Shining Light in Dark Spaces

It would be a pretty nice idea to say that slavery was abolished in 1865 and that every human being in the United States was their own person, wouldn’t it? In reality, there are 27 million people across the world who are enslaved due to human trafficking, which is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, as well as the second largest overall.

Kansas City is known for its barbecue, the Plaza lights during Christmastime and the Kansas City Chiefs. What I bet most of you didn’t know was that Kansas City is also one of the main pick-up stations for young girls to be kidnapped and sold into the sex-trafficking industry. That’s right: our very own Kansas City is a hub for sex slaves.

In a speech that Kansas Governor Sam Brownback gave while visiting the University of Kansas regarding human trafficking awareness in the fall of 2012, Kansas City was addressed in a very real and scary way: victims that are kidnapped from bigger cities such as New York City or Philadelphia are taken through Kansas City. Once through, these victims are often never found again.

Human trafficking is the “criminal activity of holding another person for the purposes of exploitation through forced labor and sex trafficking,” as defined on the Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s website.

Those responsible for the kidnapping of children for sexual exploitation target boys and girls around the ages of 12-13. In Kansas alone, since 2007, there have been 143 tip and crisis calls and 754 National Human Trafficking Resource Center calls, according to the Polaris Project.

There are many organizations to get involved in here in Kansas. Veronica’s Voice is based in Kansas City with a goal to “end commercial sexual exploitation in the United States” and have multiple 24-hour hotlines to call if you feel yourself endangered or if you have a suspicion that sex-trafficking is happening to anyone around you.

Kansas government has a four-pronged approach to stopping human trafficking: Prevention, Protection, Prosecution and Partnership, as well as a resource center for raising awareness for sexual exploitation/trafficking.

A more global organization is the End It Movement, with the slogan “shine a light on slavery” to literally portray that these sex-slaves are all around us, just not in obvious light. The End It Movement has a set date, February 27, for people to come together to spread awareness to help these 27 million people come out of their scary world. They request simply drawing a red “X” on the back of your hands to show that you are against slavery today. You can check out the hashtag #enditmovement to get more information over their goals and organization as a whole.

One last organization to get involved in is right here on our campus: KU Nourish International, an organization that believes that our generation has the power and capabilities to eradicate poverty in the world. Recently, they have been selling hand-made bracelets with “Free Her” on them, as proposed by Etkie (see for more information on their motives, story, goals, and more).

Included are links to these organization’s web pages for more information. Spread the word, and help to save a life.