Trafficking for change

Mar 272011
Authors: Brittany Lancaster

Unlike drugs, humans can be sold repeatedly, which is why human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises today.

In order to learn, students and community members were immersed in a hands-on, human trafficking simulation as part of “Trafficked” on Friday and Saturday evenings, an event hosted by Not for Sale CSU.

Upon entrance, attendees immediately adopted the life of one individual who had personally fell victim to one of the three stations in the simulation. While the three stations were mere imitations of a brothel, sweatshop and child soldier camp, they were not meant to feel that way.

Participants were forcefully maneuvered around the building as though they themselves were victims, as part of the programs goal to present participants with not just hearing about human trafficking but to experience it.

According to Not for Sale, the demonstration was made to trigger a major emotional response, one that created a call to action.

Sophomore business major Samantha Kroll said the experience truly revealed the magnitude of human trafficking.

“It was a very powerful and moving display, (trafficked) was definitely not something you can leave unaffected,” Kroll said.

After first being led into the brothel, participants were humiliated as they were exposed and separated into virgin and non-virgin groups because, as the tour guide explained, virgins were more valuable. One of the actors said that girls would have an average of 20 clients a day.

Found on the wall in the living quarters of the brothel was an array of quotes such as, “ I have forgotten my brothers name, life before is now just a blur. Help.”

According to Not For Sale, 75 percent of all victims of human trafficking are female, and 75 percent of human trafficking is for sexual exploitation.

Hanna Guenther, a member of Not For Sale CSU, said after her first experience with “Trafficked” she felt exhausted and overwhelmed as if there is nothing anyone can do to stop human trafficking.

“You have to think about it one girl at a time,” Guenther said.

Human trafficking as a whole may seem too extreme a crime to help prevent, but efforts to help even one individual escape trafficking can be life and death for that person.

As attendees passed through another raggedy curtain, they went from being sex-workers to forced sweatshop laborers, allocated to re-lacing old shoes for hours on end. Workers were punished for talking, slow work, even for looking up from their task. According to Not For Sale, there are more slaves now than any point in history.

Then the laborers were quickly shuffled out into a child soldier camp, where victims were desensitized as the General instantly shot one member of the group and forced another to shoot the participant beside them or be killed.

The soldiers were told they would be subject to daily 20-mile hikes, and if needed they would send out a “whistle blower” to draw the enemies’ attention, as they would shoot at them and reveal their location.

“People often think it (human trafficking) is something that happens ‘over there,’ but it does happen here in the United States,” Guenther said.

According to Not for Sale, approximately 20,000 individuals are trafficked into the United States from other countries every year.

“I had no idea anything like this could be happening in the United States, I am really in disbelief,” Kroll said.

Staff writer Brittany Lancaster can be reached at

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