Ribbons for Human Trafficking Justice

By Rita Marino, CRS Student Ambassador at Villanova University and CRS Intern in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Regional Office

Wednesday, November 30 was no ordinary day in fashion on Villanova University's campus.  Piloted by Villanova CRS Student Ambassadors, dozens of students donned blue duct tape ribbons in honor of Human Trafficking awareness, one of CRS' three campaign issue areas this year.  

Villanova CRS members crafted two different ribbons.  Ribbons with red detail represented the reported cases and ribbons with orange detail represented the unreported incidents.  Accounting for the many cases that go unreported, ambassadors proportionately created more orange ribbons.

For two days, ambassadors tabled in a popular campus building.  Passing students were able to stop by the table, learn more about the issue, pin a ribbon on themselves and sign an advocacy letter.

Villanova I am Human Trafficking

(CRS ambassadors Claire Leroux and Meagen Murray) tabling on campus.

Ambassadors also designed pamphlets that included Human Trafficking fast facts and ways the average person can help.  These included: learning indicators of human trafficking, identifying a potential trafficked victim and becoming a conscientious and informed consumer.

The Human Trafficking Awareness Day at Villanova University continued with a university showing of the documentary "Indifference is Not an Option."  More than 80 students packed the room.  Calling people to "fight" and stop hiding behind the excuse of ignorance, the documentary chronicled the lives of three escaped slaves spanning three countries.  One man was born into a mill position that he would never be able to get out of, one woman was promised work as a waitress only to be forced into sex trafficking and the third individual was a woman entrapped in domestic service.

"The documentary shows three types of slavery," says Villanova Human Trafficking Issue Leader Claire Leroux.  "Although the media often depicts sex trafficking, it's very important to know that human trafficking comes in different forms."

The night concluded with the signing of 80 advocacy letters.  These letters urged senators and representatives to pass the Supply Chain Transparency Act, which would help combat forced labor by forcing companies to reveal steps in their supply chain. [Note: You can find the most updated advocacy letter to Congress here for use on your own campus.]

"I find it surprising that women can be given 'legitimate' contracts for work only to be deceived by slavery," said senior Economics major Andrew Hoseuk Kim.  "I am proud that Villanova's CRS provided students the opportunity to learn and engage in a discussion about a problem that many of us do not know about."

The fight for social justice does not end there.  Villanova's CRS chapter also held an interfaith vigil for refugees, migrants and human trafficked victims on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 in the Saint Thomas of Villanova Church.  They are also preparing for upcoming events in January, which is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.  

Visit the "I am Human Trafficking" campaign page for more resources and ideas to pray, learn and act on this issue as well as to bring it to life on your campus.  CRS University also has current campaigns on "I am Migration" and "I am Climate Change."

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