Human trafficking examined in US
On Wednesday, March 7, Luther alumna Becky Stiger (‘08) presented “Human Trafficking: Finding Hope at the Intersections of Tragedy, Justice and Mercy,” a lecture primarily focused on raising awareness about modern day slavery in the Midwest.
Stiger, who considers herself a modern day abolitionist, found her interest in human trafficking during a freshman year January term internship in New York City, where she first discovered the atrocity and its prominence in the United States.
After graduating from Luther with a B.A. in social work, she earned a master’s degree in the same field from Washington University, St. Louis.
Stiger currently works as a program coordinator and development director for many non-profit social service and awareness programs in the Chicago area, such as Traffick Free, Chicago Commons, the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative and the Salvation Army’s PROMISE task force.
In addition to her lecture, Stiger visited classes and spoke in chapel while at Luther, utilizing a wealth of personal experience and relevant factual information to effectively convey her message.
“My biggest thing is advocacy,” Stiger said. “And advocacy begins with education. It is estimated that 27 million people are enslaved around the world today, 14,500 to 17,500 [are trafficked into] the United States [each year]. Most are not foreign, and many work primarily as prostitutes or domestic servants.”
Chrisann Zuerner (‘15) attended the lecture for her Global Politics class.
“It was interesting to hear her take on the occurrences of human trafficking within our own country,” said Zuerner. “I didn’t realize that it was such a major issue here in the U.S. It shocked me that the majority of the U.S. is also not for the sex trade, but for labor.”
Stiger emphasized that “it’s not CSI. It’s not Law and Order. It’s reality,” and that pragmatic approaches must be taken. She shared the “Three Ps” of action: Prosecute, Protect and Prevent, which involve stopping the perpetrators, helping the victims and setting up programs to ensure that both are no longer a part of this vicious, cyclical industry.
Since trafficking is considered an “underground crime,” due to the secrecy of negotiations and messy consent issues, awareness on the subject is crucial.
Once people are aware, they can take action in their own communities.
“If you see something, say something,” Stiger said, providing the Trafficking Hotline number 888-373-7888, which can be called anytime to report suspicious activity.