Fight For Freedom hosts 24-hour campaign against trafficking


Annabel Edwards/Daily Senior Staffer

A student takes part in the 24-hour campaign organized in an effort to raise awareness about modern-day slavery. The Fight for Freedom Project organized the event, which is running from Thursday through Friday afternoon.

Katherine Richter, Reporter

Northwestern students began holding posters and handing out flyers by The Rock for 24 hours Thursday afternoon to take a stance against the presence of modern-day slavery and raise awareness about the issue.

The Fight For Freedom Project, a campus organization that seeks to spread awareness of the size of global slave populations, organized the campaign using the slogan “One Day for Their Everyday.”

The event, Stand for Freedom, is raising funds for Anne’s House, a residential service within the Salvation Army called “Partnership To Rescue Our Minors From Sexual Exploitation” Program. The movement is also focused on engaging the NU campus on the issue.

Passersby can sign a petition to move the Human Trafficking Prioritization Act forward. Enough support for the petition could elevate the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons into the status of a bureau in the State Department, which would put slavery on the same plane as several other human rights concerns.

Stand for Freedom is partnered with the International Justice Mission, a leading group of the movement to end slavery, said SESP sophomore Kyle Sebastian, Fight For Freedom events chair.

Sebastian said last year’s event was a “grassroots effort.” The event lasted for 27 hours, with students holding signs to denote the United Nations’ estimate of 27 million enslaved individuals globally, he said.

This year, the global estimate has risen to a range of 20 million to 30 million, the latter number being a “conservative estimate,” Sebastian said. India remains an especially problematic area, he added.

In Chicago alone, 14,500 to 25,000 individuals are enslaved annually, which constitutes a large percentage of the 200,000 enslaved individuals nationwide, Sebastian said.

“I wasn’t actually aware of any of this a year and a half ago. America stands for freedom and if we have slavery in our borders, that’s a huge problem,” Sebastian said. “It makes everything we stand for invalid.”

By raising funds for a Chicago group that targets modern-day trafficking domestically, such as Anne’s House, Sebastian said the issue becomes more tangible.

“We wanted to take the issue and bring it closer to home,” Sebastian said. “The smaller scale of [Anne’s House] makes it easier to grasp.”

The Fight For Freedom Project was founded in 2011 by Judith Kim and aims to spread the word about modern-day slavery to form a thoughtful and effective response to the issue, according to the organization’s website.

Yu Sun Chin, president of the Fight for Freedom Project, explained how labor and sex slavery are normalized in the victims’ lives, and said raising awareness is crucial to inhibit violation of human rights.

“Many are in sheer shock that slavery still exists, especially in Chicago,” the Medill junior said. “It’s the uncertain impact you may have on someone that is inspiring to me.”

Communication sophomore Jodie Chan joined the group after hearing about it from individuals at the Center for Forced Migration Studies, a part of the Roberta Buffett Center. She selected Anne’s House as the beneficiary for the event this year.

“I lived near a red light district in Wan Chai, near Hong Kong. People walk by without knowing,” Chan said. “It’s something that’s been in my heart in for awhile.”

Weinberg freshman Mercylin Mbuguah heard about the event through the Sheil Catholic Center and plans to participate both Thursday and Friday.

“Slavery is such a big problem, and I think people can learn how they can help,” Mbuguah said.

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