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A supplement to The Herald - April 25, 2014

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How is human trafficking portrayed in media? By Cassie Daszko

Special to The Herald

H

uman trafficking is all over today’s media and the sad part is that most of us don’t even know it. One way that organizations get known is sometimes by getting a well known name attached to their brand. There is a hand full of celebrities in Hollywood actively working to get the word out about human trafficking in the United States and all over the world. Some celebrities have even create their own organizations in order to get the word out about their own passions for human trafficking.

n Rick Martin founded The Ricky Martin Foundation in 2000. His foundation focuses on sex trafficking involving children and other crimes against children all over the world. n When Mira Sorvino agreed to make Human

Trafficking for Lifetime, she didn’t realize how passionate she would become for the subject. She ended up becoming a Goodwill Ambassador to the UN. Sorvino has also spoken to Congress in hopes of abolishing human trafficking in Darfur. n Diane von Furstenberg has recently made transition from fashion icon to anti-human trafficking advocate. She partnered with Vital Voices to celebrate women leaders in the anti-trafficking movement around the world. n Through a documentary done with COMBAT and MTV EDIT called Inhuman Trafficking, Angelina Jolie helps put a face on the problem the people all over the world try to forget. n She opens saying, “Imagine having your freedom taken away. You’re torn from family and friends and imprisoned. You are sexually abused and viciously beaten. This is happening now, everywhere across the world, even in your hometown.”

Makes you think, doesn’t it? These are only a few examples of the many celebrities that are using their star power to do some real good in the world. Human trafficking isn’t only like what we see in the movies and these people are helping the world to see that one step at a time.

Movie Synopsis: Taken When people think of human trafficking in today’s media, one of the first things that comes to mind is the movie Taken, starring Liam Neeson and Maggie Grace. In this film, Liam Neeson plays former CIA officer Bryan Mills who is trying to have a closer relationship with his daughter, Kim. After saving a famous pop star from an assailant after a concert, the singer agrees to tutor the daughter once Neeson’s character tells her that his daughter aspires to be a singer. Before he can tell her, she tells him that her mother and stepmother are allowing her to travel alone with her friend, Amanda, to Paris. It is revealed later that Kim and Amanda are actually following the tour of the band U2. Once they arrive in Paris and are in their hotel, Kim calls her dad. While on the phone, Kim sees her friend Amanda get kidnapped. She freaks out to her dad and he tells her that she is going to be taken. He gives her instructions over the phone that will give him information to help find her kidnappers. Kim and Amanda end up being put up for a virgin auction. Bryan finds them but is unable to

AP Photo/20th Century Fox, Stephanie Branchu

Taken: In this image released by 20th Century Fox, Liam Neeson is shown in a scene from, “Taken.”

save Amanda before she is killed. He is able to get Kim safely home. Not all girls are lucky like Kim’s character. While this movie gives a slight example of human trafficking, it in no way shows the real problem going on all around us. The only way to really know what’s happening is to do real research and see what is going on in the real world, not the movie version of the world.

Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. In the past few months, I have learned more about human trafficking than any other time in my life. At first, I started out like anyone else – uninformed, and frankly, uninterested. I watched three different documentaries and heard countless statistics when I started this journey. But, what moved me to action was a Women at Risk, Int’l., conference. I was at this event for seven hours, and during that time, I watched a screen count how many women were being trafficked every 30 seconds. By the time we left, over 700 women had been trafficked, statistically. It was painstakingly realistic to watch the number grow steadily as I sat in a room, helpless and immobile. There’s nothing worse than knowing that there’s nothing that you can do about something happening right before your eyes. The good thing, though, is that you can do something. It’s not too late.

Brittany jacobson Special to The Herald

brittany.jacobson@cornerstone.edu According to the Polaris Project, the average lifespan of someone trafficked is seven years. People are dying because of illegal sexual exploitation and intense labor jobs. Becky McDonald, founder of Women at Risk, Int’l, recently told a story about traffickers putting stuffed animals on mailboxes so that pedophiles know where to come for child sex.

And this happens in Grand Rapids. Though it may happen in other places, this is our own back yard and it’s time we started to protect those who live within our neighborhoods. We cannot sit by and let this happen. As Christians, we have been called to help those in need. We have an obligation to be the hands and feet of Jesus – which includes caring for those who have been exploited. First of all, you can pray. You may never see immediate change, but every prayer will go toward ending human trafficking. In fact, it could be argued that this is the most effective and important part of our fight. And, sometimes when you don’t know where to begin, prayer can be the best place to start. Secondly, I would encourage you to educate yourself. There are plenty of resources out there to learn more about the issue and how you can get involved. We’ve also compiled a list for you among these pages, as well. Lastly, learn the signs of trafficking. This issue is huge. According to a recent study done

by Shared Hope Int’l, over 2.4 million people are victims of trafficking – whether that is through sexual slavery or labor trafficking. If you see a young girl with an older man and she is struggling to get away, do something. If a young girl starts to receive expensive purses, new clothes often, etc., it may be time to ask some questions. If a girl tells you that she doesn’t know her address, you could take that as a sign, too. There is a human trafficking hotline that you can call if you suspect a child may be involved in the sex trade. They will investigate if you take that next step and call. The number for the 24/7 toll-free Human Trafficking Resource Center is: 1-888-373-7888. We need people in the fight to end human trafficking who are willing to care about the issue and those involved, record what you see, speak up for the voiceless, advocate for their freedom, stay connected, practice prayer, and create a personal plan for how you want to end human trafficking in your area.

word on the street: “What do you know about human trafficking in the Grand Rapids and Detroit area?” Abigail Wagner Freshman

Hope Wagner Junior

Lisa Cheng Sophomore

Nathan Ebersole Junior

“I’ve heard recently that it’s happening and I was asking if it was safe or not I want to say that it’s the highest in trafficking in the states I think… but that kind of surprised me, but kind of didn’t.”

“I know it happens a lot more than people think. Also, not too long ago there was a scare at Meijer about traffickers and they said either it wasn’t true or that the police were watching it.”

“I do not know anything about it but I heard that GR is a safe place that’s why I came here. I just didn’t hear anything about it.”

“Not much. I know it happens, I’ve heard that it happens but I have not seen evidence. I know it’s a big issue, I know it happens because people are exposing it more…if it were not for that I would not be aware of it at all.”

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