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Human Trafficking forum to hit SURC

Justine Sisson, Staff Reporter - February 13, 2013

Sex trafficking is the primary form of human trafficking that occurs in Ellensburg, according to Krista LaComb of the Center for Leadership and Community Engagement.

Throughout Washington, other types of trafficking occur as well, including labor trafficking.

“People know the idea, but don’t know that human trafficking takes place in our community,” LaComb said.

A dictionary defines human trafficking as “the illegal practice of procuring or trading of human beings for the purpose of prostitution, forced labor, or other forms of exploitation.”

The growing issue of human trafficking has inspired the Center for Diversity and Social Justice, with help from the CLCE, to set up the “Sold Experience,” along with the Human Trafficking Forum and Luncheon.

According to Tyler Cummings, an employee at the CDSJ, the “Sold Experience” is a walk-through exhibit that is very hands-on.

“I went to the forum last year and found that it was very informative on the issues of human trafficking,” junior, Savannah Perez said.

The Human Trafficking Forum will feature live testimonials from survivors, while giving students a chance to ask questions about human trafficking to individuals who have experienced it.

The following day, a luncheon will be held to give students another opportunity to talk to survivors of human trafficking.

Human trafficking has become a serious issue in the United States. According to United Nations website, it is difficult to accurately estimate the exact number of people trafficked every year; however, it is estimated that for every 800 people trafficked in 2006, only one person was convicted.

LaComb told a story about a girl named Brianna who was featured on MSN news.

Brianna was sitting at a coffee shop when an older man approached her and started asking what type of men she was interested in.

She proceeded to tell the man she liked tall blonde men.

The next day a tall blonde man approached Brianna at the coffee shop and began charming her, saying he was interested in the same things that she was.

The man was able to slowly start a relationship with Brianna, and then asked her to join him at a strip club.

Brianna could tell something odd was occurring and told her friend about the situation.

Luckily, Brianna’s friend was educated on sex trafficking issues, and the pair was able to discover the man was a pimp.

According to LaComb, trafficking is more prominent in other countries due to many of them having fewer laws than the United States, but it is a growing problem in America.

Traffickers “will take you away from your family or support system,” Lacomb said.

The “Sold Experience” is open Feb. 19 and 20 from 9 a.m.- 9 p.m. in the SURC Ballroom.

The Human Trafficking Forum is Feb. 27 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the SURC Ballroom. The luncheon is the following day, Feb. 28, at noon at Hal Holmes in downtown Ellensburg.

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