Students for Violence Prevention (SVP) recently hosted its fifth annual, “Breaking the Chains of Human Trafficking” event.
The event was hosted in the Crimson and Gold Ballrooms at the Overman Student Center on Feb. 1. The event had in-person tables with a variety of different organizations, along with a live-stream of the event.
“(We) mostly (did this) to inform and educate people on human trafficking and to focus on how someone gets into a human trafficking situation,” said Wren Lowery, a senior in biology and student coordinator of SVP. “We wanted this year to be specifically focused on inequity, marginalized groups and intersectional identities and how it can lead to inequality in addition to manifesting in many other ways. This all can lead someone to be vulnerable for human trafficking.”
The event had a variety of different groups who either talked at the panel or hosted a table.
“I think if they come here and learn this, or watch the recordings, I think they’ll know who is here,” said Wendy Overstreet a sexual assault nurse who does SANE testing. “We have the Crawford County Sheriff, Pittsburg PD, PSU police, SANE nurses, and different organizations. I don’t think people realize the resources on campus and what is offered at the student health center.”
Some groups were there to educate about human trafficking overall and how it can affect certain groups of people.
“(NASA is here) just to educate people on human trafficking, more specifically sex trafficking of indigenous populations, especially within the U.S and Canada,” said Blake Johnson, Native American Student Association (NASA) president and junior in creative writing.
Another group attending the event was the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA).
“I’m tabling with GSA to talk about how LGBTQ+ people are more likely to be more vulnerable to human trafficking because there is a lack of support in their communities and families,” said Devynn Pitts, junior in art.
University Police and the Crawford County Sherriff Office’s both attended.
“Hopefully we get to talk about human trafficking in our county and what we see,” said Chris Hall detective sargent with the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office. “The trends…crimes and how those crimes are underreported. We barely see anything in human trafficking reports, although we know that it’s here. We know that it’s present. It’s hard to work cases when I don’t have victims that come forward,”
Along with encouraging reporting, Hall encourages victims to talk to anyone that they can.
“Talk to someone you trust,” Hall said. “If it’s not law enforcement, talk to an advocate, talk to a nurse, talk to a friend, have a friend go with you to report. Anything that makes you understand that you are a victim, that’s what a lot of us want to convey tonight. Victims of human trafficking often don’t even know that they’re victims or realize that they are. And maybe they just need that little nudge from a friend, a family member, or an outsider to tell them, ‘Hey, you are a victim.’ It needs to be reported so we can get justice for you and stop this from happening to other people as well.”