Statistics show that human trafficking victims know their trafficker and have a relationship with them, whether a family member or a partner. In those cases where the relationship between the trafficker and the victim was known, 52% were trafficked by a family member: 34% specifically by a partner. The month of January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
Human Trafficking can be split up into two categories, labor trafficking and sex trafficking. National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is recognized annually on Jan. 11. Students for Violence Prevention (SVP) has the month booked with a variety of events for the awareness month. The events take place in many different ways, whether in person, online, via zoom, etc. SVP has worked to provide a safe way to get important information to the public. Some events are open for students only whereas others are open to the public.
“Something that everyone should know about human trafficking is that, like other violent crimes, it could happen to anyone regardless of the identities that you hold and is usually perpetrated by someone that the victim knows, trusts, loves,” said Stephanie Spitz, campus victim advocate and SVP advisor.
“The Game in Three Parts: Human Trafficking in America,” an art installation by Sarah Serio located in the Bicknell will be open from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. This art exhibit will be open to the public, SVP has also provided a link to view the exhibit online for those who cannot get out. This installation will be available for viewing from Jan. 11-31.
“January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, so pandemic or not, we wanted to spread awareness, education, and support for victims of violence,” Spitz said. “A pandemic wouldn’t keep us away from doing that. If anything, it’s allowed us to come up with more creative ways of creating programs that are more accessible and interactive…When it comes to promoting these events, a lot of it takes place via word of mouth, sending emails, inviting friends and colleagues to attend, making social media posts or participating in national awareness campaigns and talking to area media outlets. If you are a person that cares about humanitarian issues, like human trafficking is, then you’d be interested in attending any of the events listed.”
SVP will also have another display available from Jan. 15-29 in the Axe Library. This will be a Human Trafficking Book Display including handouts, brochures, and will highlight books that bring awareness to human trafficking. Students may view this display during library hours.
“SVP members who were interested in planning events for January started meeting back in October with potential collaborators to brainstorm ideas,” said Megan Woodfield, Violence Prevention Graduate Assistant and Co-advisor for SVP. “From there we divided up potential ideas to see what would be possible given the current policies and safety measures regarding COVID-19. With a lot of planning and some creative thinking we were able to come up with a month of educational content that covered a variety of delivery methods and disciplines.”
SVP also set up two Zoom calls, one was hosted on Jan. 15, with special guest Sarah Serio and discussed her art exhibit. The next one, Human Trafficking Brown Bag Discussion: A Zoom with Adah Hutchcraft, is scheduled for Feb. 3 from 12 p.m. -1 p.m. Hutchcraft will discuss resources for survivors, how to identify human trafficking, and the prevalence in local areas. This zoom call will be open to the public. For the zoom meeting those interested in joining simply need to email SVP for the password.
SVP will be participating in the Student Organization Fair Jan. 20 from 11 a.m. -1 p.m. They will have information on their upcoming events for the semester. On Jan. 27 students can stop by the Overman Student Center Crossroads for the Human Trafficking Fair where SVP along with PRISM, NASA, HOT, and BSA will have informational tables set up. These organizations will be in the Crossroads from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
“COVID-19 definitely changed our plans as we usually host “Breaking the Chains of Human Trafficking” a large collaborative event in the PSU Crimson and Gold Ballroom,” Woodfield said. “We knew this year that hosting that event wouldn’t be an option but that also meant that we got to create something completely new… Zoom has honestly been great from the sense that it gives so many more people the opportunity to tune into events that they usually couldn’t or might not have felt comfortable to due to the serious nature of the subject. While not everyone wants to jump on a zoom call after using it for work or school which is totally understandable, we have found that the people who join in really enjoy the content.”
SVP is hosting one more event for Human Trafficking Awareness month, a Red Light Green Light Documentary Screening & Discussion on January 29th from 7-9pm. The documentary will be shown at the Bicknell and is open to the public. They will also be hosting a small discussion afterwards.