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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA clubs hold event to raise awareness about domestic sex trafficking

More than 30 UA students and community members gathered at the Education building Thursday evening to participate in a event that aimed at abolishing sex trafficking in the United States.

The event, “No Chains” was presented by the UA Enactus Team and Half the Sky club.

The evening began with a screening of the documentary, “Bait and Switch,” a Phoenix-based film that features personal interviews with young girls and women who were thrown into the world of prostitution, as well as with a former pimp.

Rachel Irby, executive director and co-founder of Unchained Movement, was the keynote speaker at the event. The mission of Unchained is to “provide education and public awareness that will mobilize communities to join the movement against commercial sexual exploitation of girls and women within the United States,” according to its website.

Following the movie, Irby took the stage to discuss the three ways in which young girls end up in this life-threatening practice — force, fraud, and coercion.

Force refers to the “Hollywood” portrayal that seen in movies where children are kidnapped and physically forced into prostitution. Fraud is when the victim is tricked into entering this lifestyle due to false information and coercion is when the young girl or boy is being threatened to the point where they feel as if they have no choice but to stay within the world of prostitution for fear of their own life or the lives of their loved ones, Irby said.

“These girls have been broken. Every day for them is a war and when they are getting into another person’s car, they don’t know if they are going to live or die,” Irby said.

Kakeisha Brown, a survivor of sex trafficking who works closely with Irby, was first exposed to prostitution when she was 12 or 13. Brown said she met a man who, at one time, made her feel beautiful. When he told her to have sex with older men, she listened and eventually felt that “she was born to be a prostitute,” she said.

Brown added that she was heavily victimized and taken advantage of by the intensive grooming process of pimps. Drug use and heavy drinking resulted in a few jail run-ins where she attended prison ministry that “gave [her] hope,” she said.

“I figured out that God does love me and that there was something better out there for me. I knew that things had to change,” Brown said.

She was also introduced to the Dignity Program, an organization that changed her life.

“It was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Brown said. “It taught me to look in the mirror, look myself in the eye, and say ‘I love me.’ It taught me how to be me. I am still working on it but it taught me how to live life positively and progressively.”

Since then, Brown has gone back to school, has a job and is a board member at Unchained, where she shares her story.

“My story can help other people, or help people to help other people,” Brown said. “I want to make a difference.”

Andy Hall, a board member and co-founder of Southern Arizona Against Slavery, works to help people get out of human trafficking. Hall spoke about the misconceptions that people hold about prostitution.

“Our culture glorifies and idealizes prostitution as this ‘Pretty Woman’ type thing. In reality, it is brutal,” Hall said. “Reject that cultural misconception and challenge people on it. Don’t attend ‘Pimp and Hoe’ themed parties that have showed up on campus in the past few years.”

Amy Hu, a marketing junior member of the UA Enactus Team, spoke about the event’s success.

“We are really excited that people came out tonight. It was satisfying and fulfilling for me to see the expressions on people’s faces when they realized that this issue is very prevalent and it warms my heart to know that we are making a difference,” Hu said. “Everyone should educate and empower themselves.”

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