The School of Diplomacy and International Relations co-hosted a panel session on human trafficking awareness with the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking and the Slave-Free Community Project in the Main Lounge on Jan. 21. The presenters explained that human trafficking is a frightening reality that can affect anyone.
“A Community Conversation: Modern Slavery – Global to Local” featured four guest panelists who each discussed one of the four perspectives of human trafficking—personal, global, state and local.
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery that can occur in numerous situations, with prostitution and unpaid labor being the most common.
“We hope that students who attended the event took away a greater understanding of the nature and extent of modern slavery, how the effects of modern slavery may be everywhere, including at SHU, and how they might contribute to the eradication of this continuing scourge,” said Bob Boneberg, one of the coordinators of the event and the coordinator of the Slave-Free Community Project.
Following Dean Andrea Bartoli’s welcoming address, Ingrid Johnson discussed her own personal encounter with human trafficking.
Johnson, who is a Seton Hall alumna, said that the process was a “long journey.”
In 2004, Johnson’s daughter did not return home one day after hanging out with her friends and went missing for 11 months. Midway through the search, Johnson’s daughter called her while she was hiding in the bathroom of a gas station in New York, but it took a couple more months for police to track and locate the phone number before they found her.
“I did not have a fear of going out onto the streets and doing what law enforcement, at the time, was not educated to do,” Johnson said. “I was out there all by myself.”
The discussion then turned to Dr. Bernard Freamon, who discussed the global overview of this issue. He said that human trafficking occurs when traffickers are able to take advantage of people during a major event, such as a migration, a drastic climate change that causes people to migrate, and conflicts involving terrorist groups and governments allowing people to become enslaved or suppressed.
Kate Lee spoke about the state perspective, representing the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking, where she is the administrator. She addressed the issue of the confusing dual hotline system for human trafficking, especially since while New Jersey is one of the states with the most human trafficking reports.
Boneberg discussed the local impact of human trafficking. He said that trafficking can occur even when purchasing something at a local grocery store as the ingredients in the products could have been products of slavery.
A Q&A session followed the presentation and Alyssa Futa, a freshman diplomacy and modern languages major, asked what others who do not reside in N.J. can do to help fight human trafficking.
Lee said that they should follow the tips on the coalition website and have a national hotline available at all times.
Futa explained that the event appealed to her interest in human rights.
“I attended because I hope to become an international human rights lawyer and aid in the (prosecution) of human trafficking,” Futa said.
Johnson said that the issue of the human trafficking especially applies to women and said,
“We need to be able to break the silence.”
Liam Oakes can be reached at email@example.com.