State News

March 18, 2009

Mercer University hosts conference on sex trafficking

Submitted by Mercer University

MACON — Mercer University will host a national conference on human trafficking, titled “STOP Sex Trafficking: A Call to End 21st Century Slavery,” on March 19-20 in Willingham Auditorium on Mercer’s Macon campus. The conference is organized by Mercer students in STOP, the Sex Trafficking Opposition Project, to counter the growing worldwide crisis. According to the U.S. State Department, more than a million women and children are trafficked into sex slavery each year. Nearly 20,000 are trafficked annually into the United States and many of these victims are trafficked into the Southeast.

The conference will feature rescued trafficking victims Kika Cerpa and Joana Santos, who will share their stories. In addition, the conference will include presentations from prominent national figures in the anti-trafficking movement, including rock musician and filmmaker Justin Dillon, who will also screen his anti-sex trafficking film, "Call+Response," at the conference; Patricia McCormick, the best-selling author of "Sold," the story of a Nepalese child trafficked into sex slavery; and Lauran Bethell, founder of a Thailand trafficking refuge center and recipient of the Baptist World Alliance Human Rights Award.

“The students’ aspiration is, first, to make sure Macon is not a home for trafficking and, second, to combat sex trafficking wherever it is occurring,” said Mary Alice Morgan, senior vice provost for service-learning and an adviser to the conference. “The students are fired by idealism but they also have a very informed, practical sense of how to carry that idealism into effective activism.”

The goals of the conference include raising awareness about sex trafficking, encouraging faith-based mission work overseas and support groups to help survivors here at home, aiding service providers, law enforcement and local government in fighting sex trafficking and supplying care for survivors, and providing a forum for student groups to join together to end sex slavery.

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