Series to bring attention to human trafficking and modern day slavery

by John Guimond

"Tony"  Photo Courtesy of Invisible Children

Students from the University of Notre Dame’s ND8 and Inspire student clubs together with students from Saint Mary’s College have collaborated to create a month-long series of lectures, films and other events to bring attention to the complex and pervasive problem of human trafficking and modern day slavery. The group also hopes to mobilize students around federal budget appropriations and to support passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2011, currently in discussion in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The series kicks off Nov. 3 (Thursday) with a screening of the documentary “Tony” by Invisible Children, an organization dedicated to ending the use of child soldiers by Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony’s rebel war. With the deployment by President Barack Obama of 100 “combat-ready” troops to Central Africa to provide technical assistance to forces trying to counter, Kony, organizations like Invisible Children and Resolve, co-founded by Notre Dame alumnus Michael Poffenberger, are beginning to have an impact on the crisis. The screening will take place at 7 p.m. in Andrews Auditorium in Geddes Hall.

On Nov. 9 (Wednesday) the group will challenge students to see just how pervasive modern-day slavery is — from the clothes you wear to the coffee you drink — and how many slaves each of us “owns” at the Dooley Room in LaFortune Student Center from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

On Nov. 16 (Wednesday), students have organized a fundraising event in conjunction with Five Guys, 1233 Eddy St., South Bend, to benefit Second Chance, a social service program in Toledo, Ohio that provides comprehensive services to victims of domestic sex trafficking and prostitution.

"Sex+Money: A National Search for Human Worth" Photo Courtesy of Sex + Money Film

On Nov. 21 (Monday), ND-8 will sponsor a Poetry Slam and Open Mic Night from 8 to 10 p.m. in the LaFortune Ballroom. Using poetry and music, the evening’s entertainment will focus on modern day slavery, to help expand awareness to the issue. Proceeds from donations and the sale of jewelry will help support the work of Second Chance.

The acclaimed documentary “Sex+Money: A National Search for Human Worth” will be shown Nov. 29 (Tuesday) in the Andrews Auditorium in Geddes Hall at 7 p.m. Since September 2009, the crew has traveled to more than 30 states and conducted more than 75 interviews with federal agents, victims, politicians, activists, psychologists and adult film stars, among others, to detail the extent of domestic minor sex trafficking and the modern-day abolitionist movement fighting to stop it. A discussion following the screening will feature staff from South Bend social service agencies involved in prevention of prostitution and sexual violence against women and children.

The series will conclude Nov. 30 (Wednesday) with a Ford Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity Discussions on Development program titled “Human Trafficking and Development” to be held at 7 p.m. in Room C-103 of the Hesburgh Center.

The month-long series is guided and sponsored by the Center for Social Concerns and the Ford Program.

Contact: Rosie R. McDowell, director of international community based learning outreach, 574-631-0468,; Tony Pohlen, assistant director, Ford Program, 574-631-7022,