This week, members of the Boston College community will urge their peers to advocate against a complex issue that they say is critical on both a local and international scale—human trafficking. During BC’s first ever “Human Trafficking Awareness Week,” presented by the Rallying Efforts Against Contemporary Trafficking club (REACT), discussions and presentations will be held across campus in an effort to educate students on the importance of prevention of human trafficking.
The awareness week will begin with a documentary screening organized by REACT on Monday. The film, titled I Am Jane Doe, tells the story of a Boston based legal battle between mothers of trafficking victims and the website Backpage, an advertising business that was frequently used for the sexual trafficking of minors.
“The film really shows that trafficking is happening in our own backyard,” Molly McFadden, co-president of REACT and CSOM ’19 said.
REACT hopes that the film will illustrate to the community that human trafficking is an issue that needs to be better addressed in the Boston area.
The second event is a panel discussion titled “A Price on Life: Slavery in The 21st,”, which will be held on Tuesday. The event will be presented by the Gabelli International Scholars Program and the Center for Human Rights and International Justice in the Yawkey Center of the Murray Function Room. The panel will feature director of The Freedom Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital Wendy Macias-Konstantopoulos, professor in the school of Social Work Westy Egmont, chief of the Massachusetts Attorney General Human Trafficking Division Elizabeth Keeley, and a survivor of human trafficking from Chestnut Hill Jasmine Marino.
Human trafficking is thought of too often as a crime that occurs only in economically undeveloped areas far different from the city of Boston, Luke Murphy, an organizer of the panel, said. In having reputable Massachusetts-based advocates discuss human trafficking, Murphy and his peers will attempt to spark awareness of the almost ubiquitous nature of the crime in the modern day.
The panel will also serve to educate the community on the complexity of human trafficking. Frequently overemphasized within contemporary society as an acute form of sexual harassment, human trafficking comes in various, and equally atrocious forms.
“A lot of people think that a victim of human trafficking is just someone that is tied to a basement, but there are a lot more social and economic factors involved in the process,” Murphy said.
In having diversity among the panel members, the organizers of the events intend to display the various situations in which human trafficking can arise.
On Wednesday, REACT will present a discussion of human trafficking that features the organization Selah Freedom in McGuinn 521. The leaders of Selah’s teen trafficking prevention group, discussing the basic causes of trafficking, will urge college-based advocacy against the issue, McFadden said.
Selah’s prevention efforts have included the construction of safe homes across the country for victims of human trafficking. Their presentation will describe the first-hand experiences of many of these victims.
The final event of the week will be a talk given by Carlande Nicholas, president of the Intervarsity Asian Christian Fellowship (ACF) in the Office of Campus Ministry. Her discussion will give a global perspective of human trafficking, McFadden said.