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VIDEO: Kent State University students are holding a Stand for Freedom to raise awareness of slavery

By Kyle McDonald | Staff Writer Published: March 6, 2013 4:00 AM
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At 10 a.m. Tuesday, a group of Kent State University students began to stand on the brick K in Risman Plaza. They plan to stay there until 1 p.m. Wednesday.

The "Stand for Freedom" aims to raise awareness of the estimated 27 million people around the world living in slavery. The group also is collecting petitions to push President Barack Obama to address the matter, said Erin Hawe, who organized the demonstration.

"We're raising awareness for the 27 million people who are exploited around the world today, whether it be in sex trafficking, violence and the many categories human exploitation can fall under," Hawe said. "We're giving people an understanding, knowledge and getting the world out there. It's going well so far."

The demonstration is part of a nationwide campaign organized by International Justice Mission, a human rights agency that works to end slavery and oppression.

Katie Fife, a sophomore early childhood education major at KSU who is involved with Stand for Freedom, said about 200,000 slaves are still trafficked through the United States today.

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"Most of them are women and children trapped in sex trafficking," Fife said, adding that Ohio is third on the list of U.S. states where the activity is most frequent.

Hawe said the petitions signed during their 27-hour "Stand for Freedom" will find their way to the president's desk.

At 6 p.m., eight hours into the stand, the demonstration had generated about 450 signatures.

"International Justice Mission is going to take them directly to President Obama's office and work with him to facilitate a plan," Hawe said, adding that the organization delivered 73,000 signatures to Obama last year.

Following the demonstration, Hawe said the group will look for new ways to bring human exploitation to light, and may get involved with other organizations on campus as well.

"We want to focus on human exploitation and give students an opportunity to be active on campus," she said.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1127 or kmcdonald@recordpub.com

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anonymous Mar 6, 2013 3:45 PM

We should tax churches so they have less money to protect their child rapists.

anonymous Mar 6, 2013 3:45 PM

Why should we give tax breaks to the rich when all they'll do is go out and buy more slaves?

anonymous Mar 6, 2013 3:42 PM

Isn't the sky a pretty shade of blue today (an idiot pipes up) Unlike the shade of blue an aborted child will see ..... Isn't this a tasty hamburger (idiot pipes up) Too bad the aborted child will never get a chance to taste ..... Point being how we'll never have an intelligent or productive discussion long as we allow "those people" to derail the conversation to whatever their personal gig happens to be.

anonymous Mar 6, 2013 10:53 AM

Thank you AMT. I didn't know about the HHS policy, but it unfortunately makes sense that policy trumps reality when abortion politics is involved. The victims get exploited again, by those who "say" they care, but their actions show that behind the scenes is a Satanic purpose; kill the babies.

anonymous Mar 6, 2013 5:57 AM

By insisting on abortion referrals in its anti-trafficking work, the Obama administration may be inadvertently helping the perpetrators of sex-slavery, a former Health and Human Services official says.

The present policy of the (HHS) department is: 'Victims be damned; we're going to make an ideological point, that we want them referred to Planned Parenthood' notwithstanding the fact that it's not in the best interests of victims, Renewal Forum President Steven Wagner told CNA.

Wagner, who directed Health and Human Services' Human Trafficking Program from 2003 to 2006, published a co-written editorial on June 24 criticizing the department's current policy on abortion and contraception, requiring grant recipients to offer a full range of reproductive services to victims.

Three days earlier, a June 21 State Department report called attention to the 21 million worldwide victims of trafficking, who are coerced into prostitution and other kinds of modern-day slave labor. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the problem a scourge that demands zealous advocacy.

But Wagner, whose current work also focuses on trafficking, says the State Department's goal of stopping coerced labor is at odds with Health and Human Services' policy demanding that assistance to victims include referrals for abortion and contraception.

Wagner described the current HHS policy as totally inappropriate, saying it serves the interest of those who profit from sex-slavery rather than those forced into it. Traffickers, he said, want easy access to abortion and contraception in order to protect the income-producing potential of their victims.

If a prostitute becomes pregnant, they'll take them into Planned Parenthood to get an abortion, so that the woman can be made to perform sex work again as soon as possible, Wagner noted.

Health and Human Services' current policy on reproductive services caused the U.S. Catholic bishops' anti-trafficking work to lose funding last year. The bishops' program enjoyed high ratings and an excellent reputation, but was denied a federal grant for refusing to make referrals for services deemed immoral.