Human trafficking lecture; brings awareness to timely issue

Every 30 seconds, someone becomes a victim of human trafficking, or the buying and selling of human beings as if they were commodities.

On March 17, Emily Pasnak-Lapchick came to Wilkes University to spread awareness and encourage students and faculty to participate in taking action to end child trafficking.

Pasnak-Lapchick is the End Trafficking Officer at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF where she leads a national awareness and advocacy campaign about this matter.

She informed the university about child trafficking and the lack of awareness that surrounds it, as most people are focused on drug trafficking instead. However, human trafficking is more profitable than drug trafficking as humans can be resold. For example, a trafficker can profit up to $250,000 per year from just one girl.

Pasnak-Lapchick argued that it is an increasing problem because there is not enough public outcry to take steps toward ending it. Also, police are more focused on prosecuting the victims of these crimes rather than the traffickers themselves, even though more times than not, their career in prostitution is not their choice.

More often than not, people become subject to trafficking because they are offered jobs under false pretenses, causing them to believe that they are legitimate. Once wrapped into the job, they are exposed to the world of trafficking and it is too late to turn back.

So what can an everyday citizen do? Anyone is capable of advocating stronger legislation, addressing the objectification of women and children, spreading awareness, and learning signs to recognize a victim of human trafficking.

When looking for subjects of human trafficking, there are signs that can help. A child that is being trafficked knows little about his or her whereabouts, works excessively long hours, exhibits fear or anxious behavior, was hired with false promises, and has inconsistencies with his or her story.

Anyone can fall victim to trafficking, but children who are abused, homeless, a runaway, or in foster care are especially vulnerable. Within 40 hours of running away or becoming homeless, 1 in 3 will be solicited for sex. Women and children are even being sold on Craigslist.

Many people have the misconception that trafficking is strictly found in other countries, when in reality this problem has been reported in all 50 U.S. states. One incident was especially close to home, right here in Wilkes-Barre.

According to the Times Leader, two months ago The Aroma A Spa at 405 N. River Street was investigated for human trafficking after an informant came forward about exchanging money for sex at the business. This is just one example of how close to Wilkes’ own campus this problem has occurred, therefore requiring students’ attention and participation in fighting it.

To report a potential case, get information, or request training, call 888-373-7888. It is 100% confidential, and interpreters are available.