The sound of Switchfoot filled the warm, almost-summer air and cardboard signs scattered around the rotunda reading “End It Movement” and “Not 4 Sale.”
Students on Georgia Southern University’s campus wandered around the area chatting, drinking free coffee and signing a petition to send to state congress members. While the event was lighthearted and fun, it’s purpose is to bring awareness to human sex trafficking, often referred to as modern-day slavery.
Sade Thomas, freshman psychology major, and Kenley Alligood, freshman English major, bought t-shirts while at the event and held cardboard signs to help bring attention to the issue.
“They think ‘slavery’ and they think back in the day in the cotton fields and that’s not the case anymore. It’s going on around us right now,” Thomas said. “Atlanta is one of the biggest places for sex trafficking and people don’t know about it. If they do then they turn a blind eye and that doesn’t need to happen.”
The event started at 8 a.m. and by noon Gerred Bell, finance and spanish major, who was working the petition table, estimated that 150 people had already signed. Bell became passionate about the cause after watching a live stream of the Passion conference last year, a faith-based worship weekend for college students.
“When I saw that and heard about what was actually happening, these people…they’re in houses and factories and brothels being taken advantage of, sold and being taken advantage of as if they’re property. I thought I had to find a way to help,” Bell said.
The petition asks Georgia congress members to become passionate about changing the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons to a bureau.
“With that simple name change comes so much more power and so much more integrity for this bureau because they would be able to not be influenced by other governments and even by the U.S. government. It will also allow them to get access to the Secretary of State and the President,” Bell said.
The local chapter of the International Justice Mission passed out free fair trade coffee and chocolates at the event. They also sold t-shirts for $10 and all the proceeds of those sales go back to supporting IJM and their mission to bring awareness to injustice in our modern world.
Bell said, “Violence and oppression are natural for the poor and here in the United States we just don’t see it half as much because we are a wealthier country.”