Captains #SpeakUp against human trafficking

 CNU’s chapter of the International Justice Mission campaigns for change 

The goal of the International Justice Mission (IJM) is to “end slavery in our lifetime.”

IJM’s chapter at CNU is working every day to do just that.

They recently held their spring campaign entitled ‘Speak Up,’ which ran from Feb. 26 – 28.

The initiative drew attention to the plight of human trafficking in America and all around the world and campaigned for more funding for the ‘End Trafficking Now’ movement that was proposed by Congress.

Before the campaign officially began on Feb. 26, members of CNU’s IJM chapter covered the campus with flyers stating “Who will speak up for Amita?” (a girl who was a victim of human trafficking).

Members of IJM tabled in the DSU during the week of the campaign, where they had information available for students walking by.

They handed out flyers featuring Amita and information about human trafficking.

They also encouraged students passing by to tweet using #SpeakUp, #EndItMovement and #CaptainsSpeakUp.

These hashtags created a movement and a strong presence online, the goal of which was to get the attention of lawmakers and bring human trafficking into the national conversation.

“For [the Speak Up Initiative] this year, you tweet your Congress representatives,” Vice President of CNU’s chapter of IJM Makenzie Wolf said. “Each week, [the hashtags] gain attention. Yesterday alone, there were over 5000 tweets to different representatives. We’re tweeting to get funding for this initiative as well as to get the word out that [human trafficking] is still going on.”

The outcome IJM hoped for was to encourage funding for anti-trafficking initiatives so that victims can be reached and rescued from sex slavery as soon as possible.

Human trafficking, along with many other different kinds of human rights violations, is one of  IJM’s main missions and issues that they focus on in America and beyond.

Wolf said that the fight for freedom for all is not just in some distant country thousands of miles away – it can hit close to home as well, and the plight is just as serious no matter where in the world it takes place.

The United States is a haven for victims of trafficking, which is why CNU’s IJM members continue to fight to end the practice as it directly affects their immediate community.

As part of the Speak Up campaign week, IJM held a screening of the original IJM documentary, “I Am Brave.”

The film focused on the true story of Joy, a survivor of sex trafficking in the Philippines, who found her way to freedom and a second chance at life thanks to IJM.

The name of the film comes from a statement Joy made in a scene after she had been rescued: “I am not weak, I am brave. I am brave enough to stand on my own.”

The film was extremely powerful and allowed students to make the connection that human trafficking is a very real thing that happens to real people around them every day.

Patrick McKenna, co-founder and director of the Virginia Beach Justice Initiative, spoke after the screening and reinforced the truth that human trafficking can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

He also presented students with information on who to contact if they or someone they know is a victim of trafficking.

IJM holds a lot of different events and initiatives every year, each bringing awareness to a different issue that isn’t talked about much.

Last semester they held a Freely Made fashion show to raise awareness about fair trade and unethical labor practices across the world.

Wolf says that IJM tries to bring awareness to different injustices in the world through their events and initiatives, as well as educating club members at their biweekly meetings about certain issues going on in the world, such as police brutality.

The club’s main goal is to bring attention and awareness to ongoing human rights violations that happen all around the world every day, not just the United States.

“There are things that people don’t really talk about because it’s almost uncomfortable, so making them less of a taboo topic, allowing these [issues] and justice to be talked about, is something we can all strive to go towards,” Wolf said.

~Anna Dorl, Lifestyle Editor~

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