Friday, June 21, 2019

Human Trafficking: Modern Day Slavery

The Department of Homeland Security defines human trafficking as "the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act."

Nicholas D. Kristof of the New York Times once said the term is a convoluted euphemism for what it really is: slavery.

According to the DHS, each year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide. A common misunderstanding is that trafficking is happening elsewhere in the world, yet its prevalence is right under our noses in America, even in Tennessee.

"It’s a misconception that people we don’t know are getting trafficked. The truth is that a vast majority of our victims are our kids and it’s our job as a community to protect them. You know, kids can’t protect themselves, it takes a village. I feel it’s important to talk about this because we’re saving our own people, there’s a need to do that," said Cheryl Brehm, an advocate and volunteer at End Slavery Tennessee.

Vol State Communication professor, Ben Jobe, is also a volunteer at End Slavery TN and features guest speakers in his classes each semester to educate his students on the matter. Cheryl Brehm was the recent speaker in his class.

"My main activity, as a volunteer, is I try to use my speech classes to educate students about End Slavery TN, the problem, and what they can do to help," said Professor Jobe.

End Slavery TN’s mission is to "promote healing of human trafficking survivors and to strategically confront slavery in our state." Their vision is to "create a slave-free Tennessee."

"The reason why I do what I do is because I truly believe that I’m going to save someone’s life one day. Maybe I already have, maybe not yet. I will do as many talks as it takes. That’s what gets me here, that’s what gets me up, that’s what gets me out of bed, that’s why I do what I do," Cheryl added.

Realizing the pervasiveness of human trafficking in our communities may open the door for some real conversations. Educating yourself and your peers is important to protect ourselves, our campus, and our communities. Learn more by visiting:

-By Rachel Keyes

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