.- Studentâs at Ohioâs Franciscan University of Steubenville who had lobbied the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women last March, are joining a growing world community in raising their voices against the scourge of human trafficking.
On October 27th, a student group sponsored a talk by Dr. Laura Lederer, senior advisor on human trafficking to the US Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, who told a standing-room only crowd that, worldwide, at least "600,000 victims of modern-day slavery are forced, defrauded, or coerced into labor or sexual exploitation."
"Thisâ, she added, âis a conservative figure."
Last spring break, Lederer said, âwe teamed upâthe State Department and the group of [Franciscan University] students Professor Brian Scarnecchia brought to the UNâto pass a resolution on trafficking that everyone had said was doomed to fail."
Particularly in underdeveloped countries, she said that sales of child sex, exploitation of migrant workers and children being forced to be soldiers, are rampant offenses against human dignity which need to be fought.
She also noted that in the United States, specifically, human trafficking usually involves sexual slavery.
"Young women and childrenâ, she said, numbering an estimated 14,000 in the U.S., âare lured into sex-trafficking rings with the promise of a valid job, more money, and a better life."
She told the group that "The US was one of the first countries in the world to pass an anti-trafficking lawâ¦We passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, which can be used as a model around the world for other countries."
Citing the State Departmentâs official position, Lederer told the students that, âProstitution is inherently harmful for men, women, and childrenâ¦Because it's intrinsically harmful, we are opposed to legalizing it and considering it a legitimate form of work."
As she concluded, Lederer encouragingly pointed out that the students "are joining a growing number of communities who are coming together to learn about human trafficking, to raise public awareness, and to stop this modern-day form of slavery."
The presentation was sponsored by the Franciscan University Student Association and the campusâs âSolidarityâ group, which focuses on social justice issues.