Mercer will host a national conference on human trafficking, titled “STOP Sex trafficking: A Call to End 21st Century Slavery,” on March 19-20 in Willingham Auditorium on Mercer’s Macon campus. The conference is organized by Mercer students in STOP, the Sex Trafficking Opposition Project, to counter the growing worldwide crisis. According to the U.S. State Department, there are more than a million women and children trafficked into sex slavery each year. Nearly 20,000 are trafficked annually into the United States and many of these victims are trafficked into the Southeast.
“The students’ aspiration is, first, to make sure Macon is not a home for trafficking and, second, to combat sex trafficking wherever it is occurring,” said Dr. Mary Alice Morgan, who is helping with the conference organization. “The students are fired by idealism but they also have a very informed, practical sense of how to carry that idealism into effective activism.”
The goals of the conference include: raising awareness about sex trafficking, encouraging faith-based mission work overseas and support groups to help survivors here at home, aiding service providers, law enforcement and local government in fighting sex trafficking and supplying care for survivors and providing a forum for student groups to join together to end sex slavery.
Speakers at the conference will include prominent anti-trafficking scholars and faith-based activists, such as Lauran Bethell, founder of a Thailand trafficking refuge center and recipient of the Baptist World Alliance Human Rights Award; Patricia McCormick the best-selling author of Sold, the story of a Nepalese child trafficked into sex slavery; Justin Dillon, a musician and director of the documentary film, Call and Response; as well as rescued trafficking victims who will tell their stories.
The conference has been designed to be welcoming to all: faith leaders, students, scholars, service providers, the legal community and anyone interested in learning how communities can join together to rescue women and children and protect thousands more from sex slavery.
The Sex Trafficking Opposition Project began in a First Year Seminar course, “Engaging the World,” in the spring of 2008. While writing their research essays on contemporary ethics and justice, students started asking questions about the many spas and spa billboards dotting Macon’s landscape. They soon joined ranks with members of Baptist Collegiate Ministries and Women’s and Gender Studies students enrolled in a course devoted to violence against women. At the end of spring semester 2008, this diverse coalition of students formed STOP: Middle Georgia’s first anti-trafficking group.
This conference is being organized under the direction of Dr. Morgan, senior vice provost for service-learning and director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, and Dr. Andrew Silver, the Paige Morton Hunter Associate Professor of English. Co-sponsors for the event include: Mercer, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Baptist Collegiate Ministries, Evangelicals for Human Rights, and the Mercer Women’s and Gender Studies Program.
For more information or to register, visit www.mercer.edu/stop.