Photo and Story by Robin Duff / Contributing Writer
MTSU’s UNICEF club held a screening of the human trafficking documentary titled “Not My Life” on Tuesday to raise awareness about human trafficking victims.
The documentary examined the ways that children are trafficked in countries across the world, including the United States.
“(The film) gives a good holistic picture of what the problem is: human trafficking across the world. Not only sex trafficking but labor trafficking. Not just women and girls but men and boys as well,” said Spencer Bailey, the Nashville Community Engagement Fellow with UNICEF.
From Ghana to Cambodia, millions of children are trafficked and exploited for labor, services and sex. According to the film, 100,000 girls are trafficked for sex in the United States alone.
A survivor named Angie told the story of how she ran away from home in Kansas and ended up being coerced into performing sex acts for money by a pimp.
“I just wanted to die,” she said in the film. “I thought, ‘What if I deserved this for doing this to my parents?’”
After the film, students were encouraged to help fight trafficking by spreading awareness and volunteering with non-profits like UNICEF and Free for Life, which helps victims of trafficking in the US and Nepal.
“If it’s something you’re passionate about, put your money where your mouth is,” said Sarah Weeks, the Art and Media Coordinator of Free for Life. “$300 is all it costs (Free for Life) to rescue a girl from slavery.”
In 2013, the Tennesse Bureau of Investigation released a report on 21 Tennessee counties, dividing them into groups based on the number of human trafficking cases within that county. Rutherford county was put into group two, which means that there were between 51 to 100 cases of minors being trafficked, and 26 t0 50 cases of adults being trafficked.
“We have 25,000 students, most between the ages of 18-22,” said Cody Lester, president of the UNICEF Club. “It’s important to have them aware of the situation so they can be protected and protect others.”
Tiffany Ward, a junior majoring in early childhood education and mother to an 11-year-old daughter, appreciated that the film included information on how to prevent trafficking.
“It scares me to death that my child could potentially be taken,” she said. “So I found the film very helpful because it gives me information to educate her.”
The UNICEF Club will continue its work to help prevent human trafficking with an anti-trafficking fair on April 4 in the Student Union. The club will partner with Free for Life and other organizations to bring awareness to trafficking in the US and abroad.
“(We are) bringing awareness,” said UNICEF Club Vice President Mark Hooper. “Knowing what it is and how you can defeat it.”
More information on the film and ways to watch can be found here.
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