Led room to room, winding in and out of the lives and stories of present-day slaves, CSU and Fort Collins community members got an intense look at the world of modern-day human slavery in “Trafficked,” hosted by Not For Sale CSU.
On Friday and Saturday evenings, students and community members were enslaved, all assuming the identities of recent victims of the worldwide crime of human trafficking and following individual lives and experiences through the exhibit.
In essence, people became property.
First, participants were led into a brothel, which was disguised as a massage parlor, a commonpractice among sex traffickers.
One slavery tour guide informed the group that virgins were more valuable, that female sex slaves who have “no future” serve and average 20 clients a day.
This message was relayed in the stark brothel, laced with scribbled messages of despair on the wall, accented by the ragged mattress on the floor.
The ages of sex slave victims vary, but the average age of entry into prostitution or the commercial sex industry in the U.S. is 11 to 14 years according to Not For Sale.
Next the attendees-turned-slaves became forced laborers, relegated to lace up shoes in a sweatshop.
Child slaves are sold to companies where they work long hours with few to no breaks, working in inhuman and unsafe conditions. Immersed in the simulation, the group frantically laced up shoes while the “manager” yelled at the participants and “beat” a student actor representing a child laborer.
In the third and final room, participants were forcibly enlisted as child soldiers.
The recently enslaved were then lined up and given orders by the “rebel general,” that singled out a member of the group and “shot” him to emphasize his cruelty and power.
The general then informed the group that they would march miles a day and follow his orders or be killed. To illustrate his point, he forced a person to “shoot” another member of the group by threatening to kill them both.
The U.S. Department of State estimates that more than 300,000 children under 18 are currently being exploited in more than 30 armed conflicts worldwide. The sheer brutality of the situation was conveyed to the students in attendance.
Glenn Mortimer, a sophomore international studies major, said that the experience was “powerful” and that he didn’t understand the nature of human slavery before the event.
The goal of the CSU chapter of Not For Sale, a part of the international organization, is to promote awareness about the prevalence of human slavery. Internationally, it is estimated that 27 million people are enslaved across the globe. The human slavery industry is a billion-dollar trade, with traffickers earning an estimated $32 billion per year according to the U.S. State Department.
The group’s main purpose is to not only to illustrate that slavery occurs overseas, but also in the U.S., even in Colorado.
About 50,000 people are trafficked into the U.S. each year, and an estimated 2,500 are brought to Colorado each year. The intersection of I-25 and I-70 is a major crossroads of human trafficking and representatives from Not For Sale reported that on average 300 homeless Denver youth are involved in a sex trafficking situation each night.
Pam Harvey, the CSU director of Not For Sale, said that it is up to students to fight these crimes.
“You guys are the future,” she said. “It’s up to the J-generation, the justice generation. Change it.”
Crime Beat reporter Stephen Lin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Not For Sale Chapter Web site:
Not For Sale is an international organization dedicated to the abolition of slavery worldwide.
Globally, an estimated 27 million people are enslaved.
An estimated 70 percent of the world’s chocolate is produced in West Africa, where an estimated 12,000 children are currently in slavery. This equates to over two-thirds of all chocolate consumed daily.
Current Not For Sale International Projects
NFS is currently building a clinic to maintain the health and well-being of the 120 children saved from slavery in north Thailand.
NFS built a shelter for trafficked children rescued from the fishing industry in Ghana, Africa.
The Not For Sale Campaign is helping to build a secondary school in Gulu, northern Uganda. The school will benefit the child abductees who make up as much as 80 percent of the military entities. They are used to raid villages, execute prisoners, act as baggage porters or sex slaves.
Additional modern-day slavery sites: