By Chris Hearon
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – Approximately 27 million people suffer the harmful effects of the human trafficking industry globally, according to a 2010 Polaris Project Report. A general lack of knowledge about this global pandemic has led Camden County College’s honors society, Phi Theta Kappa, to join with the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and the Polaris Project to raise local awareness through an on-campus event to be held on Thursday, Nov. 10.
Wendy Gallagher, a student at CCC and a member of Phi Theta Kappa, is inducing the goal of awareness with her efforts in organizing this event. Gallagher’s motivation is that “I have an interest in helping victims of human trafficking.” Her passion to fix the problem was a critical factor that led to her decision to return to college. She states, “It’s the whole reason why I came back to school to begin with.” When asked about how the digital age has affected the industry, she cites Craigslist as a culprit in aiding traffickers. “At one point in time, you could go in their adult section and there would be a list of girls that were for sale,” she explains.
Making people aware of the blight is a main goal of this event. Andrea Quinn, a student and participant in Thursday’s event, says, “Obviously raising awareness is the first step to bringing about change. I think that an event like this can really help to encourage open dialogue between people, which is important if we do want things to change.” The primary objective of the Polaris Project reaffirms the idea that awareness is necessary. Polaris corrects misconceptions about human trafficking by stating that trafficking does not require displacement or physical abuse. The United States Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 describes the industry by stating, “Trafficking in persons is a modern form of slavery, and it is the largest manifestation of slavery today.”
Anyone who is interested in becoming more aware of the situation can attend the event at the Blackwood Campus of Camden County College on Nov. 10. Student presentations will be held in the Madison Connector building from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and guest speakers Kim Sykes from the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Katilyn Keisel-Stagnone, and Cristal Solorio from the Polaris Project will be speaking in Civic Hall from 7 to 9 p.m.