A group of second-year MSW students enrolled in Professor Jody Williams’s Global Justice course hosted the “Beyond the Shadows: Open Your Eyes to Human Trafficking” event on Wednesday, November 6th at the GCSW in order to shed a light on the modern day slavery taking place in Houston. This event started out as a group advocacy project for classmates Arielle Stephens, Dixie Hairston, Linda León, Esmeralda Sotelo, and Jenna Cooper and developed into a successful awareness night with over 150 people in attendance. The anti-human trafficking event lasted from 6:30pm-9:30pm and was full of various activities with the goal of educating people on the different forms of slavery taking place in the Houston area.
“We really wanted this to be a broad overview of all types of human trafficking and possibly introduce this issue to people who may have never heard about it occurring in Houston,” said Dixie Hairston. “I really think that we accomplished that goal with this project.”
The main feature of the night was a screening of the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) documentary, “Slavery Out of the Shadows: Spotlight on Human Trafficking” followed by an engaging panel discussion featuring experts in the field. Although the documentary focused mainly on sexual exploitation, panelists Dawn Lew from Children At Risk, Constance Rossiter from YMCA International, Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, Maria Trujillo from Houston Rescue and Restore, and GCSW PhD student Melissa Torres addressed all types of modern slavery including labor and domestic servitude.
Other event activities included a marketplace with fair trade vendors and anti-human trafficking organizations such as 2nd Cup Coffee, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Houston Love Project, and many others. A large art installation tracing the journey of a typical human trafficking survivor was also on display outside the GCSW throughout the day for those passing through. Attendees were able to purchase slavery-free products such as coffee, t-shirts, jewelry, and handmade crafts made by survivors and learn the different ways that they can be part of the movement to end human trafficking.
Click here to check out pictures from the "Beyond the Shadows: Open Your Eyes to Human Trafficking" event.
Click here to read an Op-Ed featured in The Daily Cougar by Arielle Stephens on human trafficking in Houston.
Click here to watch the full TYLA documentary online.