Local Symposium Raises Human Trafficking Awareness

3 years 7 months 3 weeks ago November 03, 2012 Nov 3, 2012 Saturday, November 03 2012 Saturday, November 03, 2012 2:53:00 PM CDT in News
By: Jessi Turnure

COLUMBIA - The Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition hosted "No /Mo/re Slaves!" Saturday to raise human trafficking awareness in Missouri.

A panel on modern-day slavery opened the event. It covered topics such as the refugee trafficking problem in the state and how fair trade is one of many solutions.  

Skylla Leeburg was one of the guest speakers. Leeburg is the co-founder of Truckers Against Trafficking, a national organization dedicated to educating and mobilizing truckers, the travel plaza industry and concerned citizens in a fight against domestic sex trafficking.

A "Stop Traffic" member said this organization raises awareness of a trafficking method in the state many may not suspect. "We have a lot of truck stops and we have a lot of truck drivers that go through because of I-70 and so there is a lot of sex trafficking that happens, especially at those truck stops, that's facilitated at places like that," president Kelsey Saragnese said.

Saragnese said two other trafficking methods occur in Missouri-- labor trafficking, particularly in agriculture, and domestic trafficking in hotels and restaurants.    

A human trafficking survivor also spoke about her experience but, for privacy reasons, could not give her name.

The symposium also included live entertainment, fair trade products and a reception.

According to the coalition website, "human trafficking is modern-day slavery and is now considered the third largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world." Americans have reported human trafficking cases in all 50 states.

The U.S. State Department estimates 14,500 to 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into the U.S. each year.

For more information on the coalition and human trafficking, visit stophumantraffickingmo.com.

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