no exchange for love.” The opening reception is March 4 from 6:00 to 8:00pm in the Lightwell Gallery in the Fred Jones Center. The show will run from March 2 to 18. Artists are mostly OU students, but some art comes from other sources. Human trafficking is a real horror in the modern world. Especially in cases of sex trafficking, there tends to be a lot of dark fascination around the subject without any action. Though it’s important to face the horrors of this issue head-on, this exhibition attempts to take the focus off of what traffickers do and put it towards what we should do in response to this problem. Artists, including our artists at this exhibition, are powerful agents for change in culture. They function as vision-casters for the future, encouraging cultural awareness and self-examination. The exhibition displays artwork in a variety of media that focuses on the theme of humanity and asks why human freedom is valuable. Artwork will be for sale to raise money for the trafficking recovery organization Beautiful Dream Society. Larger scale artwork will be for sale for the duration of the exhibition, as well as smaller prints on the opening night. Help support the arts and anti-trafficking efforts by making a purchase or just enjoy the creative expressions of our students.


From top to bottom: Jane Hsi, premed student minoring in art. The team behind Beloved, from left to right: Eric Maille, Jacqueline Robertson, Gina Butler, and Mycah Higley. (Photos by Jacob Cullum.)


Heartthrob Elise Gordon Oil and acrylic on canvas Heartthrob explores the unique nature of humanity to create and love. We are born into a world constructed by the past – forces of evil are largely beyond our control. In fact, human trafficking still denies thousands of women and children freedom in the United States. This cruel and insidious industry violates our fundamental instincts by quantifying the value of human life. Yet one of the most extraordinary – and unquantifiable – aspects of humanity is our willpower to change the world for the better. Our aspirations for justice transcend the raw structures that give us consciousness. Compassion defines the human experience – our beating hearts are stronger than the environment surrounding us. 10

How to Stop Trafficking: A Victim-Centered Approach

by Alexandra Goodman

Dr. Roksana Alavi works at the University of Oklahoma as an assistant professor in the College of Liberal Studies and as affiliate faculty in the Women and Gender Studies program. She also works with the Social Justice Center and the Iranian Studies program. Her research and teaching have been focused on global and local human trafficking, as well as issues related to race and racism. Currently, she is working on an anthology on ethics and leadership and on a monograph on Iranian-American Identity. Dr. Alavi is also working with a subcommittee from the Attorney General Human Trafficking Task Force to produce uniform training and has compiled the cultural competency module for the task force. She has two articles on human trafficking currently in progress. Dr. Alavi has served as a faculty advisor for Off the Market, a symposium on human trafficking, for two years. She also participated in this year’s Take Root: Reproductive Justice in the Red States conference. Past projects have included teaching community members Photo from College of Liberal Studies. about human trafficking and facilitating intergroup dialogue about race and other issues relating to diversity. Dr. Alavi has organized several events on campus for National Love Your Body Day, which falls on October 19 this year. Dr. Alavi has always been involved with social justice issues. When she read Disposable People by Kevin Bales while working on her doctorate in philosophy, she said she “felt moved to act.” “Being committed to issues of social justice, I felt obligated to get involved and do what I can as an educator to let people know what to do and how to protect themselves and their loved ones,” she said. From her efforts to combat human trafficking, Dr. Alavi said it’s important to remember that rehabilitation is a long process for human trafficking victims. “Due to the ways and extent that they were harmed, in some cases it might take more than a 11

decade for them to feel rehabilitated, and that itself is a relative term,” she said. “If we, as a society want human trafficking to stop, we have to give it the sources and the time that it takes. Once we do that, it shows we truly care to fully protect our fellow citizens.” To students interested in getting involved with efforts Dr. Alavi is working on, she said, “Everyone has to decide what they want to do in their efforts to be socially involved. Human trafficking is no different. There are many different ways to get involved. I am an educator, so I approach it through education. If you don't know where to start, contact the organizations that work with human trafficking issues and ask them how you can get involved.” OU’s involvement in combatting human trafficking mainly concentrates on education, which Dr. Alavi called “perhaps the most effective way…both in prevention and also helping with finding the victims.” When people are educated about human trafficking, they can recognize the signs and suspicious activity and take action, she said. Apart form education, Dr. Alavi said one of the most important things she wants people to take away about trafficking is to listen. “Stop victim-blaming and hear each person’s story,” she said. “If someone tells you that they were victimized or whatever experience they share, believe them, even if you had a different experience.”

From left to right: Michael Snowden, Colby Lower, Lucy Mahaffey, Dr. Kevin Bales, Madison Carlyle, and Dr. Roksana Alavi at the Fall 2014 Off the Market. (Photo by Katie Shauberger.)


Loose Change to Loosen Chains by Eryn Jordan InterVarsity Christian Fellowship has held the Loose Change to Loosen Chains (LC2LC) event on campus each spring since our first year as a registered student organization in 2008-2009. The event is a weeklong effort to raise awareness and funds to fight human trafficking. We have worked with a few different organizations over the years (International Justice Mission, Nomi Network, and Love 146), and each one has been fantastic. We currently raise funds for Love 146, an organization that helps rehabilitate kids who are pulled out of trafficking situations and provides preventative education to at risk teens to prevent them from entering the trafficking system. LC2LC will take place April 11-15th this year, and there are many different ways to participate. There will be tables set up on campus all week where people can donate to Love 146 and learn more about human trafficking, Love 146, and InterVarsity. There will also be a benefit night at a local restaurant during the week, and our daily prayer meetings will focus on praying for the victims, perpetrators, and fighters of human trafficking and modern day slavery. Thursday, April 14, at 8 pm in Zarrow Hall we will have a speaker from Love 146, artists displaying pieces themed around human trafficking, and opportunities to donate. More information will be available at We are happy to have the opportunity to work with the Off the Market team who will have their event March 4, as we both do our parts in the fight against trafficking. InterVarsity Christian Fellowship does this every year because we highly value service, prayer, justice, and mercy which are all important in the fight against human trafficking.

From top to bottom: an InterVarsity student at InterVarsity's 2010 LC2LC event; students during the 2015 event. (Photos from InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.)


Skin Mycah Higley Acrylic on canvas board

Skin is the organ that covers our bodies, it is protection, separation, and appearance. We are identified only by what our skin allows. Our beauty is not only characterized by our skin, but what it covers. Whether our coverings are clear and soft, patchy and bruised, or a mixture of both, the humans underneath them are all significant in their individual beliefs, ideas, and thoughts. Human beings are more than any physical currency. Popular culture places a monetary importance on appearance. Human trafficking, in particular, takes advantage of this obsession with sex, beauty, and cash by damaging more than just the skin that is being used, but also the loveliness underneath.


About the Contributors Gina Butler is a senior in the School of Art and Art History, working towards her BFA with a philosophy minor. She works in painting, drawing, printmaking, and graphic novels.

Alexandra Goodman is a junior professional writing major minoring in art history and German. She loves reading, writing, and art museums and spends inordinate amounts of time driving on I-40.

Eryn Jordan is a senior psychology major at OU and is applying to occupational therapy master's programs. She is the service sub-team leader for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

Lucy Mahaffey is double majoring in international area studies and interdisciplinary perspectives on slavery. She appreciates the daily joys of chocolate, tango, and baking with her grandmother.

Sarah Trabert is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology and a Great Plains archaeologist. Her research program centers on how Native peoples living on the Plains responded to European colonialism.


Footnotes Sources referenced in "I have 48 slaves. You can change that": 1. 2. International Labour Organization (ILO) 3. Global Slavery Index 4. Polaris 5. The Guardian

Sources referenced in "Slavery in the Shadows: An Archaeologist's Perspective": 1. Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy by Kevin Bales


FORUM - Volume 1, Issue 1 (launch)  

March 1, 2016 - A new student newsmagazine for the University of Oklahoma. This is our first (pilot) issue. We are a new publication at the...

FORUM - Volume 1, Issue 1 (launch)  

March 1, 2016 - A new student newsmagazine for the University of Oklahoma. This is our first (pilot) issue. We are a new publication at the...