Conference to focus on human trafficking

Human trafficking is not just a problem in big cities and not just on the east and west coasts of America. It happens all over this country, in every state, including Kansas.
This is just one of the many facts Sister Margaret Nacke, Belleville, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph, learned when she began educating herself on this worldwide problem.
Nacke, formerly of Kansas City, began her study when she moved to North Central Kansas a year ago. Nacke said the more she learned, the more she felt a thrust to educate people of all ages about human trafficking, which she called the auction block of the 21st Century.
After receiving a copy of a schedule of a human trafficking conference held by Sisters in Ohio, she contacted Beth Whisler, psychology and sociology instructor at Cloud County Community College about having a similar conference in Concordia.
Along with her Belleville roommate, Sister Mary Savoie, Whisler, and other CCCC staff they planned the Human Trafficking conference, which will be held Friday, Sept. 26, at Cook Theatre at CCCC.
Keynote speakers will be Karen Countryman-Roswurm, PhD, Wichita State University Professor of Social Work and Executive Director of the Center for Combating Human Trafficking; Terra Frasier, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, child abuse Pediatrician; and Pat Colloton, Kansas Assistant Attorney General, Anti-Human Trafficking Unit.
Among the many facts, Nacke uncovered as she delved into the subject of trafficking were:
• More than 1,000 children born every year get into trafficking. More than 80 percent are girls, young women who are sexually trafficked. The average age is 12-13 and many won't live to see their 18th birthday.
• "Pimps" refer to the place where their girls live as a stable and they often tattoo their "girls" to identify who they belong to.
• Using force, fraud or coercion, a trafficker gets people to exploit for sex or labor.
• Motivators for trafficking are greed and pleasure.
• Such events as the Super Bowl, or popular artists' concerts are places traffickers frequent looking for young women to make money.
• Computers are used to entice children.
• Trafficking is a $1 million business that abuses the dignity of people by treating them as commodities. No state is exempt from trafficking.
• Traffickers can be anyone including family members, friends, gangs, trusted adults, or "boyfriends" who profit from the selling of a minor to a buyer.
"We've all got to work together to make ourselves knowledgeable about what's happening," Nacke said. "Educate yourself to the trafficking issue, particularly in our state. Be cognizant when you are in places where there are large groups of people."
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is one of the original co-sponsors of the trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, the federal legislation that protects victims of human trafficking and punishes offenders.
President Barack Obama said at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2012:
"Our fight against human trafficking is one of the great human rights courses of our time, and the United States will continue to lead it — in partnership with you. The change we seek will not come easy, but we can draw strength from the movements of the past.
"For we know that every life saved—in the words of that great Proclamation — is 'an act of justice;' worthy of the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God."
Objectives of the Human Trafficking Conference in Concordia are to create an understanding of the crime and its relationship to human rights, increase awareness and fostering solidarity to stop the trafficking of humans for any purpose; expose the laws of Kansas in regard to trafficking and teach people what they can do.
The conference will begin at 10 a.m., have a break for lunch and conclude at 3 p.m. Those planning to attend should register by Sept. 12 by emailing JoDee Aldridge (jaldridge@cloud.edu) or JoAnne Balthazor (jbalthazor@cloud.edu) or by phone at 785.243.1435, ext. 262 for Beth Whisler or ext. 372 or 372 or 374 for Aldridge or Bathazor.

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"Right now, there is a man on a boat, casting the net with his bleeding hands, knowing he deserves a better life, a life of dignity, but does not know whether anybody is paying attention. Right now, there is a woman, hunched over a sewing machine, glancing beyond he bars on the window, knowing if just given the chance, she might someday sell her own wares, but she does not think anybody is paying attention.
Right now, there is a young boy, in a brick factory, covered in dust, hauling his heavy load under a blazing sun, thinking if he could just go to school, he might know a different future, but he does not think anybody is paying attention. Right now, there is a girl, somewhere trapped in a brothel, crying herself to sleep again, and maybe daring to imagine that someday, just maybe, she might be treated not like a piece of property, but as a human being.
And so our message today, to them, is—to the millions around the world—we see you. We hear you. We insist on your dignity.
And we share your belief that if just given the chance, you will forge a life equal to your talents and worthy of your dreams.
Our fight against human trafficking is one of the great human rights causes of our time, and the United States will continue to lead it—in partnership with you."
—President Barack Obama,
Clinton Global Initiative,
Sept. 25, 2012

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