Shatter the Silence: Students raise awareness to fight sexual slavery
Human trafficking, or the act of recruiting, transporting, or receiving a person against their will for the purpose of exploiting them, has affected the United States and other countries throughout the world, and has had devastating consequences, according to the UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking.
When AP Environmental Science teacher Aaron Hoeffer assigned a semester project, senior Sonia Shah knew what hers would be about. For months Shah and her classmates have been working to produce the event “Shatter the Silence”, a night of performances to raise awareness of human trafficking, or sex slavery.
“We decided that we want to do something people will actually want to go to.” Shaw said, “Finding the performers has been the easiest part of this whole process.”
Shatter the Silence is part of a bigger foundation called Take Back the Night, an organization that encourages women to come forward and discuss violence or sexual violence against them. The first event was held in 1975 in Philadelphia and has since expanded to include other countries throughout the world.
The majority of trafficking victims are between the ages of 18-24, but about 1.2 million children worldwide are trafficked each year. The estimated annual profits made from the exploitation of these victims are 31.6 billion dollars.
For every 800 people trafficked only one person is convicted of a crime. Therefore, Shah explains that in the day and age we live in, she expects people to be more tuned in to what is going on in the world.
“There are so many kids at our school who think that slavery was abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment and most textbooks would testify along with that, but there are more slaves in the world today than there ever has been,” Shah said, “I just don’t understand how our high-tech, smart phone loving generation could be so uninformed when we have access to so much.”
Shah and her group member’s seniors Holly Kons, Chelsea Larsen Sarah Christensen, and Tiffany Menges hope that people who attend the event gain knowledge about human trafficking and leave an impact on them.
The group members hope to raise awareness about human trafficking and the 2.5 million victims forced into labor or sexual relationships every year.
“We are doing this event because we want to speak for those who don’t have the right,” Shah said. “If only one person walks away from this event feeling like they learned something, it will have been worth it.”
According to senior Sarah Christensen, who is also involved in the event, says that something that started out as a school project has turned into something much larger for her.
“I’m really glad I joined the group I did for this project, because I feel it will make a larger school wide impact than some other groups,” Christensen said, “I feel like what we are doing will make a bigger impression then people selling water bottles or hemp bracelets.”
Since 95 percent of all victims of sexual abuse experience physical or sexual violence, Christensen also wants to spread the word hoping to provoke people emotionally, and making a difference in a victim’s life.
“I take pride in helping spread awareness of such a terrible problem, and showing the audience that the issue of sexual slavery is much closer to home than you would think,” Christensen said. “I want them to understand what is happening, and to stand up and do something, like writing a letter to a victim, or spreading the word.”