April 25, 2019 | 54° F

Awareness, action needed on human trafficking issues


On March 26, I attended the screening of “Tricked,” which was sponsored by the Rutgers School of Social Work Graduate Student Association, Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey and the Center on Violence Against Women and Children. It is a documentary about domestic sex trafficking of minors in the United States. The film was followed by a Q&A session with one of the survivors, guest speaker Danielle Douglas, who was featured in the film. The film immediately captured my attention, as it depicted the horrifying truth behind sex trafficking. It is disturbing that in this day and age, thousands of young girls and boys are coerced into a slavery that forces them into prostitution. Many naïve and innocent lives are ripped out of suburbia and thrown into a world filled with pimps, sex and slavery.

It is almost impossible to put into words the issue that is depicted in this documentary. The atrocities against these individuals are something out of a movie, but that is the furthest from the truth. Sex trafficking and human slavery are still running rampant within countries all over the world, including the United States. The guest speaker and one of the subjects of this documentary explained in detail how during her freshman year of college, her life drastically changed — after meeting a guy at an average college party, and after a few dates, she was thrown into a car and driven away into a life of hell that included emotional, physical and sexual abuse that lasted for years. Danielle’s pimp controlled her life to the point where her mind became so brainwashed that she no longer sought escape. “Tricked” shows a graphic and horrifying account of a situation that many young girls and boys all over America have fallen victim to. The film is travelling the country in order to raise awareness to this extremely important issue. If anyone is interested in finding out more, you can visit the website at www.trickedfilm.com. The site gives future screening dates as well as video release information, how to help and contribution opportunities. I would highly recommend this documentary to anyone interested in a subject that requires the attention of our society.

I am writing in order to promote awareness of this incredibly critical social problem. Prior to my studies at Rutgers, I was not aware that these atrocities actually occurred within the United States. I am shocked to see these stories and yet motivated to tell others about it. Rutgers University currently has an organization that is devoted specifically toward this important issue, the Rutgers University Campus Coalition Against Trafficking. The goal of this organization is to raise awareness to human trafficking through education. For those interested in learning more about this social issue, I would recommend seeking out this Rutgers organization as well as many nationally recognized groups such as the Polaris Project (www.polarisproject.org). It is a leading organization in the fight against modern-day slavery and human trafficking. Their slogan, “Our vision is for a world without slavery,” explains their goal in putting an end to all types of slavery and trafficking around the world. Another way an individual can support this social issue and cause is through the purchase of sweatshirts and T-shirts through the Rutgers School of Social Work. All proceeds for this sale will go to support the Polaris Project. Visit the School of Social Work website to purchase your merchandise today. The sweatshirt and T-shirt will have the School of Social Work logo on the front and the logo “Partnering for a Change” on the back.

Nicole Lesko is a graduate student in the School of Social Work and is also pursuing a certificate in the Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) program.

By Nicole Lesko

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