Approximately 14,500 to 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States each year. The average age of a victim of human trafficking is 12 to 14 years old, and 80 percent of victims end up being sold for sexual exploitation. According to the Missouri School Counselor Association, the US Attorney’s Office in Western Missouri has prosecuted more cases involving human trafficking than any other US district.
One UMKC founded club aims to raise awareness about human trafficking in the Kansas City area. Impact – Human Trafficking meets every Friday at 1 p.m. in room 419 of the Student Union.
Impact – Human Trafficking was created in the fall of 2015 by the Christian College Ministry, an organization that seeks to not only educate about various causes today but give students the opportunity to make an impact.
The purpose of the club is to raise awareness about human trafficking in Kansas City and to prevent further exploitation. The club has been held together by four dedicated students, Adriana Bonham, Nancy Lee, Marissa Wilson and Jorge Baldovinos.
“I was shocked and wanted to get involved when I found out Kansas City is one of the top five locations for human trafficking,” said Adriana Bonham.
Missouri is in a prime location for human trafficking because it is in the center of the country with vast highway access and two international airports. This makes it extremely convenient for traffickers to recruit and transport victims.
Wilson explained that human trafficking is not just kidnapping women into sex trade. It is an exploitation of vulnerability. Victims can be abducted or they can be coerced into the world with threat, force, abuse of power, or promises of future payment. They are fooled into thinking this is the only way to survive.
The club has partnered with Restoration House of Greater Kansas City, an organization that provides treatment and long-term, residential living for victims of sex trafficking.
Along with volunteering and planning events with the Restoration House, the club members watch documentaries and read survivor stories. They believe it is important to educate themselves about the complex issue so they can spread awareness to others.
“We assume that it only affects lower class women and that it is a choice but that’s not true. It can happen to anyone,” said Marissa Wilson.
Nancy Lee agreed and said, “Seeing the young victims was scary. It made me want to help.”
Raising awareness about human trafficking in Kansas City is important to the club, but raising awareness that the club exists is also important. Their hope as an organization is to grow, flourish and educate. In the future, they want to have more events to raise awareness and help open up more safe houses for victims.
Anyone is welcome to join the club. The club members want as many students as possible to get informed and get involved. For more information about human trafficking and upcoming events, check out the Facebook page at firstname.lastname@example.org