WKU students spread awareness on sex trafficking

Quiche Matchen

WKU students that attended a recent conference felt that they were the generation to spread awareness on modern slavery and sex trafficking.

These students are starting a WKU chapter of the End It movement. The students got the idea from The Passion Conferences.

These conferences invite college students from campuses across the nation to glorify God by uniting them in worship, prayer and justice for spiritual awakening in this generation, according to its website.

The conference the students attended was held in the Georgia Dome with 65,000 college students in attendance. Attendees were encouraged to start a generational movement.

Louisville junior Madalyn Wilbanks said it was really interesting how the conference was orchestrated and how the decision to make a chapter to show social justice came about.

The group helps provide rescue operations for victims of slavery and secure convictions against traffickers and slave owners. There currently isn’t really a system to help these victims, Wilbanks said.

“When victims get rescued, it looks like prostitution and they’re put in jail, but what people don’t know is that oftentimes what they’ve been doing hasn’t been a choice,” she said. “Women have been sold for sex and drugs, and their bodies have been exploited to the profit of their traffickers.”

Wilbanks said nonprofits help victims of slavery to get the counseling and treatment they need.

“Nonprofits help them to find a career, help with skills and is (sic) also a healing center,” she said.

She said another reason she’s so passionate about this movement is the guest speaker that used to be a sex slave who spoke at the conference.

“They showed a video of her and all the pain she went through,” Wilbanks said. “She was able to come to the Passion Conference to show that this can be stopped.”

Evansville senior Tyler Wittmer said the main goal for the organization is to spread awareness.

“I felt God was telling me this would glorify him,” he said. “We hope to spread awareness and would love for a few thousand people to understand there are still 27 million more slaves than it has (sic) ever been. I want people to understand that, and it should be a rude awakening that it’s not just happening in Africa or Asia, but here.”

Wittmer said he wants to encompass WKU’s campus because the issue is bigger than religion. He wants people to understand that the chapter is part of a larger movement.

The End It movement is a campaign that shines light on slavery, according to its website. On April 9, there will be a Shine a Light on Slavery day, where participants can Instagram themselves with a red “X,” telling their friends to join the movement.

Crestwood sophomore Luke Sparks said the group plans to hold events and talk to students.

He said the group hopes to raise awareness on these issues.

“I think this is important because sex trafficking and slavery are huge issues, and we want to make it known,” Sparks said. “We want everyone to join and be involved in this movement.”

Wilbanks said they’re planning to have a 27-hour stand on campus for the 27 million slaves.

She also said the Passion Conference had a candle lighting where one person lit a candle and passed it on to the next person to symbolize spreading awareness and passing on the word. That’s what the group hopes to accomplish.

“We believe we can be the generation to end slavery,” she said.