Rallying Efforts Against Contemporary Trafficking (R.E.A.C.T.) is currently holding Boston College’s first ever “Human Trafficking Awareness Week,” during which events are being held on campus to educate students on the issue of human trafficking.
Tuesday night’s event, hosted by the Gabelli Presidential Scholars Program, featured a panel discussion titled “A Price on Life: Slavery in the 21st Century” and an informational video. The panel discussed sex and labor trafficking as a global issue, but also stressed the reality of the existence of trafficking taking place in Boston.
The panel was moderated by 2016 Boston College Graduate Tate Krasner who is an investigative analyst for the Human Trafficking Response Unit of the Manhattan DA’s Office. It featured Medical and Executive Director of Massachusetts General Hospital Freedom Clinic Wendy Macias-Konstantopoulos; survivor, author, and charity founder Jasmine Marino; Chief of Massachusetts Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Division Elizabeth Keeley; and Director of BC immigrant Integration Lab Westy Egmont.
Marino described her own experience as a Chestnut Hill native who was a victim of human trafficking and her journey to becoming a survivor. Panelists emphasized that drug addiction, threats against family or of deportation, and physiological manipulation are all used to coerce trafficking victims, and described how traffickers seek to exploit vulnerable individuals.
The panel members hoped to educate BC students of the reality of human trafficking, and explained that awareness of the issue is the first step to confronting the problem.
“I think the issue of human trafficking is one of the greatest issues that we have in our society today,” said R.E.A.C.T. co-president Molly McFadden, CSOM ’19, in an interview. “I think particularly as Boston College community members, we have a responsibility to be men and women for others and this definitely includes being aware of these issues and understanding how we can fight them.”
McFadden described the goals of Human Trafficking Awareness Week at BC saying, “We really hope that it will engage more students in the conversation involving human trafficking and that it will hopefully inspire students to get more involved and become active members in the fight against trafficking.”
“I think one of the biggest takeaways that I would hope for is that students will feel empowered that they can contribute to the cause and can actually fight human trafficking and that we arm them with resources and knowledge to do so,” said McFadden.
R.E.A.C.T. partnered with other groups on campus including Catholic Relief Services, the Gabelli Presidential Scholars Program, and Church of the 21st Century in order to organize Human Trafficking Awareness Week.
In addition to the panel discussion, the week’s events included a Monday screening of the Boston-based film, “I am Jane Doe,” about American girls who were victims of sex trafficking, and the legal battle that their mothers are undertaking on their behalf. There will also be a trafficking prevention presentation and a global child trafficking talk on Friday.