Student Thoughts: Freedom Week highlights human trafficking terrors

Zainab T Osazin/Contributing Writer


Last week, while walking through the Modesto A. Madique Campus, I saw a makeshift walk-through brothel displayed on the Graham Center Lawn.

A sign outside it read, “Girls! Girls! Girls! Only $35 for 15 min.”

Inside was a dirty bed on the floor with sheets that looked as though they hadn’t been washed in weeks. The dirty wooden walls were marked with stories from girls around the world who were victims of human trafficking.

One wooden plaque told the story of a girl from Albania who was trafficked in France and Italy.

It read, “…No one will ever know. If we succeed and go to police, bad things will happen to our families and everyone will know we are prostitutes. He asked what our family and friends would say if they knew how many men we have been with already.”

Another plaque told the story of a 16-year-old Cambodian girl, “For my virginity they gave me $200.”

According to the Florida National Organization for Women, “Florida is commonly known amongst law enforcement personnel to have one of the highest incidences of human trafficking in the country” and is “commonly cited along with New York and California as being one of the top three destinations for trafficking victims in the United States.”

The virtual brothel was part of Regan Kramer’s effort to raise awareness of human trafficking in Florida and around the world. She founded the event in 2012 with United Wesley while working as a staff member. The event allows students to get a unique look into the lives of human trafficking victims.

Kramer said her Christian faith motivated her to raising awareness on campus and advocating for human trafficking victims.

“We want to speak up for these women and show people that God cares about these women,” she said.

Kramer told stories of college students who fell victim to traffickers. One day these girls were taking classes and dreaming of their futures’ and the next, they were trapped in the clutches of trafficking with no hope for a future.

Kramer attributed the prevalence of trafficking to the sexualization of women in mainstream media across the world.

She said many people find it hard to sympathize with these victims because they assume they wanted to prostitute themselves.

“These traffickers know how to seek out, manipulate and control these women,” she said, while explained how the lines between prostitution and human trafficking could be blurred, and how “trafficking doesn’t always look like you’re chained to a room”.

When I asked Kramer if college students could fall victim to human trafficking, she said it can even happen at FIU.

During the first year of the campaign, a concerned mother reached out to the organizers of FIU 4 Freedom after her daughter, a psychology student, had taken her passport and run away with a man she didn’t know. When her parents finally found her, she was being trafficked on Miami Beach.

Trafficking doesn’t only affect the lives of the victims, but also their family and their friends. Parents of trafficked girls live in constant fear that one day they will get a knock on the door from a police officer bringing them the news that their child is dead.

It’s easy for us to ignore an issue that doesn’t affect us directly; but imagine if it was your sister or brother. Would you still choose to ignore it, or would you do something about it?

Many of us think human trafficking is an international problem that happens on the other side of the world and the truth is simply that it’s not. It’s happening around us.

Change can only happen when we start speaking up against the violence and exploitation of women. It’s important for all of us to be socially aware of what’s going on so we can help victims of sexual violence. It starts with us. Let’s be that change.



The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of FIU Student Media Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.


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